• Relationship Advice, Sex Tips, GrandparentingRelationship Advice, Sex Tips, Grandparenting

    AARP Logo. AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that helps people 50 and older improve the quality of their lives. About AARP · AARP Press Center ...

    AARP: Family / 23.11.2017 08:00
  • Robot Cat acts as a Companion to Older PeopleRobot Cat acts as a Companion to Older People

    by Patrick Kiger, AARP, November 16, 2017|Comments: 0. Hasbro Companion Cat. Hasbro. Robot pets don't require as much care and can be handled by older  ...

    AARP: Family / 23.11.2017 08:00
  • 'Badass Pilot: The Series,' How to Buy a Fighter Jet'Badass Pilot: The Series,' How to Buy a Fighter Jet

    5 days ago ... Sign up for the AARP Lifestyle Newsletter — and get movie reviews, great games and more delivered to you every month ...

    AARP: Family / 21.11.2017 08:00
  • Holiday Hosting Hints From HeloiseHoliday Hosting Hints From Heloise

    by Kathleen Fifield, AARP, November 14, 2017|Comments: 0. Rustic Thanksgiving Table Setting. Jeff Wasserman/Studio Six/Stocksy. Heloise shares her wealth ...

    AARP: Family / 21.11.2017 08:00
  • Dance Teacher Therrell Smith Pushed Diversity in BalletDance Teacher Therrell Smith Pushed Diversity in Ballet

    by Beth Brophy, AARP, November 13, 2017|Comments: 0. Centenarian Ballet Teacher. Greg Kahn. Classical dance teacher Therrell Smith made it possible for  ...

    AARP: Family / 4 h. 37 min. ago
  • 8 Tips for Funeral Planning8 Tips for Funeral Planning

    6 days ago ... Sam Kaplan for AARP. Nonprofit organizations offer price surveys of local funeral homes and guidance in planning a funeral. None of us likes ...

    AARP: Family / 4 h. 37 min. ago
  • Family Of Toddler Injured In Hit-And-Run Pleads Are Pleading For justiceFamily Of Toddler Injured In Hit-And-Run Pleads Are Pleading For justice

    The picture of a car plowing into her three-year-old son is one that Christina Sanders says she will never forget. Caesar Sanders was left for dead in the middle of East 140th near Kinsman. His Mom says the driver briefly stopped before speeding off around 8:30 p.m. Friday but never got out to check on the child left clinging to life. Sanders remembers the car as a 2002 or 2003 Silver Pontiac Bonneville with tinted windows. “It keeps playing over and over in my mind over and over again,” said Sanders from the hospital lobby. “The only thing I’ve been doing since I’ve been here is just crying and praying and that’s the only thing keeping me sane.” Sanders says that Caesar let go of his cousins hand and ran into the street where she was standing. The protective mom then recognized oncoming traffic wasn’t far away and tried to get the driver to stop. “Waving my hands screaming at the top of my lungs please stop, car kept going,” explained Sanders. “I mean it happened so fast by the time I got it out of my mouth the car hit my son.” Sanders says that the boy has suffered multiple fractures, cuts and bruises but is expected to be okay. But still, she says the fact someone would act so callous towards a child is a feeling she can’t shake. Now she is pleading for the driver to turn themselves in. “I was an emotional wreck but crying and praying has been helping me that’s the only thing I can do,” repeated Sanders. “I’m just happy that my son is okay.” The family has a GoFundMe account set up to help with medical costs, you can click here to see it.  Couple Too High On Meth To Take Baby Suffering From Severe Burns To Hospital The parents of a baby who was reportedly burned over 40-percent of her body have been sentenced to prison, after they failed to seek medical care for the baby. Their 16-day-old baby girl, Mia’Kota Eddy, was badly burned while being bathed by a 16-year-old cousin on December 27, 2016. “(The girl) stated the infant was in the sink under the running water, and she said she turned off what she thought was the hot water. However, she accidentally turned off the cold water and the infant was accidentally burned,” Ada Police Detective Brian Engel stated in an affidavit. According to KXII, police said that the water hit 145-degrees. The teenage girl told her mother, who then called the infant’s parents, 25-year-old Patrick Edward Eddy and 26-year-old Candace Mercedes Matthews. Eddy and Matthews later picked up the child and took her home. The following day, the family friend went to check on the baby, an affidavit states. The woman walked into the home and found the baby crying. “(The woman) stated on arrival she observed the infant to be in a bed crying, and she stated the infant’s diaper was full of urine and feces,” Engel said in the affidavit. “ (The woman) stated (Eddy and Matthews) were asleep in a bed next to the infant. (The woman) stated she then observed the burn on the infant’s stomach, and she stated the injury looked ‘awful’. (The woman) stated she woke up (Matthews) and asked her if she wanted her to take the infant to the hospital.” The woman later took the infant to a hospital, where she was then flown to an Oklahoma City hospital to be treated for her severe burns. Sadly, the infant suffered first- and second-degree burns over 40-percent of her body.   “If we hadn’t got her help, she could’ve laid there and died,”  LaCretia McDow said. According to the affidavit, the parents, Eddy and Matthews, admitted that they did not take the child to the hospital because they were high on methamphetamine and were unaware of the extent of the baby’s injuries. The affidavit also mentions the parents had no idea their child had been flown to an Oklahoma City hospital for treatment and were sleeping when officers arrived to question them about the infant’s burns. The infant was later sent to a burn center in Arkansas to recover. Officials said that the baby survived her injuries.  She remains in state custody. Eddy and Matthews have arrested for child neglect. This week, the couple took a plea deal and have sentenced to 10 years in prison. The post Family Of Toddler Injured In Hit-And-Run Pleads Are Pleading For justice appeared first on Kids Safety Network.

    Kids Safety Network / 14 h. 10 min. ago more
  • Government Tells Parents To Destroy These Children`s SmartwatchesGovernment Tells Parents To Destroy These Children`s Smartwatches

    The German government are not only banning some children’s smartwatches — its telling people to “destroy” the gadgets which are already circulating around the country. On Friday, Germany’s telecom regulator the Federal Network Agency announced that a number of these devices, which have been designed for ages 5 to 12, can allow someone to remotely tap into the watch’s microphone and clandestinely spy from remote locations (just like a wiretap). The regulator isn’t only concerned about the potential of people spying on children — it’s concerned that the devices can be used to spy on anyone. In Germany, it’s illegal to record private conversations without permission. “According to our investigations, parents were using the watches, for example, to listen in on teachers during class,” said Federal Network Agency President Jochen Homann in a statement. Smartwatches which make phone calls, like the Apple Watch, are legal in Germany. The problem with many of these children’s smartwatches, however, is that the devices have a classic snooping function, similar to a baby monitor, which can be easily activated just by using an app. “Via an app, parents can use such children’s watches to listen unnoticed to the child’s environment and they are to be regarded as an unauthorized transmitting system,” said Homann. The German regulator is very serious about destroying these devices, it’s asking citizens to literally document the watches’ destruction and to file the evidence online. Once the watches are destroyed, the regulator will provide a “certificate of destruction,” which w confirm the deed was done. This is not the first time that the Federal Network Agency told German citizens to destroy a consumer device. Back in February, the regulator prohibited the doll “My Friend Cayla” and labeled it as an “espionage device.”  The dolls were apparently fitted with radio transmission technology that could allow children to be spied on. Consumer tech manufacturers best beware that the German government won’t just ban devices that facilitate spying, they’ll demand the devices be smashed with hammer (or whatever means of destruction one prefers) — even if they are little dolls. Couple Too High On Meth To Take Baby Suffering From Severe Burns To Hospital   The parents of a baby who was reportedly burned over 40-percent of her body have been sentenced to prison, after they failed to seek medical care for the baby. Their 16-day-old baby girl, Mia’Kota Eddy, was badly burned while being bathed by a 16-year-old cousin on December 27, 2016. “(The girl) stated the infant was in the sink under the running water, and she said she turned off what she thought was the hot water. However, she accidentally turned off the cold water and the infant was accidentally burned,” Ada Police Detective Brian Engel stated in an affidavit. According to KXII, police said that the water hit 145-degrees. The teenage girl told her mother, who then called the infant’s parents, 25-year-old Patrick Edward Eddy and 26-year-old Candace Mercedes Matthews. Eddy and Matthews later picked up the child and took her home. The following day, the family friend went to check on the baby, an affidavit states. The woman walked into the home and found the baby crying. “(The woman) stated on arrival she observed the infant to be in a bed crying, and she stated the infant’s diaper was full of urine and feces,” Engel said in the affidavit. “ (The woman) stated (Eddy and Matthews) were asleep in a bed next to the infant. (The woman) stated she then observed the burn on the infant’s stomach, and she stated the injury looked ‘awful’. (The woman) stated she woke up (Matthews) and asked her if she wanted her to take the infant to the hospital.” The woman later took the infant to a hospital, where she was then flown to an Oklahoma City hospital to be treated for her severe burns. Sadly, the infant suffered first- and second-degree burns over 40-percent of her body. “If we hadn’t got her help, she could’ve laid there and died,”  LaCretia McDow said. According to the affidavit, the parents, Eddy and Matthews, admitted that they did not take the child to the hospital because they were high on methamphetamine and were unaware of the extent of the baby’s injuries. The affidavit also mentions the parents had no idea their child had been flown to an Oklahoma City hospital for treatment and were sleeping when officers arrived to question them about the infant’s burns. The infant was later sent to a burn center in Arkansas to recover. Officials said that the baby survived her injuries.  She remains in state custody. Eddy and Matthews have arrested for child neglect. This week, the couple took a plea deal and have sentenced to 10 years in prison SaveSave The post Government Tells Parents To Destroy These Children`s Smartwatches appeared first on Kids Safety Network.

    Kids Safety Network / 15 h. 48 min. ago more
  • Teenage Girl Dies After Being Electrocuted In Her SleepTeenage Girl Dies After Being Electrocuted In Her Sleep

    A teenage girl in Vietnam has died after being electrocuted in her sleep by her faulty iPhone charging cable. Le Thi Xoan, aged 14, reportedly rolled over onto the torn cable and as a result, been exposed to the live wire, police in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi said. The girl was found unconscious by her parents and was rushed to a local hospital; however, doctors were unable to revive her and pronounced her dead. Police later found the burnt white cable on her bed and believe that a slight tear in the rubber casing may have revealed the live wires inside. According to investigators, the police believe that the girl had plugged her Apple device into charge and laid the iPhone 6 on her bed just like she did every night. The police said the tragedy likely struck as she slept and rolled onto the iPhone’s charging cable, which electrocuted her with the current. The charging cable is now being inspected but the authorities said they are yet to determine whether it was the original Apple wire or a third-party device. In a picture showing the burnt cable, it appears to be shorter than Apple’s original 20-inch charging cable. See-through tape had also been wrapped around the front of the cable, which suggests that the victim may have been aware of the wear and tear but decided to continue using it regardless. Couple Too High On Meth To Take Baby Suffering From Severe Burns To Hospital   The parents of a baby who was reportedly burned over 40-percent of her body have been sentenced to prison, after they failed to seek medical care for the baby. Their 16-day-old baby girl, Mia’Kota Eddy, was badly burned while being bathed by a 16-year-old cousin on December 27, 2016. “(The girl) stated the infant was in the sink under the running water, and she said she turned off what she thought was the hot water. However, she accidentally turned off the cold water and the infant was accidentally burned,” Ada Police Detective Brian Engel stated in an affidavit. According to KXII, police said that the water hit 145-degrees. The teenage girl told her mother, who then called the infant’s parents, 25-year-old Patrick Edward Eddy and 26-year-old Candace Mercedes Matthews. Eddy and Matthews later picked up the child and took her home. The following day, the family friend went to check on the baby, an affidavit states. The woman walked into the home and found the baby crying. “(The woman) stated on arrival she observed the infant to be in a bed crying, and she stated the infant’s diaper was full of urine and feces,” Engel said in the affidavit. “ (The woman) stated (Eddy and Matthews) were asleep in a bed next to the infant. (The woman) stated she then observed the burn on the infant’s stomach, and she stated the injury looked ‘awful’. (The woman) stated she woke up (Matthews) and asked her if she wanted her to take the infant to the hospital.” The woman later took the infant to a hospital, where she was then flown to an Oklahoma City hospital to be treated for her severe burns. Sadly, the infant suffered first- and second-degree burns over 40-percent of her body. “If we hadn’t got her help, she could’ve laid there and died,”  LaCretia McDow said. According to the affidavit, the parents, Eddy and Matthews, admitted that they did not take the child to the hospital because they were high on methamphetamine and were unaware of the extent of the baby’s injuries. The affidavit also mentions the parents had no idea their child had been flown to an Oklahoma City hospital for treatment and were sleeping when officers arrived to question them about the infant’s burns. The infant was later sent to a burn center in Arkansas to recover. Officials said that the baby survived her injuries.  She remains in state custody. Eddy and Matthews have arrested for child neglect. This week, the couple took a plea deal and have sentenced to 10 years in prison. SaveSave The post Teenage Girl Dies After Being Electrocuted In Her Sleep appeared first on Kids Safety Network.

    Kids Safety Network / 16 h. 8 min. ago more
  • Mom Sues Hospital After Son Turns Gay From Flu ShotMom Sues Hospital After Son Turns Gay From Flu Shot

    The Mom of a 16-year-old teen who recently received a flu shot at San Francisco General Hospital, is now suing the hospital after she noticed extreme changes in her son’s sexual preferences. The single Mom of two is now blaming the hospital for giving her son a vaccine shot which allegedly has made him queer. “My son was perfectly normal before the shot” she told reporters. “ I don’t have a problem with other people being gay, don’t get me wrong. But he’s my son! ” – Andrea Benenacci, Mother “The doctor told me there could be some secondary effects to the shot, either fever or make him short-tempered for a few days, but they never told me he’d turn gay!” she explained, visibly furious over the whole affair.   The young teenager’s 83-year-old grandmother, Fidela Benenacci, bears witness to the tremendous changes her grandson’s personality has suffered since the vaccine shot “He had been going out with this beautiful young Italian girl for the past two years, they were such a cute couple” she remembers, visibly distraught. “Anthony used to be such a good boy, he came to church every Sunday with us without complaining but now, since the vaccine shot, he is barely recognizable. I wish he had never left for the hospital that morning,” she admits in tears. In the weeks after the visit to the hospital, the teen has put an end to his relationship with his girlfriend of two years and has since then started to dress in “feminine ways” and his family believes that he is already in a relationship with an “older man.” “You’ve got to understand, I have nothing against being gay and all,” explains the mother. “But my son was 100% normal before! He was the leading quarterback before he quit his high school team two weeks ago and I caught him red-handed wearing cheerleading clothes the other day. It’s like God has punished my family or something,” she admitted angrily. Medical specialist Frank Weishberg claims that he has observed a progression in similar claims in the past decade. “In my 40 years of research on male health relating to problems of the male reproductive system, I have been witness to at least a hundred similar cases only in the past decade, with a large amount in the San Francisco Bay area, which is extremely atypical,” he admits. “It is possible that an immunodeficiency present in the victims, coordinated with agents in the vaccines, could upset the chromosomes of the patient’s DNA and eventually develop the production of female hormones in the body,” he explained. “Further research must be validated until we can prove this but the subject is extremely taboo and pharmaceutical companies vehemently deny any wrong doing on their part,” he concludes. The Association for the Protection of Victims of Vaccines (APVV) has also identified 1,248 cases of “profound $exual behavioral changes” allegedly caused by vaccines in 2014 alone and warns the population to “be aware of the implications and possible health hazards” linked to vaccination. The post Mom Sues Hospital After Son Turns Gay From Flu Shot appeared first on Kids Safety Network.

    Kids Safety Network / 16 h. 28 min. ago more
  • YouTube Cans The Weird And Creepy Kid Channel `Toy Freaks`YouTube Cans The Weird And Creepy Kid Channel `Toy Freaks`

    YouTube has put an end to the massive channel Toy Freaks in what appears to be a purge of questionable content which has been targeted at kids. With more than 8.5 million subscribers, Toy Freaks was one of the largest channels to produce content for children, though many parents were concerned with the weird, often creepy, and potentially abusive videos. The channel featured a father, who was referred to as “Freak Daddy” and his two daughters, Victoria and Annabelle. Even though the channel has been terminated, a quick search on YouTube will still show a number of their videos existing on other channels, like the one below. A spokesperson for YouTube put forward the following statement: “We take child safety extremely seriously and have clear policies against child endangerment. We recently tightened the enforcement of these policies to tackle content featuring minors where we receive signals that cause concern. It’s not always clear that the uploader of the content intends to break our rules, but we may still remove their videos to help protect viewers, uploaders and children. We’ve terminated the Toy Freaks channel for violation of our policies. We will be conducting a broader review of associated content in conjunction with expert Trusted Flaggers.” Many of their videos featured the girls in possibly abusive situations, prompting concerned parents and popular YouTubers to complain, and call for a shutdown of the channel. While criticism of Toy Freaks has existed for years, recent media coverage of this channel and others like it has brought more attention to the videos. “This … father puts his young daughters under extreme pressure, pain, stress and anxiety and films them. He is profiting off of his children’s pain and suffering. If this isn’t abuse, I don’t know what is,” one Redditor wrote on the YouTube subbredit. In the same post, the Redditor describes a specific video, which bothered them. “One of their latest videos sees the father follow his little girl into the bathroom and film her as she’s crying in severe pain, blood flowing from her mouth and her tooth falling out,” they wrote. The channel also made famous the “bad baby” trope, which often featured one of the children on the channel misbehaving. “Toddler is never so uncontrollable as she is after watching one of those stupid fucking bad baby videos,” an annoyed parent wrote about the trope. While Toy Freaks was very popular, it was also a money-making machine that benefitted heavily from YouTube’s algorithm. According to the third-party analytics site Social Blade, the channel raked in an estimated $838,300 to $13.4 million per year. While that estimate is vast, even the low end of that scale shows that some serious money was being made. Not too long ago, we reported that creepy, weird, and often violent videos were slipping through YouTube’s filters, often landing on its YouTube Kids app. YouTube then announced a new policy change last week, which age restricts flagged content on its main app, which will automatically block it from getting filtered into the Kids App. The Toy Freaks channel appears to be just another step in a larger push from YouTube to reign in its content put out there for children. The post YouTube Cans The Weird And Creepy Kid Channel `Toy Freaks` appeared first on Kids Safety Network.

    Kids Safety Network / 16 h. 43 min. ago more
  • Couple Too High On Meth To Take Baby Suffering From Severe Burns To HospitalCouple Too High On Meth To Take Baby Suffering From Severe Burns To Hospital

    The parents of a baby who was reportedly burned over 40-percent of her body have been sentenced to prison, after they failed to seek medical care for the baby. Their 16-day-old baby girl, Mia’Kota Eddy, was badly burned while being bathed by a 16-year-old cousin on December 27, 2016. “(The girl) stated the infant was in the sink under the running water, and she said she turned off what she thought was the hot water. However, she accidentally turned off the cold water and the infant was accidentally burned,” Ada Police Detective Brian Engel stated in an affidavit. According to KXII, police said that the water hit 145-degrees. The teenage girl told her mother, who then called the infant’s parents, 25-year-old Patrick Edward Eddy and 26-year-old Candace Mercedes Matthews. Eddy and Matthews later picked up the child and took her home. The following day, the family friend went to check on the baby, an affidavit states. The woman walked into the home and found the baby crying. “(The woman) stated on arrival she observed the infant to be in a bed crying, and she stated the infant’s diaper was full of urine and feces,” Engel said in the affidavit. “ (The woman) stated (Eddy and Matthews) were asleep in a bed next to the infant. (The woman) stated she then observed the burn on the infant’s stomach, and she stated the injury looked ‘awful’. (The woman) stated she woke up (Matthews) and asked her if she wanted her to take the infant to the hospital.” The woman later took the infant to a hospital, where she was then flown to an Oklahoma City hospital to be treated for her severe burns. Sadly, the infant suffered first- and second-degree burns over 40-percent of her body. “If we hadn’t got her help, she could’ve laid there and died,”  LaCretia McDow said. According to the affidavit, the parents, Eddy and Matthews, admitted that they did not take the child to the hospital because they were high on methamphetamine and were unaware of the extent of the baby’s injuries. The affidavit also mentions the parents had no idea their child had been flown to an Oklahoma City hospital for treatment and were sleeping when officers arrived to question them about the infant’s burns. The infant was later sent to a burn center in Arkansas to recover. Officials said that the baby survived her injuries.  She remains in state custody. Eddy and Matthews have arrested for child neglect. This week, the couple took a plea deal and have sentenced to 10 years in prison. The post Couple Too High On Meth To Take Baby Suffering From Severe Burns To Hospital appeared first on Kids Safety Network.

    Kids Safety Network / 1 d. 21 h. 8 min. ago more
  • Would You Be Able To Spot A Child Molester’s Tricks?Would You Be Able To Spot A Child Molester’s Tricks?

    Do you think you would be able to pick up when a sexual predator was using deceptive “grooming techniques” in order to gain access to your kid? In a lot of cases, the red flags can in fact be under our noses. But often, parents who learn that their child has been victimized will share the same reaction… “I had no idea… He was so nice… He didn’t look like a molester.” Let’s look at some of the warning signs: A predator doesn’t actually look like the “boogeyman.” If this was the case, it would be easy to stay away to recognise and avoid them right? Child molesters are experts at deception and if they weren’t, they’d never get away with their despicable acts. Molesters are mostly NOT strangers.  In fact, 90% of the time, they have a relationship with their victims and the family. Molestors use deliberate tricks and ploys to gain a child’s (or our) trust. This is their first step of the process. Once they’ve accomplished that, they can proceed with their second step, which is to sexually victimize their target. Who Are They? It could be Relatives, a family friend who spends a lot of time at your home, a married neighbor or co-worker, cousins or older siblings, the ice cream man, that nice old man who lives next door and seems so harmless, the soccer coach or teacher who takes such a special interest in one particular child, above all the others. It can be someone who works very hard at arranging “alone-time” with your child, making it seem like they’re doing you a favor! What Do They Look For? A vulnerable target – a kid in need of some extra attention or affection, or one who seems shy and lacking in confidence, sometimes a child who may be more of a loner or in need of friendship or guidance. An opportunity For example, at social gatherings, most adults will chat for a few minutes with the kids, and then turn their attention to the other adults for conversation, etc. But if all the grown-ups are in the kitchen, and “Uncle Bob” always prefers to stay in the living room with the kids playing “Twister”, pay attention to that red flag. Their modus operandi By using the things that kids love as bribes or gifts. Toys, video games, computer gadgets, extravagant gifts. “Mom and Dad can’t afford to get you that new Wii game? Come on over to my place, you can play with it here.” “You’re not allowed to watch a certain TV show at home? You can watch it at my house, with me!” A child molester is an expert at relating to kids, speaking their language, and working very hard at being “one of the gang.” What Deters A Child Molester? The fear of them being caught out. If a molester thinks that  your child won’t “keep the secret” or sees that you’re a visible parent, involved in your child’s daily life and activities, he will often move on to an easier target. No one wants to go through life being distrustful of everyone. Smart parents know that there are certain red flag behaviors that are usually present when someone is “grooming” a child for their own devious purposes. We have to be aware and alert to certain behaviors in those who interact with our kids. If you or your child become aware of the following red flags, do not allow “one-on-one” alone time with that person. By recognizing these tricks early on, we can intercept the grooming process BEFORE it feeds itself into actual molestation.   Here are some Red Flag Behaviors And Warning Signs as shared by modernmom.com 1. Someone who repeatedly ignores social, emotional or physical boundaries or limits. 2. Someone who singles out one child as a “special friend”, lavishing them with a lot of extra attention, gifts, flattery – developing an age-inappropriate relationship with that child. 3. Someone who often insists upon or suggests a lot of uninterrupted “alone” time with a child. 4. Someone who refuses to let a child set any of his or her own limits. 5. Someone who insists on hugging, touching, kissing, tickling, wrestling with or holding a child even when the child does not want this physical contact or attention. 6. Someone who shares inappropriate personal or private information with a child, that should normally by shared with adults only. 7. Someone who frequently points out sexual images or tells inappropriate, suggestive stories or jokes with children present. 8. Someone who seems overly interested in the sexuality of a particular child or teen, and talks repeatedly about the child’s developing body. 9. Someone who appears to be “too good to be true”, frequently offering to baby sit different children for free; taking children on special outings alone; often buying children gifts or giving them money for no apparent reason – especially an adult who does not have children of their own. 10. Someone who frequently walks in on children/teens in the bathroom. SaveSave The post Would You Be Able To Spot A Child Molester’s Tricks? appeared first on Kids Safety Network.

    Kids Safety Network / 1 d. 21 h. 42 min. ago more
  • Shocking News: Woman Charged With Killing Her Boyfriend`s 2-Year-Old SonShocking News: Woman Charged With Killing Her Boyfriend`s 2-Year-Old Son

    A 21-year-old woman has been accused of killing her boyfriend’s 2-year-old son after slamming his head on the floor of a DeKalb home last week. Alexandra Hoyle, of DeKalb, has now been charged with two counts of first-degree murder and aggravated battery to a child, the DeKalb Police Department announced on Thursday. Officers had to be called about 7:20 p.m. on Friday by staff at Kishwaukee Community Hospital in DeKalb regarding a 2-year-old boy who suffered a severe brain injury and was transferred to Lurie Children’s Hospital, police confirmed. An investigation later found that Hoyle, who was the girlfriend of the boy’s father, had slammed the child’s head onto the hardwood floor of their home in the 800 block of Ridge Drive in DeKalb, police said. Hoyle was then taken into custody and charged with aggravated battery to a child. She was released after posting $10,000 bond. The child, who has been identified as Khalil Body, died at Lurie Children’s Hospital at 3:31 p.m. Wednesday, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office. An autopsy found that he died of blunt force trauma to his head from child abuse and his death was ruled a homicide. Hoyle was later taken back into custody at Cambridge Court in DeKalb, police said. The woman was taken to the DeKalb County Jail and her bail was set at $5 million. “On behalf of the DeKalb Police Department we offer our sincere condolences, and our thoughts and prayers are with the victim and those that survive him,” DeKalb Police Chief Gene Lowery said. The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is currently investigating Hoyle for allegations of abuse and neglect resulting in Khalil’s death, spokeswoman Alissandra Calderon said in a statement. DCFS has not had any prior contact with Hoyle. The department has however, had prior contact with Khalil’s biological mother and father, Calderon said. In May of 2016, the mother was indicated for neglect and allegations of neglect against the father were deemed unfounded. Then in October 2017, allegations of neglect against both parents were deemed unfounded. Khalil’s twin brother was in the home at the time of the incident and is now in the custody of his father, Calderon said. The investigation is still ongoing. This Man Beat His 4-Month-Old Daughter To Death Because She Was Crying A man from Pennsylvania beat his 4-month-old daughter to death – all because she would not stop crying, authorities have said. Allegheny County Police said George Gazzam, first told officers the baby had fallen out of bed at their Mt. Lebanon home on Sunday. An autopsy however later showed Victoria Gazzam suffered bleeding of the brain, a lacerated heart vessel, a lacerated left kidney, a liver contusion, three fractured ribs, multiple bruises to the back and head as well as a hemorrhage behind the eyes. Coroner Christine James told Allegheny County officials that the injuries could not have occurred from the baby falling two feet to a carpeted floor. When he was confronted with the autopsy, police said Gazzam changed his story and admitted to punching the child a number of times because she was “fussy.” “She stopped breathing and her eyes rolled back in her head,” Gazzam told police according to the criminal complaint. The child’s mother was reportedly working at the time and is working with detectives, according to police. Gazzam is currently being held in the county jail, charged with homicide and child endangerment. The post Shocking News: Woman Charged With Killing Her Boyfriend`s 2-Year-Old Son appeared first on Kids Safety Network.

    Kids Safety Network / 1 d. 22 h. 13 min. ago more
  • Boy Suspended From School For 3 Days. His Mom Is Praised For Clever PunishmentBoy Suspended From School For 3 Days. His Mom Is Praised For Clever Punishment

    Boy Suspended From School For 3 Days. His Mom Is Praised For Clever Punishment School suspension is a rather controversial topic. There are certain negative behaviors which are almost universally recognized as needing to be addressed in some way. But is suspension from school really the best way of punishing students? When students are required to leave their school for a specified time period, many wonder whether this absence from school classes is the best form of discipline. A Mom from Shreveport, Louisiana wasn’t going to let her son’s suspension turn into a holiday. Demetris Payne’s smart punishment for her son has gone viral. Not only has her form of punishment gone viral, it has received plenty of praise. It’s a bold step for a parent to publically share exactly how they will discipline their child. So for someone to receive overwhelmingly positive feedback about their choice of discipline is quite rare! Which means it must be good. Regardless of your opinion on the suspension debate, one can respect the lesson Payne aimed to teach her son who was suspended from school for three days. Facebook groups may not always be the best place to look for help in disciplining your child. But for Payne, the South Bossier Online Yard Sale Facebook group actually was of great assistance during the suspension period. The Mom shared that her son was suspended and then, she shared how her community could help. They could help by allowing her suspended son to help them. The Mother wrote quite the advertisement on her son’s behalf. Payne wrote, “He will do your lawn service, he will rake your yard, mow if you supply the mower, pick up trash, or wash your car for free.”“Maximum three hours. If anyone has a rake they would like to donate will be awesome,” she continued. Requests then flew into Payne’s inbox. A very strict schedule was created in order to ensure that he made it to all of his appointments to do the various tasks. A hedger, lawnmower, and weed eater were all donated to her son. The boy mowed lawns and cleaned up yards all while his mother made sure he stayed on task. Payne then posted videos and photos of her son doing the yard work, which resulted in hundreds of encouraging comments. Natalie Ann Phillips commented, “So glad that his suspension was spent doing community service and teaching a lesson as opposed to a 3-day vacation.” Another comment by Meghan Lester said: “WE NEED MORE MOMMAS LIKE YOU!!! I love this and love more that you were willing to take time from your days to be beside him as he did the yard work!” Payne then shared a positive update at the end of her son’s suspension. She shared, “Meeting with all his teachers and set up a plan so we can make sure he stays on track.” Payne’s clever idea to turn her son’s suspension into a positive time of discipline and service is refreshing and inspiring. What do you think? The post Boy Suspended From School For 3 Days. His Mom Is Praised For Clever Punishment appeared first on Kids Safety Network.

    Kids Safety Network / 1 d. 22 h. 26 min. ago more
  • Prisoner Kills Inmate Who Beat  His 2-Day-Old Daughter To DeathPrisoner Kills Inmate Who Beat His 2-Day-Old Daughter To Death

    Fox News reported on a father serving a life sentence for beating his 2-day-old baby to death. The man was found dead in his U.K. prison cell last weekend and another prisoner has been charged in his death, The Yorkshire Evening Post reported. Liam Deane, 22, who reportedly punched, shook and squeezed his 2-day-old daughter to death last July, was found dead in his prison cell at HMP Leeds on Sunday morning, the report said. Deane reportedly admitted to killing his 2-day-old daughter, Luna, in July after the baby would not stop crying. Deane was handed a life sentence last month and would serve a minimum of  10 years. John Westland, 28, has been charged with Deane’s murder and remains held in custody. It is unclear as to why Westland was in jail. Tragic News: Toddler Dies After Chasing Toy Truck That Toppled From An Arizona Cliff Authorities say that an Omaha toddler, who fell nearly 60 feet to his death during a family trip to Arizona in September, was chasing a toy truck when it rolled over the edge of a cliff. The toddler reportedly followed the truck past a safety rail. The incident occurred on September 2 at Midgely Bridge, which is a popular destination for visitors. The child landed on a ledge below and emergency medical personnel said the child died at the scene. The death has been ruled accidental and was investigated by the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office and Sedona Police Department. A police investigator spoke with the child’s father, Rajashekar Katpally, and mother, Sangeetha Citore as part of the investigation. The parents reportedly said they had been in a rocky area below the Midlley Bridge parking lot, where their 2-year-old had been playing with the toy truck. The toy then went over the cliff and the child fell while in pursuit. Katpally said that the family had arrived in Arizona the night before and were on their way to the Grand Canyon when they pulled off at the Midgely Bridge. They were taking pictures while the child was playing with the toy. The Sheriff’s Department had received a report from the Medical Examiner on October 2nd documenting the cause of death as “blunt force injuries of the head and neck.” The ME report describes “the manner of death as an accident.”   SaveSave The post Prisoner Kills Inmate Who Beat His 2-Day-Old Daughter To Death appeared first on Kids Safety Network.

    Kids Safety Network / 1 d. 22 h. 48 min. ago more
  • Zapzapmath App- More Math Games Elementary School Kids Will EnjoyZapzapmath App- More Math Games Elementary School Kids Will Enjoy

    Math is such an important subject for kids to master. You don’t want them to struggle early on because all math skills build upon the basics and it just get more complex. You also want to encourage kids to like math and feel pride as they improve. A great way to help kids succeed in […] The post Zapzapmath App- More Math Games Elementary School Kids Will Enjoy appeared first on Family Focus Blog.

    Family Focus Blog / 2 d. 17 h. 12 min. ago more
  • Best Ways To Bring #JoyToTheTableBest Ways To Bring #JoyToTheTable

    The holidays are coming! This time of year is full of excitement. First comes a Thanksgiving celebration feast and next thing you know, Christmas is upon us. There are so may family gatherings, joyous festivities, and unique holiday traditions. Today I am going to share with you some of the best ways to bring #JoyToTheTable […] The post Best Ways To Bring #JoyToTheTable appeared first on Family Focus Blog.

    Family Focus Blog / 3 d. 16 h. 17 min. ago more
  • Surviving or Thriving?Surviving or Thriving?

    “Luke, how are you and Jena getting along with three kids now?” “Oh, we’re surviving.” I’ve said this countless times and I know my wife uses this phrase daily. Thinking about how busy and chaotic our lives have become, surviving to see tomorrow seems to be a pretty accurate goal. Jena’s up before 5 am to workout, shower, and then busting her tail to get Sawyer to kindergarten, pick up groceries, make her play date at the park, fix lunch, take Presley to preschool, put Austen down for a nap, do laundry, pick up Presley from school, pick up Sawyer The post Surviving or Thriving? appeared first on Des Moines Parent.

    Des Moines Parent / 3 d. 18 h. 37 min. ago more
  • What Your Ice Cream Choice Might Mean About YouWhat Your Ice Cream Choice Might Mean About You

    Nov 9, 2017 ... Explore the full list of benefits available to you as an AARP Member · Making sure your valuables survive a cataclysmic event · 5 hidden winter ...

    AARP: Family / 4 d. 4 h. 37 min. ago
  • AARP Presents 'Badass Pilot: The Series'AARP Presents 'Badass Pilot: The Series'

    The first episode launches Nov. 14 on the AARP YouTube channel, featuring veteran Art Nalls, the only private citizen to own a Harrier fighter jet.

    AARP: Family / 4 d. 4 h. 37 min. ago
  • Hot Holiday Gifts for PetsHot Holiday Gifts for Pets

    Nov 9, 2017 ... How to save money on pet prescriptions · Explore the full list of benefits available to you as an AARP Member · 5 foods that can poison pets ...

    AARP: Family / 4 d. 4 h. 37 min. ago
  • Ask a Millennial: Advice From MillennialsAsk a Millennial: Advice From Millennials

    by Jamie Peck, AARP, November 9, 2017|Comments: 0. Ask A Millenial. Ulrike Schmitt-Hartmann/Getty ... AARP Membership: Join or Renew for Just $16 a Year  ...

    AARP: Family / 4 d. 4 h. 37 min. ago
  • Try This Darling Paper Plate Turkey Craft To Keep The Kids Busy!Try This Darling Paper Plate Turkey Craft To Keep The Kids Busy!

    We love holiday crafts around here! There’s just something about crafting around holidays that’s just so much fun. As Thanksgiving quickly approaches, I wanted to think of a simple but fun craft that the kiddos in the family could make while the Thanksgiving food is being prepared….something to occupy a little of their time! This […] The post Try This Darling Paper Plate Turkey Craft To Keep The Kids Busy! appeared first on Family Focus Blog.

    Family Focus Blog / 4 d. 15 h. 43 min. ago more
  • Brenton Skating Plaza 2017 + Giveaway!Brenton Skating Plaza 2017 + Giveaway!

    This Friday (November 17) kicks-off the 2017 season for Brenton Skating Plaza! You will not want to miss opening day at Brenton Skating Plaza. It will be held in conjunction with another Des Moines holiday favorite, the East Village Holiday Promenade.This will be the official kickoff to the Holiday season in Downtown Des Moines. Brenton Skating Plaza Hours: Monday – Thursday; 3 to 9 p.m. Friday & Saturday; Noon to 11 p.m. Sunday; Noon to 6 p.m. Holiday Hours: Thursday, November 23 (Thanksgiving); 4 to 9 p.m. Friday, November 24 & Saturday, November 25; 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, December The post Brenton Skating Plaza 2017 + Giveaway! appeared first on Des Moines Parent.

    Des Moines Parent / 4 d. 18 h. 36 min. ago more
  • Pre-Thanksgiving Feast Entertaining TipsPre-Thanksgiving Feast Entertaining Tips

    Ready- Set- It’s almost Thanksgiving! Here are 5 pre-Thanksgiving feast entertaining tips to help you be ready for the the crowds. They are some of the little things you may not think about with all the food prep going on but that really help set the guests at ease. This post is sponsored by BabbleBoxx.com. […] The post Pre-Thanksgiving Feast Entertaining Tips appeared first on Family Focus Blog.

    Family Focus Blog / 5 d. 16 h. 19 min. ago more
  • Central Iowa Winter Programs 2017Central Iowa Winter Programs 2017

    There is always a little gap between the holidays and when your kiddos return to school. Not sure what they will do during those days? Check out some of these great winter camps central Iowa has to offer. Am I missing one? Let me know! Blank Park Zoo Winter Safari  December 27 – 29  9 a.m. to 4 p.m.  This year’s theme is Wild Winter. What do animals do this time of year? Which zoo animals love the winter? Find out ways you can get outside to learn, explore and have fun with ice and snow through lessons, games and nature activities related to the The post Central Iowa Winter Programs 2017 appeared first on Des Moines Parent.

    Des Moines Parent / 5 d. 18 h. 37 min. ago more
  • Review of Botox – Health and Aesthetics ClinicReview of Botox – Health and Aesthetics Clinic

    We sent one of the team to undergo Botox treatment as part of our review of aesthetic treatments. Charlotte Vaughan visited the Health and Aesthetics Clinic in Farnham. As I approach my mid-late 40s I feel quite upset to notice so many wrinkles on my face, something that has never bothered me in the past. I am very curious and willing to try anything at least once, so I decided it was time to try my first Botox injection. I want to mention that I would never undergo any type of treatment if I had not felt completely safe with the medical professional from the health and aesthetics clinic in Farnham. Is Botox right for me? To begin with let me just say that I do not think anyone “needs” Botox. As I approach my 47th Birthday, my skin looks tired and the lines are very prominent. My skin is definitely in need of a re-fresh! I am not looking to normalise the procedure, or make it seem like something you should be doing, but after so many people commented on how well I looked I wanted to let you know about the experience I had with the leading cosmetic clinic, health and aesthetics clinic based in Surrey. I have always been afraid of having Botox, you hear lots of horror stories about frozen faces and wonky eyebrows so I knew I wanted to go to a doctor-led clinic who have lots of experience. The Health and Aesthetics Clinic is led by Dr Rekha Tailor, a highly-qualified aesthetic doctor and GP who leads a team of fully trained, experienced and qualified aesthetic experts. The Clinic is based in Farnham, close to the M25 and easily accessible from all areas of the South and South East. The Clinic is a beautiful space, very calming and relaxing. I started to unwind as soon as I stepped through the door. Dr Rekha Tailor made me feel very comfortable and informed me of the process of having the injections, she also took the time to explain to me about how the ageing process works and what happens to deeper layers of the skin as you age. The pre-treatment consultation was so informative and I felt very confident to go ahead with the Botox. Me and my face Recently, I have noticed that my ‘frown lines’ are very deep and indented I have always frowned a lot and I feel now is the time to do something about it. I tend to focus on a lot of things on the computer and I am constantly frowning or stressed about something.  I’m not surprised my frown lines are so bad, after all, that is how wrinkles appear by repeated movement that affects the skin and then creates creases in the skin. I also have plenty of wrinkles on my forehead and pronounced ‘crows’ feet around my eyes, I am confident Botox will help. What happens during an injection? After Dr Tailor explained everything in great detail and answered all of my questions, she also took a few minutes to study my features with me and see what aspects to consider. She then took pictures with many exaggerated facial expressions for a comparison; she then filled a small syringe of Botox. The injection is carried out without anaesthesia and takes only a few minutes, the time to inject 5-7 places of the face. It is not painful and very fast. Dr Tailor then asked me to do some contraction exercises to ‘fix’ the product in place under the skin. Small red spots appeared on my face after the treatment, but they faded after a few minutes. Dr Tailor then sets a follow up visit for the coming weeks to ensure that the result exactly meets her expectations and to make sure I am happy with the result. The results The results are not immediate, they appear gradually to a maximum result after 2-3 weeks and gradually fade over the following months. After 2 weeks, I am no longer squinting and can see less lines on the top part of my face, everything seems a lot smoother and very natural. I have revealed my secret to my husband only and no one else around me has noticed but everyone is commenting on how good I look without really noticing any major changes.  I am so pleased with the result and there is definitely a spring in my step from all the positive comments. I am starting to get a real boost as I look in the mirror. Another result I was not expecting, is that my eyelids are lifted so my eyes seem more open, awake and alert.  The results are not final because the injected muscles recover over time so it is recommended to return approximately every 4-6 months depending on the reappearance of wrinkles. The procedure was carried out by Dr Rekha Tailor, at the Health and Aesthetics Clinic in Farnham. Prices start from £200 for Botox injections. To book an appointment with Dr Rekha Tailor,please visit www.healthandaesthetics.co.uk Twitter: @DrRekhaTailor Facebook: MyFamilyClub 5 Star Rating: We have given a 5-star rating to Health and Aesthetics Clinic for professionalism by medical staff, treatment results and value for money.   The post Review of Botox – Health and Aesthetics Clinic appeared first on My Family Club.

    My Family Club / 5 d. 19 h. 29 min. ago more
  • World Kindness Day 2017- If Kids Could Change One ThingWorld Kindness Day 2017- If Kids Could Change One Thing

    For World Kindness Day 2017, I am really happy to share with you Highlights’ State of the Kid 2017 survey because it gives great insight into what kids are thinking. Growing up in today’s world with so much scary stuff happening in the news can’t help but have some effect on kids. The answers children […] The post World Kindness Day 2017- If Kids Could Change One Thing appeared first on Family Focus Blog.

    Family Focus Blog / 6 d. 17 h. 45 min. ago more
  • more news
  • World Kindness Day + Kindness Every Day!World Kindness Day + Kindness Every Day!

    Happy World Kindness Day! It is great that we celebrate a day of kindness, but we all know that kindness should be shared and spread all year round. With everything going on in our world today, I believe it is even more crucial to teach ways to our children about kindness. Most of our children probably do things that bring warmth to our hearts and others, without even knowing it. I have created the 25 Days of Kindness chart. Make a challenge as a family to do all of these 25 things in 25 days or make it a challenge The post World Kindness Day + Kindness Every Day! appeared first on Des Moines Parent.

    Des Moines Parent / 6 d. 18 h. 37 min. ago more
  • How to Deal with and Control Anger in 5 WaysHow to Deal with and Control Anger in 5 Ways

    Learn how to deal with anger and frustration. Here are the best tips and ways of dealing with anger or to control your anger. Making anger management easy.

    Aha!NOW / 6 d. 23 h. 7 min. ago
  • Beef and Bacon with LentilsBeef and Bacon with Lentils

    Succulent beef and salty bacon with delicious lentils all in one big stew. The perfect Winter warmer and really quick to prepare. Serve with mashed potato or crusty bread with salted butter. Add a little garnish of fresh parsley on top to serve and you have a wonderful dish the whole family can enjoy. How many does it serve? 4 What is the prep time? 10 mins What is the cooking time? 60 mins What you need: 250 g Crazy Jack red lentils 1 tbsp vegetable oil 25 g butter 2 onions, thinly sliced 2 tbsp plain flour Salt and pepper, to season 450 g stewing steak, trimmed and sliced 4 rashers unsmoked bacon, chopped 1 x 400 g can chopped tomatoes 175 ml beef stock 2 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce 1 tbsp tomato purée ¼ tsp dried mixed herbs Handful of black olives 4 tbsp soured cream 2 tbsp chopped parsley What you do: Place the Crazy Jack lentils in a pan of cold water, bring to the boil, then simmer for 20 minutes until partly cooked. Drain and put to one side. Heat half the oil and half the butter in a saucepan over a low heat. Add the onions and part cooked lentils and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, season the flour and toss the meat in the seasoned flour. Add the tomatoes, stock, Worcestershire Sauce, tomato purée, herbs and olives to the lentil pan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover and leave to simmer, stirring occasionally. Heat the remaining oil and butter in a large frying pan over a moderate heat until sizzling. Add the floured beef and the bacon pieces and fry for three to four minutes until brown. Add the meat to the lentil and tomato mixture and simmer for five minutes more. Spoon into bowls and top each with a dollop of soured cream and a sprinkling of fresh parsley before serving. Recipe provided to MyFamilyClub by Crazy Jack The post Beef and Bacon with Lentils appeared first on My Family Club.

    My Family Club / 7 d. 1 h. 7 min. ago more
  • Our Favorite Christmas Gifts….for grown ups!Our Favorite Christmas Gifts….for grown ups!

    If you are looking for the perfect gift for the adult in your life, check out our Christmas Gift guide for adults! Check out our top picks now! The post Our Favorite Christmas Gifts….for grown ups! appeared first on Family Vacations US.

    Family Vacations US / 7 d. 7 h. 11 min. ago
  • 3 Simple Healthy Breakfast Ideas You Will Want To Add to Your Weekly Routine3 Simple Healthy Breakfast Ideas You Will Want To Add to Your Weekly Routine

    I have always believed that what we put into our bodies has a direct effect upon our health. That is why I try to make healthy meals for my family. Lucky for me, simple and healthy often go hand in hand. That is the case with today’s recipes that I will be sharing with you. […] The post 3 Simple Healthy Breakfast Ideas You Will Want To Add to Your Weekly Routine appeared first on Family Focus Blog.

    Family Focus Blog / 7 d. 17 h. 57 min. ago more
  • Fruity Rocky Road with Belvoir Fruit FarmsFruity Rocky Road with Belvoir Fruit Farms

    Deliciously sticky, moist and moreish this Rocky Road could be the slippery slope to naughtiness!  One piece is never enough. It makes a great treat for lunchboxes to help ease you out of the holiday season and back into work. Why not pop in a can of Belvoir’s Elderflower Pressé Light to enjoy with it? How many does it make? 16 squares What is the prep time? 10 mins What is the cooking time? 0 mins What you need: 200g of dried sour cherries and blueberries 90ml Belvoir Blueberry & Blackcurrant Cordial 297g can of condensed milk 100g each of dark and milk chocolate, finely chopped 30g of butter, softened 200g of digestive biscuits, roughly crushed 50g of mini marshmallows 100g of white chocolate, chopped What you do: Line a 20cm square baking tin with parchment paper. Put the sour cherries and blueberries in a pan with the cordial and 30ml of water and bring to a simmer then remove from the heat and set aside to cool and soak for at least an hour. Pour the condensed milk into a pan, and heat until just coming to a simmer, stirring. Put the dark and milk chocolate in a bowl with the butter and pour over the hot condensed milk. Stir until you have a smooth glossy mix. Strain the fruit, discarding any excess liquid, then add to the chocolate mix with the biscuits and mini marshmallows. Stir with a wooden spoon until completely combined. Tip it into the lined baking tin and spread out with the back of a spoon. Melt the white chocolate, then drizzle it all over the surface. Chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours until solid. Cut into 16 squares and serve. Recipe provided to MyFamilyClub by Belvoir Fruit Farms The post Fruity Rocky Road with Belvoir Fruit Farms appeared first on My Family Club.

    My Family Club / 7 d. 18 h. 39 min. ago more
  • The Glamping Experience with Wigwam HolidaysThe Glamping Experience with Wigwam Holidays

    In the lead up to National Unplugging Day, we sent one of our team to explore the ‘Glamping Experience’ and uncover the delights of this growing trend for families who love the outdoors but aren’t so keen on the traditional ‘pitch up’ and ‘peg your tent’ fiasco. Charlotte Vaughan, her husband Graham and 8-year-old daughter Livvy were thrilled to be invited by Wigwam Holidays and try out glamping at one of their sites in Cornwall. Trying something new “The glamping holiday” has been around for a while now but perhaps you haven’t had the opportunity to experience it. It’s really an exciting and original experience that will leave you wanting more. Going glamping gives you the opportunity to relax as a family and enjoy the great outdoors without any technology; here are some other reasons to give family glamping a go! Quality time as a family With all the distractions of modern technology it’s getting harder to have a good conversation; so we decided to ban all tech on the trip to Cornwall and we definitely reaped the benefits as a family. Without the interruption of televisions, mobile phones and devices, we had fun being together, chatting, laughing and playing with one another in the beautiful Cornish sunshine. Time to chill The thing with glamping is that it just takes all the hassle out of camping and you can focus on all the positive aspects of sleeping outside. No family arguing when you are trying to put up the tent, you can simply arrive, relax and enjoy the surroundings. And the best bit is that come the end of your stay you can simply pack up your belongings and head off home fully relaxed. Firing up a BBQ and enjoying a delicious feast in the sunshine is always enjoyable when going camping or glamping. The Glamping experience with Wigwam Wigwam Holidays have over 70 locations all across the UK, they helped start the glamorous camping – or glamping for short – revolution to offer affordable family holidays in their wooden Wigwam cabins. They have four different sizes of Wigwam cabins, all of which are fully insulated, with double-glazing, heating and electric lighting, whilst some have en-suite bathrooms. This gives you the great outdoors experience but in more luxurious accommodation with all the home comforts. Bodrugan Barton – Cornwall When we arrived at our destination in Cornwall, we were shown to our Wigwam cabin and made to feel very welcome by Sally Kendall, the owner of Bodrugan Barton who gave us a quick tour of the wonderful facilities that included six Wigwam cabins, paddocks, a working farm and an indoor pool all set in more than 50 acres of beautiful Cornish countryside. The cabin we stayed in had its own private area and fire-pit, perfect for cosy family nights in cooking marshmallows on the fire. Accommodation The Wigwam cabins are quite small but have everything you could need for a short break. The cabin we stayed in had a small interior and an en-suite shower room, the cabin contained the following: double glazed windows seating area that doubled up as a bed worktop area with a kettle, toaster and fridge small heater, lighting and power sockets clothes dryer broom and a dustpan and brush It was fairly basic but much more luxurious than a tent and Sally, our host made sure we had everything we needed for our weekend stay. We felt very spoilt. As I mentioned earlier, each Wigwam has an outdoor picnic area, which comprises of a picnic bench and fire pit. There is also a raised, decked area just outside the door and a water standpipe to the right for fresh water. Although the Wigwams were next to each other, there was lots of space in between them and ample room for privacy. The location The Wigwam cabin was in the most beautiful of locations, overlooking the town of Mevagissey and with views to the South West Coast Path and out to sea.  The holiday site is also located close to the beautiful beaches of Gorran Haven situated just two miles away.  It is also in a great place to explore South Cornwall and within easy reach of Heligan, Eden, Charlestown and the Roseland. Mevaigissey has some great shops and restaurants and we visited the Sharksfin Restaurant close to the Quay. The Sharksfin Restaurant is the perfect restaurant for families with a daily menu featuring local seafood, salads and sandwiches. We loved visiting the beautiful Glamping site at Bodrugan Barton and can recommend it for a glamping weekend away with the family. Prices for a three night stay at Bodrugan Barton start from £150 for a family of four. For further information please visit www.wigwamholidays.co.uk Twitter: @wigwamholidays Facebook :https://www.facebook.com/wigwamholidays/ MyFamilyClub 5 Star Rating: We have given a 4-star rating for WigWam Holidays for quality of accommodation, location, friendliness of staff and over all family friendly experience. The post The Glamping Experience with Wigwam Holidays appeared first on My Family Club.

    My Family Club / 8 d. 9 h. 43 min. ago more
  • How to Meet Other MomsHow to Meet Other Moms

    Like many Central Iowa Moms, I work from home to maximize time with my son. Like even more area moms, I struggle finding “mom friends” to learn from, commiserate with or even have an adult conversation with. In the social media world, it seems like our resources are endless. There are countless mom groups and people at the ready to answer a quick question or give advice. But how can I actually MEET moms and form real friendships that can be formed between nap time and mealtimes? Here are some great options for all moms! MOPS This group stands for The post How to Meet Other Moms appeared first on Des Moines Parent.

    Des Moines Parent / 8 d. 18 h. 37 min. ago more
  • How Do Letters Make It To Santa At The North Pole?How Do Letters Make It To Santa At The North Pole?

    Well, it’s that time of the year. You know, when sleigh bells start ringing, at least in songs! But seriously, my kids are all ready making their Christmas lists. My son told me over the summer he already had 6 things on his Christmas wish list! He takes this very seriously and a lot of […] The post How Do Letters Make It To Santa At The North Pole? appeared first on Family Focus Blog.

    Family Focus Blog / 9 d. 12 h. 9 min. ago more
  • Hunters Chicken with Sweet Potato Wedges and CornHunters Chicken with Sweet Potato Wedges and Corn

    Sweet, buttery corn on the cob, served with paprika potato wedgies and succulent chicken. A perfect meal for all the family. Throw a little soured cream into a dip bowl and your well on your way. Dip! Dip! How many does it serve? 4 What is the prep time? 10 mins What is the cooking time? 30 mins What you need: For the wedges: 2 tbsp. sunflower oil 2 tsp. smoked paprika Salt and freshly ground black pepper 4 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into thick wedges 4 sweetcorn cobettes or 2 whole sweetcorn, halved 15g butter For the chicken: 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts 8 rashers smoked back bacon rasher 250ml bottle Newman’s Own Original Sticky BBQ Sauce 100g grated mature Cheddar cheese What you do: Preheat the oven to 200°C, Gas Mark 6. Mix together the oil, paprika and seasoning in a large bowl and add the potato wedges and turn to coat in the spice. Place a large sheet of foil on the worktop, add the sweetcorn. Place a little knob of butter on each and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Fold over the edges of the foil and seal to make a parcel. Place the potatoes on a large baking tray and sit the sweetcorn on the edge of the tray. Wrap each piece of chicken in 2 rashers bacon. Pour the sauce into the bottom of an ovenproof dish and place the chicken on top. Place the wedges and sweetcorn on the top shelf of the oven and the chicken on the middle shelf and cook for 10 minutes. Remove the potatoes, turn and return to the oven for a further 10 minutes. Remove the chicken from the oven and sprinkle over the cheese. Place on the top shelf of the oven and move the wedges and sweetcorn to the middle shelf. Cook for a further 5-7 minutes until the cheese is golden brown and wedges cooked. Serve the chicken with the sauce, potato wedges and corn. Recipe provided to MyFamilyClub by Newman’s Own The post Hunters Chicken with Sweet Potato Wedges and Corn appeared first on My Family Club.

    My Family Club / 9 d. 21 h. 40 min. ago more
  • 5 Ways to Make Christmas Cooking a Whole Lot Easier5 Ways to Make Christmas Cooking a Whole Lot Easier

    Christmas is an incredibly exciting time of year, as you get to make some fantastic memories with your nearest and dearest. But, it can also be quite stressful if you’re planning to host parties or cook Christmas dinner for your family — especially if you’re not used to spending a lot of time in the kitchen. Here, we’re going to outline five ways you can make things much easier for yourself this year. We’ll explain how you can stay organised, and have even asked an industry expert for their top tips on how to use your cooker efficiently. Read on to ensure your Christmas cooking experience goes as smoothly as can be. Don’t try to do too much A few well-cooked dishes are always going to go down much better than a badly cooked banquet. So, when you’re planning any of your Christmas meals, don’t be afraid to keep things simple. You don’t have to cook three kinds of potatoes, four different sauces, and two kinds of cabbage if you aren’t confident. A roast with three vegetable sides and some pigs in blankets will be enough to wow your guests if they’re cooked with love and care. Similarly, don’t be fooled into thinking you need to offer five courses. A main course and a festive dessert should be more than enough to send your loved ones into the food coma they’ve waited all year for. Prepare what you can in advance Whether you’ll be cooking your family’s Christmas dinner or you’re planning a dinner party for your circle of friends, you won’t want to be rushed off your feet on the day in question. Fortunately, you can make things much easier for yourself by preparing some things in advance. You might be surprised by how many things you can do this with. Here are just some foods you can prepare in advance: Gravy: Simply freeze in a container until you’re ready to use it. Stuffing: Freeze in an oven dish and pop straight into the oven on the big day. Red cabbage: Can be kept in the fridge for 2–3 days. Potatoes: Peel and chop these the night before, then keep them in a water-filled container. Bread sauce: This can be frozen or kept in the fridge for a few days. Parsnips: Boiled parsnips will last up to a day in the fridge. Yorkshire puddings: You can make the batter the day before, or make and freeze them. If you do as much as you can long before your family and friends arrive, your days is likely to go much more smoothly. Use your cooker efficiently You’re going to rely on your cooker a lot throughout the festive season, so learning how to use it efficiently is important. We asked Denver Hewlett, Chief Executive at kitchen appliance manufacturer Stoves, for his top tips. He said: “There are certain steps you can take to ensure that your food is cooked perfectly in the shortest time possible. For example, if your cooker has multiple compartments that you can set to different temperatures, look at all of the ingredients you’re planning to cook and decide which ones can be cooked at the same temperature, and therefore the same time. It can be difficult to have all of the different elements cooking at once so, if you have the space, you could even use one of these compartments to keep any cooked food warm before it can be taken to the table. “If you know you’re going to struggle for oven space, it might be wise to look for alternative cooking methods you could use. Perhaps you could steam your vegetables rather than roasting them. Not only will this save you some precious space in your oven, but it will also make it much easier for you to cook everything at the same time. “My last tip would be to avoid the temptation of opening your oven to check on your food while it’s cooking. This lets heat escape, which means your food could take much longer to cook and your Yorkshire puddings might struggle to rise.” Don’t be afraid to cheat a little bit Homemade sauces and desserts might be nice but, if you already feel like you’ve got too much on your plate, don’t stress about them — you can buy ready-made versions from the supermarket, and they’re perfectly tasty. Plus, you can transfer cranberry sauce into a pretty bowl or display some mince pies on a festive plate and nobody will know the difference. When supermarkets are offering a whole host of Christmas treats, there’s no need to cook every element of your meals from scratch. So, if you want to make things easier for yourself, don’t be afraid to cheat a little bit. Be flexible with your meal time It’s a good idea to be flexible with your meal time, as this will take some of the pressure off. When you’re cooking for a lot of people things can go wrong, or some foods can take longer to cook than expected. As a result, it’s best to give people a rough idea of when their dinner will be ready, but don’t make any promises. Just make sure you have some snacks on hand in case you do encounter any major problems! Cooking a Christmas meal can be stressful if you aren’t properly prepared. But, by ensuring you’re organised, using your cooker efficiently, and being flexible with the time of your meal, you’ll make things much easier for yourself.   The post 5 Ways to Make Christmas Cooking a Whole Lot Easier appeared first on My Family Club.

    My Family Club / 9 d. 22 h. 7 min. ago more
  • Acer Chromebook 15: 2017 Laptop under $400 Perfect For FamiliesAcer Chromebook 15: 2017 Laptop under $400 Perfect For Families

    We expect a lot out of our laptops these days because we use them a lot! There used to be a time when the computer was just for writing a paper or checking email. Now, laptops are used for browsing the internet, streaming movies, school work, real work, play, and more. If you have a […] The post Acer Chromebook 15: 2017 Laptop under $400 Perfect For Families appeared first on Family Focus Blog.

    Family Focus Blog / 10 d. 15 h. 8 min. ago more
  • A Family Christmas Bucket list…no matter where you live!A Family Christmas Bucket list…no matter where you live!

    Last updated on November 11th, 2017 at 09:21 pmThe other day, my kids and I were driving home from one last Halloween activity and we started talking about all of the things that we wanted to do during the Christmas season. It warmed my heart because nothing was extravagant. There weren’t a million festivals or... The post A Family Christmas Bucket list…no matter where you live! appeared first on Family Vacations US.

    Family Vacations US / 10 d. 17 h. 46 min. ago more
  • Alcohol Addiction: Ten Warning Signs of AlcoholismAlcohol Addiction: Ten Warning Signs of Alcoholism

    An alcohol addict exhibits many alcohol abuse symptoms. Here are ten early warning signs of alcoholism you should recognize to get rid of alcohol addiction.

    Aha!NOW / 10 d. 20 h. 35 min. ago
  • Thank-Fall Hipster RecipeThank-Fall Hipster Recipe

    A classic cocktail made with delicious tomato juice. Try it with radish & dill infused gin for an extra twist. The perfect Bloody Mary differs from person to person and it’s definitely a hot topic between bar tenders. We think this recipe smashes it and it makes a great twist to use Gin instead of Vodka. How many does it serve? n/a What is the prep time? n/a What is the cooking time? n/a     What you need: 30ml radish & dill-infused gin *see below 3 dashes of hot sauce 3 dashes of Worcestershire sauce 3 grinds of fresh cracked salt & black pepper 120ml Clamato juice What you do: Rim a chilled tall glass with celery salt Add all ingredients to a tall glass with ice Stir and garnish Garnish: Radish nose, sprig of fresh dill * Radish and dill-infused gin is easily made by sealing 5-6 thinly sliced radishes and 2 sprigs of fresh dill for every 500ml of gin in a mason jar. Leave for 3-4 days. Strain the radish & dill from the gin, then it’s ready to use. Recipe provided to MyFamilyClub by Clamato The post Thank-Fall Hipster Recipe appeared first on My Family Club.

    My Family Club / 10 d. 22 h. 11 min. ago more
  • Salted Caramel Popcorn ApplesSalted Caramel Popcorn Apples

    Toffee-tastic apples to satisfy your sweet tooth. Autumn and Winter just wouldn’t be the same without a toffee apple or two and they are so easy to make. How many does it serve? 8     What you need: 500g shop bought dairy toffees 50ml double cream 1/4 tsp good quality rock salt (crushed) 8 apples & 8 lollipop sticks Metcalfe’s Salted Caramel Popcorn To make the caramel from scratch 500g granulated sugar 125ml water 125ml double cream 1/4 tsp rock salt What you do: Wash the apples under a hot tap and dry completely (this will wash off any waxy residue that will prevent the caramel from sticking). Place a lollipop stick in the top of each apple. Place a baking tray in the freezer to cool it, this will prevent pools of caramel at the bases of the apples. Place the toffees and the double cream in a saucepan over a low – medium heat and continually stir until melted, combined and runny enough to coat the spoon. Add the rock salt and mix until dissolved. Dip the apples in the caramel, coating as evenly as possible and allowing any excess to drip off before placing on your cooled baking tray that has now been lined with greaseproof paper. Pop the apples in the fridge for a few minutes to allow the caramel to set slightly. Pour a bag of salted caramel popcorn into a bowl and then either dip or place the popcorn on the apples covering as much or as little as you desire. Allow to set up for a little longer in the fridge before serving. Put the sugar and water in a clean saucepan and place over a medium heat. Stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar has dissolved and stars to boil. Remove the spoon and stop stirring whilst the sugar boils. You can swirl the saucepan to ensure it evenly caramelises. When it reaches a deep amber colour and the bubbles have become really small on the surface of the caramel add your double cream whilst stirring at the same time. (This will bubble aggressively and create a lot of steam so keep your face away from the pan). Stir in the salt then allow the caramel to cool slightly, it should thicken too. Prepare & dip the apples in the same way as the other recipe. Recipe provided to MyFamilyClub by Metcalfe’s Skinny Popcorn The post Salted Caramel Popcorn Apples appeared first on My Family Club.

    My Family Club / 10 d. 22 h. 34 min. ago more
  • Wintergreen Sugar Body Scrub RecipeWintergreen Sugar Body Scrub Recipe

    I love making my own bath and body products! They’re actually really easy to make and only require a couple ingredients. Yeah, those bath products at the store that contain about 30 different ingredients…you don’t need all of those to have a great product! I especially love making homemade body scrubs for different seasons…a citrus […] The post Wintergreen Sugar Body Scrub Recipe appeared first on Family Focus Blog.

    Family Focus Blog / 11 d. 15 h. 33 min. ago more
  • Two Fifths Of First-Time Dads Sleep In A Separate Room From Their PartnerTwo Fifths Of First-Time Dads Sleep In A Separate Room From Their Partner

    New research has revealed that almost half of new dads sleep in a separate room from their partner for the first nine months, with the top reasons for this being to ensure they’re well rested on the days they have work and so that their child has more space in their bedroom. What’s more, three quarters of those who sleep in a separate room state it interrupted their love life. Becoming a new parent can be difficult, with dads also feeling the strain; as many as two fifths sleep in a separate room for the first nine months of their child’s life to get a well-rested night’s sleep or to ensure there’s plenty of space for their child to be with the mother. The survey was carried out by the team at home interiors specialist www.Hillarys.co.uk as part of an ongoing study into new parenting life. 2,386 British men aged 18 and over, all of whom stated that they had become a first-time dad in the past twelve months, were quizzed about their home life since becoming a father. Initially all respondents were asked ‘What has been the biggest change for you since your child was born?’ to which the top responses were ‘changes to our social life’ (32%), ‘the level of intimacy in our relationship’ (29%) and ‘my/our priorities’ (24%). All respondents were then asked ‘After the birth of your child, what was your sleeping situation like?’ to which two fifths respondents (42%) stated that they slept in a separate room. The remaining respondents stated either ‘nothing changed’ (37%) or ‘the baby slept in the same room/bed as us’ (21%). Wanting to delve a little deeper, all those who stated they slept in a different room were asked how often they did this, to which the majority, 81%, stated ‘on work nights only’. When asked how long this had lasted, the average response was 9 months. Furthermore, when asked why they slept in a different room, given a list of possible responses and told to select all those that applied, the following emerged as the top five: To ensure that I’m well rested for work the next day – 47% So that there is more space for the child in the bedroom – 43% Because I’m a light sleeper – 26% To carry out my share of night feedings – 21% My partner requested that I sleep in a separate room – 16% Wanting to find out more, these respondents were asked ‘Do you miss sleeping in the same room as your partner?’, to which 77% said that ’yes’ they did, with the remaining 23% revealing that they ‘quite enjoyed’ having their own space. When these respondents were next asked if sleeping in a separate room had interrupted with their love life, to which the majority, 73%, stated it had. These individuals were asked how this had a negative impact on their love life. 59% said they had ‘no alone time’ with their partner anymore, 22% revealed that their partner was too busy with the baby to pay them attention and 19% said that the separate room had taken away ‘intimacy’. Tanya Irons, spokesperson for www.hillarys.co.uk, commented: “Having your first child is certainly a learning curve and sometimes you won’t be prepared for everything that parenthood throws at you. Many parents will find themselves having to sleep in separate rooms, whether this be by choice or because it’s the practical thing to do. Always talk through your feelings with your partner though, it’s important you remain a team on such big decisions.” The post Two Fifths Of First-Time Dads Sleep In A Separate Room From Their Partner appeared first on My Family Club.

    My Family Club / 12 d. 0 h. 36 min. ago more
  • My Front Porch Makeover with At HomeMy Front Porch Makeover with At Home

    Last updated on November 8th, 2017 at 07:12 pmThis is a post sponsored by At Home, however, my love for their Christmas décor is my own and not influenced! Each year, my children excitedly ask over and over and over again if we can put up our Christmas decorations. Usually, it is 2 seconds after... The post My Front Porch Makeover with At Home appeared first on Family Vacations US.

    Family Vacations US / 12 d. 11 h. 20 min. ago more
  • The Magic House, St. Louis MissouriThe Magic House, St. Louis Missouri

    On a recent fall break to Saint Louis, I was looking for fun places to take my 5 and 8-year-old when I stumbled upon the Magic House. The Magic House is a children’s museum that works to engage children with hands-on learning and interactive fun. It is situated in a large Victorian mansion in the... The post The Magic House, St. Louis Missouri appeared first on Family Vacations US.

    Family Vacations US / 12 d. 13 h. 4 min. ago more
  • Best Prebiotic Supplements To Help Avoid Travel TummyBest Prebiotic Supplements To Help Avoid Travel Tummy

    The autumn 2017 season is well upon us – and it’s peak time for that delicious combination of fall travel and wonderful culinary delights.  The foods, tastes and smells of the months leading up to the holidays provide a backdrop for the one of the year’s busiest travel seasons – when millions of Americans set […] The post Best Prebiotic Supplements To Help Avoid Travel Tummy appeared first on Family Focus Blog.

    Family Focus Blog / 12 d. 14 h. ago more
  • British Couples Trying To Get Pregnant Spend In Excess Of £5,000 A YearBritish Couples Trying To Get Pregnant Spend In Excess Of £5,000 A Year

    A new study by a money-saving website in the UK has revealed that British couples trying to get pregnant will spend on average £5,515 a year, as opposed to those who are actively trying to avoid getting pregnant who will spend £161.35 a year. Though it may seem like less effort is needed conceiving a child, compared to avoiding an unwanted or unplanned pregnancy, a new study has revealed that those trying to conceive will spend over £5,000 a year on fertility treatments, apps and lifestyle changes compared to what people will spend on contraceptives. The team at www.VoucherCodesPro.co.uk conducted the survey as part of ongoing research into Britons expenses when it comes to their relationships. 2,192 respondents aged 18 and over, all of whom stated that they were in a long-term serious relationship with a 50/50 split of those stating they were either trying to get pregnant or avoid getting pregnant, were quizzed about their spending on contraceptives and/or fertility treatments. Initially all respondents wanting to avoid getting pregnant were asked ‘Have you had any accidental or unplanned pregnancies in the past two years?’ to which the majority of respondents (92%) stated ‘no’, whilst 8% stated ‘yes’. When asked why they were trying to avoid getting pregnant, the top responses were ‘I’m not ready to be a parent/have a child’ (49%) and ‘I’m not financially able to bring up a child’ (31%). Wanting to delve a little deeper, the relevant respondents were asked how much they estimated that they spent per year on products to avoid getting pregnant. When provided with a list of possible products and told to select all those that applied and how much they spent per year, the top five most expensive products/treatments were revealed as follows: Condoms/femidoms – £65.50 Pregnancy tests – £27.00 The morning after pill – £19.00 Contraceptive pills (over the counter, not prescribed free of charge) – £18.00 Spermicide – £31.85 A total cost of £161.35. All respondents who confessed that they were actively trying to get pregnant were asked how long they had spent trying to get pregnant, with the average length of time revealed as 1 year and 3 months. Furthermore, when asked to state what products they purchased and how much they spent, on average, per year and provided with a list of possible products, the top five most expensive products/treatments were revealed as follows: IVF – £5,000 Specialist consultation – £245.00 Lifestyle improvements, i.e. food and drink, etc. – £156.00 Pregnancy tests – £63.00 Fertility cycle apps and monitoring devices – £51.00 A total cost of £5,515. George Charles, spokesperson for www.VoucherCodesPro.co.uk, made the following comments: “It’s astonishing how much people spend actively trying to get pregnant, whether it’s taking longer than they might expect, or there are issues outside of their control. What’s more interesting is the cost difference between trying to avoid getting pregnant and trying to get pregnant – £160 a year is still a lot of money, especially when you consider there are ways to get the contraceptive pill, morning after pill and condoms free of charge.” The post British Couples Trying To Get Pregnant Spend In Excess Of £5,000 A Year appeared first on My Family Club.

    My Family Club / 12 d. 19 h. 18 min. ago more
  • Mobile Phones: How to Choose the Best Smartphone Camera for PhotographyMobile Phones: How to Choose the Best Smartphone Camera for Photography

    Tips to buy best camera smartphones or mobile. Here's a guide to choose best smartphone camera for photography and affordable camera phone within budget.

    Aha!NOW / 13 d. 20 h. 51 min. ago
  • Date Night: Renovo RendezvousDate Night: Renovo Rendezvous

    Not only is Hotel Renovo a great place to stay, but they offer some fun and great events. Renovo Rendezvous is held every Tuesday evening starting at 5:30 p.m. Depending on the event it may last an hour or longer. These events are free and they are geared towards 21+ years of age. Some of their events are great for date night or girls night. It is a great way to get out, have some fun, and check out a unique hotel in central Iowa. They have held events such as a Renovo Oktoberfest, Renovo Yoga Night, a tailgate party, The post Date Night: Renovo Rendezvous appeared first on Des Moines Parent.

    Des Moines Parent / 14 d. 18 h. 37 min. ago more
  • Holiday Shows & Concerts in Central Iowa 2017Holiday Shows & Concerts in Central Iowa 2017

    The Holiday season is a time to see special shows and concerts. Whether it be a date night or a family affair, there is a show and/or concert for everyone this season. Check out our list below. All of these show dates are located on our event calendar.  JIM MCDONOUGH & HIS ORCHESTRA & SINGERS: “HOLIDAY GRANDE 2017” Hoyt Sherman Place  November 26 2:30 p.m.  Celebrate the holiday season in style with International Steinway Artist, Jim McDonough, joined by his 14-piece professional orchestra and a cast of sensational singers and dancers performing your favorite Christmas music and other all-time favorites. The post Holiday Shows & Concerts in Central Iowa 2017 appeared first on Des Moines Parent.

    Des Moines Parent / 16 d. 14 h. 7 min. ago more
  • Calls, Letter & Cookies for Santa in Central IowaCalls, Letter & Cookies for Santa in Central Iowa

    Does your kiddo have a letter for Santa? Do they want to receive a letter or phone call from Santa?! There are some great opportunities to sign up for. Am I missing one? Let me know and E-mail me.  LETTERS FROM SANTA  Waukee Parks & Recreation Register November 1 – 17 Because Santa is so busy during this time of year, he asked for Waukee Parks and Recreation’s help! To receive a letter from Santa please call 978-0007. COOKIES FOR SANTA Urbandale Parks & Recreation; Giovannetti Shelter  December 2 10 to 11 a.m.  Everyone knows that Santa loves cookies! Join us The post Calls, Letter & Cookies for Santa in Central Iowa appeared first on Des Moines Parent.

    Des Moines Parent / 16 d. 15 h. 37 min. ago more
  • Visit Santa in Central Iowa 2017Visit Santa in Central Iowa 2017

    Santa is all over central Iowa this holiday season. There are plenty of locations and times to let your kiddos tell Santa what they want for Christmas. Check out the list below. It is early, so it is very likely I may be missing YOUR event. If I am, please e-mail me. All dates are also on our event calendar. NOVEMBER Santa N’ Paws Animal Rescue League; Several locations & Times – Check here for the entire list! November 2 –  29  Join the Animal Rescue League for the 31st Annual Santa N Paws. Bring the whole family, humans and pets alike, The post Visit Santa in Central Iowa 2017 appeared first on Des Moines Parent.

    Des Moines Parent / 16 d. 17 h. 37 min. ago more
  • Holiday Kids Crafts & Activities in Central Iowa 2017Holiday Kids Crafts & Activities in Central Iowa 2017

    Central Iowa libraries and communities host a lot of fun activities and crafts for you and your kiddos. Check out this great list. It’s early and I may be missing your event and activity. Let me know and e-mail me.I will get it added to the list. All of these dates are located on our event calendar also. NOVEMBER Bass Pro Shops Details coming soon!  Lincoln Logs building area, crafts , dig excavation area, visit Santa and much more! DECEMBER Gingerbread House Workshops Grimes Library  December 2, 9 and 16  1 to 2 :30 p.m.  Get in the holiday spirit by The post Holiday Kids Crafts & Activities in Central Iowa 2017 appeared first on Des Moines Parent.

    Des Moines Parent / 16 d. 18 h. 37 min. ago more
  • A New York City Christmas Bucket ListA New York City Christmas Bucket List

    It’s almost the most wonderful time of the year and you want to spend it in New York City, but aren’t even sure where to start. We can help! We’ve listed the activities that we think should be on everyone’s New York City Christmas bucket list! Take a look at our choices below and be... The post A New York City Christmas Bucket List appeared first on Family Vacations US.

    Family Vacations US / 16 d. 21 h. 35 min. ago more
  • Big Cypress Lodge in Memphis TennesseeBig Cypress Lodge in Memphis Tennessee

    What if I told you that one of the coolest hotels that you could ever stay in, is located inside a Bass Pro Shop in Memphis Tennessee? Well, this is indeed true. The Big Cypress Lodge in Memphis Tennessee is firmly on our list of favorite hotel stays. Opening in 2015, Big Cypress Lodge and... The post Big Cypress Lodge in Memphis Tennessee appeared first on Family Vacations US.

    Family Vacations US / 17 d. 14 h. 58 min. ago more
  • Road Tripping in the Honda OdysseyRoad Tripping in the Honda Odyssey

    It is no secret that my family drives to our destinations 9 times out of 10. So much so that when a friend recently asked me if I had status with any of the airlines, I all but laughed out loud. Give our family the open road and we embrace the journey. Gas station snacks? We... The post Road Tripping in the Honda Odyssey appeared first on Family Vacations US.

    Family Vacations US / 20 d. 9 h. 3 min. ago more
  • more news
  • Get into the Christmas Spirit at the Gaylord Opryland HotelGet into the Christmas Spirit at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel

    Last updated on November 7th, 2017 at 01:29 pmI don’t know what I expected as I packed my bags and headed to the Gaylord Opryland Hotel, but I can tell you this. Everything was much more than I expected. Much bigger, much grander, and much more of the holiday spirit than I could ever have... The post Get into the Christmas Spirit at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel appeared first on Family Vacations US.

    Family Vacations US / 20 d. 19 h. 53 min. ago more
  • 14 Tips for Elderly Care at Home of Aging Parents and Seniors14 Tips for Elderly Care at Home of Aging Parents and Seniors

    Providing elderly care at home and caring for the elderly parents and seniors needs special guidance. Here are the elderly care tips you need to know.

    Aha!NOW / 20 d. 20 h. 27 min. ago
  • Disbelief, SuspendedDisbelief, Suspended

    By Kelly Garriott Waite Evenings, just prior to giving each of the three door handles (one front, two back) a final twist and firm tug, to reassure myself that the deadbolts were engaged, I would unplug the coffee pot. As I slipped into bed, my mind would flash with what ifs and are you sures, images of fires and robbers swirling around my head. In order to relieve my brain, I would repeat this procedure, tiptoeing down the stairs so as not to disturb my parents who’d since gone to their room to read and, for my father, to smoke the night’s last cigarette. I’d hear the click as Dad flipped open his silver lighter, hear him thumb the spark wheel against flint. I’d get a hint of butane and know from the faintest sound of burning the precise instant when the end of Dad’s cigarette caught. Sometimes – not often, for I had learned to be silent – Dad called out after he snapped the lighter shut and inhaled deeply. What was I doing out of bed? I would claim I needed a glass of water, in the kitchen going through the motions of turning on the faucet, the running water blanketing the sound of my checking the back doors one more (quietly twisting, quietly tugging – already I knew that there was something unacceptable about my behavior) before giving the coffee pot plug a glance. Often this wasn’t enough. I would have to pass a hand directly in front of the outlet: Perhaps there was an invisible connection between plug and socket that my eyes had not seen. After, I would sneak into the den and grab my father’s overflowing ashtray, take it to the kitchen, and turn the faucet on again, watching the cigarettes bob in the rising water. Just before heading up the stairs, I’d give the front door another check, just in case. Back in bed, I hoped to fall asleep quickly so that my mind wouldn’t force me downstairs before breakfast. If I did have to rise again, my checking turned violent: I would yank each of the door handles and wave the plug before my eyes. Sometimes I would run my thumb against the prongs, stab them against my hand. Here was visual, tangible proof that the coffee pot was unplugged, although sometimes even that wasn’t enough to make me believe. Growing up, I was uncertain about religion: My mother was Catholic, my father a lapsed Protestant. My sisters and I were raised with a foot in each tradition, a situation that left me divided and confused. But I did learn to pray. At night, I’d repeat Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, an awful prayer – die before I wake? – probably taught to me by well-meaning Sunday School teachers. I prayed as well that the house wouldn’t burn; that the robbers wouldn’t come; that my mind would detach itself from its ever-present worrying. Then I would blink up at the dark ceiling, thinking about the endless black wave I imagined eternity to be. *** Shortly after my brother’s birth, my mother nearly died. For days after she’d returned home, somewhat slimmer and with a squalling infant on her arm, Mom complained of a neck ache. The slightest breeze sent her into spasms of pain. She spent hours in our living room, resting her head upon the green card table normally reserved for bridge night. My sisters and I learned to tiptoe. We learned to whisper. We learned how to help care for an infant. I remember watching The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams on television, holding a bottle to my brother’s mouth. As I lifted him to my shoulder to pat his tiny back, my mother turned her head to look at me: You’re going to make a good mother someday. In the evening of the day that my mother nearly died, my father gathered my sisters and me around him on the couch in the family room while my brother slept blissfully unaware in his bassinet. We almost lost her today. My father swiped at his eyes. It was – and is – the only time I can recall seeing him cry. *** Before I turned twelve, I’d convinced myself I had breast cancer, mistaking normally-developing tissue for a lump. I stole the Better Homes & Gardens Family Medical Guide from the den’s bookshelves, reading, under Concerns of Women, about my surgical options. Later, I flipped through my sister’s biology textbook. It showed a breast in the late stages of cancer. For years, I believed I was ill, but I told no one, of course, imagining my slow demise, the horrible disfigurement of my breast eaten away by cancer, and the goodbye note I would write and clutch in my dying hands: I knew it all along. I consoled myself, thanks to Billy Joel, that if I must die young, at least I knew that I was good and so would go to heaven. For years I carried around the fear of breast cancer until it suddenly dawned on me that if I had had the disease, it would have killed me by now. Every other week, Dad would drop my sisters and me off at the Hilltop Christian Church where we attended Sunday school and then church on our own. I remember newsprint paper and broken crayons. I remember the teacher’s cheeks tinged with pink when she got to the seventh commandment. That’s for adults, she said. On alternate Sundays, my sisters and I attended St. Joseph Catholic Church with our mother. This, of course, was not church. It was Mass. And the priest (not the minister, nor the pastor) didn’t give a sermon. That long mind-wandering period during which a man stood rambling at the front of the church was called a homily. I remember cushioned kneelers covered in red vinyl. I remember missals with thin yellowed pages. I remember incense and holy water and colorful light slanting through stained glass windows, tinting my legs blue and red, yellow and orange. *** After deciding our house was too small for the six of us, my parents bought forty acres of land. We cut down trees and hauled brush. We stacked logs and peed behind the tool shed while our house was being built. We celebrated small victories with takeout chicken dinners, sitting on the plywood floor of the future kitchen of our future home. We worked the land. We made a farm. We planted a massive garden, too much food for our family to consume: peas, carrots, zucchini and green beans. My mother learned to make strawberry jam, her daughters stirring the pot with a long-handled wooden spoon, hoping to avoid the inevitable splatters. We baled hay. We rode horses. We kept cows and pigs and chickens, whose shit-littered eggs we stole from beneath their warm white breasts every morning. We walked in the woods, easily jumping across Silver Creek to explore the junk pile, until the beavers moved in, dammed the creek, and made a home of their own. For a time, my sisters and I exclusively attended a local Disciples of Christ church, my mother having fallen away from the faith of her birth. But after a time, we, too, divorced ourselves from religion. Work and nature had become our altar. *** Obsessions don’t just disappear. They metastasize. As soon as my cancer worry was under control, a new fixation began to torment me: Before getting out of bed, I promised myself I wouldn’t overeat that day. But I always did, had already imagined, while still beneath the covers, what I would eat first. A breakfast of sugared cereal, topped with creamy Jif peanut butter and Half and Half, eaten, of course, in secrecy, was immediately followed by a snack: More peanut butter, smeared so thickly on a piece of toast that I could see the imprint of my two front teeth where I’d bitten. I would eat without tasting: A dozen Pop-Tarts, whose empty boxes I would hide until I could safely get rid of the evidence; candy bars from the video store where I worked – I ate so many in a day that I lost track and would stuff the cash register with a handful of singles and hope it was enough; the ten-pound block of Nestlé chocolate my mother kept in the pantry for baking, from which I would hack away hunks with an orange-handled ice pick. After cramming myself with thousands of calories, I was full of shame. I tracked my food intake, the day’s list always beginning with promise: Puffed Wheat with milk, plum, tea, glasses water, 4. Then cookies, 2 appeared on my list, which suddenly came to an abrupt end. A squiggle appeared across the leftover portion of the day’s page, accompanied by the damning word: binge. I tracked my measurements, tracked my exercises: jogged 10 minutes with weights on trampoline; 100 jumping jacks; 107 jump rope (not straight). I promised myself a subscription to Shape Magazine, even Glamour if I could reach 125 pounds. I regularly wrote in my journal that I would be totally happy if I were thin, yet happiness eluded me. I discovered that with Chocolate Ex-Lax, I could eat as much as I wanted and lose weight. I discovered that cigarettes could curb my appetite. I started cooking gourmet dinners for my family and internally criticized them for so openly enjoying food. Food became my religion. Shame my constant companion. *** After eight years of farming, my sisters and I gradually lost interest. We sought boyfriends. Independence. Cars. Whenever I drove home from work, or school, or shopping, I’d have to double back to where I’d just been, so certain was I that I’d run someone over. As the miles passed beneath my tires, I’d check the rear view mirror, picturing body parts strewn about, people standing in the street, hands pressed to cheeks, round mouths around horrible screams. A mile would pass. Two. Five. Even ten. My mind, in this mode, was ungrounded, like a bratty toddler having one hell of a temper tantrum, wailing and kicking the ground, demanding that it got its way. Eventually, I would give in to it, turning around in someone’s driveway, my mind circling as I scanned the road for signs of trauma that I knew I’d never find. Through the windshield, I resentfully watched pedestrians going about their business, jogging, shopping, eating ice cream cones. How could they behave so normally when inside I was falling to pieces? I kept silent about my driving obsession. There was no easy way to bring it up: Sorry I’m late. I thought I ran somebody over. And there wasn’t a lump. There was no fever. There was, in short, nothing tangible to offer up as proof. Having nothing to poke or prod, nothing to press down upon, I certainly could not be ill. Eventually, I learned to reason my way out of this driving issue, in the same way I’d reasoned my way out of my cancer fear: I forced myself to drive further…further…further, my mind screaming all the while: Stop!Turnthecararound!Danger! My hands shook. My eyes watered as ten miles stretched to fifteen, then twenty. But then, my stomach would fill with the heavy knowing that the irrational side of my mind was about to take over. I was frustrated and angry and so sick of myself and my stupid life. Yet I learned to fight back, telling myself that I had not heard a thump or a scream, that I had not felt a lump beneath my tires. I promised myself that I would watch the evening news and if there had been a report of a hit and run, I would surrender myself to the authorities. *** Before marrying, I told my future husband I would convert to Catholicism. Religion was important to him. I was kind of half-Catholic anyway, I reasoned, even if I hadn’t been to church in years. I wanted our future children to have one faith. I wanted us to attend church as a family. At the Easter Vigil, after months of Tuesday night lessons, I was baptized and confirmed and received the Holy Eucharist for the first time, according to the Catholic Church, although my mother had baptized me at home and I’d taken the bread and wine regularly with the Protestants. My husband and I bought an eighty-year-old house for seventy-nine thousand dollars. Three tiny bedrooms upstairs. One small bathroom. A living room with a hole in the floor and a hideous brown fireplace. There was a dining room with a built-in bench and fabric wall paper. A kitchen with bright yellow tiles, easily dislodged by an incautious tread. *** After the birth of my eldest, I thought I had schizophrenia. While my colicky newborn screamed every day from 3 until 6, I put her in her stroller and wheeled her endlessly around the dining room table or sat on the built-in bench, holding her close, praying that she would stop screaming, just for a moment. One day, a clear voice whispered to me: Kill her. I hadn’t heard of postpartum depression, still wasn’t clear on how to handle my obsessions. I told no one but my husband. I thought that if I sought professional help, my daughter would be taken away from me forever. But I should have remembered the intrusive thoughts I’d had for years. Sometimes a voice would tell me to drive up on the sidewalk into a crowd of people. I’d grip the steering wheel tightly, press on the brakes, fight the voice inside my head. Sometimes I’d look at a complete stranger, just a sideways glance, and a thought would fill my head: He deserves to go to hell. It didn’t matter if the person was man or woman, child or adult, black or white. My mind chose random targets to mentally condemn. I was a horrible person. I was a sinner. I deserved go to go hell. No they deserved to go to hell. No, I…Back and forth, my rational mind would argue with its irrational partner until my brain felt as if it would explode. But to have such thoughts about my child…I promised myself I’d commit suicide before I harmed my daughter. I didn’t know the Catholic Church’s stance on this action, killing oneself to avoid harming another. I didn’t care. I would gladly burn in hell to save this infant. *** Before my daughters — by now we had two — could get up from their morning naps, I would sweep the floors of the entire house, afraid, if I didn’t, that the girls would get lead poisoning. When I ended in the kitchen, thinking about a cup of coffee and a few moments of reading, I’d tell myself I’d missed a spot and would have to head back upstairs to restart the process. Again and again, while my children slept, I swept those floors, hating myself, hating my brain, wishing for once in my Goddamn life to be a normal human being. I used to throw away entire meals, so convinced was I that I’d somehow contaminated it with shards of glass or a splash of bleach. I used to take my daughters’ temperatures. Every. Single. Night. My husband and I enrolled our daughters in Catholic school at the very church I had attended with my mother and sisters. I continued to wrestle with my new set of beliefs. I confess I have sometimes wondered whether the words of a prophet were actually spoken by a madman, if an angel’s visitation was actually a hallucination. *** After we tucked her into bed, my older daughter slipped into the bathroom to wipe down the toilet seat with a tissue. If she didn’t, she knew that a mean man would come through her bedroom window. Every night, she would rid her room of pointy objects and frightening books. She would call down the stairs: Will I be all right? Will anything bad happen? Are the doors locked? My daughter dealt with her obsessions by constantly seeking reassurances. I gave her what she wanted: A mean man isn’t coming. You’re not having a heart attack. For a while she was content with this response. Then the obsessions began demanding more. After each reassurance, she sought proof: How do you know? I just do, I told her. It’s like faith. My own faith was on shaky ground. But still, I told her this. I offered her faith to give her some sort of hope when life felt hopeless. *** Before she was in kindergarten, my younger daughter began confessing things: I stuck my middle finger up, which she immediately chased with, Well, I might have. I’m not sure. Later, she developed a strange noise, a high-pitched snort, which she would deploy with regularity. A tic of sorts, my husband and I figured. Eventually the tic disappeared. My daughter stopped making her confessions. My husband and I concluded that she’d outgrown whatever it was that had been troubling her. We didn’t then know she’d learned to be silent, too. Because I didn’t tell my daughters I suffered from mental disorders. I told myself that my obsessive behaviors stemmed from growing up in an alcoholic home; that the girls were too young to understand; that if I kept silent, if I didn’t name it, mental illness would bypass them. I told myself, too, I was a bad mother. Sometimes–often–I still do. Faith and OCD. Both powerful. Both mysteries, one of the brain, the other of the soul. *** Obsessions are a set of rules for behavior, different for each person: for me, checking the coffee pot, for one daughter, wiping down the toilet, for the other, making confessions. These rules represent an attempt to gain control over our uncontrollable, uncertain world. Christianity, I’d been taught, also has rules which, if we follow, increase our chances of getting to heaven. Life doesn’t actually end when we die. But reaching that security requires two different paths. The best way for me to work through obsessions was to learn to apply my rational brain to them. I had to look for proof, or lack thereof: Had I heard a thump? No. A scream? No. Had my tires lifted off the ground? No. Only then could I conclude that I’d probably not run anyone over. Faith, however, required suspension of rational brain: I couldn’t see Jesus in the disk cradled in my palm, didn’t see a flash from the sky as He came down from heaven, but I had to accept that He was there. It was a mystery. There could be no proof. Obsessions and faith and rationality and mystery and those damned intrusive thoughts that grip the brain. Perhaps, like faith, obsessions require a person to go beyond mere rationalizing. Perhaps both faith and OCD require a person to accept the unknowns, without reassurances; without certainties. Will the house catch on fire? Probably not, but a definite possibility. Does God exist? I can offer no proof. And yet, there is always hope. Now, when I leave Starbucks where I’ve been writing, I have to return to my table to see if I’ve left anything behind: my computer, my notes, the cell phone I know is in the pocket of my jeans. Clearly, I have not exorcized my obsessions. But their grip has lessened somewhat: I don’t unplug the coffee pot before heading to bed. I no longer drive around the block to see if I’ve run someone over. I used to hope to become the person I was before obsessions crowded my brain. But I am not certain she ever existed. Perhaps I have always been the person I have, for so many years, tried to escape. Perhaps I have always been the after person. And that’s OK. I have learned to accept the mystery that is my brain. I am learning not to be silent about my history of mental illness. Ever so slowly, I am learning how to speak. Author’s Note: Six weeks ago my father was diagnosed with cancer. He died this morning. My dad passed on to me his love of hard work. Half of my faith. My respect for nature. He gave me his obsessions, too. The funny thing is, we never talked about it. He suffered in silence. I suffered in silence. Isn’t it time we all started talking? Kelly Garriott Waite’s work has appeared in the Christian Science Monitor, the Globe and Mail, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and elsewhere. She is currently writing about her search for the stories of both her great-grandfather, who immigrated from Russian-owned Poland, as well as the forgotten owner of her historical Ohio home, an English immigrant who married into a Native American family. Purchase our new Issue of Brain Teen: The Magazine for Thinking Parents Save

    Brain, Child / 24 d. 21 h. 42 min. ago more
  • My Son Wears A DressMy Son Wears A Dress

    For my son, his desire for the dress is profoundly logical: He needs it to twirl. By Jocelyn Wiener “I want the yellow dress,” begs the weeping, shrieking two-year-old boy crumpled at my bare feet. Still in my pajamas, I dig through my son’s overstuffed dresser, scrambling to locate the pale cotton frock he has appropriated from his 4-year-old sister. “How about a striped one, instead?” I offer. “NO!” “Your special fire truck PJs?” “NOOOO!” For my son, his desire for the dress is profoundly logical: He needs it to twirl. Specifically, he needs it to twirl at preschool. Now, against the backdrop of screaming toddler, my progressively minded, almost-40-year-old adult self does battle with the awkwardly dressed, frequently teased fourth grader she carries within. The idealist in me wants to encourage my son’s self-expression, to embrace gender fluidity, to send him out into the world wearing (almost) anything he damn well pleases. We live in Oakland, a city where people regularly announce their pronouns. I am proud of that. But fourth grade me well remembers the casual cruelty of other children. What, she whispers, will they do to my little boy? And so, even as I tear up the house in search of the dress, a small, fearful part of me hopes I won’t find it. Even though he’s worn it a dozen times at home, even though he looks adorable in it, this tiny voice hopes my son might instead venture into the world wearing something featuring dogs or monsters or sharks or trains. I feel ashamed of this voice. But there it is. Eventually, I give up on the dresser, and begin sifting through a basket of clean laundry we have yet to fold. (Okay, multiple baskets. They’re a fixture in our home). Somewhere within one of them lies that faded yellow dress with an empire waist, a hand-me-down from a cousin that my daughter wore regularly until berries stained the chest slightly purple. After that, it lived on a shelf until my curly-headed two-year-old discovered it—and fell in love. I did not anticipate this particular challenge the morning my husband and I stared at a little white blob swimming in a sea of black. “See that little line?” the ultrasound technician pointed at the screen. “It’s a boy.” I looked at my husband – recognizing in his face the surprise I felt. I’d intuited a girl. A son? We wondered aloud, as we walked to the parking garage. How were we going to raise a son? How would we protect him from the macho, sports-worshipping, emotion-repressing influences that pervade our culture? My husband is decidedly – delightfully – not macho or sports-worshipping or emotion-repressing. He is everything I might hope for in a male role model for a little boy–kind, communicative, creative and fun. The first time he came home to meet my family, he baked brownies. My father and brothers found this perplexing. I, on the other hand, seem to have unwittingly absorbed some of our culture’s expectations that boys be made of snips and snails and puppy dogs’ tails. Growing up, my three younger brothers dedicated hours each day to sports, video games and wrestling matches on the living room floor. By six, I swore off dolls, voicing concerns that they were instruments of oppression of my sex. I wore my hair short and refused dresses. Strangers often assumed I was a fourth son. Maybe because of this, as a new mother the first time around, I found it easy to dress my little daughter in clothes from the boy’s section –especially given the pink everything of the girl clothes on offer. I laughed off comments from strangers who suggested my big, bald baby girl would be a linebacker someday. Who cared? But with a son on the way, the gender stuff I’d breezed through with my daughter felt surprisingly fraught. In our culture, masculinity is still conflated with strength, femininity with weakness. It’s distressing and infuriating and totally bogus. But, try as I might to ignore it, it’s there. As I prepared for my son’s arrival, I found myself sitting on the living room floor surrounded by bins of my daughter’s outgrown clothes, trying to figure out which were too feminine for a baby boy. As if baby boys cared about such things. Every time I kept a pink item, it felt subversive. Our son arrived five days late – a hefty 9 pounds, 4 ounces who looked like my father. At his two-day-old appointment, our pediatrician commented that the baby had a “very masculine presence.” My husband and I laughed awkwardly. Later that day, as the lab tech drew blood from his tiny heel, she started chatting with us about football. We learned then that we’d unintentionally named our child after the 49ers quarterback. This was back when Colin Kaepernick was a rising star, but before he became famous for kneeling in protest during the national anthem. My husband and I hadn’t heard of him. My brothers shook their heads. As our son grew from baby to toddler to preschooler, we were acutely aware of all the ways we, as parents, might fail him. Several recent studies have shown that parents tend to speak more to their infant daughters, share their feelings more with their preschool daughters and, in the case of dads, sing and smile more at their daughters. I try to be cognizant of that, smothering my son with kisses and asking him about his feelings. I’ve broached the subject of gender identity, but we haven’t gotten too far yet: “Are you a boy or a girl?” I asked the other day. A wry smile stole onto his face. “A girl.” “Is your sister a boy or a girl?” “A boy.” “What am I?” “A wolf.” “What is Daddy?” “A bear.” “What is Papi?” “A troublemaker.” Much of the time, my son seems to identify as a dog, crawling around on all fours, barking, whimpering and licking people. I like it when he’s a dog, because he’s always nice to his sister in those moments. During dog hours, he holds her hand and nuzzles up against her while she pets him. During non-dog hours, he sometimes resorts to hitting and pushing. Even so, his big sister is his dearest friend and playmate. If she opts to wear a dress, he wants one, too. But not just any dress. Finally, I spot it, the faded yellow fabric peeking out from beneath the towels and T-shirts. Does my inner fourth grader urge me to leave it there, to coax my son into a shark-monster-train outfit instead? If she does, I shove the thought away. I want my child to wear what he wants to wear. I also want him to stop crying. I fish the dress out of the laundry basket and slide it over his tear-stained cheeks. The wailing ceases. We briefly do battle over his diaper. The dress, I am informed, twirls better with no diaper. I draw my line in the sand. We are already late to preschool. We are pretty much always late, but this morning is shaping up to be extra late. I grab the kids’ lunches, and off we go, two small people in dresses, one grown person in sweatpants, tromping down the front steps toward school. Do the neighbors notice? the inner fourth grader wonders. Would they care? Would it matter if they did? I look at my little boy – a baby doggy for the moment – holding his sister’s hand as we prepare to cross the street. No, I decide. It wouldn’t matter at all. A few minutes later, we knock on the preschool’s wooden gate. The teacher who opens it greets my children with a smile. He says nothing about the dress. A few older girls look at my son strangely. Later, over crackers and apple slices, they’ll ask his big sister why he’s wearing a dress. “Because he likes it,” she’ll say. The explanation will suffice. Perhaps, some day, I can feel similarly unconcerned about such things. As I turn to leave, I pause at the gate. My little boy proudly shows his outfit to another teacher. “Do you want to see me twirl?” he asks her. The question is rhetorical. Tears well in my eyes — a toothy grin spreads across that little face. He stretches out his arms, lifts his chin skyward, and twirls and twirls and twirls. The yellow dress billows around him.   Jocelyn Wiener is an Oakland-based journalist who writes about health and mental health care, poverty, children’s issues….and her kids. Her website is www.jocelynwiener.com   Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save

    Brain, Child / 25 d. 0 h. 9 min. ago more
  • To Greet GoodbyeTo Greet Goodbye

    By Susan Kushner Resnick 1)    The summer before my daughter went to college, I lost a pair of prescription sunglasses, my wallet, three sets of iPod headphones (or one pair three times), a plastic bag containing all of my jewelry, the house keys over and over again, the car keys more often than that. During one six-minute bike ride to a bakery, I lost a twenty-dollar bill and my cell phone, both of which I’d tucked into a pouch that I then forgot to zipper. I heard the phone slide onto the street as I rode out of the driveway and even wondered about the sound before pedaling on, indicating that I had also lost the ability to recognize losing something. Some of the items reappeared, some never will. And I’ll certainly never recover a certain slice of my identity. Before this string of misplacement, I was known as the finder in my family. Whenever I heard panicked cries of “I can’t find my sneakers/cell phone/notebook,” I responded with the calm and swift discovery of said item under couch pillows, in baskets of ski hats, right there on the kitchen counter. It was always so obvious. 2)    My mother never said goodbye to me when I left for college. Not properly, at least. We’d had an extremely close relationship while I was growing up, one of those in which I thought of her as my best friend and she depended on me to cure the loneliness of her frail marriage. An unhealthily enmeshed relationship, I would learn later in a therapist’s armchair. She and my father escorted me to campus, which was the right thing to do, and she sat on my dorm bed with tears in her eyes while I unpacked. But as soon as my rainbow-striped comforter was laid upon the bed, they left. And I never saw her the same way again. She refused to visit for Parents Weekend or to pick me up at the end of freshman year. The official reasons for these abandonments were physical: acute anxiety, a bad back. But really, as soon as I stopped filling her world, she dumped me. 3)   We start to lose our children the moment they’re born. You think that dramatic cutting of the cord is just for show? No, it’s a psychological necessity, a vital statement: this person is separate, that connection was purely biological, you do not own this being. The threat and reality of that loss-to-be builds throughout their lives. They will go, they will go, this won’t last, a sadistic poem whispers from the back stairs of our hearts. Senior year of high school is the worst, particularly if a child is moving away for school after graduation. Besides going through all the tension and fighting inherent in the college application and waiting process, all parties are preparing to separate. It causes the kid to lash out, a psychological defense termed If I Hate You, I Can’t Miss You. The parents go gooey at every occasion: the last Halloween at home, the last birthday, the last teacher’s night at school, bittersweet even if you always loathed those nights. An 18-year-long chapter is about to end. 4)    My mother and I never fought when I was growing up. Then we always fought. Why are you so angry, she would ask me. What did I do? In the movie version of this conversation, I would wail, You left me! Forgiveness and repair could begin. We would again become best friends. In real life, I didn’t figure out why I was so angry until she’d left me for good. Where’s the peace in forgiving a dead person? My daughter and I didn’t fight horribly, but we fought. I was always saying the wrong thing. She always knew better. The usual stuff. It seemed healthy. I was the mother and she was the daughter. We were not best friends. 5)    Some of the items reappeared. Some never will. 6)    After all that senior year melodrama, I thought I was ready. It was time. I’d done my job. They say the time spent raising a child flies by. I say only if you’re doing it wrong. To me, those 18 years felt like 18 years: joyful and rich and full of the greatest love I’d ever felt, but also tedious and arduous and full of sacrifice. And I was ready for her to grow up but not for the relationship to end. Because I was certain that was about to happen. In the experience that was my life, this juncture was where the mother-daughter relationship dead-ended. 7)    My daughter was ready, too. I don’t even remember seeing her much that summer. She had a boyfriend, a gang, a job at a candy store. She was setting her own buoys. I was steering around them. Did I mention that I was spending a lot of time near the ocean? We rented a beach house, which is where I kept losing all that stuff. She came to the beach mostly under duress. It wasn’t her thing. It was my thing. It took her away from her friends and whatever they were doing to commemorate the final summer of childhood. I had taken the bold step of doing something that made me happier than it made her. I felt guilty about that all the time. Another charm of motherhood. 8)    We went to New York when my daughter was five. Just the two of us. We stayed in The Plaza back when it was almost affordable for regular people to do that. Our tiny room had tall ceilings and free robes. She ate her first raspberry in the Palm Court and posed for a photo in front of Eloise’s portrait. We marched to the top of the Empire State Building. A princess at a Fifth Avenue toy store painted her nails the color of cherry blossoms. We saw The Sound of Music in a Broadway theatre, then took a cab back to the hotel. My dazzled companion left her Playbill on the seat of the cab and even now, years after the princesses left Fifth Avenue, she’s still mad at herself for losing it. 9)    Are you sad she’s leaving? Someone asked. I don’t feel sad, I said. I think I’m OK. The part I left out was that I wasn’t feeling anything. 10)    You know how you say to teenagers all the time that if they’re ever too wasted to drive – or their designated driver is – that they should call and you’ll come pick them up, no questions asked? It actually happens sometimes, but I thought such a call wasn’t to be part of our story. Until it was. Days before she was set to leave, a stereo speaker fell on my daughter’s foot during a party. Her toe was bleeding. She couldn’t drive home. “Can’t you have a friend drive your car?” I asked. “No,” she said. And I knew: this was the call. I raced to the house. Her wasted friends carried her down the porch stairs, helped her into my car and spoke to me about the EMT training they’d tried to employ. She was bloody and shaking and on her way to the emergency room. 11)    I knew I could take the blow of losing her. I’d been tightening my abdominals like Houdini since her birth. But how would I fare after? Houdini died, they say, because he’d been ruined inside by one of those punches. 12)    She doesn’t like blood, especially her own. Or needles, which sometimes make her black out. Crisis is my forté. I was “on” in that ER. I did my best to keep the patient calm and warm, to bully the medical staff into speeding things up. They numbed and drilled and drained that toe, then sent her home on crutches. “How can I start college on crutches?” she cried. I reminded her that she started preschool with a cast on her tiny arm. My parents had been babysitting while my husband and I were on a date. She tumbled gently off the swing set and cracked her bone. My parents didn’t realize the seriousness of the injury so they tended to it mostly with kisses. My mother thought that wrapping the limb in a security blanket was enough. 13)    I have two children so my daughter’s departure to college would only mean a lopsided nest, not an empty one. My son had slept at a friend’s house an hour away on the night of the toe smash. He was supposed to be dropped off by another mother at the end of a day of mini-golf. After returning from the ER at 4:30 a.m., I was looking forward to a day on the couch. When your kids become teenagers, when they stop crawling into your bed at night and start getting their own cups of water, you can finally sleep through the night again. The drawback is that you get soft. When my son called midday and said he needed me to pick him up right away because he’d thrown up, I drove with the reflexes of a zombie. We may forget the pain of childbirth, but I doubt any of us forgets the agony of sleep deprivation. The thickness of head, the numbness of mind – it all returned, only worse because I was so unaccustomed to functioning without sleep. I felt like a rookie again. 14)    I believe the universe gives us what we need. Or is it our mothers? Maybe from the place where the dead go mine was offering a gift. I expected memories during the week before I sent my daughter out into the world. Instead, I got a few days of time reversal. The chance to go back. The luxury of seeing what I was about to lose. The toe turned out to be badly infected. My husband and I took turns getting up at night to give her pain medicine, just as we had taken turns Ferberizing her eighteen years earlier. We reminded her how to butt-scoot up the stairs. I helped with grooming. She couldn’t stand in the shower to wash her hair. “Bend back,” I said, as I knelt in the bathtub and she sat on the tile floor, an arrangement that allowed me to scrub her head without seeing her naked. She leaned toward me instead of away for the first time in many years. Then she closed her eyes, smiled tranquilly, and thanked me. She said she didn’t think I’d ever washed her hair before. A mother can’t count the number of times she rinses the suds out of her little girl’s hair, but kids don’t remember the mundane events of their child- hoods. For my daughter, this was a first. 15)    We drove down to college with the 18-year-old packed tightly in the back seat between tall piles of suitcases that made her look smaller than she is. She slept most of the way. We peeked back periodically to make sure she was still breathing. It was like the drive home from the hospital the day after she was born. It was as if we were returning her. 16)    I did the dorm scene farewell right, waiting until she told us to leave, watching from the parking lot while she hobbled away to start her life. At home, I was bereft. Her room was so empty, all its surfaces flat and hard without her mess adding texture. The house was too quiet, too big, too full of testosterone now that I was outnumbered by a three to one penis/vagina ratio: boy child, boy husband, boy dog. Even my body made sure I felt the loss. My ear hurt when I breathed, as if something sharp was rolling through an empty tunnel. I had trouble sleeping, so I stayed up alone and worked, as if I were taking her place doing late night homework. Or waiting for her to come home by curfew. I lay on my bed and remembered her as a little girl dashing into our room, her wispy hair barely clearing the bed frame. That’s when I cried. 17)    I wish I could ask my mother about her first weeks without me. Did she cry? Did she try to say goodbye? Or were those backaches and psychic pains her body’s way of telling her to feel the loss, their continuation a symptom of her refusal to do so? Had she said goodbye, would we have eventually gotten to hello? 18)    I found the jewelry, not the sunglasses. I retrieved the phone, but never the money. I learned to keep my headphones in one place. My daughter and I settled into a long-distance relationship. During her second winter break at home, we went for an entire month without a fight. I laugh with her more than with any other woman in my life, but we are not best friends. Nor are we lost to each other. Author’s Note: I started writing this piece the summer I began losing things, but after taking a few notes, I saved it in the “to be finished” file along with many other essays in progress. I often find, with essays and with books, that I know there’s a story there even if I don’t know what it is yet. I’ve learned to be patient with myself, a new skill that may be the result of 19 years of parenting or just a happy symptom of aging. A year and a half after taking the first notes, as I was bragging about the fight-free month with my daughter, I figured out the story. After all that brewing, it only took three days of writing and revision to complete. Susan Kushner Resnick is the author of YOU SAVED ME, TOO: What a Holocaust Survivor Taught Me About Living, Dying, Loving, Fighting, and Swearing in Yiddish, a memoir published by Globe Pequot Press in October 2012. Her work has also been published in The New York Times Magazine, Huffington Post, The Boston Globe, Parents, and Utne Reader, among other publications. She teaches creative nonfiction at Brown University and lives in Massachusetts. illustration by Kristen Solecki Save

    Brain, Child / 26 d. 1 h. 28 min. ago more
  • The Elephant MakerThe Elephant Maker

    By Amber Kelly-Anderson “You have such a sweet smile,” the elderly man told my toddler son. “You need this.” His hand extended a small carved wooden elephant with tiny wheels. We were sitting in a restaurant enjoying a late lunch with my mother when the man approached us. Having someone come over to talk to Alex is nothing new: he’s a sweet guy with a charming smile that he spreads around indiscriminately. He flirts shamelessly with women of all ages and all backgrounds and growls at men in a playful way that makes them want to fist-bump him. Someone once referred to him as a “ball of joy.” However, as a mother I am suspicious of people giving things to my baby. When my oldest, Liliana, was nine months old, we traveled through China, where people gave her everything from an umbrella to a toy mouse to some sort of fruit I couldn’t identify by sight. Not wanting to offend anyone, we accepted the gifts graciously, keeping the objects and giving the fruit to my grandfather who was with us (mainly because Liliana had no teeth). I set aside my apprehensions in order to avoid being the typical rude American. Back home in Texas, it is a different story. Blame it on too much SVU or too many people trying to hand me flyers for comedy, porn, or weight loss pills—I distrust the world. I’m suspicious of any stranger who gives things away. Everyone has an angle. This man seemed well-intentioned—with his baggy sweater and worn but polished black loafers, he actually reminded me of my own grandfather. But my mind immediately went whirling through a list of reasons why we should reject the gift. Was it really a gift? Did he want money? Did this obligate us to spend time with this man? What was the catch? As these thoughts flashed through my head in blinking neon warning signs, the man handed Alex the toy. The carving was rough, the outline of a trunk and tail at each end of a smoothed piece of wood about half the length of my index finger. Four wooden wheels made from a different type of wood allowed the figure to balance independently and roll when pushed, emitting a slight squeaking sound. The wood had been left untreated, the pale grain merely sanded to protect little fingers. Even if its simplicity hadn’t been strangely beautiful, Alex’s reaction was. His chubby fingers spun the wheels, giggles of glee bursting forth. I knew that whatever the cost, I would probably pay it. But the man didn’t ask for anything or try to strike up a conversation. He just stood in silence for a moment, watching my son. With a pat on the little blond head, he smiled, and returned to his table. “Thank you so much,” I finally managed. The man gave a back- wards wave over his shoulder. Alex played happily with the toy, racing it around the table and along the sides of his high chair, alternating between growling and vrooming noises. Occasionally my eyes darted over to our elephant benefactor, puzzled. A few minutes later the man approached another table with a little boy who appeared slightly older than Alex. “Would you mind if I give him this?” he asked the mother before offering the boy a carved wooden car. Again the man returned to his seat and went back to eating his lunch alone. Before we left, we stopped to thank him once more. “Did you make it yourself?” my mother asked him. He smiled. “Yes, ma’am. I find it helps me pass the evenings. I don’t have any little ones in my life, but I want someone to have them. Hope it makes him happy.” He said this without sadness or self-pity. Instead, he smiled with delight and let my son’s tiny hand shake his finger. Alex blew him a kiss and then snuggled the elephant to his cheek. So often I find myself wondering what kind of world I am borrowing from my children. In my classroom, in the news, in my daughter’s school—the world is thick with petty people and seemingly insurmountable heartbreak. As a culture, we appear to thrive on the big moments—the scandals, the tragedies, the violence. And while we like to celebrate the fantastic and the silly, accounting for the popularity of YouTube, experiencing those quiet moments of beauty in our everyday lives is a rare gift. Even rarer is the gift of being open to the reception of such gifts. This culture has fostered cynicism that leaves me exhausted by suspicion. Although my mothering instinct will not allow me to completely let my guard down, this experience reminded me to open myself to sincerity. There are good people in the world who want nothing more than to bring happiness without a price. A simple gesture can be just that—the human heart exists in the pure state. My challenge, then, is to open myself to both the giving and receiving of such love. I will never know this man’s name, but I am grateful to him. Alex loves the little elephant, so simple in its loving craftsmanship. When he is old enough to understand, I will explain the gift that was given to us both that day. Since that day, I have been able to go to bed each night just a bit more hopeful about the world, knowing that there is an old man in my town who is quite probably at that moment whittling little wooden wheeled toys to give to children in the hope that it will make them happy. Author’s Note: Once Alex turned two and became convinced he is actually a dinosaur and/or shark, I had to rescue his little elephant from play rotation. For now I keep it in a box with things like his hospital bracelets and clipped curls as I view it as an important part of his childhood. I am eager for the day when I can return it to him so he can enjoy it as intended. Amber Kelly-Anderson is a Texas-based mother of two, writer, and professor of literature and history at Howard College. Her most recent publications include: The Best Women’s Travel Writing, Toasted Cheese Literary Journal, Sprout, and Roots: Where Food Comes From & Where It Takes Us. She is also a 2013 blogger for Ploughshares Literary Magazine. Read more of her work at www.generationcake.com. Illustration by Michael A. Lombardo   Save Save Save

    Brain, Child / 26 d. 23 h. 14 min. ago more
  • Can Prayers for Healing the Sick Really Do Miracles?Can Prayers for Healing the Sick Really Do Miracles?

    Here is how prayer for healing the sick works. Healing prayers for the sick and loved ones give strength, help recovery, bring peace, and do miracles.

    Aha!NOW / 27 d. 21 h. 36 min. ago
  • Things to do in Memphis with kids…that parents will love too!Things to do in Memphis with kids…that parents will love too!

    If you are looking for things to do in Memphis with kids that they are sure to love, then check out our article. We really loved #3! The post Things to do in Memphis with kids…that parents will love too! appeared first on Family Vacations US.

    Family Vacations US / 28 d. 15 h. 19 min. ago
  • Ordinary Mansions & Unusual CostumesOrdinary Mansions & Unusual Costumes

    By Maribeth Darwin I sit on the floor of our attic, in a pile of ghouls and goblins, a few fading Power Rangers. “How about a ninja?” I say, choosing a plastic sword from the assortment. “Ja! Ja! Jaaa!” I move the weapon through the air, making the slicing and dicing sounds of a Japanese fighter. “No,” replies my adversary, his voice, unwavering. “Ron Burgundy.” “DJ,” I implore my son. “Will the kids even know who that is?” It is almost Halloween, and I am stalling, torn between the finality of perfect costume selection and the practicality of grabbing a hand-me-down from the many at our feet. DJ, the last of three boys, is the hand-me-down kid. He’s grown up wearing his brothers’ cleats, his brothers’ sweatshirts, carrying his brothers’ backpacks. My life would be a little easier if he’d do the same at this very moment. There is, however, a complication. DJ is ten. Experience has taught me trick or treating, with parents in tow, ends here, in fifth grade. When middle school arrives, trick or treaters kiss mom goodbye, head off on their own, more often than not to make middle school mischief, running through neighborhoods in the dark, gleefully unchaperoned. I cannot avoid the reality that this might be our last costume discussion. But, honestly, I think, there are twenty costumes here. Pick one! “Are you sure?” I ask. “Yes,” DJ says. “I am sure.” Ron Burgundy is a character played by Will Ferrell in a PG-13 comedy released two years after my youngest son’s birth. The connection DJ has with the lead actor and character he portrays doesn’t surprise me. DJ loves the burping, farting, and silly humor he finds lacking in his own family. “None of these costumes will work?” I try again. DJ stands above me, arms folded, jaw clenched, shaking his head. My relationship with my youngest child is not easy. I have read more than a few books on Spirited Children (today’s kinder, gentler description of what a previous generation might have labeled Pain in the Ass Kids). DJ is determined. He is focused. He is not the go-along-to-get-along child I was promised by his birth order. DJ does not ask for permission, rather he asks for forgiveness. Shortly after learning how to walk, he opened the front door, dressed only in a diaper, and strolled four blocks from home, off on a great adventure. Eventually, he ran into a twelve-year-old neighbor, who coaxed him back to safety. “Mom, please, come on.” DJ’s mouth is smeared in chocolate, blonde hair in need of a comb. He is skinny, scrawny even, and tugs at the waist of pants, recently gifted by an older brother. His blue eyes—the only physical characteristic inherited from me—stare in the distance, over my head. Where was I when he watched this film? When DJ’s oldest brother was ten, I researched every movie request, interviewed parents before play dates. With my second son, I did mostly the same, loosening my grip somewhat on sleepovers and candy corn. My third son was my pregnancy swan song and with it, I had hoped to paint the nursery pink, buy ballet slippers. “Remember the Devil Dog costume I made for Russell? That would be funny. Everyone loves Devil Dogs! ” I try again, although I know the battle is over, the victor crowned. “No,” he says. “Ron Burgundy.” I know he will not give in; DJ does not give in. Several years ago, he decided to play ice hockey. “Absolutely not,” I said, describing head injuries, the expense, long commutes, and a culture of violence. The debate lasted weeks, wherein he told me he’d walk, he’d get a ride, he’d become such a good player that there’d be no chance of a concussion. Although I guessed none of this would be true, and it wasn’t, still he wore me down, he won. “OK,” I sigh. “You win.” In the weeks that follow, I find a woman’s burgundy suit coat in GoodWill, dark red jeans at Target. I order the wig and moustache online. After searching Google for Ron Burgundy hair, I review the choices, settling on something that looks right in the seller’s YouTube video. I show it to DJ a few days before Halloween. “How’s this?” I ask. “What do you think?” “Oh yeah!” DJ pulls on the outfit, strikes a pose, looking in the mirror, wig cocked slightly to the left, burgundy pants, already too short for his ever-growing legs. His maroon leisure suit, blonde wig, mustache transform him into an odd 1970s middle aged man. “I look great!” he says. “I am happy,” I tell him. “I am happy when you are happy.” He rolls his eyes, demonstrating his dislike of mushy talk and the implication that he should be happy when I’m happy. He strips the clothes off, settles into a snack, some video games. Halloween arrives. DJ prances about the house in his costume, excited to kickoff the night. October 31 is my husband’s birthday, and after a hurried cake, some singing, Don settles on the couch. I lecture my older sons one last time before they head out, eager to begin their own evening adventures. If DJ follows the path of his brothers, next year will include Silly String and shaving cream, surreptitiously tucked in oversized sweat pants. Years later there will be missed curfews, and my smelling their breath and interrogating them about pumpkin smashing and respect for neighbors. Today, however, on this Jack-O-Lantern High Holiday, candy is king, costumes, goofy clothes, a discarded ninja sword. DJ hands out a few treats to early-comers, those little pumpkins and princesses who haunt the twilight streets before bedtime. “Look at them!” I squeal at the tiny hands, choosing lollipops and Starburst from the bowl. I nod at the parents, standing on the street, urging Pleases and Thank Yous to their costumed offspring, playing the role of me of yesterday, of long ago. The door closes and DJ begins. “Mom,” he says. “I want to start with the mansions.” “The mansions?” I ask. We live in a small city, eight miles north of Boston. It is an old community and there are a handful of oversized single-family dwellings, spread throughout the city. I have never heard them referred to as mansions. I try to recall the holiday from one year ago. “Where are these mansions?” I ask. “Come on,” he says. We are lucky, on this fall New England evening, as there is neither snow nor rain, nor a late-season heat wave, all of which we have experienced on Halloween in years’ past. The air is crisp and the moon is full. It is a beautiful night, and I am grateful for it, pleased that the weather has cooperated on my last October stroll with the youngest of my sons. Ron Burgundy and I set off, he running, dragging a pillowcase for his loot, me, speed walking behind, keeping him in my sight, smiling and waving to neighbors heading to other homes with other ghouls. “Here we go,” he says, as he marches up to a small duplex, rings the bell, grins. “The first mansion.” I watch a woman peek out, smile, then offer my boy a bowl from which to choose a candy. Ron Burgundy does not murmur the “Trick or Treat” expected at many homes, and the treat giver does not ask about his costume, his sense of style. She smiles at me, waves, as I play the role of her of long ago. “Got it!” DJ tells me when we meet again on the street. “Why is this a mansion?” I ask, as we continue our journey. “Look,” he says, holding out his spoils. “King-sized candy bars. That’s what the mansions give.” We walk, from one mansion to the next, some small, others big, Capes, Colonials, an occasional townhouse. At each, DJ hungrily awaits an extra-large candy; sometimes he is disappointed, having misidentified the house, but I am surprised by the number of times he is correct. “How do you know which are the mansions?” I ask. “Just do,” DJ mumbles his reply. I can tell from his tone that he has no interest in delving into the mansion phenomenon. As with many conversations with DJ, I am left simply to wonder. When he was seven, DJ was enamored with roller coasters, riding, researching, and, eventually, building his own. He spent an entire weekend, working long hours, hauling odds and ends from everywhere into our backyard. Pulling me outside for the final reveal, he asked, “Do you like it?” My view was one of scattered pieces of wood and plastic, a carefully tended lawn browning below. DJ, however, saw a roller coaster. So it is with the mansions. I remain silent. We meet up with DJ’s friend, disguised as a more traditional ninja, his mom speed walking behind on her last holiday excursion with her son. Eagerly, the boys trade treats, vying for their favorites. A younger sister asks DJ why he is dressed in a suit instead of a costume. Her brother chides, “He’s Ron Burgundy! Don’t you know?” DJ smirks, I smile, grateful I am not the only mother whose child knows the PG-13 film. Later, we head home, as the houses start to turn off their lights, close their doors. After too many Butterfingers, a quick hug to the birthday dad, DJ brushes his teeth, gets ready for bed. I text his brothers, reminding them to be smart, be safe, be home soon. “Mom,” DJ calls with a request I receive with less frequency these days. “Can you tuck me in?” We lie next to each other, Ron Burgundy and I, in his hand-me-down bed, in a room still painted little boy blue. DJ’s head nestles comfortably in the crook of my arm. We compare our feet, his smaller, at least for one more year. Candy wrappers litter the floor, spilling out of the pockets of his peeled off pants. He has affixed his mustache to his bedroom door, a reminder of our last October walk together. “Thanks for the mansions, Deej,” I say. “I loved seeing the mansions.” “Yeah, maybe you can be a mansion next year, Mom. Hand those big bars out to the little kids, when I’m out with my friends.” I look at him, my youngest son, the one I did not expect and do not always understand. His face is flushed from the late October air, his pajama bottoms are in need of a wash. I feel his blonde hair, notice a more mature texture and curl has begun to replace his baby fine locks. As certainly as I hoped for toe shoes and hair ribbons, I rejoice in the joys my third son has given to me. Without DJ, I might not know the excitement of a hockey goal or the thrill of an unplanned adventure. I might have a perfectly tended yard, but not the thrill of a roller coaster ride. I wouldn’t have looked at a woman’s discarded suit jacket and recognized the perfect Halloween disguise. Tomorrow when I wake to my early November walk, I promise to see our neighborhood anew, with mansions in the ordinary, everywhere. Maribeth Darwin is a freelance writer from Melrose, Massachusetts. She is a Technical and Marketing Writer by trade, but prefers telling personal tales. Her three sons, and favorite subjects, continue to grow taller, wiser, and kinder than she thought possible. They graciously allow her to share (some of) their stories with all who care to hear them.     Save Save

    Brain, Child / 32 d. 10 h. 5 min. ago more
  • Welcome to IndiaWelcome to India

    By Jennifer Magnuson As my children sleep with their faces pressed against the car windows, spent from the thirteen-hour journey, our convoy of cars sputters past fruit stands piled high with pyramids of lychee fruit and pomegranates. Street vendors taking advantage of the nocturnal business generated by the airport crank heavy wrought iron handles, feeding stalks of sugarcane into a press that spits out a sugary juice called rhuse, which is popular throughout the country. We drive along a seemingly endless stone wall that is punctuated every twenty meters or so with the beautiful, picturesque script that characterizes Hindi. What could it possibly say? Welcome to India? We pray more than you? It is so foreign! So terribly exotic! I beg my driver to translate the flowery prose that adorns the ancient-looking structure. He scarcely hesitates before informing me, “It says to please, no urinating here.” We plan on spending the next few days house hunting; our rooms at the Taj Coromandel Hotel are booked and waiting for us. India is nothing without her celebrations, and even though it is now the early hours of the morning, we are greeted by a sight I will always remember: An Indian woman stands at the entrance of the hotel to welcome our family. Her shiny blue-black hair is tightly wound behind her neck and topped with a fragrant bloom of jasmine petals. In her outstretched hands is a round brass tray inlaid with the whorls and symmetrical designs I will come to associate with the Indian aesthetic. On the tray, a single lotus flower floats in an earthenware bowl, along with a small brass lamp releasing a flickering flame, and next to it an even smaller bowl – like a salt cellar – holds a neat little mound of red powder, called kukumam, which the woman ceremoniously applies to the spot on our foreheads right between our eyes leaving us with the mark of tilaka. We manage to put the kids to bed by the respectable hour of four, and fingers of sunlight are already peeking through the night’s darkness before Bob and I go to sleep. I’m sure we could have collapsed earlier, but just after we get the kids down, we are increasingly disconcerted by the constant booms and cracks thundering just outside our hotel windows, and I have Bob call our concierge. I’m frightened, of course, and in my fatigue and culture shock have anxiously conjured a scenario wherein rebel forces are just outside our room, waiting to capture the newly arrived American family and take us to some spider-infested jungle to await their ransom payment. “This is Bob Magnuson. For God’s sake, it sounds like Beirut, Lebanon, outside. What on earth is going on? Oh. Yes, I see. Okay, thank you. No, no. Good night.” He hangs up the phone and gives me a sheepish look. “Well, apparently it’s Saturday, and that’s when the Indians get married. All the wedding halls in the city are still letting off fireworks and crackers for the celebrations. I guess this is a pretty regular thing.” I finger the grainy red dot on my forehead as I try to will sleep to come. Welcome to India, Jennifer. Jennifer Magnuson is the author of Peanut Butter and Naan.   Save

    Brain, Child / 34 d. 14 h. 5 min. ago more
  • Fall Break Getaway: 5 Days in Panama City BeachFall Break Getaway: 5 Days in Panama City Beach

    With only 5 days to play and Hurricane Nate churning in the Gulf of Mexico, we blew into Panama City with a lot on the schedule and little margin for error. Like any family stealing a long weekend away, we were looking for all the creature comforts of home in an adventurous and kid-friendly environment as far away from the responsibilities of work and school as possible. The post Fall Break Getaway: 5 Days in Panama City Beach appeared first on Family Vacations US.

    Family Vacations US / 34 d. 17 h. 32 min. ago more
  • Debate: Is Rewarding Kids a Good Parenting Practice?Debate: Is Rewarding Kids a Good Parenting Practice?

      No, it’s the wrong message By Kathy Gillen “It won’t hurt much,” I told my two-year-old, Paige, as she waited for her immunizations. “It will be all done real fast.” Part of my statement wasn’t a lie. Later, in the car, Paige examined her Pooh Bear bandage. Her tears were gone, and the trauma seemed to be fading. I was still shaken. But I knew just how to ease my pain: produce a little magic. “We’re going to go to the toy store,” I told Paige, “and you can pick out something because you were so brave when you got your shots.” As the stiff plastic packaging and wire ties were removed from the new baby doll, delight filled my daughter’s face. The doll traveled by her side … for about a day. Paige never mentioned her doctor visit and soon abandoned the doll for her play kitchen. Later, as I tidied her room and placed the doll in a basket with other toys, I wondered: Did she deserve a treat? Pain is a part of life. Should she receive gifts or a lollipop for enduring her day, for growing up, for eating beans? I continued to struggle with my reward system for a long time as Paige faced rejection from the neighbor kid, tackled a pile of cooked spinach, and lost her status as an only child as we added new siblings every other year. When does behavior deserve a reward? After Pilates class, I used to treat myself to a Starbucks mocha. A pedicure is a treat I justified because I hauled sandals and swim noodles and beach towels to the pool all summer. And if I finished folding my laundry and put it all away, I decadently lay on my bed and got lost in a novel. But how would I teach my children that not all struggles end with a Crunch Bar or new Mario video game, when I often rewarded myself for enduring small inconveniences? My answer came with my fourth child. Merritt had a degenerative, genetic disease. She would never develop beyond her present infantile state. Not even a side-by-side refrigerator or fresh family-room carpet would work on this hurt. My mom friends tried to soothe me. Homemade dinners and certificates for massages were well-intentioned and appreciated, but when you win the horrible-things-that-happen-to-kids lottery, there is only so much a roasted chicken can do. Still, the rewards kept coming. “You deserve it,” became a phrase used over and over by my well-intentioned friends. I bought into the mentality, too. We desperately want life to be fair. We want goodness and love and great schools and healthy children for everyone. And when we realize it won’t be fair, we’re quick to offer rewards for pain. It’s easy to offer our children gifts and treats in exchange for their hurts. It seems the obvious thing to do, to try to take away their troubles. When we act is if parenting produces hardships soothed only by rewards, then we model entitlement. Moms, of course, do deserve a break, dinner out, a kicking new outfit, and anything that helps self-esteem, but we need to set parameters for our rewards. If I had continued to rely on treats to help me cope with the daily chores of raising a special-needs child, then I would set a poor precedent for my children’s ability to handle adversity. And it isn’t just the demands of a handicapped child that can wear me down. If my kids see me fleeing the house for a mid-week shopping spree and I tell them, “I deserve some time alone,” then I’m teaching them that inconvenience is a reason to max out the credit card, or worse, that they are causing me grief which can only be fixed with a trip to the mall. The doll I gave to Paige after her shots only taught her that the unpleasant parts of life will be rewarded. Well, sister, there will be a lot more unhappy times than a couple of shots. What will I do when she struggles with homework? Give her ice cream? When her first love breaks her heart, will I buy her a designer handbag? If her number one college pick sends her a thin letter, should I send her to Paris? I don’t want my kids to be like dogs, anticipating a treat each time the cupboard of disappointment opens. I want to empower them to face adversity, solve problems, and understand that a positive attitude can be the quickest way to gain their equilibrium. Nobody wants hardship for a child, but amazing, life-altering joy can be found in even the dark corners of life. Teaching kids to embrace hardships without the aid of rewards can be the difference between understanding life and just muddling through it. I recently heard of a girl who, while in the hospital with a rare kidney condition, decided to tell the people who sent her gifts to instead donate the money to an organization helping AIDS orphans in Africa. A child who is able to see beyond her own suffering and understand greater pain is rare. Children are self-focused, and when they are in pain they expect all of their parents’ attention and love. But in a society where parents try to cushion every blow their children receive, we need to teach our children that love doesn’t have to come wrapped in a brightly colored cardboard box or scooped into a cone. Pain shouldn’t always be alleviated. Some of our children’s greatest lessons will be learned through their struggles. My compassion for others and gratitude for each new day has intensified through my own pain. Sure, I could have done without a few of those horrific months, sitting in labs, hospital rooms, and doctors’ offices while searching for answers. But my kids might have perceived Merritt as a hardship if I had rewarded myself with a new car or diamond tennis bracelet. Instead they see her as a special girl who doesn’t get ice cream after therapy or baby dolls after the doctor but lots of hugs and rounds of Itsy Bitsy Spider. Do I deserve a break? Sure, I need time to myself, to regroup and relax. My kids need to see me having fun. But I hope they see me enjoying life, not rewarding myself for living it. Kathy Gillen lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and four children.   Yes, parents have the power By Renée Hill There is a conversation I have had with my mother many times since the birth of my first child four years ago. The basic outline goes like this. I didn’t have a lot of theories when I first started rewarding my son for his good behavior. The fact was, his birthday is in December—the same month as Christmas—and by late spring, I wanted to get the kid some new, age-appropriate toys. I thought it would be a bad precedent to set, if all he had to do was ask for them. So I started tying the acquisition of new playthings to his behavior. Voilà: My practice of rewarding his good behavior was born. We’ve been chugging along like this for years now. He got M&Ms during potty training, plastic dinos after vaccinations. He gets new games for his Gameboy after good report cards and jaunts to the bookstore after a week’s worth of saxophone practice. When school lets out, we take a vacation. You can call it bribery. I call it, “Hey, kiddo, I’m proud—let’s celebrate.” I know the arguments against what I’m doing. The kid will come to expect rewards for any little thing. He’ll become an insufferable brat. His expectations of the real world will be unrealistic. He’ll grow up and be unable to handle his adult life, all because a well-meaning adult (me) taught him that life rewards good behavior, jobs well done, hard work. But, jeez, it’s not as if he’s been sequestered in a bubble the span of his formative years. I don’t know about you, but when I was a child, I was well aware of all the ways my small world was unjust. It wasn’t fair that I got my glasses broken in dodgeball, or that the richer kids seemed to be the more popular ones. It seemed arbitrary that we had to ask to use the bathroom at school, or that we could only get two library books at a time. It seemed cosmically wrong that, while a bunch of us girls were talking during class, I was the one who had to sit out recess. These days, they don’t play dodgeball anymore (sorry, optometrists!) and you might get a note home from the teacher when some social situation goes awry. But, really, in the course of a childhood, hundreds of injustices are visited upon our kids. Small ones, we hope. Invisible to us, probably. But it happens to my kid, your kid, every kid. That’s the way the world is. What I don’t understand is how we collectively got the idea that home is supposed to simulate the big, bad world. Why, again, are we supposed to try to mirror the reality that rewards aren’t necessarily handed out equally, or at all? It seems to me that the goal of any home should be the opposite: to offer a respite from the daily grind of the world’s uncertainty and injustice. I want my home to be the place where my son can expect unconditional support, where his efforts go rewarded, and where his biggest fan lives. What I’m creating in our house, I suppose, is more like an ideal world. Here, there is compassion, in the form of making banana bread together when someone’s had a rough day. In our house, if you’ve worked to the best of your abilities and accomplished a goal, you might get a new CD. If you do something kind, someone takes notice, and there might be a trip to the ice rink in your future. In many ways, my rewards system is more realistic than expecting the boy to find his work rewarding in itself (remember learning the times tables?) or hoping that he can find a vein of altruism to mine. Because, as imperfect as the world is, most of us adults work for the reward of money. We’re capitalists, after all. But I’m careful, in rewarding him, to give bonuses for effort, not his innate qualities like his handsomeness or athleticism. Besides, he can suss out what’s subjective mama-love (you’re so gorgeous!) and what’s genuine pride in his accomplishments. My son will someday be an adult in this dog-eat-dog world, and with any luck, he’ll have a measure of power. He knows the great feeling of getting a reward. And he knows—because I’ve made it obvious—that I’ve gone to some effort to reward him when I get him a new gizmo or celebrate with a special outing. He’s learning that grown-ups—whether they’re parents, teachers, or bosses—have the power to reward. They should use it. Renee Hill is a freelance writer. She’s currently at work on a collection of essays. Brain, Child (Spring 2008) Subscribe to Brain, Child Save Save

    Brain, Child / 36 d. 21 h. 56 min. ago more
  • Don’t SpeakDon’t Speak

    By Liam Callanan My youngest daughter, almost two, won’t speak. It’s a problem, but not much of one, the pediatrician tells us—or rather, that’s what her mouth tells us. Her eyes betray a little more—I’m not worried now, but will be the next time we meet. I don’t have to wait. I’m worried now. Maybe it’s perfectly normal for one’s child not to be a fluent communicator by eighteen months, but in our house it’s not. She has two older sisters who said more sooner, and worse yet, my baby girl’s father—me—is a fiction writer. If she makes it age two or twenty or beyond unable to catch a fly ball, fine. But she has to speak. Right now, though, only the doctor’s speaking, and she says: Be patient. *** Patience is a precious commodity in our house—Jane is the fourth of four girls. It may be that she’s not spoken yet because she’s not been able to get a word in edgewise. And if the math is tripping you up at this point (1 baby + 2 older sisters = 4?), don’t worry—arithmetic is another problem area for us. Jane is our fourth child, but only the third we brought home from the hospital. She was born in 2007, her sister Honor in 2002, and Mary in 2000. Lucy was born February 19, 1998, and by the time I got to hold her in the hospital, she was already still and quiet. You have no idea how beautiful she was—or how quiet that room was. Up and down the hall, babies cried, mothers shouted, doctors and nurses called to each other. Anyone entering our room quickly fell quiet as soon as they saw the yellow rose a cautious nurse had taped to our door: hospital code for what had happened within. We couldn’t be so oblique with our daughters. Instead, we followed the advice of experts and told them about Lucy directly. Just the minimum, we were told: Don’t overwhelm them. So we didn’t. But our girls occasionally overwhelm us. Every February, Mary, our oldest, reminds us that it’s time to buy the crib we purchase and donate each year on Lucy’s birthday. Honor, who inspires her teachers to ever-more elaborate euphemisms—“spirited,” “lively,” and, my favorite, “capable of extreme leadership”—will sometimes tell strangers in line at the grocery store about her “stone sister” (as in gravestone?) “who doesn’t speak.” On the other hand, Honor will sometimes try to egg Jane into speaking in various public situations—which Jane never does. She smiles shyly, giggles or points, but she doesn’t otherwise greet the cashier or, say, the person behind her at church, or the other child on the playground. *** At home, Jane’s a bit more loquacious. We’ve assured the doctor that we do hear “Mommy” and “Daddy,” and for a while, we were quite certain that her first official word would be “cheese,” which was fine with me. A word’s a word, and Jane was our first child to be born in Wisconsin. It would make a good story. But then cheese retreated, and Daddy melted into “Diddy” and then I started noticing that both I and Dora the Explorer went by “Diddy.” Then Dora’s friend Boots the Monkey, too. That’s not a good sign, I thought, but couldn’t think of a way to share that with the pediatrician: My daughter confuses me for a small lavender monkey. *** Be patient, the doctor says, and we are, even though these are the months of the “language explosion” when other children—especially, it seems, the children of parents who blog—are learning a hundred words a day, and in multiple languages. That our doctor isn’t concerned yet is frustrating, but also reassuring. One of the things I like about her is her slowness to panic. When she asked Honor at age five to draw a self-portrait on her clipboard (I confess I don’t remember this diagnostic test from when I was a kid), and Honor instead drew a thigh-high stiletto boot and went to the other side of the form and marked “yes” beside all the “Abnormal Mental Health Symptoms” before we could get the pen away from her, our doctor did not commit Honor—or her parents—to an asylum. She smiled and said Honor was precocious and that she’d see her next year. She did, and Honor brought her a beautiful, full-length self-portrait—ponytail, crown, stiletto boots and all. *** But the girls have always been good with doctors. Once, when the pediatrician finally did hit the panic button and send us to the Children’s Hospital emergency room—it was midnight, and Mary, seven, had been throwing up for twenty-four hours straight—we found ourselves in an exam room with a nurse practitioner who was going through her triage sheet. Midnight, and my daughter hadn’t kept anything down for more than a day, and had never been up this late in her life: “Would you say she’s acting … playful?” the NPT said. Mary’s head lolled against my chest. I didn’t answer. Two hours later, when the IV saline solution drip had miraculously restored her, the NPT returned to check on us. She whispered to me over the tubes and beeping: “How’s she feeling?” Before I could answer, Mary opened her eyes from her two a.m. nap and said just one word: “playful.” *** In short, Mary and Honor are not shy—nor ever at a loss for words. When I told them I was reading at a local bookstore, they both asked what their role would be—they couldn’t imagine not having one. Since I’m still learning what it is to be a writer, and parent, and writer-parent, I said they could do whatever they wanted. Honor spun like a ballerina, fell, rose, and then curtsied to broad applause. Mary read a story that consisted of two lines: “I like chocolate. If you like chocolate, raise your hand.” When the entire audience did, she smiled and both girls gave me a look that very clearly said, Top that, Dad. Of course, I’ve learned there is no topping them. What do you say when your six-year-old wakes you just before dawn, whispering at your bedside in the cold dark, Dad, I need a stapler? Or, when you’re invited to your daughter’s third-grade class to talk about “what writers do,” and after answering polite questions like Do you have a limousine? and Do you think of the words or pictures first?, Mary asks, “Dad, why are you so wild at home, and normal here?” Speechless. *** What could I say? That at home, I like plugging my iPod into the stereo and blasting whatever comes out so my girls and I can dance like popcorn in a kettle, because I spend all day very, very quietly sitting at a desk and talking to no one? That I’m wild with them—talking, tickling, tackling—because they’re so funny and so fun? That I will, and have, taken them to New York or Chicago or a random city some Saturday because life is short, and I’ve never been patient enough to wait for the adventures to come to me? Or that I love talking a wild blue streak with them, dancing until we drop, because there was a day—a lonely cold one in February—that I thought I would never know a noisy life, that I thought my first daughter, so pretty, so silent, would also be my last. Jane is our last. Every milestone of hers that passes—smiling, sitting up, crawling, walking—is bittersweet. I already dread the day I dismantle the crib—the one we bought for Lucy, the one we’ve used for each girl since—and take it to Goodwill instead of storage. And maybe Jane senses this in me. I wouldn’t be surprised if she understands everything we say. Maybe Jane knows that that first word will also be a last hallmark. Maybe she’s waiting. Her sisters aren’t, of course. Honor has decided we’re aiming too low—she sits Jane down with chapter books, tries to get her to repeat words like “conversation” and “tiara.” Mary, meanwhile, recently completed a worksheet that asked her to predict the future. She came up with a list that included “boys will like Barbies,” “people will drive plastic cars,” and—“your first word will be fiction.” Fiction? Author’s Note: Jane loves fiction, loves cuddling with a book any time of day. And sometimes afterward, she will speak—low, steady, earnest, but absolutely unintelligible whispers that she sometimes punctuates by patting my cheek or nose. I want to ask Mary what she’s saying. Or, for that matter, Honor. I want to ask Jane. I want to ask Lucy. I want to ask all my girls if what I do all day as a writer is so different from what I do as a parent—imagine what might be, what could have been, and patiently, quietly, wait for the words to come. About the Author: Liam Callanan’s novels include All Saints and The Cloud Atlas. He coordinates the Ph.D. program in creative writing at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He’s on the web at liamcallanan.com.   Save

    Brain, Child / 38 d. 23 h. 47 min. ago more
  • Witness for the Defence (of Teens)Witness for the Defence (of Teens)

    By Kristine Klassen It has happened countless times. I am at a gathering where I’m meeting people for the first time. We juggle glasses, napkins, and hor d’oeuvres to shake hands, and exchange pleasantries; invariably we arrive at the question of our work lives. Stranger: “So, what do you do for a living?” Me: “I am a high school teacher.” It’s pretty much a conversation stopper. Well conversation staller, for sure. Most of the time, my new acquaintance’s response has, at the very least, a whiff of… surprise – she seems so normal…or disdain – how could a well-balanced individual choose THAT path? In these countless first encounters, there is a sense of disconnection and puzzlement. People can imagine what it is like to be a restaurant manager, a lawyer, a bus driver; they can’t grasp what it is like to be an adult working with teens. Each time, I feel I have to defend. I defend myself and my choice: I love my work. But much more importantly, I find myself defending my students. In the beginning, I would get tongue tied when people said, “yes, but kids these days, they’re so _____” (I won’t fill in the blank because that would be perpetuating a stereotype, something I caution students about daily.) But over the years I have worked to articulate why this generation is redeemable and full of promise, and how its members are ultimately an absolute joy to be around everyday. Let me tell you what I know about “kids these days.” The impact of media is ubiquitous and insidious. The Participaction website says that the average kid spends 7.5 hours in front of a screen. Add 6 hours of school and 8 hours of sleep, and you are already getting close to 24. The afternoon and evening hours when they are in front of their screen are portions of the day when, before smart technology, kids were having conversations. When I was a kid, these were the hours when we were detailing our days over a family meal. We were hanging out in the park. We were hiding in closets, talking on the phone when we were supposed to be doing our homework. We were talking. A lot. And in those shared experiences we were telling stories, excitedly talking about our favourite songs and books, learning about each others’ hopes, fears, and dreams. If kids in this generation are limiting their interactions to snapchat posts and online group sessions of Call of Duty, where are they trying out creative ideas or learning from the people in their lives? Can two people really know each other, really love each other, if the majority of their interactions are through texts and instant messaging? Kids and their adults must work hard to cultivate the arts of conversation and storytelling. Finding these opportunities is tough given that friendships are everything for teens. They can meet up anytime through text, snapchat, FaceTime, Skype, and the myriad other ever-emerging platforms, all of which offer instant gratification. Their adults, on the other hand, need actual face time to nurture a relationship which plums the time-consuming depths of values, aspirations, family history. Is it any wonder the adults are losing ground? Another crucial impact of media is that many of our young people have lost their childhoods, far too soon. When I hear 15- year-olds talking about Game of Thrones, I blanch. (I ask if their parents know they are watching, and I have to admit, sometimes the answer is yes.) The unencumbered online access to explicit images, videos, news footage deeply affects me – as an adult with experience and critical thinking on my side. Imagine how seeing the sexualization of women in most music videos and video games, the footage of a suicide bombing, the graphic murder scenes in PG13 films, is shaping the world view of our young people. Without a conversation to unpack what they have seen and heard, kids will not have the language to express what is potentially harming them. As far as the language they do have, the complaint I hear most often is that teens are “rude” and “vulgar”. Well, consider that during those 7.5 hours the language they are learning is through music videos and youtube clips. Have you checked out a 2 Chainz or Future video lately? And the conversations they are witnessing are in films like Dirty Grandpa and Deadpool, the top 1 and 2 films on Teen Vogue’s “Top 12 Movies You Can’t Miss in 2016.” So I cut them some slack when the occasional F-bomb slips out. First of all, because they hear it all the time, and they don’t know how it sounds to us. But secondly, because I’ve decided that is not the hill I am going to die on. Rather, I take that opportunity to talk about how I hear that word. I help them to find a new one, and we move on. It is a conversation, and once we have hashed that out, they use the word less. In all things, I work with my touchstone. I have learned over the years that with teens, it really is all about relationships. I make them talk, and I make them listen to each other. I encourage them to share their favourite things, and as a community, we honour their identities and their accomplishments. We can do this because we get to know each other through discussion, and that is a joy and a privilege for me. Do I see snapchatting and texting every day? Absolutely. But I feel it is the job of adults to teach kids how to use their devices effectively, and I am working on that all the time. They can live without their phones – but they have to be given something pretty compelling to tear them away. AND they need help understanding respect for their environment – in our case, the community of the classroom. Ultimately, like all of us, teens want to be liked, they want to be valued for their ideas and for who they are. They want to be known and understood by the adults in their lives, and this can only happen without judgement. Without judgement and with a lot of face to face conversations where we listen and let them try out their ideas, their ever-changing identities, their beliefs. This is what I know: teens take time. We must slow down. Talk and listen. Show them how we appreciate their passions, and help them find the language and the avenues to pursue them in healthy ways. As a teacher, once they know I respect and like them, the road is paved for learning. And this process, which is admittedly painstaking with some young people, is what fulfills me. How would my students feel about being championed by a no longer young English teacher who had them to sit through videos of both David Bowie and Prince this year (some of them rolling their eyes and checking their snapchat while they silently pleaded for it to end)? Would they think I have the right to speak for them? I don’t know. We should ask them. Kristine Klassen has been a high school educator for 17 years in Ottawa, Canada. A Guidance Counsellor, English, and Film Studies teacher,  she has worked with thousands of young people in the school setting… and two very busy boys at home. You can follow her on Twitter @klassensroom. Save Save Save Save

    Brain, Child / 65 d. 0 h. 31 min. ago more
  • Debate: Should Children Have Homework In Elementary School?Debate: Should Children Have Homework In Elementary School?

    No! By Stephanie Sprenger My family recently experienced an unusually relaxed, harmonious week. I’d like to attribute the shift to a stellar parenting course or to the fact that we’d all taken up meditation, but the reason was more sobering—my third grader had a significantly reduced homework load. Instead of the usual bundle of language exercises, reading log, and daily math worksheets, she was responsible for less than half of that. The difference was impossible to ignore. Since my daughter started kindergarten, daily homework has been a part of our lives and, unfortunately, both she and I have come to dread it. While we enjoy the accountability of filling out a reading log (as we both love reading books), and we have fun with the occasional school project, the daily worksheets are time-consuming at best and stressful at worst. When math worksheets were introduced in first grade, I was horrified at the amount of time I spent sitting at the kitchen table after school with an emotional six-year-old. Often, homework ended with both of us in tears and me uncorking my bottle of Cabernet, because, let’s face it, homework time had clearly become the new Happy Hour. “That’s not the right way to do it!” my tearful daughter shouted. “You have to build a math mountain first!” This kind of language barrier is one of my primary complaints about regular math homework. More daunting than the reality of a two-parent working home and not enough hours in the day, many of us simply don’t understand our children’s assignments. I have no doubt that today’s method of instruction is superior, despite the droves of angry parents protesting the “new math” and forming irate Facebook communities. But that doesn’t change my inability to grasp the techniques. Where we live, parents do not receive a comprehensive tutorial or webinar instructing them how to “make a ten” or avoid the outdated “carry the one” terminology. And my daughter can’t explain it either, which leads me to believe she shouldn’t be bringing it home. Parents in our culture receive mixed messages about how we are to approach childhood; we exchange sentimental quips about how fast it goes and how we should savor every minute, and in the next breath we prematurely push our children to be responsible, work-driven mini-adults. When do they get to just be kids? With the metamorphosis of extracurricular activities into high-pressured endeavors, our children already enjoy far less unstructured time than their parents did. If they are supposed to be involved in competitive sports, foreign languages, musical instruments, and religious or philanthropic organizations, where is the time for family meals, relaxing with a good book, and roaming freely with their neighborhood friends? Current research does not support a strong enough correlation between homework and academic success to make it worth the headache. When I consider the fact that my own daughter—who is a very competent reader and a good student—experiences anxiety about homework, I wonder what it must be like for others who have reading difficulties or special needs. Regardless of individual learning style and aptitude, there is too much pressure to excel, too soon. Perhaps children would feel more motivated and proud to complete occasional assignments and larger projects; homework could become more of a “grown-up” novelty rather than a constant source of resentment. There are better ways to teach children responsibility and work ethic than daily homework in elementary school—they have their teen years to learn how to both pace and push themselves academically. It is more important at this age to develop a positive association with learning and school. Children put in five full days a week at school, which is plenty of time for them to learn the academic skills they need. What they need after school, just like adults, is time to unwind. The insidious emphasis on perfectionism, discipline, and performance that homework reinforces has created a lack of balance, which is pushing many families to their breaking point. These are not values I wish to impress upon my children. At their age, I would much rather they embrace a slower pace that allows them to enjoy their lives. Stephanie Sprenger is a writer, music therapist, and mother of two girls. She is co-editor at The HerStories Project and blogs at stephaniesprenger.com. *** YES! By Sarah Rudell Beach When my daughter, now a second-grader, started Kindergarten, she rushed into the house one day after school and gleefully exclaimed, “Mommy, I have homework!” She proudly showed me her assignment, sat down to work, and felt so grownup. When I explain a homework assignment to my tenth-graders, I don’t get quite the same reaction. Somewhere between Kindergarten and high school, homework seems to have lost its luster. But even so, the parents of these same students tell me that their children excitedly share stories about Henry VIII or the French Revolution with them after completing their nightly reading. Children – from bubbly kindergarteners to slacking seniors – want to learn. And we all know they need to learn. Direct instruction and supervised practice of newly acquired skills in the classroom is an indispensable component of their education. Continued practice at home is a valuable opportunity to reinforce and extend their learning. Homework, within appropriate guidelines, is a worthwhile practice even for elementary students. When it is not assigned simply to fill time (the dreaded “busy work”) and when students are able to complete it reasonably quickly—kids need downtime after school as well—homework can provide many benefits. It gets parents involved. I’m on Facebook enough to see how parents struggle with understanding Common Core homework—I’ve had my own humbling moments of being unable to help my daughter with her second-grade math. But it is not about us teaching the math to them. It is about knowing what they are learning and what they are struggling with, and learning with them. When our children get stuck, we are not going to have every answer for them, whether the issue is a new way to do addition or how to deal with not getting invited to a friend’s birthday party. What we can provide is our supportive presence and gentle advice: “Maybe you can talk to your teacher tomorrow and ask her to explain this problem to you.” Research indicates that parental involvement and support is a crucial factor in children’s academic success. Signing those homework logs and checking off the math assignments allows us to stay informed of our children’s progress and, most importantly, lets our children know we value their education and their achievements. It supports learning. Cognitive psychologists speak of a phenomenon known as the “spacing effect.” This well-documented concept means that learning is more durable, and less prone to being forgotten, if it is distributed, with several practice sessions spaced out over time. This is fancy-talk for the idea that “cramming” doesn’t work. High-quality homework helps students distribute their learning – they learn a new concept at school, practice with their teacher, and then move on to another subject, eat lunch, go out for recess, and then go to art class. Later that day, perhaps after dinner, they return to the concept, and practice it again. This act of retrieving the memory of the day’s lesson and reapplying the skills learned reinforces their new knowledge. When the teacher references it again in class the next day, their learning resurfaces more quickly. It informs teachers of student progress. Homework is a core element of formative assessment, which informs us about progress toward a learning target. The homework that is returned the next day provides a teacher with valuable feedback—where does this student struggle when she needs to do this skill on her own? Quality homework supports more personalized learning. This is also why it is so important that children complete their homework assignments themselves. It develops healthy habits. In addition to the knowledge and skills acquired, nightly homework helps children develop disciplined habits and routines. By the time they are in middle school, and certainly high school, students will have several classes’ worth of homework to balance. By starting our children with small amounts of homework—generally 10 minutes per night per grade—we help them develop the discipline they will need as they progress in their education. It’s the discipline we all need in order to set aside time for the important work that needs to be done each day. Whether homework is met with joy or eye-rolling (and whether that’s from the kids or the parents), if it is of high quality, used to formatively assess student progress, and assigned in moderation, it is a valuable component of a child’s elementary school education. Sarah Rudell Beach is a high school teacher, writer, and a mother of two. She is a contributing author to The HerStories Project and Sunshine After the Storm and blogs at leftbrainbuddha.com. *** Return to the September 2015 Issue Save

    Brain, Child / 69 d. 14 h. 18 min. ago more