Monday, April 7, 2014

How Rude!

Have you ever found yourself strolling around the playground or waiting outside your child’s school, when seemingly out of the blue, a parent has asked you a question that was offensive? Maybe you didn’t immediately know how to respond because you were so taken back by the comment. Perhaps you let him have it, because it was just that rude.
The question might have been about why you are doing or not doing a certain parenting technique with your child or why you are for or against a certain position, movement, or theory. Maybe it got personal.
Rude questions.
There are a lot of them going around these days. While the reasons behind them may change, a rude question generally occurs when someone is stepping out of his or her boundaries and into your business.
Here are some that top the list:

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Five Benefits of Spacing Out Your Kids

According to the research paper “Birth Spacing and Sibling Outcomes” by Kasey S. Buckles and Elizabeth L. Munnich of the University of Notre Dame, spacing siblings more than two years apart results in better scores on reading and math tests for the older children. Parents naturally want to do everything they can so their child can have an advantage, but there are other pros to spacing out your children.
I can’t say the spacing itself is the sole reason for the spike in test scores. I have three kids, each five years apart, unintentionally. They all do very well in school, but so do many of their friends, and some of them are only children or siblings spaced close together. I tend to believe that the parent’s educational goals and imposed study habits combined with a child’s natural ability and quality of teachers will largely determine a child’s educational outcome.
In our hyper-driven educational system that often cares more about test scores than actual learning, I wonder how much it even matters. Still, I have to say there are some definite advantages to spacing siblings widely apart.
Here is my top five:

Friday, January 3, 2014

More Than Just A Grade: Tutor Kids In Kindness

Tutor Kids in Kindness
Like many parents, my husband and I will soon be receiving our children’s report cards and will be eager to see how they are doing. Throughout the years, I have stressed how important education is and that trying your best is always the goal. I clearly remember my own school years and struggling through some tough classes, like algebra, and studying as much as I could to keep my grade-point average up. My grades were extremely important to me. I felt that school was the one thing I really excelled at, and my education provided me so many wonderful opportunities. So when I had kids, I naturally wanted them to do well in school (in fact, very well). I’m no tiger mom, but I do expect good grades.

Growing up, my mother was my biggest cheerleader and always told me how proud she was of me, but she also told me she was proud of me even when I blew a test or received a grade lower than I wanted. No matter what, she related that it meant a lot to her when the teachers would say I was a nice girl and a kind person. She said that mattered even more than grades. Back then, I thought she was crazy — who cares about goodness when I didn’t get that grade I was hoping for?

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Suppressing The Joys of Motherhood at Work: Don’t Do It!

Parenting is certainly the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it is also the greatest thing in my life. I’m not afraid to say it … anymore. I’m not the type who talks incessantly about my kids or posts daily Facebook pictures of everything we do, but there is nothing that even comes close to the joy (and fear) that I receive from being a mother. I feel honored that I have these three people in my life, not to train, but to share life with, and watch them as they blossom into young adults. And I know I’m not alone in that feeling, yet, I have encountered countless moms that downplay the joy they get from motherhood.
One reason a mother might do it is because she’s at work and doesn’t want to be known as “that mom,” or she may shelf her abundant mommy enthusiasm, because she wants to appear as hip as she was before she had kids. But being a mom is the most important job we’ll ever have. You can have all sorts of professional success, but being responsible for another person’s health, education, emotions, outlook on life, safety, and more is nothing short of meaningful in every sense of the word.
Much of the mommy stigma starts in the workplace. During different times in my life, I have worked alongside hostile childless co-workers who resented my part-time status, and I have felt the need to purposefully not discuss my children at work. After all, work is for working, not divulging personal information, but I also knew that any swooning over my baby would result in certain co-workers holding the new mommy status against me. I have also witnessed a boss berate a co-worker for taking her child to the doctor and coming in 30 minutes late!
When I was an editor, I went out of my way to make new moms on staff feel included and just as valued as they were in their pre-pregnancy days, while also empathizing with their home situation, lack of sleep, and general emotional turmoil that can come with being a new mom. I have been around too many pregnant women — who felt embarrassed for taking extra bathroom trips, having bad morning sickness, or calling in sick, because they had a colicky baby — to not have compassion for women making the sometimes abrupt transition into motherhood.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Benefits of Genetic Testing for Breast Cancer

breast cancer, brca test, genetic testing, october breast cancer
During this month of breast cancer awareness, the key message is to get regular check-ups and do monthly self-exams, so women can detect any abnormalities as soon as they appear. This lessens the chance of breast cancer being deadly. Sometimes, finding a lump is the best-case scenario, because it means that you can have it biopsied and removed. In addition, genetic testing can pinpoint if the breast cancer gene runs in your family, and it’s a simple blood test.
My mother was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer nine years ago. Prior to that, she had her regular mammograms and check-ups, so it was somewhat of a surprise when she found a lump, and it was found to be malignant. After intense chemotherapy and a mastectomy, she has been cancer-free. It was a long road, and she still takes preventive medication, which can be quite draining at times. Now, she is adamant about detection and follows all post-cancer protocols.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Columbus Day: Remind Me Again Why We Celebrate Murder and Genocide

columbus day
This photo has been circulating on Facebook for quite a few weeks now in preparation of today’s holiday, Columbus Day. While most post or share the photo in a joking manner, others feel strongly one way or another.

Many people are starkly divided between two camps: those who celebrate the day, Columbus himself and Italian Americans in general, and those who feel that Christopher Columbus’ torture, killings, and enslavement of Native Americans and other people was nothing but hideous and vile.
And then are those who just enjoy having the day off.

Over at HuffPo, Vito de la Cruz sums it up well:

Why Columbus’ shadow endures and exceeds that of others including, to some extent or another, the Tainos and Arawaks who were decimated within half a century of his arrival in the Caribbean is because his voyages accomplished two things. First, it publicized to European powers that there was a vast world within their grasp and that it was defended by people still using bows and arrows. Second, Columbus’ arrival and presence in the New World established the pattern of exploitation and genocide of Native peoples that became the norm to the present day.

As Cruz points out, Columbus wasn’t the first to discover the Americas, yet we celebrate him because he lead an assault on less powerful people that resulted in him claiming the land. Of course, the catch-22 is that we all now live on this land.

The Dave Matthews Band has a song about it, “Don’t Drink the Water” which I remember explaining to my son when he was very young and asked about the meaning behind the lyrics:

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Should You Go Gluten Free?

Gluten-free diets have never been more popular than they are right now. Many consider this trendy eating plan for weight loss purposes, but others free themselves of aches, pains, bloating, exhaustion, migraines, and plain misery by ridding their bodies of the substance. But could it be for you? Should you try it?
I asked the “gluten-free guru” Danna Korn to answer some commonly asked questions regarding gluten. Korn is an author and gluten-free expert since 1991 and founder of R.O.C.K. (Raising Our Celiac Kids). Her books include “Living Gluten-Free for Dummies,” “Gluten-Free Cooking for Dummies,” “Gluten-Free Kids,” “Kids with Celiac Disease,” and “Wheat-Free, Worry-Free: The Art of Happy, Healthy, Gluten-Free Living.”