Friday, July 27th, 2012
My husband and I were lucky enough to celebrate his birthday with a long-weekend getaway to the low-key Caneel Bay resort in St. John, in the U.S. Virgin Islands. It was the first time we’d gone anywhere alone together on a plane since our 7-year-old daughter was born, and happily, she was excited to spend the weekend at her grandparents’ house.
Summer might not seem like the ideal time to visit an island in the Caribbean. Yet while it was swelteringly hot and humid at home, the ocean breezes blew on St. John, and the calm turquoise water was just steps from our room. There were plenty of chairs under shady trees on the beach, and even hammocks. After you arrive at Caneel Bay (via ferry from nearby St. Thomas, which has an airport) and are welcomed with a cold washcloth, you can get your own set of snorkeling gear to keep for the duration of your stay. The resort, once home to the Rockefeller family, is built on a private peninsula that has seven separate beach coves. We easily snorkeled on five of them—seeing colorful fish and coral, millions of tiny minnows (which reminded me of the children’s book Swimmy, by Leo Leoni) and even a stingray. I watched a 2-year-old boy sitting by the edge of the water with his grandmother try a snorkeling mask on for the first time. He was too young to swim, but he held his breath, stuck his face in the water, and was amazed to see fish swimming right next to him.
No doubt, this is a idyllic location for honeymooners, babymooners, or couples like us who deserve some time alone. But there were also lots of families there with young children, who were happy to unplug (no TVs or even phones in the rooms), chill out, and dig in the sand. There are 11 tennis courts, and complimentary use of sea kayaks and Sunfish sailboats. The outdoor breakfast buffet is an easy way for families to start the day, and Rose Bud, the free kids club (for toilet-trained children) is staffed by a team of warm women who organize art projects indoors and take the kids for walks to collect shells or see the donkeys who roam all over the property. Private babysitting is also available during the day or evening. Even though the resort was 80% full, it never seemed crowded because it is so spread out.
We were only gone for two nights, but came back totally relaxed and recharged—and our daughter couldn’t wait to show us the snail that she’d found in the backyard and adopted.
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Wednesday, June 20th, 2012
As a fair-skinned person with a fair-skinned family, I have been on a lifelong quest for the best sunscreens. For years, I have been a big fan of Neutrogena’s Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock (SPF 30 or 45) for my face and body because it’s not greasy and you really can wear it on a daily basis.
I also love Colorescience Sunforgettable Mineral Powder Brush SPF 30 for touch-ups when you’re out and about. Despite the $50 pricetag, this will be a staple in your purse for years to come. My 7-year-old daughter never balks about putting sunscreen on her face when we use a sunscreen stick (like Banana Boat Baby Stick SPF 50), and she has gotten good at applying it carefully herself. It’s also good for the part in her hair.
This season, my family has two new staples. My first strategy was to buy a giant pump bottle of Rocky Mountain Sunscreen SPF 30, which is unscented and broad-spectrum. (Hey, the sun is strong in Colorado!). We keep it by the door in our kitchen at our little “don’t leave the house without putting on sunscreen station” and I like the way I can pump out just as much as I need for my daughter’s arms and legs. For everyday wear, we’ve also discovered Coretex SunX SPF30 Sunscreen Towelettes, available online, which go on light and fresh come individually wrapped so they’re convenient to slip into your bag for reapplication.
I also need to remember how important it is for kids and adults to use SPF lip balm. Lips are very delicate and prone to skin cancer—my own mother has dealt with repeated pre-cancerous problems—and kids like to lick their lips a lot. Carry sunscreen lip balm with you and have your kids put it on repeatedly throughout the day. Experiment until you find one (like Banana Boat Sport Performance Sunscreen Lip Balm SPF 50 or Solar Sense Clear Zinc Stick for Face & Lips, SPF 50) with a taste that your kids don’t complain about.
Finally, my family is always looking for ways to spend more time in the shade. Check out these helpful ideas.
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Friday, February 17th, 2012
If you’re in the New York City area or planning to visit, don’t miss Rated P For Parenthood, a clever, funny, and touching new musical at the Westside Theatre. The versatile and endearing cast of four takes you on a whirlwind tour of raising kids from conception to college, marking milestones like the first days of kindergarten and summer camp with savvy and surprising songs. For most of the show, I was either dabbing tears from the corners of my eyes or mopping them off my cheeks as I laughed hysterically. Listen to a sneak peek here. Parents readers who order tickets (for now through May 27) by February 28 can get a 50% discount by entering the code RPDRTM9.
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Wednesday, February 15th, 2012
My 7-year-old daughter is an extremely picky eater. I’ve been covering health and nutrition as an editor at Parents for many years, and her limited daily diet makes me frustrated and sad. But as I have learned, getting into power struggles over food is a losing battle. And even gentle encouragement to “just taste it” rarely works with my child. I have hoped that she will outgrow the picky phase most young children go through, but now that I have read this eye-opening article on myths about very picky eaters in our March issue, I think she has neophobia—a genuine fear of new foods. Call it Picky with a Capital P. When we were working on this piece, we asked Parents Facebook fans about their own picky eaters, and we were overwhelmed by the response. “I have the pickiest eater ever!” many of you exclaimed. Unfortunately, experts say there is not a quick fix for Picky eating, but the key is to change your own attitude toward your child’s mealtime refusals and help him gradually feel comfortable with new dishes. Let us know what other strategies have worked for you.
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Wednesday, November 16th, 2011
Don’t miss the wonderful piece in our December issue, “It’s Okay To Stare,” by Meg Zucker. This mother of three was born with a rare condition called ectrodactyly, and has only one finger on each hand, shortened forearms, and one toe on each foot. Her two sons, Ethan and Charlie, have the same condition, and they have become accustomed to other kids being curious about their unusual hands. In working with Meg on this piece, I was struck by her own comfort level and confidence, and what a terrific role model she is for her sons. Her article isn’t just about her own family, but shares valuable lessons for all of us about the best ways to help our children interact with people who look or act different.
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Wednesday, September 7th, 2011
My 6-year-old daughter goes back to school tomorrow, and just thinking about lice has been making my head itchy. So far, our family has escaped it and I consider myself extremely lucky. The school nurse has always begged parents not to make too big deal about lice—after all, it’s not helpful to freak kids out about catching it—but I have been know to utter the words My. Worst. Nightmare. I still remember getting lice as a kid and sitting with my head down on the table for hours as my mother (bless her) nit-picked with a fine-tooth comb. I’m feeling itchy again.
Convinced that my luck may be running out, I am going to be proactive this year. I’ve been hearing more about the Fairy Tales Hair Care line of Rosemary Repel products, which contain rosemary and citronella oils that reportedly keep lice from wanting to camp out on your child’s head. A study conducted by the non-profit organization Lice Solutions Resource found that hair treated with the Leave-In Conditioning Spray repelled 92% of live lice. The company says that using several of the products together (shampoo, conditioner, spray, gel) increases the effectiveness. The products definitely have a loyal following among moms who are willing to do anything to avoid an infestation.
“When my daughter, Grace, was in kindergarten last year, a friend of mine told me don’t start school without Fairy Tales—and Grace never got lice even though there were repeated outbreaks in her class,” says Terri Pitts, of New York City. Pitts sprays the base of Grace’s neck and behind her ears every morning (“It’s like sunscreen—she knows this is part of the routine”) and has even brought her bottle to school to spray other kids. My own daughter is very sensitive to smells, but she doesn’t seem to mind the rosemary scent of the spray—so I’m ready to start spritzing.
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Thursday, August 11th, 2011
The gut-wrenching article, “The Two-Minus-One Pregnancy,” by Ruth Padawer, which will be published in The New York Times Magazine this Sunday but is available online now, is a must-read. It uncovers the growing trend of secretive selective reduction in women who are pregnant with twins—a topic that is fraught with emotional and ethical issues that Padawer explores deftly. Even if you are pro-choice, contemplating choosing to abort one of your healthy twins is painful, and yet the couples in the article speak honestly and compellingly about their difficult decision. Certainly, parenthood is more demanding and exhausting than any of us knew beforehand, and parenting twins can be an overwhelming and intense experience. But our children also bring us ineffable joy that we can’t imagine living without. Please read and share this story, and tell us what you think about this uniquely 21st century issue.
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Wednesday, August 10th, 2011
I am obsessed with frozen red grapes. I pull them all off their stems, wash them, and put them in the freezer a large zip-top bag. When I come home after a sweaty hot day, I reach in and grab a refreshing handful. They don’t freeze solid like an ice cube—they are still easy to chew, like nature’s bite-sized Popsicle. They stave off my hunger until I can get dinner on the table so I’m less likely to munch on something less healthy. Unfortunately, my daughter doesn’t love them as much as I do, but maybe your kids will!
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