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Why All Parents Should See the Movie Gravity

Monday, October 21st, 2013

Major spoiler alert: Gravity—the box office hit starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as astronauts—isn’t about space at all. I mean, of course all the action takes place in space, and it’s packed with plenty breathtaking shots of our planet as seen from above, but Gravity is about something far more down to earth. Specifically, it’s about what it means to be a parent.

Ryan Stone, played by Sandra Bullock, is a scientist on her first venture out into space. Much like a newborn baby, she’s in a brand new place where the very unexpected and dangerous can—and does—happen. (Director Alfonso Cuarón even goes so far with the newborn metaphor as to show us Ryan floating in the fetal position with what looks like an umbilical cord tethering her—watch for it maybe 30 minutes in, really cool shot.) Luckily for Ryan she’s not alone. Matt Kowalski, her far more space-savvy colleague, takes on a very paternal role, coaching her through unfamiliar situations, and straight-up parenting her. But, like with all parent/child relationships, there’s a time that Matt has to literally let go, and Ryan will have to find her own way armed only with the lessons Matt has left her. It’s one of the most direct stories of growing up and finding your legs that I’ve seen in ages. It’s also a beautiful, if painful, lesson in the necessity of setting your progeny free.

But let’s talk more about Sandra Bullock’s character, Ryan. She isn’t just any woman trying to grow up and find her way in this unpredictable, often scary universe. We learn early on that she’s a mother—specifically, a mother whose daughter was killed at a very young age in a freak playground accident. Some critics have called Ryan’s backstory “schmaltzy,” but I think it’s vital to the story, in underlining that parents (and people in general) want to think we have control, when in reality so many things in life are terrifyingly beyond our influence. No, it’s not a warm and fuzzy message—but I don’t think parenting is warm and fuzzy all the time. Raising a child, knowing that her well-being and even existence depends on you, can be scary. Nearly as scary at times, some might argue, as floating above the earth, unprotected, with giant hunks of space debris hurtling in your direction.

The lesson Gravity teaches is that parenting (and life in general) can be a harrowing experience. The best thing we can do is to push forward, never give up, and try to cherish the exquisite view along the way.

What’s your parenting style? Find out here.

Image of Gravity star Sandra Bullock courtesy yahoo.com

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Baby Cambridge’s Debut With Kate and William: Royal Baby News

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

Baby Cambridge debuts with Kate Middleton and Prince WilliamKate Middleton and Prince William emerged from the Lindo Wing of St. Mary’s Hospital today to debut their new baby prince. “It’s very emotional,” said new mom Kate, “It’s such a special time. I think any parent would know what this feeling feels like.”

According to William, they’re still debating names for their new son, but the proud new dad said that we’ll know when they know.

Beyond Kate looking amazing (I’d heard rumors that her beloved hair dresser had arrived at the hospital earlier today, and her locks were of course in perfect form), both parents seemed so super happy—and actually eager to share their little one with the world. In fact, Prince William took a front-and-center role in the brief interview they granted the throngs of long-waiting press.

When a reporter asked if they’d already changed the royal baby’s first “nappy” (that’s “diaper” in American speak!), Kate revealed that not only had her husband, Prince William, been present for Baby Cambridge’s birth (sadly, a historic event for the royals!), but that he also changed his son’s first diaper. Perhaps the royals are finally catching up to the rest of the world when it comes to hands-on fatherhood!

Although we didn’t get a good look at the (possibly) future King’s little face, William joked that “he’s got her looks, thankfully,” and that in the hair department, Baby Cambridge has “way more than me, thank God!”

To top off the new-dad offensive, Prince William showed the world that he knows how to handle a car seat (sexy, right ladies?!) and then, perhaps setting the stage for a far more modern royal family, he drove his new family home himself. No chauffeur in site. Love. It.

Take a look back at the Royal pregnancy, Kate and Will’s romance, and more with our Royal Baby slideshow.

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The Gift My Mother Gave Me—What Did Your Mother Give You?

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

Mother and Daughter Mother's DayWhat’s the biggest gift your mother gave you? Is it your strong independent streak? Your insane sense of humor? Or was it post-soccer-practice Taco Tuesday that she somehow pulled together every week?

With Mother’s Day coming up this weekend, we’re thinking a lot about the beautiful gifts that mothers give—and about how we can pass along similar gifts to the children in our lives. (It’s no surprise that 89 percent of moms say they’re happy to be turning into their own mother when it comes to parenting—our moms are incredible!)

Maria Shriver lost her mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, more than three years ago—but that doesn’t mean the incredible gifts her mom gave her have faded in any way. In fact, Maria has made a short (and holy-wow, seriously emotional—get out the tissue box!) film celebrating the gifts her mother, founder of the Special Olympics, left her with.

Beyond being super moving—it WILL make you want to call your mom!—Maria’s film, “The Gift My Mother Gave Me,” is available to watch and share with other parents right on Facebook. And one of the most touching things about it is that, thanks to the people over at P & G, each time you share the film with a Facebook friend, they’ll donate a dollar to the Special Olympics—up to $50,000 that will help to promote the basic tenants of acceptance, encouragement, and community—three things I think almost any mom hopes to instill in their children.

Have you seen the video? Did you go through two tissues like I did? What’s the biggest gift your mother gave you? Tell us in the comments!

Image of mother and daughter via Shutterstock.

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End the Mommy Wars With Care Cards

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

If you’re as sick of the Mommy Wars as I am, I’ve got something sure to brighten your day: Care Cards. That’s right, we’re going to kill the nastiness of judgmental mommies with kindness–and help kids in need while we’re at it–all without spending a dime.

Here’s the deal: the awesome people over at Johnson’s Baby Cares have launched a collection of empowering, super thoughtful e-cards to cheer on moms who need a little extra boost. (And if you know a mom who doesn’t need a boost . . . well, I’d be surprised!) When you create one, share one, or like one that someone else posted, they’ll donate a dollar to Save the Children–up to $150,000!

If you’re wondering what they’ll do with all that money–the answer is pretty astonishing. They’re giving new parents the tools to raise curious, smart, kids who will not only survive, but thrive in school and in life in general. Did you know that disadvantaged kids who don’t participate in high-quality early education programs are 25 percent more likely to drop out of school, 40 percent more likely to become a teen parent, and 70 percent more likely to eventually be arrested for a violent crime? True facts. The great thing is that we can turn those numbers around by empowering the moms who need it most. “A lot of moms think they’re not smart enough to do well by their children,” Carolyn Miles, CEO of Save the Children, told me. “It’s our job to show parents that they are their kids’ best teachers and that there are very easy things they can do to give their kids a better chance at life.”

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to get to hang out with some of the moms and kiddos that Save the Children helps—and my mind was officially blown. (Thanks, Johnson’s Baby Cares for making that possible!) Let me introduce you to a couple of the most awesome duos I met:

Desi and her son, Ruben
Care Cards Save the Children Desi
“When I was pregnant with Ruben, I didn’t know how I’d support him–how I’d get diapers for him or anything. I felt totally alone, especially since my mom’s in the hospital. She doesn’t know who anybody is, so she really couldn’t help me,” Desi said. “But you have to know you’re not alone–there’s always someone out there to help if you just ask. When I reached out to Save the Children, my life changed. They’re really helping me to be a good mom–and it’s the best thing I can think of.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Chelsea and her daughter, Peregrine
Johnson's Baby Cares Care Cards Chelsea
“We’re military, so there’s not a whole lot of family here to help me figure out the right things to do,” said Chelsea. “But the woman we meet with through Save the Children has children and grandchildren of her own and can really tell me how to handle things. It’s already making such a difference.”
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Jenna and her son, Jace
Johnson's Baby Cares Care Cards Jenna
“I’m still in school, and being a new mom and trying to handle everything else was just really frustrating. Sometimes I’d get so mad at the world and not know what to do,” said Jenna. “Save the Children has shown me how to be a good mom, and they’ve even helped me get to know Jace better. He’s the funniest little guy. I can’t not be happy when he’s around!”
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I am so totally rooting for Dezi, Chelsea, and Jenna. So for them–and moms who are trying their best everywhere–I’ll be sending out more than a few Care Cards starting today. I hope you’ll join me and Johnson’s Baby Cares by pitching in with a little mommy love of your own. I know a lot of mamas out there could use it!

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About Infertility: A Nasty Triple Threat

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

about infertility awareness weekLet’s talk about something we really ought to be talking about a whole lot more: Infertility. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 6.7 million American women aged 15-44 (that’s about one in every ten) will or would have trouble getting pregnant.Yet there’s still this horrible stigma around talking about infertility.

The struggle to get pregnant is one of the worst triple threats a woman or couple could face. Several friends have been trusting enough to open up to me about trying to conceive, and, as a journalist I’ve interviewed many women coping with infertility over the years—yet the confusion, sadness, and frustration many feel never ceases to cut to my core. I’d call it more of an emotional hell than an emotional struggle. Then on top of that, you’ve got the physical struggle. Many fertility procedures are invasive (think surgery)—and getting daily or weekly fertility injections can be brutal.

Finally, and for some, most importantly—you’ve got the financial struggle. The thing is, the emotional and physical struggles are almost always worth it to women who want more than anything to become mothers. But the financial burden can only be “worth it” to those who can afford it, and that’s not everyone.

The high costs of fertility treatments often act as a flat-out barrier to those who can’t afford them. Sure, there are some places in this country where couples having trouble trying to conceive get awesome support—like Massachusetts, where insurance companies that provide pregnancy-related benefits are required to cover diagnosis and treatment of infertility, including IVF. That’s amazing . . . if you happen to live in Massachusetts. If you live in, say, Georgia, your insurance company isn’t required to cover any fertility treatments. Not one.

If you’re curious (or simply really need to know!) about infertility support where you live, you can look up fertility clinics in your area here, and then check out the just-released, state-by-state Fertility Scorecard, created by the phenomenal people over at the RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association. They’ve got an interactive map, showing you how each state ranks in terms of providing women with the tools they need to get pregnant. I think anyone looking at the facts will agree that we’ve got a long way to go when it comes to infertility support in America.

Image of couple dealing with infertility via Shutterstock.

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How Is Kate Middleton Staying So Fit?!

Monday, April 1st, 2013

prenatal yoga keeps pregnant Kate Middleton fit.There’s a ton of speculation about Kate Middleton’s royal baby-to-be, but we know one fact for sure—and it’s that Kate looks great. How’s she staying in such fantastic shape? According to many reports, the typically active and outdoorsy Duchess is practicing prenatal yoga with a private instructor.

I can already see you rolling your eyes and thinking, “Well, who but the royal family can afford private yoga lessons?!,” but the amazing thing is that anyone can play Kate Middleton for a day (or the full ten months of pregnancy!) with our totally doable prenatal yoga video series. We can’t promise that these moves will suddenly give you a posh British accent (or even give you Kate’s gorgeous figure—a lot of that is genetics, people!) but they will help you look and feel your best.

Have you ever tried prenatal yoga? Would you? Tell us about your pregnancy exercise routine, and share your best tips in the comments.

Image of pregnant Kate Middleton via Juriah Mosin / Shutterstock.com.

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Could Kim Kardashian’s Miscarriage Scare Be Your Fault?

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

Pregnant Kim Kardsahian miscarriage scare is overHere’s the skinny on the Kim Kardashian miscarriage scare: Apparently Kim K was returning from Paris Fashion Week on Tuesday night when she was rushed to a Los Angeles doctor with worries that she was suffering a miscarriage. Pregnant Kim Kardashian, who is four months along, reportedly started feeling ill on the plane and started calling friends in a panic. The great news is that she and baby are A-Okay. The not so great news is why Kim’s health was in jeopardy in the first place.

Mean-spirited tabloids have been splashed with “Pregnant Kim Kardashian this” and “Pregnant Kim Kardashian that” for weeks now. Maybe you saw a photo that was making the rounds on Facebook, comparing an unflattering pic of Kim with Shamu the Killer Whale. Heck, maybe–like a few of my friends–you even shared it on your wall or liked it on someone else’s page. I know it seems like it’s all in good fun, but in the end, it’s really not.

This is hard for me to say, since I am in no way a fan (I really don’t understand why she’s famous!), but Kim Kardashian is human, and she suffers the same insecurities that any of us would. For a woman whose entire empire has been built on her physical attributes, getting slammed for pregnancy weight gain has got to be painful. I’m sure she’s freaking out. And apparently, that kind of criticism is at least in part responsible for her miscarriage scare. She’s been so upset about the attacks on her figure that she’s reportedly been obsessively working out seven days a week—and wearing herself out. Not good for her, and not good for baby.

Anyone who knows me can attest that I love snarky gossip as much as the next girl, but I do think commentary on super-sensitive things like pregnancy weight gain is in really bad taste. I mean, the woman is going through one of the biggest physical and emotional challenges she’ll experience in her life, and weight gain is a part of that. I’m not saying we should sit around and sing Koombaya together (booooooriiiiiing!), but I do think pregnant women (including Kim K!) deserve a break.

Do you agree that people are too hard on Pregnant Kim Kardashian? Do you think people have gone too far with insults about her pregnancy weight gain, or do you think that as a celeb she’s fair game? Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts!

Image of Pregnant Kim Kardashian via Shutterstock.

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Is Pregnant Kate Middleton Having A Girl?!

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

Pregnant Kate Middleton having a girl

Huge news to those of us on the royal bumpwatch—Pregnant Kate Middleton is having a girl (or so we think from a slip of the tongue yesterday!). While greeting some of her well wishers in Grimsby, England, a woman gave the Duchess of Cambridge a teddy bear, prompting Kate to say, “Thank you, I’ll take that for my d–” Holy smokes. Of course she could have been saying she’d take that for her dog, Lupo, but it’s way more fun to believe that she meant daughter–and that the royal couple is having a girl!

If Kate Middleton really is having a girl, she’s going to be a bonafide princess—which in this day and age of Disney Princess mania, is a pretty big deal. That said, I really hope Prince William and Kate Middleton’s baby grows up to be a new kind of princess–the kind that resets what the word “princess” means to little girls everywhere. The kind of princess that inspires girls to be more, to do more than simply be beautiful (although with Lady Lovely Locks for a mom, she’s sure to be gorgeous). With that thought in mind, I’ve decided to play fairy godmother and bestow my wishes for the baby princess-to-be:

May she have the courage of Katniss . . .
While it’s insanely unlikely that any royal babe would ever face the trials that Katniss does in the Hunger Games trilogy, I hope that this princess borrows from the heroine’s playbook when it comes to being courageous and doing the right thing.

The moxie of Merida . . .
In Brave, Merida stands up for herself in a way that no other Disney Princess ever has. She doesn’t want to be rescued by a prince, or even to have a prince “rescue” her kingdom. When things go wrong, it’s up to her to set them right—and she does.

The drive of Dora . . .
Whether or not Kate Middleton is having a girl, it’s certain that this child won’t often be left to roam the countryside alone like Dora does! Still, I absolutely hope she emulates Dora’s infectious can-do attitude.

The strength of She-Ra . . .
Come on, guys. How cool would it be to have a real-life Princess of Power? Maybe she wouldn’t have to actually move mountains like He-Man’s sister did, but it would be incredible to have a princess who stood up for important issues and who had the power to really make a difference. Also? It’d kind of be the best thing ever if she rode around on a pegasus.

And the brains of Belle
While I absolutely don’t want Kate Middleton’s baby girl to end up in a relationship with a scary and violent beast (yikes!), I do hope she has Belle’s curiosity about the world, as well as her love of books and knowledge.

If Kate Middleton is having a girl, what do you hope she’ll be like? Do you think she could change the way we think about princesses? I, for one, certainly hope so.

Image of Kate Middleton via Shutterstock.

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