We’ve all been there, walking through the grocery store while our kids ask us for colorful sodas, chips with cartoon characters on the bag, or cookies advertised on their favorite TV shows. Couldn’t they just once harangue us for a pear, or heaven forbid, some broccoli?
Now parents are getting some back-up – furry, funny back-up to be exact.
“Just imagine what will happen when we take our kids to the grocery store, and they see Elmo and Rosita and the other Sesame Street Muppets they love up and down the produce aisle,” said Mrs. Obama. “Imagine what it will be like to have our kids begging us to buy them fruits and vegetables instead of cookies, candy and chips. That’s what this new collaboration between Sesame Workshop and the Produce Marketing Association is all about.”
Through her Let’s Move campaign, the First Lady has been a longtime advocate for making nutritious foods more appealing, affordable, and accessible.
The fact that Sesame Workshop is licensing Grover, Elmo, Rosita and friends for free is important because unlike a lot of processed food manufacturers, apple, broccoli, and spinach producers don’t have scads of marketing dollars to appeal to our kids in fun commercials or by placing their products in family movies. But the PMA and Mrs. Obama are hoping that when children see a sticker of their favorite Sesame Street character on an apple or next to salad greens they will get more excited about eating a variety of healthy fruits and veggies.
There is research to back this up. Mrs. Obama cited a recent study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. When researchers gave kids a choice between a cookie and an apple, unsurprisingly the vast majority chose the cookie. But when researchers placed an Elmo sticker on the apple, nearly twice the number of children opted for the fruit.
After the announcement Mrs. Obama, Elmo, and Rosita headed out to the White House vegetable garden where they welcomed students from four area schools to help with the fall harvest. The students dug up giant sweet potatoes, cut pumpkins from their vines, and pulled up dirt-covered carrots. Under the guidance of White House chefs the kids assembled turkey, hummus, and salad wraps. While Elmo and Rosita didn’t share the snack, they extolled their love of fresh produce, already doing their part to encourage kids to eat more fruits and vegetables.
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.
This week (October 6 through 12) is National Fire Prevention Week, an imperative time to talk about and practice safety measures with your kids. Keep both your home and family safe: use these tips from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and LEGO City to start a conversation with your child about emergencies.
Talk to your child about exit points in every room, asking her to identify doors, windows, and clear paths to safety. A toy like a dollhouse or a structure built from LEGOs can be useful tools, suggests Molis, a father of three and active lieutenant of the Providence Fire Department in Rhode Island. “This way, children are engaged while their parents direct the discussion,” he says.
3. Mark a Meeting Point
Every evacuation procedure should include a safe spot to gather (a neighbor’s porch, a lamppost or tree across the street), so that your family can respond quickly to an emergency and stay all together.
4. Run the Drill
Be sure to act out emergency escape plans at home two times every year. “It’s one thing to talk about evacuation, but it’s another when you role-play and practice,” Molis says. This helps remind children of their family’s specific plan, and builds their confidence to respond to emergency situations. It also instills the importance of keeping exits clear of obstacles. Running the drill is vital, but if you are ever faced with a house fire, Molis stresses: “The most important thing is to get out and stay out. Make sure everyone is accounted for, and then call 911.”
5. Lead the Way
Practice daily safety measures in front of your children: never leave pans cooking on the stove unattended, store matches and lighters out of litte ones’ reach, and ensure that appliances are clean and functioning properly.
6. Check It Out
Download a fire safety checklist at Sparky.org and use it to inspect your home as a family. Walk through each room and check off the safety measures you are following. If something is potentially dangerous, remedy the problem. “The checklist is incredibly important,” Molis says. “It helps make sure your dryer vents are clean, electrical cords aren’t damanges, escape routes are clear, and heat sources are away from flammable items.”
Just like Jimmy Fallon’s BFF, Justin Timberlake, Elmo and company are having a moment. Did you catch Big Bird, Abby Cadabby, and Mr. Snuffleupagus on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon last night? The Muppet crew joined Jimmy and The Roots for a musical performance worthy of letting the kids up late on a school night. This might just be the hippest take on the Sesame Street theme song ever. Who knew Cookie Monster likes to take selfies?
In case you missed it, or just want to watch it again, here is the musical collaboration you can’t miss.
It’s hard to believe nine months have passed since that tragic day at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. While thinking of ways to show their support, Jennifer Stoltz and Dana Schicker, two moms whose first-graders were at the school that day, had a bright idea: team up with OPI’s artistic director, Suzi Weiss-Fischmann, to create Sandy Hook Green.
The bold green hue represents the Sandy Hook school colors and, as a result, has become associated with gun safety awareness. The bottle is available only through donation for $26 at sandyhookpromise.org.
Proceeds from donations will be used to provide financial support to those closely affected by the tragedy, as well as to advocate for change surrounding the issues of mental health, school safety, and gun responsibility.
“Wearing Sandy Hook Green is an inspiring way for us to come together as a nation, to help turn this tragedy into a moment of transformation,” said Schicker.
Pictured from left to right: OPI Nail Lacquer in Sandy Hook Green; Dana Schicker and Jennifer Stoltz, volunteers for Sandy Hook Promise
For more ways to help those affected, visit the following Parents resources:
In honor of National Diaper Need Awareness Week, which is this week, Giuliana Rancic has teamed up with Huggies Every Little Bottom and Baby2Baby to bring awareness to the incredible need Americans have for diapers. The facts are heartbreaking: One in 20 American moms struggling with diaper need, cleans out and reuses a soiled disposable diaper; others aren’t able to put their children in daycare—even if it’s free—because they require a full day’s supply of disposable diapers per child. Huggies launched the National Diaper Bank Network to help provide diapers to those in need.
Giuliana, an E! correspondent, Fashion Police co-host and mom to adorable son, Duke, took time out of her busy schedule to tell Parents why she got involved with this cause, as well as some fun facts about her as a mom, what she and hubby Bill get most competitive over, and her best time-savers for new moms.
Why was it important to you to get involved with Huggies Every Little Bottom and Baby2Baby to help fight diaper need?
A recent study published in the journal Pediatrics was consistent with a 2010 Huggies study that found more than 1 in 3 U.S. moms experience diaper need. The statistic shocked me and I had no idea so many moms struggled to provide clean and dry diapers for their babies. I joined Huggies Every Little Bottom and Baby2Baby last month to help raise awareness of the issue and hopefully increase the rate of diaper donation to our food and diaper banks. I hope readers will help spread the word and donate too by playing fun games at Huggies.com/Tester.
It was no secret that you really wanted to be a mom. You were very public about your struggle with infertility, and the fact that Duke was born via surrogate. So has motherhood met your expectations?
Motherhood has definitely exceeded my expectations. Before Duke was born, I researched how to be a good parent, asked for advice from my mother and read every parenting book that exists to prepare myself. All that preparation went out the window when Duke was born. I am a mother now and he is everything to me in a way I never knew I could love someone – that’s something you just cannot be prepared for. I want to do whatever it takes to provide for Duke and give him what’s best now and later.
How has motherhood changed you?
When you become a mom, your priorities shift and I think that’s the biggest factor that has changed for me. My husband and work have always been my top priorities, but now that we have Duke, my priorities have definitely shifted. I of course still make Bill a priority and my work is important but I have definitely experienced “mom guilt.” So, I just try to be 100 percent focused on what I’m doing—when at work, I focus on that so that when I am off work I can completely be focused on my family. Some days it works and some days it’s hard!
What is your biggest strength as a mom so far?
I think my biggest strength as a mom, and Bill as a father, is keeping our marriage at the front and center and showing Duke that the most important thing for him is to have a loving, healthy family. We really want to instill this in him and know that we will always be there for him.
And your biggest weakness?
I guess it’s that I am still learning! Duke is a year old now, but I of course still question some of the decisions we make. We’re living and learning all together every day and I think that’s all we can really ask for!
What’s your best mom skill?
Oh my gosh! Bill is a pro at bath time, but I think I take the cake at silencing a crying baby. I don’t know if it’s a mother’s intuition but I can usually figure out what Duke needs pretty quickly to make him a happy boy.
You and Bill are always playfully competitive. What part of parenting are you better at than Bill? Where does he have an edge over you?
I think I’m better at sharing Duke! I always say this, but Bill is such a baby hog, he is always stealing him from me! Every morning we have a race to get Duke out of bed first because he is just so cute and sweet when he wakes up, and Bill is always trying to beat me to it. Bill, I have to say, can make Duke smile like nobody else when they are playing. What can I say, Duke is going to be a man’s man just like Bill.
What’s the biggest time-saver you’ve learned so far as a mom?
I think the biggest time-saver is simple – planning. You’re going to a have spills, a crying baby, dirty diapers and a lunch time mess that will need a quick and easy fix. My advice is to keep it simple and plan on those things happening. I used to pack everything in Duke’s diaper bag, but now I know what I need—two bibs, a change of clothes, an extra teething toy and plenty of diapers and wipes!
This Sunday is National Grandparents Day! A day where we can take a second to remember the people who successfully raised one set of children and then went on to help bring up another batch. Although parents teach kids the alphabet, haul them to soccer practice, ballet, and piano lessons while helping them grow into successful adults, there are some life lessons that can only be taught by Grandma and Grandpa.
Maybe it’s because they come from a different era or that they get to return the kids to their parents after they’ve been sugared up and spoiled with hours of TV time, in any case, the knowledge of Grams and Gramps is unique from Mom’s and Dad’s.
Take my Nana for example. This is a woman who volunteers at a nursing home to entertain the “old people” (her words, not mine) at the age of 82; a lady that once broke her back on a roller coaster. Most recently my partner-in-crime and I went skydiving for her 80th birthday and then did it again the following year just for kicks. You get the picture. Though my parents have always had great advice, it’s pretty hard to top a skydiving Nana.
Besides a new appreciation for jumping out of perfectly good airplanes, she has taught me four life skills I use every day.
1. Enjoy the sweet things in life. She swears the key to a long and healthy life is eating a candy bar for breakfast every day. Even though the Snickers diet may not be right for me, she does have a point. If you don’t allow yourself to enjoy the things you love, even if that’s just a candy bar, it makes life a heck of a lot harder.
2. Patience. Have you ever tried explaining Twitter to someone who has never owned a computer?
3. Get out of your comfort zone. Whether it’s encouraging me to move to New York to follow my career dreams or forcing me to take pictures of her posing with a homeless person’s shopping cart while visiting me, she’s taught me that you have to go after what you want and not to worry about what others think.
4. How to fold a fitted sheet.
We asked the Parents staff to sound off on their favorite advice from their grandparents. Here’s what they said:
“My grandma grew up very poor in rural Kentucky and had to drop out of school early. She has taught me to appreciate my education and the advantages it’s given me.” – Hannah Werthan, Editorial Assistant
“My grandfather David, who died July 8, taught me that being silly is not just for kids and finding the laughter in almost any situation is essential. He also taught me that one should love to dance, but alas, that’s one lesson I have not taken to heart.”-Michael Kress, Executive Editor
“Orange juice pulp is healthy for you – so don’t remove it from the glass when it’s poured for you. Also, if it’s winter time and the refrigerator is full, the fire escape is an acceptable alternative for dairy products.”-Cathy Simpson, Accounting
“My grandfather told me I should only buy Chevy’s because they’re the only cars ‘made correctly.’ My grandmother said you should only be sad about something for up to 2 weeks. After that, it’s old news and you’re ‘not allowed to cry about it anymore. Time to get it together!’ ” – Sarah Aires, E-Commerce Intern
“My grandfather always told me, ‘The best cure for a cold is ice cream!’ “ –France Salvosa, Art Editor
“I used to love watching my grandmother brush her false teeth at night. So, I guess I learned the importance of good oral hygiene!” – Jenna Helwig, Food Editor
“My paternal grandmother instilled a DIY spirit in me: Don’t like store-bought soy sauce? Make your own! Tore a hole in your jeans? Patch it up with ribbon! Even though I have yet to make my own soy sauce or repair torn jeans, being resourceful is a quality that has been ingrained in me.” – Sherry Huang, Features Editor
“You’re most full when your refrigerator is empty.”-Amanda Nesbot, Editorial Assistant
“My Grandpa Lester taught me how interesting people are if you only ask. He was friends with the cashier at our local grocery store, the teller of our bank, and the butcher at our deli all because he took the time to ask them about themselves. He took the time to care and to listen.” –Ruthie Fierberg, Editorial Assistant
What’s the best piece of advice your grandparents have given you or your kids? What life lessons do you hope your kids learn from their grandparents?
Whether your kids have been in school for weeks or just started this past Tuesday, there’s no denying that summer is over. Though this time of year can be exciting for kids with their new notebooks, backpacks, and blue jeans, it can also be extremely stressful. In fact, a 2010 study by the American Psychological Association found that when parents are stressed (possibly from buying all those jeans, backpacks, and notebooks) tweens and teens are emotionally impacted. On top of that, the change from relaxed summer schedules to an activity filled fall may make it more difficult for kids to get enough sleep and feel stressed, both of which can affect their health.
Today, our health director Kara Corridan is teaming up with CBS News medical contributor Dr. Holly Phillips for a Google + Hangout. Join them today at 12 p.m. E.T.to learn about how to keep your kids healthy as they get back to hitting the books this fall.