Archive for the ‘ News ’ Category

Expert Tips to Beat Back-to-School Sickness

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

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.

Watch the live stream here:

Image: Stack of School Books, via Shutterstock

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Was the IRS Targeting Adoptive Parents?

Monday, July 8th, 2013

Let’s face it: No one likes the IRS. But lately, the organization has had more reason than ever before for raising ire. There are allegations that they unfairly targeted certain groups for evaluation of their nonexempt status. And now, it appears they were also targeting another group—adoptive parents.

The adoption tax credit is meant to make the adoption process—which often costs tens of thousands of dollars—more affordable to lower-income families. It allowed you to get back more than $13,000 of the costs of the adoption. For my family, it meant we could recover the bulk of the costs of our adoption (minus that pricey airfare to China!). But the adoption tax credit changed in 2009 to make it fully refundable—a boon to low-income families who could now get all of their adoption fees reimbursed at tax time, instead of possibly waiting for years to get the full credit. And so, the IRS decided to flag 90 percent of those returns, requiring the families to produce receipts in very short time frames to substantiate their claim, then holding up the paperwork–and the refunds—for months at a time. The IRS claims that since generous tax refund programs like this are prone to fraud, they reserved the right to delay all of these refunds.

But in the end, the government found that almost every single one of families who claimed the tax credit deserved it—less than 2 percent of adoption tax credit claims were denied for lack of paperwork, and there were no criminal or fraudulent cases sent to the authorities. The government had to pay $2.1 million in interest to people who were left waiting for months and months without their refunds—and that’s not counting the millions in man-hours spent for IRS agents to review all of this perfectly legit paperwork.

But few people talk about the impact of this delay on these families. There’s the added stress of trying to document and find receipts for every adoption expense—stressful when so many adoption fees, especially in international adoption, can be hard to document. And after the mountains of paperwork of putting together the adoption, this just seems to add insult to injury. There’s also the fact that so many of these families, who make on average about $60,000 per year, are counting on getting their refunds in a timely manner—people who often took out second mortgages, held second jobs, fund raised or otherwise begged and borrowed and stretched to cover these daunting expenses. (And odds are, the interest the IRS paid didn’t hold a candle to the interest these people were potentially paying on maxed out credit cards or lines of credit.)

Hopefully, with the new scrutiny the agency is facing in the wake of these scandals, this won’t be a problem for future adoptive parents.

What do you think? Should the IRS have held up the refunds for this long?

Image: Tax form by Creativa/Shutterstock.com

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The End of DOMA: What Families Need to Know

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

courthouse

The Supreme Court overturned the Defense of Marriage Act earlier today, 17 years after the law blocked the federal recognition of gay marriage. A separate case was also declined, making it legal for same-sex couples to marry again in California.

Before today’s landmark decision, gay couples faced many obstacles in terms of marriage equality. They didn’t receive Family Medical Leave Act benefits, Social Security survivor benefits, veteran benefits, benefits for spouses of federal employees, and spousal impoverishment protection for Medicaid long-term care. In addition, gay couples paid almost $1,000 more in yearly taxes and dealt with higher estate taxes.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote for the majority of the decision, said, “Striking down DOMA would give dignity to same-sex families and help end suffering of children caused by the current law.”

Children of same-sex parents will benefit from an increased income in the household because they can now be covered under the same health insurance policy as their parents. These families will also have access to Social Security benefits.

Cheers could be heard outside the Supreme Court, but the loudest cheers were coming from same-sex parents. These couples have the same rights as any other husband and wife. Children are realizing that they’re as good as everyone else, regardless of who their parents love.

Image: Courthouse via Shutterstock

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Rebuilding After Hurricane Sandy is NYC’s Real Marathon This Year

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

This is a guest post by Isabel Kallman, the founder of Alphamom.com. Isabel is volunteering with Meredith Corporation in Rebuilding Together, a national nonprofit that believes everyone deserves to live in a safe, healthy home. The Parents team will be spending tomorrow cleaning, painting, and gardening at Gerritsen Beach, New York, a Brooklyn neighborhood hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. Visit parents.com/WeRebuild to see photos of the workday, volunteer for a project, or to make a donation to support Rebuilding Together’s efforts.

 

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Mayor Bloomberg cancelled the NYC marathon and instead marathoners visited hard hit areas to help clean-up. Many New Yorkers and neighbors from NJ and Connecticut joined them in the weeks that followed.
hurricane sandy 1

Rockaway Beach after Hurricane Sandy

I wasn’t planning on running the NYC marathon, but have come to see the Hurricane Sandy rebuilding efforts as NYC’s real marathon this year. Along with friends I did as much as I could. I tried to help with cleanup in the Rockaways. With my sister, I delivered donations– that poured in from online friends from around the country– to relief centers in Staten Island. My friend Jessica Shyba and I also delivered donations to Staten Island and then finally Coney Island, where I had spent many summer days as a young girl growing up in Brooklyn.

nathans in coney island after hurricane sandy

 I’ll always remember the sense of relief when I saw Coney Island’s boardwalk again that November afternoon. I was scared that it had washed away, like so much of the Rockaway Beach’s boardwalk. Yes, of course it could be rebuilt, but the Coney Island boardwalk had been such an early memory of my three-year old mind that its loss would hurt. I was so grateful it was still there.

coney island after hurricane sandy

Coney Island boardwalk after Hurricane Sandy

I didn’t write much about my visits to the hurricane-affected areas because my contributions were so small compared to what many others were doing. However, what I have since come to realize and learn is that if we all do a little, together we can move the needle and make what at least feels like a noticeable difference for the better amongst so much destruction.

So, I am eager to help Parents Magazine and its owner, The Meredith Corporation, rebuild some homes in Gerritsen Beach, Brooklyn. It’s a small seaside community where 75% of the homes were unexpectedly flooded during Hurricane Sandy (the area was originally Zone B and thus wasn’t evacuated). Gerritsen Beach can be described as a tight-knit multi-generational family community with some residents living there 50 or more years. Gerritsen Beach had never experienced flooding that reached as high as 6 feet in the basements or first floors of their homes and along with it destroying the most cherished belongings of its residents. I feel so fortunate that I can go back to my hometown of Brooklyn and do a little bit more to help.

with sarah bryden-brown at gerritsen-beach

with Sarah Bryden-Brown of GoMighty speaking to local Gerritsen Beach resident Jimmy

Along with my friend Sarah Bryden-Brown of GoMighty and the editors of Meredith’s magazines, we visited some of the homes and properties we will help to restore on June 6. Now, there’s going to be a whole team of helpers on June 6th.

One special area that I hope to help restore is Kiddie Beach. It’s a small beach area along the Plum Beach Channel that serves as a gathering area for the Gerritsen Beach community. It’s where Gerritsen neighbors– especially the kids and families– gather during summer nights and hang out. There’s a basketball court, a playground and a small stage where the kids put on their shows– all of which needs to be refurbished. Originally, the community wasn’t expecting Kiddie Beach to be open this summer season. Coney Island is my Kiddie Beach and I would love for it to be available and safe for the kids this summer.

kiddie beach before hurricane sandy by gerritsenbeach.net

Kiddie Beach before Hurricane Sandy

 

kiddie beach gerritsen after hurricane sandy

Kiddie Beach after Hurricane Sandy

Remember the theory I’ve embraced? If lots of us can do a little bit, we can move the needle. That’s the goal here. There will be hundreds of volunteers from Rebuilding Together and the Meredith Corporation. Together with the members of the Gerritsen Beach community we hope to help finish a process that first began with a tremendous clean-up effort back in early November.

I’ve never had any desire to lace up sneakers and run in a marathon, but if helping to rebuild is NYC’s marathon, then it’s one I’ll always sign up. I love this city so hard.

Photo credits: top photo by Adrian Kinloch and Kiddie Beach Before by GerritsenBeach.net

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Ten Star Dads Celebrating First Father’s Day

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

This post was written by our friends at Celebrity Baby Scoop.

In celebration of Father’s Day on June 16, we’re taking a look at Hollywood’s newest patriarchs who will celebrate for the first time.

From Channing Tatum, to Steve Martin, to Nick Lachey, to Bill Rancic , look through our list of 10 celebrity dads enjoying their first Father’s Day.

Channing Tatum

Channing Tatum and wife  Jenna Dewan-Tatum are the latest Hollywood couple to became first-time parents.

The Magic Mike star, 33, and the Step Up actress, 32, welcomed their first child in London, England on May 30.

As of June 2, no further information had been announced about baby Tatum. But just hours before welcoming their baby, we saw the handsome couple walking their dogs in their London neighborhood.

Bill Rancic

Bill Rancic and wife Giuliana Rancic welcomed their first child, son Duke, on August 29.

Giuliana opened up to Celebrity Baby Scoop about celebrating Bill’s first Father’s Day.

“I want to plan a very special Father’s Day since this will be Bill’s first,” Giuliana said.

She added: “Since we’re spending Mother’s Day in LA, I’d love to plan an exciting weekend in Chicago – Bill’s hometown – with both of my boys. Depending on the weather, I’d love to start off with a run with Bill and Duke in the jogger along the lakefront. It would be really nice to walk to the zoo, some museums, and then top the night off with dinner at RPM Italian.”

Dax Shepard

Parenthood star Dax Shepard, 38, and House of Lies actress Kristen Bell, 32, became parents in March.

The engaged couple welcomed a daughter on Thursday, March 28. “Lincoln Bell Shepard is here,” the proud new papa announced via Twitter. “She has mom’s beauty and dad’s obsession with breasts. Hooray!!!”

The Veronica Mars star recently boasted that Dax is “the best” dad. “It’s like he’s just made a new best friend,” she added. “He just talks to her all the time. And sings to her all day. It’s wonderful.”

Chris Pratt

Scary Movie star Anna Faris, 36, and husband, Zero Dark Thirty actor Chris Pratt, 33, welcomed their first child, son Jack, on August 25.

“He was born nine weeks premature, so we spent a month in the intensive care unit with him,” Chris revealed in January. “But he’s totally healthy now. He is just so perfect and I love him so much.”

“Chris is an amazing dad. He really is,” Anna recently gushed of her husband. ”He feeds the baby almost every morning so I can sleep in. . . It’s very sexy to watch him be a dad!”

Wiz Khalifa

Model Amber Rose, 29, and fiancé, rapper Wiz Khalifa, 25, welcomed their first child, son Sebastian ’The Bash’ on February 21.

The rapper tweeted the happy news, writing, “Happy Birthday Sebastian ‘The Bash’ Taylor Thomaz!!! Everyone welcome this perfect young man into the world.”

Nick Lachey

Nick Lachey, 39, and wife Vanessa Lachey, 32, welcomed their first child, son Camden, on September 12.

“It has changed me for sure. It literally affects everything you do, every decision you make,” Nick recently shared of fatherhood. “Your priorities completely shift and your kids instantly become the most important thing in the world. I think it’s made me a more patient person as well.

“My greatest joy is waking him up every day,” he added. “Seeing that little boy look up and smile at me every morning is the perfect way to start my day. The biggest challenge is having enough time in the day to do everything I need to do.”

Jackson Rathbone

Twilight star Jackson Rathbone, 28, and his girlfriend Sheila Hafsadi welcomed their firstborn child, son Monroeon July 5.

“He’s the most wonderful thing,” Jackson gushed of his baby boy. “He’s so beautiful, he’s got the greatest smile, little dimples. We’re blessed because he sleeps through the night.”

A.J. McLean

Backstreet Boys star A.J. McLean, 35, and wife Rochelle McLean welcomed their firstborn child, daughter Ava, on November 27.

“I can’t stress how much my daughter is an inspiration to stay sober,” the boy bander said. “When I come home and she opens those big blue eyes at me, it’s the most amazing feeling I could ever feel.”

He added: “I’m not looking for sympathy. It’s a constant struggle, and it’s not as easy as you think.”

Steve Martin

Funnyman Steve Martin became a first-time dad at the age of 67 when his wife, Anne Stringfield, 41, welcomed a daughter in December. No further information has been announced on baby Martin.

“Steve’s very private,” a source said. “They are thrilled. They worked hard to have the baby.”

The couple were wed in a private ceremony in July 2007.

Robbie Williams

British popstar Robbie Williams, 39, and wife Adya Field, 34, welcomed their first child, daughter Teddy, on September 18.

“I am on nappy patrol,” Robbie said after Teddy’s birth. “I am nappy changer, chief nappy changer. I love it. I love burping her. I love feeding her and I love changing nappies. It’s weird – I find it uniquely bonding.”

“Your world changes for the better – she’s an absolute gift, she’s an absolute joy,” he added. “I absolutely adore being a dad.”

 

More Celebrity Parenting News:

Chris O’ Donnell On Father’s Day Plans And Friendship With The Afflecks

Scott Wolf: “Every Day With These Two Boys Feels Like Father’s Day To Me”

Hank Baskett On How Fatherhood Has Changed Him

A Look At Top Ten Favorite Celebrity Dads

Celebrity Baby Scoop is one of the most popular blogs on the topic and the foremost provider of everything celebrity-baby, featuring baby fashion, baby names, baby trends and up-to-the-minute celebrity baby gossip and pics. Get all the latest news, updates, and photos about Hollywood’s most beloved celebrity moms, dads and their babies. Who’s the latest Tinseltown baby? Who’s due next and who just announced a pregnancy? It’s all on Celebrity Baby Scoop.

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5 Celebrity Moms Who’ve Had Mastectomies

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

celeb moms who had mastectomies

This post was written by our friends at Celebrity Baby Scoop.

Mother-of-six Angelina Jolie shocked fans with the news of her recent preventative double mastectomy. After testing positive for a faulty BRCA1 gene, the Academy Award-winning actress put the spotlight on the sensitive procedure that many other women have elected to have.

Angelina is not the first famous woman to open up about this surgery. Let’s take a look at five celebrity moms who have undergone the procedure.

Angelina Jolie:

After losing her mom to ovarian cancer and then learning that she has the BRCA1 gene mutation, Angelina Jolie, 37, opted to have a preventive double mastectomy. She also plans to have her ovaries removed.

In May 2013, the Salt star went public about the procedure in an op-ed piece, writing that she felt “empowered” by her decision. “Life comes with many challenges,” she wrote. “The ones that should not scare us are the ones we can take on and take control of.”

Christina Applegate:

At age 36, Christina Applegate was diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2008. At first, she opted to have a lumpectomy. But after learning she was a carrier of the BRCA1 gene mutation, she chose to have both breasts removed in a bilateral mastectomy, followed by reconstructive surgery a few months later.

“It came on really fast. It was one of those things that I woke up and it felt so right,” she told Oprah Winfrey. “It just seemed like, ‘I don’t want to have to deal with this again. I don’t want to keep putting that stuff in my body. I just want to be done with this.’ And I was just going to let them go.”

She added: “It can be very painful. It’s also a part of you that’s gone, so you go through a grieving process.”

Giuliana Rancic:

At age 37, Giuliana Rancic was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011. The E! News personality has spoken openly about her decision to have a double mastectomy and reconstruction.

“At the end, to be honest, all it came down to was just choosing to live, and not looking over my shoulder for the rest of my life,” Giuliana told TODAY.

“In helping other women, you end up helping yourself,” she said. “You end up being able to validate one of the most painful times in your life by realizing that maybe all the pain and the fear and the tears were worth it.”

Wanda Sykes:

The decision to undergo a bilateral mastectomy was an easy one for Wanda Sykes. After being diagnosed with DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ), the comedienne wanted to give herself “the best odds” of beating the noninvasive breast cancer and sticking around for her partner Alex, and their 2-year-old twins Olivia and Lucas for many years to come.

“I made my decision because I love life,” Wanda, 47, said of her double mastectomy.

“My first thought was, ‘Really? Me, breast cancer?’” Wanda recalls of the day doctors discovered the cancer after her breast reduction surgery. “I just couldn’t believe it. But I knew this was doable.”

Sharon Osbourne:

In November 2012, The Talk host Sharon Osbourne revealed she had undergone a preventive double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery at age 60 after learning she was at increased risk for breast cancer.

“As soon as I found out I had the breast cancer gene, I thought, ‘The odds are not in my favor,’” Sharon told Hello! “I’ve had cancer before, and I didn’t want to live under that cloud. I decided to just take everything off, and had a double mastectomy.”

She added: “For me, it wasn’t a big decision, it was a no-brainer. I didn’t want to live the rest of my life with that shadow hanging over me. I want to be around for a long time and be a grandmother.”

More Celebrity Parenting News:

10 Female Celebrity Breadwinners

Garcelle Beauvais: “I’m Happiest When We’re All Together”

Gabrielle Reece: “My Quote Was Taken Out Of Context”

Amy Grant: “I Don’t Know If I Do Balance It All”

Celebrity Baby Scoop is one of the most popular blogs on the topic and the foremost provider of everything celebrity-baby, featuring baby fashion, baby names, baby trends and up-to-the-minute celebrity baby gossip and pics. Get all the latest news, updates, and photos about Hollywood’s most beloved celebrity moms, dads and their babies. Who’s the latest Tinseltown baby? Who’s due next and who just announced a pregnancy? It’s all on Celebrity Baby Scoop.

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New Improvements for Child Care

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

In a welcome piece of good news from Washington today, the Department of Health and Human Services has proposed major new regulations to help protect children in child care centers and family child care homes. “Many children already benefit from the excellent care of high-quality child care providers who are meeting or exceeding the proposed requirements,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “However, too many children remain in settings that do not meet minimum standards of health and safety. These basic rules ensure that providers take necessary basic steps to shield children from avoidable tragedy.”

I met recently with parents whose children had died in child care because these types of regulations did not exist. These parents have been working to help make sure that a similar tragedy wouldn’t happen to other families, and their advocacy has paid off. Child Care Aware of America has led the charge for safety and quality improvements, and we’ve been privileged to partner with them on their efforts. Most parents would be shocked to learn about the current minimal standards.

For all child care providers who accept federal funding through the Child Care and Development Fund, the new regulations would require:

  • Health and safety training in certain areas
  • Compliance with state and local fire, health and building codes
  • Comprehensive background checks (including fingerprinting)
  • On-site monitoring

States would also have to post information online for parents about health, safety, and licensing. The proposed regulations will be open for public comment for 75 days.

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Why Angelina Jolie Is a Breast Cancer Previvor and a Hero

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

Angelia JolieEditor’s Note: This guest post was written by Dina Roth Port, mom of two children and frequent contributor to Parents. She is also the author of Previvors: Facing the Breast Cancer Gene and Making Life-Changing Decisions.

You might not like some of her movies. You might think she’s a little out there (at least during those Billy Bob Thornton years.) You might be a little peeved that she can take care of six kids and still look poised and breathtakingly beautiful all the time.

Whether you like her or not, one thing is for sure: Angelina Jolie is a hero. She’s using her celebrity for good by telling women with a genetic predisposition for breast cancer that they are not alone. Some may fear dealing with tough decisions alone, not realizing there are thousands upon thousands of other women who completely understand what they’re going through.

In today’s issue of The New York Times, Jolie publicly shared her very personal decision to have a prophylactic double mastectomy. As she says in her op-ed piece, “I choose not to keep my story private because there are many women who do not know that they might be living under the shadow of cancer. It is my hope that they, too, will be able to get gene tested, and that if they have a high risk they, too, will know that they have strong options.”

Jolie’s letting women around the world know that they no longer have to live in fear of breast cancer. They have options. They can determine cancer risk by testing for a BRCA mutation and taking charge of their health in ways that previous generations never could. Jolie knows this all too well. When she tested positive for a BRCA1 gene, she knew she had an 87% risk of developing breast cancer and a 44% chance of developing ovarian cancer. She knew she was a previvor — someone who has not had cancer but who has a high risk for developing it. Since her mom died of ovarian cancer just six years ago, Jolie knew that it was a major red flag that there might be a BRCA mutation in the family. After finding out that she did inherit the mutation, she decided to do something about it.

Of course, there are naysayers: “I can’t relate to Angelina Jolie. She’s a celebrity with endless resources. Her life is nothing like mine.” But getting a double mastectomy is a very difficult, personal decision for any woman, as I learned interviewing the five women featured in my book, Previvors: Facing the Breast Cancer Gene and Making Life-Changing Decisions, all of whom had to make choices — some had surgery, some did not — just like Jolie. Sure, she may be a famous, multimillionaire engaged to Brad Pitt, but Jolie’s still a woman taking steps that can potentially save her life. And, as a mother, Jolie decided she would do what she needed to do to protect her children (just like any mother would). She is showing women that, after surgery, it is still possible to look and feel feminine and whole. She is also showing women that it’s possible to make tough decisions and still have the support of a loving partner.

I thank Jolie for sharing her story and for encouraging women to learn about the ways they can protect themselves. She is incredibly brave for doing so, particularly since her journey is not over. Thank you, Angelina Jolie, for putting such a public face to the word “previvor.”

More about breast cancer on Parents.com

 

Image: Angelina Jolie in Berlin via Shutterstock.

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