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Solutions ’ Category
Friday, November 2nd, 2012
In a crowded political assembly, reporters’ lights flash and hands shoot up in hopes of asking Governor Mitt Romney a question. In the front of the crowd a small hand is confidently raised and called upon.
“My name is Sam Wessels, I am 9 and here is my question,” the boy speaks clearly into the microphone. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that 1 in 5 American children have a learning disability. Mine is autism. What is happening to America’s most precious resource, her children, and what do you plan to do about it? Thank you.”
Sam’s mother, Lin Wessels, says she will never forget how stunned the crowd was to see a young boy speak so confidently and clearly in that high-pressure situation.
This fifth grader from Iowa has spoken with every Republican candidate that toured his state during caucus season and most recently had the chance to speak with President Obama. His goal is to be a voice for the many children with autism who cannot speak.
Lin Wessels is a strong autism advocate. She has raised her son to understand that the American political process is meant to work for all people, no matter their differentiated ability.
“When we’re on the way to event I always talk to Sam about what he wants to say and what is important to him,” she said.
The family’s most exciting moment yet came when the Wessels were able to meet President Obama.
Wessels proudly remembers her son leaning into the President’s ear and asking if he would join him in standing up for people with autism.
Wessels puts aside her party affiliations when it comes to advocating for her son and others with autism. She is respectful of every candidate and makes sure her son understands what an honor it is to speak with these important people.
So how can the public and the government stand up for people with autism? Wessels says that education is the key.
“We need to make sure general education teachers are educated about autism so they know the reasons behind these children’s behavior,” she said. “Another important issue is finding ways for adults with autism to work in our society.”
Wessels says that what stands out to her the most about her and Sam’s journey is the amount of people who connect with them.
“No matter where we go or who we address, there are always people who come up to us afterward and remark on how grateful they are for what we do,” she said. “Especially to Sam for his courage and bravery to fight for a cause that is so near and dear to so many, including himself.”
Visit the Wessels’ YouTube channel to see some of Sam’s interactions with America’s politicians, and hear what they have to say about autism.
Learn the 6 facts you need to know about autism on Parents.com.
Photos courtesy of Lin Wessels
Thursday, October 25th, 2012
When you head to the polls on November 6, there may be an item on your ballot that you haven’t heard of before. Californian voters will have the option to vote on Proposition 37, a bill that would require foods with genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) to be labeled for consumers. A GMO is a food that has had specific changes to its DNA by genetic engineering techniques. The purpose of these genetic alterations is to make crops more resistant to rain, drought and pests.
Supporters of the bill say that GMO’s have been linked to allergies, organ toxicity and other health problems. Fifty countries in the world, including all of Europe, Japan, India and China, already require labels on GMO’s. Over 400 nationally renowned chefs have signed a petition in support of the bill saying that consumers should have a right to know if their food has been genetically engineered.
Based on those facts, passing Prop 37 may seem like an easy decision. However, its opponents firmly believe otherwise. According to No Prop 37, GMO’s are products of biotechnology— a safe anti-pesticide process that has been going on for nearly two decades. Opponents believe that by banning the sale of millions of common grocery products unless they are repackaged or made with higher cost ingredients would increase government bureaucracy and taxpayer costs.
To research both sides further, visit CA Right to Know and No Prop 37.
Do you think GMO foods should be labeled? Let us know in the comments.
Image: Woman checking food labeling in super market, via Shutterstock
Thursday, October 4th, 2012
As I posted the other day, I was worried that the bad forecast would literally rain on my parade as I walked my children to school in honor of Walk To School Day. This was a big deal for me–my work schedule prohibits me from driving the girls to school, much less walking them, but I was able to work at home yesterday. Happily, the weather was fine, and not only did I walk with the girls, we even picked up two of their friends along the way. It took less time than I expected, there was no complaining, and all four kids seemed very proud of themselves when we arrived at school. More than 3,700 communities across the U.S. held events to boost participation, and next year I’m definitely going to lead one in our town.
Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012
October is International Walk to School Month, and tomorrow, October 3, is Walk to School Day. The aim is to build awareness for the need for walkable neighborhoods and to promote all of the benefits of walking to school. I’m sure you can guess what they are: Walking helps kids (and their parents) be more active, it fosters a sense of community, it’s better for the environment and your gasoline budget, and it cuts down on traffic.
A great site created by the National Center for Safe Routes to School (yep, there is such a thing) gives all kinds of fantastic information, including a directory of all of the Walk to School Day events taking place around the country. As of this writing, there are 3,794 events happening all over the U.S. You’ll also find safe-walking tips and ways to map your route to school.
Tomorrow’s forecast in my town isn’t looking promising, but I have every intention of walking my girls, ages 4 and 7, the 9/10 of a mile to their school in the morning. I’m so curious to see how they do–I can’t remember the last time either of them walked that far. Fingers crossed the rain holds off…
If you walk your child to school tomorrow, please let us know how it went!
Thursday, September 13th, 2012
We’ve all seen the heartbreaking images of children in third world countries who are barely surviving due to a lack of food. We all know that this tragic reality exists, but did you know that there are 16 million children living here in America who are battling hunger?
We at Parents take this issue very seriously. We recently ran a report on what hunger looks like in America and interviewed a mom who experienced it firsthand.
Romano’s Macaroni Grill is teaming up with Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign to bring 1 million meals to children in need. They invited us and other bloggers to write about their favorite Italian recipe and for every post they will donate $50 to No Kid Hungry, which will provide up to 500 meals for children in need.
Here’s what you can do to help.
Throughout the entire month of September, Macaroni Grill diners can donate $2 to No Kid Hungry and receive $5 off their next visit. A $2 donation could provide up to 20 meals.
Every time a fan shares a photo from the Mac Grill Facebook Gallery, Macaroni Grill will help No Kid Hungry provide a child with a meal.
Tweet or Instagram a photo of your Macaroni Grill experience with the tag #macgrillgive and Macaroni Grill will provide a child with a meal.
Here’s one of our favorite Italian dishes, the mega-simple Crockpot Lasagna:
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 1 26 ounce jar pasta sauce
- ¾ cup water
- 1 15 ounce carton light ricotta cheese
- 6 lasagna noodles
- 1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese (6oz.)
1. Coat a 4-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. In a large microwave-safe bowl stir together pasta sauce and water. Cover bowl with waxed paper and microwave on high for 3 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl stir together ricotta cheese and carrot; set aside.
2. Spoon 1/2 cup of the sauce mixture in the bottom of prepared slow cooker. Break half of the noodles to fit the bottom of the slow cooker and arrange over the sauce in the slow cooker. Spoon mounds of half of the ricotta mixture over the noodles. Top with 1/2 cup of the mozzarella. Spoon half of the remaining sauce over the layers. Top with remaining noodles, breaking to fit, remaining ricotta mixture, and 1/2 cup mozzarella. Spoon remaining sauce over and top with remaining mozzarella.
3. Cover; cook on low heat setting for 3 hours (noodles should be tender). Remove crockpot from liner and let stand covered for 20 minutes. Makes 6 servings.
Stovetop Method: Prepare as above, except increase noodles to 8 and layer ingredients in a large deep skillet. Bring to boiling over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 35 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 20 minutes.
Categories: Food, GoodyBlog, Solutions | Tags: childhood hunger, childhood poverty, hunger, lasagna, Macaroni Grill, No Kid Hungry, poverty, recipe, recipes
Friday, August 10th, 2012
It’s pretty shameful. Nearly every Sunday night this summer, I’ve seen that my young daughters have way too much color, especially on their face, where they keep getting slight burns on their nose and under their eyes. I am completely vigilant about sunscreen, and thanks to this job, I have an endless supply of it. But something’s not working, whether it’s me or the SPF I’m using.
I was recently at the beach with my sister, who used a sunscreen wipe on her 2-year-old daughter just as I was about to embark on my usual routine of spraying my girls’ bodies, putting lotion on their faces, and using a stick SPF on their nose and ears and under their eyes. My daughters looked wistfully over at their cousin–who was finished getting ‘screened up in about 30 seconds–and asked if they could use the wipe, too. My sister swiftly rubbed their faces and told me how much she swears by the towelettes, which are from a company called MD Moms and developed by two pediatricians who themselves have children. Even with that pedigree, I confess I was slightly skeptical …
… Until we got home that afternoon and I saw that for once, my children’s faces were the same shade they were when we arrived at the beach. Hallelujah! And now that I’ve done a little digging online, I see that basically everyone who uses these wipes (official name: Baby Silk Babysafe Sunscreen Towelettes) is a devotee. They are a must-have as I head to the beach tomorrow for a week’s vacation.
Now, the wipes aren’t cheap–$26 for 20–but think of the pros: They’re foolproof. They’re great for babies. They can get in kids’ eyes without irritating them. You can bring them on your carry-on luggage, unlike any other sunscreen. And they work.
Categories: Babies, GoodyBlog, Health & Safety, Shopping & Gear, Solutions, Travel, Your Child | Tags: Baby Silk, MD Moms, spf, sunscreen, sunscreen wipes
Friday, July 27th, 2012
The crazy weather we’ve been having on the east coast this summer has brought out the worst in the mosquitoes around my neighborhood. They’re so darn sneaky. I never seem to see them until it’s too late: My family and I will be enjoying a nice dinner on the deck when slowly but surely, we all start slapping our arms and legs, and scratching (and eventually clawing) away at our ankles.
But I’m done with that scene. The folks at ThermaCell sent me their Mosquito Repellent Patio Lantern, which looks nicer than the big citronella candles we normally use, and has no odor. (It works by releasing allethrin, a synthetic version of a natural repellent.) You do need to take a few minutes to carefully read the instructions and set it up (or at least your husband does), but after that, it’s truly a matter of turning it on and occasionally replacing batteries and cartridges. Keep it in mind as we head into another warm weekend!
Wednesday, June 27th, 2012
My daughters started camp at our town pool on Monday, so we met their counselors at orientation over the weekend. When the counselors met Lila, my particularly fair 3-year-old, one of them said, “Please pack plenty of sunscreen!” I have, but I’m also doing one better: I’m putting her in a SwimZip suit (there she is at right). SwimZip items are rated UV50+, and cover more than a bathing suit will, so I can cut back on the amount of sunscreen we go through–which is typically more than a bottle a week! The top is really easy for her to put on and take off herself, since it zips up like a jacket. (That’s key when she’s soaking wet–it’s great to not have to bother with yanking a tight shirt over her head.) And the other big perk is that SwimZip’s styles are totally adorable, and the girls’ options are different from anything I’ve seen.
SwimZip, sizes 6-12 months to 4T, $29.99.
Categories: Babies, GoodyBlog, Health & Safety, Solutions, Time for Fun, Your Child | Tags: bathing suit, rash guards, summer, sunscreen, swimsuit, swimwear, SwimZip