Tuesday, September 9th, 2014
Today is International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Awareness Day. Lately, it seems like every day has been labelled something different: “Cheese Pizza Day,” “National Iguana Awareness Day,” “Wonderful Weirdos Day.” It’s easy to overlook days that have actual significance. However, I implore you to take a closer look at today, because the message behind this awareness campaign can and will change lives.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is a serious condition that can happen as a result of a woman drinking at any point in her pregnancy. It is also the leading preventable cause of birth defects and developmental disorders in this country, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Some claim that the potential dangers of alcohol to the fetus are already well-known. The information about fetal alcohol syndrome has been common knowledge for almost 40 years. The truth is that drinking during pregnancy remains a serious problem in the U.S. The NIH conducted a recent study in which 1 out of every 13 pregnant women report drinking in the last month, and, of those women, 1 in 6 report binge drinking in that time period. That is, quite frankly, startling. We need to continue to spread the word about the dangers of drinking while pregnant.
Unfortunately, there has been conflicting information from the media on whether drinking during pregnancy is safe. Some women are writing about how they drank during their pregnancies and everyone turned out fine. The Stir has a list of “7 Celeb Moms Who Drank While They Were Pregnant.” A Danish study came out and reported that expectant mothers who drank one glass of wine a week had children with better mental health. Despite these findings, even the author of that study believes that women shouldn’t drink during pregnancy. “I really think we should recommend abstaining [from drinking] during pregnancy. “I really believe that even a glass of wine now and again is really damaging,” study co-author Janni Niclasen, a post-doctoral student at the University of Copenhagen, told Today.com. Overall, “there are simply not enough studies out there for us to feel confident that drinking during pregnancy is safe,” says Eve Espey, M.D., an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of New Mexico and a spokesperson for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).
If you are trying to conceive, the best thing you can do is to stop drinking now. The earlier exposure to alcohol occurs in the fetus, the greater the chance of more serious damage. “The best choice when planning a pregnancy is to abstain — there is no safe alcohol, no safe time, and no safe amount,” says Kathy Mitchell, vice president and spokesperson for the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS).
This is what is important to consider: It is worth it to drink if there is a possibility that it could affect your unborn child? Babies born with FASD have neurobehavioral issues, such as intellectual disabilities, speech and language delays, and poor social skills. You only have to abstain from alcohol for 9 months. The disabilities associated with FASD will last a lifetime.
Note: If you can’t stop drinking, it could be a sign of alcohol dependence. Contact your health care provider for a treatment referral. For more information, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has a plethora of information and resources.
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Tuesday, August 19th, 2014
I have about two months left until my wedding, which means that I’ve been trying to throw my indecisive tendencies out the window. After months of revisions, the invitations are finally at their (almost) final stage. The flowers have been picked; the ceremony has been adjusted to fit our picky “interfaith but not too long” requirements. There seems to be just one large to-do left on my pages-long list of wedding prep: I need to make a decision on whether to change my last name.
Growing up, I always assumed I would change my name when I stepped up to the marriage plate. It is what nearly all of my friends’ moms had done when they’d tied the knot. But now that it is almost time to make the switch, I’m having reservations both big and small. Big: I’ve worked my butt off to get my byline out there throughout the years. I can’t change my name now! Small: The paperwork looks so annoying. Plus, my out-of-state driver’s license expires a mere 20 days before my wedding, complicating things more. (And what if it’s a sign?!)
As I began to play around with the idea of keeping my last name the way it is, I dug around on the Internet a bit. It turns out that more than 50 percent of people in America think that a woman should be legally required to take her husband’s last name for the sake of creating a sense of family identity. It’s not just the older generation that feels that a name swap is a good thing. According to a joint study by Facebook and the Daily Beast, 65 percent of women in their 20s and 30s changed their names when they got married. I was surprised to discover that a number of my friends and family have a strong opinion about this topic as well. With the exception of my mom, everyone seemed to think I should bite the bullet and go through the paperwork, because they felt my future kids should have the same last name that I do. (Not that kids have to take their father’s name, but that’s the traditional way of doing things.)
Will it really matter if my kids have the same last name as me? How much does a name really mean anyway? I’ve already committed to plenty of identity changing. I uprooted my life in Tennessee to work in fast-paced Manhattan and come home to our little fixer-upper in Long Island. And yet, there is a part of me that feels a degree of comfort with the idea of solidifying our family unit with a name change. I guess I’ll keep this one marked as TBD.
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Tuesday, July 29th, 2014
I love many things about summer – watermelon, iced coffee, beach days, more sunlight – but my favorite part of the season is going to baseball games. There is nothing more satisfying than leaving work in Manhattan to head out to a Yankees or Mets game in perfect nighttime weather. I grew up going to the ballpark more times than I can count; it was our #1 choice for a family outing. (Go Oakland A’s!) Even if you aren’t a die-hard fan, going to a game can be a great experience, and something your kids will likely remember for a long time. Here are three reasons to bring your family to a game.
- It is surprisingly affordable. Some major league ballparks – I’m thinking of the A’s, for example – run promotions for tickets as low as $1. If your stadium is pricier, keep an eye on sites like StubHub.com for ticket discounts. If you happen to be in minor league territory, you’re also in luck. A family of four can see a game for an average of $62. That number includes four hot dogs, two sodas, two beers, a program or scorecard, and parking, according to the Minor League Baseball’s website. I’ll cheers to that!
- It’s a great way to help stop the summer slide. I am definitely not a math person, but as a child, I loved learning about every player’s various statistics. For baseball and math beginners, keeping score is a great way to practice addition. Older kids can start keeping score with a scorecard and learn about players’ batting averages and pitchers’ ERAs. What does a batting average of .300 mean? How do you calculate a pitcher’s ERA? The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum has free age-by-age baseball-themed math lessons on their website for before or after the game.
- It’s not just about the game. Your little one might not love sitting in her seat for more than a few pitches at a time but that doesn’t mean she won’t love the atmosphere of the game. Some kids are content to walk up and down the aisles, making bleacher seats well worth it. Others may want to explore the various concession stands and soak up the scene. Some parks even have attractions to visit while you’re there. For example, Comerica Park, home to the Detroit Tigers, has a Ferris wheel and carousel. Every park has fun giveaways and special days for families. Kids may get a collectable bobblehead or the chance to run around the bases. Check your team’s schedule before you buy those tickets. Also, anyone can go early to watch the team practice (and maybe even sneak in an autograph or a wave from a player).
However your family experiences the game, everyone is sure to have a blast. Going to a game is fun, educational, and an amazing bonding opportunity. I may be a girly-girl when it comes to most things, but some of my greatest summer memories are at the ballpark.
How does your family celebrate summer?
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Tuesday, July 8th, 2014
Unless you’ve been avoiding TV, radio, and magazines the past few years, I’m sure you know the Kardashians get a ton of bad press. After all, they are constantly in the spotlight and are bound to make choices that not everyone likes. I don’t agree with everything they do, but I can appreciate that they are a tight-knit family that really cares about one another. When the press leaked that the oldest Kardashian sister, Kourtney, was pregnant with her third child, people had some downright mean things to say. Many people criticized her for not being married and others claimed she got pregnant only to bring more attention to the Kardashian name. Kourtney is now about 4 months along and the judgment keeps on coming. Commenters on a recent Daily Mail article had this to say about Kourtney and her pregnancy: “I think she is addicted to being pregnant.” “OINK!!” “Can’t we stop this utterly vacuous family breeding?” Yikes! I may be in the minority, but I think Kourtney is a great mom who is doing the best that she can. Her children are loved and appreciated. I am happy that she is pregnant with her third child with longtime partner Scott Disick and wish them the best. Here are three reasons why I love Kourtney Kardashian as a parent:
- She works hard to balance her career and her kids. (In fact, she combines the two and designs kids’ clothes!) Kourtney may be a successful clothing designer, business manager, and reality TV star, but she cherishes her role as Mom the most. Kourtney doesn’t have a nanny when she’s not working, and feels guilty if she goes out without her kids. A self-proclaimed attachment parent, Kourtney co-sleeps with both Mason, 4, and Penelope, 2. She breastfed Mason for 14 months, and made baby food for both children. When she is with her little ones, she doesn’t have a set schedule and tries to make the most of the time she has. Ultimately, her kids’ needs come before work, Kardashian has said.
- She struggled to get rid of the baby weight and ended up embracing her new body. After giving birth to Mason, Kourtney lined up a photo shoot with Life and Style but realized that her body hadn’t bounced back the way she would have liked. She tried to become a gym rat for a week but ultimately realized that her body is never going to be quite the same (even though it is still amazing!). When pregnant with Penelope, Kourtney eased up on her workout routine and even gave into some In-N-Out Burger cravings. Now that Kourtney has a third baby on the way, she’s not afraid to show her baby bump. Kourtney has been spotted in the Hamptons in a bikini, and she uploaded the Instagram photo to the right yesterday with daughter Penelope.
- She’s not afraid to enlist help. Celebrities are real people, too, and it’s nice to know that they can’t do it all on their own either. When Mason was a baby and Kourtney was a new mom, she went shopping and couldn’t open his stroller. One woman volunteered to help open the stroller, and Kourtney happily took her up on her offer. When Kourtney discovered she was holding onto too many of her kids’ old toys and was having a difficult time parting with them, she enlisted her family to help her sell them in a charity yard sale. She also relies on her family to help out with watching the kids. Lucky for Kourtney, she has a lot of people willing to lend a hand.
I hope that when I become a parent, I can be the cool, devoted, loving mom that Kourtney Kardashian is to her kids. I may not be whipping up any baby food, but I can certainly appreciate how she cares for Mason and Penelope. I can’t wait to “meet” Baby #3!
Are you pregnant? Use our Chinese Gender Predictor to find out whether Baby’s going to be a boy or a girl.
Images courtesy of Kourtney Kardashian’s Instagram profile.
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Tuesday, June 17th, 2014
The Internet has transformed how children learn and communicate, for better and for worse. On one hand, it has brought a wealth of information and research to kids’ fingertips at the click of a button. However, the Internet can be extremely dangerous. The web is the preferred playground for sexual predators, according to Harold Ort, public affairs officer for ICE. Any child with access to a computer or a smartphone is at risk. Last year, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) logged nearly a million hours working over 4,000 online sexual predator investigations.
A crucial component of reducing the number of sexual exploitation cases is education. “The online sexual exploitation of children has reached epidemic proportions. Increasingly these incidents involve young people who are self-producing explicit images and sending them over the Internet. We can’t arrest our way out of this problem. Raising awareness about the risks that lurk in cyberspace is key to helping keep kids safe,” ICE Deputy Director Daniel Ragsdale said. To promote more widespread Internet safety education, the HSI and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) launched Project iGuardian, the first national cyber safety campaign of its kind, in March. The project’s mission is to teach kids — and to help parents and educators teach kids — to “think before you click” in this digital age. Here are four ways you can use iGuardian’s resources to help keep your kids safe online:
- Request to have iGuardian talk to your kid’s school or your organization. HSI special agents and law enforcement officers give hands-on, age-appropriate tips on how to avoid online sexual predators to both students and parents. Younger kids receive trading cards that separate the good guys from the bad guys, making the experience interactive and more memorable. To ask for a presentation, email email@example.com.
- Check out the NetSmartz Education Outreach Program provided by NCMEC. NetSmartzKids.org has games, videos, and more to introduce kids to Internet safety. NetSmartz.org educates parents on how to prevent and report instances of child exploitation. The website breaks down cyber safety by topics ranging from blogging to gaming to sexting.
- Download the Operation Predator app on iTunes. The Operation Predator app was designed to seek the public’s help in tracking down suspect child predators. Users can receive alerts about wanted predators and can share the information with friends through email or social media. Parents with this app can also look at the latest news about arrests and prosecutions of child predators.
- Know who to call. If you suspect a crime, call (866) 347-2423 or go to the HSI Tip Line. Report suspected child exploitation or missing children to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at (800) 843-5678.
Even the brightest kids can fall victim to sexual predators, according to Ort. It is so important to educate them before something happens. Project iGuardian has set out to do just that.
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