Wednesday, December 30, 2009

And They Have to Wear a Helmet While Eating Bangers and Mash

And now, news from England: schools are taking this "safety" thing way too far, says the Guardian. Parents are banned from watching their kids play sports or on the playground, supposedly in case one of them happens to be a pedophile.

I'd be in favor of this policy if it were because some parents happen to be assholes, but anyway.

Other I-can't-make-this-stuff-up instances of safety gone awry include a ban on flying kites, "a five-page guide on how to use glue sticks," and three-legged races being considered too dangerous. Apparently, it's the insurance companies driving these seemingly ridiculous measures, not just out-of-touch school admins.

Back in my day, the only playground safety precaution I was aware of was putting little plastic toppers for the screws that stuck out of the rusted, all-metal jungle gyms. Naturally, any kid with an opposable thumb could pop them off an choke on them. I'm amazed at how solid today's playgrounds are, though no one seems to care that the plastic (or whatever non-metal substance they use) tends to heat up and fry little legs and feet when the temperature tops 70 degrees.

The most curious part of the Guardian article mentions that now, kids have to wear goggles while using Blu-Tack or playing conkers, two things I, the ignorant American, have never heard of. Blu-Tack is that sticky adhesive gummy stuff that we call "sticky tack," while conkers is a game involving horse chestnuts.

I don't know about the Blu-Tack, but I think I'd want to wear a protective suit if I'm going to be handling "horse chestnuts."


Also in the news...

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Joan Crawford Made Her Kids Give Away All Their New Gifts; Who Said She Was a Bad Mom?

I'm probably going to heed some of this syndicated columnist's advice for dealing with the deluge of gifts my kids received for Christmas.

Our toy-clutter problem is compounded by a few factors:
  1. Our house is small.
  2. The kids' bedrooms are smaller.
  3. We haven't done much in terms of shelves or storage, other than a lone bookcase and a couple of large bins.
  4. We haven't done a great job pruning the stuff from previous gift-receiving events.
  5. The kids just get too much shit.
One year we packed away most of Jackson's gifts into the abyss of his closet for that rainy/snowy day when we're trapped in the house and need something new to do. That plan backfired a bit when one of his cousins came over and the two attacked the closet like starving binge-eaters raiding a pantry.

Jackson's Lego collection also continues to grow — I was (and still am) a huge Lego fan, but the 5-year-old has more Lego toys at his age than I ever owned in my lifetime — and the bricks have taken over most of our smaller containers. He has a large plastic bin that holds most of his other junk, though I don't think he's seen the lower layers of it since he was still in diapers.

Sasha has a toy box that can barely close. I have no idea what's in it.

In our basement we have two long large plastic bins suitable for holding Christmas trees or corpses, and these are also filled with enough junk to recreate the Star Wars trash compactor scene.

I don't know how to end this post, so I'll use a barely related anecdote. Back when Jackson was a baby, probably around 18 months old, we started to smell a foul odor in his room. This wasn't alarming at first, since babies, if you weren't aware, often smell terrible, as would you if you enjoyed crapping your pants. After a while Jenn and I thought there had to be a reason for the smell, which was the olfactory equivalent of a dull but increasingly annoying tinnitus.

Though we don't fall into every traditional male/female role, seeking the source of the odor was apparently Daddy Duty. I soon found the cause: somehow, while changing Jackson, one of his hard turds flew out of his diaper and into one of those long plastic bins (we kept one in his room before we bought a proper toy box) and it just festered there.

I had to dispose of the few toys and dolls that were in there, and kept the bin outside filled soapy water for a week. (I was too cheap to throw it away.)

So I guess the lesson is, go through those toy boxes and bins. You never know what you'll find.

Also in the news...

Monday, December 28, 2009

I Guess This Means I Must Be a Kid at Heart

Also in the news...

  • CELEBRITY ALERT: I think I would rather have been on that Amsterdam-Detroit plane with that dude who tried to set himself on fire: Ivana Trump kicked off jet for cussing out a bunch of rambunctious kids.

  • HOLIDAY HUBBUB: Eh -- get over it: Experiencing parent guilt about the Santa Claus lie.

  • Parenting Fail -- an extra-special Christmas edition.

  • CELEBRITY ALERT: It all makes perfect sense now: Dennis Rodman's father, PHILANDER (yep, that's really his name), has 27 kids.

  • Minnesota guv is on a mission from God: Pawlenty's campaign to protect schoolchildren from cross-dressing teachers.
  • Keep the Courvoisier Comin'!

    Inside Voice headlines will be somewhat abridged this week due to the holidays and post-Christmas meltdowns and hangovers and our wrapping-paper-weary fingers now irretrievably caught in those insanity-inducing plastic twist ties that keep all f^&*%ing toys chained to their cardboard housing and whatnot. But we're still here -- so take an occasional timeout from cleaning up those eggnog spills to see what's the what on the IV scene.

    Besides, we have to conserve our energy for 2010, which we know will be totally bangin'.

    Thursday, December 24, 2009

    Video Update: Merry Christmas, If Possible

    Here's a new song we (as Stet That) made. We're sure you've felt this way, no matter which holiday you celebrate.

    Wednesday, December 23, 2009

    And the Rest of the Reindeer Fled the Scene, Those Cowards!

    Offending one group of people is too easy. But when you find a way to offend almost everyone, you've really got something going on.

    Let's count the ways someone (and which groups of people) might be offended by this bizarre Christmas display in a southern California town:
    1. Jesus is packing heat (the anti-gun crowd and religious folks).
    2. Jesus blew away Santa (parents who'll have to explain to their kids what's going on, as well as the anti-gun crowd, religious folks, Santa-is-sacred people, and people who are against murder).
    3. Santa appears to be unarmed (everyone mentioned in #2, in addition to gun advocates who are particular about the proper rules of engagement).
    4. Rudolph apparently was killed moments earlier (just about everyone mentioned in #3, except no-limits hunters, but add to that the PETA people).
    5. Jesus is wearing what looks like pants and a David-Byrne-in-an-enormous-suit-era jacket (Biblical scholars and Mr. Blackwell).
    6. The truck on which Rudolph is sprawled appears to be a Ram (owners of Ford and Chevy trucks)
    The ACLU will probably be pleased. Unknown is whether the shooting was justified, which will offend fans of Law and Order. If it turns out that an unarmed Santa was actually "menacing" Jesus, then count Bernard Goetz and the ghost of Charles Bronson as fans.


    Tuesday, December 22, 2009

    My Son the Klepto

    So tonight I was the recipient of a tearful bedtime confession.

    Let's backtrack: I discovered a wad of play money in Jackson's school backpack about a week ago. Lots of crumpled-up fake bills, just shoved into one of the side pockets, surrounded by his mittens and miscellaneous papers and "treasures" (i.e., junk and garbage) that he finds on the floor and in the seat cushions of his schoolbus. When I asked him where he had obtained these faux funds, he stared at me blankly and said, "I forgot."

    Man, he's good -- but not that good. You see, "I forgot" is Jackson's not-so-secret code for "I have the memory of an elephant and know exactly what it is you're asking me but there's no way in hell I'm telling you about whatever crime I committed today."

    "I forgot" is what he says when I ask him what he had for lunch at school, meaning he REALLY had a bagel with butter. The bagel with butter is one of those lunch alternatives that you can get if your tastebuds don't agree with the meal du jour in the cafeteria, but Jackson, who has made a career out of refusing to try new foods, talks me into letting him buy lunch, insisting he'll try the main entree, and then usually craps out with reliable ol' bagel. He thinks (and he's not too far off) that I'll go crazy if I find out he's been enjoying the same carbfest Monday through Friday, especially because of the haphazard rule I concocted that he can get the bagel, as long as it's not two days in a row. So, depending on the pattern of the week and which days he's ingested what, he'll sometimes tell me about the bagel when I ask him what he had for lunch, and other times simply say, "I forgot."

    "I forgot" is sometimes his answer to whose apple fell off the tree at school that day (a behavior-modification technique apparently quite popular with the preschool/kindergarten teacher community). When I hear "I forgot," I now know without outside confirmation that it was HIS apple that fell off the tree.

    You see where this is going? "I forgot," in some ways, has become a wonderfully predictable indicator of all that's wrong in Jackson's world, because all it takes is those two simple words to alert me to his transgressions, perceived or real.

    So back to the mystery money in his backpack. The red flag immediately ascended upon his stock reply of "I forgot" when asked about the currency's origins. I let it drop, since I knew he'd probably tell me in good time (or slip up). One of his grandpas, however, has been a little more persistent, coaxing Jackson to play "Truth or Dare" with him every night so he can try to find out where the money came from. Jackson hasn't missed a beat, though, and I was beginning to think we were never going to get to the bottom of things.

    Little does Grandpa know that slow, steady and nonjudgmental wins the race (if you can call an upset, ashamed 5-year-old a "win"). Tonight, as I tucked Jackson into bed, he suddenly turned away from me and started crying. "Mommy, I have something I need to tell you," he finally said. "I'm a burglar and I'm going to go to jail. I stole the play money from school to give to Sasha because I know she likes pretend money."

    I was simultaneously relieved that he had finally gotten this burden off his chest; worried that I might indeed have a klepto on my hands (he's been "finding" other money that his dad and I have left on the counters); alarmed that he actually thought he was a burglar and was headed for the clink; and proud that he had told me the truth with minimal cajoling on my part, of his own free will.

    Now how to deal, how to deal...I told him how glad I was he had told me the truth and took responsibility for what he had done and how it must feel good to tell me the truth. I also told him that we did have to return the play money to school, because it wasn't ours, and that we'd let his teacher know that we borrowed it by mistake without asking but that next time we'll make sure we'll ask.

    He seemed very upset by that prospect and has since said that he's never going back to school (tomorrow morning should be fun). He's scared that his teacher will be mad, and he's ashamed of what he did. It probably didn't help that members of the local police department had visited his class last week and talked about bad guys and burglars who steal from people and how police throw said bad guys in jail. I could see the wheels in his little head turning....

    I wanted to assure him that everything will be fine (as I know it will be), that his teacher will still adore him and will understand that he made a mistake, like everyone does, and that he can't take things without permission again. I don't feel the need to administer any form of official consequence, since I can tell how mortified he is by his own behavior (unless he's totally playing me, in which case you'll probably see us on one of those "Dr. Phil" family intervention specials 10 years down the road).

    It sounds so simple to me. But I remember being his age and what a big deal everything seemed to be, especially when you let down the people you love. He wants to mail the money back in anonymously (his suggestion). I balked at first, and in fact I'm still torn, because I want him to know he has to take responsibility for his actions.

    But the kid's giving himself an ulcer over the whole situation, and in some cases (at least for a 5-year-old), your own shame is punishment enough. I still have to work out how to send the money back in. But in the meantime, I think I'll let him have the bagel with butter for lunch tomorrow -- even though he just had one today.

    I Want a Robot Baby That Looks Like R2D2

    Are you about to have a baby but want a bit of training before your little one pops into its new world? Interested in testing your parenting skills on a robot infant that looks like it got flattened by a steamroller? Do you trust any crazy device created by the Japanese?

    Then have we got the weird made-in-Japan flat-baby parenting tool for you! Cnet's got a report on Yotaro, which looks like one of those older reject androids in that "flesh fair" in the movie AI: Artificial Intelligence.

    If you want a realistic parenting simulation, the kind that probably would have made me think twice about having children in the first place, try this:

    Wake up tomorrow around 5am. This part is just a warm-up for the real thing. Go to bed around 11:30, but before you do, set a battery-operated alarm clock — the loudest alarm you could find — for 1am, but make sure you put it in another bedroom.

    Once the alarm goes off, fight with your spouse over whose turn it is to shut it off. No matter how the argument goes, it'll be your turn. Take the alarm clock — do not shut it off — and hold it to your chest as if you were going to burp it. Then pace back and forth from living room to kitchen for about 15 minutes. Turn off the alarm clock and pace for another 15 minutes, then turn the alarm on and pace for another 15 minutes, then pace for another half hour.

    Then reset the alarm to go off in 90 minutes, put it back in the other bedroom, then go back to bed. When the alarm goes off, start the process again.

    And that is but a hint of what those first 100 days will probably be like.

    Or, you'll hire a night nurse or your kid will be much more agreeable than mine. In either case, I'll hate you.

    Also in the news...

  • CELEBRITY ALERT: Please. Say. This. Is. Not. So: Tila Tequila pregnant -- as a surrogate mom. Whose spawn is she carrying?

  • Sue who? Sue everybody! High school softball player files lawsuit against school for injury, claiming she was never taught to slide properly.

  • Field trip! High school teacher suspended for taking students to Hooters.

  • CELEBRITY ALERT: Hopefully her daughter won't end up in some backwoods enclave like in The Wicker Man: Leelee Sobieski welcomes little girl.

  • If only I could summon up the superhuman strength required to not yell at my kids: Neighbor lifts car off of 6-year-old girl.

  • Can this be used for husbands, too? Mom calls 911 over son's video game obsession.

  • A return policy even more stringent than Walmart's: Wisconsin parents want to send back adopted son.

  • And you thought your dad with a shotgun on the porch was bad: Teen not allowed to date without permission of probation officer.

  • This ain't Bourbon Street, sweetheart: New Zealand teen arrested for flashing boobs -- after getting hit by distracted driver.
  • Monday, December 21, 2009

    Another Suggestion: Stay Home and Lock the Doors

    A couple of Christmases ago, when Jackson was 3, he had one of his biggest tantrums ever at my in-laws' house — the kind of meltdown that you'd try to describe to people but they'd never believe it until they saw it.

    That year, everybody saw it. I don't even remember what started it; it was probably time to leave and he was being a little prick about it, as he usually was (and on the thankfully rarer occasion, still is) when it's time to depart. It was screaming, kicking, thrashing...all the elements of demonic possession.

    I don't know whether the Christmas season exacerbated Jackson's mood, but apparently, your holiday-of-choice pressures do affect your kids.

    This helpful article on has a bunch of helpful suggestions for making this week (and, perhaps, beyond) a little easier on your children and yourself.

    The main thing, the article says, is that despite all your efforts to produce the perfect holiday experience for your children, they probably won't care if things don't all go according to plan.

    It's like how, every year, I plan to have the presents decorated with elaborate ribbons and bows, but when it's time to wrap all the gifts (sometime around December 24), I'm in no mood for frills as I try to find the best way to wrap a box shaped like two spheres and a rectangle. Would the kids enjoy the bows and ribbons? Perhaps, but in the end, who really gives a shit?

    One of the other suggestions, kind of a no-brainer unless you're really thinking about it, is to actually assemble/install batteries in/set up those gifts before they're unwrapped — which is why my father's spent most of this weekend putting together Sasha's Disney Princess Keyboard Vanity ("The thing has 12 screws!") while I've been "testing" the new Wii for the past three weeks.

    Also in the news...

  • VIRAL VIDEO: Drunk, cross-dressing, and delinquent is no way to go through life, son: Sauced 4-year-old steals neighbor's Christmas presents, beer in hand.

  • What the hell are they eating across The Pond?! 15 percent of Czech children overweight; one in five Brit kiddies obese.

  • Here's hoping the other main contributor to this blog is reading this post: Middle-aged parents instructed to stretch before playing Wii to avoid injury.

  • CELEBRITY ALERT: But however will she afford those Manolos for all of them? Sarah Jessica Parker wants more kids.

  • CELEBRITY ALERT: Top 10 parental units of the decade -- who made the cut?

  • Want to know what your kids searched for on the Internet this year? You're welcome.

  • CELEBRITY ALERT: Not legitimate kids, dude -- we think Dave meant all of them: Jude Law miscounts number of children on Letterman.

  • CELEBRITY ALERT: Just in case you're wondering: Gisele and Tom's love child has a name.

  • WTF, MOM AND DAD! Kid with 50 needles in his body likely victim of black-magic ritual.

  • And today we'll be watching a video on...oh crap: Teacher shows 6th-grade class porn tape instead of scheduled curriculum's video.
  • Friday, December 18, 2009

    Also in the news...

  • VIRAL VIDEO: Tim Burton + Lewis Carroll + Johnny Depp = OMG, I can't wait till March 5, 2010: Alice in Wonderland hitting the big screen this spring.

  • Haven't they ever seen Ryder Hudson? Texas school threatens to suspend 4-year-old for long hair.

  • It's one thing to have to carry around a protruding gut and all those other excess lumps and bumps when you're with child, but it's quite another to look nine months' preggers when you're -- not.

  • HOLIDAY HUBBUB: How low will you go to get your screaming spawn to sit on Santa's lap and show off that toothless, shit-eating grin that memorable holiday cards are made of?

  • CELEBRITY ALERT: And somewhere, Spike is crying into his beer: Sophia Coppola expecting second child.

  • CELEBRITY ALERT: Nice slippers, Nadya: Octomom goes out for a stroll dressed like a giant candy cane.

  • CELEBRITY ALERT: Wilkinson 1, Kardashian 0: The Kendra/Kourtney baby wars continue, with Kendra landing first magazine cover with newborn.

  • Acupuncture is said to work wonders, but this might have gone too far: Brazilian toddler rushed to hospital after 42 needles discovered stuck inside his body.

  • Gimme your badge and your Thin Mints, sweetheart! Teen arrested for robbing Girl Scout.

  • HOLIDAY HUBBUB: Headed to the mall to get that last-minute photo op with St. Nick? Beware: Some of the Santas can be a little sketchy.
  • Thursday, December 17, 2009

    Also in the news...

    Wednesday, December 16, 2009

    Well, Isn't That Special? (But Not TOO Special)

    The Huffington Post, which I generally don't read, offers many blogs that annoy me. In that way, it is a helpful service, if you enjoy the servie of being annoyed. In many ways, the blog post I'm going to discuss, "The Duality of Parenting: The Authoritative vs. Permissive Debate" by Lisa Earle McLeod, is kinda annoying because her posts seem like they're rather transparently crafted to promote her book, The Triangle of Truth, which you can find on her site, where she describes herself as "Author. Columnist. Thought Leader."

    (I would call myself "Writer. Blogger. Dad. Idiot.")

    As I've mentioned, the post is designed to sell her book, but there was one little nugget that intrigued me. She said that she read this statement in a parenting book, the title of which she doesn't mention lest you decide to buy that and not The Triangle of Truth: "In an ideal circumstance a child is raised to believe that they are incredibly special, but no more special than anyone else." McLeod explains:
    But in trying to make our kids feel special, we sometimes forgot to tell them that everybody else is special too. And that as much as we're put on this planet to be loved, we don't experience true happiness until we learn the discipline of returning that love to others.

    And I'll have to agree. I see a lot of kids get built up, but I wonder how many of these precious tots are learning sympathy or its cousin, empathy. Likewise, how many are able to handle when things don't go their way? I already know my kids are spoiled compared to the way I was raised (an assessment they'll later dispute), but I can't — and shouldn't — think I can protect them from every bad situation, from embarrassment to regrettable mistakes to public rejection (or what I refer to as "90% of my life from ages 7 to 17").

    As McLeod notes, "Parenting isn't about trying to shield your kids from set-backs, disappointments and the unfairness of life. It's about preparing them to deal with it."

    In other words, shit happens. Over and over again. But it happens to other people, too. So, chin up!

    Also in the news...

    The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
    Eight Is Enough
    Daily Show
    Full Episodes
    Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

  • HOLIDAY HUBBUB: Don't celebrate Christmas? Jon Stewart is standing up for you to The Man (a.k.a. Santa Claus).

  • HOLIDAY HUBBUB: St. Nick falls off the wagon sleigh: Drunk Santa wanders into yard looking for his lost reindeer.

  • HOLIDAY HUBBUB: Forget about toy and game wish lists: Kids sitting on Santa's lap want to bitch about the economy.

  • HOLIDAY HUBBUB: Leave a cold one out for Santa (and we don't mean a glass of moo juice): Labatt's ad advocates replacing cookies and milk with a bottle of nonalcoholic brew (after all, Santa's driving).

  • HOLIDAY HUBBUB: Remember when Tamagotchis ruled the holiday-shopping roost? Check out other fad toy crazes of Christmases past.

  • Some kids pray to Jesus; others ask questions about him. But make sure your children don't actually draw pictures of the son of God -- that's just asking for trouble.

  • Off with her braid! Teacher cuts off student's hair after kid won't stop playing with it.

  • My husband loves bald babies. In fact, he was sorely disappointed when both of our children emerged from the womb with full heads of hair. I don't think he's going to be too keen, therefore, on the newest trend to hit the infant market: baby wigs.

  • Perhaps your parenting strategies are considered eccentric; maybe your friends don't consider you a typical mother. But these moms get the prize for being the oddest parental units out there.

  • Now this would be a "Maury" worth watching: Dead man to be exhumed for paternity test.
  • Tuesday, December 15, 2009

    When I Discipline, There Is No Almond Joy

    I'd say that, more often than not, the kids are well behaved. But even if they misbehave, say, 10 percent of the time, that 10 percent can obliterate that 90 percent of goodwill that they slowly erected.

    And the misbehavior often drives me nuts, because it defies most logic and really pushes my buttons. For me, and I'm not alone, the hardest part of executing discipline is staying calm. As an article in the Gaston Gazette, written by a certified school psychologist, explains: "Not only do you need to set fair expectations for your children, but you need to set reasonable postulations yourself."

    This is always one of the hardest things for me. I find myself to be a calm person, I know I tend to lose it when the kids defy what I consider to be universal logic and common courtesy. Like when I give in and agree to stay an extra hour in the pit of hell (Chuck E. Cheese) and then when it's time to go I have to endure a shitfit.

    The writer even suggests taking a moment and counting to 10 (which, he admits, sounds cliché but does work).

    What I find myself doing, and I don't necessarily suggest you do the same, is put myself in the position of George Costanza, who found success in doing the opposite of his gut instinct:

    So when you're about to blow your top, take a moment (count to 10, if you have to) and ask yourself: What is the opposite of what George would do?

    Also in the news...

  • VIRAL VIDEO: Just to punish them for participating in this fingernails-down-a-blackboard commercial, I would make these whippersnappers downgrade and shop for their clothes at Old Navy: Gap Kids' commercial driving the general population insane.

  • WTF, MOM? I've got a question mark after this tag, since I'll let you be the judge: Mom approached by police for letting her kids play alone outside.

  • CELEBRITY ALERT: First girl troubles, now kid troubles: Florida's equivalent of child protective services visits the Tiger Woods estate.

  • CELEBRITY ALERT: And we shall call him Mason: Kourtney Kardashian follows in Kendra's footsteps, gives birth to baby boy.

  • CELEBRITY ALERT: And this is just happening now because....: Courtney Love loses custody of Frances Bean to mother-in-law.

  • CELEBRITY ALERT: Oh no: Gary Busey has spawned.

  • Want to keep your pregnancy weight down? Just make sure you're obese before you get knocked up.

  • My head is spinning all the time, and it has nothing to do with my house: Australian family's house rotates to follow the sun.

  • It always pays to get the family plan: Teen racks up nearly $22,000 in cell phone charges.

  • "I had no choice -- my hubby was more f***ed up than I was!" Drunk-driving mom defends herself -- rather badly, we might add.
  • Monday, December 14, 2009

    Stab Me in the Eye With an Icicle

    Now that I'm a parent, I can appreciate a blog post like this, which describes the anxiety of dealing with snow days. I already have to burn my days for when my kids are sick, have doctor appointments, or are home because daycare or school is closed for whatever reason, whether it's a holiday I don't celebrate or because the teachers have to do some organizing or something, like they don't work in the summer so they now need an extra day during the year to organize.

    But at least for those days (besides when they're sick), they're somewhat planned. And snow days, unless you live in North Carolina where they close the schools with a dusting of frost, are usually the kind of days in which you don't want to be outside.

    "You must be lucky," the childless often say to me. "You get to play with your kids all day in the snow!"

    Let me tell you something. I do not like playing in the snow. I haven't enjoyed exposure to sub-40 degree weather since I was like 11. And until my kids are old enough to go outside without parental supervision, which in these times will probably be when they're 24, I will have to accompany them when they're outside.

    My snowmen always look like albinos who fell into nuclear waste. And the hill where we go sledding, even though it's not that big, has me dry-heaving after just two sled runs. Yet the kids never express discomfort with extreme weather. Jackson's bed has a sheet and a blanket, and he HATES using the blanket. This is during weather when I huddle in my bed under two heavy quilts while trying to siphon the heat from my wife.

    Sasha, on the other hand, will insist on her heavy blanket during a heat wave, then wonders why she's all sweaty in the middle of the night.

    Also in the news...

  • CELEBRITY ALERT: This year under the tree: Ed Hardy T-shirts and bleach-blonde hair weaves for all! Gosselin kids no longer believe in Santa Claus.

  • CELEBRITY ALERT: Baskett case: Kendra Wilkinson and Hank welcome new baby boy.

  • BOMAD (and its auxiliary services) still alive and well: Study finds parents helping adult children more than in past generations.

  • CELEBRITY ALERT: Let's hope her dad doesn't get involved in this one, or watch out Calcutta! Lindsay Lohan on a mission to save the children of India.

  • Ever felt that Melman and Gloria from Madagascar were among the weirdest romances to hit the big screen? They're not the only bizarre children's-movie relationships out there.

  • Keepin' 'em literate: The Washington Post ranks the best kids' books of the year.

  • PRODUCT ALERT: On the other hand, if you've ever been at a loss to explain the role of your in-home server or how to deal with visiting day at the clink to your kids, these children's books will do the trick.

  • Keeping up with the Joneses (backyards): Kids' designer playgrounds mean big business.

  • CELEBRITY ALERT: Now they can start on number 20: 19th Duggar baby born prematurely.

  • They always said moms had super-human strength: Pregnant woman helps pull delinquent teens off of police officer.
  • Friday, December 11, 2009

    "Hungry Hungry Hippos" Did Not Make the List

    I guess some toys really are educational. Po Bronson, who co-writes a very good parenting blog despite having a face I inexplicably want to punch, reports on a experiment that proved that certain games were able to make kids smarter.

    Or, to be more precise, playing the games raised their IQ points. And these weren't gifted kids to begin with — they were the bottom of the educational barrel. The results are encourgaing because not only does this method help the kids who need the most assistance, but also the games that were used in the study are cheap.

    Check out the blog for the full list, with links — some games were classic, like a deck of cards or Perfection (I was always more partial toward Superfection), others are PC or Nintendo DS games; the average price is 13 bucks! That's cheaper than a tutor!

    Also in the news...

  • Like kids' pageants? Enjoy skewering Scientology? Then you'll love "A Very Merry Unauthorized Children's Scientology Pageant," on a Chicagoland stage near you!

  • CELEBRITY ALERT: Someone else Tiger Woods has screwed: a bunch of Wisconsin schoolkids. Golf legend's picture auctioned off for far less than anticipated, dashing Disney World fundraiser hopes.

  • Who's angry in America? According to a recent study, parents of young kids are right up there in the explosive-rage department.

  • PRODUCT ALERT: Really, now? Really?! New contraption allows parents to text while pushing their strollers. Warning: Don't apply your Facebook pokes while the stroller is in motion.

  • Boys are from Mars, girls are from Venus: Virginia school separates classes by gender, citing differences in learning styles.

  • PRODUCT ALERT: Have you ever wished the dinosaurs could be resurrected from extinction just so you could shove one of your misbehaving children into a T. Rex's salivating maw? This might be as close as you're ever going to get.

  • But were they speaking their respective Romance languages to each other as they sucked face? Two female teachers in Brooklyn high school caught naked in empty classroom by janitor.

  • Magically delicious -- but with a fraction of the sweet: General Mills promises to cut out the excess sugar in cereals marketed to kids.

  • CELEBRITY ALERT: The whole nine months: Amanda Peet pregnant with second child.

  • Joining My Parents Were Awesome: My Mom, The Style Icon and Dads in Short Shorts.
  • Thursday, December 10, 2009

    "Honey, I See You're Four Months Pregnant. It Might Be Time for That Talk."

    Man, I love stock photos. Sometimes I'll just cruise Getty images for pictures of tastefully dressed hot chicks.

    Someone at the Daily News chose the Getty photo above to illustrate its article on the fact that most parents wait too long to have "the talk" with their kids, and this photo is a doozy.

    The (tastefully dressed and somewhat hot) looks about 23, which is probably why she's rolling her eyes like that. When it's time to talk to my kids about the birds and the bees, I'll make sure Jenn and I are wearing clothes in a light color palette, to soften the blow of our awkwardness.

    Some parts of the photo are pretty accurate. Jenn will be doing all the talking:

    While I'll sit there silently.

    Putting my head on my chin will make me look concerned, as well as attentive, though I'm really just eyeing that magazine left open on my coffee table.
    Maybe I can slip out with the excuse that I need to refill Jenn's empty coffee cup:

    Hey, Daily News, in choosing a photo for an article about discussing sex with your kids, could you have picked one where the mom isn't doing this:

    Just saying.


    Hello, Richard? Right, Sir Richard. How are you? Yes. Just wanted to tell you how much I admire your work. Like, your Virgin store in Union Square? I was able to use the bathroom and I didn't have to buy anything, that's pretty cool, like at Tower I had to buy an Avril Lavigne bracelet first, so I went in the ladies room and peed on the seats!

    But anyway. So, I read in New York magazine that you're sending your kids and parents into outer space or something? Yeah, so. I wanted to ask you — did I mention that I was like one of the five people who actually watched your reality show? — if you don't mind me being so forward, Sir Richard...

    ...could you like take my kids and parents with you? They're driving me crazy!

    Hello? Sir Richard? Hello?

    Also in the news...

  • So 1983: Boy gets tongue stuck on telephone pole while emulating A Christmas Story scene.

  • Daddy's out of work, but the kids are all right: why the recession may be good for families.

  • Hooch and highchairs: Looking for a couple of jugs of moonshine for your office holiday party? Have you checked out your local day-care facility?

  • CELEBRITY ALERT: Gisele Bundchen, still refusing to confirm pregnancy, finally pops out Tom Brady's kid.

  • You knew your strollers were appendage guillotines, didn't you?! Parents of severed-fingertip children sue Maclaren.

  • CELEBRITY ALERT: From the tweets of the stars: Nicole Richie makes astute observation about Sesame Street.

  • If you can't beat 'em: U.K. girls' school introduces wine-tasting club.

  • CELEBRITY ALERT: Nun gets knocked up -- the nun from Doubt, that is: Amy Adams pregnant with first child.

  • Postpartum for pops? Baby blues hit dads, too.

  • HOLIDAY HUBBUB: "Jingle bells," "pedophile" -- the kids won't know the difference: Yet another toy recalled after consumers claim offensive lyrics.
  • Wednesday, December 9, 2009

    Where Have You Been All My (Kids') Life?

    As far as "cool stuff for kids and their parents" goes, I really enjoyed Cool Hunting's 18 Accessories for Kids, 18 of which I'd never seen before.

    The products range from toys (wooden blocks that are also magnetic) to handy household items (spring-loaded caps for the legs of a chair or crib, to make it an instant rocker) and include brands you're familiar with (BabyBjörn) and brands that sound like they'd be connected with industrial chemicals (Patemm). Also, most of the stuff is not too expensive.

    Not much else to say — check it out!

    Also in the news...

    Tuesday, December 8, 2009

    The Quandary: How to Gift-Wrap Them

    Looking for a special gift for that mom-to-be? Afraid of giving her that third copy of Goodnight Moon or fifth set of pacifiers? Then swing by that baby shower with some microbes!

    That's right! Microbes. If pregnant moms are exposed to microbes, their kids are less likely to develop allergies. At least, that's what some Germans are saying. And plenty of Germans know what they're talking about, nein?

    The Germans did some studies with mice. "The microbe exposure triggered a mild inflammatory response in the mothers," the article says. "No kidding!" you're thinking. "You don't have to tell me about mild inflammatory responses!" Well, that mild inflammatory response "was characterized by increased expression of microbe-sensing Toll-like receptors (TLRs) and the production of immune molecules called cytokines."

    "Of course, you idiot," you're thinking again, "you don't want to come within 10 feet of me when my Toll-like receptors and cytokines are flaming up!"

    Before you run out to some lab to buy your microbes, know that barnyard microbes are best of all. Better yet, try to raise your kid on a farm. We're not kidding:
    [C]hildren raised on farms — which teem with environmental microbes — develop fewer allergies than those raised in cities or in non-farming rural areas. One theory is that early-life exposure to microbes conditions a young child's developing immune system to tolerate microbes and allergens later in life.
    In fact, all a kid needs is for his mom to work on a farm, and she'll pass that microbe goodness on to her kids. So instead of sending a third-trimester-er out for a foot massage, put her to work in the fields! It's the best thing she can do for her kids!

    Also in the news...

    Monday, December 7, 2009

    I Caught My Wife in Bed With...the Baby! Napping!

    When a sex therapist complains about sex, or the lack thereof, it's worth a read. Ian Kerner, a "sex therapist and relationship counselor," two positions for which I'm not even remotely qualified, describes some of the, uh, frustration he felt after his first child was born: "confused and conflicted, not to mention sleepless, sexless and hard up."

    The birth of his second child took his "randiness to new dimensions of dementia."

    For me, admittedly someone who can get in the mood pretty quickly (my wife would say too quickly), I can't remember feeling very randy after several weeks of night feedings and weekends that never ended. Sleep was sex for me, rather than what sleep was before kids (the thing that happens 10 seconds after sex).

    I'll agree that I, like Dr. Kerner, have experienced moments "when everything made me think of sex" (feelings I had long before I became a dad). However, I didn't need this anecdote:
    One time my wife, Lisa, was reading the Dr. Seuss classic “Hop on Pop” to our toddler, Owen, and I found myself thinking, “Hey baby, why don’t you come over here and hop on this pop?”
    Kerner's point is that dads often feel as if their wives are having an affair — that is, creating an emotional and (I hope in a different sort of way) physical bond — with a rival; in this case, the baby.

    The problem with this kind of conflict: I can't brag about how I can bench-press more than the baby, know more about literature than the baby, have more hair than the baby. And I can't leave angry messages on the baby's answering machine to leave my wife the F alone.

    I shudder to think what was going through Kerner's mind while his wife was reading other stories to the kids:
    • "Why don't you feed this hungry little caterpillar?"
    • "Why don't you put your cat in this hat?"
    • "Why don't you say goodnight to this moon?"
    • "Why don't you say goodnight to this gorilla?"
    • "Come over here and I'll show you what this brown bear sees!"


    Also in the news...