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South Florida parents share their stories and advice

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May 31, 2010

Moms get a well-deserved break

Thank you to the millions of moms across the country and many here in South Florida who helped make National Mom’s Nite Out a great success! In its second year, this event on May 6th allowed Moms to celebrate at hundreds of organized events, as well as online through MomTV and at a three-hour long Twitter party. So many worked together to plan a night out for other moms at restaurants, hotels and homes.

Locally, Debbie Palmer and friends organized a terrific event at My America’s Backyard in downtown Fort Lauderdale. Dozens of local moms showed up for a well-deserved break to enjoy food, entertainment and terrific prizes. Simon Malls also hosted events at Coral Square and Dadeland Malls.

Corporate sponsors supported National Mom’s Nite Out with products and services, such as My Little Pony and Dove Chocolate, while others like Lands’ End, Children’s Orchard and Wyndham Worldwide hotels offered the place for moms to meet and relax. Even Pizza Hut filled a special need by offering 100 families a free dinner while mom took the night off and closed the kitchen!

I hope all the moms who participated in local events enjoyed their “free time” and had a chance to meet up with old (and new) friends. We’re looking forward to next year’s event, always the Thursday before the official Mother’s Day holiday. Mark your calendars for May 5, 2011 – it will be here before you know it!

mariabailey100.jpgMaria Bailey, CEO of BSM Media, speaks to over 8 million moms a month in print,online and on radio. She is the author of “Marketing to Moms: Getting Your Share of the Trillion Dollar Market”, “Trillion Dollar Moms: Marketing to a New Generation of Mothers” and “Mom 3.0: Marketing with Today’s Mothers By Leveraging New Media and Technology”. Bailey also writes for several parenting publications such as OC Parent and Pregnancy Magazine. She has been featured in Business Week, Parenting, Child and O magazines as well on CNN, CNBC and World News Tonight. You can hear more from Maria at and

POSTED IN: Guest Post (79)

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May 28, 2010

When Facebooking goes wrong ... One parent's story

I've already admitted to reading my son's Facebook wall even though he refuses to "friend'' me.

But now I see that my Facebook woes are petty compared to some other parents'. As a colleague of mine said, social networking sites cause parents to behave badly, moreso than kids. True!

I'll post the story I'm talking about on the jump. Suffice to say that if your Facebook dealings result in a conviction of any sort and an Associated Press article, your Facebook problems are worse than mine.

BY TOM PARSONS / Associated Press Writer

ARKADELPHIA, Ark. (AP) — An Arkansas woman who locked her son out of his Facebook account and posted her own items there was convicted Thursday of misdemeanor harassment and ordered not to have contact with the teenager.

Clark County District Judge Randy Hill ordered Denise New, of Arkadelphia, to pay a $435 fine and complete anger-management and parenting classes. He said he would consider allowing her to see her 17-year-old son, Lane New, who lives with his grandmother, if Denise New takes the two courses.

The mother and son testified during the two-hour trial that they once had a good relationship but that it began to deteriorate this spring. They said the dispute that led to the Facebook postings arose when the boy was visiting his mother. She had asked him to return a key to her home, which he declined to do, and she then refused to let him into the house to retrieve some of his belongings.

Some of the postings Denise New said she put on her son's Facebook page included vulgarities. One, which she said she mistakenly posted on her son's page instead of her own, said: "The only mistake I ever made was having a kid."

Hill gave Denise New a 30-day suspended jail sentence, which she would have to serve only if she did not fulfill the other conditions during her yearlong probation.

New has said she posted items on her son's account after he had failed to log off the social-networking site. She also changed his password so he couldn't use it again.

One of the Facebook messages Hill said he was disturbed by was worded to appear as though Lane New had written it: "Check this out — I went to my mom's and deliberately started an argument and called the police on her. She almost went to jail. How cool is that? Ha, ha, ha."

Denise New said she posted that item because she thought her son had told two police officers who came to her home that she had hit him during their confrontation. She said she had merely pushed her son back away from a door he was approaching.

That posting, the judge said, could only be construed as an effort by the mother to make out her son to be a liar.

Hill also criticized the mother for using vulgarities in messages left on her son's cell-phone voicemail.

"You said you were trying to teach him a lesson," the judge said to Denise New. "Were you trying to teach him it's OK to use foul language? Nobody has the right to talk to anybody else like that."

New had testified that the vulgarities she used in the Facebook postings and the cell-phone messages reflected the relaxed relationship she had once had with her son. Such language was common in everyday joking between the two of them, she said.

But the judge called it "totally, completely inappropriate."

New's attorney, Justin Hurst, said he would discuss a possible appeal with his client and decide whether to pursue one within the next few weeks.

In media interviews before the trial, Denise New said her son moved in with his grandmother about five years ago, after she went through a difficult divorce, was having mental health problems and didn't feel she could provide her son with the supervision he needed.

She said the rift between them earlier this year developed because she was concerned about her son's behavior and the company he was keeping. She said she became concerned when she read on his Facebook page that he had driven home at 95 mph one night because he was mad at a girl.

She portrayed the matter as an effort by her to exercise supervision over her son's Internet activities. "If I'm found guilty on this, it is going to be open season" on parents," she told a reporter for The Associated Press.

In pronouncing judgment, Hill said that was clearly not the case.

"The issue is: Did someone act in a way to harass or harm another person?" Hill said.

POSTED IN: Brittany Wallman (160)

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May 27, 2010

Summer camp: 'Color your plate healthy'


Forget “good” foods and “bad” foods. Just make your plate the color of the rainbow.


Food experts have recently been offering this philosopy, and it’s now grown to the point that it’s a focal point of a summer camp.

“Color Your Plate Healthy” will be taught to children at the Adolph & Rose Levis Jewish Community Center’s Camp Ted Weisberg.

Campus chef Jonathan Quiles (pictured at left) of Flik Independent Schools says Color Your Plate Healthy teaches the basics of healthy food choices. Campers will learn where different foods come from, how nutritional values differ and how to make the best and healthiest food choices they can.

“We started thinking about how we could teach kids to make healthy choices in a fun and interesting way,” camp director Jonathan Marcus said. That's Alec Dubin and Daniel Katz on the right.

The camp is from June 7 through July 30. Call 561-852-3227 or email

POSTED IN: Food (56)

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Splitting your time to keep siblings happy

I’m still in the honeymoon phase of raising two children. My five-year-old son absolutely adores his seven-month-old sister. He can’t get enough of her. In fact, the other day he told me: “I want her to grow faster.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Because I want her to follow me around.”

Be careful what you wish for, I thought. I have a feeling challenges are on the horizon as my son begins to adjust to a life where he is not always the center of attention. I already see little glimmers of what lies ahead.

I can’t film my daughter without my son imposing himself into the camera lens. I hand her a toy and inevitably he’s grabbing it. A friend comes over to see the baby and my son persistently interrupts.

My husband and I are conscious of the transition he’s going through. At the same time, we want to make sure our daughter isn’t robbed of special moments because her brother wants the spotlight. What to do?

Come up with a plan. Here are some steps we’re taking:

Schedule one-on-one time. My husband and I will alternate outings with our son. I’ll take him to a movie, just the two of us. My husband might plan a trip to the park. We do the same with the little one. We intentionally split up so each can get undivided attention. My son, I know, is happier for it.

Nip tattling in the bud. If you have a preschooler, this is one milestone you’d love to skip. No infraction is too small. If my son feels wronged – or if he notices his baby sister is not following the “rules” – he tattles. The positive is that he understands there are rules and there is right and wrong. The problem is there are no shades of gray, no understanding that she is a baby, and he is five years old. We’re working with him to distinguish between when something is dangerous (“She’s putting her head in the oven.”) and when he’s just irritated (“She took my toy.”)

It’s quality not quantity. Back to my first point. As much as it’s nice to schedule special outings with each child, don’t focus on the amount of time. If you do, you’ll feel like a failure. The truth is if you spend 10 minutes of quality time with your child, doing something he/she really wants to do (and free of distractions like cell phones) it’s better than an hour of multitasking.

POSTED IN: Anne Vasquez (67)

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May 26, 2010

Open hearts, open homes

carmel.jpgCarmel is a three year old African American female of Haitian descent. This beautiful child has faced extreme challenges and obstacles in her young life that requires 24-hour care. She is currently non-verbal and non-ambulatory, and lives in a medical foster home. Despite her medical conditions, Carmel does respond to her caregivers and also capable of responding to bright lights and movement in a room. She is especially fond of toys with lights, music and
vibration. Carmel needs a family that can meet her medical needs or is willing to complete the necessary training to care for her. This special little girl requires a lifetime of medical care and attention but will give 100% in return. For more information about Carmel or other children available for adoption, contact ChildNet at (954) 414-6001 or visit

Check out more photos and bios of local children available for adoption by visiting The Heart Gallery of Broward County's exhibit at The Northwest Regional Library in Coral Springs.

ChildNet is the private, not for profit organization created to manage the child welfare system in Broward County. Our mission is to protect Broward County’s abused, abandoned and neglected children. ChildNet directly provides case management, independent living and adoption services. We also ensure the delivery of a comprehensive local system of care by subcontracting with more than 30 social service agencies to provide a full array of child welfare services. For more information about fostering, adopting or helping abused children contact ChildNet at (954) 414-6000 or visit

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School is not over yet, kids!

Kudos to the parent at our high school who called the principal to complain that the kids were not doing any work now that the Advanced Placement tests are over.

My thoughts exactly. I had just made the same comment to my sophomore, who accused me of being the parent who had called the school.

I know the goal of AP classes, which are college-level work, is to do well on the AP tests, which were two weeks ago. But that doesn't mean there's nothing left to learn. It doesn't mean the kids should be playing party games like "Apples to Apples" in class.

It doesn't mean they should be doing busy work, either. The AP art history teacher is having the class make CDs of music that mentions works of art. Give me a break! There is so much to learn, kids, and so little time. Use every minute to work your brains before they jellify over the summer.

POSTED IN: Lois Solomon (211)

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May 25, 2010

Listen up, mothers of inventions

Now that you have joined the ranks of momminess – you are the mother of a lot of ideas – aren’t you?

Well, Huggies thinks you are. The Kimberly-Clark brand is launching a grant program - Huggies MomInspired - to provide inventive %21.jpgmoms with the seed capital they need to help transform viable ideas into successful new businesses.

After all, Huggies says moms are “often creative problem-solvers that typically embody natural entrepreneur characteristics on a daily basis.”

To be considered for a grant moms, 21 years or older, residing in the United States, must submit an application online, outlining a unique baby or child care product idea that addresses an unmet parenting need.

Winners will be awarded with up to $15,000 per grant to help fund their product ideas.
Hurry up, the deadline is June 9.

Follow Cindy Kent on @mindingyourbiz

POSTED IN: Activities (143), Child Care (26), Cindy Kent (78), Entertainment (114), Family Fitness (21), Family Issues (231), Food (56), General (185), Health (111), Holidays (49), Newborn (39), Shopping (28)

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May 24, 2010

When it comes to naming your baby, homemade is not better

One of my best friends from childhood is pregnant, and she asked me what I thought of the name "Prince Raffa'' for her son.

What would you have said?

I already know what happens when you give your son a strange first name. My son's first name is something you say to him if you want to tease him. We named him Fulton Creed Norman knowing that we'd call him by his middle name.

We had no idea that in a large school system like we have in Broward County, it would be impossible for teachers to call someone by the name that doesn't appear on the computer printout from the office.

Over the years, this has been consistent. No teacher has accepted and learned his name, from what I can tell. When I get phone calls about him, I look forward to hearing what they think his name is, after he's sat in their classroom all year. Often the teacher says she is calling about "your son, Norman.'' (His last name.)

When I am the one calling, I always start with, "Hi. I'm calling about my son Creed. You call him Fulton, but his name is Creed.''

What a nightmare. By the same token, using an unconventional spelling also creates a problem. You'll end up having to correct peoples' spelling of your child's name over and over and over again. That's what parents who are using homemade names probably do not realize.

My mother, thankfully, spelled my name correctly. The name "Brittany'' was rare back then, four decades ago. Now, it's been popularized, and butchered, by the masses.

Click here to read a column about giving your child a mispelled name like Britney, Brittni or Brittani.

My friend decided to name her baby Rapha Steven, by the way.

POSTED IN: Brittany Wallman (160)

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Prenatal paternity tests provide men with early answers

We come across their stories on talk shows all the time.
Men who thought they were the biological father of a child only to learn years later that they were duped.
But with technology these days, men and expecting moms are confirming doubts even before the child is born.
Prenatal Paternity tests are becoming more common, it seems. These services are widely advertised online.
An OB-GYN can get a DNA sample from the unborn child either by amniocentesis or some other tests.
That can be matched against the potential father’s DNA.
It's a sticky issue. Expecting moms should know that there are risks associated with an amnio. Getting a sample from a potential father can be difficult in some cases.
But for some men and women getting this kind of crucial information confirmed early can save a lot of people further heartache years later.

POSTED IN: Georgia East (44), Pregnancy (31), Sex (16), Single moms (14), Step-parenting (59)

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May 21, 2010

Where did the Ratley-Treacy text messages cross the line?


If you haven't seen them yet, we've posted the text message exchange that provoked Wayne Treacy, 15, into beating Josie Lou Ratley, 15, back on March 17. Everyone seems to agree that it's an ugly exchange, but there doesn't seem to be a lot of agreement on exactly where the line was crossed.

Was it crossed when Treacy used an expletive as soon as he realized he wasn't talking to his friend Kayla Manson, 13?

Was it crossed when Ratley called Treacy a rapist for his interest in a girl two years his junior?

Was it crossed when Treacy brought up an (as far as we can tell, unsubstantiated) allegation that Ratley's father abused her?

Was it crossed when Ratley tried to brush Treacy off by bringing up Treacy's brother?

Or was it crossed when Treacy decided to respond with fists and boots instead of words?

The experts are telling us that the anonymity afforded by technology is making our kids say things they would never say in face-to-face conversation. How far do you think this conversation would have gone if Josie Ratley and Wayne Treacy were talking instead of texting?

[Clarification: The text exchange involved messages going from Ratley's phone to Treacy's e-mail account. It has not been legally established that Ratley was the one sending the messages, though any speculation that it was anyone else is guesswork].

POSTED IN: Rafael Olmeda 2010 (42), Teen (158)

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May 20, 2010

Is your child ready for summer camp?

It’s that time of year when the weather is warming up, the kids are getting restless waiting for school to let out for the summer, and parents are looking into summer camp options. Is your child really ready for summer camp? Once you make that decision, how do you choose? The first and obvious question to answer is: What are my child’s interests? Does he enjoy science, art, music, dance, one or more sports? There are many types of camps out there, so you can first narrow down the list of camps to those that feature activities that your child enjoys. But what else should you look for? Here are some tips on finding the right fit for your child.

Find out about the camp’s hours and schedule. A four year old may be overwhelmed by a full day camp with too many activities packed in.A morning or afternoon half day program is more suitable for preschool children. If parents need a full day program because they work, check to make sure that there is down time or nap time in the schedule so you’re not picking up an exhausted child.

Shy children are often not big fans of camp because it’s such an effort to make new friends and get to know new teachers. Elementary aged children often benefit by attending camp with a friend or neighbor. It also makes for easier car pooling.

Sleep away camp should be given very careful consideration before investing. Is your child emotionally ready to be away from home for a week or two at a time? I’ve seen many miserable kids and parents when the child isn’t ready to attend and becomes severely homesick. On the other hand, I’ve seen more independent children blossom and come into their own when they are given the opportunity to attend sleep away camp.

Research the history, backgrounds and qualifications of the camp and staff to make sure that you are enrolling your child in a safe, structured camp with competent counselors. Check out the ratio of campers to staff and the camps plan in case of emergencies. And ask around, other parents and current care providers are often a good unbiased source of information. If you haven’t chosen yet, take your time but hurry up. Some of the good camps fill up early. Summer is just around the corner and the time to find the right camp is now.

Maggie Cary, a national board certified teacher has been an educator for more than 17 years. She is certified in secondary education and holds a master’s degree in early childhood education.

maggiecary2.jpgOver the years she has mentored countless teachers and advised hundreds of parents. Cary has taught children from preschool through high school. She also offers classroom advice on website Classroom Talk.

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Memorial Day tips for traveling with kids

Memorial Day is just around the corner. If you’re planning to travel with your kids, good luck.

As a parent, you never know what a road trip or cross-country flight will bring. Constant stops at service plazas to load up on stale snacks and unload little bladders? Fits of crying during takeoff and landing while those little ear drums pop?

I’ve traveled enough with my son (and now daughter) to understand that it takes a certain attitude and perseverance to brave an extended amount of time in tight quarters with kids. So make your life easy (or tolerable) and prepare.

Here are a few tips I have learned can make all the difference when vacationing. Would love to hear some of yours. You can never have too many.

Be prepared for an emergency. I know, that’s a downer of a first tip. But it’s so important. I learned this one the hard way. Bring all the medicine you hope you won’t need. More importantly, locate and get directions to the nearest hospital or urgent care clinic. Don't wait, like I did, until you’re in the midst of a crisis at 3 a.m. with a child who’s battling a 103.5-degree fever that appears resistant even to ibuprofen.

Traveling by air? Consider your location on the plane depending on the age of your child. I swear by the back of the plane if you have a mobile toddler. Children can actually get up and move around without bothering a lot of people. Don’t make the rookie mistake and go for the emergency exit row. The seats don’t recline (your children will remind you of this every minute of your flight). And there’s a good chance you’ll be seated next to passengers without kids who may not be as understanding as you’d like when your little one starts to scream.

Save yourself some money and buy gifts before you leave. This works like a charm for vacations to Disney World. Toys at gift shops at the parks cost a small fortune. Buy a couple of must-haves ahead of time and pull them out right on queue.

POSTED IN: Anne Vasquez (67)

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May 19, 2010

Does your teen have a Formspring?

"Ask me anything."

That's the headline on the personalized pages of, an Internet application in which you can ask anonymous questions to acquaintances.

Sounds innocent enough. But I am hearing more and more about how Formspring is being used as a way to bully. You can say anything you want and the teen will never know who the culprit is. Many teens are obsessed with being attractive and popular but wonder deep down what people really think of them. The site has the potential to stress them out over which classmate sent over the mean comment.

A Boca Raton family therapist, Tina Connan, recently sent out a mass e-mail warning parents to talk to their kids about Formspring. She said: "There is zero, and I mean zero, value in this website and no girl or boy should spend a minute on it. creates unnecessary emotional risks. It legitimizes cybercruelty and prevents kids from taking responsibility for their words and actions. "

Connan recommends that we start conversations with our kids about Formspring in a non-accusatory way. She said to tell them there is no reason to set up a website for an anonymous person to harass them. The kids are being cruel to themselves by inviting this treatment.

"Even if your teen says no one has ever said anything mean to her/him on this site, hold your ground," she said. "It's only a matter of time."

Does your kid have a Formspring? Have you been monitoring it?

POSTED IN: Lois Solomon (211)

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May 18, 2010

Glee makes the case for saving school budgets

A perk of the job is sometimes getting advance screenings of TV shows, and yesterday I got my hands on tonight's episode of "Glee" (thanks Tom Jicha!).

This is the hotly anticipated episode (titled "Dream On") with song-dance-and-magic-man Neil Patrick Harris as a rival of Glee coach Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison).

There is plenty to cheer in this episode (Aerosmith's "Dream On"! Men Without Hat's "Safety Dance"!!!!) but here's a heads up to anyone who thinks arts education is critical.

Take note of the back-and-forth between Harris' school board hatchet man and cheer coach Sue Sylvester. The whole exchange -- the whole show -- is a plea for arts and physical education. (Are you listening school boards and principals?)

Sure, it's a little like preaching to the glee club. Anyone who's a fan of "Glee" probably doesn't need to be persuaded. But when hit TV shows start preaching, maybe it will trickle down. We can dream....

"Glee" is on at 9 p.m., WSVN-Ch. 7 and WFLX-Ch. 29.

POSTED IN: School Issues (135)

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High school isn't such a big deal if you stay focused

Mostly, you could say I was not nervous about the idea of high school... not as nervous as my parents were!

Many of my friends were either already at the high school I was going to go to, or were headed feetondesk2.jpg there for the first time along with me.

For me the biggest problem you could say is to stay on point until you get your work done. Then you can play!

A Brief Message to All Eighth Graders…

High school is a blast, and my freshman year has been fantastic, but the transition from junior high to high school can be difficult. Still, if I had been forewarned about certain aspects of school life, it would have been a smoother transition. Here are a few tips that I wish I had known as an incoming freshman.

First, do your homework right when you get home. (That means, listen to your parents!)

This might sound cheesy, but seriously don’t procrastinate; even if you have block scheduling, or your teacher allotted you multiple days to complete an assignment - do it at once. I have found this technique to be the most efficient in completing homework, sometimes I’ll forget or just slack off if I don’t live by this golden rule. I am not saying you cannot have a snack or something, just don’t start playing video games, etcetera.

Let’s see, another useful tip is to take all assignments seriously.

High school is where it really counts!

Depending on how well you do in high school will determine where you get your degree of higher education, if any. Colleges are very strict in terms of applicants accepted, thus you must perform to the best of your ability if you wish to get into your desired college - one’s degree of higher education is what qualifies them for their desired job.

Lastly, you all have probably already heard this, but I will reiterate it.

Teachers in high school are not as lenient as they are in junior high. If you have not learned to show some respect to your teachers yet, you better learn before the school year ends.

The teachers in a high school have trust that you will act mature on your own accord, and if you don’t - DETENTION!

Hope you will take my kid-to-kid advice into consideration.
- Thomas Kent

Thomas Kent, a student at South Broward High School, considers his first year as a high school student a success.

POSTED IN: Family Issues (231), General (185), Guest Post (79), School Issues (135), Teen (158)

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May 17, 2010

Catching my teen on film is like chasing Bigfoot

If anyone were to look through my family photo albums, they'd have to conclude that I used to have a son, but he disappeared when he turned 13.

That's when he stopped allowing himself to be photographed.

There was a progression. First he stopped smiling for the camera. The last packet of school photos we ever got, back in middle school, contained a mugshot of him that looked destined for the front page of a newspaper somewhere near a headline with the word "rampage'' in it. Creed confiscated the packet.

Then he started trying to destroy the historical record of himself, if it involved photographic evidence of anything he is now embarrassed about (for example, Creed in a Cub Scout uniform). Thus, he could no longer be trusted to look through family photos without supervision.

And then he moved to where we are now: full blown photo-dodger. He throws up the hand every time I pull out the camera. The photo you're looking at now is an actual recent shot of my son, who is almost 15. He's a good looking kid but you'll just have to take my word for it.

I noticed last night that his Facebook page is full of pictures of him and his friends, photos I'd never seen. Perhaps if he confirms my friendship on Facebook, (still waiting, yes), I'll be able to fill some albums. For now I have to figure out how to coax him into a photo.

I told him that "some day you will want to look back and laugh at yourself,'' but that just wasn't a compelling argument, I guess.

POSTED IN: Brittany Wallman (160), Teen (158)

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Inexpensive babysitting options for single-parents looking to date

wine.jpgWhile dating can be fun, it can be expensive for single moms and dads who often have to hire a babysitter for the night. And it seems like no one has bought into my idea of having the date chip in for babysitting fees. (See earlier post)

Nevertheless my friends have shared with me some cool spots where they’ve been able to meet up with a date and have their children in good care without mortgaging their houses.

1. Cinemark Palace 20 movie theater in Boca Raton or Davie. (15601 Sheridan Street in Davie) or (3200 Airport Road in Boca Raton.) This theater is a cool spot for a date and it has a playroom for kids from 3 to 10 years old. The cost is a flat fee of $9 with proof that you’ve purchased movie tickets. At the Boca location there’s a restaurant upstairs for those who want to eat something and talk before or after the movie. The play area has toys, computers and a whole lot of other stuff to keep kids entertained.

2. Ikea store in Sunrise (151 Northwest 136th Avenue)
Who goes to a furniture store on a first date? Well, the great thing about Ikea is that there’s a dining center on premises and a play area they’ve dubbed “small land” where children can enjoy supervised play time. They only accept kids between 37 inches and 54 inches tall and they must be potty trained. Kids are only allowed to stay there for 45 minutes. But it’s free if you’re shopping there. And for parents looking for just a quick face-to face meet up with a prospective new mate talking while strolling around all that funky furniture may be a good way to do it.

3. Play Away Babysitting Center in Coral Springs (10387 Royal Palm Boulevard)
I have single mom friends who rave about this place. It’s seems to be the spot when they find themselves in a bind. It’s also a nice option for weekend date nights. They offer a fun place for kids ages 2 and up. And they’re open till 10:30 p.m. during the week and till midnight on Friday and Saturday. The fee is $8 per hour. With so many cool dining options in Coral Springs some can choose a date spot right near the center.


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May 14, 2010

Day care: Yes, no or maybe?

Here we go again. Another study that threatens to send my working mom guilt meter soaring.

(Read about it here.)

In the largest and longest study of its kind, the federally funded Early Child Care Research Network finds that at age 15, kids who spent long hours in day care at a young age are more impulsive and more prone to take risks than teens who spent their toddler years largely at home.

On the other hand, the study reinforces past findings that kids who have good-quality day care benefit academically.

The key seems to be quality of care. According to the LA Times, "Among the 1,364 children enrolled in the study, 60% were considered to have gotten child care of low to moderately low quality, and only 16% got care that was rated highly."

So now I'm replaying my kids' day care experiences, and looking at my 15-year-old for clues.

High quality care? Check
Academic achievement? Check
Impulsiveness? Maybe
Risk-taking? No.

My son went into day care at 3 months, my daughter at 5 months. I do wish they could have stayed home longer with me or my husband. And I wish their hours in day care were shorter.

But I'm happy with the quality of care they had. And I think children should have some kind of day care or preschool by age 2, at least part time. I just think kids gain so much: They learn how to share and tolerate others. They learn how to follow rules. They gain language skills.

I realize we could afford high-quality care, and not everyone can. If anything comes of this study, I hope it's a widespread effort to improve the quality of care, to raise standards for day care employees, and to make high quality care affordable.

If I had it to do all over again, I'd probably make the same choices. What do you think of day care?


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May 13, 2010

Breaking bad habits takes patience and good attitude

It happens to the best of parents: Over time -- as a result of exhaustion, frustration or both -- our children get away with behavior that we’re too tired to correct. Before you know it, you’re dealing with a kid who can only eat dinner while watching TV, goes to bed late and believes picking up toys is the equivalent of Chinese water torture (if only he knew what Chinese water torture really was).

Breaking bad habits can be painful for everyone involved. So from one parent to another, here are a few things I’m learning along the way that you might want to keep in mind to have any fighting chance of success:

Mom and Dad need to get on the same page. And do so on your own time – not in the midst of a situation. My son is only 5 years old and already has perfected the art of playing us against each other. Fortunately, he’s still at the age where he’ll announce what he’s doing before he’s actually doing it, so I can play interference a little more effectively before any real damage is done. It goes something like this:

“Time to pick up your toys,” I announce.
“But I don’t want to,” he says.
“Before you take out another toy, you’re going to have to put these away.”
“But they’re too heavy. I can’t pick them up.”
“I’ll help you with a few. Let’s go.”
“I’m going to ask Dad.” (Queue dragging feet.) “‘Dad, is it OK if I play with these toys?’”
“Of course. Maybe after we can play Wii,” my husband responds, oblivious to the situation.

Be consistent. If you really want meaningful results and a true change in habits, you must commit. No sense in having three straight nights of TV-free family dinners only to have the fourth night, in a moment of weakness, hosted by Dora the Explorer, as happened to us tonight. Now we have to start from scratch.

As much as possible, try to make it fun. I keep learning this the hard way. It takes more energy and patience on your part, but the payoff is so much bigger and better. After a week’s vacation when we recently had several out-of-town family members staying in our home, my son grew accustomed to staying up later than usual. Moving up bedtime again wasn’t easy. After a few failed attempts, I got creative. About 30 minutes before I knew I wanted him asleep, I asked my son if he wanted to have a late-night picnic in his bedroom. We brought fruit, snacks and a few toys to his room. Before he knew it, we were reading his bedtime story and off to sleep he went -- happily and seemingly on his own terms.

What works for you?

POSTED IN: Anne Vasquez (67)

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May 12, 2010

Differences in parenting styles can end friendships

My wife and I had some friends over recently for a play date, and as usual the house was utter mayhem. The parents were enjoying some social time, while the kids were swimming and playing on the swing set. As the evening started to wind down, the mosquitoes came out and forced everyone inside. The crowd started to thin, and the one family of kids that was left wandered into my daughter's room. Her room is a bit small and she has a lofted bed, which always makes me nervous when friends come over to play. I decided to stay close to the door to make random checks on behavior. Good thing I did.

About the fourth peek into the room I witnessed some of her friends preparing to leap from the lofted bed into a pile of pillows on the tile floor. I gave them a nice warning, telling them calmly that this was not acceptable and if it happened again they would not be able to play in her room any more. I walked away thinking I had solved the potential disaster. No luck.

Upon my next peek into the room, I came across the same scene with the same kids. I made good on my threat and kicked them all out of her room.

Since the hour was getting late and bedtimes were fast approaching, this move was enough to have the parents call it a night. We said our goodbyes, and put the kids to bed.

A few weeks go by, and my wife realizes that the friends who children were leaping off of my daughter's bed had "unfriended" us on Facebook. After seeing them post on another friend's wall, my wife asked them what had happened. She later received a long email explaining that they were extremely upset with me for "yelling at and touching their children". Wow. Talk about a wake up call.

This was a couple who I considered to be pretty good friends. We had been camping with them, plus many birthday parties and dinner dates. This was really unexpected, especially since I was searching my mind to try and figure out what I had done wrong.

As I replayed the events of that night back in my head, I remember working with my friend to corral our kids out of my daughter's bedroom. At one point I remember my friend saying "don't touch my kid" as I was guiding his son out, and I honestly thought he was kidding.

As they were packing up to go, I was helping him gather his things and get the kids to their minivan. The kids were ignoring their dad and started banging on our piano on their way out. I once again thought I was helping by steering the boys out the front door. This time the "Don't touch my kid!" was more firm, and I realized he wasn't kidding. I apologized and we said our goodbyes.

I guess my offenses were enough to end our friendship, but I'm honestly at a loss here. We regularly have large gatherings in our house with many kids, and it is not uncommon for any of the parents to have to do a little crowd control. I guess this is where parenting methods can lead to determining who you're most compatible with as a parent.

Have you ever ended a friendship over parenting styles?

POSTED IN: Chris Tiedje (51), Family Issues (231), Toddler (127)

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You want to go to a sleep-over WHERE?

Would you let your child have- or go -to a sleep-over slumber party?

At what age do you consider your child too young or too old for sleep-overs?

What if your 15 year old child was invited to a co-ed sleepover? Yep, I mean the kind where boys and girls will sleep in the same house – would you let yours go?

A very unscientific survey I conducted at work resulted in a nearly 50/50 split of pros and cons; from a resounding “absolutely not,” to “it depends on who would be going,” and “I did let my son.”

On one hand, why would a group of just girls be more trustworthy than a bunch of just boys at a sleep-over? And if parents overseeing the group of snoozers are the issue – wouldn’t those concerns and trust in that parent (s) to handle any situation: to be there, be alert and be involved be the same regardless of the mix?

And on the other hand, for as long as time remembered, parents have been setting boundaries – so, it’s OK for parents to say “No,” as well.

When it comes to our kids, everything has risks--from curfews, to safety on the road and in the home; to whom your kid hangs out with; to where they spend their time.

There is one thing I do know – regardless if the kids are hanging at the mall, going to a party, the beach, or a sleep-over-- you have to have the conversation -with your child, with his or her friends and with the parents. Rules have to be clearly conveyed. Frankly, I’d be about as nervous, maybe more, with my kid at a beach party.

At this point, I am not dead set against the idea of a co-ed sleep-over – I know the kids that will be there. Really, I see more positives than negatives – but I’m still in the discovery phase.

The girls will sleep upstairs at an upcoming sleep-over to which my son was invited. The boys will sleep downstairs. The mom of the invitee will be there. I’ll be calling her soon so we can talk about it.

I’m still wondering too – how is she going to get comfortable sleeping on those steps!

POSTED IN: Activities (143), Cindy Kent (78), Entertainment (114), Family Issues (231), General (185), Pre-Teen (57), Safety (59), Sex (16), Teen (158)

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Sex ed: Schools save sex ed for the end of the year, again

Don't you love the way our schools save sex ed for the end of the year?

My theory is that this timing minimizes the schools having to deal with parental complaints about the content of the curriculum. Any angry parent will likely cool off over the summer.

I got my seventh-grader's form allowing us to opt out of the teaching. I enjoyed reading what she will learn about: Puberty, personal hygiene, male and female reproductive systems, sexually transmitted diseases, and contraception, including "condoms, sponges, birth control pills, and natural family planning (scientific photographs are used)."

I wonder how many people choose not to have their kids participate. I could see them thinking seventh-graders are not ready for talk about sexually transmitted diseases and condoms, although most of us know that young teenagers are more sexually active than we want to admit.

POSTED IN: Lois Solomon (211)

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May 11, 2010

Tell your teen: Get a job - and good luck

Will your kid be working this summer?

For some families that’s not an option if Mom and/or Dad have lost their jobs - families will count on every family member to contribute in any way they can.

Teens might want to earn money for a car, auto insurance, college, or to jumpstart their career – or just earn some spending money.

So as if on cue and just in time – WorkForce One recently posted information on its website to help teenagers go through the process of job hunting.

WorkForce One provides assistance with access to a jobs information database, job placement services and career coaching, on the Internet and at resource centers throughout Broward County. Business services include employee training dollars, recruitment and placement assistance and applicant screening and testing.

According to Workforce One, each summer, thousands of Broward County teens are on the hunt. And, says WorkForce One, though the unemployment rate for teens is typically greater than overall unemployment, up to five times higher - in Broward County and throughout Florida, teens are competing with much more experienced and educated jobseekers than in past decades.

Teens might even be in competition for jobs with their own parents who are out of work.

Additionally, regardless of the economy, teens also find themselves confronting a series of “firsts.

Teens will experience their first interview. They’ll write their first resume. And if they’re lucky, they’ll get their first paycheck.

WorkForce One posted its “Top Ten List for Teens: Finding a Summer Job” covering resume writing, job search methods and interviewing skills.

Teens will learn what information they should include on their resume. They’ll get guidance on how to fill out an application, how to dress for an interview and how to behave.

What job-hunting advice have you given your teen?

Would you or your teen consider a summer volunteer position as valuable experience or would it be a waste of their time?

Follow Cindy Kent on @mindingyourbiz

Photo credit: Flicker - Skokie Public Library 2010 Teen Job Fair

POSTED IN: Cindy Kent (78), Teen (158)

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May 10, 2010

Breastfeeding a dilemma for some super healthy moms

I’m feeling it for a friend of mine. She just had a baby girl. Her little bundle of joy is only a few days old.

My girlfriend is an organic buff who practically lives at Whole Foods. She bought only organic clothes for the baby. She was the first one to introduce me to organic baby oil for moms.

Nowadays though, her dilemma is that while she planned to breastfeed all along, her breasts aren’t producing enough milk and the doctor has recommended that she supplement with formula.

She’s not alone. A lot of women realize after their child is born that breastfeeding can be difficult. Not every new mom is able to fill bottles upon bottles with breast milk in the beginning. It takes time for babies to latch on. And pumping can seem like torture.

Making it worst, some family members stress new moms out even more by pressuring them to give the baby more and more formula rather than encouraging breastfeeding.

I recommended my friend meet with her lactation specialist to get some more tips.
I begged her not to stress out, since stress can only hinder the ability to breastfeed even more.
And I warned her that it’s going to take some patience.

She started researching organic baby formula. But we both know it doesn’t get more organic than breastfeeding.

POSTED IN: Georgia East (44), Health (111), Pregnancy (31)

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May 6, 2010

Retention: A gift of time

Maggie Cary, a national board certified teacher has been an educator for more than 17 years. She is certified in secondary education and holds a master’s degree in early childhood education.

maggiecary2.jpgOver the years she has mentored countless teachers and advised hundreds of parents. Cary has taught children from preschool through high school. She also offers classroom advice on website Classroom Talk.

It’s that time of year when some parents will be hearing the words that they just don’t want to hear, “Your child needs to be retained and repeat the school year.” For most it shouldn’t be a surprise. The teacher has mentioned in conferences, phone calls and notes home that the student is working below grade level and not keeping up with his peers.Most parents accept the idea when they are convinced that retention is in the best interests of their child. However, many other parents remain in denial about their child’s abilities, or are afraid that he’ll be teased by other children for being “held back.”

In some grades parents don’t have a choice, retention is based on test scores and/or achieving minimum standard for promotion. In those grades where retention is not mandatory, it’s been my experience that teachers are the best judges of academic ability and the benefits of retaining a child. Most of the time the teachers have at least a year of observing the child’s academic experience and an arsenal of test scores to support the position of retention. While I believe the teacher’s recommendation is probably almost always correct, parents are not expected to blindly follow a teacher’s suggestion without some explanation and discussion.

A conference in which retention is thoroughly explored should be held with the parents, the primary teacher, and perhaps other school support personnel. A parent should feel free to ask, and have answered, any and all questions they have regarding this issue. Here are examples of the types of questions you might include in your discussion:

What are our child’s test scores in comparison to the rest of the students? Where does he fit in?

Do you think our child needs to be screened for a learning disability?

In the primary grades consider your child’s age and social and physical maturity. Is our child younger or older than the other kids? Is he larger or smaller than average? How does he interact socially with the other children?

Is our child below grade level in one subject or more?

Would some additional help over the summer or during the upcoming school year be a better alternative?

If you are not sure that retention is the right thing after your conference, don’t just summarily dismiss the idea, but tell the teacher you’d like a little more time to think about and/or discuss the issue with the child’s other parent. But don’t discuss your feelings in front of your child and remain calm and reasoned about the issue in your discussion with the other parent.

Although retention may be a difficult decision for you, remember that it may well be the best thing you can do for your child. Kids that are struggling academically often become class leaders when they repeat a grade. Any issues your retained child may have with self-esteem are soon forgotten, especially if your child succeeds and becomes a leader in his new class. Alternatively, it is heartbreaking to see a child that is struggling being promoted to the next grade at the parent’s insistence. That child is probably set up to fail from the first day of the next school year, and they probably know it.

If it helps you to decide, try to think of retention as a gift to your child, a gift of time. Someone much more eloquent than I said that life is a journey not a race, and this is especially true when it comes to the social, emotional and academic development of a child. If you decide that retention is in fact a good idea, be direct and honest about the reasons with your child. Even if you have mixed emotions, do not show disappointment or reveal any negative feelings you may harbor. The way parents respond to a teacher’s suggestion of retention often color the experience in a positive or negative way and can have a dramatic effect on their child’s self esteem. Be ready for any reaction, but you might even be surprised that your child is relieved by the decision.

POSTED IN: Guest Post (79)

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Mother's Day gifts moms really want

My husband loves gadgets. If it runs on batteries, plugs into a wall or lights up in any fashion, he is smitten. Nothing makes him happier than to open a box of new electronic equipment. This is what happens when you’re married to a consumer columnist.

The problem? His love of tech can taint his gift buying. For this Mother’s Day, he came up with a list of gadgets husbands can buy for their wives, the mother of their wonderful children.

But with all due respect, Mr. Consumer, I don’t want a gadget for Mother’s Day. How ‘bout peace and tranquility at home while you take the kiddos to the zoo? I’ll settle for ice cream. Just enough time for me to sleep in past 6:30 a.m., take a shower without being interrupted and eat a breakfast that consists of more than a frosted-covered Pop Tart.


If I want a smart phone, an iPod or even a digital camera, I’ll budget it into my household expenses and buy it. A true gift – especially one that commemorates all that we mothers do, often without any recognition – doesn’t have to come with an instruction manual. It doesn’t even have to be expensive. Get creative husbands of the world!

I’m here to help. Here is my list of Mother’s Day presents that should make many moms happy this Sunday. I’d love to hear your list:

Take on some additional chores for a week or, if you’re really ambitious, a month. That means washing the dishes and making dinner with a smile. It means doing ALL of the laundry. Not just throwing some clothes in the wash, adding detergent and calling it a night. You dry; you fold; you put away. And please don’t expect brownie points or leverage for getting out of doing other things later on.

Do something fun with the kids, and give Mom some time to lounge around the house. It’s not about keeping the kids away all day. Too much time apart from their kids and many moms will start to feel guilty. But having time that is all our own is truly a gift – and rare. Note to husbands: The key here is doing something “fun” with the kids. Not just falling asleep on the couch while the kids find ways to entertain themselves.

Consider a spa day or gift certificate if you’re going to spend some money. Take the extra step of making the appointment for that special woman in your life and making the necessary arrangements with the kids. Take the planning out of her hands. Book the massage, the pedicure, the hair styling. You might even consider a date night to end the day.

Do all of the above. Do that, and you’ll have one very happy Mom.

POSTED IN: Anne Vasquez (67)

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May 5, 2010

Proof that I am officially a desperate housewife

Guest blogger Jenny Isenman is a freelance writer/humor columnist and wiper of noses, tushies and countertops. She has two perfect children, a boy who is 7 and a girl who is 4.

She has a fabulously funny and relatable Suburban Jungle blog: It May Be Suburbia, But it's a Jungle Out There.

My five year old little flower has a tendency to be a bit… Valley Girl. I don’t know if it’s all the Bratz movies influencing her to make phone calls that start with OMG and end with TTYL, but it’s something. I certainly don’t handle calls to my friends that way, though I did tend to write SWAK on the back of every letter I sent from camp. Whatever the cause, the attitude has made giving her any kind of lesson, or even the smallest smidgen of constructive criticism near impossible. As she was nearing five, I decided it was time to teach her how to swim. I live in Florida, so this is an endeavor that I started at the Y when she was six months old. At that time, she bawled so hysterically that I decided she didn’t need to be a SoFla water-baby like my neighbors’ kids, who could swim across the pool to be breast fed. No, my daughter was destined to be a landlubber. We tried again and again. We took classes.

We even switched instructors and offered rewards for a tear free lesson. Our last instructor promised the screaming wouldn’t bother her. “It happens,” she said. After two lessons she took her check, and on departure whispered, “Maybe this one’s not meant for the water.” decided one day it would click, and vowed to keep the baby fence around the pool until she left for college.

Then I got an email. One of the amazing things about being a famous blogger is that people will email you with their products and ideas I usually say “No thanks,” though there’s a local cupcake store that may get a plug sometime soon if their red velvets are really as good as they claim. This request, however, was from a woman who was the owner of S.W.I.M., an instructional swimming program, and she asked if I’d like to try them out. I candidly told her that if she could teach my daughter to swim, I would scream their name from the mountaintops. If the lessons failed, well, “No pay for you.” Yes, I said it in the soup Nazi voice. It’s a crowd pleaser.

She showed up at my house with more paperwork than any person about to get wet should be carrying. She was ready to rate my little one’s ability, and chart her goals on a timetable. When we were all done with the written exam, she checked to see if the swim instructor was nearby.

“Aren’t you the swim instructor?” I casually asked. “No, Mr. Jeff will be here any minute.”

Well unless Mr. Jeff is a girl, which seems highly unlikely, we might have a problem. The only thing my daughter hates more than being told how to do something, is being told how to do something by a boy. She pretty much just started acknowledging my husband in the last few days.

“Soooo, you may want to pop on a bikini,” I reasoned.

“Don’t worry. Mr. Jeff is great with the kids. That’s him now.”

As I walked to the door I continued to protest, “I’m just a little nervous about Mr. Je…HELLO Mr. Jeff! Yes, sure…of course. We can totally give Mr. Jeff a try. I mean he came all the way out here, I’d hate to turn him away.”

Yes, I know what you’re thinking, and it’s true. So, my daughter took her hour lesson and by the end, I felt $45 was a fair price of admission. Not admission into where your minds are going, the $45 was purely for the swimming lessons. When was the last time I enjoyed watching some twentysomething hottie disrobe? Maybe when I was 20ish, though I don’t remember drooling quite as much. As I observed from my lounge chair, sipping a frozen margarita (ok, it was iced green tea… I need the extra anti-oxidants at my age), it dawned on me that I was officially a desperate housewife.

What does this mean? Will I start buying drinks for guys with a lift of my glass and a wink?

Will I buy a convertible to fight the urge to chat up people half my age, or at the very least, to impress them?

The only thing that would be more cliché about this scenario, is if Jeff was cleaning my
pool instead of swimming in it.

So, I decided maybe this was the bad idea I originally thought it was. Luckily, my daughter chose this moment to start noticing boys. She was totally smitten; she liked the way he joked around, and how Jeff sang swim songs as they traveled around the pool. I think she was even partial to his blue eyes and defined pecs. No wait…that was me.

For weeks every Tuesday and Thursday, I sat myself on the lawn chair, sipped my tea, and convinced myself that Mr. Jeff was clearly gay. Coincidentally, my outfits may have gotten skimpier as I gradually came to this conclusion. I didn’t even want anything to happen. No, like any aging Mom, who often feels like a hot twentysomething, I wanted to be noticed. Maybe get a,“Gee, Miss Jenny, it sure is hot out here. Could I have some of that there tea?”


Did I make him sound a little too Forest Gump?

The swimming lessons were supposed to make me feel more secure, but somehow they had the opposite effect. In the end, Mr. Jeff taught Ryan how to swim, possibly in too short of a time if you ask me. He never gave me any sense that I was desirable, though he did say my friends could get $5 off each lesson. In my mind, I’m sure he meant this as code for, “You are one hot MOMMA!” or “I’m quite gay.” Either way, next week I’m scouting out a new lawn guy.

P.S. If you’re in South Florida and interested in swim lessons for a child: Tell them you’re a friend of Jenny From the Blog for $5 off each lesson. If you don’t contact them, make sure you’re informed about water safety.

POSTED IN: Guest Post (79)

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Open hearts, open homes

ChildNet is the private, not for profit organization created to manage the child welfare system in Broward County. Our mission is to protect Broward County’s abused, abandoned and neglected children. ChildNet directly provides case management, independent living and adoption services. We also ensure the delivery of a comprehensive local system of care by subcontracting with more than 30 social service agencies to provide a full array of child welfare services. For more information about fostering, adopting or helping abused children contact ChildNet at (954) 414-6000 or visit

mariah2010.jpgMariah is an eight-year-old bilingual Haitian girl who speaks and understands English and Creole. She is an affectionate and loving child who loves to socialize with other children. Mariah’s is a bubbly extrovert who is known to initiate friendly conversation within minutes of meeting a new friend. Her lively personality sometime distracts her from staying on task and working independently but with gentle redirection and guidance she can complete projects. Mariah would flourish in a home where she would be the youngest child. She needs a family that will go the extra mile to help her heal from her past struggles and history of abuse.

For more information about Mariah or other children available for adoption, contact ChildNet at (954) 414-6001 or visit

Check out more photos and bios of local children available for adoption by visiting The Heart Gallery of Broward County’s exhibit at the Miramar Town Center (City Hall & Library),

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Should we patronize killer whale show at SeaWorld?

I'm not too excited about my daughter seeing the killer whale show today at SeaWorld Orlando.

We had signed up for our elementary school's fifth-grade trip before the 12,000-pound whale, Tilikum, killed Dawn Brancheau, his trainer, in February.

The killing gave me a new perspective on what a life of confinement must be like for the mammoth orcas. I decided not to patronize SeaWorld. But what about my kid?

I don't know which performing whale she will see or if SeaWorld has changed its policies since the death. But I'll remind her of what happened there and hope she realizes that the animals she observes are not in their natural habitats, although the park makes it seem like they are.

Photo by Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda/Orlando Sentinel

POSTED IN: Lois Solomon (211)

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May 4, 2010

Rubber-band bracelets banned from at least one school


They've gotten too big.

Rubber-band bracelets have caused so much commotion at schools that at least one middle school has banned them.

Known as "Silly Bandz," Crazy Bandz and Zanybandz, they look like colorful plain rubber bands around children's wrists, but take unique shapes when they are removed.

But starting Wednesday at Omni Middle School in Boca Raton, they'll be confiscated.

Principal PJ D'Aoust e-mailed parents saying "These novelty items have created a disturbance on campus and have also become a safety concern in a number of ways."

Some kids are putting them around their necks, some are snapping other students with them and others "using them as projectiles and stingers," his e-mail said.

I generally roll my eyes at what I perceive as over-regulation -- as a volunter elementary school nurse I once sent a kid back to class with a spider bite -- but in this case, I'm with the principal. It's an easy decision: if an object is getting in the way of school and it's causing problems, it's administration's job to remove it.

Meanwhile, other schools are using them as fund-raisers and teachers dole them out as rewards.

I'm curious if bans are in place at other schools, though.

Anyone else get an e-mail?

POSTED IN: Toys (15)

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May 3, 2010

Children's Tylenol, Motrin recall wiped out my medicine cabinet

I threw away more than $50 worth of children's medication this weekend. In case you missed it: McNeil Consumer Healthcare recalled more than 40 infant and children's medications late Friday.

This includes Infant Tylenol, Children's Tylenol, Children's Motrin and Children's Benadryl. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is now investigating.

What's the problem? Here's the answer straight from McNeil's website: "Some of the products included in the recall may contain a higher concentration of active ingredient than is specified; others may contain inactive ingredients that may not meet internal testing requirements; and others may contain tiny particles. "

Not only did I give my son several doses of Children's Tylenol about a week ago (from a bottle on the recall list), but I also had several unopened bottles that I had to toss into the garbage. My children's medicine cabinet is now empty.

Before you purchase your next dose of children's medicine, be sure to take this recall list with you. It includes all of the affected lot numbers, which is a number that usually looks something like this: NDC-50580-143-30

POSTED IN: Anne Vasquez (67)

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Tuesday is Teacher Appreciation Day -- Don't forget!

There's one thing you cannot forget if you want your child to do well in school.

It's not homework, it's not getting eight hours of sleep, it's not eating a balanced breakfast.

It's remembering that Tuesday, May 4, is Teacher Appreciation Day.

That means you should send flowers, or a note of thanks, a gift certificate, extra classroom supplies, or cookies. (If your child is one who causes problems in the class, the teacher might not trust home-baked foods from you, so better to buy something packaged.)

Teaching kids is a tough task. This is the day to say thanks.

POSTED IN: Brittany Wallman (160)

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Get ready South Florida ... Mom is going out!

Maria Bailey, CEO of BSM Media, speaks to over 8 million moms a month in print,online and on radio. She is the author of “Marketing to Moms: Getting Your Share of the Trillion Dollar Market”, “Trillion Dollar Moms: Marketing to a New Generation of Mothers” and “Mom 3.0: Marketing with Today’s Mothers By Leveraging New Media and Technology”. Bailey also writes for several parenting publications such as OC Parent and Pregnancy Magazine. She has been featured in Business Week, Parenting, Child and O magazines as well on CNN, CNBC and World News Tonight. You can hear more from Maria at and

mariabailey100.jpgThis Thursday, May 6th, moms everywhere will have the opportunity to take a well-deserved break during National Mom’s Nite Out. I’m so excited to be a part of this event as millions of women gather in person and online to celebrate motherhood. In its second year, this national celebration was born out of the idea that most mothers I knew were too busy planning Mother’s Day celebrations for their own grandmothers, mothers, mothers-in-law and aunts.

National Mom's Nite Out was planned to give busy moms an excuse to take the night off on the Thursday before the official Mother’s Day holiday. Last year’s inaugural event drew millions of women to enjoy food, entertainment, prizes and socializing. Even Moms who couldn’t attend an event were able to enjoy the parties through a live stream on and a Twitter tweet-up.

This year will be even better. Through the planning and participation of 150 social media groups, companies, local playgroups, mommy bloggers and social networks, we expect over 11 million moms to enjoy a variety of activities at malls, hotels, restaurants and homes. Once again, the online party will also be in full swing through Twitter #MomsNiteOut and on

Terrific sponsors are hosting parties and giving away prizes, including Simon Malls, My Little Pony, Little Debbie’s, Children’s Orchard, Lands’ End and Dove chocolates (can’t wait for the chocolate). I love this one: Pizza Hut is offering gift cards to take care of dinner for 100 families while Mom is out for the night. Dads and caregivers won’t even have to cook!

In our area, four Simon Malls and the MOMS Club of Coral Springs are hosting events. Simon Malls are providing a great social networking opportunity with interactive activities, live demonstrations, special discounts, giveaways and more. The list of participating Simon Malls and the MOMS event include:

- Boynton Beach Mall, Boynton (6:00pm – 8:00pm)
- Coral Square, Coral Springs (6:00pm – 8:00pm)
- Coconut Point, Estero (6:00 pm – 8:30pm)
- Dadeland Mall, Miami (6:00 pm- 8:00 pm)
- America’s Backyard in downtown Fort Lauderdale will be the spot for local moms to gather with the MOMS Club of Coral Springs, from 5-9 p.m. at 200 W. Broward Blvd. Call (954) 449-1044 for information.

I hope you can take the night off to celebrate National Mom’s Nite Out. For more information, and to let your “mom friends” across the US know about events in their area, go to While visiting the website, take a look and listen to the Mom’s Nite Out music video, written and performed by Laura Roppe. Roppe, a San Diego, California-based mom and musician has partnered with Mom’s Nite Out to offer the song as an anthem to Moms everywhere.

For information on National Mom’s Nite Out event locations, sponsors, and online events, visit

Follow National Mom’s Nite Out on these media channels:



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Guns and kids in the home

The best advice I ever got on handling a gun is to always assume it's loaded and never point it at a human being you do not intend to kill.

Years ago I wrote a story about two children who died while swimming in a pool as a thunderstorm approached. It appeared lightning struck the pool, electrocuting the children. The story mentioned the dangers of swimming under such conditions and raised the issue that responsible, adult supervision might have helped avert this tragedy.

One reader contacted me, furious that I would blame the parents for what happened and make their heartbreak that much worse. The accusation caught me off guard, because I had no intention of insulting anyone. Two children were dead, and there was a clear lesson that could be drawn from the circumstances that could prevent other deaths. I would like to think that a parent, under such circumstances, would want to honor their children by making sure others learned from their tragedy.

DannyT.jpgI thought about that incident while I wondered how to share my thoughts about guns in homes where children live. The recent accidental shooting death of Apollo Middle School student Daniel Torres provides us with another opportunity to learn something and pass it on to others, at the risk of sounding insensitive to the suffering of a family going through the most painful experience I can imagine.

There is no insentiviity intended. The death of Daniel Torres is a horrible tragedy, and it's a tragedy we can learn from, whether or not you choose to have a gun in a house where children live.

Those who most vigorously oppose the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms may believe, mistakenly, that refusing to allow a gun in your house reduces your need to teach gun safety to your kids. The NRA doesn't share this view, and I think I see where they're coming from.

This is from their web page on gun safety tips for parents:

According to federal statistics, there are guns in approximately half of all U.S. households. Even if no one in your family owns a gun, chances are that someone you know does. Your child could come in contact with a gun at a neighbor's house, when playing with friends, or under other circumstances outside your home.

It is critical for your child to know what to do if he or she encounters a firearm anywhere, and it is the parents' responsibility to provide that training.

Please, this is not the time to argue about the Second Amendment. Some people think the right to keep and bear arms is as sacred as freedom of religion. Others think the Second Amendment is as archaic today as the often-ignored Seventh Amendment. You're not going to change each other's mind very easily. Whether you despise the NRA or are a card-carrying member, stop and look at this advice, because YOU may not have a gun in your home, but if you live in Florida, one of your friends or neighbors probably does.

POSTED IN: Rafael Olmeda 2010 (42)

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About the authors
Gretchen Day-Bryant has a son in high school and a daughter in middle school. She’s lived to tell about the struggles of juggling little kids and work.
Joy Oglesby has a preschooler...
Cindy Kent Fort Lauderdale mother of three. Her kids span in ages from teenager to 20s.
Rafael Olmeda and his wife welcomed their first son in Feb. 2009, and he's helping raise two teenage stepdaughters.
Lois Solomonlives with her husband and three daughters.
Georgia East is the parent of a five-year-old girl, who came into the world weighing 1 pound, 13 ounces.
Brittany Wallman is the mother of Creed, 15, and Lily, 7, and is married to a journalist, Bob Norman. She covers Broward County government, which is filled with almost as much drama as the Norman household. Almost.
Chris Tiedje is the Social Media Coordinator and the father of a 7-year-old girl, and two boys ages 4 and 3.
Kyara Lomer Camarena has a 2-year-old son, Copelan, and a brand new baby.

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