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South Florida parents share their stories and advice

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October 31, 2011

Do you regret your child's name?

A British survey found that more than 8 percent of parents regret the name they gave their child.

I can’t say I’m surprised. There are many among us who thought we had a one of a kind names picked out for our daughter or son only to learn the first day of school that there were three or four others in the same class!

Or worst yet, some celebrity with the same name as your precious little one surface, leaving big shoes to fill.

A mom recently posted in a Jamaican newspaper that she regretted naming her child Beyonce because it elicits raised eyebrows and smirks.

The survey on name regret was done by

According to the survey, girls names to avoid include: Apple, Chardonnay, Peaches and Madonna. Boys names included: Beckam, Axl, Kai, Kester, Jordan and Joaquin.

POSTED IN: Family Issues (231), Georgia East (44), Toddler (127)

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October 26, 2011

Advice from a veteran bat mitzvah mom

Sigh of relief: My youngest daughter just had her bat mitzvah! That means no more Torah tutoring sessions, rehearsals or draining our bank account for a nice party.

After three bat mitzvahs, I've learned a few things beyond the party-planning basics.

1. Seat older people away from the dance floor so they can hear each other above the music. We asked our deejay to lower the music a few times but it was still too loud.
2. No need to order special kids' food. We had one buffet for everyone and the kids loved the bagels, salads, chicken and pasta dishes.
3. Bring a bag or box to put gifts in. I don't think any of our gifts got lost, but we didn't have a good collection system.
4. I gave in and bought socks for all the girls to wear on the dance floor (they all take off their shoes and expect the hosts to offer socks). All the girls put them on immediately, so I guess it was a worthwhile purchase.
5. Expensive party favors are a waste. How many sweatshirts does a kid need? I bought these personalized mints and put them at each place setting and they were a big hit.

Please feel free to add to my list!

POSTED IN: Lois Solomon (211)

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October 24, 2011

Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon's babies are all kinds of adorbs

Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon sat down with Barbara Walters on Oct. 18 to talk about their 6-month-old twins Roc and Roe, their marriage, and their work. The 20/20 special will air 10 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28.

But who cares about why they are chatting with the Stalwart of Talk. I just want to see more pictures of the twins Roc (short for Moroccan) and Roe (short for Monroe). They are all kinds of adorable.

Just look at them!!

And here are the twins with M & Nick. I get to call her M because we go way back to "Vision of Love" days. Don't hate.


Top photo credit: Fresh Air Fund/Getty Images

Bottom photo credit: Reuters/Donna Svennevik/ABC/Handout


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October 19, 2011

Alert! College info fair is today at convention center in Broward

Just in case your child did not inform you, and you didn't listen to your robo-calls from the Broward School District, here's some breaking news:

Today and today only, Wednesday, Oct. 19, you can go to the Broward Convention Center in east Fort Lauderdale and pick up a lot of college information.collegefair.jpg

The college fair is free, and many, many, many colleges in Florida and other states are represented.

Here's a website about it:

I picked up materials from University of Florida, University of Chicago, University of Central Florida, Florida State University, the University of Georgia, etcetera.

There were representatives from federal student aid and loan programs, and applications for the SAT and ACT. Every kind of college info you need as a parent, I think, was there.

The fair resumes from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. tonight. It went on this morning from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Tonight there are workshops for parents, starting at 5:30 p.m. I'll be attending a workshop on financial aid and Bright Future Scholarship Programs, (5:30, 6:30 and 7:30 workshops) but there are workshops about how to get into highly competitive colleges (7:15 p.m.), and how to navigate the application process if you're a first generation college student (6:15 p.m., with Haitian-Creole and Spanish translations). Also available tonight: Making your college search count (5:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m.), Financial Aid en Espanol, 5:15 p.m., 7;15 p.m.) and in English, 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and Hot Jobs and Majors, 6:30 p.m. Lastly, there is Becas, en Espanol, at 6:15 p.m.

The fair is free. You'll pay for parking. I was there an hour and paid $3.

The convention center is off 17th Street. Don't forget, you'll have to go through Port Everglades security. Bring a photo ID. Directions are on the jump page.

From the convention center website:

From the North or South: Take I-95 or Florida's Turnpike and Exit at 595 East. Exit at US 1 North and proceed to S.E. 17th St. East on S.E. 17th St. to Eisenhower Blvd. Turn right on Eisenhower. Follow signs to the Convention Center.portentry.jpg

The Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention and meeting facility is located at the northern end of Port Everglades. Security checkpoints exist at all entrances to Port Everglades. All visitors must present valid government-issued identification. For further details, visit the Port Everglades website at

POSTED IN: Brittany Wallman (160)

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October 18, 2011

Class size goals reached at expense of high school kids

I laughed when I saw this headline: "Class size success declared for Palm Beach County schools."

The schools may have reached the goal of the new Florida law, which requires small classes only in certain grades and courses. But the law ballooned class sizes everywhere else, including some required classes in high school and the vaunted AP classes, which high schools urge their students to take to boost their prestige.

I looked at the list of more than 500 classes exempt from the law. Every foreign language is there, as are lots of math and social studies classes. Then there's my personal pet peeve: Earth and Space Science, which my high school freshman takes, which has 37 kids in it. How can the state require a class and then fill it to bursting and expect the kids to do well on their beloved FCATs?

I voted in the last election, along with the majority of Floridians, to keep the class-size limits voters had approved in 2002, which require high school classes to have up to 25 kids. Despite the budget problems of our state, I think our legislators need to respect this vote of their constituents.

POSTED IN: Lois Solomon (211)

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October 17, 2011

Having second-thoughts about that smart phone?

I know there are apps that would allow you to track your teenager as he journeys from one forbidden place to another. And a wise parent can log into their children's Facebook pages and spend hours upon hours reading things that will keep them from ever sleeping again without a prescription medicine.

But do you ever have second thoughts about all those electronic devices?

My colleague Paula McMahon would like to talk to people or families from Broward or Palm Beach counties who use a lot of electronic devices like iPhones or other smart phones, DVRs, store loyalty cards, Facebook, Twitter or other services that record information about where they go, what they like to do and what they buy.

If you’re willing to be interviewed for a story about related privacy concerns or you think the convenience and fun of these devices and services outweighs the potential hassles, please contact Paula McMahon at 954-356-4533 or

POSTED IN: Brittany Wallman (160)

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October 11, 2011

Should teachers force kids to say Pledge of Allegiance?

One of my seventh-grader's teachers monitors every face in his class to make sure each is enunciating the Pledge of Allegiance every morning.


Those with insufficient enthusiasm get yelled at as he details the sacrifices of America's veterans for the children's freedom. It's the same speech every day, according to my daughter, and does not make them more patriotic.

I knew there were lots of lawsuits over students being forced to say the pledge, so I decided to check what the latest developments were. In 2005, a Boynton Beach High School student refused to say the pledge and got kicked out of class. He sued the school district and the state. A judge ruled the 1942 Florida law requiring students to recite the pledge was unconstitutional, but an appeals court disagreed, and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case. The law allows an opt-out with parental permission. The student negotiated a settlement with Palm Beach County schools that no student is required to say the pledge, but this seems to conflict with the state law.

More recently, the state Department of Education has wrestled with whether kids who have permission not to say it should sit down or stand up while others recite it.

I have never understood the point of the Pledge. It does not make anyone more enthusiastic about being American. It doesn't make people appreciate democracy. It doesn't prevent treason. If you don't believe in God, you are forced to say you do. All the discussions I found online in support of the pledge offer rah-rah patriotism and "if you don't love America, leave it"-type arguments.

So it may be legal to force the kids to recite the words each morning. But is it moral?

Photo: Flickr/Just Some Dust's Photostream

POSTED IN: Lois Solomon (211)

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October 5, 2011

Gluten-free kids: What should they eat at our party?

There is so much awareness today about celiac disease, the inability to process foods with glutens, including pasta, pizza crust, bread, cake and cookies. People with celiac can get really sick if they have any contact with these products.

Still, I was taken aback when a parent sought assurance that we would have gluten-free foods for her celiac daughter at our upcoming bat mitzvah. Our menu is already set, so I wasn't sure what I needed to do to accommodate her.

I asked my friend Debbie, whose 12-year-old daughter must eat gluten-free. She said that by the time kids are pre-teens, they know which foods they can eat and shouldn't need too many special accommodations.

"You either send food with them, or you find something to eat at the party or you don't eat," Debbie said. "The problem is cross-contamination. You think it's OK to eat the spinach dip, but someone sticks a piece of bread in it and then someone with celiac can't eat it."

As for me, I told the parent we would have chicken, salads and ice cream and hoped these were gluten-safe. I also spoke to our caterer, who said she would be glad to tell our guest which foods are OK for her and even make up a special plate if needed. So the problem was solved more easily than I thought it would be.

POSTED IN: Lois Solomon (211)

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October 3, 2011

High school parents: Writing a lightning story

So, Broward High School football season has had more bad lightning luck this year than any in recent memory, with games postponed or delayed and all kinds of havoc.

Looking to talk to a few parents about their experiences; I'm gathering string for a quick daily story.

Email me at if you have some thoughts or experiences to share, and include a callback phone number, please.


POSTED IN: Sports (29)

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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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