Moms & Dads: Stories, tips, and advice on raising your kids from South Florida parents | Sun Sentinel blogs

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South Florida parents share their stories and advice

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November 30, 2011

Radiation: Why I choose the patdown at airports

This story today confirmed my decision to get patted down at airports rather than get irradiated by people who promise it won't harm me.bodyscan.jpg

European airports have banned body scanners because studies have linked them to cancer in small numbers of people. The TSA continues to defend the technology.

Everyone knows radiation in the atmosphere hits us every day and there is little we can do about it. On top of that, we get dental X-rays, orthodontic scans, cell phone radiation and other potential waves that we can reject if we choose. Radiologists say it accumulates in our bodies over the course of a lifetime.

When I flew for Thanksgiving, I asked for a patdown instead of going through the scanner at Fort Lauderdale's airport. The TSA guard assured me I wouldn't be seen naked; I told him I was more concerned about the radiation. He told me I get more in my cellphone, but called for the female attendant to pat me down. It was definitely intrusive but hopefully lessened my exposure to future cancers.

Photo courtesy Transportation Security Administration

POSTED IN: Lois Solomon (211)

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My visit to Aldi for no-frills food shopping

Publix has spoiled me. Employees in each department say hello and ask if I need help. They lead me to the product I'm looking for. They search the store for paper bags if I don't want plastic. They pack up my bags and offer to take them to the car.supermarket.jpg

So a visit to the new Aldi supermarket in Delray Beach, a no-frills chain opening several stores in South Florida, was quite jarring. But I actually liked it and plan to return.

Aldi keeps prices low by having few employees, private-label brands and charging for things like carts and bags. As I entered the store, I couldn't figure out why the carts were chained together. I finally asked a customer, who explained you have to put a quarter into the cart, which releases the lock. You get the quarter back when you return the cart.

This was weird, but I did it and went into the store. It was small, about half the size of a typical Publix and very quiet. I didn't recognize any of the brands on the shelves and headed for the grocery section. I found good-looking red and yellow peppers (two for $1.99, an excellent price), apples, carrots, tangerines, avocados, tomatoes and blueberries ($1.99 for a small container; Publix charged me $3 the day before).

I got a kick out of the checkout line. The cashier put all my items back into my cart without bagging them for me. Now that's no-frills shopping!

Aldi, with five stores in South Florida, only takes cash or debit cards; no coupons or credit cards. Returning my cart was a pain because I had parked far from the store, so I had to walk my groceries to the car and then walk the cart all the way back so I could get back my quarter. In a Publix lot, I would have had the luxury of leaving the cart for an employee to fetch.

Photo: Flickr/rvacapinta

POSTED IN: Lois Solomon (211)

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November 29, 2011

Showering at the beach: Do you let the kids do it?

Ugh, this story is one of my worst nightmares. The other nightmare centers around a man in a rubber suit (but that's another story for another time.)

A Coral Springs man is accused of videotaping young children, mostly naked 5-year-old girls, at the beach as they showered.

When it's time to rinse off there is usually an elaborate dance of me rinsing off my 4-year-old daughter while keeping her clothes on, or her dad holding up a towel, or me stripping off her top and slipping on a dress before rinsing her bottom.

How far do you go to shield your kid when rinsing off in public at the pool or beach?

Here's the video of John Jefferson Field's appearance in bond court on Nov. 29, 2011:

POSTED IN: Joy Oglesby (134)

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November 28, 2011

The gift of communication

By Jennifer Jhon

When my son was an infant, he made the cutest baby sounds, most starting with “da.”

One day, instead of crying in his crib, he wailed out a string of un-intelligible syllables, and I laughed. “He’s yelling at us,” I told my husband. “I can’t wait until he talks!”

My friends and acquaintances would smile when I talked about wanting my son to speak. “He’ll start soon, and then you won’t be able to shut him up” they all said.

That “soon” turned out to be further away than we expected.

At first, we didn’t think much of it. He used a few words: mommy, daddy, car, plane. He could identify the pictures in his bedtime stories: cat, dog, one, two, etc. So we thought his not talking might be a boy thing.

But after he turned 2, people started to comment. When I picked him up from Sunday school one day, my son said “mommy,” and a school worker who had been working with him for weeks said “Oh, he talks!”

As my son’s 3rd birthday approached, everyone was getting concerned. His preschool noted his speech and behavior issues and sent us off for testing, a lengthy process that we still have not completed.

But we made a vital discovery right away: My son had hearing loss due to a buildup of fluid in his ears.

It was good news. It explained why my son ignored most commands, and the fluid buildup was something that could be corrected.
Since we got tubes in his ears two months ago, my son’s progress has been dramatic. My husband and I have been thrown back into the “wow, look at my kid” phase that most parents experienced at age 1.

My husband asked my son a few weeks ago where his shoes were, and my son said “I don’t know.” My husband and I looked at each other and beamed. “Did you hear that!?”

We share those moments 2-3 times a week now, just amazed at what our son is able to communicate. He has even started singing in the house, which he rarely used to do.

His teacher shared her own joyful moment about a month after the surgery. “He said my name today for the first time!” she told me. “He is doing so well!”

She is right -- he really is a different kid.

We’ve gone from tense reports of time-outs and office visits to glowing reports of excellent listening skills and helpful behavior.

It is amazing what being able to hear clearly can do.

Now that my son can share what he is thinking, we have discovered that he is wildly imaginative, compassionate and creative -- things we only guessed at before.

Being able to know him on this level has been such a gift, one I think most parents take for granted.

While I feel fortunate to know him so much better now, I’m also a little sad. I have missed communicating with my son for years now. I have a lot to make up for.

POSTED IN: Guest Post (79), Health (111), Toddler (127)

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November 17, 2011

Poor, deprived South Florida kids can finally see snow

Last Sunday, I asked a group of children at our church who among them has seen snow. All but two of them raised their hands. One of them was my own daughter, Lily.

She's nine, and has yet to see one of the most amazing natural occurrences on the planet.

Having grown up in Iowa, it does make me sad to think of a childhood without snowballs, snowmen, snowdrifts, snowtunnels, sleds, on and on and on. My three sisters and I would bundle up in full-body suits with gloves and scarves and boots and hats and spend hours outdoors in the snow.

But we're raising our kids here in South Florida. And my 16-year-old son's first view of snow was at none other than the Broward Convention Center, and it was of course fake snow, a mountain of it. I've never forgotten it -- it meant something to him, and to me.

I know I'm not alone. Some of you parents haven't taken your kids out of state at the right time to view snow. So if you're feeling lousy about it like I am, take them to Hollywood Friday night to see some "snow'' from a snow machine.

My colleague Tonya Alanez reported this morning about the event. Read the details on the jum page.

By Tonya Alanez, Sun Sentinel

November 17, 2011
It hasn't snowed in South Florida since 1977, but flurries will be falling in Hollywood's Arts Park at Young Circle during the city's tree lighting Friday.

Two snow machines will spew out the flakes with special-effect blue lighting adding to the winter wonderland ambience.

A 30-foot tree will stand amid the tropical palms, Santa will appear aboard a fire engine and a Hanukkah menorah and Kwanzaa display will round out the festivities. The merriment begins at 7 p.m.

POSTED IN: Brittany Wallman (160)

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November 16, 2011

What I told my kids about Penn State

It's not easy to talk to kids about a man accused of raping boys, but I took the plunge and explained it to my teenagers so they understand what's going on at Penn State.pennstate.jpg

Beyond the graphic details, my kids seemed more interested in the moral problems the scandal brings up, such as: Whose responsibility is it to tell the police? Why is the focus on Coach Joe Paterno? And why might the whole football program be punished for the leadership's actions?

Most of the conversation focused on what to do when you witness a crime or something that makes you uncomfortable. I can relate to having trouble knowing how to handle these situations: I have, twice, witnessed fathers hitting their teenage sons and froze up as I decided what to do next (the first time, I flagged down a security car; the second time, the dad saw me and stopped).

Whatever advice you give your kids, the key is to keep the conversation going so they know they can tell you when something does happen.

POSTED IN: Lois Solomon (211)

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November 9, 2011

Do you send a gift when you skip a party?

As I helped my daughter write the thank-yous for her bat mitzvah, it was interesting to observe who gave her what and whether they came to the party or not. gift.jpg

Most of the elder generation, meaning my parents' age, gave a gift whether they came or not. Among my peers, most did not give a gift if they did not come. And in my daughter's age group, there were no gifts from kids who weren't there.

Is there an official etiquette on this? Most readers of said you should give a gift if you can't go to a wedding. said it can go either way. But at, the advice was "No go? No gift."

So it's up to the individual. As for me, I am more likely to give a gift now if I can't make it, having seen how much our family appreciated every gift we got.

Photo: Susansimon/Flickr

POSTED IN: Lois Solomon (211)

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November 3, 2011

Mommy shops a lot, new study says

By Lisa J. Huriash

BabyCenter, the well-known online website that tracks baby’s growth beginning in the womb, has come up with a new study being released today called “2011 Shopping Rituals of the American Mom.”

With a new baby in tow, I am now among that subgroup being studied, which I find amusing - their title reminds me of studies along the lines of “mating rituals of the apes.”

It really is a subject worthy of study and attention by retailers: BabyCenter’s survey found mom’s outspend the general population across multiple categories of products.

But according to BabyCenter, these numbers may be changing - the 2011 Shopping Rituals report shows that the majority of moms are altering their spending habits due to the recession and even more do not think they will return to their previous spending patterns. Coupon use has gone up and more moms report that they are going after the best deals.

According to the study:
• Before becoming a mom, shopping used to be relaxed, impulsive, and social. After becoming a mom, she finds shopping rushed, stressful, and overwhelming. Compared to the general population, 67 percent are more likely to consider shopping to be overwhelming, 88 percent are more likely to be stressed and 158 percent are more likely to be rushed.
• According to behavioral data, moms are more likely to shop online in most major categories compared to the general Internet population.
• The survey reports moms are more likely to make major purchases in the next year, that includes airfare or hotels, and even a car. And, they intend to spend more than the general population. For instance, moms anticipate spending $7,410 on financial services verses. $1,710 for general population over the upcoming year.

The study identified a handful of shopping “rituals” such as how moms are shopping around (big box stores, farmers markets, online, and regional grocery stores) and she’s shopping as a sport: Two-thirds of moms have a barcode scanner app on their mobile device to help them hunt for deals. And they use QR codes: 71 percent of moms would scan a barcode to save under $5, compared to only 49 percent of the general population.

While getting deals is a fad for some and downright necessity for others, Sandra Gordon, author of “Consumer Reports Best Baby Products,” and a Connecticut-based lifestyle and parenting expert, chatted with me for some tips about saving money:

*Buy store-brand formula which can save as much as $8 per can
*Skip the designer clothes. “Clothes are so cute parents can’t resist but really it’s a waste of money.”
*Don’t register for clothes since you’ll get them anyway from well-meaning gift givers as the “go-to gift,” she said. Instead, use your registry for the basics and necessities like diapers and ointment.
*If you buy second-hand clothes, make sure it’s free of buttons that could pop off and make sure it looks new. “Doesn’t mean it’s cheap doesn’t mean you can’t be picky,” she said.
*Don’t skimp when it comes to buying a good crib mattress. The range should be $100 to $220. Just because it’s firm for you doesn’t mean it’s too hard for the baby.
*Skip the crib bumpers. Not only are they expensive, they are unsafe and could be a suffocation hazard. Nothing should go in the crib besides the baby.
* Diapers can really add up. The store brand isn’t as absorbent as the brands, she said, but perfectly “adequate.” And they are several cents cheaper per diaper. To save money, buy the biggest box possible so the unit price is less – and buy with coupons and when the diapers are on sale.
* Skip the baby monitor if you have a small house and if you need one, the audio alone is sufficient

“You can buy the best on your baby without spending a bundle,” Gordon said. “You need to be a wise shopper. It comes down to having a list, like going to the grocery store, and being wise and smart about what you buy.”

POSTED IN: Shopping (28)

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November 2, 2011

Cursive lesson needed: My teen can't sign her name

Whenever I ask my daughter to sign something, she answers honestly: She doesn't know how to write in cursive.


She fakes it, connecting the letters of her name in a primitive way.

I haven't done anything about it, but reading about the dropping of cursive education from our schools made me decide to take action.

The story brought home to me how schools are deleting any education not related to the FCAT, even if they are skills that are essential for adult life.

I decided to take matters into my own hands and offered today to teach her to sign her name in cursive. I was surprised that she accepted. Let the lessons begin!

Photo: Flickr/Evelyn Saenz

POSTED IN: Lois Solomon (211)

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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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