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The Cotton Ball Diet – What You Need to Know

Posted on Sep 30, 2014 by No Comments

The cotton ball diet sounds exactly like what it is and it’s a dangerous, growing trend among teens and tweens.

It seems that no matter how loud the public demands that the fashion and beauty industry use more realistic standards, the models get thinner and thinner. Many of them rarely eat, existing on water, bullion, and celery with the occasional Kleenex to fill them up.

Yes, Kleenex.

It seems that swallowing tissue will give you that I just ate a whole pizza feeling that these emaciated women haven’t experienced in years. Tissues are now being replaced with cotton balls and young girls are jumping on the trend in droves.

The idea behind the cotton ball is much the same as the tissue. Once you have eaten a few cotton balls your stomach will believe it is full. You are then free to get through your day without the tell-tale tummy rumblings created by simply fasting.

Some girls use the cotton balls to help them eat less food but others are eating just the cotton balls, creating a whole new genre of eating disorder. The cotton balls are dipped in orange juice, a smoothie, or some other liquid to make them easy to swallow and a bit more appealing to the taste-buds.

The danger lies, not only in the starvation aspect but also in the fact that cotton balls are no longer made of cotton. They are created from bleached polyester fiber that contain chemicals of various sorts. In addition, the fiber can cause a blockage in the intestines which may require surgery to remove.

Talk to your daughter even if you don’t think she would ever do this. She needs the information, not just for herself, but possibly for friends.

source: Opposing Views

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What Makes a Man a Dad?

Posted on Sep 29, 2014 by 2 Comments

What makes a man a dad?

I used to say that the whole biological thing made him a father but I am not sure I even agree with that anymore. I mean, if a guy donates sperm to a sperm bank and eventually a woman he has never met has a baby that carries his DNA, can you really call him anything other than a donor?

A father, to me, is someone who takes responsibility for the children in his care, whether they are there by birth or by his choice, but not all fathers are dads.

I started thinking about this as I was reading an article in the Huffington Post about a child whose mother had died. His biological father wasn’t in the picture but his mother’s boyfriend had been living with them and taking care of them for months. He considered himself the boy’s dad but after the mother died the court awarded the child to an aunt because there was no official relationship between the man and the child.

My ex-husband does not see my children often because he lives a couple of thousand miles away and is on a very limited income. He doesn’t call very often and he sometimes has trouble keeping up with his child support payments.

My husband, the children’s stepfather, takes them to school, picks them up, teaches them how to drive, hugs them, jokes with them, and very occasionally raises his voice in frustration with them. He deals with this crazy, chaotic family  24/7 and it almost seems as if he likes it.

Which is their dad?

My youngest child is always drawing us pictures with flowers and hearts on them. Once she brought us a picture of my husband, herself, and me all standing together and smiling. She had written DAD over my husband’s head. As she pointed to it she said, “D-A-D spells the same thing as [my husband's first name]. At least in MY world it does.”

I think she’s right.

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Protect Your Teen Daughter’s Self Esteem When You’re Divorced

Posted on Sep 26, 2014 by No Comments

Divorce impacts your entire family of course, but it seems that teen girls face challenges that their brothers don’t. Often it erupts at some point in self esteem issues and a desire to stay commitment free.

Obviously there are a lot of ideas about why, how, and what you need to do to fix it. Many of those are written by professionals who know what they are talking about — and I am certainly  not one of them.

But, I have three daughters who have been impacted by my divorce and remarriage, each in her own, unique way and there are things that I am learning about the whole process of their healing and my own.

I accepted a lot of bad behavior from my ex and allowed myself to be treated in a way that was not what I would want for my children. I was not valued, deceived, and neglected. My daughters watched this and to them it was the pattern of how a wife should be. After all, what else did they have to compare it to?

When I realized that, I was horrified. I didn’t want them in relationships where they were treated that way.

Changing your circumstances is one of the first steps to building self-esteem in your daughter. Don’t allow yourself to be treated in a way that you wouldn’t want her to be treated.

Build her confidence by complimenting her on things she has achieved rather than on just her looks or her character. Accept her exactly as she is and work to see the strengths rather than the faults.

Most of all don’t begin criticizing the weaknesses in yourself that you see reflected in her because you are afraid she will make the same mistakes.

Divorce is life-changing but I don’t think it has to have a lasting negative impact. How do you enhance your daughter’s self confidence?

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You Can’t Spoil a Child with Love

Posted on Sep 25, 2014 by No Comments

Parenting is one of the most difficult things you will ever do. That statement should be hammered into my head on a daily basis because I am pretty sure sometimes I forget.

I’ll be walking along through my day and get broadsided by an intense parenting issue. My immediate reaction tends to be one of shock because for some reason I think that we should never struggle.

Sadly, life has other ideas.

I’ve read so many parenting books that I could probably fill the Grand Canyon with them and I can tell you one thing. A parenting book is no substitute for your own gut feeling because you are uniquely capable of raising your child.

I’ve learned that over the years… and learned it …and learned it. I’ve come to the conclusion that you cannot spoil a child with love.

Too many parenting books suggest letting children cry it out, limiting the time you hold them, being a Tiger Mom, or whatever. After eight kids, seven of which are either through their teens or into them, I can only say love your child. Love them intensely, whole-heartedly, and passionately without any hesitation.

I don’t believe a child can be spoiled by love. I think they are spoiled by the things that we do and the things that we give them because we don’t have the time, the energy, or the confidence to really love them.

The biggest mistake I see young parents make, and I did it myself, is either indulging their children or being to hard on them but never being totally open with their love.

If you seem to be knocking heads with your child constantly take a step back, put it in perspective, and try to envision what’s really going on. What you think is being spoiled might actually be a cry for you undivided attention.

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5 Cool Autumn Leaves Crafts to Do with Your Kids

Posted on Sep 24, 2014 by 1 Comment

It’s finally Fall! I love Texas and pretty much everything about living here but the one time I really miss the East Coast is in the Fall. We do get some color change in the first week or so of November but mostly we have hotter-n-hell and OMG-my-eyelashes-froze-shut with little in between.

Autumn is a great time to do craft projects with your kids, especially when you can use the gorgeous leaves. Don’t worry, if you live in an area that skips the psychedelic foliage I have you covered with crafts that just look like you used leaves.

Hammered Leaf Prints

You won’t be able to use the dry leaves but any leaves that are still moist should work. Make these easy hammered leaf prints to decorate a wall or make a card.

Make a Collage

Gather the most beautiful leaves that you can find and make a collage with them on construction paper or poster board.

Salt Dough Prints

You make salt dough and then use Modge Podge to seal it and cover the leaves. These are beautiful. I think you could make small prints, add a hole at the top, and use as Christmas decorations.

Fall Leaves Placemats

These are cute for the autumn table and maybe you can get the kids to eat since they get to look at the leaf placemats they made themselves.

Wax Paper and Crayon Leaf Mobile

So what if the leaves don’t turn color and fall? Make this leaf mobile with the kids on a Saturday afternoon and your house can have the same, mesmerizing, spinning leaves falling from the sky.

photo credit: timsackton via photopin cc

Is Stalking Your Teen on Social Media OK?

Posted on Sep 22, 2014 by 1 Comment

Teenager’s today have so much more technology and so much less freedom than when I was a teenager in the Dark Ages that it’s sad.

For example, when I was talking to friends about something it was totally private and as soon as it was out of my mouth and into their ears it was gone. There were no status updates for my parents to find, Google had no pictures of me totally drunk and in my bra and underwear at a party, and any sexual exploits that I discussed with my friends were carefully written in code on notebook paper that was then folded into a triangle and passed around the class.

You kept a blank note in your pocket as a decoy so if you got caught passing the note you could quickly trade it for the blank one. Most important, after the note was read by all parties it was carefully burned in the bathroom sink with your Bic lighter.

That was then.

Now? Now I can find out almost anything about anyone. I can find out what my daughter has been saying, doing, and thinking. I can find images of her on Google, Bing, and other search engines. I can find her social media accounts and follow her by pretending to to be a teenager and posting a random image.

She may think she has privacy but she has none at all.

And that’s why I won’t do it. Yes, we want our kids to make choices — good choices. The truth is that they are as likely to make mistakes as we were and parents cannot consistently protect kids from themselves without turning them into overprotected adults who are unable to function in the real world.

Be there for your teen when she needs you, but stalking? That is just asking for trouble, in my opinion.

What do you think?

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Co-Parenting with a Stranger

Posted on Sep 19, 2014 by No Comments

Would you consider having a child and co-parenting that child with a stranger? In other words, would you agree to share the parenting responsibilities of a child with someone that you had just met and had sought out primarily for that purpose?

It’s a rising trend, believe it or not, and it’s been termed parenting partnership. There are even websites where you can get in touch with others that are wanting to do the same.

Some of the websites are similar to dating sites in that you answer a lot of questions so that you can be more accurately matched with someone who shares your parenting ideals. What happens after you are matched is up to you.

There is no romance necessary and many, if not most, of the couples use artificial insemination to create the pregnancy. Some move in together while others maintain separate homes. The major part of the agreement is that you will be equally responsible for the child whether or not you live together. It’s a commitment.

It’s also a legal crap-storm when you think about it. Many, many people will make this move without proper legal counsel or contractual agreements. How are you going to decide who has what responsibility?

Parenting is hard and, as most divorced moms can tell you, it can be nearly impossible to get child support from someone let alone emotional support. Add to that the fact that the laws and regulations for parenting partnerships vary from state to state and you can get into a real tangled mess.

Because this is a relatively new area, there are not that many examples of how the court handles these cases. In fact, many courts may not even recognize the legal agreement if you have one.

On the other hand, it is easy to see the attraction. The idea of raising a child with someone without having any romantic or emotional ties to that person is enticing.

With so many divorces, breakups, alternative lifestyles, and such, this is one way someone who doesn’t want to get married but also doesn’t want to be a single parent can more or less have their cake and eat it, too.

There are a lot of questions that you need to answer before even considering conception. Consider some of the following:

  • Who is going to decide on the baby’s name and whose last name will it have?
  • Who will have primary custody of the child? How will arrangements be made? How much time will the child spend at each parent’s house?
  • How will the child rearing be handled? Who does what?
  • Will there be a visitation schedule?
  • How will the financial needs be handled?
  • Who gets the child as a tax credit?

As you can see, there are a lot of possible pitfalls in these arrangements. The idea bothers me, to be honest. There are enough children that have to deal with separated parents without intentionally creating new ones.

I am just not sure this is a great idea over the long haul. What are your thoughts?

Source: CBS New York
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These Plates Let Your Kids Play with Their Food

Posted on Sep 18, 2014 by No Comments

When I was little we used to travel the Pennsylvania turnpike from eastern PA to Michigan a couple of times a year. I was not the world’s most active child but I got bored. Really bored. Since I am prone to being carsick I couldn’t even read.

One of the best things that my parents gave me to help me wile away the time was a magnetic toy. It consisted of the picture of a bald man’s face inside a plastic cover with a magnet attached.

There were iron filings in the plastic and you used the magnet to give him hair, a beard, a mustache, eyebrows, or what ever you wanted. I think he was called Dapper Dan. In any case, I once gave him nose hair.

He was one of the easiest to get along with men I have ever met.

Now there is a plate that has the same face on it. The one pictured is the female but the company also makes the traditional guy face.

Your kids can play with their food without it being messy or a problem. They can give the guy spaghetti hair, macaroni and cheese eyebrows, a beet nose, or whatever you happen to be serving for dinner. In fact, I am pretty sure that I am going to buy one of these for myself  just for the memories it brings back!

The plates are full sized, measuring 8-1/2 inches in diameter and made from ceramics. You can put them in the dishwasher, too. Would you let your kids play with their food if they had one of these?

image: Amazon

RIE Parenting

Posted on Sep 17, 2014 by 1 Comment

Warning. The following article on RIE parenting is full of dripping sarcasm. Please wear protective gear beyond this point. Thank you.

What is RIE parenting you ask?

Well, it’s only the newest parenting technique to come out of Hollywood so you know it has to be awesome, right? REI stands for Resources for Infant Educarers and teaches its followers that it is imperative that we stop treating children like…well…children.

Magda Gerber, wife of a Hungarian industrialist, came up with the idea in the 1940s. Keep in mind the 1940s were part of the era where women were taught not to breastfeed their babies because it was unsanitary. Personally, I think she just didn’t have the mom gene, you know?

So here’s the deal — you are instructed to change the way your relate to your child for the rest of eternity. There will be no baby talk because that is degrading. Instead you will converse intelligently on a variety topics, letting your child know how much you are enjoying this bonding time.

Don’t be tempted to pop her in a bouncer or swing. These undignified contraptions of infant torture are disrespectful to the baby’s emotions and are the equivalent of handing her a shot of whiskey and a blunt. They cause her to zone out and lose touch with her inner angst.

Personally, I don’t see how these are disrespectful — I swear if they made one in my size I’d be in it most of the day.

The followers of RIE believe that anything that disrespects (You keep on using that word. I think you don’t know what it means.) the baby is one of those sins that will send you to a fiery hell.

Instruments of torture include:

  • Sippy cups
  • High chairs
  • Bouncers
  • Walkers
  • Slings

They probably aren’t big on animal cracker’s either.

Toys are prohibited. Pacifiers are prohibited because they violate your baby’s right to cry. You should never violate your baby’s unalienable right to cry but should allow her to cry for as long ass she likes. This way she won’t repress her emotions.

In fact, rocking, comforting, soothing are all horrible things we do that violate our babies’ right to have a hissy fit.

If your child gets in a fight you should not interfere. In fact? Why don’t you just take a cruise vacation and leave the little darling home to enjoy her personal freedom without you. You’ve popped that baby out — the rest is up to her.

Proponents sat it is common sense parenting.

I will agree that parents tend to be overly involved with their kids. They often make things too easy for them, get them out of conflicts they should be working on by themselves, and shield them from consequences. There’s no doubt that most American children are spoiled.

Still, shouldn’t there be some sort of balance between over-protection and extreme hands off parenting like RIE?

I think there should. Babies need to have their needs met for healthy emotional growth. Touch, rocking, nursing, and comforting are all methods used to raise emotionally healthy children and create healthy adults. Being stuck in a swing or a bouncer for hours on end is certainly no way to nurture a baby either!

What do you think about this method?

source: Vanity Fair

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