Have a Little April Fools’ Fun

March 31, 2007

An unofficial holiday, April Fools’ Day gives us all the chance to be a kid again (even if we don’t have any) and cause a little harmless mischief.

The search for the origins of this celebration of tomfoolery are almost a fool’s errand of its own.  Snopes.com lists several theories as to the origins including to commemorate the start of spring, to mock those who didn’t know that the new year celebrations had been to January 1 with the adoption of the Gregorian calendar, to honor the fruitless errand of the crow Noah sent out in search of land, or to celebrate the Celtic new year.  The Museum of Hoaxes offers a little history of All Fools’ Day and other predecessors to April Fools’ Day.

Whatever the origin, the day gives us all a chance to plot and scheme.

Think you have a hoax worthy of the record books?  Check out the Top 100 April Fools’ Day Hoaxes of All Times.  Just make sure you don’t make the 10 Worst list.  Wikipedia offers a list of well-know hoaxes (and their consequences) pulled by the media or corporations.

April Fools’ Day PranksLooking for some ideas for fun with the family?  Family Fun Magazine offers a whole host of pranks.  This website has something for everyone — pranks for you to play on your children, pranks for your kids to play on their friends, and pranks for you to help your children play on your spouse (not that I would ever do that to my darling husband :-p).  The site offers a lot of ideas for nice clean mischief.

Really feel adventurous?  Throw a April Fools’ Day party.  Kids’ Party Fun has mapped out all the details.

And don’t forget to feed your family a fun April Fools’ Day meal complete with puppy chow, banana dogs,  hamburger cookies and kitty litter cake.

Remember, beware of everyone on April 1.  You never know where the next practical joker is.

Well I’m off to plot and plan.  Help me out by telling me your favorite April Fools’ Day prank.

(Graphic courtesy of www.FamilyFun.com)

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Now that’s a Dog that Earns His Keep

March 31, 2007

Have you heard about Toby, the 2-year old golden retriever that saved his owner’s life by performing the Heimlich on her when she was choking on an apple?

Parkhurst and TobyAccording to Debbie Parkhurst, the dog noticed she was choking, stood up on his hind legs and knocked Parkhurst down.  Then Toby jumped up and down on her chest until the apple became disloaded.  Toby even licked Parkhurst on the face to keep her from passing out.

My guess is that the fall from being knocked over is what dislodged the apple.  But you still have to get Toby credit for noticing his owner was in distress.  A cat would have given her a dirty look for waking it from its nap and then walked away.

You’ve got to love dogs!  Mine let me know anytime the children cry out at night.  And when the kids are sick, our flat coat retriever will sleep outside their door just to make sure they are okay.

I wouldn’t trade my dogs in for anything (even if they can’t do the Heimlich).  Toby’s actions are just another reason why dogs are man’s (or woman’s) best friend.  Eat your heart out cat owners.

(AP Photo/Cecil Whig, Adelma Gregory-Bunnell)


Alpha Mom is the new Supermom

March 30, 2007

The bar for mothers far and wide keeps getting raised.  Being super is no longer enough, now moms must be Alpha Moms, at least according to an article in this week’s USA Today.

In the 1950s, moms everywhere had to live up to the  June Clever or Marion Cunningham image.  To be the perfect mom you had to keep the house immaculate, make sure your husband’s every whim was met, serve well-balanced, homemade sit-down meals three times a day and raise polite, well-behaved children.  While I’m sure that most mothers didn’t meet this criteria, it doesn’t mean they didn’t feel the pressure to be Mrs. Cunningham.

These preconceived notions were past on to their children.  Their sons and daughters grew up expecting to see the same relationship in their marriage, but as time moved on, the image of the perfect mom evolved. 

By the late 20th century, the phrase “Supermom” was coined.  In addition to maintaining a household, raising a family and keeping a marriage alive (or in some cases going it alone), the Supermom was now expected to hold down a job.  Not just any job, but a career — in fact a successful career.  And if you couldn’t do it all you were criticized.  Stay-at-home moms were made to feel like they didn’t really “work.”  Likewise, working moms’ child-rearing capabilities and/or their commitment to their career were questioned.

The children of this era reflect this change.  The sons learned to help out around the house more (in differing degrees) and in less traditional roles.  My husband does almost all the cooking (my cooking nights are takeout) and most of the cleaning. 

The daughters became more empowered — while we still feel the need to do it all and do it well, we are more likely to sacrifice (career, family, etc.) or at least put a  portion of life on hold while we concentrate on the rest.  I chose to put off having children until I was older so I could work on my career (not sure it really helped).

Alpha MomAnd now being super, isn’t good enough.  Moms must be Alpha Moms — complete with their own TV stationNew York Magazine calls the Alpha Mom the “Martha Stewart of parenting.” 

Some theorize this attitude is because Alpha Moms are career women skilled at multitasking who come to parenting later in life and tackle it with the same hands-on professionalism and intensity they used on the job — diligent research, focused plans, and thought-out schedules.

USA Todaydescribes Alpha moms as “educated, tech-savvy, Type A moms with a common goal:  mommy excellence” and as a marketing phenomenon that has replaced the Soccer Mom and the Yoga Mom am I a Alpha Mom?  My husband will tell you for sure that I’m no June Cleaver.  Yes, I’m not ever far from my Blackberry and yes my toddlers know to come and get me if it vibrates or if my pager goes off.  I’m online a great deal, often researching solutions to my latest toddler trauma or new and better ways  to stimulate my twins’ development.

While I have a few fellow moms that I visit with, I rely heavily on my online network.  I used newsgroups like Richmond Mom and Kids and Richmond Area Moms of Multiples as my biggest resources.  Why?   Because they are moms just like me going through similar things. 

Yes, my children are scheduled (with some flexibility) and they already have social commitments (yes, I know they aren’t even two yet) — they have both a gym class and a music class.  But my husband and I want to offer our children every opportunity we can to excel and develop.

While I spent the early part of my life on a career, our daughter and son are the most important thing my husband and I’ll every do — they are our legacy.  And we want to do everything we can to do it right.

As for my ability to influence?  I not so sure.  But I guess the fact that I have a blog means that at least I’m trying!

So the real question is:  Are you an Alpha Mom (or Dad)?  Why or Why not?

(photo courtesy of www.aacu.org)


Is Sanjaya Ruining American Idol?

March 29, 2007

Let me preface this post by saying that I am not a fan of reality TV as a general rule.  In my opinion, the term “reality” is ironic since most of the so-called reality shows are anything but real — all the participants are hamming it up for the camera.

However, I’ve slowly (I can’t believe I’m saying this) becoming a fan of American Idol.  It started out last season when I’d catch tidbits of the show while waiting for House to begin or after watching Bones.  Impressed with the caliber of the contestants, I began to have some respect for the show — a modern day Star Search.  And I began to re-evaluate my first impression of reality shows — at least for the talent show type.

American Idol logoSo when the sixth season began my husband and I decided to give it a try.  I know most people like the beginning of the season when you see all those who don’t make the cut, but I actually enjoy it most when we get down to the final 12.  Remember I want to see talent, not theater.

And I have to say I am truly amazed at the quality of most of the finalists.  I have my favorites — Melinda Doolittle and Gina Glocksen — as does my husband, who also favors Doolittle and LaKisha Jones.  However, I wouldn’t be upset if any of 11 of the 12 won.

But if Sanjaya Malakar wins, my foray into reality shows will come to a complete and abrupt halt.  And judging from an article in USA Today this week, I’m not the only one who would stop watching American Idol over this charade.

Why am I so upset?  Here’s a show with 11 talented singers that spend every week trying to improve their vocal quality, strengthen their performance presence and impress America with their passion for singing.  Malakar, on the other hand, spends his time coming up with the weirdest hairdos.  And trust me no hairdo will help his performance.

And what’s worse is that America isn’t talking about Glocksen’s rocker style or Blake Lewis‘ beat-box sound or even the pipes on Doolittle or Jones.  Or the talents of any of the other 11.

I think Simon said it best on Tuesday when he reviewed Malakar’s performance, “I don’t think it matters anymore what we [the judges] say. I genuinely don’t. You are in your own universe. If people like you, good luck.”

I tuned into American Idol for a talent contest, not a popularity contest.  And if that’s what it’s become, I’ll be signing off!


Are the Final 5 Cylons on BSG from Earth?

March 28, 2007

Battlestar Galactica fans everywhere are full of questions after BSG’s third season finale which revealed four of the final five Cylons.  Although tight lipped on the details, Executive Producer Ron Moore assures us that answers are coming in Season 4.

But I can’t wait.  I’ve come up my own theory about the final five Cylons.  I’ll forewarn everyone right now that this theory is far fetched.  I’m not really basing this on anything, but my own imagination.

I think that the final five Cylons are from Earth.  Earth was the 13th colony, right.  Why couldn’t it come up with the same technology? 

I think that the humans on Earth also developed Cylons.  And I’m guessing they did it much earlier than the other 12 colonies.  I believe that the relationship between the Cylons and the humans on Earth have evolved (maybe not without their share of conflict along the way) to a point of peaceful, integrated coexistence.

I theorize that those on Earth know about the situation in the 12 colonies (I haven’t quite figured out how yet) and right before the original treaty between the Cylons and the 12 colonies was signed decided to send four (or five depending on who you believe is the last Cylon) to infiltrate the colonists.  Earth leaders foresaw (whether from their own experience or some other premonitory means) the coming war and sent these Cylons as stealthy guides to guide both the colonists and the other Cylons to Earth — and ultimately to a peaceful coexistence.

In order not to compromise their position, the Final Cylons were not even allowed to know their own identity, but as they approached Earth they “felt” their counterparts on the lost planet; hence, the Watchtower music.

Tyrol and BabyIn this theory, Hera is so important because she represents the first union between the colonists and their Cylons — the first step towards unification.  The Chief’s baby is not as significant since his model has been interbreeding on Earth for some time.

In this hypothesis, at least one (probably D’Anna) of the original Cylons was also really one of the Earth Cylons introduced into the Cylon fleet for the same reason as those infused with the colonists.

Now, who is the final Cylon?  I don’t believe it’s Roslin.  She heard the music because of her Cylon treatment of cancer.  Starbuck is still a possibility.  But truly, I believe the final Cylon is on Earth and is responsible for guiding everyone to Earth.

As I said, it’s just speculation.  Go ahead and start poking holes in my ideas.

(photo courtesy of www.imdb.com)

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New Study Gives Working Parents Something Else to Worry About

March 27, 2007

As if working parents don’t have enough to worry about, a new study from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development released Monday concludes that children who spend time in daycare, regardless of the quality of the daycare center, are more likely to exhibit behavior problems (aggression and disobedience) in grade school.  Now it’s no longer good enough to find a quality childcare for your child.

Agressive ChildrenGranted they study concludes that these issues aren’t outside the normal range, but it still makes you question your decision to send your child. 

I’m lucky enough to have a worked out a very complex work arrangement plan that allows me the ability to keep my children at home with me, my husband or their grandmother during the week.  But most working parents aren’t that fortunate.  According to an article in the New York Times, an estimated 2.3 million American children under the age of five attend daycare.

What are parents to do?  Having a parent stay home with their children is not an option for many.  A large number of families need two incomes to survive.  Others choose to have two incomes so that they can afford the little extras — gym class, vacations, music lessons — for their family.  Still for other parents, they have careers that can’t be abandoned.   And while 4.8 million toddlers and preschoolers are cared for by relatives or nannies, this option is not feasible for many due to finances or geography (live too far away from relatives).

 I used to worry that my children missed out on some key social skills by not attending daycare, but now I’m glad that they are not in a daycare center. 

Do we need to increase daycare regulations?  Are daycares understaffed or have high turnover?  Are the staff just underpaid and undertrained as the study authors theorize?  Do we need to increase the ratio  of staff to children?  Do we need to segregate even more narrowly by age group to prevent older/bigger kids from picking on the younger/smaller ones?

I don’t have the answers.  But if you do, there are some verey worried working parents that would love to hear from you!

On a positive note, the study did find that children that received higher quality childcare prior to kindergarten had better vocabularies in grade school.

(Graphic courtesy of www.parentingpress.com)


Protect Your Family with a Few Clicks of the Mouse

March 27, 2007

Last week it was a pet food scare that had pet owners worrying for the best friends.  Monday, the Washington Post reported that food contaminate with Aminopterin, or rat poison, might have resulted in at least 15 cats and one dog death.  Last month, frantic parents filled the emergency rooms and clogged phone lines to their pediatricians when they suspected that their children’s peanut butter was contaminated with salmonella.  Recalls.GovThese cases are just a couple of the most recent ones and those most publicized, but recalls happen on a daily basis.  Are you aware of all these recalls?  Are you sure you’re safe?

Would you be willing to make a few clicks of your mouse, if it meant that you and your family could be safer?  Well that’s what the Consumer Product Safety Commission is hoping.  They recently launched a “Drive to 1 Million” campaign in homes of getting consumers to visit their website to sign up for email notices on recalled information.

 “It is vital for consumers to check their own homes for hazardous products that have been recalled,” Acting Chairman Nancy Nord said.  “Consumers can literally save lives with the click of their computer mouse.”

 This service covers recalls for not only food, but children’s products (toys, clothes), household products, electronics, outdoor products and power tools.  The CPSC is also suggesting that consumers be on the look out for hazardous recalled products when doing spring cleaning of closets, garages and other storage areas. 

I, personally, have found this service to a valuable.  Last year my twins got a present from a well meaning family member that was on the recall list (why it was still being sold in stores is questionable).  But the list told me what to look for (model, type, etc.) to determine if the product was truly recalled and how to contact the company for a replacement part.  It was a fairly painless process, but had I not got the recall email I might have spent a night in the emergency room.

 I’ve signed up for this service, have you?

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