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Generation W: Raising A Nation of Wusses

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015 - by Aaron C. Smith

America isn’t going to slide to mediocrity. Nope, it’s going to be pushed down the hill by a group of whiny Gladys Kravitz types.

They’re going after our children.

Take the case of Michael Anderson and the girls’ basketball team he coaches in Arroyo, California. Coach Anderson recently led his team to a 161-2 victory over Bloomington High School.

That’s not a typo.

161-2.

This was even with putting in the benchwarmers.

Once upon a time, Coach Anderson and his team would be heroes.

Today, Coach Anderson got a two game suspension. Bloomington’s coach whined about the lack of ethics in the loss.

Yeah. Lack of ethics.

Again, not a typo.

Winning in a huge fashion is not ethical.

This hits a bit close to home. My brother-in-law coached his son’s Pop Warner football team. And they won. No matter what he did, they won.

His reward?

A threatened suspension.

Some people just laugh and scoff at the stupidity. After all, these are just kid’s games, right?

Wrong.

At the same time youth and teen sports leagues are engaging in their Jihad on winning really big victories, parents are being investigated for a horrid form of neglect: letting their kids walk to the park.

Indeed, the parents, Danielle and Alexander Meitiv, practice what is called “free range parenting.” It has a name, air quotes and even its own TV show, World’s Worst Parent. The title comes from the name its host Lenore Skenazy got called when people learned that she allowed her 9-year-old to ride the subway alone.

You know a cultural movement has hit its stride when it gets a reality TV show.

But what the hell has happened to society when a kid walking around is a thing and not just a kid walking around?

So we now live in a nexus of people who want to raise children never to risk any psychic or physical danger. They are bubble wrapped physically and mentally.

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This is going to turn out great.

We don’t want kids to play sports and run around outside just to give adults some breathing space by getting them out of the house. It’s not even just about getting them to move and do something that doesn’t involve the word “box” or station.”

Don’t get me wrong. “Me time” and ending the epidemic of school yard butter balls is important. Someday I’m going to retire and I want the next generation of workers to be fit and productive so I can lay around at the beach.

Here’s the thing though. The bright-eyed, bushy-tailed workers that we will simply soak to fund Social Security and Medicare, require the guts and motive to succeed. Since we’re going to be yoking these kids with the burden of having two workers supporting every one retired layabout like myself, these beasts of burden can’t just be mediocre.

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America’s dying social program will need field tearing, smoke snorting studs under the yoke. Any lesser beasts will get stuck in the field or be too scared to even go on it without adult supervision and fifteen forms signed in triplicate.

Are we going to get these studs by teaching them to win but not by much? Or perhaps the hard chargers of the future will have Mommy and Daddy hanging around in their cubicles.

Heck no. But parents everywhere will be protected from empty nest syndrome because their pampered little princes and princesses will still be hanging out in the basement smoking weed and playing vids.

Our kids deserve to dream big and live big. And we want them to have the gumption to get onto the playing field on their own.

The Society for A Perfect World types also overlook the fact that losing a game and having adventures are actually an important part of life. The time to get knocked in the dirt or get into a little trouble is when you’re a kid. The stakes aren’t important but the lessons carry through life.

A real childhood tempers the soul, like fire does steel. Good steel is hard but not brittle. A child who does things for himself, tries new things, will not be brittle. Better that they get used to the fact that the world is a harsh and unforgiving place when the stakes are low.

Think of the classic American story: the Bad News Bears. They start out as a motley group of misfits, losers in every sense of the word. Butt in their humiliation, they strive and rise to greatness.

Would the Bears have pulled themselves together if they hadn’t been allowed to be losers? What if they hadn’t even been allowed to walk to the park?

More importantly, what if Bill Gates hadn’t decided to take the risk of leaving school and starting Microsoft? Or if Mark Zuckerberg hadn’t done the same.

Imagine, a world where the Winklevoss twins developed Facebook!

The point is our economy needs people willing to walk the tight rope without a net. And our society needs to recognize that those brave souls will, as a result of their courage, reap massively outsize rewards

And, if that’s not enough, it’s for the children.

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You Can’t Tell Me How I’m ‘Allowed’ To Raise My Child

Monday, January 26th, 2015 - by Bethany Mandel

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Recently the New York Times ran a blog post titled “Skipping School for Vacation: Good for Families, or Bad for Students?” Whatever the opposite of burying the lede is, the Times did it. In the first two paragraphs they recount one mother’s recent run-in with her local educational authorities:

In the article “Taking My Kid Out of School for a Family Vacation Shouldn’t Be ‘Illegal,’” Jeanne Sager recounts the time she took her daughter out of school for a family vacation, and the school responded by labeling those absences “illegal.” Ms. Sager wrote, “I hate my kid’s school and the state education department for making me feel ashamed of spending time with my daughter,” adding, “I think there’s something to be said for education outside of the classroom, and certainly something to be said for the value of family time.”

While the label “illegal” does not confer any actual legal implications in Jeanne Sager’s case, plenty of school districts do employ the term in its literal sense. Some states give schools the authority to impose fines for truancy, and others allow parents to be charged with misdemeanors if truancy becomes chronic. In Britain and the Netherlands, truant officers are posted at airports and train stations to ensure parents don’t attempt to take children on vacation during the school term.

The Times goes on to explain the pros and cons of taking kids out of school for family vacations, based on the perspectives of teachers and parents, completely ignoring the troublesome practice of declaring vacations “illegal.” It is the latest, perhaps inevitable development in the ever-expanding limits on how parents are “allowed” to parent.

Of all of the words in the English language that grate on me most as a parent, it’s the word “allowed.” I first heard it with regard to childbirth. I was told by my OB that I was not “allowed” to eat in labor, without anything resembling a convincing reason. In the book Expecting Better economist Emily Oster breaks down pregnancy myths and prevailing wisdom, tackling the issue of eating during labor:

The basic fear is gastric aspiration, and it’s related to why you shouldn’t eat, in general, before any operation. If you are under general anesthesia and you vomit, it is possible to inhale your stomach contents into the lungs and suffocate. Pregnant women may be at more risk than the general population for this. In general, this definitely is dangerous, but you might be wondering why this is an issue in labor. Even if you have a C-section, aren’t you usually awake? So wouldn’t you know if you were vomiting? Is this still an issue?

To figure out the origin of this restriction, we actually have to go back to a time (the first half of the twentieth century) when C-sections were typically performed under a general anesthetic. The source of the ban on food during labor is a 1946 paper in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. The authors reported that of 44,016 pregnancies at the Lying-In Hospital in New York from 1932 to 1945, there were 66 incidents of gastric aspiration and 2 deaths from suffocation. The authors suggested withholding food during labor.2 Fast-forward 64 years: a lot has changed about labor and medical practice in general. C-sections are now performed with local anesthesia 90 percent of the time, so you are typically not asleep. Moreover, even if you are under general anesthesia, our understanding of how that works has improved a lot. The estimated risk of maternal death from aspiration is 2 in 10 million births, or 0.0002 percent.3 Yes, maternal mortality is terrifying. But to put this in perspective: this cause accounts for only 0.2 percent of maternal deaths in the United States, mostly among very high-risk women. The perhaps scary truth is that you’re more likely to die in a car accident on the way to the hospital than from this cause. In a review article from 2009, researchers looked at almost 12,000 women who ate and drank what they wanted during labor. Even though some of these women did need emergency C-sections (one of the few times when you might be under a general anesthesia), there were no problems reported associated with aspiration. This is true even for the 22 percent of women who ate solid food.4 And yet the ban on food remains.

I took my business elsewhere three weeks before my due date, switching my care provider to a midwife who didn’t “allow” or “disallow” anything; she left me to deliver my child in the way in which I saw fit, as long as it was medically safe.

We’ve been hearing the word “allowed” with regard to parenting decisions a lot recently. Parents in Maryland were investigated by Child Protective Services for letting their children walk home from a nearby park; apparently they were not “allowed” to do so. Another parent recently confessed to the blog Free Range Kids that she too had faced the wrath of CPS in Maryland, and now has a misdemeanor on her record, in addition to six months’ probation. Her crime? She left her ten-year-old and baby in her car for a ten-minute run into the grocery store, another parenting decision a mother apparently wasn’t “allowed” to make. These kinds of stories are becoming increasingly common.

Parents, schools, and caregivers are taking these stories to heart, deciding against giving children a measure of independence out of fear. According to the blog Free Range Kids, there’s little reason to fear. Crime of all sorts is lower now than it was in previous generations.

When the parents in Maryland found themselves the target of a CPS investigation, many of my fellow parents commented on Facebook that they had contacted their local police department to find out at what age they allow (there’s that word again) parents to leave their children home alone and at what age the state allows children to walk alone.

Schools tell parents they are not “allowed” to have their children leave school without an adult escort, leaving families to hire babysitters or curtail their workdays to walk their kids a few blocks home from school.

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Contra the officers of the state, there should be only one party in a position to “allow” children to be home alone or to walk alone for time periods and distances that have always, until now, been considered reasonable: the parents. Society might be trying to take away parents’ ability to parent, but that doesn’t mean that parents should surrender their rights willingly.

Just as I did not need to be “allowed” by my OB to labor in my own safe manner (proven to be safe by statistics), I do not intend to let the public school system determine if it’s “legal” to take family vacations or when a child is permitted to walk alone in their neighborhood. Nor should the police be involved in cases of reasonable parental discretion.

If a school does not “allow” my family to make basic child-rearing decisions, there are alternatives. As for the legal crackdown on parenting decisions, I will not allow them to shape how I parent. I refuse to raise my children in an illogical and unnecessary cloud of fear. And I should not even have to dignify with a response the suggestion that my family vacation is “illegal.”

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image illustrations via shutterstock /   /

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Here Are Some Basic Tips for Traveling with Your Kids

Saturday, January 24th, 2015 - by Arlene Becker Zarmi

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When my son was a baby I wrote an article about traveling to Israel with him. I wrote that “I prepared for the trip like a general preparing for an invasion.” I took tons of disposable diapers as they weren’t so available in Israel at the time, cans of formula, and an assortment of other items. Well, disposable diapers are available all over the world now so that wouldn’t be a problem, but if you are traveling with kids, be they babies or teens, be prepared! Here are some tips you might find useful.

1. Traveling By Car

Traveling by car is the easiest way to take along everything you can think of to make the trip more palatable to your offspring and easier for you and all the adults. For babies, obviously bring enough formula, juices, and diapers, as well as toys to keep them amused, if they are beyond the stage where their hands and feet are enough to keep them occupied. Take changes of clothes for wetting or other such accidents, and a small pillow and blankets.

Toddlers and kids from three to six present the impatience problem. “When are we going to get there?” is often a refrain before you’re even out of the driveway. First of all, get the little ones psyched up and excited about whereever you are going and never mention that any trip will be longer than “soon.” Have any child that’s able to walk pack his or her own backpack. In fact, this is a great time to get a child a new backpack or little suitcase just for trips. Have the child put in all of his or her favorite toys, coloring books, books, paper, crayons, and a pencil or pen. Paper and crayons are essential. They can keep kids busy for hours. Favorite blankets — but small ones just for trips — and tiny pillows are also essential so if they fall asleep they’ll be comfortable.

For all trips an emergency medical stash is important. Buy a plastic lunch box and have it contain children’s aspirin, Tylenol, children’s cough medicine, cute bandages, neosporin, and a digital thermometer. Also carry extra prescriptions if your children are on any medications. I once stayed at a very posh Beverly Hills hotel which didn’t even have a thermometer — the hotel’s limousine had to take me to Walgreens just to purchase one.

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2. Keeping Them Amused On A Car Trip

For most kids, up to a certain age, counting cars of different colors and the number of trucks, signs, shopping centers, and things that are similar is great for passing the time. Here is where the pen and paper come in handy. If they are old enough, they can also write down each time they see something they are counting. Even a four or five year old can make marks for each time a car, truck or other counted item appears. Watching for speed-limit signs is also a great way to learn numbers. Buy inexpensive binoculars for kids to watch life along the road and through cities as well. If two children are a bit older, then card games and even pocket chess are stable enough to play. Older kids can read the books they brought and even younger non-readers will love looking at pictures. Ask kids to draw what they see on the road as well.

For teens, they’ll keep themselves busy texting (or complaining). If it’s a trip between sessions in school, you might suggest that older children bring special assignments to get ahead in class.

Bring a road map to have older kids follow where they are. They can mark up the map as they pass a place listed on it.

3. Snacks On The Trip?

Have kids pack snacks the night before. Try to steer them to healthy snacks like baby carrots, celery sticks, and fruit. For little kids, always cut up fruit, like apples, as they will most likely not finish them. If they want something chewy, then try to get something as healthy as possible. Little bottles of water and healthy juices are great. Carry along some powdered milk so that you can replenish the supply with bottled water if you aren’t able to get more milk along the way. Yogurts travel very well and up to 24 hours without refrigeration. Carry along a manual can opener and some cans of tuna or salmon. Healthy crackers (check for no hydrogenated oil etc.) are always good. Carry plastic cutlery — it’s easy to use and throw away when done. Don’t forget to give kids plastic bags for garbage and carry a big one to toss everything afterwards.

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4. Plane Travel Tips?

Special backpacks and suitcases are also important here, filled with the same kinds of toys, crayons, books, and paper and pencils that you take for automobile travel. Here, because of the TSA, what you take in your medicine kit may be limited. You can still take a thermometer, but any liquid medications have to be three ounces or under. You can take fruit, snack bars, tuna and maybe salmon pouches, but you won’t be able to take bottled water, yogurts, or juices. These you’ll have to purchase once you’re through the TSA checkpoint. You can carry powdered milk and snacks like bars and crackers.

Books, card games, crayons, and paper are still handy here to keep kids busy. A small blanket and small pillow are also great if there’s room for them. If it’s your children’s first airplane trip and experience with TSA, it would be a good idea to talk to them about both experiences so that they won’t be apprehensive about either.

5. Cruise Tips?

Even here it’s a good idea to bring something to color with so that your child can keep busy at a table which may be peopled with strangers. Most cruise lines have children’s programs and an infirmary so a medical kit may not be necessary, though a thermometer might still be a good idea so that you can check if it’s even necessary to take the child to the ship’s infirmary. Even though food is provided, healthy snacks of fruit may be great to have

In all cases, when traveling with kids it is essential to keep them busy, busy, busy. Keeping them busy will make your travels, by whatever means, smooth and pleasant.

Bon voyage!

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image illustrations via shutterstock /

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When Does Spanking Become a Crime?

Saturday, January 10th, 2015 - by Alex Shelby

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“You can’t spank me, that’s abuse!” was the response of a Florida man’s 12-year-old daughter shortly after he grabbed the paddle (I’m taking some creative license with her quote, but I don’t think I’m far off). So this dad did what was, apparently, a relatively common thing in Florida: he called the police to come supervise the paddling, which ultimately passed their inspection. The incident that occurred on December, 29, 2014, has received an unusual amount of media attention. Perhaps it’s the unwelcome notion of government intervention in parental affairs, or the outrage that so many kids think consequences don’t apply to them. When it comes to spanking, it’s probably time to establish what constitutes a child thinking twice in their bedroom versus a parent thinking twice behind bars.

The legal wording on what is allowed in our country regarding domestic corporal punishment is done on a state-by-state basis, and the descriptions can be as verbose as several paragraphs to as vague as one sentence. Thirty states contain the phrase “reasonable and appropriate” in their laws when referring to the severity of the discipline. Twelve states prohibit “physical harm,” four prohibit “reckless injury,” three prohibit “excessive or serious injury,” and just one state, Delaware, outlaws all forms of corporal punishment (this legislation was passed in 2012). Whether it’s a red state or a blue state, the legislation is basically the same (with the exception of Delaware). The only concrete definitions address whether or not corporal punishment is allowed in schools, for which our country is split roughly 50-50.

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10 Effective Ways to Embarrass Your Kids

Saturday, January 3rd, 2015 - by Karina Fabian

It happens to every parent: those adorable little angels who all too often drove you crazy become moody pubescents striving to find their cool. Many parents live in dread of this day, when a hug is a major offense and parental singing should be banned on pain of death. However, parents, that’s taking the wrong attitude. Your child isn’t rebelling against you. Rather, they are presenting you the perfect opportunity for some good-natured payback for the sleepless nights, colic, temper tantrums and times they embarrassed you by picking their nose while in the church choir. Now, in their tender, raw, self-conscious years, you have a window of opportunity for some payback.

It’s time to embarrass your kids, and we have ten great ways to do it while still keeping your own parental “cool.”

1. Kiss your spouse in public.

Your kids have probably seen plenty of kissing by now, thanks to television and the Internet, but when Mom and Dad do it in public, it takes on a whole new level of “ewwww.” So go for it. Kiss. Long. On the lips – but keep it decent. You don’t need to embarrass yourself or the adults around you with your public displays of emotion. And, let’s face it: by the time you’re old enough to have teenage kids, you’re too old for strangers to be telling you to “get a room.” So express your love, but keep it PG. A little PDA goes a long way.

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Stop Gun Violence, Bring Your Parents’ Gun to School

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014 - by Rhonda Robinson

It’s hard not to wonder what the flash of brilliance looked like as it crossed filmmaker Rejina Sincic’s face with this idea for a public service announcement (PSA). Did she think, “I can make this a better world and reduce gun violence in schools and communities by teaching children to steal their parents’ guns and bring them to school”?

What this activist did achieve, is to create a teachable moment for children and adults alike.

The video, now mysteriously marked as private on YouTube, depicts a young, middle-class boy who looks to be around 12 or 13. As he comes out of his basement, he peeks around the corner at, one can only presume, his mother. We find her curled up on a couch with a blanket and a book in her lap.

The boy then goes into her bedroom, pulls a handgun out of her dresser drawer, takes it to his room, and puts it in his school backpack. The next scene has him in a very small, diverse classroom. To highlight his responsible nature and mature insight, he waits until all his other classmates leave the room.

The polite young man then presents his mother’s gun to his startled, elderly teacher. He then utters the first, and only, line in the entire video:

Can you take this away? I don’t feel safe with a gun in my house.

What we have here, boys and girls, is a wonderful example of a kid committing several crimes. Can you count them?

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4 Fallacies Killing Feminism

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Corinne Fisher and Krystyna Hutchinson, two wannabe-famous New York twenty somethings, teamed up to talk sex via their “running soap opera,” “almost reality TV show” podcast Guys We F*cked. Broadcasting under the “anti-slut shaming” banner makes Guys We F*cked appealing to the contemporary feminists at Salon who never turn down the chance to normalize twisted sexuality. Salon assistant editor Jenny Kutner sat down with the comedy duo more commonly known as “Sorry About Last Night” who, as they enter season 2 of their famed podcast, are looking to crowdsource funds from fans while noting that their careers are “…getting better because of the podcast, which is really exciting.”

Performing an editorial feat, Kutner defines the duo’s narcissism as “comedy with a purpose” in her attempt to define the two as feminists. In doing so, the assistant editor at Salon exposes exactly why contemporary feminism is failing 21st century women: Today’s feminists have worked to sever feminism from its historical roots as a biblically-grounded movement for women’s independence. What they’re replacing it with, a “social media feminism” as artist and feminist April Bey has dubbed it, is a mere mask for narcissistic, death-obsessed, goddess worship.

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5 Christmas Movies That Will Make You To Want to Be A Dad

Thursday, December 25th, 2014 - by Paul Cooper

Editor’s Note: This article was first published as “The 5 Best Christmas Movie Fathers” in 2012 and is now resurrected and republished as part of the Ghost-Lists of Christmas Past Series.

One of the best parts of the holiday season has to be Christmas movies. There are hundreds of them and a few dozen classics among them. As a father of two, I’m always interested to see how popular films portray dads, so it makes sense to find the best papas in favorite Christmas flicks who can teach us all how to be better parents.

Let’s focus on five who would make Father Christmas proud.

5. Clark Griswold, The Do-Whatever-It-Takes Father

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is the third film in a series following the hilarious Griswolds. The family patriarch is the lovable goof Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase), whose greatest desire is for his family to have the perfect Christmas. How many dads can relate to a guy with Christmas cheer who can’t catch a break in trying to make the season bright? Clark’s frustrations abound as he just tries to give his family a “good old-fashioned family Christmas.” Clark forgets the saw when finding the perfect Christmas tree, he can’t figure out how to get his million lights to light up (been there), he can’t make annoying in-laws happy (won’t say I’ve been there), and he buys a huge gift for his family and then doesn’t receive his Christmas bonus to pay for it. He struggles and fails, but he keeps on fighting for that wonderful family Christmas.

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Time rightfully put Clark in their top ten list of perfect movie dads. They praised him as the ultimate example of “determination.” He was always willing to go the extra mile to provide experiences his family would never forget.

Clark makes our list for doing whatever it takes to bring joy and special memories to his family for Christmas. Yes, he fails and sometimes fails miserably, but his heart is in the right place. While many men may ignore Christmas or leave it to others in the family, Clark takes the lead to bring his family the joys of the holiday. I can relate to that and so can countless other fathers. We are kids at heart and want our families to experience the wonders of the holiday season.

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If You Love Your Kids, Kill That Elf on the Shelf

Friday, December 19th, 2014 - by Rhonda Robinson

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I’m not opposed to lying to very young children. In fact, my family considers it one of the finer points of good parenting. The art of storytelling, when done appropriately, can soften a harsh reality and bring it into an easy-to-swallow, child-sized bite. In “6 Lies You Should Tell Your Kids“ I shared a few of our family secrets for doing just that. The Elf on the Shelf, however, is a Christmas tale with a dark side that could produce some unintended character flaws that could show up later as adults. Adults, no doubt, that will be living in a very different world.

Before you dismiss the whole idea as harmless fun, it’s important to understand two basic truths that Christmas traditions, as with all family traditions, are vitally important to children. You are always teaching your child–intentionally, or unintentionally.

The Elf on the Shelf is a cheap looking stuffed doll that looks like it came from a dollar store in China. The elf itself is not what has made it a multi-million dollar success. It’s the story behind it.

That’s where we get into some real life issues.

This elf is placed somewhere in the house to observe the children’s behavior. Apparently, this generation’s Santa can’t really see who’s naughty and nice. He needs surveillance elves. The elf is adopted into a family or classroom, given a name and perched somewhere to observe the children’s behavior. Then he receives his magic. Each night the little snitch flies back to the North Pole to let Santa know if the kid being watching is good or bad.

There are two rules, one for the elf and one for the kid: The elf cannot be touched. If he is, he loses his magic and can’t fly back to the North Pole (hence, no Christmas for the kid, and they’re stuck with just the elf). The elf’s rule is that it can’t say anything– only watch and listen carefully. Not a problem for a stuffed doll, even a cheesy one.

This type of tradition fits this generation of parents well. We all know the NSA is listening in, and it produces some great Instagram shots. By the looks of what a simple #elfonshelf search will uncover, naughty and nice parents are having as much fun with it, if not more than their kids.

So what could go wrong with an Elf on the Shelf?

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Are You Too Selfish to Raise Children?

Monday, December 15th, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Daily Question

From the Daily Mail, and don’t you just love those headlines?:

‘I don’t like [the pressure] that people put on me, on women, that you’ve failed yourself as a female because you haven’t procreated,’ she said.

Denial: The actress was forced to deny she was pregnant after being pictured on the red carpet in August, appearing to show a bump

‘I don’t think it’s fair. You may not have a child come out of your vagina, but that doesn’t mean that you aren’t mothering – dogs, friends, friends, children.’

Since her split with husband Brad Pitt in 2005 Anniston has been the focus of intense media scrutiny in the U.S.

Almost every month a celebrity magazine in the US speculates that she is pregnant, getting married or engaged in a row with Angelina Jolie who recently married her ex-husband and has six children.

In August she was forced to issue a denial that she was pregnant after photos of her on the red carpet appeared to show a slight bulge in her dress.

What do you think? Does a career as a celebrated actress equal the life of a parent? Can’t one do both?

Bonus question: what is your favorite Jennifer Aniston movie?

Vs.

Vs.

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Vs.

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Handcuffed or Spanked?

Monday, December 15th, 2014 - by Rhonda Robinson

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The obvious answer is “neither.” Who wants their child, at any age, handcuffed by police – let alone at age 6? Sorry if I misled you with the title; you don’t have the option between spanking and handcuffs. Children are not being spanked in school and obviously not at home. That would be just wrong, right?

Handcuffed for bad behavior? Yeah, that’s happening today.

As the wife of a retired police officer, I have some very strong opinions about the role of the police. This, however, is an entirely different matter. A police officer in an elementary school is not the same as an officer on the street. This isn’t about police. It’s about developmental behavior, abdicating responsibility, and the natural consequences of cultural Marxism.

It’s a given that one or two instances doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s commonplace, although it is an issue that is occurring more often than most of us realize. I defy you to find one story of this happening even in the turbulent years of the ’60s and ’70s.

Believe me, it would have made the news. But back then we had segregated classrooms–average children were in one room, obnoxious kids in the hallway, and autism was one in 2000 students. Most schools never saw one autistic child.

There’s a lot of blame to go around here, so I’m going to narrow it down to a cultural issue that parents need to recognize embedded in how we view the family.

Before I explain that statement, let’s take a look at a couple cases at hand.

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5 Ways to Avoid Christma-fying Your Hanukkah

Monday, December 15th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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It’s fairly obvious that we Jews just don’t get Christmas. Don’t believe me? Check out BuzzFeed’s attempt to get Jews to decorate Christmas trees. (“Who’s Noel?” “Is that like, ‘grassy knoll’?”) Yet, every year we Jewish Americans wrestle as a people over whether or not to incorporate Christmas traditions into our own Hanukkah celebrations. It’s tacky. It’s trite. And it’s really, really lame. Here are five Hanukkah/Christmas hybrids that all Jews need to avoid this holiday season.

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9 Ways Pop Culture Gets Childbirth Wrong

Friday, December 12th, 2014 - by Bethany Mandel

There’s no shortage of media representations of childbirth, between television and movies. The scene, which has played out for as long as babies have been “born” on television, is fairly cookie cutter: the woman’s water breaks and there’s a mad dash to the hospital — otherwise the baby will be born in a stalled elevator. The woman screams in pain, begging for drugs, and then out comes a beautiful, usually clean baby who cries immediately before being wrapped and placed in mom’s arms.

As with all mainstream media representations of real-life events, writers and producers take a lot of liberties with the scene and how it plays out in real life. Since having a child myself, I often wonder if anyone on the writing or producing staff has ever been present for the birth of a child, given how diametrically different these moments are in real life.

The way childbirth is portrayed isn’t just inaccurate, but also fuels a false perception in our society of childbirth as scary, dangerous, and often negative. Several aspects of how childbirth plays out on screen also affect how real life couples may process their own experience in the moment. So what can a couple expect out of the birth of their child? What does the media get wrong? This list is just a start:

1. Babies come out pink 

One of the scariest moments for any parent who has seen enough babies being born on television is the color their child comes out. While some people may be ready for the goop and slime that coat a baby’s skin, the color of their skin usually comes as a total shock, even if intellectually one has been made aware that often babies don’t come out flesh-colored or pink right out of the womb.

On the series Parenthood, which, unsurprisingly, has seen quite a few births over the course of the last six seasons, the youngest son of the clan, Crosby Braverman, had a daughter with his wife Jasmine. She came out looking like this:

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The very first moments a baby comes into the world, before they’ve had an opportunity to get oxygen into their bodies, a baby’s skin tone, regardless of race, is often a deep shade of purple, which can be petrifying if unprepared, which most parents are. Those first fleeting moments are usually forgotten in the haze of new parenthood, but it’s a shame that most first-time parents find themselves scared for their child’s safety and well-being before the cord has even been cut. Better images would go a long way in changing our image of brand new human beings, highlighting what can be normal in healthy childbirth.

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Medical Child Abuse or Medical Kidnapping?

Saturday, December 6th, 2014 - by Rhonda Robinson

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“The due process clause of the fourteenth amendment guarantees, protects the rights of parents but the fact is that we have to put it in law. You wouldn’t think we have to go here. What we’re seeing in our country today leads us to believe that if we don’t put this stuff into law then we are behind the eight ball and we find ourselves with these kinds of situations. I’m just afraid, down the road, we’re going to see more and more cases like [the Isaiah Rider case].” — Ken Wilson (R-MO)

We’re farther “down the road” than most dare to imagine.

The bill Rep. Wilson introduced states that a parent cannot be charged with medical child abuse for disagreeing with medical advice and choosing treatment of another doctor. Yeah. We’re there.

You might remember the well-publicized ordeal of Justina Pelletier. It seemed like a fluke of injustice, an isolated case. So beyond right, it was easy to assume there’s more to the story. In the Pelletier case, rather than receiving discharge papers, parents were charged with “medical child abuse,” the new term that has replaced Munchausen by proxy (MSbP). Mr. Pelletier was surrounded by agents of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF) and hospital security and ushered off the premises. Justina became a ward of the state for 16 months and her health deteriorated.

In a press conference, Reverend Patrick Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition in Washington, D.C., and spokesperson for the Pelletier family, made a remarkable statement that became a mirror reflecting an unsettling image of a dangerous mindset:

“t’s easier for us to want to believe, or wrap our brains around the fact that a family is mistreating their child, than the alternative to that, and the alternative to that, is what happened in this case and that is, with impunity government agencies and courts have removed a child from the loving care of their parents—and so that’s that obstacle that no one wants to believe that reality.

That reality” is the last thing parents think of when they have a chronically ill child or have taken a holistic path to health.

Michelle Rider, the 34-year-old registered nurse and single mother of Isaiah Rider, the boy in the above video, told PJ Lifestyle just why we have a hard time accepting this is happening:

We are taught that hospitals are safe, that doctors are safe, and DCFS intervenes when intervention is needed. So when we accept the fact that this is really happening– we are accepting that we are not safe, and our children are not safe.

While President Barack Obama asks the nation if we will accept the “cruelty of ripping children from their parents’ arms,” it’s blatantly apparent to parents like Michelle that he isn’t talking about sick children like Isaiah. Agents of the state — with calculated impunity — take their children.

On the very day a law was introduced in his name, his worst fears came true.

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The Key to a Woman’s Sexual Power

Sunday, November 23rd, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Editor’s Note: See the first two parts in Susan L.M. Goldberg’s series exploring ABC’s Scandal through the lens of Biblical feminism: “What’s Evil Got to Do with It?,” ”Women and the Scandal of Doing It All Alone.” Also check out an introduction to her work and collection of 194 articles and blog posts here.

The husband/wife relationship is central to feminism. Historical, first-wave feminism studied matrimony in terms of legal rights. Contemporary, second-wave feminism approaches marriage in terms of sexual and economic power. Biblical feminism seeks to understand the spiritual relationship between a husband and wife, and how that spiritual relationship manifests into physical action. To do so, we must begin at the beginning, with Genesis 3:16:

To the woman he said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”

“Rule over you” is a phrase that sends chills down any feminist’s spine. But, what does it truly mean? A study of the original Hebrew text provides radical insight into one of the most abused verses of Torah:

This brings us to perhaps the most difficult verse in the Hebrew Bible for people concerned with human equality. Gen 3:16 seems to give men the right to dominate women. Feminists have grappled with this text in a variety of ways. One possibility is to recognize that the traditional translations have distorted its meaning and that it is best read against its social background of agrarian life. Instead of the familiar “I will greatly increase your pangs in childbearing,” the verse should begin “I will greatly increase your work and your pregnancies.” The word for “work,” izavon, is the same word used in God’s statement to the man; the usual translation (“pangs” or “pain”) is far less accurate. In addition, the woman will experience more pregnancies; the Hebrew word is pregnancy, not childbearing, as the NRSV and other versions have it. Women, in other words, must have large families and also work hard, which is what the next clause also proclaims. The verse is a mandate for intense productive and reproductive roles for women; it sanctions what life meant for Israelite women.

In light of this, the notion of general male dominance in the second half of the verse is a distortion. More likely, the idea of male “rule” is related to the multiple pregnancies mentioned in the first half of the verse. Women might resist repeated pregnancies because of the dangers of death in childbirth, but because of their sexual passion (“desire,” 3:16) they accede to their husbands’ sexuality. Male rule in this verse is narrowly drawn, relating only to sexuality; male interpretive traditions have extended that idea by claiming that it means general male dominance.

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Women and the Scandal of Doing It All Alone

Sunday, November 16th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Editor’s Note: See Part 1 of Susan’s ongoing series analyzing the connections between ABC’s Scandal, current events, and Western values: “What’s Evil Got to Do with It?

Women are fixers. It should come as no surprise to anyone with an understanding of the sexes that the leading female figure on primetime television is none other than a fixer named Olivia Pope. Fifty years ago women primarily played the role of mother on screen and, in doing so, they fixed things and life was pretty darn perfect. But perfect doesn’t fly on network television any longer. Today it’s all about drama, and drama is conflict. So, we get Olivia Pope: beautiful, intelligent, who fantasizes about marrying an already married man, having his children and fixing a nice little life in the Vermont countryside for them, but is too embroiled in fixing her own life and the lives of those she loves to ever quite reach her American nirvana.

Like Israel’s matriarchs, Olivia Pope has a vision of justice, of order, of the way things should be. The wearer of the “white hat,” she wrestles between good and evil in her many attempts to manifest this divine sense that has been humanized as her “gut” instinct. Watch her and you’ll see the woman in white when she pursues truth, the woman in black when she has given over to evil, and the woman in gray when she questions everything she knows. Being a fixer is a woman’s inherent power and inevitable struggle. It isn’t that we want to “do it all” because doing it isn’t as hard as taking responsibility for it, for the lives under our care. Olivia Pope cares for everyone, wants to save everyone, wants to repair everyone and make everything all better. Her struggle, like that of the matriarchs, is in placing the sole burden of responsibility on her own shoulders. But, the greatest lesson of God-given responsibility is that you are not expected to carry it all alone.

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Why Kelly Ripa Doesn’t Care That Her Daughter Doesn’t Like Her

Friday, November 7th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

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According to “Live with Kelly and Michael” co-host Kelly Ripa, her 13-year-old daughter Lola isn’t her biggest fan. Yahoo News reports:

“I don’t think she likes me, but I don’t care. I’m like, ‘I’m not your friend, I’m your mom,’” Ripa told Wendy Williams. “I just feel an obligation as her mom to keep her living in the real world. I don’t care who you are or what you do, if you’re a mom, you’re a mom.”

Ripa, 44, explained that not only is she a source of embarrassment for her teen, but recently, she and her husband, Mark Consuelos, were forced to punish their daughter. Ripa said she revoked their daughter’s phone and Internet privileges because she was using her phone when she was supposed to be studying Spanish.

It’s an interesting insight into the private life of a very public figure. As if parenting isn’t fraught with enough perils and pressures, Ripa and her husband, Mark Consuelos, are raising kids in the spotlight — where they’re expected to smile for the cameras and perform anytime they’re in public. Their children are privileged — one percenters by almost any standards — so raising children who are not spoiled brats (see: the debacle they call the Kardashian family) increases the degree of parenting difficulty exponentially.

Kids need to learn early on that the world doesn’t revolve around them and they’re not the center of the universe — they shouldn’t be permitted demand to worship and adoration (things that should be reserved for God). All things considered, Ripa seems to be trying to keep her kids grounded and as she said, “living in the real world,” which is rather refreshing in a culture where discipline and accountability are increasingly out of fashion and parents want their kids to be their BFFs.

But about Ripa’s comment that she doesn’t care if her daughter likes her. Should she care? Should you care if your kids (in particular, kids of the teenage variety) don’t like you? Should your popularity with your kids guide how you respond to them and make decisions about parenting? Or is it better to plow ahead with your decisions, ignoring how your kids feel about you?

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8 Reasons Why Jews & Christians Should Re-Think Celebrating Halloween

Thursday, October 30th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Halloween was always a point of contention in our house growing up. Naturally theatrical, I loved dressing up and relished in making my own costumes. And what kid turns down free candy? Sure, Jewish kids have Purim for these things and more, but when you’re in a mainly gentile neck of the woods, it’s a struggle not to be allowed to join in the party. As I grew into adulthood and took a deeper look at Halloween, however, I began to understand my parents’ objections quite clearly. There are definite reasons why Jews and Christians who base their faith in the Bible should re-think introducing and encouraging their child’s participation in this, the most pagan of American holidays.

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The Feminist Lesson in Mom’s Night Out

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Twenty-four percent of married couple families with children under 15 have a stay-at-home mom. Ninety-nine percent of stay-at-home moms in the movies get a really bad rap. Search “Best Movie Moms” and you’ll get lists that include Shirley MacLaine in Terms of Endearment, Sigourney Weaver in Aliens, Shelly Duvall in The Shining, and more than a few mentions of Psycho. The majority of movie mothers are either widowed or divorced, careerists or working class, alcoholics or impregnated by UFOs. The closest you’ll get to a stay-at-home mom in post-1940s cinema is Kathleen Turner playing the psychotic Serial Mom or Michael Keaton taking on the role so his wife can pursue her career in Mr. Mom.

In fact, outside of Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side there hasn’t been a truly admirable middle-class, white, stay-at-home mother on the silver screen in over 50 years. Which is probably why Mom’s Night Out received such a negative critical reception when it premiered last spring. We have been acculturated out of believing in the power and purpose of stay-at-home moms. Yet, the criticisms leveled at Mom’s Night Out for its “depressingly regressive” spirit and “archaic notions of gender roles” were not applied to a similar film about a stay-at-home mom released only two years prior. This Is 40 received mixed reviews, but praise for yielding “…some of [Judd] Apatow’s most personal observations yet on the feelings for husbands, wives, parents, and children that we categorize as love.”

So, what made This Is 40 palatable in a way that Mom’s Night Out wasn’t? Is there, perhaps, a culturally acceptable way to be a stay-at-home mom?

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What 2 Retired Whores Can Teach Slut-Walk Feminists

Monday, October 20th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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A story about two old Jewish ladies is making the rounds in the Jewish press, but not for the reasons you may think. Sure, they’re bubbes. They’re children of a Holocaust survivor to boot. But the real reason they’re attracting so much attention is that they happen to be retired professional whores.

Dutch twins Louise and Martine Fokkens (probably not their real last name, since “Fokken” is a Dutch term for “old whore”) have become international celebrities since the 2011 release of their biographical documentary Meet the Fokkens. Women’s magazines like Cosmo picked up on their story shortly after the film’s release, publishing quick little details like:

Louise and Martine (mothers of four and three respectively) became prostitutes before the age of 20 in order to escape violent relationships.

It’s an interpretation that, at best, qualifies as a half-truth. Louise was forced into the sex trade by an abusive husband. Martine, however, became a prostitute out of spite:

Martine followed her sister into the trade, working first as a cleaning lady at brothels before she began turning tricks herself. “I was angry at how everybody around us shunned Louise,” Martine said. “I did it out of spite, really.”

Both women eventually divorced their husbands, whom they now describe as “a couple of pimps.” But they continued working in the district “because that had become our lives,” Louise said.

“Our life in the business became a source of pride, a sport of sorts,” Louise added.

In retrospect, both women say they regret becoming prostitutes.

Reading their story, one can’t help but wonder if mainstream feminist advocates for slut walks and “Yes Means Yes” legislation would condemn the pair for regretting the life they chose. After all, their body, their choice, right? They took control of their bad marriages, divorced the husbands they referred to as “pimps” and chose, fully of their own volition, to remain in the sex trade after their exes were fully out of the picture. Martine and Louise, it would seem, are the originators of the Slut Walk.

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Would Free Contraceptives Reduce Teen Pregnancies and Abortions?

Sunday, October 5th, 2014 - by Theodore Dalrymple

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One of the more extraordinary experiences of my medical career was injecting rural African women with a long-term contraceptive in a Catholic mission hospital under a portrait of Pope Paul VI. The contraceptive was handed to me by an aged Swiss nun who was otherwise deeply orthodox, but who recognized that worn-out women who had already had ten children were in danger of their lives if they had any more. I refrained from remarking on the paradox: I had already learned that there is more to life than intellectual consistency.

In the west, of course, the problem of unwanted pregnancy is different: it arises mainly among teenagers of what used to be called the lower classes. Pregnancy rates among the latter in the United States are among the highest in the western world. According to a paper in a recent edition of the New England Journal of Medicine, such pregnancies cost the United States $10 billion a year: to me a suspiciously round figure, especially as it includes the cost of education foregone by the pregnant girls. Perhaps I am a cynic, but I am not altogether so sanguine about the economic value of modern education. Be that as it may, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has set a goal of reducing teenage pregnancy by 20 percent between 2009 and 2015.

An experiment conducted in St Louis provided 1404 girls aged between 14 and 19 with free contraceptive advice and free long-acting contraceptive devices to see whether such provision would reduce the rate of unwanted pregnancy among them. The comparison group was that of similar girls in the rest of the United States who were not included in the experiment.

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10 Things I Forgot About Having a Newborn

Sunday, September 7th, 2014 - by Megan Fox
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10. How hard it is to change a diaper on a tiny human

Newborns are tiny (at least mine are), and you forget how tiny until you try to change a diaper. There’s that umbilical cord to avoid which is awkward and nerve-wracking (even for an old pro like me). First, you have to take off the soiled diaper, then you have to pry those curled up legs away from the area to be cleaned (which is not easy… they are strong suckers!). Finally, you must attach the new diaper to this tiny, struggling being. This can take several tries.

During that time, you most assuredly will be peed on, causing you to have to reach for a new diaper. This scenario can repeat several times before you get it right. Also, newborns hate diaper changing. HATE. They scream the whole time. Dressing them is next to impossible, too. For some reason they anchor their little elbows to their sides like their life depends on NOT putting sleeves on. Sleeves are damned near impossible. When will someone invent an infant straitjacket-like garment where one can just put their arms inside their clothes?

OMG. Someone has.

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10 Ways to Have a Child on the Cheap

Saturday, August 30th, 2014 - by Bethany Mandel

Raising kids these days isn’t cheap. New calculations from the USDA estimate that for the average family in America, it costs $245,340 to raise a baby. Parents will tell you many things about raising kids — that it’s exhausting, life-affirming, fun and often overwhelming — but they will never tell you it’s cheap. Even the most careful savers won’t make it off easy, but with some flexibility and an eye on your bottom line, it’s possible to minimize the cost of having a baby in your house tremendously. Here’s where to begin:

Celebrating #worldbreastfeedingweek with this picture of nursing my babe a few weeks ago at a rest stop in Upstate NY.

(Photo: Author breastfeeding at a reststop on a road trip with my daughter)

1. Breastfeed and minimize formula purchasing

Breastfeeding isn’t always easy or fun, but few can deny that it can save big bucks in formula costs. Babies need either breastmilk or formula for the first year of life, and formula costs can really add up over time. If your baby has a sensitive stomach, specialized formulas can cost even more. I’m a big breastfeeding advocate, as I’ve written previously here at PJ Media, and cost is a big reason why. Because I breastfeed, I have fewer costs associated with feeding my baby, no formula and fewer bottles, and no bottled water.

If you’ve found a brand of formula you like, ask for free samples and coupons from friends, your pediatrician and from the companies themselves. While I exclusively breastfeed, I like to keep a canister around our apartment in case I get hit by a bus. I asked my pediatrician, who gave me several, and I also wrote messages on social media to several formula companies, who also gave me free samples. Keeping formula in the house is a known “booby-trap,” which is what breastfeeding activists have indicated can get in the way of a healthy and long-lasting breastfeeding relationship. Despite this, my morbid need to always be prepared led me to keep it in the house regardless. I knew I was determined not to use it, and over ten months into my daughter’s life, I haven’t ever opened a canister.

Pumping can be a chore, and while breastfeeding can save money, that often comes at the cost of a mother’s time, especially if she’s working. Even if full-time pumping isn’t possible, keeping up a woman’s breast-milk supply can minimize formula costs, if it’s impossible to totally eliminate the need to buy formula. Breastfeeding isn’t all or nothing, and any feeding that can be made with breast milk instead of formula can help save a family money.

Insurance companies and FSAs (I get into that more later in the post…) can also help ease the cost of breastfeeding and pumping. Most insurance companies, as part of their increasingly expensive plans, offer breast pumps to anyone interested in ordering one. Contact your insurance company to see how to go about ordering one through them at no additional cost. Breast pumps aren’t “free”; they have been mandated to be covered by ObamaCare, which has increased insurance premiums across the board. While a breast pump through your insurance company isn’t “free” in the traditional sense, it does come at no cost to the mother. If your insurance company for some reason doesn’t offer a breast pump, or the pumps they do cover aren’t what you’re looking for, look into if your or your husband’s office has an FSA plan available. An FSA can pay for many costs related to childrearing, including a breast pump and some basic supplies (extra valves, tubing, etc).

If you’re having trouble breastfeeding, there are plenty of resources available to help ease any trouble you may be having. La Leche League is a wonderful resource, and most of the leaders are certified lactation consultants. They can help for free during meetings, and many will come to your house (sometimes at a cost) to help one-on-one. Even if they do charge for their services, getting off on the right foot with breastfeeding from the start, even if it costs several hundred dollars, can save many more hundreds of dollars down the line. The hospital you delivered at should also have nurses and perhaps even a hotline to help you address breastfeeding issues as well. If you do have to pay for a lactation consultant, inquire with your insurance company if they cover it. If not, this is another example of where an FSA can come in handy.

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12 Questions with Monti Carlo, MasterChef Season 3 Star and Host of Make My Food Famous

Thursday, August 28th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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I recently had the incredible privilege of interviewing my all-time favorite MasterChef contestant, Season 3′s Top 5 finalist Monti Carlo. (Yes, Monti’s my favorite even though Season 4′s Jessie hails from my hometown.) She’s a really cool lady and a true inspiration. She dished on her days on MasterChef, the joys of motherhood, and her new show Make My Food Famous, which debuts this weekend on FYI.

1. What can you tell us about the new show?

I’m so stoked to be hosting Make My Food Famous! It’s a competitive cooking show filmed in some of the best restaurants in the country. Three home cooks get to battle it out in a professional kitchen to get their original recipe on a renowned chef’s menu. The pilot airs this Sunday August 31st on A&E’s FYI Network at 10PM ET/PT, though you should check your local listings since air times are subject to change. It was shot in Manhattan Beach, California, at Michelin-starred chef David LeFevre’s incredible MB Post.

Chef LeFevre has worked with some of modern cuisine’s culinary giants like Ferran Adria and Charlie Trotter. To impress this man enough to showcase your creation on his menu is an almost impossible feat. To do it as a home cook is a near miracle. The show isn’t just for foodies and culinary enthusiasts. It’s also for people that get a kick out of watching someone hustle to make their dreams come true. It is truly inspirational!

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