Get Out and Read!

Cooper and Asher

   More research tonight shows reading and interacting with your baby now can chase away behavioral problems in the future.

      Researchers say a close mother/infant relationship can also make it easier for kids to learn languages and socialize.

   The study even found some benefits to mothers taking their babies out of the house.

   It can be tough to pack up the diapers and the snacks and the sunscreen to get out of the house before somebody has a meltdown.

   Here are some of the things that have worked for me:

   Pack up the diaper bag and healthy snacks the night before.  It even helps to get some of that stuff in the car at that time.  You can pack a small cooler with water and fresh fruit in the morning.  Have the kids set out their clothes for the morning the night before, too.  Instead of feeding them breakfast at home, Cooper gets his “strawberry milk” and I pack a bag of dried cereal and fruit.  He snacks on that along the way.

   A blanket, some snacks, and a few books – and you’ve got a fun date out.  FREE!

Is Sunscreen a Scam?

So when you slather on sunscreen this weekend, how well will it work?

New research claims four out of five brand name sunscreens are ineffective.

In fact, the Environmental Working Group claims the top-selling brands are the poorest performers, with NONE of the market’s leading sunscreen products making the grade for effectiveness and protection against BOTH UVA and UVB radiation.

Industry giants Coppertone, Banana Boat and Neutrogena are all disputing the results.

Click here for the EWG’s “Shopper’s guide to Safer Sunscreens.”

For Girls Only

Buy Tickets NowEliza Bourg   

   If you’re looking for something fun and fulfilling to do this Saturday with your American Girl, try an afternoon Tea For Three at the Movies.

   I’ll be at Ballantyne Village Theater emceeing this imaginative fundraiser for the Make a Wish Foundation.

   See the new film, meet Eliza Bourg – and help her make one more dream come true!

Click here for tickets!

My Carbon Footprint…

I’m committed to driving less.  Even though our car gets great gas mileage.  And I’m hoping driving less will mean living more.

So today, for the first time, we parked the car and rode the bus downtown.  Talked with a girl named April at the bus stop.  Memorable, sweet moments with a young lady looking forward to everything life has to offer.

She informed me I was at the wrong stop.  And since the bus was early, I missed it.  Then the one I was supposed to be on broke down.  CATS to the rescue with a bus that took us straight into the Center City.  Read the paper.  Met a gal named Brittany from our church on the bus, too.

I’m buying a 10-ride pass to try this again.

Because none of this great stuff happens when I’m in the car all by myself.  And it only cost me $1.30.

The Salmonella Outbreak

It may NOT be the tomatoes.  The number of people sickened by salmonella nationwide is now more than 800.  The outbreak is widening.

This weekend, the CDC and FDA are checking to see if tomatoes really are to blame.

From the beginning, some patients told doctors the tomatoes they ate were in salsa and guacamole.  Since then, the FDA began urging consumers to avoid raw red plum, red Roma, or round red tomatoes – particularly those grown in Florida and New Mexico.

But tonight, as the outbreak continues and the facts change, the record outbreak may be blamed on another ingredient, or a warehouse somewhere contaminating newly harvested tomatoes.

See the CDC or the FDA for the latest information.

Organ Donation Breakthrough

Have you seen this?

It’s a pretty wild kidney-swapping at Carolinas Medical Center.

3,000 North Carolinians are waiting for a life-saving organ transplant.

Become an Organ Donor.  You can do it online.


Embracing Your Destiny

   A viewer friend of Al Conklin’s  had just watched the 11pm newscast from inside our studio.  He looked at me with great kindness and empathy, and asked “How do you do what you do? “  I knew exactly what he meant.  It’s a question I’ve been asked many times.

   It doesn’t mean:  “how do you juggle a challenging career with raising a family?” OR “how do you keep your husband from losing his mind when you don’t have time to do the dishes before you go to work?” OR “how do you deal with living so far away from your teenaged daughter?”  No.  Not any of the questions that keep me up at night.

   This look, this question is:  “How do you go to work every day knowing you’re going to have to talk about somebody who got killed, or somebody who lost a child, or somebody who did something horrible and got caught?”

   I answered like I always do – something about how my work is like that of a police officer, or a firefighter… we see terrible things and have to deal with them – we hope our role in someone else’s tragedy makes a positive impact – that we might help somehow or enlighten or educate.

   But reflecting more on the question, I believe it’s all that – and much more.

   I am committed to – and love – and have peace about what I do as a journalist because I believe I’m supposed to be doing it.  That I was created specifically for this time and this place – that my presence here is part of an intricate plan in which sometimes I will lead, sometimes I will comfort, sometimes I will serve, and sometimes I will just observe.

   It is often uncomfortable.  It is always challenging.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

   Are you fully embracing your destiny?  Read more here.

Global Poverty – or Global Warming?

Have you heard of the Copenhagen Consensus?

TIME Magazine believes it may be the most cost-effective way to save the world.

What would you do with $75 billion?

The most thoughtful response gets published here and a free “not plastic” SIGG water bottle.

5 Ways to Save Money on Food

Summer’s bounty is here!

Fresh, fabulous produce is easy and plentiful at local farmer’s markets and your favorite grocery stories.

It seems a little easier to eat healthier.  You’ll see kids eating berries or grapes like candy.

But recently, a friend of mine stated, “it’s MORE expensive to eat healthy.”  And for some things, that’s true.

Buy lowfat milk, high quality whole grain bread, or cage-free eggs – and you’ll definitely pay more per gallon/per loaf/per dozen.  But in most cases, you’re also getting higher quality nutrition for your money.  Your bill may be higher, but it takes less of the good stuff to fuel your body.  So how do you save money, without sacrificing nutrition?  I checked with some experts to come up with the top five ways.  I’ll put them to the test this week, and we can compare notes.

Plan Ahead:  I envy coupon clippers like my Dad.  But busy moms usually don’t have time to drive all over town for the best deals.  Any savings evaporates with the gas you burn up.  So the best I can do is take inventory what I have, plan a few meals, make a detailed shopping list, and go without kids, when I’m not hungry.  Thank goodness for 24 hour grocery stores!

Choose Healthy Whole Foods:  A 2002 study published in the American Dietetic Association shows families who go on weight loss diets both lose weight AND trim their food budget.  The savings comes from reducing portion sizes and buying fewer high calorie foods.  Folks tend to spend a lot on high-calorie snacks like chips, ice cream, and soda.  We buy very little soda, and instead drink “bubbly water and juice”, sparkling water (bought by the case at Costco) and 100% cranberry grape juice.

Brown-Bag It:   Take healthy snacks with you to work, in the car, to the park.  An apple, or granola bar is far less expensive than a trip through the drive-through.  Cooper’s favorite take-along GORP is a mixture of Cheerios, popcorn, M&M’s, raisins and nuts.  And get a reusable water bottle you can refill at home.  It saves money and cuts down on waste.  Our favorite now is the “not plastic” bottle by SIGG.  You can get them at REI.

Go Vegetarian at Least Once a Week:  Beans, eggs, and tofu are far less expensive than beef and chicken.  We have veggie burritos at least once a week with beans and rice.  Eggs are an excellent source of protein that can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  It works out great right now, because Asher’s just old enough to eat a mashed up hard-boiled egg yolk, and Cooper will only eat the whites.  And when we do eat meat, the portion is smaller than the pile of veggies and rice or pasta on our plates.

Plant a Garden:  There’s nothing better than fresh tomatoes and cucumbers from your own garden.  Friends helped me plant and cultivate last year, and I’m going to try to put in a few plants again.  Herbs are easy to grow, and there’s nothing better than fresh basil and mozzerella with those home-grown tomatoes.  The benefits you’ll reap go far beyond just saving money.


The Perfect Babysitter…

It’s good to be back.

Asher was born back in October 2007, and I haven’t posted a blog since.

So what better topic to return with than to give love to my fabulous babysitter.  The terrific, fantastic, adorable, caring, gifted… ”  “.

Oh no.  You think I’m going to tell you?  She knows who she is.  I left her alone with my two boys through dinner, baths, and bed.  It’s a lot to juggle.  You know.  An energetic four-year-old, a busy 8 month old.  It’s a lot.  Fun with help.  Tough without.  It takes a special person to sail through that with your joy intact.

Not only do I know they’re safe, I know they’re loved, well-fed, happy, and my house will be tidy when I get home.  And, at 8:30 she called and said, “the boys are in bed, do you want me to feed the pets?”  We forgot to tell her… she noticed they were starving.

So what makes her perfect?  When I leave her instructions, I have confidence she understands what I’m saying, and she’s going to follow my lead to the best of her ability.  And then, she goes beyond what I’ve asked, and keeps me posted via text messaging with how things are going.  She asks questions, she follows through.  That’s what she does.  Who she is makes her even more fabulous:  smart, witty, kind, morally grounded… I could go on and on.  I know her mama is so proud.

Thank you.  We love you.  NO.  I’m not telling.  I’m selfish that way.

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