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Written on September 11, 2014 at 5:36 pm , by Rosalind Wiseman
A few days before I started sixth grade at a private school, I went with my mother to get my uniforms. While she beamed, I remember miserably pulling the green-and-white-striped dress over my head. My mother, like many parents to this day, believed that uniforms were the answer to stopping social competition among students and contributed to an overall positive school atmosphere.
But here’s the problem: Way too often administrators and teachers enforce their school’s dress code by disrespecting and shaming their students, as with a recent incident involving a superintendent in Oklahoma. Not only is this unethical but it contributes to a school environment where the children don’t trust the adults to exercise their authority ethically. What should be a moment in the hall of “Please take off your hat” or “That skirt is a little short” becomes a humiliating power struggle where the child has no opportunity to learn whatever lesson the adult believes they are trying to teach.
Before I go on, let’s articulate the standard arguments to support school uniforms and dress codes. It is said that they:
1. Set a standard for students that learning environments should be given respect and prepares them for a professional environment as adults.
2. Contribute to students respecting themselves.
3. Decrease materialism and social competition.
4. Stop children from wearing clothes that are offensive or promote illegal or unhealthy substances like drugs and alcohol.
5. Contribute to school spirit and unity.
On the face of it, all these goals are entirely reasonable. Unfortunately, uniforms aren’t a magic bullet to stop “fashion show” competition between students. Kids know who has more money either because the student boasts about it (which is common) or other people talk about it. If it’s important to a student to show how rich their family is, they will figure out a way to do so, from donning $300 headphones to sporting $200 sneakers to bragging about what cars their parents have.
What’s more, no matter how great the school or how well-intentioned the rules are, a dress code and the way it is enforced can mask double standards and abuse of power. For example, the way boys and girls get in trouble for violating dress codes is different. Boys get in trouble for wearing clothes that are “disrespectful.” However they define that (sagging and baggy pants, wearing a hat inside), far too many adults start the interaction with boys by using their power as an adult to dominate them in public (by yelling at them in the hallway in front of their peers). And if the boy doesn’t immediately comply, his behavior is seen as defiant and requiring punishment. I am not excusing bad manners, but adults need to have common sense when they talk to people with adolescent brains. No one likes to be called out in public—especially teens—and when you do that, the teachable moment is lost.
In contrast, girls get in trouble more often for violating the dress code and are usually accused of presenting themselves in sexually inappropriate ways. Girls who go through puberty earlier and/or are more voluptuous are also disproportionately targeted (which also disproportionately impacts African American and Latina girls). Yes, a girl with a voluptuous body can be distracting, but that doesn’t mean the male students around her should be held to such a low standard that they aren’t expected to treat her respectfully. Teaching girls to respect themselves should focus on being proud of who they are—not shaming them for looking sexually promiscuous. This is a teachable moment about your hopes for your girl.
If your kid’s school has a dress code, it’s critical to instruct your child how to accept the responsibility they have as a member of the school community while recognizing that sometimes the way the code is applied is unfair.
Whether you have a son or a daughter, here’s what you can say:
If someone talks to you about being out of dress code, do what they say. If you feel that they have been rude to you, I still want you to do what they say but then tell me and/or tell the administrator you trust the most. But if you’re genuinely confused about why you’re out of dress code, or what you’re wearing is important to you and it’s not communicating something rude or degrading about someone else, you have the right to respectfully ask why you are in violation. If you feel strongly about this, you can research your rights about freedom of expression in school and bring that to the administration. You may not get what you want, but it’s important to know your rights and I will support that.
Here’s what you should say specifically to your daughter:
This is difficult to speak about with you, but it’s important to me that I do. Your school has a dress code. For girls, that often means not presenting yourself in a sexual manner. I want you to be proud of your body and I never want you to be ashamed of it. But way more important to me than the dress code is you. You are a smart young woman with a lot to contribute to this world. Like all young women, you’re growing up in a world that dismisses your opinions and rights by trying to convince you that the most important thing about you is your physical appearance. Obviously, you are so much more than that. I want you to be proud and comfortable with how you look. But I also want you to be proud and comfortable about who you are beyond that. So I’d like you to think about that when you get dressed for school. Can you put the clothes you like and that are within the dress code on one side of your closet and the ones that are not on the other side?
If administrators at your school are shaming girls, you need to speak out against it. Schools can have standards. They can even have standards that you disagree with but need to learn to live with. What you should not tolerate are adults who are responsible for the safety and education of your children to think enforcing the dress code gives them the right to shame and disrespect children.
How do you feel about dress codes at school? Post a comment and tell me below.
Rosalind Wiseman is the author of the new best seller Masterminds and Wingmen as well as Queen Bee Moms & Kingpin Dads. For more info, go to rosalindwiseman.com. Read more of Rosalind’s parenting advice, here.
Do you have a parenting question? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written on August 5, 2014 at 12:00 am , by Family Circle
Have your sneakers been looking a little worn lately? Enter to win a new pair of Asics sneakers for your family by commenting below with your favorite type of exercise! For official rules, click here.
In honor of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, sales of these colorful Asics running shoes (asicsamerican.com, $140) benefit Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, a nonprofit that raises money for research.
Written on July 16, 2014 at 12:50 pm , by Danielle Hester
Void outside the 50 United States, District of Columbia and where prohibited. Do not proceed to enter if you are not at least 21 years of age and a legal resident of, and located within, one of the 50 United States, or the District of Columbia, at the time of entry. By participating, you agree to be bound by these Official Rules and the decisions of the Sponsor, which are binding and final on matters relating to this sweepstakes.
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A PURCHASE WILL NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING.
SWEEPSTAKES PERIOD: The ASICS and Cookies for Kids’ Cancer Sneakers Giveaway (“Sweepstakes”) begins at 12:01 a.m. Eastern Time (“E.T.”) on 8/5/14 and ends at 11:59 p.m. E.T. on 9/2/14 (“Sweepstakes Period”). Entries will not be acknowledged or returned.
SPONSOR: Meredith Corporation, 1716 Locust St., Des Moines, Iowa (“Sponsor”).
HOW TO ENTER: During the Sweepstakes Period, there are two (2) ways to enter: 1.) Blippar: Using your web-enabled device that has a built-in camera, download the Blippar app on your device if you have not done so already. After you have downloaded the Blippar application, open the application and use the camera on your mobile device to scan the “ASICS and Cookies for Kids’ Cancer Sneakers” sweepstakes announcement page in the September 2014 issue of Family Circle magazine. You will then be redirected to the mobile registration page where you will be required to follow the instructions provided to complete the online entry form to receive one (1) entry. LIMIT: 1 entry via Blippar per day during the Sweepstakes Period. Note: You must have a data service plan with your wireless service provider and a device that supports the Blippar application to enter via Blippar. Data rates may apply. See your wireless service provider for pricing plan details and capabilities. OR 2.) Online: Visit www.familycircle.com/winsneakers and follow the instructions provided to complete the entry form and post a brief comment on the current blog topic to receive one (1) entry. The length or content of your comment will not affect your chances of winning, except for prohibited content as detailed below. There is no cost to enter. Entries generated by script, macro or other automated means or practices, or by any means which subvert the entry process will be void. All entries must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. E.T. on September 2, 2014 to be eligible. Comments that are obscene, crude, offensive or not in keeping with the Sponsor’s image, as determined by Sponsor in its sole discretion, will be removed and all associated entries will be void.
By submitting an entry, entrant hereby grants permission for the comment he/she posted to be posted on FamilyCircle.com. Entrant agrees that Released Parties (as defined below) are not responsible for any unauthorized use of any comments by third parties.
LIMIT: One (1) entry per person and per email address, per day throughout the Sweepstakes Period. Entries received from any person or email address in excess of the stated daily limitation will be void. You may only use one (1) email address to enter this Sweepstakes.
ELIGIBILITY: The Sweepstakes is open to legal residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia, 21 years of age or older. Employees of Sponsor and any other organizations affiliated with the sponsorship, fulfillment, administration, prize support, advertisement or promotion of the Sweepstakes and each of their respective parents, agents, affiliates, subsidiaries and advertising and promotion agencies, and their immediate family members (regardless of where they reside) or household members, whether or not related, are not eligible to enter or win. “Immediate family members” shall mean spouses, parents, step-parents, children, step-children, siblings, step-siblings, and their respective spouses. “Household members” shall mean people who share the same residence at least three months a year.
WINNERS SELECTION/DRAWING: On or about September 9, 2014, Sponsor will conduct a random drawing from among all eligible entries received throughout the Sweepstakes Period to select one (1) potential winner. Odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received.
WINNER NOTIFICATION: Potential winner will be notified by telephone, email and/or mail and may be required to complete and return an Affidavit of Eligibility, IRS W9 form, Release of Liability/Publicity within ten (10) days of date of notification or an alternate winner may be selected in a random drawing from among all remaining eligible entries. If such documents are not returned within the specified time period, prize or prize notification is returned as undeliverable, Sponsor is unable to contact a potential winner or a potential winner is not in compliance with these Official Rules, prize will be forfeited and, at Sponsor’s discretion, an alternate winner may be selected.
PRIZES (1): – Four (4) pairs of ASICS Gel-Noosa Tri 9 Running Sneakers in the choice of men women or kids sizes. Approximate Retail Value (“ARV”) of prize is up to: $140. Total ARV of all prizes awarded is up to: $560.
General Prize Conditions: Prize will be delivered approximately thirty (30) days from date of winner verification. Exact size, color and details of prize components are at the sole discretion of the Sponsor. Sponsor reserves the right to substitute a prize (or portion thereof) with one of comparable or greater value. All prize details are at Sponsor’s sole discretion. Prizes may not be assigned, transferred, changed or redeemed for cash, except at Sponsor’s sole discretion. Prizes are awarded “as is” with no warranty or guarantee, either express or implied by Sponsor. Released Parties (as defined below) disclaim all and any liability for the actual provision, quality or nature of a prize (or portion thereof) accepted by a winner. The awarding of any prize is contingent upon full compliance with these Official Rules. Winners are responsible for all applicable federal, state and local taxes, if any, and any other costs and expenses associated with prize acceptance and use not specified herein as being provided.
ARBITRATION: Except where prohibited by law, as a condition of participating in this Sweepstakes, entrant agrees that (1) any and all disputes and causes of action arising out of or connected with this Sweepstakes, or any prize (or portion thereof) awarded, shall be resolved individually, without resort to any form of class action, and exclusively by final and binding arbitration under the rules of the American Arbitration Association and held at a AAA regional office in New York, NY; (2) the Federal Arbitration Act shall govern the interpretation, enforcement and all proceedings at such arbitration; and (3) judgment upon such arbitration award may be entered in any court having jurisdiction. Under no circumstances will entrant be permitted to obtain awards for, and entrant hereby waives all rights to claim, punitive, incidental or consequential damages, or any other damages, including attorneys’ fees, other than entrant’s actual out-of-pocket expenses (i.e., costs associated with participating in this Sweepstakes), and entrant further waives all rights to have damages multiplied or increased.
RELEASES: By participating in this Sweepstakes, entrants agree to release Sponsor, ASICS, Inc., and any other organizations affiliated with the sponsorship, fulfillment, administration, prize support, advertisement or promotion of the Sweepstakes and each of their respective parents, subsidiaries, affiliates and agents, advertising and promotion agencies and prize suppliers, and each of their respective officers, directors, agents, representatives and employees, as well as each of their respective successors, representatives and assigns (collectively, the “Released Parties”) from any and all actions, claims, injury, loss or damage arising in any manner, in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, from participation in this Sweepstakes and/or acceptance, use or misuse of any prize (or portion thereof).
MISCELLANEOUS: Released Parties are not responsible for lost, late, incomplete, inaccurate, stolen, misdirected, undelivered or garbled entries or comments; or for lost, interrupted or unavailable network, server, Internet Service Provider (ISP), website, or other connections, availability or accessibility or miscommunications or failed computer, satellite, telephone or cable transmissions, lines, or technical failure or jumbled, scrambled, delayed, or misdirected transmissions or computer hardware or software malfunctions, failures or difficulties, or other errors or difficulties of any kind whether human, mechanical, electronic, computer, network, typographical, printing or otherwise relating to or in connection with the Sweepstakes, including, without limitation, errors or difficulties which may occur in connection with the administration of the Sweepstakes, the processing of entries or comments, the announcement of the prizes, or in any Sweepstakes-related materials. Released Parties are also not responsible for any incorrect or inaccurate information, whether caused by site users, tampering, hacking, or by any equipment or programming associated with or utilized in the Sweepstakes. Released Parties are not responsible for injury or damage to entrants’ or to any other person’s computer related to or resulting from participating in this Sweepstakes or downloading materials from or use of the website. Sponsor reserves the right, in its sole discretion to disqualify any person tampering with the entry process, the operation of the website or otherwise in violation of these Official Rules. Sponsor further reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to cancel, terminate or modify this Sweepstakes if the Sweepstakes is compromised by computer virus, technical corruption, non-authorized human intervention, or any other causes which, in the sole discretion of the Sponsor, corrupt or affect the administration, security, fairness, proper play or integrity of the Sweepstakes. In the event of cancellation or termination, Sponsor reserves the right to select the potential winner in a random drawing from among all eligible, non-suspect entries received prior to date of cancellation or termination. In the event of a dispute regarding online entry, entry will be deemed made by the authorized account subscriber of the e-mail account associated with the entry and he/she must comply with these Official Rules. The authorized account subscriber is the natural person who is assigned the e-mail address by the Internet Service Provider (ISP), on-line service provider, or other organization responsible for assigning e-mail addresses. CAUTION: ANY ATTEMPT TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE THE WEBSITE OR UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THE SWEEPSTAKES IS A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS AND SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, SPONSOR WILL DISQUALIFY ANY SUCH INDIVIDUAL AND RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SEEK DAMAGES (INCLUDING ATTORNEYS’ FEES) AND OTHER REMEDIES FROM ANY SUCH INDIVIDUAL TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW.
Except where prohibited by law, entry constitutes permission to use each winner’s name, hometown (city and state), voice, biographical information, likeness, photograph and any statements regarding this Sweepstakes in all media now known or hereafter discovered, for any purpose, including without limitation, in connection with, and to promote, market or advertise, the Sweepstakes, in whole or in part, without review, approval, credit or attribution, notification or payment from or to entrant or any person or entity, worldwide, in perpetuity, and/or on a winners’ list, if applicable. Sweepstakes is subject to all applicable U.S. federal, state and local laws and regulations.
WINNERS’ NAMES: For the winners’ names, available after September 16, 2014, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Winners’ List, ASICS Sneakers Sweepstakes, Family Circle, 805 Third Avenue, Floor 24, New York, NY 10022.
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Written on June 4, 2014 at 3:30 pm , by Jonna Gallo
Family Circle editor Jonna Gallo Weppler shares how a memorable experience at the Biggest Loser Resort in Chicago helped her get off the weight-loss roller coaster for good.
Let’s just say that if I had a dollar for every pound I’ve lost and regained over my adult life, I’d have plenty of cash for the proverbial rainy day. But after two decades on the roller coaster, I was weary of the ride. My always-messy closet, stuffed with clothes to fit my body anywhere along a 30-pound spectrum, was bumming me out. And more important, as a mom wading into my 40s, not facing the potential health implications of being overweight felt increasingly irresponsible. Anxiety about high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke and heart disease gnawed at my brain. My son and daughter—9 and 6— are my world, and I want to be around for them for as long as possible. Bottom line: It was time to break the cycle. So this is the story of how I finally learned to stop dieting.
In February 2013 I loaded up a suitcase with T-shirts, sweats, socks, sneakers and every sports bra I owned, bound for the Biggest Loser Resort Niagara. My hope was that a week at a hard- core fitness camp would jump-start some weight loss and put the brakes on two decades of yo-yo dieting. (Click here for that story.) It was the first time I’d been away from my kids (then 8 and 5) for more than 24 hours, and initially I was distracted, worried, like a fish out of water.
Soon though, that anxiety gave way to what can only be described as euphoria, courtesy of mega endorphins from the workouts and the fact that I was relieved of all household to-do’s—no cooking, cleaning, homework-checking. It was awesome. But in hindsight, I was living a little too much in the moment and not focusing on how I would lose weight and live healthfully at home. The trainers talked about it—a lot—but instead of truly listening, I was reveling in my freedom from everyday responsibilities. Yes, even exercising 5 hours a day, it felt like a luxury vacation. Despite arriving home optimistic, after a month or two, I was back to my old eating habits. As for exercise, it was sporadic. At best.
In the end, I was disappointed that I didn’t make more of that stay. So when I was unexpectedly offered a chance to check out the newest Biggest Loser Resort, in Chicago, I went for it—vowing that instead of letting history repeat itself, I’d come away with doable long- term strategies.
Going in with that mind-set made all the difference. Thanks to the guidance from BLR Chicago’s first-rate trainers and staff, I’ve made more than a few changes in my day-to-day. Some are surprisingly easy and cheap. Others require more commitment and cash. Combined, they’ve helped me take off 10 pounds and counting at press time, and keep to a reasonably consistent exercise schedule. If you too have had it up to here with dieting, by all means benefit from my hard-won experience.
Little Changes, Big Result
Wake up, drink up. I’d heard downing lots of H20 is a must for weight loss a million times. Unfortunately, I don’t like water, so this advice went in one ear and out the other. A trainer suggested I drink a big glassful before doing anything else in the morning. This single new habit has upped my overall consumption considerably and makes me feel like I’m starting the day on a positive note. And since I’m not fully awake, I find the water less objectionable. I still enjoy an a.m. java, but not first thing. New ritual: Stumble out of bed, plug in coffee, drink a glass of water, then carry on as usual.
Get serious about exercise. My fitness plan hinged on working out at night, “right after everything at home is squared away.” Despite good intentions, it rarely happened. The earliest I ever achieved “squared away” status was around 9 p.m. Exercise, after a nonstop 14-hour day? Yeah, right. At Biggest Loser Chicago, there’s a mandatory cardio class at 6 every morning. Sounds tough, and it was initially. But then it dawned on me—the beauty of that hour is that nothing is likely to get in the way. Result: Twice-weekly 6 a.m. workouts. In my wildest dreams I would not have imagined forcing myself out of bed at that hour for a sweat session. Which is not to say it’s easy—truth be told, some days I have to drag myself out from under the covers. And by 9 that night, I’m totally beat. Even so, the major mental lift I get from crossing exercise off my list first thing is worth the effort.
Crunch the numbers. Math is not my strong suit, but sustainable weight loss requires reading food labels and doing basic calculations. The Biggest Loser healthy eating prescription calls for a 30/30/40 split of daily calories among protein, fat and carbs. It also suggests 25 grams of fiber per day for women, less than 2,400 milligrams of sodium and water, water, water throughout the day—though not so much during meals, because it can interfere with digestive enzymes doing their thing. Realistically, aim for a 90/10 split—meaning 90% of the time you’re eating nutritionally sound, balanced meals. The remaining 10% is flexible, for special occasions and indulging cravings to prevent feelings of deprivation.
Hit the hay sooner, not later. As a working mom, it’s hard to resist the lure of staying up till the wee hours in order to get stuff done. The house is quiet, and there’s always a floor to sweep, laundry to fold, papers to sort. In a session at BLRC, I experienced this aha moment: The later I putter, the likelier I am to end up in the pantry, foraging for sweets. Not out of hunger, but from a mix of boredom and a sense of entitlement. After all, if I’m up this late, surely I deserve a treat. My nights now consist of a few reasonably quick tasks, then retreating to bed (far from the kitchen) with a book or magazine until lights-out.
Train for less. Nobody will kick your butt better than a personal trainer, but the cost can be tough to stomach. Make it more affordable by recruiting a couple of like-minded friends, then finding a fitness pro willing to train you together. This suggestion has been a boon for me and two buddies—we do new moves each week under trainer John Barry’s watchful eye, but at a third of the price of a session. And by agreeing to pay our share regardless, we hold one another accountable to show up.
Short-Circuit a sugar rush. Cake, cookies, candy, ice cream. Yes, please! My brain and sweet tooth duke it out often, and usually my sweet tooth wins. Unfortunately, a few bites of something sugary can often snowball into blowing off an entire day of otherwise healthy eating. BLRC nutritionist Jennifer Vimbor’s suggested fix is a protein-and-carb combo. Three easy options: 1 to 2 ounces of turkey breast on a slice of whole-grain bread, plain Greek yogurt with a serving of fruit or 1/3 to 1/2 cup of high-fiber cereal, or tuna with a few whole-grain crackers. These easy-do pairings quickly stabilize blood sugar and provide that little pause you need to take a breath, refocus and get back on track (see more Biggest Loser recipes).
Look past the scale. When the number isn’t moving downward quickly enough, it’s all too tempting to throw in the towel—or munch miserably through half a box of doughnuts. At BLRC, it was ingrained in my brain to make a conscious effort to seek other tangible signs of progress. Clothes getting noticeably looser, for instance, or being able to do more reps of a challenging exercise can speak just as loudly as the number on the scale. I just have to listen.
Wear a tracker. Even as activity monitors became increasingly popular, I resisted. (In retrospect, I’m sure I just didn’t want inarguable proof of how little I was moving some days.) BLRC trainers are big advocates of the information and accountability these devices provide, and I finally caved. On nights that my number of steps taken is pathetic (like, sub-4,000), I grab my iPod and go for a walk after my husband gets home. There are tons of options on the market. Personally, I like the sleek look and functionality of the waterproof Misfit Wearables Shine (misfitwearables.com, $120). The leather band is an awesome upgrade, and they make socks, a necklace and a T-shirt that house the device as an alternative to wearing it on your wrist. (See how we rated a variety of fitness trackers at familycircle.com/fittrack.)
Resist “Magic Monday” syndrome. How tempting it is to say, “I’ll start over on Monday.” It’s the first day of the work week—seems ideal, right? Wrong. Any day is good to start (or recommit to) eating well and exercising. Don’t let one junk-food-laden party or skipped workout derail you for days. Think of it this way: If your car suddenly started skidding, you wouldn’t wait until Monday to do something—you’d take corrective action right away. Apply that principle here. As soon as you perceive a skid, grasp your mental steering wheel firmly with both hands and turn decisively in the direction you want to go.
Chicago is the latest addition to the roster of Biggest Loser Resorts around the US. The boot-camp-style program runs within the Hilton Chicago/Indian Lakes Resort, which boasts indoor and outdoor pools, a gorgeous golf course, a luxury spa and more. For details and rates, go to biggestloserresort.com/chicago.
Written on March 5, 2014 at 11:43 am , by Christina Tynan-Wood
My daughter recently got her learner’s permit. My son has been driving for about a year. That means when we go on a road trip, my husband and I can sit in the backseat, bicker, snarf down snacks (leaving Goldfish crackers all over the seat), watch movies and ask—every three minutes—“Are we there yet?” So you better believe we’re planning some road trips!
In fact, that’s my sneaky way of teaching my two teens some essential driving skills not covered in driver’s ed: budgeting, route planning and time management. And Google has stepped in to make those all easier, by completely updating the web browser planning tool Google Maps, which is now better than ever. Here’s how:
Is driving the best idea?
Teenagers don’t have a lot of life experience, which is why my son recently assumed the best way to go on a weekend trip with friends was by car. I spent 20 minutes calculating time, distance and cost with him before he understood that driving would be expensive and he’d spend most of the trip getting there and back. The updated Google Maps would have simplified this conversation. Ask for directions to your destination and it weighs all your options. If flying is a possibility, it will do a quick calculation—based on actual flights—and include the time and price in your directions. I would still have to calculate the cost of gas for driving, but seeing all that info spelled out quickly is an easy reality check for a teen.
Deciding what to do
We often spend a lot of time deciding on activities and restaurants when we get to our destination. Google Maps has stepped up to improve this conversation too. For example, if we’re planning a trip to D.C. and search for a museum, Maps quickly grasps what we’re doing and highlights all the museums in the area to help us make more informed decisions—and include the kids (who probably don’t know what the options are) in the discussion. Search for Indian restaurants and it will focus on those too.
Taking public transportation
When we ask for directions from, say, our hotel to the White House, Maps will display not only various driving routes but any public transit choices. Just choose the bus icon and click “List All Times and Options.” It will show you a grid of possibilities so you can see how far you’ll have to walk. This is a quick way to explain to a teenager that sneakers will be a necessity, no matter what the Pretty Little Liars are wearing.
What’s going on?
Want to make sure there’s a ballet or concert worth seeing while you’re in town? Locate a venue on Google Maps and click “Upcoming Events” to see what’s scheduled for the coming week. Quick and simple—so the kids stay focused on our trip planning instead of sliding headphones on and disappearing again.
Once we come up with an itinerary, I can share it with my entire crew so they can’t claim I never tell them anything. The updated custom map section of Google Maps is super powerful. Learn how to use it by clicking “My Custom Maps” from Google Maps. Next, click “Create” and select the gear icon in the top right-hand corner. Then go to “Take a Tour” for an introduction to creating a map.
Map to go
After I’ve created a custom map, I only have to save it from Google Maps on the web and it will automatically be saved to my smartphone (as long as I sign in from my phone with the same Google email address I use for Google Maps online). So when we get in the car to leave, I can simply turn on Google Maps and tell it to navigate. Then my husband and I can put on headphones and watch True Detective till we arrive at our destination.
Christina Tynan-Wood has been covering technology since the dawn of the Internet and currently writes the Family Tech column for Family Circle. You can find more advice about buying and using technology at GeekGirlfriends.com.
Written on August 13, 2013 at 12:24 pm , by Family Circle
In our September “Dr. Mom Knows Best” feature, internist Katherine Chretien, M.D., offered smart advice on making a nutritious dinner in a pinch, the #1 thing you can do for your health and more. For this guest post, Dr. Chretien reveals what inspires her to exercise. And it’s probably not what you think.
I lost my regular exercise motivation for the same reason I lost the will to wash and blow-dry my hair every day: pregnancy. Was it the fatigue or the mobility of a beached whale? I’m not sure I’ll ever know. But I do know that my once-regular habit of exercising several times a week went missing and I didn’t go looking for it.
Meanwhile, my husband, also a doctor, is a bit of the overachiever when it comes to exercise. He’s run many marathons and even competed in a couple of IRONMAN triathlons (that’s code for races for the insane). He had been trying to get me back into some kind of regular exercise for years. Not because I let myself go—at least I hope not—but because he felt it was important for my health. After all, he would be the one pushing me around in a wheelchair someday. I agreed in theory, but when, pray tell, would I exercise in between caring for all these kids and working? The whole idea sounded unpleasant, if not impossible.
Then one day, I came across research that showed people who engaged in regular exercise were less likely to develop dementia. As an internist who takes care of hospitalized patients, many of whom are elderly, I am terrified of developing dementia and not knowing where I am, who I am or what decade I’m living in. Sure, there are sweet-as-pie patients with dementia, “pleasantly confused,” as they are often described. But there are also mean ones who try to take out the staff with cans of Ensure, as if they’re at a booth at a county fair. If exercise can stave off dementia, please pass my sneakers.
So, I decided it was time to get back into the exercise habit. I started S-L-O-W, riding the recumbent bike at the gym while reading guilty pleasure celebrity magazines a few times a week. I didn’t sweat a single drop, mind you, but it felt somewhat nice to be moving with purpose. I further motivated myself by purchasing a few cute new workout outfits to replace the tent-like leftover maternity yoga tops I had been wearing.
It’s been a couple of months now, and I’ve progressed to running a few miles a few times a week. Don’t get me wrong: an elderly person using a walker might lap me, but I’m sweating now and getting a serious workout. It feels GREAT. I’m making time for it and hoping this habit sticks (and dementia doesn’t). The added benefits of a healthy heart and stress reduction are nice bonuses. More importantly, I feel like I’m making regular deposits in the long-term investment that is me. Body and mind.
Need motivation to get exercising again? Visit a local nursing home. It worked for me.
How do you keep yourself motivated to work out? Post a comment and let me know!
Katherine Chretien, M.D., is an internist, mother of three and associate professor of medicine at George Washington University. She is editor/founder of the group blog, Mothers in Medicine (www.mothersinmedicine.com) and runs very slowly.
Written on July 31, 2013 at 4:29 pm , by Christina Tynan-Wood
Shopping for back to school? Me too. But as a geek Mom, smart phone and tablet apps are high on my list of supplies. They are cheap (or free), portable, and my kids don’t lose them. So after shopping for sneakers and dress-code appropriate clothes, I plan to sit down with both of my kids and help them download and get the hang of a few apps that will help them take better notes in school, keep track of their schedule, find a little extra instruction, and discover their intellectual curiosity. I rounded up quite a few of them for the print version of the magazine and you can find some of those here. What I didn’t have space for in that story was a roundup of smart phones and tablets you might want to consider if you want apps but don’t yet have a tablet or smart phone.
The great thing about being in the market for a smart phone or tablet right now is that there is lots of choice and the prices are compelling. That is, of course, the hard thing about it, too. There is so much choice that many parents ask me to just, “Tell me what to get!” I understand that not everyone enjoys shopping for tech gear as much as I do. But the answer isn’t that easy. You have to choose between Apple, Android, Windows, and even Blackberry. You have to stay within your budget. And your school might have some requirements.
But when you walk into a store, it can be daunting to even know where to start. So, in addition to your own needs and wants, here is a short list of gear you should consider to get you started.
$199 (with a contract at ATT.com)
The Galaxy S4 is a great Android smart phone. In fact, it is something of a showecase of state-of-the art technology. It will run all the latest apps, keep GPS tabs on your teen so he won’t get lost driving, has a great camera, and even makes eye contact so the screen won’t shut off when he’s trying to read the latest political diatribe. (You can even pick one up at Target.) But the Galaxy S4 Active will survive a dunk in the pool and a drop from a not-so-careful teen. In fact, you can take it right in the water and shoot video with it. My teens love this idea. And so do I! I’ve had to replace a couple of phones that died after an unexpected swim.
This is a great little device. It is a go-anywhere size and an easy-to-cope-with price (Especially when compared to the full-size iPad.) But it will bring hundreds of educational apps and organizational tools to your child’s fingertips. Even if you think this is outside your price range, you should stop by a store that carries it and take it for an in-store spin before you make up your mind. And take a look at my list of apps so you know if there is something you want that will only run on the iPad.
$379 (at Amazon.com)
This is like a bigger version (8.3” x 5.3”) of the Galaxy S4 with the addition of a built-in stylus and some software that makes taking notes with that stylus (in the old way: through handwriting) work exceptionally well. I got one in for review and became almost instantly completely dependent on it. Grab the pen to jot a note. Pull up the Kindle App to read a book. Check email, Facebook, Twitter. Run any of the apps in the Android market. All on a nice big (for a highly portable tablet) screen on a device that fits in your hand much like a trade paperback and in your purse like a small notebook.
$229 – $399
This collection of Android phones and tablets from Google (creator of Android) is a super easy solution: Not only is this a very sweet hardware – great screen, thin, light, fast — implementation of Android but it’s easy to buy. Just log on and choose the size and price that suits your student and budget. The Nexus 4 Smart starts at $299 (no contract), the Nexus 7 (7” tablet) at $229, and the Nexus 10 (10” tablet) starts at $399. Aside from size, storage, and data connection (Wi-Fi or cellular), they work the same.
This tablet is very nearly a laptop, especially if you opt for the optional (+$130) keyboard. And at this new low price it’s a great choice for students. It runs the tablet version (RT) of Windows 8 and comes with Microsoft Office installed. The size is perfect for watching a movie. But it is also thin and light enough to bring everywhere. Just fold the keyboard up and it transforms into a cute cover — with lots of color choices. And the little kickstand that pops out to let the tablet stand on its own on a table is genius. I say it’s almost a laptop for purely technical reasons. Your student won’t know the difference unless she wants to install software — Photoshop perhaps — that won’t run on a tablet.
Any of these options will help your student get out from under that pile of paper, get more organized, and stay connected to both school and home. It will also free up your home computer – if you are sharing one. Still looking for justification? Go price scientific calculators. For a little more money, you can have a tablet that will replace the calculator, TV, phone, notebook, and much, much more.
Christina Tynan-Wood has been covering technology since the dawn of the Internet and currently writes the Family Tech column for Family Circle. You can find more advice about buying and using technology at GeekGirlfriends.com.
Written on August 20, 2012 at 12:35 pm , by Christina Tynan-Wood
Are you sending an athlete back to school? Me too. My son’s not star of the track team or anything but he runs. Like most teens, he likes to listen to music (or a podcast) 24 hours a day. I asked him to try out the Jabra Sport Bluetooth headset for me and he leapt out of his chair and grabbed at them. Apparently, he had been wishing for just such an item to keep him constantly connected to his tunes.
“Are these waterproof?” He instantly wanted to know. I told him they were splash proof, which means he could sweat on them or get caught in a rainstorm and they would be fine. He put them on and jumped up and down to test if they fell off. Then he went and put on some running short and sneakers. He came back a few minutes later wearing them.
“These make phone calls too!” He declared, thrilled. Yes, that’s the idea. They play your music or podcast through your Bluetooth smart phone and if your phone rings, they pause the music and announce your caller. And you can take that call using the headphones.
He held up a hand to silence me. “Read it!” He announced to no one. I use a Bluetooth headset myself. So I knew this meant he had received a text message. The grin on his face told me he was having fun having his text messages read aloud into his ear.
He’d apparently studied himself in the mirror because his next statement was, “You can’t even tell I’m wearing them! They look like they would show. But when you have them on, they are invisible. And they are completely comfortable. I could forget these are even there.” That was a lot of commentary from my laconic teen. I guess he likes them.
He went for his run and I went back to work. Thirty minutes later he was back, looking happy. “They don’t move at all when I’m running. There are no wires connected to my phone. These are awesome!”
I think he may have even worn them into the shower. In fact, he is never not wearing them. So I guess these headphones are the right gadget to get an athletic teen.
Written on March 24, 2011 at 2:25 pm , by Amanda Flores
Favorite book read in high school: A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
3 things I can’t live without: I’m (unfortunately!) attached to my cell phone, my before-bed book and mascara.
Most memorable vacation: Visiting my grandparents’ farm in the Dominican Republic
Biggest guilty pleasure: Vampire Diaries every Thursday night
Movie I can’t resist when I stumble across it on cable: Mean Girls. Rachel McAdams is incredible.
Favorite book read in high school: The Great Gatsby
Early bird or night owl? Night owl
No-fail get-happy song: “Raise Your Glass” by Pink
Biggest guilty pleasure: 90210 (the original!) reruns on SoapNet. Love those ’90s fashions and hair styles!
Sweet or salty? Usually chocolate, but I LOVE chocolate covered pretzels or potato chips. They’re the perfect combination of sweet and salty.
Favorite ice cream flavor: Welsh Farms Birthday Cake
Favorite book read in high school: The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling or The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
Most memorable vacation: Skipping school during my senior year of college for ten days in Costa Rica
Movie I can’t resist when I stumble across it on cable: Anything with “Wedding” in the title (i.e. The Wedding Date, My Best Friend’s Wedding, The Wedding Planner, Wedding Crashers)
No-fail get-happy song: “What a Feeling” by Peter Luts & Dominico
Favorite ice cream flavor: Birthday cake, because you get cake and sprinkles and ice cream
Favorite book read in high school: A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole—it’s still my favorite book!
3 things I can’t live without: puns, hyperbole, irony
No-fail get-happy song: “Gigantic” by the Pixies
TV show I can’t miss: 30 Rock—Liz Lemon is my alter ego.
Early bird or night owl? Night owl—it’s the best time of the day.
Biggest guilty pleasure: Crepes with Nutella, bananas and whipped cream with a glass of Baileys on the rocks.
No-fail get-happy song: “Let’s Go Crazy” by Prince
Character trait I most value in others: Loyalty
The last thing I lost: Does my sanity count? What I have actually lost that I think is important is the need to try and control every aspect of my life.
Favorite book read in high school: To Kill a Mockingbird
Preferred MO when it comes to exercise: I hit the gym three times a week, but my real love is cycling! I spend most Saturdays and Sundays pedaling my bike during the warmer months.
Early bird or night owl? Neither! I struggle to get up early, but also love going to bed early.
Movie I can’t resist when I stumble across it on cable: Clueless
Most memorable vacation: Last summer, I rented a big house in the Outer Banks with a group of friends. We spent the week surfing, riding cruiser bicycles, grilling seafood and playing board games.
Favorite book read in high school: Choosing one is impossible—have you seen my office?!
3 things I can’t live without: Now if I don’t say husband and kids what kind of mom/wife would I be—and then do they count as 1 or 3?
Biggest guilty pleasure: Chocolate layer cake. In fact, almost any cake or chocolate item.
Character trait I most value in others: Can-do
No-fail get-happy song: “Burning Down the House” by the Talking Heads
Early bird or night owl? Night owl—early mornings are tough!
Biggest guilty pleasure: Definitely shopping. I confess to being a complete shopaholic, but am pretty good at finding sales/bargains!
Character trait I most value in others: Honesty
TV show I can’t miss: Friday Night Lights and The Good Wife
One thing I’d like to accomplish in the next five years: Run a half marathon at a cool, fun destination.
Early bird or night owl? I chirp with the early birds, much to the consternation of the sleepy heads I live with.
3 things I can’t live without: Fresh fruits and veggies; hugs; long, heart-felt chats with people I love.
Most memorable vacation: OMG! The summer after we got married, my husband and I took a 500-mile bicycle trip through Vermont and New Hampshire.
Biggest guilty pleasure: Romance novels
How I hope people describe me when I’m gone: She listened more than she talked.
Favorite book read in high school: Candide by Voltaire
Preferred MO when it comes to exercise: Ballet, several times a week
Most memorable vacation: Nicaragua with my sister, especially our 9-hour climb up and down a muddy volcano in running sneakers. (We invested in hiking boots after that!)
No-fail get-happy song: “Empire State of Mind” by Jay-Z
One thing I’d like to accomplish in the next five years: Become proficient in Spanish—I’ve already taken a few lessons and picked up a little while traveling in South and Central America.
Favorite ice cream flavor: Ben & Jerry’s Mint Chocolate Cookie (or any other mint chocolate chip)
3 things I can’t live without: My trusty iPhone, cute shoes and my cat (Capt. Jack Sparrow)
Most memorable vacation: I went on a 10-day cruise with my family, including stops in Aruba, Colombia, Costa Rica, Jamaica and the Panama Canal.
No-fail get-happy song: “Loser Like Me” (from Glee)
Movie I can’t resist when I stumble across it on cable: Pretty Woman (or any chick flick)
Favorite ice cream flavor: Can’t choose just one. Strawberry, pistachio and cookies and cream are just a few.
Most memorable vacation: Paris in April
Character trait I most value in others: Honesty
The last time I was surprised: My baby shower
The last thing I lost: One gold earring
Favorite book read in high school: Catcher in the Rye
Preferred MO when it comes to exercise: ZUMBA!!!!!
Biggest guilty pleasure: Watching Storage Wars on A+E
No-fail get-happy song: “Modern Love” by David Bowie
Movie I can’t resist when I stumble across it on cable: Dirty Dancing
3 things I can’t live without: A TV in the bedroom, a Swiffer floor duster and Ciao Bello Passion Fruit sorbet.
Sweet or salty? I’m a spoon-in-the-ice-cream-carton-at-midnight kind of person and I’m hooked on Haagen-Dazs coffee.
Character trait I most value in others: I’m not inherently funny so I love anyone who makes me laugh.
Most memorable vacation: Istanbul for the exotic interiors at Topkapi Palace.
Movie I can’t resist when I stumble across it on cable: Rear Window—for the quintessential New York apartment view and glamorous Grace Kelly.
Favorite book read in high school: Anything by Stephen King
Most memorable vacation: Visiting friends in Australia
Biggest guilty pleasure: Jalapeño poppers
Movie I can’t resist when I stumble across it on cable: Better Off Dead (or anything with John Cusack)
Sweet or salty? Salty
Favorite book read in high school: Oh boy. Ok I am going to be honest here: Break on Through: The Life and Death of Jim Morrison
Preferred MO when it comes to exercise: I bike to work on my new Brompton folding bike.
Movie I can’t resist when I stumble across it on cable: 13 Going on 30
One thing I’d like to accomplish in the next five years: Publish my novel; Get a major motion picture made out of it; Marry John Hamm (hey stranger things have happened!)
3 adjectives that describe me: Creative, fun, spirited
Favorite ice cream flavor: Chocolate peanut butter
Favorite book read in high school: Pride and Prejudice
No-fail get-happy song: “SexyBack” by Justin Timberlake
Most memorable vacation: Bareboat charter in the British Virgin Islands with my husband and 3 kids. Best ever.
The last thing I lost: Favorite sunglasses
Preferred MO when it comes to exercise: Swimming, preferably open water
Most memorable vacation: A two-month tour of the great museums of Europe after I graduated from college.
No-fail get-happy song: “Superfast Jellyfish” by Gorillaz
How I hope people describe me when I’m gone: A good mother, wife and friend
3 adjectives that describe me: Curious, passionate, zaftig
Favorite book read in high school: Jane Eyre
Preferred MO when it comes to exercise: Pilates reformer classes changed my life! Love ‘em.
Most memorable vacation: Trip to Israel with extended family to Bar Mitzvah my sons.
No-fail get-happy song: “Hey Jude” by the Beatles
Movie I can’t resist when I stumble across it on cable: Sleepless in Seattle
Preferred MO when it comes to exercise: I’ve never met an elliptical I didn’t like (can’t say the same for treadmills).
3 things I can’t live without: Family gatherings, homemade pie and any excuse to wear high heels
No-fail get-happy song: “Put Your Records On” by Corinne Bailey Ray
Biggest guilty pleasure: Eating French fries with a hearty helping of fry sauce—an indulgence that reminds me of home.
Movie I can’t resist when I stumble across it on cable: Return to Me. It’s a love story set in an Irish Italian restaurant. Who could resist?
Favorite ice cream flavor: Salty Caramel from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams in Columbus, Ohio
3 things I can’t live without: Burgers, books and Burt’s Bees lip balm
No-fail get-happy song: “Pour Some Sugar on Me” by Def Leppard
TV show I can’t miss: No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain
One thing I’d like to accomplish in the next five years: Expand my knowledge of bread making
Favorite ice cream flavor: Cookies and cream
Early bird or night owl? Early bird
Most memorable vacation: Positano, Italy
Movie I can’t resist when I stumble across it on cable: Moonstruck
Sweet or salty? Salty
3 things I can’t live without: Coffee, my computer, art
No-fail get-happy song: “Kids” by MGMT
Character trait I most value in others: Ambition
TV show I can’t miss: Chuck
One thing I’d like to accomplish in the next five years: To grow substantially in my career
Early bird or night owl? Both—I love naps!
TV show I can’t miss: Mad Men—love that hunka hunka Don Draper.
Favorite ice cream flavor: Haagen-Dazs Mango Sorbet (does that count?). More mango-y than mango!
One thing I’d like to accomplish in the next five years: Snorkel and swim in the Galapagos with my daughter (she’s now 10).
Preferred MO when it comes to exercise: Outside, on earth not pavement, no ear buds!
Preferred MO when it comes to exercise: Yoga
Early bird or night owl? Early bird
3 things I can’t live without: Bread, cheese and wine
Biggest guilty pleasure: Cuddling with my cats
Character trait I most value in others: Authenticity
Favorite ice cream flavor: Rum raisin (I know it’s such an old-man flavor, but I love it.)
Preferred MO when it comes to exercise: I co-captain an ice hockey team (Go Wizards!) and run in Central Park
No-fail get-happy song: “Our Lips Sealed” by the Go-Go’s
Most memorable vacation: Renting a house on the beach in Vieques, Puerto Rico with eight of my friends
Biggest guilty pleasure: Drinking coffee in bed on weekend mornings
Preferred MO when it comes to exercise: Running and Bikram Yoga
3 things I can’t live without: My iMac, the beach and french fries!
No-fail get-happy song: “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey
Movie I can’t resist when I stumble across it on cable: The Notebook—can’t resist an evening with Ryan Gosling!
One thing I’d like to accomplish in the next five years: Travel cross country
Favorite book read in high school: The Godfather
Character trait I most value in others: A good sense of humor.
Most memorable vacation: Iceland. No joke, I saw Bjork and met the lead singer from Sigur Ros!
One thing I’d like to accomplish in the next five years: To look like I’ve only aged by two years!
Movie I can’t resist when I stumble across it on cable: Not Another Teen Movie
Preferred MO when it comes to exercise: Running to boxing class
Early bird or night owl? I like the nightlife, baby.
One thing I’d like to accomplish in the next five years: Write a book. Or three.
3 adjectives that describe me: Inquisitive, indecisive, insatiable
Sweet or salty? Salty. And cheesey. And crunchy!
No-fail get-happy song: “Beating Heart Baby” by Head Automatica
TV show I can’t miss: True Blood, Glee, Grey’s Anatomy, Desperate Housewives, Army Wives and most recently Dexter. I can’t just pick one!
One thing I’d like to accomplish in the next five years: I hope to live in the same place for more than 2 years. Even though I have lived in the same city for 8 years (college included), I have moved 9 (NINE!) times.
How I hope people describe me when I’m gone: Vivacious
3 adjectives that describe me: loud, creative, impatient
Favorite book read in high school: Jonathan Livingston Seagull
Biggest guilty pleasure: Real Housewives of [Anywhere] on Bravo
3 things I can’t live without: Chocolate, coffee, wine
3 adjectives that describe me: Decisive, independent, enigmatic
One thing I’d like to accomplish in the next five years: Play classical guitar
Preferred MO when it comes to exercise: Catching an episode of King of Queens on the elliptical, working out while watching it, running back to work.
No-fail get-happy song: Shonen Knife’s “On the Top of the World”; the all-female Japanese punk band’s take on the Carpenters’ classic manages to be hardcore and hilarious at the same time.
Character trait I most value in others: Consistency; I’d rather someone be crotchety and mean all the time than supersweet sometimes and nasty and short-tempered once in a while. I need to know what I’m dealing with!
Movie I can’t resist when I stumble across it on cable: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. I think he pretty much captures it with, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
Sweet or salty? Salty! I have amazing willpower over dessert, zero over French fries.
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