Turn Off to Turn On: Make Time to Really Connect

Written on July 8, 2014 at 9:38 am , by

 

Truly connecting with your spouse, your kids or even a coworker isn’t a high-speed endeavor. Meaningful relationships can’t be jump-started by hitting send, condensed into 140 characters or easily deleted. They’re about a lingering glance, a tight hug or a pat on the back.

Unfortunately, high touch is being taken over by high tech. I’ve painfully witnessed couples more engrossed in their smartphones than in each other, fathers reacting faster to the ping of a text message than to their kids yelling “Dad!” and moms spending more time uploading family photos to Facebook than letting their kids download with them.

I know, I know, your teen is probably so obsessed with her Instagram account that she’s not paying attention to you either. But it’s hard to ask a teen to turn off a smartphone when you’re not paying attention yourself. My suggestion: Aim for as much real face time as you can. Create mini media blackouts by using a basket to collect electronics for a distraction-free dinner or having a family night devoted to offline entertainment like board games. Most important, teach your children when to pick up the telephone to reach out to someone by modeling that behavior. Our kids need to develop the keys to love and trust that come from a human touch-not a touchscreen.

 

Janet Taylor, MD, MPH, a mother of four, is a psychiatrist in New York City. Follow her on Twitter @drjanetRead more of her posts here.

Got a question for Dr. Janet? Email her at askdrjanet@familycircle.com.



Powdered Alcohol: The New Kool-Aid of Teen Drinking?

Written on July 8, 2014 at 9:11 am , by

By Julie D. Andrews

We were visiting my brother, his wife and their kids in Georgia. It was our first time in Peachtree City, a picturesque suburban haven, where it’s hip (and safe) for teens to flit around on backwoods paths to ball fields and drive to local cupcake shops in decorated golf carts. The place seemed so first-kiss sweet and innocent.

Yet, I still can’t forget what happened there. Largely because it just wasn’t the sort of thing you imagined going down in such a pleasantville. As my sister-in-law filled us in on the neighborhood news, she told us of a local dad who found his 16-year-old son, early on a Sunday morning, coiled at the bottom of the family hot tub, limp and lifeless.

The honors student, who attended a nearby Baptist church and played junior-varsity soccer, had bought a package of Mojo Diamond Extreme Potpourri at a nearby convenience store, taken it home and smoked the OTC synthetic marijuana. In one puff of smoke, there vanished a just-beginning life, so bursting with opportunity and hope and yet-to-be-had tingly moments that the sheer thought of this boy’s final breath still sends a jolt through my spine.

Teens are impulsive. They’re experimental, feel invincible and can rapidly get in way over their heads. Over Memorial Day, soaking in a hot tub at my sister’s house in Maryland, I couldn’t help but think of this tragedy, and want to level with my A-student, every-sport-playing 12-year-old nephew about the dangers of youthful experimentation—dangers that exist for every teen, no matter their GPA or extracurriculars.

What’s the latest newfangled intoxicant? Powdered alcohol. On April 8, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau granted label approval for Palcohol packets, then, 13 days later, rescinded that approval. The government called the approval an error, but the manufacturer, Lipsmark, soon announced its plans to tweak and resubmit labels for final approval.

Powdered alcohol is discreet—therefore, ideal for covert underage drinking. As Senator Chuck Schumer, who called on the Food and Drug Administration to ban Palcohol, pointed out, it can be easily slipped into pockets and shoe soles, and brought into parks, concerts, you name it. It can be cavalierly sprinkled onto food, mixed with water or snorted—a particularly big cause for concern.

Snorted alcohol immediately alters the brain. While no research has yet been done, preventing us from knowing the full risks, we do know that snorted alcohol is absorbed—and can intoxicate—instantly and that doing so may significantly impair judgment and motor skills. Worse, predicts Joshua Lafazan, a member of the Syosset School Board and the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, powdered alcohol could “certainly lead to many more instances of alcohol poisoning for youth.”

It’s not your kids, it’s the age and the time and the hormones and the peer pressure. Call it what you must, but talk to them.

 

Julie D. Andrews is a writer living in New York City. Her new book, Real Is the New Natural, dismantles the negative, destructive messaging about body image and beauty bombarding us daily under the guise of health. 

 

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You Make It, We Post It!

Written on July 7, 2014 at 10:30 am , by

“Thank you #FamilyCircleMagazine for the recipe, and the cute idea of putting it in jars!” says Instagram user @ashmarie122 who snapped a shot of our Banana Pudding. The traditional southern treat is easy to prepare and personalize—she left out the bananas for an all-vanilla indulgence! Create an entire Low Country-inspired feast with these down-home recipes.

 

Want to be featured here as next week’s chef?

Here’s how: Make a Family Circle recipe, take a photo and share it on Instagram by tagging @FamilyCircleMag and #FCMADEIT.


A Summer Code of Conduct for Your Kids

Written on July 3, 2014 at 8:00 am , by

 

Since I moved to Colorado from Washington, D.C., almost two years ago, I have grown to love summer. First off, there’s no humidity. As a native Washingtonion, I thought living in the wet, moldy sponge that is D.C. from June through September was normal. What’s more, every day here is beautiful, there aren’t annoying bugs everywhere, ice cream is plentiful and people are in a good mood. The only complaint I have: The school ends the third week of May. That is just way too early.

To be fair, no matter how hard we parents work all year, for our kids, summer should be a time to sleep in late, relax, roam around, and hang out with friends. But in order for parents to not get really irritated and start walking around the house muttering about how lazy and slovenly their children are, we have to have an agreement about how summer is going to go down.

So three weeks into their vacation, I told my boys: “I want you to relax and have fun and neither of us want me constantly nagging you or raging at you (“raging” is the word my boys use to describe my very calm requests). So here is how I think we have the best chance of accomplishing these very important goals.” Then I shared with them my “Summer Code of Conduct.” Perhaps these rules to relax by will help you preserve your sanity this season.

1. If you want to kick back. . . don’t leave cups and dishes around the house. This is especially true if you have eaten cereal and/or drank chocolate milk with an inch of chocolate sludge at the bottom and left it wherever you finished it. This is also true with clothes (dirty or clean), technology accessories like ear buds or headphones, new or used tissue paper, sports equipment, art projects and any small pets. You won’t be able to relax because all of these actions will automatically result in your parent flipping out—as in making you clean everything you have spread around the house and nagging you as you do it).

2. To be left alone. . . you must read a book of your choosing, outside if possible, and enjoy it. Your parents will leave you in peace while you read—unless they see that you are hiding a handheld device behind the book. If you are, we get to make you do additional chores around the house such as loading the dishwasher (see #1), folding laundry, taking out garbage and more.

3. When hanging out indoors with your friends. . . know the house rules. If you’re hanging out at another person’s house, you are expected to follow the other family’s policies without argument. Likewise, your friends are expected to follow our family rules when they are at our house. If not, your parent will make it clear to your friends what the family rules are.

4. When hanging out outdoors with friends . . . respect the freedom we give you. Summer is time to spontaneously hang out with buddies. But that will happen much more easily if you check in with your parents on a consistent basis. So when your parents ask you by any method where you are and when you will be home you need to answer concretely. For example, “Soon” and “In a little while” are not appropriate answers to a parents’ text message about when you will be returning home.

5. While improving your video game or tech skills . . . Watch the clock. I know video games aren’t all bad. They just can’t take over your life or be a major source of conflict between siblings. So each child can have ninety minutes per day on the device of their choosing for fun. Basic necessities must be taken care of before engaging any technology, which are defined but not limited to putting on clothes, brushing teeth and hair, and taking care of any pet needs. All technology activity must end an hour before bed (to assure a good night rest) and devices be charged in parent’s bedroom. Other projects involving technology are excluded from the ninety minute limit.

6. If you want to impress me. . . . tell me how you plan on giving back this summer. A couple times a month over the summer, the family and whatever friends want to join in, will do community service together. Examples are making dinner for a children’s or teen shelter, painting a family homeless center, gardening, mowing lawns or getting groceries for an older person. When I know you’re up to some good, I can kick back and enjoy summer too.

Have you laid down some rules of the road for your kids this summer? Post a comment and tell me what they are 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 askrosalind@familycircle.com.

 

 


Moms and Daughters Bond While Working Out with “Biggest Loser” Trainer Cara Castronuova

Written on July 2, 2014 at 2:16 pm , by

Learning about fitness and health is as easy as having fun—that’s what celebrity trainer Cara Castronuova has in store for her camp-goers.

Camp Kid Warrior in Patterson, New York, which is open to boys and girls ages 7-18, will focus on eating balanced meals, an assortment of exciting workouts (including Zumba, martial arts and kickboxing) and, most important, getting kids inspired by fitness.

With a staff of motivational athletic counselors, the camp is offered by Cara’s very own nonprofit organization, the Knockout Obesity Foundation, which gives children in need the chance to exercise and keep at it.

Traditional camp activities like arts and crafts, fishing and archery will also be offered.

Learn more about the program and the organization by visiting knockoutobesityfoundation.org.

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Special Delivery! Could a Little Purple Box Change Your Love Life for the Better?

Written on July 2, 2014 at 11:50 am , by

 

After we posted on Family Circle‘s Facebook page that we were looking for readers to try out a romance kit, my email inbox didn’t stop dinging for the next hour…plus. So many readers responded! We selected several moms from across the country and asked them to await the arrival of the Bedroom Chemist—a subscription service that delivers a discreet box of intimacy-enhancing products specially curated for, well, a good time. Every six weeks you get a bundle. No one knows what’s in the box—not the mailman, not your kids and not you—until you open it. We asked testers to try the products out and tell us what happened. Here, two testers share their stories.

Tester #1: “This Was One of the Most Romantically Fun-Filled Nights We’ve Had in a While.”
With a house full of kids—and all their various activities—there’s not too much time for romance. My husband and I made a decision that we were going to really make this past Valentine’s Day special. Our older daughter was in charge of taking her two younger sisters and her daughter to the movies. I made a nice romantic dinner for two with candles, wine and chocolate-covered strawberries. My husband even helped with the cooking!

After we enjoyed our dinner and having the house all to ourselves, we decided to try the kit. I lit the candle and left it on the nightstand for a bit to let the wax melt. This was our first time experimenting with a candle and it was so much fun! We massaged each other with some of the warm wax, which made our skin so smooth and soft. It also had a wonderful fragrance and made the bedroom smell really good.

It was also our first time using a vibrator, which was fun and interesting. We would probably try it again. We did not need to use any of the lube and with all the fun we were having, we forgot we had the sexy scratch-off cards. This was one of the most romantically fun-filled nights we’ve had in a while. Can’t wait until the next date night—we will definitely be using our kit again.

Tester #2: “I Would Recommend It to Anyone Just for Something Different.”
The biggest challenge that my husband and I have to intimacy is timing. We’ve been married 22 years and have two teenagers. I never would have thought that finding time to make love would be so hard once the kids got bigger.

I loved the idea of the romance kit just to make us make the time to be together. The kit came in the mail on a Thursday. I told my husband to reserve one hour on Friday for me. We eagerly anticipated the next morning. What happened? I got called in to work, so scratch that plan. It took a few days, but we finally got to try out the items.

I was excited about the candle. I love a massage. The problem with the candle is that it took a really long time to melt…Like, we got tired of waiting so we never used it. But it still sits on the nightstand for another day with better planning. The lubricant was the best of any we’ve ever used! But I’m guessing my husband applied too much of the “sensation-enhancing” balm—he couldn’t tell how many drops were coming out—because it was like I was on fire. The little vibrator was really cute and I liked the feel of it. But it just didn’t have enough power for us. Even though we didn’t love everything, all in all it was a great time and I would recommend it to anyone just for fun—and something different.

Want to spice things up between the sheets and try out this kit yourself? Check out the BedroomChemist.com ($50 or less per package) and let us know how it goes!

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WIN IT! Family Circle Summer Shopping Spree Sweeps With RetailMeNot.com

Written on July 1, 2014 at 2:15 pm , by

Let digital coupon site RetailMeNot.com foot the bill for all your summer shopping needs by entering Family Circle’s gift card giveaway sweepstakes. There are four $500 visa gift cards up for grabs. Here’s your chance to WIN! See official rules, here.

 

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Driver’s Ed 101: The Parent Edition

Written on July 1, 2014 at 7:30 am , by

Do you know any parents who love teaching their kids to drive? Me neither. Now that my husband and I are at our official halfway point—midway through our third teen’s permit—I’ve finally reached a point of peace with it.

With the first new driver, I thought I’d be the cool, laid-back stepmom who wouldn’t stress out or raise her voice. This was before I fully grasped that the things that exasperate you about your kids around the house will exponentially exasperate you when they’re behind the wheel, because now those annoyances are dangerous and expensive.

You put your reasonably intelligent teens in the driver’s seat and it’s as if aliens have abducted them and left poorly functioning drones in their place. The girl who speaks fluent French gets the brake and gas pedals mixed up. The boy who does complex logarithmic equations in his head fails to notice when the car in front of him brakes. The volleyball star who anticipates the moves of every member of the opposing team can’t anticipate a single move by another driver.

Yet even when they lull you into a false sense of security by pretending to ignore you, it turns out your kids are always watching you.

At a four-way stop, our second teen driver stopped smoothly and took her turn in order.

 “How was that?” she asked.

 “Perfect!” I said.

 “You have the best stops out of everyone,” she explained. “You let up on the brake a little before you come to a complete stop, and then it doesn’t jerk at the end.”

That’s a habit I developed in my 20s, back when I smoked and drank coffee from an open mug while driving (stopping like that keeps the coffee from spilling). I didn’t mention this.

When the third kid got her permit, I looked back on previous experiences and accepted a few things that have made it easier:

1. The car’s going to get dinked up.

The first teen jumped the curb in our driveway, ripping off the entire undercarriage covering while her father and I watched. She then proceeded to tell us how it wasn’t her fault. The second one ignored, for three days, the fact that the car had been bombed by a pack of wild turkeys. When we demanded she wash the car, she used a steel wool pad. She’s hit the retaining wall so much that the bumper looks like it was attacked with an industrial cheese grater.

We’re in no rush to get nicer cars.

2. I will accomplish nothing by holding my Jesus handle and pressing my imaginary brake pedal.

It is far more effective to calmly point out facts:

You should brake now.
Accelerate, or you’ll get run over.
You missed the exit.

3. I will accomplish nothing good by imagining worst-case scenarios.

Instead, I bring myself back to the present moment by calmly asking questions:

What’s the speed limit here?
Are you trying to crawl up that guy’s tailpipe?

4. I will raise my voice at some point.

It’s okay to yell when they do something truly dangerous. They’re new enough to the whole driving thing that they may not understand immediate danger. Parental anger usually gets their attention.

On a recent drive, the third teen did beautifully and didn’t make a single error. But as we approached our driveway, she didn’t slow down. Before I could speak, she turned, too fast and not enough. The noise was loud and jarring. I couldn’t tell whether she hit the retaining wall or the power line pole. I tried to be angry—I pulled out the old standby, “What were you thinking!?!” but it felt as if I were playing a part. She knows what she did and she’s unlikely to make that same error again. Fortunately, she only hit the retaining wall.

Inspecting the damage, I realized I couldn’t tell new scratches from old ones, and laughed. Accepting that these things happen—and being desensitized by two previous drivers—made it suddenly funny to me.

But I didn’t laugh half as much as I’m going to when the fifth one finally gets his license and I don’t have to teach any more teens how to drive.

 

JM Randolph is a writer, stagehand, and custodial stepmom of five. She lives in New Jersey with her family and blogs at accidentalstepmom.com.


“Like a Girl” Ad Will Really Give Teen Girls Something to Think About

Written on June 30, 2014 at 5:16 pm , by

It’s not every day that an ad asks a thought-provoking question, but this Always ad sure does. The question: When did doing something “like a girl” become an insult?

A group of teens and younger children are instructed to complete certain actions—for example, running and fighting—like a girl. There’s an eye-opening difference in how the two groups respond. The teens all act “girly,” complete with flailing arms and concern about messing up their hair. The younger kids, however, run and fight fiercely.

Always found that girls experience a drop in confidence around puberty. The company partnered with the filmmaker and director of this video, Lauren Greenfield, to redefine the phrase “like a girl” so that it means something awesome.

Wait till you see how the teens react when they rethink what that phrase should mean.


Coding While Female: Getting Our Girls on the Technology Bandwagon

Written on June 30, 2014 at 2:21 pm , by

You’ve probably been hearing a lot about coding in the news lately, and perhaps wondered what it is. Simply put, coding is the act of writing a program using a programming language. This is what makes it possible for us to create things like websites, apps and computer software, but I recently discovered that coding is so much more. It basically opens the gate to an array of exciting creative careers, but unfortunately, women aren’t getting as involved as we ought to be.

According to the National Science Board, women make up a mere 26% of computer science and mathematics professionals in the United States. Female participation in computer science has actually declined to 18% from its peak of 37% in the mid-1980s. This is disquieting because STEM professions (science, technology, engineering and math) are expected to grow by 17% from 2008 through 2018, compared to 9.8% for non-STEM jobs. There are some incredible opportunities out there, and women are severely underrepresented. We have to change that, starting with our daughters.

Personally, I’ve been bugging my 14-year-old for the past year. “Look at these crazy stats! Don’t you want to learn to code?” Her response: “No, Mom, it’s not me.” Argh. This conversation went on and off. I didn’t want to push her if she felt it wasn’t her passion, but I wasn’t quite convinced that she understood all that coding encompasses or all that you can do with it, because quite frankly, I didn’t either. Well, Google to the rescue.

Mindy Kaling speaks on stage at the “Google’s Made With Code” launch event to inspire girls to code.

Last Thursday we were lucky enough to attend Google’s Made w/ Code launch here in New York, and it turned out to be a game changer for both mother and daughter. Host Mindy Kaling, special guest Chelsea Clinton and an outrageously talented and diverse group of women who code made a roomful of young women understand the endless possibilities. Danielle Feinberg, director of photography for Pixar, talked about her work on Toy Story 2, Finding Nemo and Brave; Miral Kotb, creator and CEO of iLuminate, discussed marrying her two passions, tech and dance, in her choreography; and Erica Kochi, cofounder of UNICEF Innovation, shared how she helped spearhead the development of technology that does things like track the distribution of 63 million insecticide-treated mosquito nets in Africa.

It was pretty exhilarating.

These dynamic women managed to make coding not only more accessible as a concept but fun, and my daughter and I were finally able to grasp all that coding can do. Now I’m scrambling to find her a coding class (nothing like trying to make last-minute summer arrangements!), but I don’t mind because she is open to learning a whole new set of skills that could possibly guide her toward a fascinating, ever-evolving career.

Perhaps Kochi put it best: “Coding is not some random numbers running across a screen; it’s a powerful tool that you can use to build the world you want to see.” Start building, ladies.

 

 

 

 


You Make It, We Post It!

Written on June 30, 2014 at 12:54 pm , by

“We are berry patriotic!” says Instagram user @mommi_swag, who re-created our Berry Kabobs.  The All-American dessert is easy to make and a surefire hit! Find other patriotic treats at here.

 

Want to be featured here as next week’s chef?

Here’s how: Make a Family Circle recipe, take a photo and share it on Instagram by tagging @FamilyCircleMag and #FCMADEIT.


Culture Club

Written on June 27, 2014 at 11:17 am , by

Stay cultured with a trip to the museum, zoo or aquarium—all at a discount.

Bank of America Museums on Us: Over 150 museums, zoos, and science centers for free during the first weekend of each month year-round for Bank of America or Merill lynch cardholders.

Target Arts & Culture: 120 participants in free or reduced-price cultural events at target.com/arts.

The Association of Children’s Museums, The Association of Science-Technology Centers and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums: Free or discount admissions at select locations if you have a family membership at one near you.