AMTC Grad, Mrs. America 2014 Austen Williams, And S.H.A.R.E. Together Join Forces To End Human Trafficking Through 8 DAYS Film

(PRWEB) September 18, 2014

Austen Williams and S.H.A.R.E. Together have partnered to bring awareness and hope to the world’s second largest grossing crime: human trafficking. The two have combined forces to start conversations and raise funds by promoting 8 DAYS, a feature film that depicts a story of modern-day slavery inspired by actual events. 8 DAYS calls attention to the reality of domestic human trafficking in the United States and encourages honest conversations essential for the prevention and termination of human trafficking.

“Human trafficking is so often viewed as someone else’s problem, but it is our children, our daughters, sons, sisters, mothers, fathers, and brothers that are being sold as slaves in the modern world,” said Austen Williams, Mrs. America 2014. “Everyone can and should have a part in the fight. We all have different talents, gifts and abilities and if we ban together we can change the way people view this problem. We are working to equip people with the knowledge and skills to deter violence and poverty, which so often makes victims vulnerable to trafficking, and ultimately serve the least of these and put an end to one of the most horrific crimes in humanity.”

S.H.A.R.E. Together partnered with After Eden Pictures to produce the 8 DAYS film ( ), in which Williams has a supporting role. All proceeds from the 8 DAYS film will go toward the building of safe houses for rescued victims of trafficking, as well as donations to various organizations that work directly with survivors, victims, and advocates.

“My part in the fight is using my voice as Mrs. America 2014 to talk about my platform, ‘Shake the Shackles: Human Trafficking Awareness’,” says Austen. “I want to use my experience as a model and actress to shed light on this darkness and that is why I am so glad to have been cast in the film, 8 DAYS.”

The 8 DAYS film is currently having eight red carpet premieres nationwide, each of which are serving as fundraisers for both national and international trafficking organizations. 8 DAYS has already visited Los Angeles, Seattle and New York.

Upcoming Premieres:

Date            City                             

September 18        Washington, DC                                 

September 23         Atlanta, GA        

September 25         Nashville, TN

September 30         Chicago, IL        

October 2         Dallas, TX        

Austen will be in attendance at each premiere and serve as a host and voice to help raise funds. She will also continue to serve as an ambassador for the film and advocate for the victims and survivors of human trafficking by continuing to promote her platform, “Shake the Shackles,” at Mrs. World 2014 in November.

To join the movement of “Making Good Bolder” and to audition for Actors, Models and Talent for Christ, where Austen got her start, please visit

National Register of Historic Places Ondawa Estate in Manchester, Vermont, to be Sold to Highest Bidder at October 7th Absolute Auction

MANCHESTER, VT. (PRWEB) September 11, 2014

Grand Estates Auction Company, the industry leader in luxury real estate auctions, announced the October 7th live absolute auction of one of the choicest properties in all of Vermont: Ondawa Estate. The 37-acre mountain retreat bordering the Green Mountain National Forest includes the Zara Hard House, an architecturally significant structure listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This outdoorsman’s paradise features a classic Greek Revival home surrounded by the trout-filled Battenkill River, mountain streams, and a stocked pond. Buyers will be able to name their price on the historic Vermont estate at the absolute auction with no minimum bid and no reserve to be held on location at 2:00 p.m.

“A home of this caliber is truly a rare find and presents an unparalleled buying opportunity on auction day,” stated Grand Estates Auction Company Director of Sales Development Stacy K. Reich. “The live auction process provides fair market value in its purest and quickest form, as well as a level of transparency and expediency that the traditional listing process does not provide. Interested buyers should come prepared to bid and buy this idyllic mountain estate.”

Built circa 1840, the beautifully restored main home features four bedrooms, three full bathrooms and two half-bathrooms; a vintage style kitchen featuring a 12-foot island, commercial six-burner stove, antique style refrigerator, and double copper sink; butler’s pantry with custom cherry cabinetry and wood countertop; wet bar with antique 1800s wood-burning stove, wine cooler, ice maker, and copper sink; private study with fireplace and built-in bookcase with ladder; formal dining room; and living room with 12-foot cathedral ceilings and French doors offering expansive mountain views. The renovated guest home offers an additional four bedrooms, three bathrooms, living room, kitchen, office, and laundry. A 200-year-old rustic cabin with living room, loft, and half bathroom would make a charming artist studio or children’s playhouse. Period finishes include a front porch with swing, spruce hardwood floors, extra-wide baseboards, Dutch doors, exposed beams, and a mother-of-pearl button on the front staircase giving the original building cost of $ 5,000. Amenities include a heated gunite pool, large entertainment deck and expansive yard and gardens for outdoor entertaining; and a detached heated garage with a workshop and storage.

Located three miles from the charming shopping and dining of Manchester, it is just a short drive to enjoy live theater at the Weston Playhouse, antiquing among the charming Vermont historic villages, music festivals, and a myriad of cultural activities available in these classic New England towns. The historic estate is minutes from the world-class skiing of Stratton Mountain, Bromley and Magic Mountain, Stratton’s Cliff Drysdale tennis academy, the area’s finest golf courses, and The Long Trail, for hiking and nature enthusiasts. Nearby Stratton Mountain School is renowned for producing more than 36 Olympians including two gold medalists, one silver medalist, and one bronze medalist.

Grand Estates Auction Company has an unsurpassed closing rate in the luxury residential real estate auction industry and specializes in creating comprehensive global marketing campaigns for luxury properties. There are no contingencies, no lengthy negotiations, and timelines for closing are already established. To help buyers make an informed purchase, a comprehensive due-diligence packet is available, and ample time is allotted for tours and inspections prior to the auction. Similar to rare artwork that does not have comparable pieces to set the value, exceptional properties such as this are well suited for auction, where bidders set the market value.

The Manchester absolute auction will start promptly at 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 7th. Provisions for remote bidding can be arranged. The property will be available for prospective bidders to preview beginning Friday, October 3rd, at 11:00 a.m., with daily preview times scheduled through the date of the auction. Buyers may contact Grand Estates Auction Company’s auction information office to schedule an appointment during one of the preview times at 877-376-9560. A $ 100,000.00 certified check or personal check along with a bank letter of guarantee will be required to register to bid. Real estate agents and brokers are fully protected and encouraged to participate.

Grand Estates Auction Company is the leader in the niche market of auctioning luxury real estate, specializing in properties valued at $ 2 million and above throughout North America, the Caribbean, and select international destinations. Based in Charlotte, N.C., the company was established in 1999 and was the first of its kind. Recent sales include the record-breaking sale of an $ 11 million dollar home in Bay Harbor, Mich., and last year’s auction of a Landgrove, Vt., estate that fetched the highest resale price in many years. For more information and auction details visit

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Law Society Children Panel Solicitor Ravi Mahey Joins Duncan Lewis Solicitors

London, United Kingdom (PRWEB UK) 13 August 2014

Legal 500 recommended Law firm Duncan Lewis are pleased to announce that Law Society Children Panel Member and Family Solicitor Ravi Mahey has joined Duncan Lewis as a Director and Joint Head of the firm’s Childcare department based in their Harrow branch.

Ravi, who joined Duncan Lewis as a Director and Joint Head of the Child Care Department in August 2014 qualified as a Solicitor in 2002. Prior to joining Duncan Lewis, Ravi worked for one of the largest regional Child Care Teams in the Midlands for six years and in 2011, Ravi joined a city firm in London as a senior member of the Children’s Law department.

Ravi brings to the firm particular expertise representing parents and young people involved in care proceedings involving a wide range of issues including drug and alcohol misuse, violence, chronic neglect, mental health difficulties or mental incapacity and learning difficulties. Ravi has significant experience representing teenage mothers and fathers who have been in care themselves and has also acted in a number of cases involving applications by the Local Authority for a young person to be placed in Secure Accommodation and applications for Emergency Protection Orders.

Ravi brings her experience handling complex cases. She has been involved in complex medical cases involving allegations of ‘baby shaking’, non-accidental injuries, attempted murder and also factitious illness syndrome. Ravi also represents parents and children in private law children disputes and has been involved in a number of cases where parental alienation exists.

In addition to Public Law proceedings, Ravi also acts for victims of domestic violence and has particular expertise representing individuals where there have been serious allegations of sexual, physical and psychological abuse. She has frequently hosted seminars and workshops catered towards frontline aid workers/agencies with regards to the law and coordinates various advice surgeries and clinics. Ravi undertakes pro bono work on a regular basis and is committed and dedicated to assisting vulnerable members of society whenever possible.

Recently, Ravi has been involved in a number of complex child abduction matters. She also regularly represents adults seeking to adopt and receives referrals from local authorities to act for adopters.

Ravi is part of the central Family Court duty advocacy scheme and volunteers for same on rotation. She is a keen advocate and has represented clients in the Family Proceedings Court, County Court and High Court.

Ravi added in regard to her recent move to Duncan Lewis Solicitors; “I am looking forward to joining a very highly regarded child care team“.

Ravi is a member of the Law Society’s Children Panel, Resolution and the Association of Lawyers for Children. She is fluent in Punjabi and conversational in Hindi and Urdu.

About Duncan Lewis

Duncan Lewis, established in 1998, is the largest civil legal aid practice in the UK and one of the country’s fastest growing firms of solicitors, serving both corporate entities and private individuals from offices across London and throughout the UK. A recommended leading law firm by Law Society Lexcel, Legal 500; Duncan Lewis employs over 500 members of staff and was the first law firm to achieve the Investors in People Gold Quality Standard Mark in 2009. Representing over 25,000 clients per year, the company has an excellent reputation in the Administrative Court, High Court and Court of Appeal in the Immigration, Public law and Family/Child Care jurisdictions.

Established areas of law are: business immigration, child care, civil liberties, clinical negligence, community care, crime and fraud, dispute resolution, debt and insolvency, employment, family and divorce, housing, asylum and immigration, litigation, mental health, personal injury, prison law, professional negligence, public law and administrative law, regulatory matters and welfare benefits.

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Wimbledon Health Partners Continues Expansion Appoints Stewart Whyte as Chief Operating Officer

Boca Raton, FL (PRWEB) August 07, 2014

Wimbledon Health Partners (WHP), a leading on-site diagnostic testing company, appointed Stewart Whyte as Chief Operating Officer in yet another sign of the company’s increasing market leadership. Whyte, a healthcare industry leader, has been charged with managing the growing organizations operations. With a successful track record in major to early stage companies expanding over 35 years in the healthcare industry, Mr. Whyte will apply his leadership expertise with some of the most innovative healthcare companies in the world to his newly appointed position with Wimbledon Health Partners.

Hiring Mr. Whyte is further evidence of Wimbledon Health Partners enduring commitment to enhance the strength of its executive team. Whyte brings with him major achievements from his experience with Liberty Life, Discovery Holdings and Destiny Health. As Chief Executive of Operations, Charter Member and Senior Executive Director of Operations with Destiny and Discovery Health, he succeeded in migrating the back office functionality of Destiny Health, in Chicago, IL to its parent company, Discovery Holdings in South Africa. The same model was utilized in the joint venture between Discovery Holdings and Prudential Health Insurance, UK. Additionally, Mr. Whyte chartered the operational aspects of Discovery Health, collecting contributions of $ 200 million per month and a market cap worth $ 2 billion.

Mr. Whyte will focus his efforts on further developing Wimbledon Health Partners exceedingly well-run operations. He will draw on his extensive knowledge of claims processing systems, contribution management, medical management services, and leadership in implementing a model department to further the forecasted growth.

“I am truly excited about joining Wimbledon Health Partners, as the potential for growth both inside the United States and internationally is seemingly limitless. Although I have been in healthcare for over 35 years and have been involved with both small and large ventures, the potential I see at Wimbledon has me very excited. Wimbledon has built a solid foundation and with my extensive knowledge and contacts in the industry we are well on the way to building a billion dollar company,” stated Whyte.

About Wimbledon Health Partners:

Wimbledon Health Partners is a national on-site diagnostic testing organization with capabilities for diagnosing circulatory conditions that can be detected through the use of cardiovascular ultrasound and echocardiogram. Additional capabilities include nerve conduction velocity testing (NCV), which is utilized to support the diagnosis of nerve involvement of circulatory disease, and help assess cardiovascular risk. Wimbledon Health Partners provides an innovative cooperative marketing and practice-enhancement program to physicians with the educational, compliance, and marketing tools necessary to deliver quality state-of-the-art in-office testing procedures. For more information go to or call 855-200-8262.

LaDonna Harris Honored in New York For 'Legacy' as Activist, Working Mother

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Mixed Roots Foundation Hosts 2nd Annual Adoptee Night with MN Twins – Friday, August 15th at 7:10 p.m. at Target Field in Minneapolis, MN

Minneapolis, MN (PRWEB) July 24, 2014

Mixed Roots Foundation is proud to announce its 2nd Annual ‘Adoptee Night’ with the MN Twins who just recently hosted the MLB All Star Game at Target Field. The MN Twins will take on the Kansas City Royals at Target Field in Minneapolis, MN on Friday, August 15, 2014 at 7:10 p.m. Mixed Roots Foundation continues to expand its signature ‘Adoptee Night’/'Adoptee Day’ sporting events including partnering with major league sports such as the MLB, MLS, NFL, NASCAR, NBA, WNBA, and NHL.

“We are excited to partner with Mixed Roots Foundation again to present the 2nd Annual ‘Adoptee Night’, a special night for all those who are touched by adoption and foster care in the Twin Cities,” said Landon Oldenburger, Group Sales and Service Executive, MN Twins. “As a commitment to baseball, but more importantly to family, we hope that this special night will encourage everyone to get more involved and support Mixed Roots Foundation’s efforts in providing important resources including funds for adoptees and for the organizations that serve them.”

“As an adoptive parent of six African American children whom we adopted out of foster care, we know and understand the importance of creating a safe space for adoptees and their families to come together to share their common adoption experiences,” said Rick Spielman, General Manager, MN Vikings. “We have been so blessed and now it is time to give back – We look forward to continuing to work with Mixed Roots Foundation in raising awareness and utilize sports as a platform to further support adoptees and their families – GO TWINS!”

The MN Twins in partnership with Mixed Roots Foundation will donate a portion of all signature ‘Adoptee Night’ ticket sales to benefit its local community partners that provide important programs and services to adoptees and their families. Tickets cost $ 17 which include a pregame reception to take place at Herbert’s Bar and Grill (on Target Field Plaza) from 4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m., the raising of the Twins Territorial Flag, and Fireworks after the game. In addition, all ‘Adoptee Night’ ticket holders will receive a signature ‘Adoptee Night’ rally towel. For more information or to buy tickets, please visit For groups of 30 or more, please contact Landon Oldenburger – 612.767.2960 or email landonoldenburger(at)twinsbaseball(dot)com. To sponsor, please contact Fred Zermeno at 213.219.1060 or email fzermeno(at)mixedrootsfoundation(dot)org. To become a community partner, volunteer, or learn more about Mixed Roots Foundation, please LIKE Mixed Roots Foundation on Facebook, call 800.659.6958, or email events(at)mixedrootsfoundation(dot)org.

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Thursday, June 20, 2013

How to Stop Group Chat in iMessage on iPod Touch

kid-josh. (Jan. 29, 2012). Cyberbullying, would you do it [photo].


Has this ever happened to you? Your tween daughter somehow becomes part of a group chat on iMessages with several of her closest "friends." The next thing you know, the insults start flying. You tell her to simply leave the group, but you soon realize that this is impossible. As long as one member of the group continues to hit, "Reply," your daughter is stuck receiving unwanted text messages.

Apparently, there is a glitch in the Apple system that prevents users from leaving group chat situations. In fact, your daughter might not have even joined the group voluntarily. Anyone can just include her username in the chat, and she's in, whether she likes it or not.

Oftentimes, when a group member tries to ask other members to help delete the group, he or she is ridiculed by the other members. My daughter experienced this when members of her group began arguing and she asked them to stop and text elsewhere. Group members turned on her and said they were going to get revenge for her comment.

I encourage all parents who have experienced this situation to urge Apple to allow iPod Touch users to leave group chats with its next update. Contact them at 

Until enough parents complain and Apple decides to update the iOS system, the only way to get rid of a group chat is if everyone in the group deletes the messages. So what can you do if a group chat member refuses to stop hitting, "Reply"? Here are your options:
  1. Ask the group members to delete the group: A strongly worded message from "Sally's Mom" asking all group members to delete all group chat messages and stop hitting, "Reply" will sometimes motivate the group to let the chat die.
  2. Talk to parents: If group members refuse to stop the abusive texts, a phone call to a parent or two should do the trick.
  3. Turn off iMessages: Go to Settings--Messages, and turn off the iMessage app.
  4. Don't allow your child to create an iMessage account in the first place: Go to Settings--Restrictions--Accounts, and click "Don't Allow Changes." 

The iPhone does have an option under Messaging that allows users to select "No" to Group Messaging. Unfortunately, the iPod Touch has no such option, which is the device most tweens are using before age 12 or so.

Until this glitch is resolved, please be sure to monitor your daughter's text messages closely. A friendly group chat can quickly get nasty if one group member gets offended. And if anyone finds a way to delete a member from group chat on the iPod Touch, please let me know.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

No Justice When It Comes to Tween Body Image

Like most 10-year-old girls, my daughter loves to shop at Justice. So I was flipping through the latest Justice catalog that came in the mail, and I noticed a disturbing trend. Before I point out the obvious, see if you can see what's wrong with the following pictures:


OK, so besides the fact that these supposedly "tween" girls look about 18 years old, did you notice anything else?

How about the fact that all the girls have the exact same body shape? They are all tall and skinny with long arms and legs. They are all the same height and weight. Even all of their arms are the same length. Creepy, right?

Now think about how your daughter must feel to see an entire catalog full of girls "her age" wearing the clothes "everyone has to wear," yet she doesn't look at all like these girls. She's not as tall as they are. Her clothes don't fit her the same way. Her hair isn't as shiny as theirs, and her teeth aren't as straight and white.

What message is Justice sending our daughters?

After looking at this catalog, I decided to have a conversation with my daughter about body image. I asked her if there was something strange about all the girls in this magazine, and at first she wasn't sure. But when I pointed out that all the girls looked the same, she realized what I was talking about and wanted to know why.

I explained to her that companies like Justice choose girls that look a certain way to model their clothes. I also mentioned how the girls in the television shows my daughter watches tend to look the same way, such as the girls in "A.N.T. Farm," "Shake It Up," and "Austin and Ally" (although the Trish character in this show doesn't fit the mold).

We talked about how the media makes some girls think that their bodies aren't good enough if they don't look like the girls in the magazines. I pointed out to her that only a small handful of her friends look anything like the girls in those pictures. She has friends of all shapes and sizes, and it's all OK.

She seemed to understand what I was saying, and I was glad that we had that talk. Now I need to start preparing myself for the real girls who will soon start telling my daughter she's not pretty enough or tall enough or skinny enough. She will be in middle school next year, so it won't be long now.

I could be outraged with Justice for promoting this unrealistic body image to young girls. But I actually saw it as an excellent opportunity to talk with my daughter about her own body image and to reinforce her unique beauty. Fortunately, she has high self esteem and doesn't feel the need to compare herself to others. She's happy just the way she is. I hope her confidence is strong enough to get her through her teenage years in one piece.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Why I'm Glad the Twinkie is Toast

To all of you nostalgic saps who are mourning the potential death of the Twinkie, I offer the following quiz:

How many Twinkies have you actually consumed in the past month? (NOTE: You should not count this week when the world decided that Twinkies were edible again.)
  1. If your answer is more than 10: How old are you, and how high is your body mass index?
  2. If your answer is between one and nine: Really? You picked a tasteless batch of chemicals over a Swiss Roll or an Oatmeal Creme Pie? 
  3. If your answer is less than one: Move on with your life and stop trying to relive your childhood.
The fact is, Twinkies are dead because they are disgusting, low-quality pseudofood. They taste like wet sponges filled with Vaseline. On a scale of dreadful to delicious, Twinkies rank right up there with Vienna sausages and potato sticks.

Yes, we all loved Twinkies when we were kids, but we also thought lead-based paint, Play-Doh, and boogers were pretty tasty. How sophisticated could our palates have been back then? Anyone who has eaten a Twinkie past the age of 25 should: a) reevaluate their snacking habits, and b) realize that, in a word, Twinkies are gross.

My kids have eaten Twinkies only once in their lives, and they didn't like them. They would much rather eat a freshly baked doughnut or a piece of actual cake. This is probably why Twinkies are dying to begin with: Americans are no longer satisfied with the bland TV dinners and prepackaged foods of years past. We can now get cheap, semi-healthy food at any fast food restaurant or grocery store.

Unfortunately for many busy families, this cheap, semi-healthy food has become a regular substitute for healthy, homemade food. Like most things, moderation is key.

So when it comes to the Twinkie, I certainly won't be shedding any tears. Taking Twinkies off the shelves means one fewer unhealthy food choice at the grocery store.

R.I.P., Twinkie the Kid. You will not be missed.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Don't Lose Sleep Over New Co-Sleeping Study

A new study has found that women who co-sleep with their babies are possibly more prone to stress than those who don't.

I co-slept with both of my kids, and I could not disagree more.

According to a Fox News article, "Breastfeeding and co-sleeping with baby affects mom's welfare," the study followed 195 women in a Chicago suburb for six months after they gave birth. The study showed that mothers who slept with their babies had "less-than-optimal daily rhythms" of the stress hormone cortisol. Those who had the best rhythms were moms who breastfed and then did not share a bed with their baby.

Apparently, an "optimal rhythm" of cortisol is one in which the levels are high in the morning and then decline in the evening. The study showed that women who co-slept with their babies had less of a decline of cortisol throughout the day.

This study is bogus on many levels:
  1. Researchers only tested 195 women. That's hardly an adequate sampling of the overall population.
  2. They only tested women from a single Chicago suburb. Who's to say new moms in other areas of the country would have similar results?
  3. There is no evidence of a correlation between the cortisol levels and the co-sleeping. Maybe these women were stressed to begin with. Maybe they were poor, single moms. Maybe their pregnancies were unexpected and/or unwanted. Maybe they had other children to deal with or stressful jobs. Who knows? 
Photo courtesy Marta Dehnel, stock.xchng

All I know is that co-sleeping was the best thing that could have happened to me as a new mom. My daughter would NOT sleep unless she was physically touching me. I tried the whole "cry it out" thing, and after hours of nonstop crying (both my daughter and me), I decided that there had to be a better way. You want to talk about stress, try standing outside the bedroom door while your infant daughter is alone in her crib screaming herself hoarse.

She ended up sleeping with me almost every night until she was about 6 years old. I still occasionally sleep in her bed if she's feeling particularly needy.

My son, on the other hand, slept with me for less than a year. He didn't need as much physical contact, so he was in a "big boy bed" in no time.

As for the relationship between SIDS and co-sleeping, this article by Dr. Sears says that worldwide research has shown that the SIDS rate is lowest in countries where babies typically sleep with their parents. The vast majority of deaths from co-sleeping result from parents who smoke, who are obese, or who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The bottom line is that co-sleeping works for many families, and a single study should not discourage a mom from listening to the needs of her infant. You know your child best. Follow your instincts, and do what comes naturally. It's the best way for everyone to get a good night's sleep.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Family Game Night a Great Way to Unplug

My husband made the greatest purchase of our lives last weekend when he found this Pokemon Monopoly game at a garage sale for a dollar.

Did you catch that? It's a Monopoly game about POKEMON!! And my kids are only ABSOLUTELY OBSESSED with Pokemon!

So for the past two nights, we have shut down the computers, walked away from the iPods and cell phones, and turned off the video games in order to play this game. We look just like those smiling families on the Hasbro Family Game Night commercials.

Artist's rendering our our Family Game Night experience

Pokemon Monopoly is a lot like the classic Monopoly game, except the little metal tokens are Pokemon characters (I'm Charmander).

You play with Pokedollars instead of money, you catch Pokemon instead of buying properties, and you purchase Pokemon Centers instead of houses. You can still go to jail, though, and you still have Free Parking (whatever the heck that is).

We have been having so much fun that I'm kicking myself for not doing it sooner. Like many families, we get caught up in our electronic worlds. Too many times, I've looked up from my laptop to see every member of my family glued to a screen somewhere. It's like we're all in the same room, but we live in different worlds. It disturbs me.

I'm the first to admit that it is extremely difficult for me to walk away from my computer. Between blogging (which I love), working (which I hate), and aimless surfing (which leeches my time like a parasite), I am constantly being pulled toward my laptop.

Family Game Night was a conscious decision to "unplug" for the sake of my kids. I am thinking of implementing a regular game night each week in which all electronics are turned off, and the family is turned some good old-fashioned fun.

A look through my hall closet revealed that we actually have a collection of different Monopoly Games from over the years: Star Wars Monopoly, The Simpsons Monopoly, and Electronic Banking Monopoly. Maybe we'll start a Monopoly Month, followed by Word Games Weeks (with Scrabble and Boggle), and maybe a fun action game such as Jenga.


The possibilities are endless, and it doesn't really matter what you play. The key is to make an effort to unplug from the gadgets and plug in to the family. Feel free to share your experiences.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Just Call Me the Sugar Nazi

My daughter had a friend sleep over the other night. I'm not a big fan of sleepovers, so we don't do them very often. But this girl is one of my favorites of Sally's friends. We'll call her Peggy. She's a nice girl, low maintenance, no drama. It's hard to find those qualities in a 10-year-old girl nowadays.

Peggy brought a large bag of leftover Halloween candy with her. We were going to the movies, so her mom let her bring the candy to take with us. She also proceeded to eat a great deal of the candy, both before and after the movie. Then the following morning, she drank chocolate milk with breakfast and started back in on the Halloween candy by 10:00 a.m.

As a result, Sally wanted to eat just as much candy as her friend. I tried to be cool about it, but anyone who knows me knows I have "issues" with sugar.

You see, we as Americans eat too much sugar. It's as simple as that. So I try to limit the amount of sugar my kids consume on a daily basis. This is much easier said than done because sugar lurks in EVERYTHING they eat and drink!

I tried to explain this to Sally the other day. She had eaten two of those Nature Valley Oats and Dark Chocolate granola bars for breakfast. (Yes, I know it's chocolate for breakfast. I regretted it as soon as I let her have it.) They have 12 grams of sugar, which is the same amount that's in some breakfast cereals. The problem was that she was still hungry and wanted to eat two of the peanut butter granola bars, too. Those have 11 grams of sugar.

So I broke it down and did the math. If she ate the extra granola bars, she would have consumed 23 grams of sugar, which is more sugar than two Reese's Peanut Butter Cups! And it was only 9:00 in the morning!

When I pointed this out to Sally, she seemed to understand, and she agreed to eat some cashews instead. But a normal mom without a sugar obsession might not think twice about giving her child a couple of extra granola bars. This is why we have so many overweight, unhealthy kids.

I did some research, and the American Heart Association recommends that preschoolers consume about 4 teaspoons (16 grams) of sugar per day, children 4-8 should eat around 3 teaspoons (12 grams) per day, and preteens and teens can consume 5-8 teaspoons per day. So my daughter just about met her quota for the day on the first granola bars alone.

I often feel as if I'm fighting a losing battle. Sugar is everywhere! Our children are programmed to seek it out, and adults are programmed to give it to them. My mother is an expert at justifying giving my kids junk food.

She'll say things like, "Look, this pudding has calcium in it," or "At least frozen yogurt is healthy."

Sometimes I just need to lighten up and let my kids eat sweets, but someone has to be the voice of reason in this greedy, excess-driven world. I hope I'm not giving them eating disorders by making such a big deal about their sugar intake, but at the same time I don't want obese, cavity-infested kids, either. I suppose there's a balance to be struck.

As we finally say goodbye to the Halloween candy, we can now look forward to the gluttony of Thanksgiving and the greed of Christmas. Happy holidays!


Monday, November 12, 2012

When Another Adult Disciplines Your Child

My 8-year-old son had an eye doctor's appointment today. He wears glasses, and he has not been able to see as well as he should, so I took him in to get a new prescription for some new glasses.

We saw a new doctor that we hadn't seen before. He seemed nice enough, but when the doctor put that refractor machine over M's face (the one with all the lenses that looks like a pair of space-aged binoculars), things got a bit wonky.

In case you're new here, M has mild Asperger's Syndrome as well as some sensory processing issues. He is a sensory seeker, meaning he is constantly feeling, touching, tasting, and squirming. He can't help himself. It's a compulsion for him to touch things. So when the doctor pushed that giant metal mask up against his face, his first instinct was to bring his wiggly fingers up for a quick touchy-feely.

The doctor told him a couple of times not to touch, but M just couldn't help himself. (When I asked him about it later, he told me he didn't even know he was touching it.) So finally the doctor had enough. He brought out the big guns: a booming voice that actually scared both M and me.

"I do NOT want you to touch this," he said with such authority that my insides went cold. "It is very expensive to have this equipment cleaned, so you will NOT touch it again."

M just said very quietly, "OK," and he put his hands under his legs so that he wouldn't forget.

After that, the doctor became quite friendly. He immediately changed the tone of his voice, and he was both polite and encouraging throughout the rest of the exam. I decided it was best to keep my mouth shut at the time, but now I'm wondering if I should have said something to the doc.

When we left the office, I asked M if the doctor had scared him or hurt his feelings, and he said no. Apparently, the incident didn't phase him at all. It did, however, phase me.

I can't stop thinking about it: Should I have said something to the doctor? Should I have stuck up for M and told the doc not to yell at my child? Should I have explained that M has sensory issues and can't help having feely fingers?

Or did the doc do the right thing? M should have listened and not touched the equipment. But when I asked him about it later, he said he didn't even remember doing it. What's the right course of action here?

I went to bat for M this summer when his principal put him in the 3rd grade class with the meanest teacher in the school. I had heard that a child actually wet her pants in this teacher's class because she was afraid to ask to use the bathroom. I told the principal that we don't yell at our kids at home, and we will not tolerate our child being yelled at in school. I won that battle, and M now has the kindest, sweetest teacher I could ask for.

Should I have gone to bat for him today?

This issue concerns me on several levels. On one hand, M's personality (and anyone with an Aspie would probably agree) makes him a bit annoying sometimes. He tends to stand too close, talk too loud, and wiggle too much. It gets on people's nerves.

On the other hand, his personality also makes him oblivious to the fact that he annoys people! He has no idea why his grandmother doesn't want him to "eat" her hair or why his friends back away when he starts touching their faces. And today, he didn't bat an eyelash when the doctor raised his voice and reprimanded in a very firm manner. So in a way, it's a blessing that he is so unaware of how others view him.

I guess I did the right thing by keeping my mouth shut at the doctor's office. As long as it didn't upset M, I'm OK with it. I just don't want to find out that a teacher has been yelling at him or another student has been bullying him, and he doesn't even realize it. I suppose that's a bridge we will cross when we come to it.

It's a tricky business to stick up for your kids. Mine are getting to the age where they need to start standing up for themselves. I can only hope that when the time comes, M will know what to do.