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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

#Diversity

#Diversity


Holiday Gift Guide For Hard-To-Buy-For Tweenage Girls

Posted: 29 Nov 2017 06:43 AM PST

Kids are fairly easy to shop for when they're small, but as they start gaining years under their belt, it becomes gradually more difficult to anticipate what might make them happy for the holidays. Tweens and teens are so hard to buy for — unless you have the means to hand them the latest iteration of the iPhone, that is — that a lot of parents resort to gift cards and cash. (No judgment if that's your plan this year! I like to stick gift cards to the theater in my kids' stockings myself.) But in case you are still searching for a personalized kind of gift to stick under the tree, here are some ideas for your in-betweener she-cub.

Stuff for Her Room

1. A Treasure Chest

Amazon

I never had one of these, and I always wanted one. I’m not sure what I’d have put in it, but I have been told that tweens and teens have, like, stuff they’d like to secret away from prying siblings’ eyes. Plus, they’re super cute and more storage is always a plus for me.

2. A Vanity Table

Amazon

There's also a white one in this same style. But if clean, metal, and modern is more your little diva's speed, check this one out.

Amazon

3. A New Duvet Set

Sometimes, your bedroom decor just gets a little stale. New bedding can change the vibe of a room with minimal effort.

Amazon

If that's a little too bright for you, try this one.

Amazon

4. A Lava Lamp

Amazon

Can you ever really go wrong with a cool lava lamp? Kids of all ages love these things!

5. Wall Decals

Amazon

There are no words for how much I love wall decals. Like changing the bedding, these decals can change the entire vibe of a room — without paint, without wall paper, and even if you don't have a creative bone in your body. And the best part? They're relatively cheap and totally removable.

Amazon

There are so many different kinds, sizes, colors, and themes to choose from, there's something for everyone.

Amazon

And you can put them literally anywhere in the room, even on the ceiling if you like!

Amazon

For Her Body

6. Jewelry

Not all girls are into jewelry, and even if they are, tastes vary so widely that it can be hard to know what to get for any specific person. But one thing we do know, ’90s fashion is sweeping through the walls of junior highs all across the country. Super hot right now? Chokers. Which is fine with me, because not only are they cute, they also won't break the bank. Hooray for cheap-ass jewelry!

Amazon

No shit, you can buy these things in bulk for less than a Starbucks.

Amazon

7. Snarky or Ironic T-Shirts

Some kids this age would rather cut off their arm with a rusty hacksaw than let their parents pick out their clothes, but if your kid has any kind of sense of humor at all, she'll dig these.

Amazon

Amazon

Amazon

Amazon

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For Her Mind

8. Books

If you've got a reader, or want her to become a reader, you really can't go wrong with a library card. A gift card to your local bookstore also would be a great stocking stuffer. If your reader is a little more voracious, I suggest a subscription to Amazon's Kindle Unlimited program. The Kindle app is free, and this subscription is only $10 a month. With it, they can read as much as they want, on their phones, tablets, Kindles, laptops, PCs, etc. I got this for my daughter and I to share last year for her birthday, and I admit, I got it more for me than for her. But she jumped in with both feet and now she averages about 6 to 7 books each week on her own. This service also includes many of the same catalog of selections on audiobooks as well.

9. Headphones

So she can comfortably listen to those audiobooks (or the newest Taylor Swift album) without damaging her ears or driving you batshit, over-the-head headphones are back "in." These even have wireless bluetooth capability, so no more getting tangled and strangled while sprawled across the bed.

Amazon

If you don't need wireless or bluetooth, or just want a cheaper option, these are great too.

Amazon

For Fun

10. Virtual Reality Headset

My niece got one of these for Christmas last year, and OMG, these things are so freaking cool! They're not as expensive as they used to be, either, especially these kind that work off of your phone. Check it out.

Amazon

Editors may receive samples and/or a share from purchases made via links on this page. All opinions are our own.

NBC Just Fired Matt Lauer After Complaint Of ‘Inappropriate Sexual Behavior’

Posted: 29 Nov 2017 04:57 AM PST

Savannah Guthrie made the announcement this morning

This morning on the Today show, Savannah Guthrie, together with Hoda Kotb, made an announcement about her co-anchor, Matt Lauer. Lauer has been an anchor for the popular morning show for two decades.

“Hoda is here with me this morning because this is a sad moment for Today and NBC News,” Guthrie began. “Just moments ago NBC News Chairman Andy Lack sent the following note to our organization: ‘Dear Colleagues, on Monday night we received a detailed complaint about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace by Matt Lauer. It represented, after serious review, a clear violation of our company’s standards. As a result, we’ve decided to terminate his employment.'”

The note then said that while it was the first complaint NBC had received about Lauer’s behavior in the 20 years he’s worked there, there was “reason to believe” it’s not an isolated incident.

“Our highest priority is to create a workplace environment where everyone feels safe and protected, and to ensure that any actions that run counter to our core values are met with consequences, no matter who the offender,” Lack said.

Guthrie then explains that she and Kotb just learned about the termination moments before going on air, and that they were “still processing.”

“I will tell you right now we don’t know more than I just shared with you,” Guthrie said. “But we will be covering this story — as reporters, as journalists — and I’m sure we’ll be learning more details in the hours and days to come, and we promise we will share that with you.”

“For the moment all we can say is that we are heartbroken,” Guthrie continued. “I’m heartbroken for Matt, he is my dear, dear friend and my partner and he has been loved by many people here. And I’m heartbroken for the brave colleague who came forward to tell her story, and any other women who have their own stories to tell. We are grappling with a dilemma that so many people have faced these last few weeks: how do you reconcile your love for someone with the revelation that they have behaved badly?”

“I don’t have the answer to that,” Guthrie ended. “But I do know that this reckoning that so many organizations have been going through is important, is long overdue, and it must result in workplaces where all women, where all people, feel safe and respected.”

Well said. No doubt a very difficult morning for Guthrie and she handled it as well as could be expected.

Turns Out Parents Are More Dedicated To Their Jobs Than Employees Without Kids

Posted: 29 Nov 2017 04:18 AM PST

Work means more once you become a parent

Family may come first for most parents, but work plays an integral role in our lives. More so than previously thought, it turns out. While balancing careers and home lives can be mentally and emotionally draining, that doesn’t mean working parents focus less on their jobs — a new survey shows it’s employees who are also moms and dads that show the most dedication.

Research firm Great Place to Work surveyed 400,000 employees and determined that work means more to parents, who displayed a stronger dedication to their jobs compared to their co-workers without kids. For example, nine out of 10 parents said they plan to stay with their companies long-term. Additionally, 88 percent of moms and 87 percent of dads said they viewed their roles at work as more than “just a job.” Moms and dads overall were five and six times more likely to stay long-term with their company when they said their work makes a difference.

You know who probably isn’t surprised by this information? Working parents. You know why? Because we crave stability, damn it, and we’ve got responsibilities. Remember when life before kids was all “Oh well, I’ll just let them shut off my phone for a couple of weeks until I get paid again.” LOL. Yeah, we can’t really have that attitude now.

I used to work in a few different corporate atmospheres, and let me tell you — the misconceptions surrounding working parents was astounding. For moms in particular, because if we’re not catching the brunt of something, are we even really moms? “There she goes, leaving right at 5 on the nose, clocking out while the rest of us are still here finishing our work.” I’m very much a Type B person so I always rolled my eyes at The Workplace Martyrs, but that prevalent attitude leads me to believe employees and employers who aren’t parents would probably be surprised by the results of this survey.

Bottom line: collecting a regular paycheck becomes unfathomably important once you have children. Caring about your job becomes essential. Suddenly you’ve got little people relying on you to feed them, clothe them, house them, and ensure their overall health and wellbeing are sustained. It’s difficult to think of anything more motivating than that.

Elf On The Shelf Cheat Sheets Exist Because Ain’t Nobody Got Time For This

Posted: 29 Nov 2017 04:11 AM PST

There are cheat sheets to help you slack your way through Elf on the Shelf season

If your house is home to an Elf on the Shelf, then you know how hard it is to come up with new places and poses for that little felt demon all month long. Because let’s face it — playing with a doll isn’t nearly as much fun as an adult as it was when you were a kid. But the thing about the Elf is that once you’re in on December 1st, you’re committed until Christmas. You’ve signed an oath in blood (or was it melted peppermints?) and you can’t quit unless you’ve got a seriously good explanation/lie crafted to tell the kids. Basically the Elf on the Shelf is stressful AF, which is why some parents are putting together these handy cheat sheets to help us all make it to New Years.

Like Cliff’s Notes back in college, these pre-made calendars do all of the hard work for you.

Image via Facebook/ Bounty Club

They give you quick and easy ideas of what to do with your Elf every night until Christmas.This way you’re not standing there clutching an Elf and a fistful of pipe cleaners at 11 pm with that panicked feeling in your stomach like you get the night before the science fair when you know you have to pull something off, but you’re fresh out of ideas.

Bless the folks who have the time, energy, and Microsoft Word skills to come up with these cheat sheets — and I say that with total sincerity.

Image via Facebook/ A Little Moore Blog

If doing Elf on the Shelf is your jam, and you love coming up with your own creative scenes to surprise and delight your kids every morning, go forth and be jolly. The rest of us are just looking for ways to get to our Netflix and potato chips faster after the kids go to bed, and these cheat sheets can help make it happen.

Between shopping, decorating, and usual stuff I have to do in December like work and grocery shop and make sure the kids floss because the dentist totally knew I was lying when I said they did it regularly, I don’t have brain space left over to come with 25 ways to make the Elf shit magic for my kids each morning. But I can follow directions like a boss, as evidenced by my ability to make a box of Kraft Dinner perfectly every time. So when this calendar tells me to have the Elf “replace the stockings with the children’s underwear” or “zipline from a candy cane,” I’m on it.

Image via Facebook/ The Bounty Club

Is this a lot of work for a fake doll, even with a cheat sheet for help? Isn’t the magic of Christmas enough? Should we all just stop the madness of the poses and the props and these cheat sheets and burn these little monsters in a giant bonfire? Yes, yes, and perhaps. But if the threat of this glassy-eyed spy tattling on my kids to Santa will stop even one tantrum this December, I’m pressing print on all these cheat sheets.

The Symptom Of Depression We Don’t Talk About

Posted: 28 Nov 2017 06:00 PM PST

You may think you know a lot about depression.

You know people with depression can feel sad and empty much of the time, have changes in appetite or sleeping habits, be fatigued, have decreased feelings of pleasure in things that would normally bring them joy, and possibly even have thoughts of death and dying. But the one symptom of depression you probably don't know about, and one of the hardest ones to deal with, is loneliness.

People thrive on connection. Even most introverts need to be social with small groups or one-on-one. But when I feel depressed, I can't motivate myself to make or keep plans, to leave the house, or sometimes even to get showered and dressed. But this doesn't mean I don't want company. In contrast, I want company so badly it's actually painful. But I'm afraid to ask. I know I'm a bother to people, and I know I'm not any fun to spend time with because I'm always sad and have a hard time enjoying the things I used to love.

I feel guilty for wanting that company, for needing to have somebody around.

When I get severely depressed, I long for somebody to talk to, somebody who will understand and not judge me. But I can't seem to open my mouth and ask for the help I need. I get trapped in my own brain, and I can hear myself screaming, but unfortunately, nobody can read my mind. The more depressed I get, the more I isolate from the outside world and the less motivation I have to reach out to people. But this is really the time I most need someone to see me, truly see what is going on, and reach out to me.

It's sad the symptoms of depression can drive so many friends away because of the stigma of depression or because they don't understand, or are scared, or don't know how to help, or are busy and can't be bothered. Because sometimes the best way to reach a depressed friend or loved one is to simply spend time with him or her, doing whatever he or she feels up to doing. Even if that's just an evening on the couch with Netflix or bringing over coffee or dinner, just showing that you care for your friend can help them start to feel better. Even if your friend doesn't seem to hear your words of reassurance and comfort, there still can be a benefit from your presence. It always helps to know that somebody else cares, to hear love expressed in a genuine way.

Love expressed by other people can help me so much when I'm depressed. It reminds me I'm worthy of such love and can push me a little bit closer to working on the self-love that will pull me out of the depression. So if you do have a friend or loved one who is depressed, please remember, it is so important to spend time with him or her. Depression is a disease of loneliness, and connection with other people makes all the difference in recovery.

This post originally appeared on The Mighty.

Let’s All CTFD About Extended Nursing

Posted: 28 Nov 2017 06:00 PM PST

I have been breastfeeding for seven and a half years now. That's because I nursed each of my sons for over three years, sometimes four. I say this not because I want some shiny gold breastfeeding award. I don't want a parade or a tiara. I don't want gloating rights or some "I'm a Better Mom Than You" sticker. What I do want, however, is for everyone to calm the fuck down about extended nursing, or nursing past the age of 1.

I’m tired of hiding it and getting weird looks for something that’s totally normal. The world needs to stop caring about my boobs and my business, thank you very much.

Nursing my son — who is 3 years and 9 months — is different than nursing a baby or even a young toddler. It usually happens once a day and looks something like this: Sunny gets tired. We go through the bedtime routine of putting on pj’s, brushing teeth, going pee, and locating his If I Ran The Zoo stuffy named Spotty. Then we lie down. I pull my boob out of my Bravado nursing bra, and Sunny latches blissfully. He tries to grab my boob. I tell him not to grab my boob. We go back and forth on this issue while I read a novel and cuddle him. And then he passes out.

Clearly, this is abusive behavior that must be stopped. I’m kidding, obviously.

Seriously, for fuck's sake, whose business is it, other than my boobs’, if my kid decides he wants to nurse for longer than one year —  a milestone only 34.9% of American babies reach? A study of American women who practiced extended breastfeeding found the median weaning age to be 2 1/2 years, with a range up to seven years and four months. Youngest children averaged a weaning age of 3. This, KellyMom says, is "consistent with the weaning ages found in traditional cultures." So, actually, we extended nursers are the norm.

I've heard a lot of dumb-ass reasons people are "against" extended nursing, as if you can be "against" a parenting practice you just happen not to agree with. The most offensive? That it's abusive. Like, sexually abusive. This makes my skin crawl. If it's not abusive to nurse a newborn, what changes when the baby is 3 or 4 or even 5? A friend of mine, born economically disadvantaged in another country, remembers being 5 and nursing. She never felt weird about it, and neither did her mom. She has only good memories being breastfed.

If you're having sex while breastfeeding and the kid's over larval stage, or you're asking your kid to nurse when there's no milk there and he's complaining about it, that’s a different story. In the first case, you're exposing your kid to adult situations and asking them to participate in them. In the second, dry-nursing an unwilling older child isn’t fair to the child, and it might be time to find another means of comfort. But aside from that, save the “abusive” comments, okay?

Then people like to ask, "how old is too old?" As if they're the ones in the nursing relationship and their opinion fucking matters. People say, "Well, if they're old enough to ask for it…" which, as Slate points out, is just a way of saying "toddler nursing is icky." ABC News says, "Some parenting experts say breastfeeding too long could potentially stunt child development because it may impede a child’s ability to self soothe." Well, fuck you very much, Mr. Unnamed Expert, but I don't know what the hell that even means. My older sons still lie down with my husband to get to sleep. Do they have self-soothing issues? No.

Extended nursing works for us. And I'm quite sure what happens in my house, what we're happy with, and which isn't hurting anyone, is nunya. As in, none of your fucking business. Plus, Slate also quotes Brian P. Kurtz, a psychiatrist at the University of Cincinnati Children's Hospital, as saying that the claims that "Breastfeeding into toddlerhood [..] will make children clingy and stunt their emotional growth […] does not apply to a toddler-age child.”

Some men complain that it hurts their relationship with their spouse. In fact, one man told Slate, "There are some things men can't share with first-graders, and two of them used to be called breasts. Now my first-grader calls them 'boobalies.'" This is really just an issue between co-parents, but dads are part of the nursing relationship, even if peripherally, and men complaining about their wives extended breastfeeding are family disagreements, and not relevant in the greater context of the debate.

I asked my older sons, age 7 (who nursed until he was 3 years and 3 months) and age 5 (nursed until 4 years) if they remembered breastfeeding. They looked at me like I was a total weirdo, and each said no. This, even though the 4-year-old nursed in public regularly at age 3 and was very boob-attached when I weaned him because he lost his latch.

And if you need further evidence that extended nursing is totally okay, let’s look to the experts. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends, "continuation of breastfeeding for one year or longer as mutually desired by mother and infant." As long as mutually desired. 

I desire to continue nursing my 3-year-old. He desires to continue to nurse. So as long as that's the case, why does it matter to anyone else what our family does before bedtime? Let’s CTFD and STFU about extended nursing and find something better to fight about.

I Changed My Mind About Giving My Baby Up For Adoption, And I Have No Regrets

Posted: 28 Nov 2017 06:00 PM PST

I got pregnant at 15. Her dad, Carter, was my best friend, but we were both emotionally unstable at the time. I was actually in residential treatment when I found out that I was knocked up. It was terrifying. Telling my mom was among the hardest things I've ever had to do in my life. Telling his parents was also truly nerve-racking, but we did it.

After talking things over with my mom, I decided to make an adoption plan. My mom had me at 14, and while she made it clear that I hadn't ruined her life, common sense told me that being a young mom was far from easy. I wanted my daughter to have things I couldn't give her. While money wasn't an issue — Carter's parents were willing and able to help us — my personal preference was for my daughter to have two married parents who were emotionally stable and able to provide for her in every aspect of her life.

We met with an adoption agency and got the ball rolling. We carefully selected the adoptive couple — the father was a neurosurgeon and the mother a psychiatric nurse practitioner who planned to stay home with the baby for the first year. Plus, the father planned to use his three months of paternity leave to bond with the baby. They had a solid marriage, five years strong. They had a dog, a cat, and a lizard. And perhaps most importantly, they shared our values on equality. They were also mixed race, something important to Carter who was a transracial adoptee living in a primarily white state. They were honestly the best couple we could have asked for.

We had multiple meetings with them. We ate dinner together, visited the park, and we even got a tour of their home. I received an invitation to attend the baby shower for my daughter, and I happily attended.

We made an open adoption plan. Since we lived in the same state, we agreed upon bimonthly visits and weekly text or email check-ins. In all honestly, our open adoption plan was probably a dream for most birth parents. Both Carter and I discussed the topics with our therapist, and we even attended couple's counseling to process our thoughts and emotions.

Everything was falling into place. That is, until my daughter was born.

Molly Grace Marie was the most beautiful, most wonderful 6 pounds of human that I had ever seen in my 15 years on the planet. And the moment I held her in my arms, I knew that letting her go was going to be impossible.

The moment that the nurse placed her in Carter's arms, he looked at me with his eyes filled with tears. Our eyes had an entire conversation that our mouths could not.

"We have to keep her," Carter whispered.

And those five words resulted in one of the hardest moments of my life. I had to tell my daughter's adoptive parents who had a nursery and a baby shower and a car seat already in their car that I was going to keep my baby girl.

It shattered me to have to tell the woman I thought was going to be my daughter's mom that she couldn't take my baby girl home. I could barely look into her eyes as she cried. My heart truly broke for her. But the thought of handing my daughter over to them suddenly felt impossible. She was my own flesh and blood, and I couldn't imagine only being able to see her every other month.

That’s what a lot of people don't understand when they express their anger at biological parents who change their mind about adoption. Yes, it's very painful for the adoptive couple to hope, prepare, and plan for a baby only to realize that their dream has been shattered. But I can promise that it aches just as much for a woman to carry a child inside her body for nine months, to feel that child move and grow, and then to go through childbirth and have that child placed on her chest and know that she can’t give her up. The intensity of that connection is hard to ignore. And the pain brought on by the thought of having that severed was unimaginable.

The termination of the adoption plan hurt. It hurt, too, after the prospective adoptive parents blocked me on Facebook, and I learned through a mutual friend that they publicly slandered me and Carter — making several posts about how "poor, sweet Molly" was going to be raised by mentally ill teenagers. My heart aches that the couple we thought we had connected with would say such awful things about us. We understood their anger, but we didn’t expect the personal attacks.

We were determined to give Molly the best life possible.

Now, three years later, I'm a senior in high school and am on track to graduate in May. I was accepted to Berkeley College of music in Boston, and Carter will be attending Boston College alongside me. Down the road, we'll have even more support as my girlfriend currently attends MIT. In addition, we both have family in the surrounding area. We found a great daycare for Molly and have lined up an amazing preschool for her to attend when she turns 4 next year.

Our future is bright.

Although Carter and I are not together, we have a strong relationship. We are best friends who happen to have a daughter together. Molly will grow up with two parents who love each other very much, but who aren't married. And that's okay. She'll have a stepmom (or two, as I'm bisexual), but she'll have a huge support system of people who love her unconditionally. She will be happy, supported, and successful.

It has been a crazy, wild ride. But never for a single moment will I regret my decision to keep my daughter. She is my world, my lifeline, and my reason for breathing. Imagining a world without her is akin to imagining a world without oxygen: impossible.

My Mom Has Dementia, And This Is What Scares Me Most

Posted: 28 Nov 2017 06:00 PM PST

I talked to my mom today. I'm sure a lot of you talked to your mom today. It's probably something as routine as putting on deodorant or brushing your hair.

But I haven't had a normal conversation with my mom in a while.

She didn't beat around the bush. I said hello, and she said she might not know who I am tomorrow, and as I heard those words, I sunk down onto the floor of my kitchen. I clutched the phone to my ear while squeezing back my tears, and I sat on my cold kitchen floor and reassured her that she would. That she will always know me, that she is the strongest person I know, and that she's fought harder battles in her life.

She said she loved me at least three times, like she might never say it again. And I said it back, like she might not hear it again.

The following article has been edited but was previously published on Sisterwivesspeak.com. (No longer available.) I wrote this a year or so ago, maybe longer, and when I reluctantly hung up the phone with my mom, I remembered the words I wrote as they echoed in my head.

***

I save all of her voicemails. All of them. Friends call and say, "Your voicemail is full. I couldn't leave a message," and I lie and say that I'm too lazy to delete my messages, but it's not true. I can't delete them because one day they may be all I have of her.

I fear losing her. It haunts me.

Losing the mother who I know today, who's really not the mother I knew three years ago, who keeps changing every year, whose mind might never be "normal" again, who one day might not even recognize my face.

Death would be easier. Death is final and sometimes even fair. But my mother has dementia, and her mind goes through cycles. Sometimes she's (almost) normal. She's our now normal, but then there are times when she isn't. And one day, those times will be all that I know.

Glenn Campbell wrote a song called "I'm Not Gonna Miss You,” which he recorded shortly after being diagnosed with Alzheimer's. He wrote the heartbreaking lyrics "I'm still here, but yet I'm gone…" to help his family understand that the grief would be one-sided, that he wouldn't "miss" them.

I picture a day when I visit with my mother, when she doesn't know my name, who I am, and it breaks my heart.

Shatters it.

But what's even more difficult for me to wrap my brain around is that one day, she isn't going to know who she is. She won't remember having five kids and keeping an immaculate house. She may not remember how she never met a stranger, how no matter where she was, she could make a friend. She won't remember that she had the best sense of humor, and her West Texas accent only accentuated her wit. She won't remember that she could make a room burst into laughter with one of her lines, like "madder than a pissant in a pepper jar." She won't remember being a daring child who wasn't afraid to ride a bull or a horse that hadn't been broken.

She won't remember her first kiss.

She won't remember giving birth to her first child.

She won't remember all of the funny stories from her childhood.

She won't remember dancing with my dad.

She won't remember when she kissed me goodnight.

She won't remember when she walked me into kindergarten and told me to be brave.

She won't remember when she whispered in my ear just before I got married that no matter what happened in my life, I should put myself first. Always.

She won't remember.

She won't remember.

She won't remember.

And what terrifies me more than anything is that she might be scared, and who will be there to comfort her if she doesn't know who anyone is, if she doesn't even know who she is?

There's a song that a friend introduced me to a while back. It often randomly plays from my music library, and every time, it gives me this strange sense of comfort.

I want to comfort her. I want her to know I am always here.

I hope that when she is in that dark and scary place, she can just "be still and know."