- Sarah Michelle Gellar’s Son Got A Manicure And People Are Freaking Out
- ‘Llama, Llama’ Series Is Coming To Netflix Starring Jennifer Garner As Mama Llama
- Can We All Get On The Same Page About Birthday Party Etiquette?
- I’m Sick Of Practicing My Infertility Poker Face
- We Need To Play With Our Kids, Even If We Hate It
- My Life Would Look So Different If I Didn’t Have Anxiety
- Preventable Maternal Complications Are On The Rise, And This Is Not Okay
- ‘I Can Get The Milk Myself’ Is My New Marriage Mantra, And This Is Why
Posted: 04 Jan 2018 06:14 AM PST
How dare a mother take her son to the nail salon — according to the internet
Sarah Michelle Gellar decided to take her kids to get their nails done over the holiday break. She shared this seemingly innocent outing on her Instagram page and of course, people had feelings about it — some even going as far as to say it was a form of child abuse.
The Buffy the Vampire Slayer actress posted the adorable photos last week of eight-year-old daughter, Charlotte, and five-year-old son, Rocky getting pampered at the nail salon. Rocky is a boy, and that means people on the internet felt he should be shamed for getting his nails painted. Because that makes total sense.
“Wtf???? He’s five!!!! Once he’s grown that’s differ but wth are you teaching your kid?”
Ummm, that it’s fun to get your nails done?
“5 years old…you’re brainwashing this kids with your sick ideologies.”
And the clinchers:
“This kind of thing should be outlawed as child abuse! It can cause a child to doubt their true gender.”
“All too common, feminist child abuse!”
“I know its just nail polish but we are living in a society that’s promoting pedophilia in the media. Why are people teaching children not to accept their gender? Welcome to the New World Order.”
I’m sure there are words to respond to this garbage but these folks are so delusional as to how “gender” works, (and apparently what defines child abuse), it doesn’t seem worth the effort.
This happened to me when I took my then four-year-old son to get his nails done one day. He sat, fingers splayed, beaming with pride at me. That's when I heard it. A man behind us whispered to his pregnant wife, "For your information, no son of mine will ever have painted nails." I glanced back and the man was actually holding his wife's stomach, obviously in an attempt to shield his unborn child from the nightmare unfolding before him.
For Gellar and other parents who dare take their sons to do something deemed “feminine,” the hits just keep on coming:
“If I took my 5 year old son to get full sleeve tattoos the world would go crazy. These children are being robbed of their own choices and shouldn’t be subjected to carry out a LGBTQWERTY agenda.”
What in the actual fuck? And then there’s this doozy:
“He needs band-aids on the end of his fingers, from his Dad teaching him how to work on a car, fish, hunt, and farm…”
(quietly sends this to my female mechanic and farmer friends and waits patiently for their response).
Kudos to Gellar for doing what makes her kids happy, and ignoring the haters while she’s at it.
Posted: 04 Jan 2018 06:07 AM PST
The much-loved stories about everyone’s favorite llama are coming to Netflix
If you’ve spent many nights reading your children a story before bedtime, chances are you’ve spent some time with a family of llamas at some point. Because the entire series, which began with the incomparable Llama Llama Red Pajama, has become a staple in many households during the last decade.
Now thanks to Netflix, families everywhere can enjoy the series anytime, on any TV, iPad, or Kindle, thanks to their new series: Llama, Llama.
Premiering Friday, January 26, Llama Llama will feature 15 half-hour episodes of our favorite little llama and his adventures with family and friends. Based entirely on the beloved book series by Anna Dewdney, the Llama Llama show also features Jennifer Garner as Mama Llama.
The Llama Llama television show is aimed at preschool-aged children, and captures everything from everyday childhood experiences to full-on adventures. And, of course, the special relationship between Llama, his beloved Mama, and the rest of his family and friends.
“We are extremely proud to deliver a series that we truly believe honors Anna Dewdney's legacy," stated Andy Heyward, Chairman and CEO of the production company, Genius Brands.
And what a legacy it is. Dewdney sadly passed away in September 2016 after battling brain cancer. In lieu of a funeral, all Dewdney requested was that Llama Llama fans to pick up a book and “read to a child.”
Books have always been the perfect escape — and every child needs an escape every now and then, even if it’s just to stretch the boundaries of their beautiful imaginations. Curling up in my bed and listening to my dad read books to me (and also tell some, uh, colorful stories of his own) were the moments I felt safest.
Before I became a mom, I was an aunt and a babysitter for many, many years. These books were some of my absolute favorites to read for many reasons. They rhyme in the most cadenced way for optimal out-loud reading, they’re the perfect length to hold with a toddler/young child’s attention span, and they teach each child lessons while validating and alleviating their own experiences and concerns.
The Llama Llama Netflix series is sure to be a hit because these books mean so much to so many children and their families. More importantly, who doesn’t love Jennifer Garner? We already know she’s an expert at reading kids’ books, so it’s safe to assume she’s just as endearing as acting them out as the beloved and beleaguered Mama Llama.
All 15 episodes of Llama Llama will be available for streaming on Netflix on January 26.
Posted: 03 Jan 2018 06:00 PM PST
I was recently visiting a friend who was planning her daughter's seventh birthday party. They'd moved to a new town a handful of months prior, and she invited the kids from her daughter's class at her new school to the party. She was expecting fifteen kids to attend.
As my friend planned out various games and snacks, she began wondering if she needed to plan for adults to be at the party, too. In her old town, parents usually just dropped kids off and picked them up when the party was over. But she'd been to a kid's party in their new city where parents stuck around the whole time.
There was no real indication on the invitations to any of these parties whether parents were expected to drop kids off or hang out during the party. Both options appeared to be a regional or local custom, an unspoken thing people do, a social norm that everyone in that particular circle understood.
It would be super helpful if we could all get on the same page with this, folks. Universal birthday party rules, so to speak.
Personally, I understand parents wanting to stay at parties, especially when kids are young and you don't know the kid's parents very well. I'm not keen on the idea of dropping my child at a stranger's house where I don't know if a gun might be accessible or a family member might be a pedophile.
On the other hand, I also know that if I were to have fifteen kids and fifteen adults filling my home, I wouldn't be able to throw a birthday party. We simply don't have the space. Holding the party in a public venue might be a bit more doable, but that's not always a viable option.
Either way, it's hard to plan for food when you don't know if you might have double the number of people you're expecting. A cake for 15 is a lot different than a cake for 30, which leads to another question: If parents do stay through the party, should there be enough food and drink for them too? Or is it rude for adults to assume they're going to partake in the cake at a kid's birthday party?
And what about younger siblings? If a parent is staying with a kid and they don’t have childcare, can they bring the toddler along? What about the only-slightly-younger sibling? If they come along, are they going to get a goody-bag? Do they participate in the games? Is it rude to expect a host to accommodate that many extra people? Is it rude to say “Sorry, Junior’s not invited”? Would the host rather the invited child opt out if that’s the case?
I wondered if this was really a confusing thing, or if I was just making birthday parties unnecessarily complicated. So I asked on my Facebook page what parents would do if their child was invited to a 7-year-old's birthday party when they'd only met the mom briefly in the school pick-up line.
Some said they'd be comfortable dropping their kid off by that age. Some said they'd definitely stay. Some said they'd feel it out for a little bit, and then leave. Some said they'd ask which the host preferred when they RSVP.
One mom said she'd stay, but not eat anything. Another said that when she plans kid parties she always plans for the parents to come—but she also said she's had parents drop off a kid with their younger siblings and then leave.
So, it appears there is nowhere near a consensus on this topic.
What would be helpful is if parents would specify on the invitation whether or not it's a drop off party, or if parents are welcome to stay. That would save people having to wonder or feel weird about asking.
And while we're on the subject of birthday parties, an RSVP means the host needs to know if your child (and you, if that's the case) are coming. I've heard many parents lament that people don't RSVP anymore, and that makes planning difficult. If the invitation says RSVP with a phone number or e-mail address, make sure you contact the host one way or the other. It only takes a minute, and it's helpful (not to mention polite) to let them know if your kid—and you—are coming or not.
I'm sure we won't all agree on whether or not parents should stay with their kids at birthday parties at various ages, but maybe we can at least agree to indicate what we prefer or expect when we send out invitations. A simple "Drop-off O.K." or "Parents welcome" will clear up a lot of confusion.
Okay, now that we've tackled that beast, shall we talk about party favors?
Posted: 03 Jan 2018 06:00 PM PST
After my first son was born, I thought I would be one of those women, like my mother, who accidentally got pregnant on repeat. Waiting for a child and struggling with infertility never occurred to me as something I might experience.
Until it happened. I’d been waiting for a positive pregnancy test for over two years when I started experiencing strange symptoms in the reproductive department, a missed period among other things. I hoped the weirdness was pregnancy, because that’s always what you think weirdness is when you struggle with infertility.
The home tests promised nothing with their single lines, but my body was still off. I ran out of homeopathic options and patience so I called my doctor to tell her what was going on.
I got the nurse. She listened. “We may have to run some tests, but we have to wait and see,” she informed me. Of course. Tests. And waiting. I’d already done plenty of that.
“Can I rule out pregnancy?” I squeaked in the most non-neurotic voice I could muster. “I just want to be sure one way or the other so I can make the necessary adjustments,” I reasoned vaguely. The nurse humored me and scheduled a pregnancy test.
Less than 24 hours later, I left work early for my appointment in the lab. The drive to the clinic gave me time to remember my last few times spent in the waiting room, doing what I do when months and years of hoping are hanging on a moment: try to sit still, distract myself with newsstand magazines, pretend to breathe.
I recalled the moment when the lab tech called me back and drew my blood, and we both acted like it was no big deal, like I was just there for the Band-Aid. We small-talked about college sports so I could prove I didn’t really mind at all if there was only one line on the test that day.
They sent me back to the waiting room for more discomfort and squirming, I remembered, and there I became superstitious.
I imagined all the things I could do to make the test positive. Cross my fingers, blink five times fast, forgive all the people I’m mad at.
Then I got spiritual and landed on the old, reliable action step for people who have run out of options: let go, surrender. Sort of.
After I waved my white flag, the lab tech returned with the no-emotion face to inform me, “Tests are negative today.”
Whoosh. Out went the little flame of hope.
The negative results always surprised me, but I pretended it was cool. “Okay, thank you,” I smiled back, feigning confidence.
I didn’t feel confident at all. This was always the moment when I felt disappointed, sad. Broken.
I hated this part the most, the vulnerability. It felt like they could see my sadness. Then they would pity me and my body that didn’t work. Ugh. I hated that feeling.
As I reviewed my previous lab waiting room experiences and the potential for my vulnerability to show, I decided to practice my poker face in the last few minutes of my drive.
I knew the tests would probably be negative, but maybe not. I was ready for anything, I assured myself, and a positive result wouldn’t be hard to deal with. I just had to protect myself from the pity of the Messengers, the lab techs.
Remember: remain stone-faced. Be prepared. Don’t let them see the sadness.
They drew my blood, and I wondered if I was wasting my time. I didn’t say that. Instead I gushed to the lab tech about the wall decor. “It’s so colorful,” I cheered.
Back in the waiting room, I pulled out my iPad to write. It was hard to write though as I calculated the due date of this maybe-baby and how old my son would be when his sibling was born. What if it’s a boy, I don’t think I can handle another boy, but I will just be happy if it’s a baby at all, and I can always adopt a girl…
The lab window slid open, interrupting my thoughts. “Tests are negative today,” the blond lady behind the desk announced, and it felt like everyone in the clinic could hear.
I looked around to find myself alone in the waiting room, but I felt alone in the world. I would go home and tell my husband, but he wouldn’t understand what it feels like to hope your body is growing a miraculous human life, only to find out it’s just an ordinary Tuesday.
“Okay,” I stutter, but I wasn’t prepared like I meant to be. “I guess I’ll have to do something different,” I stammer back. Poker face fail.
What? Something different? What does that even mean? My secret was out. I sounded drunk, but it was just the sadness. The out-of-controlness. The I’m-trying-everything-so-what-else-do-I-need-to-do confusion of a mom who just wants a baby.
I shoved my iPad back into my tote, wishing I’d been prepared to leave, hating the moment I lingered there helpless. She knows I’m sad. She knows I wanted the baby. She knows something is wrong with me. She knows.
I still don’t really understand why the lab techs scare me. They are only messengers. They don’t make me un-pregnant with their words. I just hate to hear it. I don’t want the first person to know of my hope deferred, the person who tells me my body can’t do it, or just won’t do it, to be someone I’ve never met.
I walk to the car, texting my friends the news. On my way home, I call my cousin in Texas. “I’m not pregnant.” I try to sound optimistic, but neither of us believe me.
I don’t say it, but I think the pregnancy tests should have a sad face for the negative. Then maybe it would feel like someone understands.
Posted: 03 Jan 2018 06:00 PM PST
I will be the first to admit that I love playing with my children about 90% of the time. I have three of them, and few things warm my heart like throwing a football in the front yard with my ten-year-old son, or helping my three-year-old build her Peppa Pig Lego house. But that other 10%? Well, those times can be… difficult.
Sometimes, after a 12-hour day at work, I don't really want to play Battleship. In fact, I hate board games. I find them boring, even with my children. It’s not personal; I just don't enjoy them and I never have. But despite my annoyance with Battleship (and all board games, for that matter), I play that game all the time, even when I really don't want too. Though I do “cheat” a little so every call is a direct hit for my kid so the game will end sooner. My child gets a boost of confidence for winning a game against dad, and I get to end the pain sooner. Win-win.
For those of you who love your kids, but dislike “playing,” there’s some pretty interesting news about the benefits of playing with our kids. For the past three years, Ikea — yes, the furniture people — has released an Annual Play Report looking at all the great things play has to offer. According to the 2017 report, “play is pretty serious business. So serious, in fact, that we have conducted some of the world's largest research studies on the Role of Play… We've spent 8 months connecting, on a regular basis, with more than 300 people in Germany, the US and China to explore how, and why, we play."
The report has some pretty fascinating information on why we play, the importance of play, and the barriers to play. One section that really popped out to me as a father who sometimes doesn't want to play at the end of a long day was "How Do We Play Together?"
It defines six different forms of play, and why that style of play is beneficial for both the parent and the child. For example, 'freestyle' play is when "the child simply follows their own play urges." Typically, this means that the parent is in the uncomfortable cycle of a child creating the rules to their own game, and then you have the pleasure of trying to play a game as it's being invented, only to find out that all the rules are not actually rooted in equality, but rather in your child's favor.
But it turns out there are a lot of benefits to this type of play for both the parent and the child. According to the study, freestyle play “nurtures a child’s confidence and decision-making. It also allows adults to regress by experiencing the world through a child's eyes, freeing up new ideas and shaking up normative thinking."
Another example is “Out-of-the-Box” play, which is basically artistic play. This is where your child makes a huge mess on the kitchen table with paints and sheets of paper, and once it's all done you get the pleasure of pretending to be an art critic with very liberal taste in what constitutes a wonderfully executed drawing of a monkey.
According to the Play Report, "this type of play promotes a more creative mode of thinking, allowing adults and children alike to tap into their imagination and a world beyond rules and obligation." As much as I like to think that we are a world of rules, the fact is, imagination is the gateway to innovation, and this type of play is the cornerstone of developing a strong sense of looking for outside the box for solutions.
Naturally, the report covered formal play as well. This is where you play a game with a set of rules like chess or the dreaded Battleship. The Play Report states that, 'This type of play brings families together and is a fun way to help adults and children to focus, relax and solve problems creatively." As much as I dislike playing board games, after reading the benefits of playing them with my children, I have a feeling I'm going to take on this task more often and hopefully more vigor.
The Play Report also lists the benefits of ‘Mirror-Me’ play, 'Muddy-Boots' play, and 'Build-It' play. All have similar benefits to the ones listed above for both the parent and the child.
Now I know some people might be reading this thinking, well duh. Of course, play is beneficial to children and parents. But sometimes, after a long day of being home with the kids clinging to your body, or arguing with you for screen time, the last thing you want to so is break out a board game or play some off-the-cuff, imaginative version of Tag where the rules develop as the game progresses. And sure, someone is going to jump into the comments section and call me a jerk of a father because I admitted that sometimes I'd rather have a little time to myself instead of playing a game that hasn't been invented yet.
But if you are like me, and you need a little extra motivation to actually get out an art project, and then clean up the mess after a long day, think about these tangible benefits of playing with your child. It just might make dealing with the mess or enduring some amorphous “game” a little more tolerable.
Posted: 03 Jan 2018 06:00 PM PST
I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder. And I've had it since third grade, without even realizing what was going on with me. I just remember worrying all the time and fretting about things that other kids my age didn't even think about.
My journey with this mental illness has been a bumpy road, to say the very least. I go through months without any symptoms, feeling carefree and happy. And then all of a sudden it hits me like lightning, and I can't do anything to stop it.
It's a very scary and smart disorder. Why? It makes you think things you wouldn't normally think about. Thoughts pop into your head and you can't make it stop. Your heart races and you can't swallow any oxygen at all. And no matter how many times it happens, it's still just as scary for me.
If I didn't have anxiety, I would wake up every day with a clear head. I wouldn't mindlessly go through my imaginary checklist, already overwhelmed about the day ahead of me.
If I didn't have anxiety, I could go on road trips and vacations and concerts without a care in the world. I wouldn't have to worry about car crashes, about feeling claustrophobic, about getting freaked out over overstimulation.
If I didn't have anxiety, I could breathe. Really breathe. With no sharp inhales. With no pain in my chest. With no panic. With no real energy lost.
If I didn't have anxiety, I wouldn't have to wake up the next day after drinking, already panicking about what I did or didn't do. Already worrying. About nothing.
If I didn't have anxiety, I'd be a more supportive friend and companion and daughter. I'd answer all the phone calls and texts. I wouldn't cancel the plans that I was so looking forward to. I wouldn't be misunderstood.
If I didn't have anxiety, I'd have better self esteem. I wouldn't question my ability to write. I wouldn't question myself as a person. I wouldn't question my self worth and ability to love. I would just be content with just me.
If I didn't have anxiety, I wouldn't have to call my parents in the middle of an anxiety attack, begging for them to pick me up just to feel a little bit safer.
If I didn't have anxiety, my brightest days would glow in the back of my mind for eternity. I wouldn't have to walk around with a grey cloud following me around just waiting to pounce on me.
If I didn't have anxiety, I wouldn't be judged. Be judged by people who don't understand. Who don't understand that this is an illness. It's a chemical imbalance in my brain that I cannot help.
If I didn't have anxiety, I wouldn't have to even explain myself every time I meet someone new or have to walk out early. I wouldn't have to defend myself over something that is out of my control.
But here's the thing — If I didn't have anxiety, I wouldn't be as strong as I am right now. I wouldn't be as resilient and as brave. And I guess you could say, I wouldn't even be me.
Posted: 03 Jan 2018 06:00 PM PST
Let's start with the good news: of the roughly 4 million women who give birth each year in the United States, the vast majority come home hearty and vibrant, with a healthy bundle of joy (or joys!) in their arms.
And yet, a growing number of moms—to the tune of about 50,000 per year, according to the CDC—are suffering traumatizing, debilitating, and life-threatening post-birth complications that often scar them for life.
And maybe the most shocking aspect of all this? This number appears to be rising.
I'll give you the low-down. There is a term for the after-birth complications that moms suffer: Severe Maternal Morbidity (SMM). It's different than maternal mortality, which is awful and tragic, but which thankfully affects a smaller number of moms (roughly 700 to 900 moms die each year from complications of pregnancy and childbirth).
Severe Maternal Morbidity refers to any maternal complication that happens during pregnancy and childbirth that has significant short- and long-term effects on a mother. According to a recent editorial about this subject on NPR, these complications include things like hemorrhaging, organ failure, infections, and post-delivery surgeries (particularly of the uterus and surrounding organs).
Of course, women who survive these things should certainly be grateful that they lived, but the question is, at what cost? Many of these moms must deal with medical woes for months, years, or a lifetime, and almost all of these moms suffer emotional trauma, including post-delivery PTSD. And don't forget about the many ways medical problems like these can totally devastate a family's finances, often for many years.
What's more, it's totally shocking and reprehensible that this kind of thing is increasing in the U.S.
According to the CDC, serious complications from pregnancy and childbirth have increased by over 200% between 1993 to 2014. Much of that rise has been due to an increase in blood transfusions, but even if blood transfusions are excluded from this measure, complications have still seen a 20% increase during that time. Hysterectomies and the need for a ventilator (breathing tube) after birth top the list of complications.
“These numbers are really high, and far too many of them are preventable,” Dr. Elliott Main, medical director of the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative, tells NPR.
So why on earth is this happening, and most importantly, what can be done?
According to NPR, part of the problem lies in the fact that many hospitals in the United States simply aren't investigating the matter seriously enough, and thus aren't able to pinpoint the problems and come up with viable solutions. Often, if a mother doesn't die, the complications she suffers after birth aren't investigated thoroughly by a hospital, if at all.
"More than 30 states and cities now have committees to review maternal deaths, but only one state — Illinois — has started to systematically examine severe complications," NPR explains.
Another aspect of this is something so many of us moms can relate to. It's the fact that so often, doctors put all of the focus on the mother during pregnancy, but after birth, moms are often basically on their own. They aren't seen again until the six-week visit, and are rarely checked in on before then. And yet, the period right after birth is when so many of these scary and life-threatening medical events occur.
“The nature of our system is to focus on these women while they’re pregnant,” Eugene DeClercq, professor of community health services at Boston University School of Public Health, tells NPR. “And then if there are difficulties later, they get lost to the larger system that doesn’t particularly care about women’s health to a great degree unless they’re pregnant.”
Other factors that are likely contributing to this increase in complications include: rising rates of poverty, unequal access to health care or insurance, increases in obesity among mothers, and advanced maternal age. And we absolutely cannot take for granted how racial inequalities play into this—after all, black women and their babies are much more likely to experience pregnancy and birth complications, as well as mortality.
Does this all make you want to shake your fists and scream with rage at the top of your lungs? Well, it should. It most definitely should. It's 2018, and we women are taking back the world. We want our lives, our voices, and our bodies taken seriously.
Yes, sometimes awful things happen in childbirth. We all know it's not without risk. But for these complications to be increasing? NOPE. We need answers and action. Now. And listen up: no mother should receive less than optimal medical treatment because of her economic class or the color of her skin. Let's end that bullshit right here, right now.
We live in one of the wealthiest nations on the planet, and we should all be receiving the best healthcare possible—especially after we give birth to our nation's next generation of citizens. We need to get to the bottom of why so many women are suffering medical complications after childbirth, and we need to solve this problem ASAFP.
Posted: 03 Jan 2018 06:00 PM PST
“I can get the milk myself.”
I’ve decided this needs to be my mantra for the new year. Life with small children is hard. When you are exhausted and touched out and being pulled in so many directions, it’s way too easy to look at the person you married, that you picked out of 7 billion other people to tackle this life together with, and think “Seriously? I’m doing everything around here!”
But I know I’m not. The man I married is a wonderful father and partner, we just have very different skills sets. So much so that we are often not even aware of what the other is doing. Sometimes I need to remind myself of this, and that’s where the milk comes in.
When we got married, our officiant asked me to tell her a little about my husband-to-be and why I loved him. She liked the story I shared so much that she included it in our wedding ceremony. Here is what I told her:
“He is the kind of guy that you send out for milk, and he comes home an hour later because he took a different road to see where it went, then spotted some flowers by the roadside and stopped to pick them for me, then in the store he found a book he remembered me mentioning 3 months ago and bought it for me… but he’ll forget the milk. Which is really ok, because I can get the milk myself.”
Not surprisingly, 7 years later we are still the same people. I am awesome at getting the milk. I have lists about my lists. I have a plan A, B, C and D for everything and because of that sometimes I feel like I am juggling all the logistics of parenting.
Nowadays, my husband is the guy who buys me way too much chocolate and then hides it in weird spots so that he can surprise me with it when I’m desperate. He takes our daughter on countless adventures for which he is under-prepared for, from freezing cold hikes to brunch dates at inappropriately fancy restaurants. He will happily walk the floor with a cranky baby when I’ve lost all my patience. He buys impractical gifts and proposes impossible plans. He definitely still forgets the milk, but he brings balance to our family and makes me a better parent.
So on the days when I am frustrated by the daily grind of fulfilling the needs of very small tyrants, I will try to remember that I fell in love with an idealistic wanderer who turns out to be capable of acting out all the other characters in Frozen for hours on end while our daughter plays Anna for the millionth time. And I can get the milk myself.
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