The Home Front

Politics, culture, and American life — from the family perspective.

The New Baby-Swaddling


My oldest was born in 1987 when the advice was still to place your baby on her stomach to sleep. When her little sister was born over seven years later, it had switched to placing her on her back and using only tight-fitting sheets in the bed without any excess blankets, pillows, or crib bumpers.

Now swaddling is being revamped in further efforts to prevent potential suffocation, as well as hip dysplasia.

Swaddling infants in a blanket is an age-old practice that can help comfort a fussy baby. But incorrect swaddling can be a health threat: Too loose, and a blanket can unwind and hinder breathing; too tight, and it can cause serious hip problems. The International Hip Dysplasia Institute recommends that infants’ legs should be able to bend up and out at the hips, not tightly wrapped straight down and pressed together.

Infant sleep sacks, with fabric flaps that swaddle the baby’s arms to the body and close securely, are meant to make swaddling safer and easier by giving babies a secure feeling and freedom of leg movement without danger of loose fabric around the head. As part of safe-sleep education programs, 1,000 hospitals are receiving free annual allotments of SleepSack-branded wearable blankets.

The new blankets come from Halo Innovations whose founder, Bill Schmid, lost a daughter to SIDS in 1991.

Definitely time to update baby-shower registries.

Full story here.



New HHS Safety Mandates for Child-Care Facilities


I was a little surprised to learn there weren’t already federal standards like these in place, but I wonder if becoming compliant with these standards will pose a problem for child-care centers, and leave a lot of parents in the lurch.

“…the Department of Health and Human Services announced Thursday morning that it will for the first time impose tough national health and safety standards on all child-care facilities that accept government subsidies.

The proposed regulations will require workers in all subsidized child-care centers and homes to be trained in first-aid procedures, such as CPR, and safe sleeping practices. They call for quality-rating systems that parents can have easy access to and universal background and fingerprint checks of child-care workers. And they impose tough standards for monitoring and unannounced inspections to ensure that the regulations are being followed.

The new regulations would supersede the current patchwork of health and safety standards that each state now sets and that critics have long argued are too low in many states and endanger too many children. As many as one in five children who receive the child-care subsidy are in unlicensed and unregulated child-care settings with no health and safety requirements at all.”

Full story here.


Home Visits Prepare Parents for Early Education


Though the Washington Post reported this under the headline “Home visiting programs are preschool in its earliest form” — the real story is that these programs teach parents how to be active participants in their children’s education from infancy.

One 2012 study in New York found that children who participated in a home visiting program operated by Chicago-based Healthy Families America were less likely than a control group to repeat first grade and more likely to excel at skills such as following instructions and working well with others.

Other studies have shown a wide rage of social and health benefits, all of which are also related to later school performance, including fewer low-birth-weight babies, less isolation and depression for new moms, and fewer cases of child abuse and neglect. Many programs also help parents pursue additional education or better jobs.

Advocates feel that the personalized approach — seeing the exact environment a child is in and working to improve it – makes all the difference. Some programs even start while the mother is still pregnant, encouraging her to eat better and to read books to her preborn child.

More here. 


Vouchers Languish as Public Prefers Charter Schools


In an article entitled “Are Vouchers Dead?,” author Abby Rapoport tells us that even Republican-controlled state legislatures are opposing most voucher programs and opting instead for charter schools.

Leslie Hiner, the vice president of programs and state relations at the pro-voucher Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, concedes that legislatures don’t warm to voucher policies as easily as they do to charters. While “vouchers have always been the heart of the school choice movement,” she says, in more recent years groups pushing for charter schools have had the ears of lawmakers. The messaging is easier. When you talk about charters “you’re talking about schools,” she says. “When you talk about vouchers you talking about funding an individual child to go to a school chosen by their parents.”

Among the existing voucher programs, most aren’t for the general population. Of the 12 states with voucher plans, only four states and the District of Columbia offer voucher programs to low-income students or students in failing schools. The rest offer programs specifically designed for special needs students or kids living in rural areas that lack a nearby public school. This year, Mississippi and Utah have passed bills amending their voucher programs, but both remain strictly for children with special needs.

Public polling on the issue is difficult because each side often complains about skewing because of how the questions are asked. Those opposed to vouchers have sometimes succeeded in blocking programs by claiming that some schools that would benefit have “anti-science curriculums.”

As someone who has been in favor of school choice since I was in the fourth grade and realized how unfair it was that my parents paid taxes to support public schools as well as tuition for my Catholic grammar school, I am quite disheartened. Seems we must educate the public — and apparently certain Republican office holders.

Full article here. 


CDC Says Mental-Health Disorders in Children on the Rise


Perhaps as many as one in five children suffer from a mental-health disorder each year in our nation – and the number is rising, according to a new report which the CDC is calling the first comprehensive look.

“Childhood mental disorders that alter the way children learn, behave and cope with their emotions affect 13 percent to 20 percent of youths under age 18, the CDC said Thursday. They also cost families and society at large an estimated $247 billion a year in treatment, special education, juvenile justice and decreased productivity, it stated.

Although the prevalence, early onset and effect on society make childhood mental problems a major public health issue, only 21 percent of affected children get treatment because of a shortage of pediatric sub-specialists and child and adolescent psychiatrists, according to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.”

And apparently, fewer med students are opting to enter the field.

Full story here.



New Way to Stop Planned Parenthood et al from Abetting Pedophiles?


Sic the lawyers on them!

Groups like Live Action have gone undercover to reveal how workers at Planned Parenthood instruct underage girls not to reveal how old their sexual partners are and ignore potentially abusive situations.

Now Jill Stanek is reporting that another prolife organization, Life Dynamics – upon conducting research of their own, and discovering that in many cases of convicted sexual abuse the victim had been taken to a Planned Parenthood or other abortion clinic at some point — is trying a new tactic.

After contacting more than 800 clinics and finding that 91 percent were willing to conceal the age of a sexual partner for an underage girl, Life Dynamics then contacted 53,000 personal-injury lawyers to apprise them of this illegal activity.

Life Dynamics’s president Mark Crutcher told Stanek that his phone has been ringing off the hook. He said, “I’m spending night and day talking to these people, and they’re catching the vision about what this is about and the hundreds of thousands of potential clients.” 

More here.


Should I Get Paid to Feed My Kids?


I love Kristin Wartman, the New York Times writer who thinks that the government should pay me to feed my children.

Heck, yeah! That’s my reaction to that idea. I mean, who knows where the money’s going to come from. That’s not my concern. I’m way too busy feeding little Timmy and Susie to worry about such super complicated things as the nation’s already ballooning debt, high corporate taxes, sustained unemployment, consumer insecurity, struggling small businesses, and the market’s uncertainty due to fears of Obamacare and other regulatory burdens. What’s another government program?

Wartman suggests we pay for this new program by “taxing harmful foods, like sugary beverages, highly caloric, processed snack foods and nutritionally poor options at fast food and other restaurants.”

Yeah, let’s do that. I mean, I thought taxes on “harmful food” were supposed to pay for all those “anti-obesity” programs. At least that’s what the politicians say when they start talking about taxing sodas, snack foods, and other things that taste really good. Another potential kink in Wartman’s idea to pay people to feed their own children is that her “tax this to pay for that” scheme relies on people actually eating the food she thinks is bad. If they don’t buy this unhealthy stuff, where’s the money for my kids’ food?

Oh, no bother. I’m sure they’ll just print more money. So, where do I sign up to get my due compensation for my hellish existence making grilled cheese sandwiches, pouring applesauce into small bowls, filling sippy cup after sippy cup, boiling noodles, unwrapping cheese sticks, handing out gold fish, making jello, slicing apples, unsheathing popsicles, and opening cans of beans and soup?

Wartman explains in her piece that it’s nearly impossible for working parents to cook every meal from scratch and to plan things ahead of time. Boy, is she right about that! The headache I get when I finally decide to boil some rice and fry a chicken breast is so terrible; I sometimes have to lie down for a bit.

Wartman’s really worried about poor people — especially the domestic helpers of rich ladies. She explains that the rich working lady demographic generally employs housekeepers to help make sandwiches and clean up after the kids. Her concern is that “if we put this work on women of lower socioeconomic status (as is almost always the case), what about their children? Who cooks and cleans up for them?”

I’m sure Wartman is just as confused as I am that a recent poll shows low-income Americans do manage to cook at home quite regularly, that they don’t eat out that much, and don’t rely on processed food. Huh . . . wonder why I can’t do that?

You know what? That’s too complicated a subject for a mom like me. I’m going to wait for Wartman to explain it all to me. In the meantime, I’ll keep checking my mailbox for my government paycheck. 

— Julie Gunlock writes for the Independent Women’s Forum.

Psychiatry’s “Bible” Gets an Update


After its first major update in 20 years, the new guide for psychiatry will impact the diagnosis of ADHD, autism, depression, etc:

“The highly controversial decisions involved in producing the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM-5, have a potentially broad impact: They can affect which services children receive in schools, what treatments patients receive from doctors and even how people are viewed by society.

Experts involved in the guidebook say the changes will give clinicians greater precision in diagnoses and treatments. Critics counter that the new language will make it too easy to turn the stresses of ordinary life into mental illnesses, resulting in some people getting too much treatment.

…The handbook plays a big role in American society. It determines which diagnostic codes medical professionals use for specific patients and can affect whether health insurance pays for treatment. The DSM’s wording also can dictate which social services people are entitled to.”

Full story here.


Mom Chases and Rams Car of Daughter’s Abduction Suspect


I want this mom on my police force:

“During the chase, the girl’s mother spoke with police on her cellphone. At the time, she was apparently not aware that her daughter had been put out of the car less than half a block from where she’d been taken, according to The Albuquerque Journal.

’Albuquerque police Chief Ray Schultz said neighbors began yelling, which is what made the suspect push the child out of his car,’ reports KOAT TV.

Fleeing from the girl’s mother on Interstate 40, the suspect “tried to fake an exit on Carlisle Boulevard,” the newspaper reports, citing police spokesman Robert Gibbs. After they left the interstate, the mother succeeded in stopping the man’s car in southeast Albuquerque.

’She essentially pitted him,’ Gibbs said, referring to a police maneuver that involves ramming a car to stop a chase, The Journal reports.”

The full story also reports that another young girl had been abducted in that neighborhood last week, and was returned after being sexually assaulted. This quick-thinking, determined mom might very well have led police to the man who committed that crime.

Pregnant and Parenting Teens: Propping vs. Promoting


Two weeks ago there was a headline about a North Carolina teen who was barred from having a picture with her one-year-old son in her high-school yearbook. The students had been encouraged to bring personal items to pose with, and Caitlin Tiller felt that her son was her greatest gift.

Teachers felt the picture would “send the wrong message” to other students. But Caitlin’s message was a positive one: She felt her son had inspired her to graduate early and continue on to college. She told the local news station, “He helped me get to where I am today. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without him.”

Now we have a story out of Michigan that two teens are being told they need to retake their yearbook pictures to hide their baby bumps. Apparently the district superintendent feels it is necessary because of the state’s abstinence-based approach to sex education.

One of the girls made the point, “What’s the difference of letting me walk for graduation, letting me walk around the school? It’s the same thing.”

This all reminds me of when I was attending a Catholic all-girls high school in the 1980s and pregnant girls transferred into our school because they were kicked out of others. I remember thinking that those other Catholic institutions might actually be encouraging their students to secretly get abortions so they woudn’t have to drop out. Not very pro-life.

But of course, it is a fine line to walk: Can we prop up those who have accepted the responsibility of their actions — and are doing the best they can — without simultaneously promoting teen pregnancy?

The good news is that our nation’s efforts are working. Teen pregnancies and births are both down more than 40 percent since their peak in the early ’90s. So I don’t see how a few pictures will have that much of an effect.

As a conservative, I definitely prefer abstinence-based sex ed. And as a feminist in the traditional sense, I see nothing wrong with showing our support for those young women who are continuing to pursue their education. We can send the message that pregnancy and parenting — while not the best paths to take as a teen, and ones that are best avoided until marriage — are not a dead end. It will be a tougher journey, but we will be there to help them make their way.


Disney Listens to Moms and Daughters, Restores Heroine’s ‘Normal’ Appearance


I’m a little late to this princess party, but this was something I took personally. I was a bit of a feisty tomboy with a princess streak growing up, and it’s been interesting to watch where each of my six daughters has fallen on the spectrum. But like me, they weren’t as concerned about how a heroine looked. It was about her character. We admired that each Disney princess was a strong, independent woman, even if she did end up falling for her Prince Charming.

Then along came Merida in the Oscar-winning Brave. She was head and shoulders above the others in her determination no to be put on the typical princess track — so much like my daughter, Deirdre. (Though she is not a fellow ginger, Deirdre even has the long, curly — often tameless — locks that Merida has.)

Now I was not a mom who shunned Barbie dolls or princess parties — I’m teaching my girls that a woman can be smart and beautiful, rugged and feminine — but it was disappointing to discover that Disney had given Merida a glam makeover.


The creator and co-director of Brave — who memorably thanked her daughter for being an inspiration when accepting the Academy Award for animated feature film — called the makeover “atrocious.” The new image also seemed in direct contrast to the promotional video that Disney put out at the same time entitled “I Am a Princess” that celebrates being “normal” while still doing great things.

Sure, you could argue that the new image was simply Merida a few years older. But how could you argue that a young girl who couldn’t be bothered with the constraints of fashion would suddenly look like a runway model? She sprouted luxurious eyelashes, lost her normal-sized waistline — and where were her bow, quiver, and arrows?!

Now, being the strong, independent girl that she is, Deirdre rolled her eyes at this development and didn’t let it bother her. But she agreed that we should still speak up and let Pixar and co. know that we feel they have betrayed the very essence of Merida’s story. That the heroine of Brave is all about breaking the mold, not conforming to it. 

And it seems Disney has responded to the backlash. If you go to her page on their website now, there is no sign of the made-over Merida. The original may look a little out of place in the line-up of doe-eyed princesses, but that’s the way we like her. Power to the “normal” princesses.

UPDATE: Apparently the success of the petition regarding Merida by has prompted them to take on another Disney princess. They are now asking that Mulan be returned to her normal appearance.


Powerful Op-Ed by Angelina Jolie on Her Double Mastectomy


From today’s New York Times:

MY MOTHER fought cancer for almost a decade and died at 56. She held out long enough to meet the first of her grandchildren and to hold them in her arms. But my other children will never have the chance to know her and experience how loving and gracious she was.

We often speak of “Mommy’s mommy,” and I find myself trying to explain the illness that took her away from us. They have asked if the same could happen to me. I have always told them not to worry, but the truth is I carry a “faulty” gene, BRCA1, which sharply increases my risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

My doctors estimated that I had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer, although the risk is different in the case of each woman.

Only a fraction of breast cancers result from an inherited gene mutation. Those with a defect in BRCA1 have a 65 percent risk of getting it, on average.

Once I knew that this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much I could. I made a decision to have a preventive double mastectomy. I started with the breasts, as my risk of breast cancer is higher than my risk of ovarian cancer, and the surgery is more complex.

On April 27, I finished the three months of medical procedures that the mastectomies involved. During that time I have been able to keep this private and to carry on with my work.

But I am writing about it now because I hope that other women can benefit from my experience. Cancer is still a word that strikes fear into people’s hearts, producing a deep sense of powerlessness. But today it is possible to find out through a blood test whether you are highly susceptible to breast and ovarian cancer, and then take action.

The rest here.

Love Fest: Bittman Reviews Pollan


One of the world’s most notable food malcontents, Mark Bittman, just reviewed a book by one of the world’s most self-righteous food nannies, Michael Pollan. I’ll save you the time and bottom line it for you: The food malcontent liked the book written by the food nanny.

Bittman describes Pollan’s new book, Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation, as an exploration on how food is transformed by cooking. Predictably sycophantic, Bittman begins by instructing the reader on why Pollan deserves our respect, saying that Pollen is responsible for the seven “most famous words in the movement for good food,” which are “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Most Famous? Sorry Julia, Alice, and  Mr. Beard.

Of course, Bittman is correct in characterizing Pollan as a high priest to those who follow and feel a part of the foodie movement, those unquestioning masses who burst into tears at the site of organic kale, “happy” chickens, raw milk, and poor children weeding inner-city-school garden plots. To them, Pollan is the Dear Leader of the modern foodie culture.

Bittman doesn’t try to hide his glowing approbation for the man who has, more than any other food writer, made hating conventional and reasonably priced food hip and cool. Pollan gets a gold star for urging shoppers to “shop on the perimeter of the store” and to “stay out of the middle of the supermarket” where a lot of perfectly healthy — and more important, more affordable — food is stocked. Pollan’s vilification of food found in the middle aisles coupled with his constant drumbeat that people must eat “fresh and local” food in order to stay healthy is probably one of the reasons that 98 percent of frozen food products are experiencing flat or declining sales in this country.

According to new research, frozen food’s declining sales are also partly due to consumers’ concerns about the nutrition and quality of the product. In other words, people don’t think frozen food is healthy. Such an unfortunate misunderstanding of frozen food’s good qualities is particularly distressing considering the work being done (with your tax dollars) to encourage Americans to eat healthier. While fresh vegetables are, of course, a fine option, frozen food, in many instances, is more nutritious than fresh food because produce destined to be frozen is picked at its peak — unlike food meant for the produce aisle which must be picked earlier for shipping. Food picked at its peak and then frozen locks in the nutrients. This is why frozen food is a healthy, convenient, and cost effective means of getting good food.

The other benefit of frozen food is that it’s already washed. I’m not about to suggest that washing produce is an impossible task, but I will say that it’s nice to open and microwave a bag of frozen peas some nights. Busy moms and dads understand that short cuts like this are always helpful. Yet, Pollan sees convenience as a slippery slope to a frozen-pizza lifestyle — where people rely entirely on prepackaged convenience meals provided by big bad business. In fact, Pollan all but blames rising obesity rates on big business, telling Bittman:

We know why people don’t cook: because the marketers of prepared food have taken over our kitchens. . . .

Big Food has convinced most of us: “No one has to cook! We’ve got it covered.” This began 100 years ago, but it picked up steam in the ’70s, when Big Food made it seem progressive, even “feminist,” not to cook. 

But was it really “Big Food” that made us less interested in cooking, or was it the fact that women — the primary cooks in the average household up until the 1970s — started leaving the home to go to work? For Pollan, however, this isn’t a chicken and egg question. He knows which came first — big business and its discouraging impact on American home cooks.

This absurd conclusion misses the reality that the food industry simply reacted to the demands of the growing number of working women who no longer had time to cook for their families. Hence convenience foods — frozen lasagnas, pizzas, and all sorts of things that made it easier for moms to hold down a job and put dinner on the table, too.

Naturally, Pollan’s solutions involve big government. While he does encourage the first lady to “use her bully pulpit to promote home cooking” — something I agree she should do — Pollan ultimately sees encouraging people to cook as a government responsibility. He says:

First, we need to bring back home ec, but a gender-neutral home ec. We need public health ad campaigns promoting home cooking as the single best thing you can do for your family’s health and well-being. A tax on prepared food, but not on raw ingredients, is another good idea.

I have a better solution: Michael Pollan should stop denouncing whole sections of the grocery store. He should spend a little more time perched up on his bully pulpit encouraging busy parents to purchase healthy, moderately priced items that are stocked in the middle of the store. Canned and frozen food is a good solution for many families struggling to provide their children healthy food at a good price.

Pollan will always have his followers and his fawning fans (like Bittman) but the real advice we need to give parents is to cook for your family. Do the best you can using a combination of fresh, frozen, canned, convenience, raw, and whole ingredients. What matters is making the effort to provide your child a homemade (or half-homemade) meal. After all, no one’s perfect . . . except Pollan in Bittman’s eyes.


‘Inside the Princess Industrial Complex’


Don’t say we weren’t warned by Ike. From the Washington Post:

On a sunny Sunday afternoon, Cinderella was on the phone with her next client. “Are you ready? Everybody there? Okay, here I come.”

The princess put away her cellphone, gave her crown a final tweak and climbed out of her Kia, ready to rock her fourth birthday party of the weekend. This Cinderella is a gown about town.

“I think I’ve done more than 800 parties now,” said Rebecca Russell, owner and principal Cinderella of Princess Parties of Virginia, as she guided her voluminous blue skirts along a Chantilly cul-de-sac. “It’s just getting busier and busier.”

It is an enchanting time to be a professional party princess. On the tails of a massive marketing blitz of all things tiara-ed, the ancient childhood appeal of the fairy-tale heroine has exploded into a modern princess-industrial complex. Amid thousands of princess products and millions of begowned little girls, it turns out there is a decent living to be made by chipper-voiced entrepreneurs ready to displace the old party clown.

“It’s just grown like crazy,” said Heidi Martin, who recently started a party princess company in Stafford and now books a stable of 25 Cinderellas, Belles and Pocahontases for gatherings all around the region.

Even in career-obsessed Washington, where legions of professional women command six-figure salaries and care more about office shoes than glass slippers, parents find themselves helpless in the face of the fierce princess passions of their 3-to-6-year-old girls.

My 6-year-old daughter is in this phase, and by far the worst part of it is the glitter. It’s everywhere. But it could be worse I guess — my daughter’s favorite princess right now is Merida from Brave, so she runs around the house with a crown, a floor-length (glitter-covered) gown and a bow. A warrior-princess maybe?

 The rest here.

A Visit with the Gender-Studies Folks


I was recently invited to be apart of a gender-studies forum at a university up in Denver. I love these invitations because it allows the opportunity to mix with others who see the world a good bit differently. I wrote up some reflections on the experience over at Boundless.

Many things strike me about the gender-studies crowd, but one thing that is so obvious is that, as an “academic” discipline, they sure just make it up as they go along. And they are far more at odds with any current science than anything you will get from any religion department. There seems to be more evidence for Bigfoot than there is for the basic assumptions these folks operate under.

MSNBC’s Remarkable View of Children


Two stunning examples of how the earnest folks over at MSNBC view children (and use them).

1) Here’s Melissa Harris-Perry explaining who your children “belong to.” Consider this is a very intentionally scripted promo piece, not a careless comment.

And you think your kids are yours. Silly rabbit.
2) Here we get a tutorial from a super-cute little girl who lets us in on what marriage actually is, which kinds of marriages are “silly” and which are quite everyday. She does have the insight of a six-year-old.

Why didn’t they ask her what she thinkgs about marrying say . . . a unicorn, a mermaid, or any of the fabulous Disney princes.

Do Airlines Hate Kids?


A blog post on The Atlantic last week (also picked up by the Daily Mail) details the circumstances surrounding a family being kicked off a Denver-to-Baltimore United Airlines flight because they asked that a violent PG-13 movie being shown on the drop-down television screens be turned off to prevent their four- and eight-year-old children seeing the movie.

The movie being shown was a moderately successful Hollywood action film called Alex Cross, which, according to the parents involved in the incident, was rated by United’s own in-flight magazine as “T” for “Adult Themes.”

Here’s the movie’s description on IMDB:

 A homicide detective is pushed to the brink of his moral and physical limits as he tangles with a ferociously skilled serial killer who specializes in torture and pain. 

Now, doesn’t that just sound like a fun movie for the whole family? Here’s a review from a website that advises parents on family-friendly films:

The violence isn’t as extreme as, say, a Quentin Tarantino movie, but it’s probably equivalent to one of the newer Bond films. In other words, it’s not just shootouts, but also scenes of torture, a decapitated head, and a pregnant woman killed for pleasure by a villain who takes joy in inflicting pain. Even iffier? In the end, the movie’s message seems to be that even officers of the law sometimes need to take a morally questionable path toward justice. Also expect some language (“s–t,” etc.), a scene with a lingerie-clad woman, and lots of GM vehicles.

Hmmm . . . decapitation, torture, and murdered pregnant women. It’s hardly Finding Nemo and it certainly makes these parents seem reasonable in their request to have their children spared seeing this violence.

#more#After these parents requested that the monitor be turned off, the flight attendant expressed concern for the folks sitting behind the family who would not be able to watch the movie (because clearly we should worry about the adults who will be robbed of this cinematic experience). Luckily, those passengers proved reasonable, telling the flight attendant that they did not need to see the film. Yet the attendant still refused citing lack of authority — because who doesn’t need the okay from the airline’s legal department to turn off a television?

When the parents asked if the captain had the authority to turn off the screen, the attendant told them that they would have to ask the captain after the plane landed . . . you know, after the blood and guts had been spilled on screen in full view of the children.

Shocked yet? Shocked at the utter stupidity of the cabin crew and the lack of common sense, decency, and kindness they extended to these parents who have every right to control the things their children see (particularly when they are paying customers just like the rest of the passengers)? Well, get ready for more shocking details.

More than an hour later the captain, [name withheld for now], announced that due to “security concerns”, our flight was being diverted to Chicago’s ORD. Although this sounded ominous, all passengers, us included, were calm. After landing a Chicago police officer boarded the plane and, to our disbelief, approached us and asked that we collect our belongings, and follow her to disembark. The captain, apparently, felt that our complaint constituted grave danger to the aircraft, crew and the other passengers, and that this danger justified inconveniencing his crew, a few of whom “timed out” during the diversion, and a full plane of your customers, causing dozens of them to miss their connections, wasting time, precious jet fuel, and adding to United’s carbon footprint.

Obviously, the Captain’s behavior was outrageous. One certainly hopes the airline reviews his competence to fly. Yet, there’s an issue that goes beyond the captain’s action.

United Airlines should take responsibility for choosing this wildly inappropriate in-flight film — particularly on a plane with drop-down screens. Unlike some PG-13 movies which receive that rating mainly for the adult storyline or for adult language, (which parents can deal with by not providing the child with earphones) the Alex Cross has visible violence which parents cannot control.

And if you think you can tell a four- and eight-year-old to simply avert their eyes (like one insensitive travel blogger suggested), you don’t know kids. I strictly limit my children’s television viewing, but when it’s on, they go into a coma-like state. Even if it’s on mute, my children’s eyes will stare, lifeless, at the screen.

Perhaps these airlines need a reminder that they charge parents for children’s tickets and therefore should afford a parent’s wishes a little respect. United Airlines should be ashamed of their behavior and rethink not only their in-flight selection, but how they treat people traveling with children.

Chicago Parents to Rahm: Walk in Our Kids’ Shoes


From the Sun-Times:

Parents urge Emanuel to walk same school routes their kids will take

“Walk the walk,” parents said Tuesday morning at a demonstration at City Hall, calling on Mayor Rahm Emanuel to try out the often dangerous routes between the schools that Chicago Public Schools officials aim to close and the schools where their children will be sent instead.

Starting Tuesday, groups of parents will walk the routes to point out problems along the way, parents said at an emotional news conference at City Hall organized by the group Raise Your Hand.

“Gangs are going to interact with our children. I don’t want to see no child harmed,” Avanette Temple said of Delano Elementary School, 3937 W. Wilcox.

If the school board approves the closing, Delano students will be joined in their current building by children from Melody Elementary, 412 S. Keeler, more than half a mile away. The school will be called Melody.

“Mayor, you said you were going to take care of our children,” Temple said, crying. “I need you to walk that walk. We have to do it, our children have to do it.”

The rest here.

In Praise of Laundry-Detergent Pods


I’m a mom of three little boys. BOYS.

Life can be a little messy in our house. And, truth be told, I sometimes feel like I’m an unpaid short-order cook in the county jail . . . that is, when I’m not an unpaid laundress at the county jail. But you know what’s really nice? It’s nice when companies try to figure out what I want and what will make my day go by a little smoother. You know why I appreciate this? Because Mother Nature isn’t one of your girlfriends and she’s not going to come over to sit with the kids while I go have a mommy-timeout at the nail salon. Want proof? Watch Survivor.

Luckily, companies are trying hard to tap into that mom and dad demographic. You know who I’m talking about, the “good grief, I haven’t had a full night’s sleep in seven years” demographic. That’s the demographic to which, sadly, I belong, and I kind of like the fact that companies are trying to impress me.

I like cheese sticks, single-serving applesauce, and JELL-O and yogurt cups. I love that some genius at StarKist came up with the idea to stick a tiny spoon, mayonnaise, relish, and some crackers on the side of an easy-to-open can of tuna. I love the already sliced apples that now come in Happy Meals and the fact that fast food restaurants figured out that square cartons of milk don’t fit in car cup-holders. I love squeeze-y yogurt packs and those adorable boxes of mini-penne and tiny bow-tie pastas. Snack packs of goldfish and crackers are a life-saver and who doesn’t love tossing a kid a 100-calorie serving bag of cookies. I love disposable diapers (sorry, hippy cloth-diaper devotees). I love fitted sheets, and kid-sized towels, and modern strollers. I love (the now-unavailable) drop-side cribs. I love dishwashing detergent that comes in tiny little packets and I love those laundry pods — those ingenious little one-stop shops for sudsy goodness. Baby products have evolved to such a degree that my mother now actively resents these products being absent during my baby years.

Why do I love these things? Because I’m tired. I’m tired of messes, and cling wrap, and washing tiny plastic containers, and sometimes it’s nice to throw a cheese stick in my kid’s home-packed lunch. I like it when companies think about the mommy demographic because I’m tired of cleaning up the detergent spills on top of my washer.

Yeah, yeah . . . first world problems. I get it. But can’t we just celebrate — for once — how fortunate we are to live in an economy where the market responds to parents’ demands? That some guy or gal gets a paycheck to tell the corporate heads what Julie — the tired mom of three energetic, mess-making little boys — needs to make her life just a smidge easier? That’s pretty cool, right? I’m no different than most moms. I want convenience, short-cuts, and a smattering of hassle-free products.

What I don’t want is some do-gooder worrying that I’m not doing my job properly. What I don’t want is some celebrity food writer with a live-in nanny and housekeeper making me feel guilty for occasionally letting my kid have some goldfish crackers and telling me kale chips are super easy to make (do these people actually wash the kale — a rather time-consuming endeavor — or do they consider the sand and grit just a good fiber source?). What grates on me is when these nannies assume I don’t know how to keep dishwasher and laundry pods out of the mouths of my children.

Concern that kids will mistake these small laundry pods for food or candy is a particularly bizarre issue, made even more bizarre when a United States Senator decided to warn the American public of the dangers of these laundry pods. Apparently forgetting that children mistake basically everything for food, New York senator Chuck Schumer said of the laundry pods: “I don’t know why they make them look so delicious.”

Except that kids don’t really think that way. They don’t just think laundry pods look delicious; they think everything looks delicious. Kids are well known to stick just about anything in their mouths. Reasonable moms know this. So, maybe Senator Schumer should advise parents to start acting more reasonably by putting these pods (and basically everything that shouldn’t be consumed by a child) out of the reach of children? Might a little personal responsibility be in order here?

And, as long as we’re trading horror stories; how about one about pour-able detergent, in which a friend of mine told me that the reason he and his wife switched to the single serving pods of detergent was because one his children poured detergent on himself and it was a hassle to clean up both him and the floor. As my friend said of his own experience with the laundry pods, “we’ve never had a problem with pods because all of kids know that we do not keep food on top of the washing machine.”

Smart Dad. Smart kids.

Look, I get it. People care. But wouldn’t it be nice if they just kept their caring to themselves. Let me care about my own kids and trust me to have the sense to keep dangerous items on high shelves.

More importantly, let’s not discourage industry from coming up with these innovations, innovations that make my life just a little easier.

Love America? You Might Enjoy Olympus Has Fallen




Even though my fellow NRO writer David French pretended to like Woody Allen movies during our short period of dating, he began watching high-body-count movies as soon as I said “I do.” The more explosions, aliens, and patriotic themes, the more enthusiasm he expressed as he walked out of the theater. The new movie Olympus Has Fallen — about the coordinated attack of North Korean terrorists on the White House — seems like the type of movie my husband (and maybe other NRO readers) might enjoy.

According to Rebecca Cusey’s review:

There’s something about the narrative that hits a sweet spot in the zeitgeist. It’s the sense of America hit from without by barbarians. It’s feeling of America as Rome, battered and tested, but America finding deep within the courage and strength that made her great in the first place.

With lots and lots of explosions. 

She concludes:

Some critics will surely hate the flag waving and simplicity that the movie projects. It lacks nuance. It’s too black and white. We never sense the depth of the bad guy’s suffering soul. Too rah-rah, patriotic, basic good versus evil.

They’re right. And that’s why you’ll enjoy it as much as I did. 

Read her whole review here, and enjoy the trailer below.



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