I've spent my first year in Norway trying to figure out what's wrong with this country. The work-to-life balance is ideal, the health care is great, and parental benefits are extravagant. It sounds utopian. But a recent trip to the grocery store revealed the darker side of Norway: there aren't enough cows.
Let me start from the beginning. I was supposed to bake a lovely cardamom bread for a recent potluck last weekend but I couldn’t find any unsalted butter. I went to three grocery stores and checked again throughout the week with no luck. There was regular butter and margarine in varying degrees of healthiness but nothing that I could bake with.
And now I’m getting nervous because last year there was a major butter shortage in Norway and I wonder if it’s going to happen again.
A butter crisis? It is such a strange concept. There’s rarely a shortage of any kind in the US. You walk into a store and you’ll find everything in abundance: aisles of ketchup, 20-packs of baby bibs stacked ceiling high, a 40-pack of toilet rolls. There’s no such thing as running out of the basics and there’s no such thing as buying just one.
I didn’t tell anyone back home about the butter famine because I was embarrassed that I had just moved to a place that, however modern or wealthy it was, couldn’t provide me with something so basic. Swapping homemade butter techniques was a normal conversation here last year. I couldn’t hide it for long because Stephen Colbert got wind of the story.
Mr. Colbert says the crisis was the result of a popular low-carb diet but that was an excuse a local dairy company tried out on the angry public. Actually it was because Norwegian farmers don’t have enough cows to meet local demands for dairy products and because of the government’s draconian protectionist policies that limit importing.
So there it is, the fly in the ointment: an extreme case of protectionism.
Protectionist policies in Norway include high import tariffs, import quotas and millions of dollars in subsidies for domestic farmers as incentives to continue production despite the difficult geographic and climate conditions so close to the Arctic. These policies are supposed to protect local products and the jobs they bring to the economy.
For example, to protect Norwegian cheese producers the government recently increased import taxes on foreign cheese by 277 percent. I guess I’ll be buying homegrown cheddar.
But perhaps Norway has taken it too far. In the case of butter, the government was naively trying to rely only on its own farmers, whose cows have more snow than grass to graze on. It could easily get it from neighboring Denmark (a major exporter of butter) but Norway’s trade barriers not only make that difficult, but they also raise the price of domestic products. So what does everyone do? During the butter crisis last year they did some crazy things – like buying butter in online auctions for four times the price.
Besides that Norwegians do what they call a harry tur, or “trash trip,” to Sweden for cheaper groceries. The two countries share a border yet Sweden’s more relaxed business environment means that items are generally 40 percent cheaper. A growing trend amongst my budget-smart friends in Oslo is to make the one hour and 40 minute drive to a shopping center in Strömstad, Sweden. Last year Norwegians spent 11.5 billion kroner ($2 billion) on the other side of the border, according to Statistics Norway.
Clearly, locals aren’t happy with some of the drawbacks of protectionism.
My post, Norway’s dirty secret, provoked an insightful discussion in the comments section about socialism in Norway and I hope that conversation continues. Of course there are downsides to living here but they pale in comparison to the benefits. I don’t mind finding things out of stock from time to time (even if the reason is absurd), if it helps keep unemployment at 3 percent.
I’d still like my own cow though.
The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best family and parenting bloggers out there. Our contributing and guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor, and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. Saleha Mohsin blogs at Edge of the Arctic.
According to a report that came out earlier this month from the University of Virginia’s Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, less than a quarter of US moms and dads believe this is a great time to be bringing children into the world, and most say it is tougher to raise children today than it was 50 years ago. Fewer than 1 parent in 10 thinks the quality of American family life has improved since they were growing up.
But in a twist, researchers found that most parents in the U.S. think their own kids and family are doing just fine, thanks. It’s the other families out there that are the problem.
“Given the chorus of cries from all quarters about family crisis, families in decline, the pernicious effects of technology, and the increasingly tenuous nature of contemporary family arrangements, there was really only one thing we did not expect to unearth in our investigation: That parents actually think their families are doing well,” researchers wrote.
Better than well, actually.
Based upon parents’ responses in the project (a national sample that was surveyed with rigorous academic standards, according to the researchers), only 1 out of every 20 American school children consumes alcohol. Even limiting the analysis to teenagers, parent answers suggest only 1 in 10 kids ever drink. (Compare this to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 72 percent of all high school students have tried alcohol.)
More than 7 in 10 parents report that none of their children are overweight. And according to parents, 72 percent of American teenagers have “definitely not” had sex, while more than a third of the country’s school children are A students, while another 49 percent are either A/B or B students. Ninety-three percent of children have never been suspended, and two-thirds have received an award or certificate for outstanding performance in school, sports, music or the arts.
Now, this last tidbit might be close to accurate. We wouldn’t be the first ones to point out the “trophies for everyone” trend has pretty well taken over our child rearing culture.
But for most of these statistics, there is a clear disconnect between parent perception and what researchers say is an accurate picture of child achievement.
Carl Desportes Bowman, the director of survey research at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture and the lead author of the family culture report, said he suspected the parents’ rosy view of their own families has to do with another national trend: one toward not just close families, but families where parents hope to be “friends” with their children.
Nearly half of American parents put themselves on the “closest” end of a numerical scale that evaluated how close they were with their children; seven out of 10 American parents say “I hope to be best friends with my children when they are grown.”
“There is so much emphasis on being close to your kids that it plays tricks with personal identity,” Bowman says.
Now, some parents here might ask: what’s the problem with that? Why not look at your kid in glowing terms? The researchers don’t confront this exactly head-on. And sure, some less-than-objective love for your kid is natural.
RECOMMENDED: America's 4 parenting cultures
The issue, perhaps, is that when there is a wide-spread, culturally inflated view of one’s own family, everyone else's starts to look lousy in comparison. And this can’t be helpful for a society that, as this report showed, is quite divided about the moral questions of parenting, families and what values children should internalize.
So next time - think a little closer about whether Johnny is really a straight A student who would never drink or have sex or text and drive. A realistic view won’t make you a worse parent; it will just give you the empathy to deal with these issues on a macro level.
As a child in the late 1950s and 1960s, my brother and I always addressed our parent’s friends as “Mr.” and “Mrs.,” and our friends always referred to my parents as “Dr.” and “Mrs.,” though it was generally abbreviated to “Dr. Z” and “Mrs. Z.” A few especially close family friends we called “Aunt” and “Uncle,” but first names alone were never used. And so it was with all the adults in our lives: teachers, doctors, and acquaintances. It was one way of showing respect for our elders.
Sometime in social upheaval of the late '60s, a few adults, even some teachers (or college professors) – the “cool” ones – said, “call me John,” or “Mary.” It was a bit unsettling and felt unnatural if you’d grown up addressing people older than yourself with more formality. As I became an adult, and my parent’s friends aged, it became easier and soon very natural to use first names. After all, we were all grown-ups now.
Almost all of our sons’ friends address us formally, though a handful use our first names, and oddly both seem natural for the individuals involved. I’m not sure how the different usages evolved and there’s no apparent pattern to it, but it would still sound odd to hear myself addressed by my first name by those who have been more formal, and vice versa. You just get used to the way things are.
When we brought Albie, our half golden retriever, half yellow Lab, into our home I didn’t think this would be an issue because, after all, he can’t talk. He’s smart, but he’s not that smart. But the issue wasn’t what he would call us, but how we would describe ourselves in reference to him. I always found it peculiar, even off-putting, to hear dog owners (if “owner” is really the right term) refer to themselves as “Mommy” and “Daddy” or variations thereof when talking to their dogs, as in “Daddy is going to take you for a walk now,” or “Mommy loves you, yes she does!” Good grief, people, these are dogs not children!
But I soon realized that I needed a comfortable way to refer to myself when talking to him and even more to the point, a natural way to refer to my wife Judy. I swore we’d never be Mommy and Daddy to Albie, and so, when Albie first came home I was referring to Judy as, well, Judy because that’s her name.
“Judy’s going to take you for a walk, Albie!” I’d say. But it didn’t sound quite right. Judy would be right if Albie were a friend, the kind you meet for lunch or a movie, but he’s something else. Then our dog-owner friends would arrive and refer to us as “Mommy” and “Daddy” when talking to Albie. It seemed inevitable.
The fact is, having a dog is, in certain respects, like being the mother or father to a young child: The creature is totally dependent on you for food, water, affection and a proper place to execute vital bodily functions, and leaving them home when you go out invites the same guilt pangs you got when the kids stared out the window, babysitter behind them, looking doleful as you got in the car and drove away. That’s why “Judy” and “Peter” didn’t sound right. It seemed too much like the groovy English professor from 1970 who insisted students call him by his first name, the one who might show up at your dorm party with a joint or a beer which seemed kind of cool then but seems creepy in retrospect. Still, I’m not sold on “Mommy” and “Daddy.”
So, for now, the question remains unsettled as I continue to weigh the options. Maybe we should just go with Captain and Tennille.
The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best family and parenting bloggers out there. Our contributing and guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor, and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs.
Much has already been written about last week’s heartbreaking elementary school killings in Newtown, Conn. But rather than add to the words now, at a time when it seems that space for peace and personal reflection is perhaps most appropriate, we thought we would simply share a few of the resources we’ve found online for those who are struggling.
1. The American Academy of Pediatrics has assembled on its website a series of tip sheets for parents and teachers, students and schools. These include everything from talking with your teen about violence to tips for school administrators to identify mental health risks. It also has links to a number of policy statements.
2. The National Association of School Psychologists have also compiled resources for talking with children about the shootings, and about violence in general. Its documents emphasize reassuring children that they are safe, making time to talk with children and keeping explanations developmentally appropriate.
3. Although many experts recommend that parents turn off the television and try to shield their children from the non-stop news about the shootings, it’s nearly impossible in the Internet era to create a media-free bubble. Common Sense Media has information about how to help children put news in perspective, with tips specific for various age groups. “No matter how old your kid is, threatening or upsetting news can affect them emotionally,” their website explains. See more advice here: http://www.commonsensemedia.org/advice-for-parents/explaining-news-our-kids
4. Sesame Street has a fantastic and practical pamphlet for talking to young children about emergencies. Much of the advice – from taking care of oneself to inspiring a sense of hope in children – is applicable in the aftermath of Friday’s shootings. Here is a link to the pdf: http://www.sesameworkshop.org/assets/1192/src/HereForEachOther_vEng2012Modified.pdf
We know you made out your holiday shopping list in October, including everyone from your sister-in-law to the Secret Santa gift for work.
But we’re pretty sure you’re forgetting someone. Remember the newspaper delivery person? And your child’s day care teacher? And your dog groomer? You didn’t grab a sweater for them at Target, did you?
Holiday tipping season is upon us, a potentially complicated social negotiation that can take the cheer right out of the season. It’s usually a time to show appreciation for people who give you services all year long – but exactly whom to give to and how much to give can add extra weight to the simple idea of being thoughful. How little can you give without offending? How much to can you give seeming overly generous? Who is it imperative to remember? And if your holiday resources are shrinking, who can you – gulp – take off the tipping list?
Jacqueline Whitmore, founder of etiquetteexpert.com and author of "Poised for Success," says to focus on those who make your life run more smoothly from day to day such as day care instructors, hair stylists, those who work to take care of your pet and exercise class teachers.
“These are the people that make your life easier,” Ms. Whitmore says.
She says to plan ahead of time to make sure you’re not forgetting anyone who you want to make sure to thank. Doing so can also help you ensure you’re not going beyond your budget.
“You have to pick,” Whitmore sAYS. “I make a priority list ahead of time.”
For the teachers who watch over your little ones while you’re at work, Whitmore saYS some parents may be inclined to have children make something or pick out a gift at the mall, but this may come with pitfalls. She said she wrote an article once in which she instructed parents to have kids create the gifts and got less-than-happy responses.
“Two teachers wrote me back, very upset, saying 'We have too many tchotchkes, we'd rather have cash,’” Whitmore remembered.
You can always work with the other parents in the group to write out a card and pool funds for a gift – Whitmore recommends between $50 and $75 altogether. If it’s just you doing the giving and you feel uncomfortable about handing over a wad of cash, try a gift card to a local restaurant or spa.
And if you’re going to the hairstylist on the corner to get the kids looking groomed for Christmas dinner, add a little extra to that tip, especially if you’re a regular customer there. Whitmore, the daughter of a hairdresser, says tipping 20 percent is always essential, but more is best during the holiday season.
“These people also appreciate cash,” she said. “They rely on their tips to pay their bills.”
For a pet groomer or dog walker, it’s also good to thank them for looking after your furry friend with such care. The Emily Post Institute suggests the price of a session as a tip for groomers, or a present, and the price of one week’s work, or a gift, for walkers.
For money-strapped parents, Whitmore says these are the priority people to focus on. But if you’re able, workers in your life such as the newspaper delivery person or the mail person also appreciate little extras. But be careful with postal workers: per US Postal Service rules, you can’t give workers money, and gifts have to be worth $20 or less. Something small, like cookies, is always appreciated, says Whitmore.
“I usually greet them or leave the gift in the mailbox,” she says of delivering items.
Looking to thank others in your life? If a nurse or health care professional often visits your elderly parent and you’ve formed a relationship with them, a gift is certainly a nice idea – just check with their company to make sure it’s allowed. The Emily Post Institute recommends a present from you, not cash, if it is. A small gift or cash, between $10 and $30, is good for the person who delivers your newspaper every day, says the Institute.
And if you’re a city dweller and want to thank those who handle emergencies and keep you safe in your apartment, try cash or a gift for your superintendent (the Emily Post Institute recommends between $20 and $80) and your doorman (between $15 and $80).
Overall, it’s about not going beyond your budget and honoring those who help you all year long, says Whitmore.
“The people who take care of you and your family should be at the top of your list,” she says.
Families are finalizing plans for December holiday celebrations, even as kids are scraping the very bottom of their Halloween candy buckets and last month’s Thanksgiving turkey has roosted on parents’ backsides. And this is only the beginning.
The month of December is often a blur of latke platters, Christmas cookies, and endless feasting. While many families stuff themselves until they cannot eat another bite, others struggle to put food on the table.
While the disparities of those with excess and those in need becomes more pronounced during the holidays, the problems of hunger and waste are systemic and persist throughout the year.
On average, American families throw away a quarter of the food they purchase, 50 percent more than their 1970’s counterparts. For a family of four, that can mean that $2,000 worth of food ends up in the trash every year.
According to a recent study from the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) , 40 percent of food produced in America never makes it to the table. At the same time, 47 million Americans depend on government assistance to put food on the table, according to August data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
As the NRDC report points out, agriculture and food production are resource-intensive enterprises, taking up half of all US land, accounting for 80 percent of the nation’s freshwater consumption, and representing 10 percent of the country’s entire energy budget.
Food lost at the consumer level represents an even greater waste of energy resources because it has been through all the links of the food chain from field, to processing facility, to truck, to store, to family minivan, burning through fossil fuels at every step of the way.
Families interested in reducing their waste stream can examine their shopping, cooking, and eating habits. Some families purchase more than they can eat and it spoils before cooking. Others pile too much food on their plates and scrape leftovers down the garbage disposal. Most families likely fall into both categories.
Once families start to pay attention when they waste food, they can make small changes in their habits that can lead to less waste in the trashcan and more money in the bank.
Getting kids on board, however, can take some careful planning.
With produce racks overflowing with food, and grocery aisles filled with disposable versions of pretty much all household goods, it can be difficult for kids to comprehend the value of food.
By starting a discussion about waste, parents can help to place value on food and start to provide some context for understanding hunger.
Many parents remember staying behind at their childhood dinner table until they had cleaned their plates because, “there are children starving in China that would be glad to eat that food.”
Today, parents are more likely to encourage children to listen to their bodies and avoid overeating. That’s an important message, especially in the midst of the current obesity epidemic. However, on its own, it can inadvertently promote food waste.
Parents can encourage children to start with smaller servings and assure them that if they want more they can come back for more. Some parents may find it useful to resurrect the clean plate rule, but with the message that kids should eat what they take, rather than eat everything parents serve up.
Taking the kids to hand out bowls at a soup kitchen or deliver food to a food pantry can help give the idea of hunger some context.
The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best family and parenting bloggers out there. Our contributing and guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor, and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs.
This was good to see: What looked like a truly anti-social media company, game developer Square Enix saw irresponsibility for what it was and quickly reversed a stupid marketing decision. I’d like to take it as a sign that – in this very social media environment where users are co-producers with the providers of their media experiences – media companies and users alike will be increasingly wise to the power that users have just by the nature of social media.
My definition of an anti-social media company is one that fails to treat its users as partners in the social experiences they’re co-creating with it.
But I wonder how sustainable such a company's practices are, because of the transparency and user-driven nature of social media, and what those say about where control ultimately lies (something users haven't completely wakened up to yet) – more on that here.
Anyway, the decision Square Enix decided to reverse was to advertise its game "Hitman: Absolution" with a campaign that started with an e-mail which “literally [said] ‘Square Enix Wants You to Put a Hit on Your Friends!’,” reported Geekdad at Wired. The e-mail instructed players to go to Facebook and use an app that would help them insult and send death threats ostensibly to other players. Only one of the problems with that is that non-players and people who’d never heard of this videogame could’ve gotten those cruel messages.
Maybe some of us get the sort of dark reverse psychology that cruel in-game behavior on display outside the game pulls some people into the “fold,” but non-gamers don’t. And many younger recipients of such messages would likely be non-gamers, since the game’s about as “M” as an M-rated game could be (M for “Mature” because of the gore, violence, sexuality and substance abuse it depicts, according to the game raters at ESRB). Maybe Square Enix got that the timing, with online and offline bullying of high concern in our society, was really bad.
Maybe the company even got that a lot of people (e.g., those who hadn’t heard of the game) could get hurt, but I hope it even got that the campaign was modeling as well as enabling social aggression.
“The defense of this, if there is any,” writes GeekDad Curtis Silver, who said he’d enjoyed other games in the Hitman franchise but wasn’t going to buy this one because of the campaign, “is that gamers tag each other with dirty jokes and insults all the time, so it must be okay to send such an insult through Facebook. But what if you send it to someone who doesn’t play video games? Is it still just for laughs?”
This is great material for helping kids understand context and perspective – to think about how someone broadsided with a cruel inside “joke” might feel and what they might do to help. It’s also a good reason for gamers to talk about what they think of the in-game chat they participate in and whether – if they don’t actually enjoy it much or don’t feel it’s appropriate – they could think of something to do about that when playing games.
Talking about the abortive ad campaign is also an opportunity to learn from gamers in our lives about whether in-game chat changes from game to game or how playing different games makes them feel. And of course it’s an opportunity to talk about marketers’ tactics. For example, Mr. Silver writes that ad agencies serving game companies “sometimes dig deep in their pockets to create campaigns that transcend traditional advertising; they immerse the subject in advertising that asks you to play along.” Good to know. And great fodder for thinking out loud together about whether success can ever come from immersing people in or promoting social cruelty.
- But there’s also a lot of good society – and even safety and youth advocates – can learn from game designers. Some examples here.
- …and lots parents can learn from playing with their kids or observing their kids’ play – see: “Why kids love videogames and what parents can do about it.”
- However, as I wrote above and a while back, I believe that, due to the nature of the medium, it’s only logical that pro-social media companies will prosper more in the long term, as more and more of their co-producers wake up to their powers, and I think this is logic, not idealism. Exploitation of educated consumers is getting harder, which certainly puts greater and greater onus on education. I’d be interested in your thoughts.
The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best family and parenting bloggers out there. Our contributing and guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor, and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. Anne Collier is editor of NetFamilyNews.org, a blog, RSS feed, and e-mail newsletter that focuses on "kid-tech news for parents.”
Most parents are very good at comforting their children. They look under beds and in closets to prove no monsters are lurking. They dry tears, hug and hold on, because they know instinctively that the words they say are never as important as the acts of kindness parents perform on a daily hourly, moment-by-moment basis. That's why they became parents, because parenting equals love. And most of the time our children's fears aren't our own. So we can handle them calmly and rationally. We say, "See you in the morning light," and mean it.
But the events at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. last Friday are unprecedented and unimaginable. Although there have been acts of violence before at schools, the magnitude of the shootings at Sandy Hook put us all in uncharted territory. And in our fast paced, Wikipedia world we want to make sense of the senseless now. Well, we can’t. But there are some things we can do. Beginning with ourselves.
1. We can act like the brave teacher at Sandy Hook, who hid all her students in a closet, telling them everything was going to be alright, even though she didn’t think it would be. She kept them calm by maintaining order, by telling them to smile, by telling them she loved them. What she did was powerful, and those children not only survived because of her, they also walked out of that closet with at least a small amount of equilibrium. And comfort.
2. We can listen to the news reports in small amounts. It’s normal and necessary to know what’s going on in our world, but not to get hooked on every sound bite, some of which are often wrong. Now more than ever we need to monitor our children’s screen time. We may even want to unplug for a few days.
3. We can talk to our children about the other acts of courage and kindness that transpired at Sandy Hook. The custodian who warned the teachers and children, the first responders who got the other children out and told them to hold on to each other and keep their eyes closed. We can help them to focus on the good that transpired that day, not the horrible.
4. We can realize that the quick fix fixes nothing. That we need to hit re-send, over and over again, in our prayers for ourselves and others. Yes prayers, even atheists can pray, because by prayer I mean thinking thoughts of love and kindness about the people of Newtown. And that’s exactly what I mean.
5. Finally, a practical suggestion: The tragedy occurred on Dec. 14. Two months later will be Valentine's Day. What if your family sent a Valentine card, to Sandy Hook Elementary School, or the town of Newtown? Just a card signed by you and your kids that says, "We love you and we’re still grieving your loss. We’re thinking of you, we’re keeping you in our prayers." The words won’t really matter. It’s the thought, the act, the love, that counts.
Yup, still a bad idea...
We know, we know, you’ve heard all the dire warnings about “screen time.” It stunts your child’s intellectual development, makes her hyper, makes her tired, and generally is a bad idea. Despite the fact that kids are interacting with screens more than ever before.
Well, here’s yet another news item to keep in mind next time you’re tempted to shut the toddler in his room with the television babysitter. (And it’s not that we don’t understand the temptation, we assure you.) A study this week published in the “American Journal of Preventive Medicine” finds that not only do children with televisions in their rooms watch more TV, which in turn tends to make them fatter, the screen time logged in a child’s bedroom seems to actually make kids heavier than television watched in, say, the family room.
In other words, if there are two children with about the same diet and level of physical activity, the one with a television in his room will have more health risks than the one who watches television in other areas of the house.
Now, study researchers can’t say exactly why this is; whether it’s the television in the bedroom or other factors. But we’re thinking the take away is pretty clear. No television for Junior behind the bedroom door.
And while we’re talking screen time...
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) came out with a report this week showing that hundreds of the most popular children’s educational and gaming apps still fail to explain to parents what sorts of information is being collected about the youngsters who use them. Nearly 60 percent of the 400 apps the commission surveyed transmit information about the user – info that can include the user’s phone number or precise location – back to the developer or to an advertising network, analytics company or other third party, the FTC found. But only 20 percent disclosed their data collection practices.
Somewhat creepy, no?
Meanwhile, 58 percent of the apps contained advertising. (Only 15 percent disclosed that prior to download.) Children’s advocates say reforms are needed.
She was blow drying her hair?
Because it’s Friday, I am indulging in a little celeb mommy news here. This past week we got some of the first reports from new mom Megan Fox about what it’s like to become a parent. (Review: the 'Transformers' actress gave birth to her first child, Noah, with husband Brian Austin Green, in September.)
A lot of it is the normal stuff: It’s hard to describe how much love you can have for a new little munchkin. It’s hard to describe how completely, totally exhausted you are.
And it’s hard to try to blow dry your hair when you are in the midst of excruciating labor pains.
That’s right, the one-time Maxim Sexiest Woman Alive says that she wanted to look her best when she went to the hospital.
"I had wet hair, so I was trying to blow dry my hair before I went to the hospital," she told US Magazine. "I didn't want to go to the hospital with wet hair!"
I guess I’ll say I’m impressed. Or something. (I don’t blow dry my hair on a good day.)
Happy Friday, everyone.
The First Mom Michele Obama gets irritated when the president plays too much Scrabble on his iPad – and it annoys her when he wins; she also watches daughter Malia like a hawk now that she has her first cellphone.