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Mother's Day: A mom with a daughter headed off to college thinks about the long days and short years of motherhood, and marking childhood milestones as new phases for everyone, not necessarily the tombstones of motherhood. Here, new mom Julie Driggs holds son Carter. during baby yoga in Norwell, Mass. in 2009. (Melanie Stetson Freeman)

Mother's Day: Childhood milestones aren’t motherhood's tombstones

By Guest blogger / 05.08.12

My colleague KJ Dell’Antonia, editor of The New York Times parenting blog Motherlode, pointed out in a recent post that there are 940 Saturdays between the time your child is born and the time she turns 18. KJ’s calculation comes from Harley Rotbart, a parent, a pediatrician and author of a wise book called No Regrets Parenting.

The days of early parenthood are long and chaotic and exhausting. Sometimes those days lead into nights that are puzzling or downright scary. I still remember the times when Anna or Adam’s cries broke through the scrim of night or light sleep. Ken and I felt helpless as we asked each other the same question over and over: What do you think is wrong with her?

“I don’t know,” the other would say. “What do you think is wrong with her?”

There’s an old chestnut that says the very definition of insanity is repeatedly asking the same question, but expecting a different answer. The truth is there was no answer. We never found out why our babies cried. We never understood why Adam’s colic descended like the darkest cloud and then lifted just as suddenly five months – yes, five months – later.

As the mother of an almost 18- year-old who has an exact date for when she starts her first year of college, I’ve put aside Dr. Rotbart’s calculations. I simply pretend that time is still on my side.

But then the finite amount of time I have with my children took center stage last week when I heard my rabbi, Michelle Robinson, sermonize about the Omer and parenting. The Omer literally means to count and that’s what’s done during the 49-day period between Passover and Shavuot. The Omer originally staked out the time during which wheat was harvested and counted in preparation for a sacrifice at the Temple. Save for the Western Wall, the Temple is long gone. But Talmudic Judaism still observes the Omer by ticking off the days between the holidays.

Counting the Omer was not the only thing on Rabbi Robinson’s mind when she delivered her sermon. Like KJ, she too had just read “No Regrets Parenting.” As the mother of three children, she was deeply impressed with Rotbart’s approach to mindful parenting and his wisdom that although the days are long with young children, the years are short.

Robinson’s sermon then pointed me to my friend Aliza Kline’s recent blog post about Omer. Aliza is the founding executive director of Mayyim Hayyim and has been instrumental in bringing the ancient ritual of immersing in the mikveh into the 21st century. She and her family have been on an “extraordinary” sabbatical in Israel this past year, which is coming to an end next month. But instead of counting down the days until she leaves Israel, Aliza is counting up the days just as the Israelites counted up to the day they received the Torah. Aliza astutely writes:

"It’s an interesting idea to count up. Rather than thinking about all that we have to do before a deadline we can focus on all that we get to do once we’ve reached that momentous day. Counting also provides that helpful reminder to be mindful of each day, to be aware of time passing. To be 'present' regardless of whether the day or hour or minute brings joy or sorrow."

So between now and mid-July, when Anna turns 18, and then four weeks later when she sets foot for the first time on a college campus as a matriculated student, I need to count up. I hope that counting up will help me to distinguish that the milestones of Anna’s life are not the tombstones of my parenthood. I will try not to think of what I’m losing, but what I am gaining by sending my girl off to school.

First and foremost, Ken and I are giving our daughter one of life’s most vital resources – an education. As my mother used to say, no one can take your education away from you. My mother was all about independence for her daughters. She went back to school for a teaching degree when I was 5 and never looked back. A few years later, after she landed her first full-time job, she opened her own checking account and contributed significantly to her three children’s college tuitions.

Maybe this next phase of our family life will be as exciting for me as it will certainly be for Anna. After all, I won’t have to drive the 15-mile round trip to her school when she forgets her soccer cleats. I won’t have to look at the messiest room in town every day. But I know I’ll get weepy when I see the return of that sloppy wasteland because it means Anna’s in residence.

I envy KJ, Michelle and Aliza for the hundreds of Saturdays still ahead of them with their kids. As for me, I have 11 Saturdays until Anna turns 18 and 15 Saturdays until she leaves for college.

But who’s counting?

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Mother's Day is one thing. A mother's "moon month" in China is another: The tradition has a new mom really, really off her feet for the first month after the baby arrives. Here, in Beijing in June 2011, a new mother holds her baby at Chaoyang Park. (Melanie Stetson Freeman/Staff)

Forget Mother's Day: In China they get the gift of Moon month

By Correspondent / 05.07.12

My friend Rachel is about to give birth to a baby, her first, here in Beijing. And while she’s been remarkably organized and calm about the whole process, she did have one East-meets-West moment that made me realize how differently things are done here.

Her ayi, the woman she hired to cook and clean and help her take care of the baby, wanted to know if she was going to honor the “moon month.” When she told her no, the ayi was horrified.

Moon month in the Chinese tradition is a period in which the mother and the baby are confined to the house. I mean, really, really confined. No going outside at all, no stairs, no open windows, no air conditioning in the summer, and – most unsettling of all to many women – no showers or baths. Women are mainly to stay in bed, and even when they breastfeed, are supposed to lie on their sides instead of holding the baby.

Traditionally, the mother-in-law is the person in charge of the moon month, cooking, cleaning, taking care of the baby, waiting on the mother. Special foods are provided that are supposed to bring the new mother strength, like eggs. Lots and lots of eggs. They’re supposed to drink warm or hot water, not cold, which is bad for the mother’s health, the Chinese believe.

Some theorize that the no-shower tradition came from a time when the situation of a new mother was more precarious. Taking a shower might mean using dirty water or getting a chill. With no running water in many houses not terribly long ago, the mother would have to go outside the safe confines of her home to bathe.

One part of the tradition, however, is rather appealing: This is supposed to be a period when a new mother is pampered while she learns how to care for her baby.

China in recent years has seen the entrepreneurial opportunities in the moon month, and businesses have sprung up to provide new mothers with a place to go to wait out the month. Beijing, for instance, has something called the Beijing New Mother Maternity Service Center, established in 1999, an improvement, the center says, on the old traditions. Instead of tiring out the mother-in-law, the center offers six meals a day (strength-building, of course), nurses dressed in pink (“elegant and cozy,” the center notes), lessons on diet and baby care, and lots of TLC for mother and baby. (I suspect that going to a maternity center might also be a way of avoiding the pesky inlaws hovering too much in a stuffy apartment for an entire month.)

Mothers who would prefer to stay at home (and China recently approved a 98-day paid maternity leave, up from 90 days), can hire special ayis who work 16-hour days and can make as much as $2,000 in a month, a fortune for poor rural women.

Many non-Chinese women giving birth in China tend to reject, understandably, the prohibitions. Canadian musician Ember Swift, who is married to a Chinese man and lives in Beijing, wrote recently in Beijing Kids magazine that her husband surprised her when he agreed that she should follow all the traditions of the moon month. “My modern, dreadlocked, musician partner is showing me his traditional, conservative side,” she wrote.

Later, after she had the baby, she wrote on her blog: “I’ve also found myself settling into the rhythm of a life in confinement, remembering what I need to do when she’s sleeping and how to pace my day, and I’ve even gotten in some exercise on the side…

“After about ten days, I was going a bit mad and so negotiated some stairwell walking. We live on the sixth and seventh floor of an old-style apartment building. There’s no elevator. I argued that I was still within the rules of the moon month if I walked the stairwell but didn’t ‘enter the wind’ (进风 jinfeng) by going outdoors. They relunctantly agreed (more to keep me from losing my mind and thus having to deal with me, I’m sure) and they make sure I bundle up excessively before my walks each day just in case I catch a cold. There are 84 steps and I can now do ten rounds of up and down. 840 going up, 840 going down. After one week, I’m feeling much better for it.”

For my friend Rachel, confinement, even with stair-walking, just isn’t in the cards. She should tell her ayi, said one friend, that she is honoring her own traditions, Western ones.

I’ll be interested in seeing whether she has the nerve to drink a tall glass of cold water on a stifling June day right in front of her ayi.

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Hugs and happiness: one family's resolution to make coming home a special occasion, and to share their love for each other with warm greetings and farewells. In this March 8, 2012 photo, Alexis Lohse, right, hugs her daughter Emma Miller, 3, at their home in Fort Worth, Texas. (LM Otero/AP)

Hugs and happiness: One family's resolution to greet with love

By Guest blogger / 05.07.12

One of the bedrock principles of my happiness project is that I can’t change anyone but myself. It’s so easy to imagine that I’d be happier if only other people would behave properly, but I can’t assign resolutions to anyone but myself.

I firmly believe this, yet I did decide to try something that runs completely contrary to this very sound Gretchen-only rule. I proposed a family resolution to give warm greetings and farewells.

When our two daughters were little, they’d greet me and my husband with wild enthusiasm whenever we walked in the door, and often cried miserably when we left. Nowadays, they sometimes barely looked up from their own games or homework or books when we walked in or out. It was a relief, in a way, but also a little sad. And too often, my husband and I didn’t give warm greetings or farewells, either.

I love my resolution to hug more, kiss more, touch more. It takes no extra time, energy, or money, and it makes a big difference in the atmosphere of my apartment. To build on that resolution, I wanted family members to feel acknowledged and welcomed, every time they walked through the door.

Over Sunday pancakes, I posed a question: “If you could make a resolution for everyone in the family, what would it be?”

My husband answered without hesitation. “I do whatever I want, while the rest of the family cleans up the apartment and runs errands.”

“That’s a thought,” I said drily. “Next?”

My older daughter said, “We’d have different things for breakfast during the week, like eggs, instead of just cereal or peanut butter on toast.”

“We could do that,” I said. “I didn’t know you wanted anything else.” Then I turned to my younger daughter. “Do you have a suggestion?”

“People would always give me a big hug and a big kiss every time they saw me. And I would go to State News to buy a toy whenever I want.”

“Well, I want to propose something,” I said. “It’s a lot like the first part of that suggestion. I want us to have the rule that when any one of us comes home, or is leaving, we all have to pay attention to that person for a minute. Let’s give warm greetings and farewells.”

“Why?” asked my daughter.

“Let’s show more affection and attention for each other. I know that I’m bad about this, myself. It’s hard to be interrupted when you’re in the middle of something, but this is important.”

Everyone agreed good-naturedly with the aim of the resolution to give warm greetings and farewells — but would we all remember to do it, without nagging? I didn’t want a resolution meant to boost our feelings of affection to turn into a source of conflict.

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Somewhat to my surprise, we all quickly began to follow this resolution (most of the time). Giving warm greetings and farewell feels like a natural thing to do, and the more we do it, the more it becomes a habit. As a consequence, each day, several times, we have moments of real connection among all members of our family. For instance, instead of letting my older daughter yell, “I’m leaving” before she disappears out the door to go to school, I call, “Wait, wait,” and we all hurry to give her a real hug and a real good-bye.

A small thing, very small — nevertheless, it makes a real difference. As Benjamin Franklin pointed out, “Human Felicity is produc’d not so much by great Pieces of good Fortune that seldom happen, as by little Advantages that occur every Day.”

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. Gretchen Rubin blogs at The Happiness Project.

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Six-year-old singing LMFAO song suspended for sexual harassment

By Correspondent / 05.07.12

A 6-year-old boy was suspended from his suburban Denver school last week for alleged sexual harassment. According to school officials, the child (child, folks) recited some popular song lyrics to a girl, singing “I’m sexy and I know it.”

(The group that sings the song, LMFAO, is an acronym for another suspend-able phrase.)

Now the boy’s mom has publicly declared that she is going to clear her son’s name, and says the little guy was simply singing in the lunch line. Officials at the Sable Elementary School in Aurora, Colo. have also dug in (although there apparently is a meeting scheduled for today), saying they have a requirement to keep the school safe, undisrupted and sexual harassment free.


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There is so much wrong here I don’t even know where to start. 

Sexual harassment in educational settings is clearly a big problem. According to an American Association of University of Women study from 2001, peers perpetrate 79 percent of the sexual harassment in schools.

But as schools have responded with stronger anti-harassment policies and “zero tolerance” approaches, little kids are not only being held to standards way beyond their developmental levels, but are being blamed for a culture that sexualizes childhood, experts say.

In their book “So Sexy So Soon,” professors and child development experts Diane Levin and Jean Kilbourne write of a five-year-old boy named Jason who was almost suspended for telling a female classmate that he wanted to “have sex” with her. When the school psychologist met with Jason, however, and questioned him about what he was trying to say to his classmate, he burst into tears. He just meant that he “liked” her, he sobbed.

“This was the first time that anyone had bothered to ask Jason what he meant by what he said, a potentially damaging error on the part of the adults,” Ms. Levin and Ms. Kilbourne wrote. “They were all using an adult lens for interpreting what he said about sex, not a child’s lens. Often when adults think “sex,” children have something very different on their minds.”

To blame young children for using sexual terms “inappropriately” is hugely unfair, they and others say.

Children are bombarded with sexualized messages every day. Through everything from television shows to clothing commercials to the magazines at a grocery store checkout counter, kids are taught that “sexy” is good and desirable – well before they have any grown-up sense of what “sexy” actually means.

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The American Psychological Association’s 2010 task force report on the sexualization of girls tried to put numbers to some of this. It reported that some content analyses indicate that 44 to 81 percent of music videos contain sexual imagery, and that 80 percent of women in magazine advertisement samples were posed in sexually exploitative positions. Meanwhile, dolls made for children as young as 4 years old are sold in fishnet stockings and bikinis, while 15 percent of songs popular with teens have not just sexual but sexually degrading lyrics.

So ...  it’s not really that much of a surprise that a little kid might be humming a tune that we think is problematic, right?  Is suspension not a little bit of blaming the victim? Because here’s another problem with schools’ sexual harassment policies when applied to the single digit set:

By assuming – and acting as though – young children have an adult understanding of  sex, we’re contributing to their sexualization. A six-year-old should not, in fact, have the same concept of  “I’m sexy and I know it” as does a teacher.  By insisting that a child fully comprehend the meaning of those words, we’re adding to the problem. We should start trying to fix it elsewhere.

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Mother's Day: A working mom will be on a jet, missing the day with her daughters – but it may be a gift to them. (Reuters)

Mother's Day: What happens when mom misses it? Guilt or growth?

By Contributor / 05.07.12

Growing up, we always celebrated Mother’s Day with breakfast in bed. Dressed in our pajamas, my sisters and I would burst into our parent’s room and proudly shower our Mom with brightly-colored cards and a tray of toast, coffee, and fresh flowers.

It’s a familiar tradition across the country, and now it’s one in my own house. As the mother of two little girls, I am the one being showered on Mother’s Day. This year, however, there won’t be much time for me, or my kids, to enjoy it.

Shortly after breakfast I’ll finish packing, head for the airport and board a plane to Africa.

The trip marks my second to Liberia for a documentary I’m producing on a ground-breaking mental health program there. When I first booked my flight I entered every combination of dates in an effort to avoid leaving on Mother’s Day. No matter which search engine I chose, the results were the same. Unless I added 24 more hours to my travel time, I had to fly on May 12.

The more I searched, the more frantic I became. Leaving two little kids for a far-flung corner of the world is hard enough, but on Mother’s Day? Suddenly, the specter of Mom guilt had me in its clutches. What message will this send to my girls? Will they feel neglected? Will they one day sit across from a therapist and cry about the time I left them on Mother’s Day? What kind of Mother am I?

That same day, I called on a friend for support. “You are not neglecting your kids,” she said. “You are giving them an invaluable gift.”

When reason prevails, I understand this. In my career as a journalist I’ve often traveled far in the name of an important story. And as my older daughter grows up, she is beginning to understand. She tells her friends I am going to Africa, and shares her knowledge of what it’s like to be a child there. When she talks about my work, I feel an overwhelming sense of pride.

Then, in what feels like an instant, the parenting guilt kicks in and defeats it. The questions about what might happen in my absence nag at me, and with a Mother’s Day departure they loom larger. Oftentimes they are trivial: What if they forget to bring show-n-tell? Will the babysitter remember to put the little one to bed with two books (no stuffed animals)?

As parents we’re so often guided by the idea that proximity to our children equals protection. The less we leave them, the better off they are. To a certain degree, of course, this is true. But it’s also true that to build their independence and confidence, we simply have to let go.

So this Mother’s Day, I am letting go. Yes, I am leaving my children on the very day most of my friends and family will be celebrating with their kids in the comfort of home.

But if by definition Mother’s Day is about honoring not only our role as parents but also our role in society, then I believe I am giving my girls a gift. It’s the message that they, too, can travel far and wide, pursue their work with passion and confidently step out of their comfort zone for causes they believe in. And if they do forget their show-n-tell in my absence, life will go on.

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.

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Linda Evangelista, seen here leaving Manhattan Family Court May 3, is suing her ex-bpyfriend for $46,000 a month in child support, money the supermodel says, necessary to provide for her five-year-old son Augustin. The boy's father is billionaire Francois-Henri Pinault, now married to Salma Hayek. (Frank Franklin II/AP)

Linda Evangelista suing ex for $46,000 a month in child support

By Staff and wires / 05.04.12

Supermodel Linda Evangelista and ex-boyfriend Francois-Henri Pinault, a French business tycoon now married to actress Salma Hayek, faced off Thursday in the utilitarian environs of a Manhattan family court, where the question of how much it costs to raise a child today was center stage.

Ms. Evangelista wants a court to make the French billionaire pitch in for child-rearing expenses she has tallied at nearly $50,000 a month — for various expenses including armed bodyguards, round-the-clock nanny, as well as a second apartment maintained near her five-year-old son Augustin’s school for play-dates.

Ms. Evangelista, the 1980s and 1990s magazine-cover fixture who famously quipped that supermodels "don't wake up for less than $10,000 a day," has willingly paid all the boy's expenses for most of his life, but according to her lawyer, the model's roughly $1.8 million-a-year income took a major hit last year as a contract with L'Oreal ended.

So how much does raising a child cost for the average American family? Modern Parenthood offers these numbers from the 2010 Census:

There are currently 6,833,000 families in the US with children under 15 years old. The average weekly cost of child care among these families is about $138. The average monthly family income is $7,709 dollars. And the percentage of monthly family income spent on child care is 7.8 percent. Put another way, the average family spends about $600 a month on child care. 

While it is fairly certain the average American family is also not budgeting for second apartments or armed bodyguards, it would seem that Ms. Evangelista’s estimated costs run vastly higher than those of your average working mother.

Mr. Pinault's camp seems to agree, and is so far is resisting the supermodel’s dollar figure. A potential $46,000-a-month tab is "just ridiculous," lawyer David Aaronson said.

Mr. Pinault, the chief executive of PPR, which owns Gucci, Yves St. Laurent, and other luxury brands, makes about $4 million a year from a complex of his family's companies; Forbes recently estimated the family's net worth at $13 billion. While he certainly can afford such a large sum, Mr. Pinault has argued that in fact Ms. Evangelista wants the money for her own lifestyle preferences, and not purely to support their child.

There is something of a precedent here, however. Mr. Pinault is not one to count pennies when it comes to his offspring.

Mr. Pinault and Hayek's 4-year-old daughter, Valentina, has been taken on a $52,000-plus 12-day vacation to Bora Bora, spends weekends at the Mr. Pinault family's country estate near Paris, has bodyguards at times to shield her from paparazzi, and has a $12 million Los Angeles home in a trust for her — a step Mr. Pinault said he took to reassure Hayek she and the girl would have a home if the couple parted.

By the time Augustin turns 18, the US Department of Agriculture estimates that average middle-income American parents will have spent about $222,360 on their kids, or 22 percent more, in real dollars, than parents spent on their children during the middle of the 1960s baby boom. If Ms. Evengelista gets what she’s asking, that estimate will be reached before her son learns simple division.

Ms. Evangelista is expected to testify later in the trial. At the end, Support Magistrate Paul Ryneski will make a ruling that the couple could accept or ask a judge to reconsider.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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Graduation 2012: Staying in the moment with the top 8 tips for parenting the grad. Graduates wait for the commencement exercises to begin during the Florida State University, Panama City graduation, April 29, 2012. (AP)

Graduation 2012: Top 8 tips for parenting the grad

By Jennifer Powell-Lunder and Barbara GreenbergGuest bloggers / 05.04.12

Whether your child is moving up to middle school, high school, or  graduating from college,the pride and joy you feel as parents can rarely be matched. For many the transition has been smooth with a few small pot holes along the way. For others, the road may have been rocky and at times treacherous. But regardless of what the road to this destination has been like, now is the time to focus on the fact that your child has arrived there … in one piece no less!

 It is important that you take the time to relax and enjoy. Put all your concerns about your teens on pause at least for now. We know that as a parent you have always tried to look one step ahead which is often a good strategy when parenting teens. Now is a time, however, for both you and your teen to stay in the moment. Here are a few reasons why:

 1.) Your teens have worked hard and your acknowledgement, joy, and excitement for them means everything to them! After all you are their super hero!

 2.) If you are worrying about what comes next then you will miss out on what is happening now!

 3.) As their super hero, your teens look to you for approval. Now is not the time to model behavior that will rain on their parade!

 4.) There is always tomorrow! Today is about pride and approval. You can worry about his bedding not clashing with his college roommate’s bedding on another day.

 5.) This is your moment too! After all, their achievement is in part a reflection of your hard work and devotion!

 6.) Milestones can be bittersweet. Try not to reflect on what their movement forward may mean to you personally in terms of your age or your role in their lives. Celebrate and welcome the new phase in your life this accomplishment represents!

 7.) Life is  short. We all need to take a moment and smell the roses. Be in this moment and you will create a memory that you can revisit again and again!

 8.) We celebrate these achievements because they do not occur everyday. One more reason to enjoy every moment!

 Carpe Diem!  Seize the day! Rest assured that you will be glad you did!

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. Jennifer Powell-Lunder and Barbara Greenberg blog at Talking Teenage.

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Dad's got no excuse: Ideas for birthday gifts for a 4-year-old have been clearly stated. She wants an iPhone, Angry Birds, and Temple Run. A fan plays Angry Birds on a smartphone in Washington, D.C., in February 2012. (Melanie Stetson Freeman/Staff)

Birthday gifts for a 4-year-old: iPhone, Angry Birds, and Temple Run

By Guest blogger / 05.04.12

Today my nearly 4-year-old-daughter asked me to get her an iTouch with all the games pre-loaded onto it. This may have been surprising or cute if she hadn’t previously asked for her own iPhone. Curious to test her knowledge, I then asked, what games would you want on your iTouch, to which she rattled off “Angry Birds, Donut Maker and Temple Run.

For full disclosure we have a family iPad with all of the above games on it, so her recollection wasn’t completely out of the blue, however when she mentioned that we can buy more in the App Store I couldn’t help but laugh.

You see a few months earlier she and my older daughter figured out my password and purchased over $80 worth of sprinkles, frosting, and toppings for their cake and donut making apps; this led to my enabling parental controls and now not even my wife knows the secret to downloading apps on our iPad. As an aside, the nice people at Apple customer service credited my account claiming that this happens all the time (Apple: What a great company!)

So the question I pose to myself and readers: Is this mini Apple Fan-girl I’ve created good, bad or just entertaining?

It seems very familiar to my own Atari obsession in the early 80’s where my days and nights were spent shooting Space Invaders and Asteroids. On the bright side, my daughter is developing digital skills, a familiarity with technology, and a cool factor among her friends at a very early age, which I believe will serve her well in our new digital world and economy. On the other hand, is the iTouch just a gateway drug to even more games, YouTube videos and hours spent staring at a screen that will consume her life and free time at a point in her life when interaction with others and playtime is essential?

My wife and I still haven’t decided whether to get her that iTouch, however, she made a compelling argument for purchasing one the other night as I saw her chasing her sister around the house for a solid half hour. When I finally stopped them to ask what they were doing, my youngest daughter replied “we’re playing Temple Run for real.” Well played, well played……

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Mother's Day 2012: The Internet will tell you "what moms really want" – but don't believe it. CorningWare or a nice breast pump, or even a diamond are not it. In 2003, the largest D color internally flawless diamond to date was displayed for auction at Sotheby's auction house in London. (Reuters/File)

Mother's Day 2012. What moms really want. Really?

By Correspondent / 05.04.12

It’s the countdown to Mother’s Day 2012. And as a relatively new mom (this is only my second Mother’s Day, and during the first one I was too sleep deprived to notice anything) I’m wondering what one actually does on this holiday. From Position Mommy.

“Well what do you want to do?” asked my sweet husband.

I looked at him blankly and shrugged.  Sleep?  Actually read the newspaper in dead tree form?  Go outside and hang out with my fam?

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I didn’t feel particularly inspired.

But luckily, even if I don’t know what I want for Mother’s Day, there have been plenty of email advertisements flooding my inbox this week with some suggestions. might be the winner.  Its e-mail came early in the morning – one of the first things I saw pre-latte – and its title caught my eye.

“Stephanie: What Moms Really Want,” it beckoned.


So I clicked. 

And the answer... 

I swear I am not making this up, but the answer is apparently a vacuum cleaner. Really. That’s the main thing advertised on the site; the top item that Moms Really Want this Mother’s Day. 

But don’t worry, there are other items on the “ultimate gift guide: what Moms really want for Mother’s Day.”

There’s a laptop ... that’s pink. There’s some CorningWare, Pyrex dishes, a sewing machine, and a “cake decorating” category that is illustrated by a pretty pastel pile of cupcakes.  (I am guessing that the point of this latter image is not that Moms Really Want cupcakes for Mother’s Day, although that actually sounds like a great idea.)

Anyhow ...  what’s up with this?  I mean, I admit, I’m all for a good cooking and cleaning product now and then. Photograph it Real Simple style and I’m sold. But really? What year is it?

The list continued. 

Diamond stud earrings are what Moms Really Want, too.  Well, sure.

And then there’s the pièce de résistance.

On the Amazon “what Moms really want” Mother’s Day list is ...  a breast pump. 


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OK. A little piece of advice to the dads out there. Do not get your wife a breast pump for Mother’s Day. Trust me.

Worst. Idea. Ever.

So I am back to Square 1. And honestly, that’s OK. Because even if I'm still trying to decide what Mother's Day will mean for me, I know what I do want this year: my beautiful baby girl and her daddy.

And you can’t get that online.

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Levi Johnston, the former fiance of Bristol Palin, has announced he and his girlfriend plan to name his newest baby girl “Beretta,” after the Italian handgun. Johnston, shown here with the mother of his first child, already has his daughter's name tattooed on his bicep. (Charles Rex Arbogast/AP)

Levi Johnston to name newest baby girl “Beretta,” after handgun

By Contributor / 05.03.12

Levi Johnston, the father of Sarah Palin’s granddaughter, is expecting a new child. And the name he and his girlfriend have picked out for the child is just as unconventional: Breeze Beretta, after the Italian handgun.

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Mr. Johnston, 21, and his five-and-a-half months pregnant girlfriend Sunny Oglesby, 20, went on celebrity news show “Inside Edition” to reveal the name of their expected daughter. In case viewers missed the connection, Johnston confirmed on air that the child’s name would be Beretta, “like the gun.”

The interview is set to air tonight.

Johnston, an avid hunter who lives in Wasilla, Alaska with Ms. Oglesby, showed “Inside Edition” hosts his new daughter-inspired ink as well, the word "Breeze" tattooed on his right bicep in anticipation of the birth.

Johnston is no stranger to interesting names. His first child with ex-fiancé Bristol Palin, is named Tripp.

Johnston, a fixture on the 2008 campaign trail as his then-future mother-in-law campaigned for the vice presidency, has taken a beating in the media for his allegedly being less than fatherly to the 3-yer-old boy.  According to ABC News, Ms. Palin, at one time his high school sweetheart, has publicly accused Johnston of failure to pay child support and being in general an absentee father.

But with his young girlfriend at his side, Johnston assured “Inside Edition” that he was planning to play a much bigger role in little Breeze’s life. ‘"I'm actually in love,” Johnston said, and “not doing it just because we had a kid together.”

Although Johnston is at most a C-list celebrity, his announcement now links him to the club of A-list celebrities who have given their offspring unique sobriquets.

Perhaps the most recent editions to the club are Beyonce and Jay-Z’s new daughter Blue Ivy. Jessica Simpson’s child Maxwell almost didn’t make the cut. Until it was revealed to be a girl. Pre-mastication poster mommy Alicia Silverstone also gets the nod for her son, Bear Blu, as does Mariah Carey and Nick Canon’s child Moroccan Scott.

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