Wednesday, December 27, 2006


The death of former President Ford this week hit home. We've had three deaths in the family this month. (That, along with the holiday frenzy, accounts for my two-week absence here.) President Ford had four great-grandchildren. They must be young. I wonder how they, and their parents, will deal with this?

My grandmother was one of the relatives who recently passed away, and my children knew her well. I doubt my three-year-old will remember, but I hope my five-year-old daughter retains fond memories of visiting her great grandmother at the nursing home, feeding her, singing her songs and telling her stories. To me, there's nothing like connecting the older and younger generations.

I struggled with how to explain that Grandma B died. My daughter's actually been to a funeral before and remembered seeing "cousin Betty in the box" and the box going into the ground. We've talked about our beliefs on what happens after life ends. But the concept of permanence seems to escape her. After we visited the funeral home, she asked some interesting questions -- some so amusing they actually lightened the moment:
  • Will she wake up when they close the box?
  • Will she be scared in there? It's dark.
  • Who put on her lip gloss?
  • Will she wake up if I tickle her?
  • After the funeral's over, can she go eat dinner with us?

Since then we've talked some more, and she even did some beautiful artwork in honor of Grandma B.

Why did I chose to bring her along and expose her to the details of death at such a young age? Children are naturally curious, and the things we shield them from are often the things they pursue or -- without adequate guidance -- fail to understand. As children, my mother and I both had frightening experiences with family friends who died. I'm hoping that by including my daughter early and making death a normal part of life, my daughter won't experience that fear.

What do the experts say? The National Network for Child Care says "most children are emotionally strong and want to know about death. The truth helps them understand what is real, and what is imaginary."

For small children: "Young children need to ask questions about the death again and again. They need to learn the facts about the death and to make certain the facts have not changed."

On attending memorial services: "Children need rituals. Participating in the funeral or memorial service helps make the death seem more real and encourages the healing that comes from mourning."

And on coming face-to-face with their loved one: "Viewing the body helps the child understand what death is and that their loved one is, in fact, dead. Few children later regret viewing the body; many regret not doing so."

Good advice on something we'll all face at one point or another.

News Mom T

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


It just cracks me up everytime I see a teenager with a cell phone in one ear and an IPOD in the other... or thumbing away texting a friend while they're playing a video game. I have visions of the inside of their brains being completely fried.

The Kaiser Family Foundation today released a report about "Media Multitasking" -- doing more than one digital activity at a time. 65% of teens and preteens say when they're doing homework on the computer, they're usually also IMing (that's "instant messaging") their friends, surfing the web, playing a video or online game, watching TV or using some other form of media. But surprisingly, when they're watching TV, they're in the zone, so to speak. Less than half say they "multi-task" while their favorite program or video is on.

What's not clear is what affect this has on kids. Scientific research shows kids can successfully do more than one thing at a time, but the task at which they're least proficient may suffer. Homework????

There's also a question about the quality of what they're doing. It takes little brain power to IM while playing a video game. But add into that mix writing a paper on the Revolutionary War. Can kids really concentrate and do their best work when distracted? The science is up in the air.

Advertisers, on the other hand, have figured out cute commercials just don't cut it anymore. To get kids thinking, and involved, they've got to meet them on their playing field. Enter cell phone ads, online ads podcasts, forums, chat rooms and other interactive means of getting messages into the minds of young people.



News Mom T

P.S. Ask your kids to interpret. :)

Monday, December 11, 2006


It surprised me to learn that 1/5 of Americans are disabled. 54 million people. Another 23 million parents have disabled kids. It makes a big difference where they spend their money: what kids of restaurants they visit, toys they buy, clothes they purchase. Yet some disabled consumers believe corporate America has largely overlooked them.

How difficult that must be! We interviewed a marathon athelete who's physically disabled. She flies from town to town competing, but at the airport used to have trouble finding a rental car that offers special adaptive equipment. Once she found a company that makes it easy for her to book that special request online, she became a loyal customer.

Isn't that how it is with all of us? I know once I find a product, store or service that offers EXACTLY what I need, they've won a loyal customer. Even if it's a longer drive. Even if I have to pay a bit more. There's something to be said for getting what you pay for!

News Mom T

Friday, December 08, 2006


Newsmoms covered Iraq today - specifically, what's the President going to do to turn around the situation there, and public opinion? Only 27% of Americans now approve of how he's handling the war.

It's sad to think that all those troops will spend yet another Christmas so far from home. We'll soon see pictures of them standing in line to eat turkey dinner in a tent... opening care packages... and saying "Hi Mom!" -- when what mom really wants is to have her son or daughter home.

You have to wonder if those men and women -- some of them so young -- had any idea what they were in for when they enlisted. For our sakes, thank goodness they're willing to make the sacrifice.

News Mom T

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


It's Tuesday, and I had dressing and green bean casserole AGAIN for lunch today. I've had it. Tonight we're going out.

On another note:

I've been wondering how morning routines affect school behavior. I can't find much research to analyze what's happening at my house. I try to make sure my kindergartener and preschooler get enough sleep and a good breakfast. But lately I've noticed those things seem to have little to do with what happens later at school.

On days when we're not rushed, well-rested and eat well, I expect they'll have a great day. So I'm shocked when the teacher emails that my daughter isn't following directions or getting along with classmates. On days when we're running late, cereal spilled, I'm yelling and they're crying as we rush out the door, I cringe thinking that the morning rush has ruined their day (and the teacher's). Undoubtedly, that's when notes come home about my "star students."

There's just no rhyme or reason to it. I'd love to know what other moms are experiencing.

Not only do rushed mornings and sleep deprivation affect behavior, they can also affect learning. Here's an interesting blog by a doctor -- with some replies from teachers -- on what happens when tired, hungry, cranky sleepy kids try to learn.

I'll try to remember that tomorrow as I'm nicely rushing them out the door.

News Mom T

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Researchers from the Indiana University School of Medicine report today more specific evidence on how violent video games affect teenagers.

They split 44 kids, ages 13 to 17, into two groups to play video games for half an hour. One group played an exciting, fast-paced racing game. The other played a shoot-and-kill war game that was rated for teenagers, not adults. Afterward, they looked an MRI images of the kids' brains.

The MRIs showed significant differences in brain activity. The kids who played the violent game were more emotionally aroused and less able to concentrate or control inhibitions.

Though video game sales are levelling off from a decade ago, they still generate more than $7 billion a year in sales. The gaming industry says people who don't like violent games are free not to buy them. And while they don't promote violent games, they strongly believe in their First Amendment right to sell them.

A number of states have tried to restrict violent video game sales, but the industry is winning some of those fights in court. There's also a federal bill backed by Sens. Hillary Clinton and Joe Lieberman, but it's stuck in committee.

News you should know.
News Mom T

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Today we reported on the annual surveys predicting what shoppers will spend this holiday season and how much debt we'll create. What caught my eye is the fact that parents spend more than people without kids. I guess all those toy commericals work.

The Conference Board Consumer Research Group says the average U.S. household will spend $466 on gifts this year, slightly down from last year. The National Retail Federation predicts almost twice that, which they say is up from last year. The good news: their survey finds more people plan to use cash and debit cards instead of credit.

The Consumer Federation of America and Credit Union National Association's surveys find half of all Americans plan to spend the same as they did last year. About a third say they'll spend less, and 15 percent say they'll spend more. What's frightening: Almost half (45%) are unconcerned about credit card debt, and the January follow-up surveys always show consumers spent more than they'd planned.

There's so much pressure to go into debt during what's supposed to be a joyous season: pressure from retailers, from kids, social pressure ("I've got to get the boss a nice gift.") -- and maybe even pressure from ourselves to out-do what we did last year.

Retailers present incredible deals, only to offer five better ones once we're in the store with wallets open or credit cards in hand. Lenders make it easy to have the holiday of your dreams. Today I got an email declaring that I should "Prepare for the holidays" by taking out a home equity loan to buy gifts.

I'm hoping to make a modest gift list this year and stick to it. Some friends will get baked goods -- a gift that's affordable and from the heart. Some may get a card saying I made a donation to charity in their name. And some may just get a card letting them know I'm thinking of them. I can't imagine they really need another pair of mittens.

What I really look forward to this season are the gifts of time and friendship. I cherish days off with my kids, visits with relatives, phonecalls from old friends, and hopefully some time spent with those less fortunate.

I'll take that over another kitchen gadget any day.

News Mom T

Monday, November 20, 2006


Sometimes we News Moms get to tell stories that make our work really rewarding. Today was one of those days.

Imagine your son needs a kidney transplant, but you're not a compatible donor. Your neighbor needs the same transplant but his wife isn't compatible. But YOU and the neighbor are a match, and so are his wife and your son. Follow me? A swap could save both lives.

Unfortunately, that swap is technically prohibited by federal law, which says a person can't donate an organ if they expect to get something of value in return (like a life-saving kidney for their child or spouse). The law was desgined to prevent people from selling organs, but it inadvertently prohibits patients from swapping them as well. Doctors believe 30-thousand patients on waiting lists could die because they have an incompatible donor and can't "swap" with someone who is compatible.

That's why today's story is so heartwarming.

A few hospitals around the country have dared to defy that law and perform these "kidney swap" surgeries. Last week, Johns Hopkins in Baltimore did a five-kidney swap that started with a woman who had no sick relative -- she simply wanted to do a good deed in memory of her daughter who died two years ago on Thanksgiving. She started a ripple effect that ended with five donors and five recipients. Five lives were saved -- including a grandmother who had no donor and had been on the waiting list for two years.

We cover so much sad news about war, crime, poverty, etc -- how rewarding it is to share this story! I certainly don't mind putting a crying mother on TV when I know her tears of joy could help someone else down the road.

News Mom T

Thursday, November 16, 2006


News Mom T was off the beat today. My two youngest and I all had dental appointments -- mine, unfortunately, a bit more serious than theirs. To tell the truth, I was pretty anxious about it, and apparently it showed. My five-year-old offered to skip school so she could hold my hand.

I was trying all last week not to let it show, because I didn't want them to be afraid of their dentist. Turns out, they were just fine. They had cartoons, sunglasses, strawberry flavored toothpaste, prizes and "Mr. Thirsty" to distract them. I just had novacaine, a big needle and drilling.

Isn't it funny how we try to protect our kids sometimes when they don't need it?

I'm looking forward to the weekend. My kindergartener's first school program is tomorrow (Thanksgiving), and she's been singing "Turkey Dinner" all over the house. Surely some cute kid will emerge dressed in feathers, and afterward we'll all gather in those tiny little seats to enjoy a pot luck dinner. How I love the holidays!

Back on the beat tomorrow.

News Mom T

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


After losing my blogging partner, I lost my enthusiasm and energy to blog for a few weeks. I've refueled and am back with what I hope are some interesting tid-bits to share.

ABC "20/20" anchor Elizabeth Vargas is a bit miffed that Marie Clare chose to illustrate her recent magazine interview with a fake image of her breastfeeding at the anchor desk. The magazine says the idea was to show how tough it is to balance motherhood with a demanding TV news career -- something we News Moms know all about!

I've never breastfed on air, but I have had my kids in studio during live shots in a pinch when child care didn't work out. A co-worker once did the same, and to this day I remember hearing her youngest giggling in the background of the 11pm news!

But sometimes kids and work mix quite nicely. A few years ago I did on feature on the fertility statues at Ripley's Believe It Or Not Museum. Touch them and you'll get pregnant, they claim. Despite hundreds of testimonials, I was skeptical. Two months later, not only was I pregnant, but so were two other women who covered that event!

Coincidence, I thought. But when the exhibit returned two years later, I thought it would be fun to do the story again featuring my daughter and let viewers decide.

Wouldn't you know -- shortly after that second story my son was born!

News Mom T

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Last night I watched one of my all-time favorite movies, "Mommie Dearest" about actress Joan Crawford's tumultous private life. I hadn't seen it in years and for the first time, found myself identifying with Crawford instead of her daughter.

Don't get me wrong -- I don't abuse my kids, toss cleaner all over the bathroom at midnight, chop off my daughter's hair and scream about wire hangers. She was clearly out of control. But I did wonder what it was like for a single mother in that era trying to raise two kids while working in a high-pressure business. Is that part of what drove her over the edge?

I'm finding that success as a mother has a lot to do with attitude. I'm reading an inspirational book about that, written by a mom of 5. Her take is that the sooner we drop the quest for perfection and really come to terms with what our role is -- and what impact we have -- the happier we'll be. And our kids will be better off, too. I like that idea. I'm working on it.


Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Sometimes through work I meet people who truly tug at the heartstrings. Today I interviewed a couple who lost their little girl 13 years ago to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. She was an adorable, perfectly healthy three-month-old who took her nap one day and never woke up. I'm a reporter, but a mom first. When telling these stories, I can't help but wonder: what if it was my child?

The story is about new research that further proves children who die of SIDS may have brain abnormalities that make it hard or impossible for them to turn over or wake up when they need to to regulate breathing, blood pressure, etc. That's why experts say it's SO important to sleep infants on their backs. SIDS cases plummeted (over 50%) after the "Back to Sleep" campaign started in the 90s.

I'm glad that through the power of TV we can share this information so one day there will be fewer parents like the couple I met today. Amazingly, they've been blessed with three other children. But of course, no child can ever replace the one who was lost.

I'm constantly amazed how people who've suffered tragedies can find the wherewithal to share their experience. I know it's part of the healing process and many parents do it to honor their child's memory. Still, to muster the strength to do so is, to me, amazing. My heart goes out to them.

News Mom T

Thursday, October 26, 2006


I'm the friend T mentions below, and this is the project I'm stepping away from.

Part of the reason T and I started this blog was to share our experiences juggling careers and parenthood, and to let other mothers know they weren't alone.

Sometimes the juggling doesn't seem so bad, sometimes you fall into a routine and other times you're dropping things all over the place. That's me right now. So I'm taking the blog out of the juggling act.

Thank you to the friends who've bolstered and encouraged me during this little venture, and thank you -- T -- for being a wonderful and understanding colleague and friend.

T will continue with her brilliant, insightful posts, and I'll continue to read in. I hope you will too.

News Mom V.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


I started out naming this post "In Honor of Mothers." Then I thought about my dear husband, a co-worker who's a father of four, and one of our readers and realized dads get the short end of the stick too often and should definitely be included.

I was thinking today about the sacrifices we parents make. Tonight I may have to skip an important meeting with my husband because it's going to run very late and I couldn't get a babysitter. I could drag the kids along, but it's more important to get them in bed on time so they're prepared for school tomorrow.

Earlier today a friend told me she's stepping away from a project we've been working on, to spend more time with her family. I was disappointed, but in my heart, I totally understood and am really proud of her courageous decision.

And just a few minutes ago, a mom of 3 emailed me to say she'll also miss tonight's meeting because she going to PTA. I understood because I had to do the same thing last month. In fact, I was thinking there are a lot of committments I've dropped since becoming a parent. I just can't justify spending time with others when I'm always searching for more time to spend with my kids.

The choices we make -- all good ones, always with a price. But this is not a post about guilt or stress. I was actually thinking how blessed I am to have these choices to make. It means there are little people who rely on me. I am important to their lives. The choices I make for them matter a great deal. That's something to feel good about.

So to all the parents out there who face impossible or difficult choices every day, give yourselves a pat on the back. Your children's lives are better because you choose them first. And that's always the right choice.

News Mom T

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


The U.S. Department of Education today made it easier for public schools to create same-sex classes. Some research shows girls do better learning with girls and boys with boys. Schools would also have to offer co-ed classes so parents can opt-out.

Supporters say kids are more likely to stretch their interests when they don't have to fear being the only boy in cooking or the only girl in woodworking. They argue especially in middle school and beyond, students focus better without distractions from the opposite sex.

Opponents -- who include NOW and female university professors -- say the only reason kids seem to do better in same-sex classes is because those classes are smaller and get the best teachers and resources. They fear segregating boys and girls will leave the rest of the students stripped of the best tools for learning.

I have to wonder. My kindergartener seems to be more distracted by the girls in her class than the boys. I guess it's the girl-envy thing. I know that will change as she gets older. But in a same-sex school, how well-prepared would she be to deal with boys in real life?

On the other hand, there's something powerful about the idea of a class full of girls who can beat the pants off their male counterparts in a science fair competition!

News Mom T


I check email constantly and visit my favorite web sites every day. I've even blogged and shopped online in the middle of the night. Am I an Internet addict?

Thankfully not, according to this test. But there are people whose claim their online habits are leading to divorce, getting fired and even depression.

Stanford University's med school is trying to figure out if "Internet addiction" is a real medical problem or just a bad habit. Their survey found that one in eight Internet users behave like substance abusers: hiding or lying about being online and using the Internet to escape real problems. Some logged more than 30 hours a week of NON essential Internet use.

The Center for Internet Addiction offers counseling and says some people experience withdrawal and fantasize about being online.

Stanford says it's not just predators or gamblers. They found a lot of potential addicts are obsessed with shopping, chat rooms and -- BLOGS!

For the record, there's is absolutely NOTHING wrong with being addicted to this blog! :)

News Mom T

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


The local news last night aired a story about Michelle Gardner-Quinn, the University of Vermont student who disappeared earlier in the month and was found dead by hikers a few days ago. Michelle was from a suburb of Washington, D.C.

A woman interviewed in the story, a neighbor of Michelle's family, talked fondly about her relationship with the girl. She'd known her since 8th grade and Michelle and her son were very good friends. She emotionally recalled how Michelle used to ask people,"Can I travel with you?" and said now that Michelle was gone, she would always be traveling with those who loved her.

The woman being interviewed was someone I know and have worked with.

In the last month we've seen the loss of children as a result of the school shootings in Colorado and Pennsylvania. I wept for the families. But when you find out that you have a connection to a story like this, it truly hits home. Things this terrible don't just happen far away, to people you don't know.

News Mom V.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


"Whatever CAN go wrong, WILL go wrong!"

This morning my 5-year-old's before-school Spanish teacher didn't show, so I had to wait with her 30 minutes until school opened. On the way home in the rain, a "student driver" had an accident, jamming traffic. My teen -- who was waiting with my sleepy 3-year-old so I wouldn't have to drag him along -- was now late for class.

After dropping my son at preschool, I drove her to the train to save time -- or so I thought. The freeway was a rainy mess and by then the only parking space was half a mile from the station. So we walked and missed a train. I barely made it to work.

To top it all off, a few minutes ago my shoe heel broke!!! WAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!

OK... whining done. I can feel a collective "e-hug" from all the mommies who've been there. On to more important stuff:

Today the government is trying to reassure the public that fish is safe to eat 2, 3, even 4 times a week in small to regular portions. Even for kids and pregnant moms -- as long as they don't eat the high-mercury types: king mackarel, tilefish, swordfish and shark.

There's actually growing and strong evidence that fish protects against heart disease. A separate Harvard study coming out tomorrow finds the levels of dioxins and PCBs in fish are much less than in other common foods like butter, milk, cheese and chicken, and reports virtually no cancer risk.

Some are concerned that the Institute of Medicine, which did the government study, had too many people on the panel with ties to the fish industry, skewing the recommendations.


Sunday, October 15, 2006


It's 3am on Sunday and I'm up blogging. The News Moms have been silent for a few days, in part because I worked an early-morning schedule last week that left me too tired to blog at night.

I volunteer to work that shift periodically to give this working mom a chance to spend time with my kids: pick them up from school instead of sending them to after care, ensure a good dinner and bedtime without the rush, etc. And that's actually the subject of today's post.

At a birthday party this weekend, I had a conversation with a few mommy friends about how virtually all our decisions seem to revolve around our kids: where we live (school district), what we drive, jobs and work schedules -- or whether we work at all.

Three years ago we made a cross-country move for my job. Two of the biggest deciding factors were that I'd travel less -- so more time at home -- and my parents now live nearby to help.

But how much is too much? Clearly parents should make their kids top priority. But kids also pick up on that. How do we avoid creating egocentric children who grow up believing the world revolves around them -- because in many ways, it did. (I'm not talking about spoiling kids with "stuff," but about basic life decisions all parents must make.)

And what other aspects of our lives suffer? Health? What about marriage? How you deal with it, and where do you draw the line?

When it comes to health, I think a lot of parents neglect themselves. If my kids sniffle too long or develop an unusual rash -- we're in the doctor's office. They don't miss a regular check up six-month dentist appointment -- but I'm behind on my own.

What about marriage? Do we spend too much of our free time making up for lost time with the kids? Shuttling them to lessons and soccer practice? Are spouses neglected in the process? Are we too busy to realize it until it's too late?

Parenting educator Elizabeth Pantley has an interesting take on that: "When you make a commitment to your marriage, your children will feel the difference. No, they won't suffer from neglect! They'll blossom when your marriage-and their homelife-is thriving."

Any thoughts?

News Mom T

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


The Physicans Commitee for Responsible Medicine announced its Golden Carrot Awards for the best school lunches. The winner: a private school in California that's all vegetarian with fresh fruit platters and a salad bar with raw and steamed veggies. In fact, the top 3 winners were vegetarian schools. One even grows its own vegetables.

I'm not sure I'd want an all-veggie school lunch (how 'bout them proteins?) But it's a long way from the "French toast sticks" listed as a main dish on my daughter's lunch menu (I still can't believe that!).

News Mom T

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


For a non-confrontational person, I'm certainly on a roll this week.

First, I angered Izzymom (see below), and today I had an upsetting disagreement with a friend at work.

Fortunately, a similarly peace-loving colleague (who was peripherally involved in the argument) didn't let me leave upset.

She suggested we all convene for an after-work "meeting" downstairs at the bar.

Within seconds of taking that first sip of beer, we'd all kissed and made up.

It's amazing what a drink can do.

News Mom V.

Monday, October 09, 2006


Is TV news all gloom and doom? In a blog entry last week, IzzyMom said she'd had it with depressing stories, and was going on a news blackout. She even changed her home page to, a site with the tag line "Real News. Compelling Stories. Always Positive." The current headline is "Madonna Again Visits Malawi Orphanages."

Many readers agreed with her. One woman said she allows her husband to "filter" the news for her, and tell her what he thinks she should know.

I will admit that it's sometimes hard to watch a newscast, especially on violent days -- locally or nationally. And as journalists, it can be emotionally difficult to cover tragedy after tragedy. But informing people is our job, and we simply can't edit out the violent or tragic.

I'm curious though...are people REALLY more interested in Madonna's adoption efforts than the latest E. coli scare?

News Mom V.


Less than a week after the government called off its spinach scare, there's more green leafy stuff to keep off your plate. A California lettuce grower is voluntarily recalling 8,500 cartons of its "Foxy" brand green leaf lettuce after initial reports of E.coli contamination -- not on the lettuce itself, but in the water used to irrigate it. No one's reported getting sick, and almost all the lettuce has been pulled. But there are still 200-300 cartons shipped Oct. 3-6 that are unaccounted for. It's believed to affect mostly western states, but some may have been shipped to restaurants around the country.

Let's put this in perspective. Unlike the tainted spinach -- which sickened almost 200 people and killed three -- the FDA doesn't seem overly concerned yet about the lettuce recall. There's not even a mention on their web site. And a spokeswoman said it's standard procedure for the company to deal with it.

This is so sad. I love my veggies! A warm spinach salad... a crisp Cobb - mmm! And those prewashed, bagged greens are so convenient. This lettuce came from the same area as the tainted spinach. I hope it's a coincidence, or an isolated problem --

because otherwise I may have to contribute to the obesity epidemic and start eating (gasp!) fried foods for lunch!

News Mom T

Sunday, October 08, 2006


Wow. When we started doing this, I had no idea just how saturated the blogosphere was. There are an astounding number of blogs out there -- and "astounding" is an understatement.

In April of 2005, the web survey group Perseus estimated the number to be 31.6 million, and predicted that figure would grow to over 53 million by the end of the year.

That represents the number of blogs actually created. The survey doesn't track the number of active blogs, which could take away from the estimate significantly. For example, Perseus's last survey in 2003 found 66 percent of blogs to be inactive.

More figures from the 2005 survey: over 68 percent of the bloggers were female, and only 5.8 percent of all bloggers were age 30 and over.

Who reads all these blogs? According to analysis done in 2005 by comScore Networks, 50 million Internet users in the U.S. navigated to blog sites in the first quarter of that year. Their research also found blog readers more likely to live in higher-income households, have high-speed Internet connections, shop online and be younger than the average Internet user.

So there you have it -- some interesting information and some validation, at least for me, that yes, there are an awful lot of bloggers out there, and a lot of people who are reading blogs.

But if you look closely at the numbers -- about 53 million blogs and 50 million readers -- that's roughly ONE reader per blog.

News Mom V.


As we say in the news business, I "buried the lead." In my earlier post I forgot to share some of the most important new information on this year's flu shots:

  • If you plan to get one this year, there should be plenty. The CDC expects 100 million doses from five manufacturers. (A few years ago when we suddenly fell short, there were only two manufacturers.)
  • Most of the vaccine will be delivered by Oct. 31. Some doctors already have it.
  • The CDC is now recommending that ALL children from 6 months to 5 years get it. (Previously, it was 6 months to 2 years.)
  • Kids getting their first flu shot will need TWO doses.
  • It's not too late to get immunized in December or even January. The shot takes 6 weeks to kick in, but CDC reports show the flu season often doesn't peak until February and sometimes March.
  • For our "more experienced" readers (or remind your parents) -- flu shots and pneumonia shots are free through Medicare. Most people only have to get the pneumonia shot once, not every year.

And a final interesting note: the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases says two-thirds of all health care workers don't get a flu shot. Experts tell me they're either too busy, they don't believe it'll work, or -- get this -- they're scared of needles!


Saturday, October 07, 2006


They happen so early in the year! My daughter had barely been in preschool a few weeks before the packet came home. This year, with two schools, we got two books of magazines and gift wrap to sell. (Oh - and don't forget those "make your own gourmet pizza" kits. I've still got one in the freezer from last year.)

Now don't get me wrong: I believe in supporting the school. I saw all the great programs the fundraiser paid for last year. But a saleswoman I am NOT. And make no mistake -- it's the parents fundraiser. That 5-year-old "top seller" who raised $1,500 last year? Believe me, she didn't do it alone.

Unlike when I was in school, kids can no longer sell door-to-door, for safety reasons. That's good. But it leaves parents begging their friends and co-workers to buy yet another tub of cookie dough (the last one I bought stayed in the freezer for two years). That's just not my forte.

What's nice about the fundraisers is that some are now online. So you can simply send out an email to family and friends and they can buy online and have it delivered home -- and your child gets credit. No more lugging around boxes of perishables and knick-nacks in the minivan.

They've made it so easy. That's why I feel so horrible that this year I just plain forgot.

The packets stayed in my "to do" bag for weeks and when I realized it, the deadline was here. So there I was last night, online just before midnight ordering a few items so my daughter wouldn't be the only one in her class not to receive the "light-up school mascot pin" that every kids gets for participating.

So here's fair warning to all my family and friends -- you escaped this year, but I'll be hitting you up next year with a vengeance!

For now, I'm just shaking off guilt so I can enjoy my Brown Sugar Body Polish when it arrives.

News Mom T

Friday, October 06, 2006


One more bit of today's news for moms:

President Clinton -- who's been leading an effort to fight childhood obesity -- got five major snack food companies (Kraft, Campbell's, Pepsi/FritoLay, Dannon and Mars) to agree to reduce salt, sugar and fat in snack foods sold in schools.

This is the same group that brokered a deal last spring to take most soft drinks out of schools.

Interestingly, the snack food industry isn't fully on board. Some companies think the guidelines aren't fair. For example, some potato chips are OK, but pretzels, generally considered healthier, are not because they exceed the Clinton group's sodium limit. The industry also says the problem isn't just junk food content -- it's the fact that kids sit in front of TV for hours on end eating super-sized portions instead of just one serving.

The so-called food police think it'll be ineffective because the people who actually stock school vending machines -- schools and distributors -- aren't part of the deal. So they can put whatever they want in vending machines, bypassing the new healthier baked chips for the same old fat-laden munchies that sell.

A funny note from the announcement:

President Clinton -- who in 2004 had heart bypass surgery to clear arteries that were 90 percent blocked by with plaque -- claimed that even though he was an overweight kid, he never touched the vending machine at his high school.

Uh huh.

He did admit to sneaking some of Chelsea's Halloween candy. Apparently he likes caramel (me too!)

News Mom T


What if your child's teacher was allowed to bring a gun to school?

In light of recent shootings, a Wisconsin lawmaker has proposed making it legal for teachers and administrators to carry concealed weapons.

Under his plan, teachers wouldn't have to carry weapons, but could at their discretion. The rationale is that school personnel could protect students, and themselves, in the event of an armed intruder. He argues that it works in other countries like Israel and Thailand, where daily violence is rampant.

Besides the obvious concern (guns getting into the hands of kids and kids in the crossfire), there's a legal issue. Federal law bans guns on school property -- teachers included. And who would pay for and oversee training?

Wow - the fact that we've gotten to the point where we're even considering arming teachers speaks volumes. But there are less controversial alternatives:
  • Some schools have reconfigured their layout so visitors walk straight into the office when the enter the school and must be given access to go beyond that area.
  • Some schools lock exterior doors, like "crazy" Joe Clark in the movie "Lean On Me? (That's a true story, by the way.) The downside: it's a fire hazard.
  • What about secure doors with access cards or keypads for parents and teachers? Most child care centers have them - why not schools?

It's sad -- in a country where so many children are lacking academically and all available resources are needed to "leave no child behind," schools are also saddled with the increasingly awesome responsibility of keeping our children safe from strangers, and insiders, intent on doing harm.

News Mom T

Thursday, October 05, 2006


A study out this week finds breastfeeding does not make your baby any smarter than babies of non-breastfeeding moms.

Of course, many studies have outlined the benefits of breastfeeding, but if you're a mom who decided not to breastfeed, or simply couldn't, this is one less thing to feel guilty about -- you have not compromised your baby's intelligence.

As a journalist, I cover a lot of medical studies. Many of them, especially those involving the health of children, can be scary and disturbing for parents.

Last year I read a study that found gaining more than your recommended weight during pregnancy may increase the risk of testicular cancer in male children later in life.

Initially, I felt terrible (and guilty) because I had gained a lot of weight during my pregnancies.

And then common sense took over. One study on the topic doesn't mean my little boy WILL be a victim of testicular cancer, only that it COULD happen.

And who knows, a study done next year might find no link at all between pregnancy weight and testicular cancer.


Wednesday, October 04, 2006


I must admit -- I'm a HEALTH reporter and I've never had the flu shot. Never had the flu, either. I'm in that 50% of Americans who (experts say mistakenly) think the shot could actually give them the flu. Today I covered the story and learned some things I didn't know about why people think the vaccine will make them sick.

There are tons of non-flu viruses floating around this time of year -- some with flu-like symptoms, but not as deadly. When people get the shot, then catch one of these viruses, they assume the shot was either ineffective or actually gave them the flu.

Also, making the flu vaccine is a guessing game. Every year the experts try to predict which strain will be most prevalent, and make a vaccine to protect against those strains. Sometimes they're wrong, and people end up getting a type of flu that wasn't covered by the vaccine.

Last year's vaccine was 75-95% effective against influenza A (the kind most people get) but not very effective at all against influenza B. One in five people got influenza B -- and the vaccine did very little to help. Even those who got the more common "flu A" had up to a 1 in 4 chance of getting a version of it not covered by the vaccine.

One reason experts push vaccination, especially for kids and seniors at high risk, is to develop a societal immunity against flu. Viruses change and can become resistant to anything we develop. But like other illnesses we've wiped out (think polio and measles), if we can get most people immune to it, it will eventually go away.

One more interesting point: you may have heard about the antiviral medications for flu. Experts admit they're the best we have but not extremely effective. The best they can do is shorten your illness by one day.

I think I WILL get my kids flu shots this year, because both are in high risk groups. Two things changed my mind: the fact that 36,000 Americans die every year from the flu, and most of the children who die needlessly are kids with asthma and other chronic illnesses who were supposed to get the flu shot, and didn't.



This morning I was brushing my 5-year-old's hair and she asked: "Mommy, what are weapons?" Yikes! I wanted to know where she learned that word. She said from her teacher -- I'm assuming in the context of "no weapons in school."

My first reply was: "It's not something you need to worry about." Then I thought about the Amish school, and many other stories I've covered where kids my daughter's age came to face to face with the barrel of a gun. I realized that society has obliterated my attempts to protect her innocence. So I replied: "Weapons are things like guns and knives that can hurt people." Then she said: "Mommy, knives can't hurt people." I guess she was thinking of the kind we use for dinner. If it could only be true.

On a lighter note, my 3-year-old son has changed his name! We named him Derek Andrew -- not quite a "junior" because Daddy has a different middle name. We've always called him Andrew to avoid confusion. But this year's preschool teacher calls him Derek. So now he only wants to answer to that!

And finally, something I once read in the "child help" books really does work. Lately Andrew's answer to everything is "No," and it frustrates me to no end. I even asked him if he's trying to exert control, and of course he said "No!" The "experts" say ignore it - so I did. And they were right. When I don't react, he often does the thing I asked without complaint.

I guess he just feels the need to let me know he can now think on his own.


Monday, October 02, 2006


Another brutal school shooting in the news today, this time in an Amish community in Pennsylvania. Like last week’s high school shooting in Colorado, the perpetrator singled out girls, allegedly shooting them execution-style before killing himself. As I write this, at least three girls are confirmed dead…the youngest, just six years old.

How can you ever prepare your child to deal with something like this?

Just this morning, I was talking to a co-worker about today’s “overprotective” parents. We wait with our kids at the bus stop and give them cell phones before they go to the park…that is, if we ever let them out of our sight. Some parents even send their 7-year-olds to self-defense class to teach them what to do should they be approached by shady characters.

Very different from when we were young and there were no cell phones and we’d disappear in the woods for hours at a time after school.

Some things are just out of parent’s hands. And no self-defense class would have helped the girls today. As an overprotective parent myself, that’s a hard thing to come to terms with.

News Mom V.


If you don't know what "POS" means, your kids could become the victim of an online predator. It means "parent over shoulder - change subject." It's what your kids say when they're IMing (instant messaging) and you walk in the room and they're talking to someone, or about something, they want to hide. Here are links to some common IM shorthand and "emoticons":

I'm sharing these because today we covered those explicit instant messages between former Congressman Mark Foley and former pages. I won't comment since I'm covering the story and he hasn't been charged. But the situation raises some important parenting issues.

The emails alone may not have raised concern, in context. The teen apparently mentions an upcoming birthday, so Foley asks how old he is and what gifts he wants. He also asks the kid for a picture -- a staffer says it's not uncommon to keep them on file. And he chats about exercising to stay in shape.

It made me wonder: with so many kids messaging strangers online, what kind of conversation would raise eyebrows? I think teens and parents would have different answers to that. So is telling them report "uncomfortable" conversations enough? Do we need to be more specific about what we think is inappropriate?

As for the instant messages, most were too graphic to report so I won't link them here. At one point, Foley's concerned about the teen's mother seeing their conversation, but the boy calls her "computer dumb." I thought: would my kids say that about me?

Recently, to my surprise, I discovered my five-year-old -- who only goes online with me occasionally to do her favorite learn-to read web site -- can pull it up and click through all by herself! How much longer efore she's emailing and IMing? (Not on my PC!)

When my 18-year-old stepdaughter recently moved in, we debated whether to let her keep her computer in her room. She'd not given me a reason to be suspicious, and after all, she is an "adult" now. But covering all these stories about Internet porn, I couldn't help being uncomfortable. Online access in their room is the #1 "no-no."

We talked about it, and I was surprised when she volunteered to disconnect her PC , store it in the closet, and use mine, in the family room instead.

I felt better -- but I still peek over her shoulder when she's emailing and IMing.


Saturday, September 30, 2006


What's with these sudden, wierd bursts of energy? Is it hormones... mental... or just a hazard of being female?

I came home Friday and decided I just couldn't stand the look of my living/dining room anymore. The dining room had too much furniture for a small space, and the living room was just the opposite. I'd toyed with the idea of switching them (how unconventional!), and to my 18-year-old's chagrin, Friday was the day!

So the two of us undertook the Herculean task of moving a sofa, chairs, tables and accessories between rooms while my preschoolers looked on in awe. I can imagine they were thinking: "Has Mommy gone mad?" But I'm not completely nuts -- I didn't move the piano. (I'd done that once before, solo -- bad idea!)

It actually didn't take that long, and when we were done, I liked it! My Mom came in right as we finished and laughed. "You're just like me," she said. My husband came home later and just shook his head. But I was smiling.

If you've ever had a sudden burst of energy like that, please comment and share your story so my family won't think I've lost it.

Big, strong T :)


We've been trying to teach our three-year-old son, Jake, to be patient when commercials come on. He's been raised on DVDs and On Demand cable, where with the press of button you can bypass everything and anything you don't want to see.

Thus, he doesn't quite get the concept of television advertising. But he's learning quickly:

Last week, he saw an ad for Chuck E. Cheese's during a "regular" TV show and said "Chuck E. Cheese's! Mommy, we should go to the store and buy that!"

Today, while patiently waiting for his Curious George DVD to start playing, the Universal logo -- you know, the one with the earth -- appeared on the screen and Jake said, "Look mommy -- a commercial for the earth!"


Friday, September 29, 2006


When I was in school, if you got in trouble, at least you had time to rush home and think of a good story before the teacher called. Even better, the teacher sent a note home -- giving me a chance to practice "creative writing" (read: forgery).

Email and instant messaging have changed everything.

This week I got an email from my kindergartner's teacher about behavior problems. Thanks to technology, I knew all the details before confronting her. Due to our schedules we played phone tag, but kept in touch through email to resolve the situation and schedule my next volunteer day.

We can now print homework from the teacher's web site -- so "my dog ate it" is no longer an excuse. Our district posts high schoolers' grades and attendance online. Some preschools even offer web sites with web cams, so working parents can peak into their child's classroom during the day. And I keep up with PTA and other school news through the listserv.

Last year I helped my out-of-state stepdaughter with English by logging onto the teacher's web site. I could see what assignments she missed, read the papers she uploaded, read the teacher's comments and see her grades.

Now that my kindergartner's learning to read, a teacher at our school recommended a great website ( where she can practice phonics and "read" books online.

How the world has changed!

But nothing beats cuddling with your kids to read a bedtime story. Even in this digital age, they still enjoy that the most!


Thursday, September 28, 2006


Since my cholecystectomy (gall bladder removal) on Monday, I've been out of the house twice. Yesterday, I rode along while my husband drove my mother home and today I loaded up with painkillers and walked up the street to get some fresh air.

All this lying around and letting people do things for me is driving me batty. I'm used to being busy and active -- rushing to get to work, rushing to meet my deadlines, rushing to get home and feed the kids dinner and play with them and put them to sleep and clean up the kitchen after they go to bed...

So I don't know what to do with myself. I've caught up on my Entourage and Weeds episodes. Now I'm buried in a mountain of old magazines I've been meaning to read for months...everything from Time and Newsweek to Vogue and Real Simple. Today I read the terrible story behind the Haditha massacre and learned how to better organize my kitchen.

Oh yeah...and I got some tips on how to find a pair of skinny jeans that would flatter my figure. I even considered buying a pair, going so far as to put them in my online shopping cart before shaking out of it and admitting I'm a bootcut girl.

I'm happy to catch up on my reading, but what I really want to do is go for a run, organize the playroom, catch up on the laundry, and vacuum the air vents.

And what I would have loved to do yesterday, on my daugter's first birthday, would have been to spend the day with her and get her birthday portrait taken, just as I did when my son turned one. That was the toughest part of my week.

Of course, next week, when I'll be feeling well enough to do all that, I won't have the time.


Friday, September 22, 2006


I'm not sure whether I should be impressed or scared by News Mom T's profession of love for her minivan...and the level of care she provides for it.

My minivan is not nearly as loved. The proof: You'll find no hand vac, no backseat organizers, no grocery compartment and no laundry bag in mine. If you saw it, you probably wouldn't even want to get into it for fear of a crushed Cheerio (or worse, a stray drop of peanut butter) getting stuck on your behind. As for the DVD's broken. To add insult to injury, while my minivan falls into disrepair (and it's only 2 years old, mind you), I secretly lust after a certain sporty luxury vehicle.

That said, let's move on to Friday Mommy News...

Women who use the birth control patch may be at higher risk of developing blood clots than those who take the pill.

A new study finds a third of ADD cases in children may be linked to PRENATAL exposure to tobacco smoke and lead exposure after birth.

And finally, Playskool today recalled 255,000 "Team Talkin' Tool Bench" toys after two toddlers suffocated on the plastic nails that come with it. If you have this toy, you can return it to the company and get a $50 gift certificate in exchange.

Have a good weekend,
News Mom V.


It was the trifecta of bad kid news this week:

"We're having problems with Andrew not listening in class," the preschool teacher said.

"Anna's being bossy and a tattletale!" said four after-care friends who cornered me on the playground. The teacher agreed. This was a day after her kindergarten teacher called home to report behavior problems.

Then there's my 18-year-old Jessica, who put icing on the cake by forgetting to take all the trash out and clean the kitchen -- AGAIN!

Immediately I took it all personally: "I'm raising a house full of monsters! Maybe that dad with the stay-at-home wife was right and my kids are turning out all wrong because I'm working." (See V's Wednesday post.)

As usual, it wasn't as dramatic as it seemed. I enlisted hubby's help, and with some surprise visits to school, Andrew's "listening" is improving. Anna now plays alone on the playground, but has had no more discipline problems. I'm sure the friends will come back around.

And Jessica apologized profusely for ruining my day. Last night, the kitchen was spotless. (I think Dad's threat of 30 days with no TV had something to do with it.)

What a difference a day makes.



I admit it - I LOVE my minivan!

Unlike some of my friends, I'm not ashamed to drive around in that square silver Mom-mobile that screams "She's got kids!" In fact, it amuses me when people play the car-guessing game:

"You drive a Lexus?"
"No, she's definitely a Porche."

Ha -- if they only knew! I am perfectly satisfied jetting around town in my -- well, I won't advertise, but it's one of the most popular models. You probably saw 20 of them on the way to work. "V" has one, too.

I was a small car person until we bought the van. At first I protested: "I can't drive this big thing!" But you have to get the right model. Mine turns on a dime and accelerates like I'm on the NASCAR circuit (well, almost.)

Sure, sometimes I envy my friends with SUVs -- until I see them at the gas station. I've told them, if you look at my van from a certain angle, and don't focus on the back end, it looks like an SUV (insert laughter here).

My minivan is like our house-on-wheels, so for me the key was having all the right accessories:
  • a powerful hand-vac for picking up Cheerios, confetti and potato chips that were stepped on (I actually stopped and bought it before bringing the van home)
  • backseat organizers for all the kids "stuff"
  • a designated compartment for snacks ("Mommy, I'm HUNGRY!")
  • a grocery compartment for fliers, coupons, etc.
  • a laundry bag and "catch-all" basket in the rear

I specifically did NOT want a DVD. My philosophy was that trips are family time to talk to, not ignore, your kids. But one 12-hour trip and hubby convinced me otherwise. So we bought the plug-in kind. We only use it on long trips, and only for a few hours. But it is nice to have.

One day I'll outgrow the van and get a "grown up" car. I dream of cruising the open road in one of those extremely expensive convertibles where my hair can flow in the wind.

For now, I'll just open the window.


Thursday, September 21, 2006


In her September 18 column for Newsweek, Anna Quindlen raises the question of whether we scare our kids too much about the possible negatives of life (i.e. date rape, smoking, the consequences of unprotected sex) and don't remind them enough about life's pleasures.

My children are too young for lectures about date rape, but my son already knows about the need to wear his bicycle helmet and about holding my hand when he's anywhere near a street or inside a parking garage. I don't think either one of these is an instance of going overboard, but perhaps I went too far when he was a toddler, scaring him away from electrical outlets by shouting "No! No! Hot! Hot!"

To this day, he balks at even tepid food or bath water. Both need to be cold. Yes, I have taken away the joys of a warm bath and a hot bowl of soup from my son.

I do try to hold myself back at the playground, allowing him to climb some of the "big kid" equipment, all the while internally cringing and stifling a mother's warning: "No! That's dangerous! You could fall and break your head open."

Finding a balance between scaring the kids into not doing something, and allowing them to enjoy their childhoods is a difficult task. And I have a feeling it gets more difficult as they get older and want to do things like drive and go on dates.

I'm certainly not going to let my son drive until he learns to eat his dinner warm.


Tuesday, September 19, 2006


It's after 7:00pm and here I am, still at work, and not yet sure when I'll be home.

I'm covering the president of Iran's speech to the United Nations, which is slated to begin any moment now. At home, my kids have already had their dinner and their dad is hopefully getting at least the little one ready for bed.

While waiting for the speech to begin, I've busied myself by reading the online discussion that T. mentions below. I would share the link, but it's a TV biz site and a lot of it is only accessible by subscription.

It's ironic that I'm reading this forum tonight, because it raises the question of whether motherhood and working in the TV news business (with its' notoriously irregular hours) are compatible. A newly pregnant reporter -- a self-proclaimed go-getter -- started the discussion by asking the question "HOW DO Y'ALL DO IT?"

A father whose wife is a stay-at-home mom offered this advice: quit work and raise kids the "right" way by staying home with them. He also characterized "daycare kids" as "completely disorganized" and said he could "spot them a mile away."

Needless to say, his comments initiated a heated exchange. Some working moms retorted that their kids were more well-adjusted and verbal than those of stay-at-home mothers. Others were so infuriated by this man's comments they resorted to name-calling.

No matter which side they're on, it seems to me these parents are simply defending their child-rearing choices. How could they not? One goes down a certain path and crosses their fingers that they've made the right decision for their kids and their families...and when that decision is questioned you have no choice but to defend it.

I know I've done the same thing.



Today I joined an online debate about working v. stay-at-home moms. There are a lot of misconceptions.

Many studies show kids are better off with a parent at home. It's a fact that makes us working parents cringe with guilt. But remember: that's a statistic, not a guarantee. Our kids aren't doomed to failure because we work and they're in daycare! And kids with moms at home aren't guaranteed success -- just a better CHANCE. Plenty of those kids fail, too.

I think you'll find many parents work FOR their children -- not for houses, cars and vacations, but to afford better schools (often in more expensive neighborhoods) and build college savings. For single parents, it's not even an option.

Staying home is ideal -- I admire those who've made it work and hope to join you one day. But just being at home isn't what benefits the child. It's knowing how to foster success and navigate life -- and some parents have no clue beyond Gymboree and play dates.

Children turn out best when they come from loving homes that foster education, good behavior, and spiritual and moral values. That's possible for two-parent working families, too - it's just harder.

Like a good news story, the form is important but it's the CONTENT that counts.


Monday, September 18, 2006


I'll bet you never thought the day would come when parents would say: "DON'T eat your spinach." Well it's here. Because of an E-coli outbreak that caused one death and more than 100 illnesses in 19 states, the FDA says don't eat any fresh spinach (loose or bagged) until further notice. (

Kids everywhere must be elated. Not me. Since childhood, I've loved my veggies! (I know -- I was the strange kid on the block.)

This spinach recall raises some issues for parents. Let's face facts: because of our fast-paced lifestyles, many children weren't eating much spinach -- or other fruits and vegetables -- anyway. Maybe this "spinach hiatus" is an opportunity to re-think our meal choices.

The second issue is oversight. This E-coli outbreak has brought to light the fact that, like cargo at ports and luggage on airplanes, very little of it is actually inspected. The fact is there just aren't enough people to visit every farm, every factory, every field.

My mom would say: "That's why you pray over your food, honey."

I had to throw out two bags of pre-packaged spinach last week. I'd planned to make a warm spinach/walnut salad that very night the news broke.

Ugh - I can still taste it!


Friday, September 15, 2006


Here's news you can use:

What our mothers and grandmothers called "pleasantly plump" is now known as "overweight" or "obese." Several years ago the government adjusted the scales, and overnight thousands of Americans got the bad news.

Thus, came the generation of bottled water, salads, and five-day-a-week workouts, as we tried to shed those pounds. But did we share those new habits with our children?

The Institute of Medicine reported this week that a third of American children and teenagers are overweight or obese, and the numbers are rising. Its report "Progress in Preventing Childhood Obesity" found little progress at all. (Here's the link:

The report applauded efforts by communities, schools and the food industry but said those efforts are few and far between and aren't being monitored. So noone knows if they're really working.

The IOM made a number of recommendations. Let's focus on advice to parents. We should be asking:

  • Are the meals I'm serving healthy?
  • Are the portion sizes too big?
  • Do we make exercise a family priority?
  • Do we watch too much TV/videogames/computers? (Kids gain weight when they're sitting around.")
In short, they're urging us to get our mini couch potatoes MOVING -- not just at home, but at school. Just this week I talked to a mom who fought to lengthen her son's 10-minute recess. Shockingly, I'd just discovered that my daughter's school serves French toast sticks with syrup and (sugary) strawberry milk for lunch. I wouldn't serve that at home! The schools need to hear from us!

If you're like me, the prospect of so many lifestyle changes can be daunting. But the IOM advises that even small changes (like switching from whole milk to 2%) can make a big difference.

It's something to think about. I'm on deadline, but maybe I'll take a quick walk to get lunch today instead of ordering fast food.


Monday, September 11, 2006


You'll probably never forget exactly where you were and what you were doing on the morning of September 11, 2001.

Excuse the cliche, but it really was one of those defining moments of a generation.

Growing up, I remember my parents telling me how they would never forget where they were when JFK was shot. The terrorist attacks of 9/11 will stay with me in the same way. My children were not born yet, so they won't have that memory. For them, 9/11 will be taught in history class, just as JFK's assassination was taught to us.

Five years ago today, I remember sitting at my desk and watching, on my television screen, as that second plane hit the World Trade Center. I remember knowing immediately that our country was under attack. And I remember rushing home to pack and head to New York, despite protests from my husband.

Airplanes had been grounded and trains weren't running, so my colleagues and I drove north.

It seemed that we worked around the clock, as most members of the media did during that time. Even when I did make it back to my hotel room, I couldn't sleep. I'd continue to watch the coverage on the 24-hour news channels and sob and sob. I couldn't cry at work -- I was too busy -- so this was how I dealt with doing stories of unspeakable loss and devastation all day. It took a psychological toll on me like no other news event ever had.

This, the 5-year anniversary, is the only time I've allowed myself to relive those memories. Watching the memorial services in New York, Shanksville and at the Pentagon today has been difficult, and a bit teary.

Yesterday, my mother gave my little boy a commemorative set of die-cast rescue vehicles -- exact replicas of those used by FDNY on 9/11.

He enjoyed playing with them, and my mom hinted I should tell him their significance.

At three-and-a-half, I don't think he's old enough to absorb the tragedy of that day. When the time is right, I'll talk to him (and my daughter) about my experiences and recollections, as I'm sure millions of other parents will do with their children.

I'm left wondering, however, what the defining moment of my children's lifetime will be. I can only hope that it won't be as devastating as what we saw on September 11, 2001.


Friday, September 08, 2006


Aha! T. has a sour side too! I'm not the only one.

I'm glad to know an empty milk carton can send my colleague into a tailspin! It makes me like her even more.

Then again, maybe I'm just rubbing off on her.

In case you're wondering, I was able to carry that renewed perspective from yesterday over into today. I've got a bit more verve in my step as a result. I even offered to pick up lattes from Starbucks for my coworkers. The grumpy me doesn't like to pick up food for other people.

But enough about me and my out-of-the-mommy-closet-anti-June-Cleaver-colleague, and on to Friday Mommy News:

Those squeezably soft toddlers don't always outgrow their pudginess. New research finds that a majority of kids above their ideal weight from age 2 through their preschool years are still overweight at age 12.

And here's one I missed while on vacation last week, but interesting because I was a having a conversation about this just recently --- CVS is apparently not any more dangerous to the fetus than amnio. Pregnant women are usually counseled that CVS carries more risk of miscarriage than amnio, but this study found the miscarriage rate for both procedures to be about the same.

This is important news for expectant mothers who want or need to have prenatal testing before the 2nd trimester, because CVS can be done six weeks earlier than amnio.

And finally, a note to our small arsenal of guinea pigs/readers: Please start spreading the word about us!

We're having a great time sharing our thoughts with you and love hearing your responses. A lot of you have been shy about commenting on the blog but have called and e-mailed us about how our experiences have made you laugh, or how you can relate. You've bolstered us to the point where we've become greedy and want more readers and more feedback.

So, please let your fellow mom friends know about us. And please continue to read in.

Thank you.

(I feel like I'm signing off from the evening news here! "You stay classy, San Diego...")



At the risk of blowing my reputation as the "optimistic one" -- I must vent for a moment. I'm sure all working women can identify.

This morning, I went around the house in a frustrated rampage posting notes like "don't leave milk cartons on top of the trash -- put them in the recycling bin RIGHT BEHIND YOU!" I mean, how many times do I have to pick up, clean up or beg before they get the point? It must be deliberate. The family has conspired to make my life miserable.

Great - now I'm paranoid.

At some point I think "good" mothers accept the fact that maid service is an inevitable part of the job. I'm just not there yet -- I'm still fighting it. My brain is on overload trying to remember everyone's appointments and assignments, while keeping the house in decent order. June Cleaver I am not.

My latest line to the family is: "you'll miss me when I'm gone." But will they? Of course. But, too, won't everyone be happier without me constantly needling them to do this or that? Or maybe in my absence they'd keep the house spic and span... in my honor.

Wish I could live to see it.


Thursday, September 07, 2006


Wow..."T" certainly was prolific yesterday. Three posts!

When I logged in this morning, I also found a funny message from her in response to my Tuesday ("Rain, Rain Go Away") post. She laughed at me, and then told me about her morning that same day -- waking up late, missing her daughter's bus, walking to school in the rain and having to change clothes again before coming to work because she was soaked!

Yet, she didn't gripe about it to you as I did.

That led me to the revelation that I, News Mom "V," am the sour, pessimistic one and "T" is the take-things-in-stride, optimistic one.


I HAVE been grumpy lately, and feeling overwhelmed. I think as moms (working and stay-at-home) we all go through those stages...and I'm smack dab in the middle of one.

My gall bladder surgery is looming; my baby is about to turn one; my house, which was recently renovated, still needs some kinks worked out (not to mention some furnishings) and I desperately NEED something to perk me up -- like a free hour a day to exercise, or a manicure/pedicure or a 20-pound weight loss!

Before you tell me to get over it, don't worry -- I've already had that conversation with myself.

Especially after this morning:

After realizing just how grumpy I've been, I went downstairs to pick up some overdue drycleaning -- which I now needed ASAP because I was being sent out on a story and had come to work wearing my jeans again!

While down there I ran into a correspondent for another network housed in my building. She's a lovely woman and fellow working mom who three months ago donated a portion of her liver to her infant son with a rare liver disorder. In her words, she had no choice but do it. After invasive surgery and a long hospital stay, her little boy is back home and she is amazingly back at work.

She looked wonderful (although significantly thinner as a result of what she's been through) and spoke lovingly of her little boy and the precautions she still needs to take to keep him out of the woods.

Her poise and strength really left an impression and gave me a little kick in the you-know-what.

If she's been to hell and back with the prospect of losing her little boy and still manages to seem so in control of her life, why can't I?

As a result of my conversation with her, I got back to the office too late to change out of my jeans and had to run out to cover my assigned event -- the National Association of Letter Carriers Hero of the Year Awards -- still wearing them.

The main award recipient, a man by the name of Jim Osborne, went AWOL from his letter carrying job in South Florida after Hurricane Katrina to help rescue flood victims in New Orleans with his airboat. He saved more than twenty people. His convoy of 10 airboats saved more than 175 people.

He was emotional during an interview I did with him. And also inspiring. An everyday hero (OK--how sick is it that the theme song from Higglytown Heroes is playing in my head?)...just like the correspondent I ran into earlier in the day.

I don't really have a witty ending line here about how I've been renewed as a result of talking to these people, or that my life has changed in any way, or that I've snapped out of my funk...but these people certainly helped me look at my life a little bit differently today -- and put things in perspective.

I'll let you know if I can carry that feeling through into tomorrow.

News Mom "V"


A few years ago, I flew to Minnesota to interview a mom of 5 about her kids' after school activities. The community's parents, coaches and other instructors had established a pact not to "overprogram" their kids. Parents would let kids participate in only one or two activities at a time. Coaches and instructors pledged to keep practices and events to a minimum so as not to interfere with school.

I thought it was a great idea. What parent would want their child stretched so thin? Then our kids started preschool and kindergarten this year.

In the first week, I've been offered more options than I ever imagined: gymnastics, computer class, piano lessons, foreign language before and after school, Saturday enrichment classes, Girl Scouts -- and these are LITTLE kids!

I'm still against "overprogramming" kids, but I do have a better understanding why parents are tempted to do so. We want to give our kids the best, and each opportunity seems like a good one.

Gymnastics? Sure -- exercise fights childhood obesity. Piano? Music teaches discipline, which is helps kids excel in school, right? Foreign language -- great idea. Experts say this is the best age to learn. Computers? That's a no-brainer - they'll HAVE to use them. Girl Scouts -- a character-builder. You don't get more wholesome than that.

Enrichment classes? What parent doesn't want their child "enriched"?

So here I am with a bunch of fliers and decisions to make for my 3 and 5-year-olds. I also wonder about the social impact. What if my daughter is the only child in after care who didn't sign up for computers -- will she have to sit in class alone for 30 minutes, or hang out with the two-year-olds on Monday afternoons?

So you see, the decision isn't as easy as I imagined.

Clearly we can't do all those activities. If nothing else, my wallet will stop me. I think we've narrowed it down to in-school gymnastics for the preschooler, before-school Spanish for the kindergartener, and piano (once a week during after care) for both.

And that's my final answer -- as long as they don't send home any more fliers this week.


Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Is there an "easy" way to have a baby?

Apparently some women think so. Researchers believe the number of voluntary Cesarean sections is up, and doctors suspect it's because women may be afraid to labor and deliver vaginally. A new study by the Centers for Disease Control looks at nearly six million birth records. It concludes that C-sections believed to be voluntary are putting babies at risk. The CDC reports twice as many babies born from voluntary C-sections died in the first month of life, compared to babies born vaginally.

The study is in the current issue of "Birth: Issues in Perinatal Care" ( .

Here's the caveat: the CDC isn't sure if the Cesareans they studied were really voluntary. All they know is that the birth certificate noted no medical risk factors. Critics say that's a major flaw in this study.

We DO know that C-sections are up 41 percent in the past decade. For those who think it's the "easy" way to have a baby, let me tell you -- I've done it twice, and it's NOT.

Thanks to Mother Eve, childbirth is painful -- on the front end or the back end. Drugs can make it much easier, but not pain-free. After my first Cesarean, I envied friends who were up and about the same day their babies were born. I could barely sit up. And trying to care for a newborn after major surgery is no joke. Count on being out of pocket (i.e. off work) for eight weeks.

Then there's the issue of VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean) for mothers who "really" want a natural birthing experience. A few years ago, VBAC was popular, but rates have declined to about 9 percent of all births. Concerns about rupture and fetal distress are too great for many women to risk.

Which brings me back to the question -- is there an "easy" way to have a baby? If you're determined to avoid physical pain, consider adoption -- and don't forget older children and special needs kids. There are thousands of little ones in the U.S. and abroad who could use your love.



NBC's new "Today Show" anchor Meredith Vieira has said she likes to report on "ordinary people in extradordinary circumstances." So do I. Here are two of my recent favorites:

Today I met a 43-year-old two-time breast cancer survivor. She's virtually the picture of health -- works out 7 days a week (putting me to complete shame!) and had no family history. She's a project manager, managing eight men in a male-dominated field. After surgery, chemo and radiation, her cancer came back last spring.

What impressed me is her spirit. Just talking to her lifted mine. Through her personal struggle she held onto a tough job, and her sense of humor. Now's she's helping two recently-diagnosed friends do the same.

Yesterday I chatted with Jana Monaco, a Virginia mom I first met last year. She's caring for her son, who is permanently disabled due to a rare birth defect. It could have been prevented if Virginia had required the same newborn screening tests some other states do. Not only does this mother of 3 devote herself to the time-consuming task of caring for special needs son (16 therapy sessions a week, not including doctor's appointments) -- she's also an advocate reform. Her efforts helped change the law in Virginia, and she's taken her fight to Washington to push for standardized newborn screening tests nationwide.

Talk about turning lemons into lemonade! Here's a woman who was thrown a complete curve ball in life, and she threw it right back. (You can read more about Jana's story, in her own words, on her web site:

I know there are others. MANY others. Each and every one deserving of their place on the Forbes list. Through their stamina, faithfulness and fortitude, each of these women are making a difference in the lives around them.

And as a News Mom, I am honored and blessed to meet many of them and share their stories.



Aren't we all? :)

But a few clearly stand out. The Forbes annual list of the "World's 100 Most Powerful Women" is out ( Here are the top 5:
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel
  • Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (last year's #1)
  • China's Vice Premier Wu Yi
  • Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi
  • Xerox CEO Anne Mulcahy

The rest are an impressive hodge-podge of corporate, info-tainment and government heavyweights, including the Presidents of Chile, the Phillipines, Finland and Liberia; the Prime Ministers of New Zealand, Bangladesh, Mozambique, Jamaica and South Korea; and Britain's Queen Elizabeth.

Corporate types included CEOs and top executives at Morgan-Stanley, Goldman-Sachs, Kraft, Rite Aid, Disney, Hewlett-Packard, eBay, Proctor and Gamble, Lucent Technologies, Johnson and Johnson, Time, MTV, Sony, Paramount, The New York Times, and Southwest Airlines, to name a few.

America's TV divas took their places: Oprah, Katie, Diane Sawyer and "Today Show" newcomer Meredith Vieira - in that order. Interestingly, CNN's chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour made the list, but the Dean of TV Newswoman Barbara Walters did not.

I got a chuckle out of #14 Oprah outranking Sen. Hillary Clinton (#18), Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (#32), First Lady Laura Bush(#43) and the highest ranking woman in Congress, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (#48).

Maybe Oprah should run for President?

Oh -- and why in the WORLD wasn't my mother on that list?

News Mom T

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


I'm back from my less than sunny vacation, and it's raining outside.

The drive in this morning was horrendous. Bumper to bumper, beginning a half-mile from my house all the way to the office. Over an hour.

It was the rotted cherry on top of the stale cake that was my morning.

As I've mentioned before, I have a hard time transitioning between being with the kids 24-7 to sending them off to daycare.

This time we were together for 10 days -- sleeping in the same room.

My formerly co-sleeping 3-year-old is back to his former self. When it came time to go to bed last night he announced he was sleeping in our bed. Didn't you miss YOUR bedroom I asked? No, he said. It's lonesome in there.

He was clinging to me when we woke up this morning, and he continued to do so on the sofa in front of the TV downstairs. I didn't mind being clung to, but I freed myself to get clothes for him and the baby.

She cried all morning long. She didn't want to be dressed, she didn't want to eat and she didn't want to play on the floor. She's also been sick and snotty so I felt so evil sending her off to daycare.

After my husband left with the kids, I had my coffee and toast, showered and found something clean to wear -- my jeans! Those darn jeans were supposed to have made it into my suitcase but somehow got lost in the dining room during packing. Their absence forced me to wear pajama pants or too-tight yoga pants (with a strategically placed hoodie tied around my waist) on the days I couldn't wear shorts.

When I arrived at work, the story assignment next to my name read "Horse Slaughter."

I'm not kidding.

Things have since taken a turn for the better. I managed to get out of the horse slaughter story and into watching a President Bush event.

It's good to be back. As a journalist it's hard to be on vacation and know there are things going on in the world that you're not covering.

And I'm getting a break from reminding my little boy to go potty every couple of hours (because he still hasn't mastered stopping to go when he's having too much fun.)

Not that it wasn't adorable to walk by the bathroom and see him sitting on the potty, his legs swinging as he sang to himself "Rain, rain go away.

Now...where was I? Oh yes...the President.

News Mom "V"

Thursday, August 31, 2006


For most people, Labor Day is the official end of summer. For me, it's the sniffles that invaded our house this week.

It's the first week of school -- in fact, 2 of our 3 kids haven't even started yet -- and already all five of us are sniffling, coughing and popping vitamin C chewables like candy. That pesky cold virus attacked without warning. I hadn't even had a chance to stock up on vitamins and cod liver oil yet. Yes, I make my kids take the yucky stuff all winter. It worked for my grandparents and seems to work for us, too.

Except right now.

How DO those germs circulate so quickly? I imagine that as hundreds of giggling, backpacked girls and boys bounced off the school bus this week, millions of invisible viruses marched in right along with them -- just as determined to do well in school this year.

"Betcha I can infect more kids than you can!"

"Oh yeah - bet I can get to them first!"

"You take backpacks. I'll take pencils and lunchboxes."

I've read that doctors say 10-12 colds a year is NORMAL for schoolchildren, and actually builds up their immunity. Speaking of which, have you read about the chicken pox parties? Instead of getting the vaccine, parents let their uninfected children play with infected ones, hoping to create natural immunity.

That said... excuse me (achooo!!!!!!!)

... be well. I'm already longing for Spring!


Monday, August 28, 2006


Well, I sent my five-year-old off to kindergarten this morning. What an experience!

There were no tears. I cried mine last night and she didn't cry at all. In fact, she sang all the way to school and bounded out of the car as soon as we arrived. While I was happy to see her so excited, I couldn't help but feel a little sad to see her behaving so independently. The real dagger-through-the heart came when she asked me (about 4 times) to stop holding her hand walking to class. But she did let me give her a kiss. :)

I wish I could spend all day peeking in the classroom window -- not to interfere, but just to see how she reacts to it all. I know what you're saying: "OK Mom, it's time to let go."

I'm getting there.

Feelings aside, I really AM excited to see her take this next step. In fact, it's a big step for all of us. I already have PTA meetings and the principal's coffee updates on my schedule. And shopping for school supplies, I learned a few lessons:

  • Glue sticks are the first to sell out.
  • I never knew there were SO many different types of markers!
  • Don't buy peanut snacks, even if the teacher says it's OK (an allergic kid showed up today)
  • Pack a cold lunch (sandwiches) not leftovers - it never occurred to me she can't nuke it

I'm still undecided about letting my tiny 5-year-old ride the school bus. Two months ago, I was adamantly against it. The bus ride, I'm fine with. It's getting off and on that bother me. Who's in charge at the bus stop? What if she gets on the wrong bus? What if she gets off at the wrong stop? What if she gets to school and can't find her class and wanders off?

And of course, being a NewsMom, stories I've covered come to mind:

How safe is the bus? When was it last inspected? Did they do a background check on the driver? Does he/she have a criminal record the school system doesn't know about?

OK, by now even I realize I suffer from what my father-in-law calls "overprotective parent syndrome." And sometimes all you need is a dose of reality to cure it. When I pulled up to the school this morning, traffic was horrible. I had to park two blocks away. A parent told me it'll be weeks before things return to normal -- and even then, the new parking lot is too small, so good luck finding a spot.

As we walked I thought about how I'll manage next week once my three-year-old is with us. Then I saw all those smiling little kids (including our neighbor) getting off the school bus, and I thought:

maybe the bus isn't so bad after all.


Friday, August 25, 2006


I'm literally on my way out the door for a week of vacation, but I wanted to leave behind a topic of discussion in my absence:

Do career women make for lousy wives?

See the following story on Michael Noer's column was initially published alone, pulled because of strong reaction, and finally republished with a woman's "counterpoint" alongside it.

Have a good weekend.

News Mom "V"