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.