31 January 2008

Cocktails and Couture for a Cause

Slip on your stilettos and grab your girlfriends for an evening of fashion and philanthropy at The Next Big Thing 2008, Feb 23, benefiting Dress for Success Dallas.

Held at the lofty and alluring venue, Three Three Three First Avenue, this Neiman Marcus-sponsored fashion show will entertain you and your fashionable friends, while guests also will have the opportunity to bid for spa packages, American Airline tickets, Dinner at the Palm and more in a silent auction.

Dress for Success Dallas strives to promote the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing them professional attire, a network or support and the career development tools that promote their success in work and in life.

What better way to support Dallas-area women (and spend time with friends)? Visit The Next Big Thing's Web site for more information or to purchase tickets.

New TV Series Fuels Vaccine Controversy

Medical organizations and advocates on both sides of the vaccine safety debate are launching a fusillade of information and news releases in preparation for tonight’s debut of Eli Stone, ABC-TV’s new legal drama. Premiering tonight at 9pm, the episode features pop singer George Michael in addition to a controversial legal tussle centering on vaccinations and thimerosol.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, the March of Dimes and other organizations have called for cancellation of the episode. According to the AAP, “the episode's conclusion delivers a contrary impression; the jury awards the mother $5.2 million, leaving audiences with the destructive idea that vaccines do cause autism." In light of the controversy, the AAP is rushing to publicize a new study showing that the ethyl mercury (thimerosol) used in some vaccines as a preservative is excreted much faster than other forms of mercury in the environment.

Journalists who have screened full previews of the episode report that the episode in fact focuses not on the danger of vaccinations but on the healing power of faith. Tune in tonight at 9pm (right after the season premiere of “Lost”) and decide for yourself.

30 January 2008

Where Did I Put My Keys?

Do you ever find yourself wondering what happened to your short-term memory? If your answer has something to do with having kids, you’re not far off. Research shows that people who multitask (and, really, who doesn’t?) tend to overburden their minds, and the result is reduced efficiency and hampered short-term memory. (Read more mind science here.)

So what can you do to stave off this working woman/mom brain drain, if slowing down is not an option, and that to-do list isn’t getting any shorter?

The University of Texas at Dallas Center for BrainHealth is tackling this issue through its new partnership and lecture series with the Container Store. The lectures (Tuesdays throughout February) are intended to share the latest discoveries about brain science with the public and offer practical suggestions for keeping your mind sharp and healthy when your life gets busy and complicated.

The four-lecture series covers the topics:
  • The Mature Mind: Creativity and Aging (2/5)
  • Get Smart: New Hope for ADHD (2/12)
  • Get Physical: Brain Health Benefits from Exercise (2/19)
  • Ask the Doc: Am I Brain Smart? (2/26)
Register for these talks online . A night out listening to distinguished doctors and researchers sounds perfectly stimulating. And, you might pick up some tools to make all that juggling a little easier.


28 January 2008

AAP calls for cancellation of ABC’s ‘Eli Stone’ premiere

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is demanding ABC cancel the premiere episode of “Eli Stone,” scheduled to air on Thursday, Jan. 31. As reported in The New York Times, the episode features a lawyer who argues in court that a vaccine caused a child’s autism. While the show presents cases for both sides of this hot-topic argument, the episode’s conclusion leaves viewers with the impression that there is a scientific link between vaccinations and autism (the jury awards the mother $5.2 million, leaving audiences with the destructive idea that vaccines do cause autism), according to AAP.

Speaking out about ABC's "reckless irresponsibility," AAP President Renee R. Jenkins, MD, said, “If parents watch this program and choose to deny their children immunizations, ABC will share in the responsibility for the suffering and deaths that occur as a result. The consequences of a decline in immunization rates could be devastating to the health of our nation’s children.”

According to AAP, no scientific link has been found between vaccines and autism. AAP and other health organizations vow to continue their work to ensure the safety of childhood vaccines. To learn more about autism, immunizations and other child health topics, visit the AAP’s Web site. Or, to read more about this topic in the news, click here for the CNN story.

Tell us what you think: Should ABC pull this episode off TV airwaves? Email your thoughts to us at editorial@dallaschild.com.

Booster Club

Once kids are old enough to wiggle into their car seats and buckle up by themselves, they’re just as likely to wiggle out by themselves – and keeping them safely strapped in becomes a wiggly proposition. At some point, it’s easy to throw up our hands and just let them skip the “baby seats.”

But is it safe?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), some 350 children ages 4 to 7 die in traffic crashes each year, and about 50,000 are injured. Half of those who die are not in any type of restraint (child safety seats, booster seats, or seat belts).

Once children outgrow their front-facing seats (usually around age 4 and 40 pounds), says the NHTSA, they should ride in booster seats in the back seat until adult seat belts fit properly. As mature as your little weed may look to you, that may happen later than you think. Seat belts fit properly when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits across the chest, not the neck – usually about age 8 or when your child is 4’9” tall.

“That’s crazy!” you may exclaim. “Nobody does that!” Safety-minded parents do – but not nearly enough. In the first-ever probability-based survey of booster seat use in the United States based on actually observing children in vehicles, the NHTSA found that only 41 percent of 4- to 7-year-old children were restrained in booster seats in 2006 – a shockingly low total. Your child’s safety, after all, is one area where you don’t want to be guilty of going with the flow. Let your child help you pick out a comfy booster seat with a cup holder, pockets to hold games or whatever they think is cool. Then use it every time you pull away from the curb!

24 January 2008

Easy Money

College payments are right around the corner for parents of high school seniors – but even if you’re unprepared, all is not lost! We ran across a reassuring little collection of resources to rescue parents who’ve procrastinated payment planning. The folks at Good Housekeeping have put together an inspirational list of overlooked college funding resources.

Check out this gem of an opportunity:

The American Fire Sprinkler Association's (AFSA) Annual Scholarship Contest offers 10 $2,000 scholarships to students who complete a fire sprinkler safety test. Applicants must read an essay about automatic fire sprinklers and then take a 10-question, open-book, multiple-choice test. For each correct answer, students receive an entry into the drawing for one of the $2,000 scholarships, with a total of 10 entries possible.

Need more ideas like that? Discover other college funding ideas you may have overlooked at Good Housekeeping’s college funding resource guide.

22 January 2008

Haircuts for a Cause

Did you know every day, 46 kids are diagnosed with cancer? It’s the tragic reality, according to the Rally Foundation, a non-profit fundraising and advocacy group for children’s cancer research.

So how can your family help? Brace yourself, and remember it’s for a good cause:
1.) Alert kids it’s time for a haircut
2.) Get to Cool Cuts 4 Kids by any means necessary (before Feb 24)
3.) Buy a tube of Zach’s Wax hair color gel, and $1 of every sale goes to support Rally.

We know your families love Cool Cuts. How do we know? Well, both sides of the Metroplex named it the best kids’ hair salon in our annual Best for Families survey in 2007, so the good stylists are doing good all around.

Don’t worry, though. Zach’s products are one-time, one-wash coloring “experiments,” so the orange streaks can be gone tomorrow. But, your contributions to children’s cancer research will last much longer.

21 January 2008

Phear of Phthalates

Alix in Wonderland's blog over at The Green Guide sums up the nagging fears scritching and scratching at the back of our minds as we watch our children play with beloved toys. What about phthalates? Are they in my kid's toys? And if they are -- how much does it matter?

"Maybe I should read more -- but when?" blogs Clyburn. "How are we parents supposed to stay on top of all of this, to protect our children from their own toys? When are we supposed to do that while we're also trying to actually care for our children, work and manage our own lives? If it's easy enough for moms and dads in Denmark and Spain to rely on their government to prevent these hormone disrupting chemicals from seeping into their babies' bodies, why can't we rely on Uncle Sam?"

If you're still trying to get a handle on this stuff in our children's toys and how to handle it, visit Alix's post for more links, resources and points to ponder.

17 January 2008

TWU Offers Math and Science Conference for Middle School Girls

If your daughter harbors a passion for mathematics and science — particularly a passion for careers in the fields of chemistry, zoology, entomology, engineering and nursing — fuel her need for knowledge by signing her up for Texas Woman’s University’s biannual “Expanding Your Horizons in Science and Mathematics” conference for middle-school aged girls on Feb 16th.

Participants will meet female leaders in the fields of math and science and learn about potential careers, as well as the education and skills that each career requires. Additionally, the conference offers workshops on the topics of chemistry, zoology, entomology, engineering, nursing and other topics. Attendees may choose to attend all sessions that they find of interest.

Teachers and parents also are invited to attend, and may choose to sit-in on sessions such as: Picking Out Courses, How to Use a Graphing Calendar and How to Apply for Financial Aid and Scholarships.

The conference (for girls in grades 6-8) runs from 8:15am-12:30pm on the TWU Denton campus. Registration costs $10 per person and is open to the first 350 girls who apply. (Scholarships for attendees are available.) Registration ends Feb 2. For more information, click here.

Connecting the Parenting Disconnect

The staff at DallasChild gets bombarded on a daily basis with news releases, research reports, e-mails and samples on the latest and greatest in parenting today. Our work is all about sifting through and making sense of all this information to bring you the best of the best – and sometimes we come across a resource that we just have to share in its entirety.

That’s the case with BAM: Body Mind and Child. BAM Radio aims squarely at shattering parenting myths and bringing parents integrated, scientifically supported advice on child development. Its bottom line: imbalances in modern attitudes that have been encouraged by products that commercialize parenting. Each week, the show tackles a different parenting issue, comparing conventional wisdom to the latest scientific insights.

BAM is available online on demand, 24 hours a day. It’s currently featured on iTunes and may be streamed on your computer or downloaded to an mp3 player. Watch for new shows weekly.

14 January 2008

From Russia With Love

You don't have to be Madonna or Angelina Jolie to add a child from a foreign country to your own family. Fort Worth’s nonprofit Gladney Center for Adoption is one of just 17 agencies in the United States that have been reaccredited by the Ministry of Education and Science in Russia to provide adoption services for Russian children.

Gladney's Intercountry Adoption Programs have successfully placed thousands of babies and young children in homes throughout the United States. These programs offer adoption opportunities from Eastern European, African, Asian and Latin American countries.

Is adopting from abroad right for your family? Learn more at the Gladney web site.

~ Lisa

10 January 2008

You're Never Too Young to Vote!

Remember "current events" homework back in the old days -- you had to read the newspaper the night before, cut out an article that interested you and give a talk to the class about it the next day? You can help get your kids into the swing of the presidential primaries right now with Kids Pick The President: The Kids' Primary, a special on Nickelodeon TV at 9 p.m. (ET/PT) on Sun., Jan. 13.

Nick News with Linda Ellerbee: The Kids' Primary explains how presidents are elected in the United States; the primary system; the current candidates; and what it means to be a Democrat or a Republican. The special, which will also stream on TurboNick, encourages kids to go online to vote in Nickelodeon's first kids' primary.

Did you know that kids have predicted the next president in four out of the last five national elections? The Kids Pick the President campaign includes three television specials with Linda Ellerbee, and a special online election website. Kids can log onto Nick to learn about each candidate. The website features explanations of the election process, photographs and information about each candidate and a calendar of the major election events.

A second special, Kids Pick the Issues, will premiere in March and will feature a discussion with kids about the issues and policies that matter to them. In the October Kids Pick the President special, Ellerbee will take kids' questions to the final candidates, and kids will be encouraged to go online and vote.

~ Lisa

09 January 2008

An Event You Won't Want to Miss!

The January issue of DallasChild contained incorrect information for an event we know you're looking forward to. We regret the error.

The USA Film Festival's KidFilm festival will be held January 19 and 20 at the Angelika Film Center Dallas.

Shows will start at 12:30pm both days, so don't miss this annual favorite featuring an appearance by Barney, Mallory Lewis and Lambchop, and other exciting family films.

And, because we love hearing from you for future stories,
let us know
: What are your favorite family films?

Thanks, and enjoy the shows!

07 January 2008

Team Spirit With Style

We could all use a little sparkle in these last, drab days of the cold season. But if a trip to to the stadium (or hosting a game-watching party at home) is what's on the schedule, what's a fashionable mom to do? To the rescue: L.A. designer Betsy Stephens' new line of accessories with shimmering crystal team logos on bags, belts and scarves. Whether you're a dyed-in-the-wool sports fan or just want to fake it, you can get into the team spirit without looking like a quarterback (or a waterboy!).

Dazzling, crystal logos are embellished onto suede, velvet and cashmere scarves, bags, belts and headbands, creating a luxurious look for feminine fans. Homebodies will enjoy throw pillows and other accessories. The collection includes all NFL, MLB, NBA, USC, UCLA and INDY logos, so you'll always show the right colors.

~ Lisa

03 January 2008

Test My Toy

If you're having doubts about the safety of some of those last-minute toys you picked up as stocking stuffers, look them up or request a that the group test it at HealthyToys.org.

Thirteen of the 22 toys and products tested by the group last month were made with PVC, including classics like American Girl Dolls and Lincoln Log figures. Fifty percent (50%) of toys tested by HealthyToys.org were made from PVC -- a concern because PVC may contain phthalates, some of which have been banned from children's products in Europe and California.

The online grassroots group MomsRising has developed a fast and easy way for shoppers to learn if particular toys contain toxins using their cell phones. The group has developed a text messaging system that uses the HealthyToys.org database. Parents can simply text "healthytoys" and the name of a particular toy, a type of toy or a toy manufacturer or retailer to 41411 to find out whether a toy is toxic. MomsRising will respond instantly with a message, based on comprehensive tests of more than 1,200 toys featured at HealthyToys.org. Visit MomsRising - No Toxic Toys for more information.

~ Lisa

02 January 2008

No more nagging!

Does it always seem to be a constant battle with your kids to get them out the door for school, to do their homework or even to brush their teeth before going to bed? It did to one mother, so she designed a unique system to help kids between the ages of five and 12 to stay on top of their daily tasks while learning independence.

With On·Task On·Time for Kids, parents can create daily routines with their children by placing any of the 52 full-color task stickers on a Routine Disk. The disk is then placed on the On·Task Timer Unit so kids can see their tasks – those that should already be done, those to do now and those coming up.

Routine Disks can be made for three routines: the morning for getting ready for school, the afternoon for after school/home activities, and the evening for getting ready to go to bed. There is also a reward chart so kids know when they are being successful with their routines.

For more information or to purchase one go to www.timelymatters.com.

- Jessica