Monday, March 17, 2008

Jane's Review: Horton Hears a Who


by Jane Louise Boursaw

Reel Rating: 4 out of 5 Reels
MPAA Rating: G
Released in Theaters: March 14, 2008
Genre: Animation, Comedy, Family, Kids
Runtime: 88 minutes
Directed by: Jimmy Hayward, Steve Martino
Cast: Jim Carrey, Steve Carell, Carol Burnett, Will Arnett, Seth Rogen, Isla Fisher, Jonah Hill, Amy Poehler, Jaime Pressly, Josh Flitter, Jesse McCartney, Charles Osgood (narrator)

SYNOPSIS: One day, Horton the elephant hears a cry for help coming from a speck of dust. In reality, that speck is actually home to the city of Whoville, presided over by The Mayor. Horton agrees to protect the tiny Whos, but his jungle pals aren’t so willing to believe in something they can’t see. Horton holds fast to his commitment, insisting, “A person is a person, no matter how small.”

Sex/ Nudity:
None.

Violence/Gore:
Mild comic action, including monkeys who attack Horton with bananas, then throw him into a cage and try to destroy the speck. Vlad the bird also threatens Horton and manages to steal the speck away from him.

Profanity:
None, although the kangaroo, monkeys and bird verbally abuse Horton. There’s also brief potty humor. Upon hearing that the mayor’s large family all share one bathroom, Horton wonders what a bathroom is.

Which Kids Will Like It?
Ages 4 and older who like animated cartoons with talking animals and/or Dr. Seuss tales.

Will Parents Like It?
Yes, there’s nothing objectionable here and the message is good: everyone is important, always keep your promises, and protect those who can’t protect themselves.

REVIEW:
This CG-animated family movie tells the familiar story by Dr. Seuss, a.k.a. Theodor Seuss Geisel. Horton (voiced by Jim Carrey) is an amiable elephant minding his own business in the jungle of Nool, until one day, he hears a tiny cry for help coming from a speck of dust.

Horton soon realizes there’s someone on that speck – and not just someone, but the entire city of Whoville, led by the Mayor (Steve Carell). If Horton doesn’t protect them, their entire world could be annihilated.

Horton’s jungle pals don’t share his enthusiasm for this weighty matter. In fact, they think he’s crazy for believing in something they can’t even see, especially Kangaroo (Carol Burnett), the self-appointed moral compass of the jungle who takes every opportunity to tell Horton what a dimwit he is. She even hires some thugs – Vlad the Bird (Will Arnett) and the Wickersham monkeys -- to work him over and steal the speck.

But Horton stands strong and vows to save that speck, because “a person’s a person, no matter how small.” He tries to put things into perspective for his skeptical friends: “If you were way out in space, and you looked down at where we live, we would look like a speck.” They don’t buy it.

Horton decides the best place for the speck is high atop a mountain, so he goes about the task of delivering the speck there. He can do nothing less, given his life philosophy: “An elephant's faithful 100 percent.”

Meanwhile, back in Whoville, the Mayor is having his own problems. He’s trying to convince his constituents they’re in danger, but the Whos will have none of it, preferring to believe everything is fine in their perfect world. The Mayor’s wife (Amy Poehler) stands by him, but she’s got enough on her hands trying to keep their 96 kids in line, including son Jo Jo (Jesse McCartney), a loner-teen with a good heart.

While my kids and I thought the movie dragged a bit in the middle, we all agreed it’s a colorful tale appropriate for all ages. The story strays here and there from the book, but I love that some of the book’s rhyming lines are incorporated into the movie.

Other voice talent includes Seth Rogen as Horton’s pal Morton the Mouse and Isla Fisher as brainy scientist Mary Lou LaRue, as well as Jonah Hill, Jaime Pressly, and Josh Flitter. To be honest, though, I probably wouldn’t have picked out most of these voices had I not known they were in the movie. Carrey and Carell are definitely the highlight.

You can’t go wrong with Dr. Seuss, a gifted wordsmith, storyteller, and philosopher whose stories always deliver a message. In this case: 1) always honor your commitments; 2) help those who can’t help themselves; 3) everyone is equal, no matter how large or small; and 4) we’re all interconnected, as is demonstrated when Horton tries to cross a rickety bamboo bridge while the Mayor is at the dentist.

JANE’S REEL RATING SYSTEM:
One Reel – Even the Force can’t save it.
Two Reels – Coulda been a contender
Three Reels – Something to talk about.
Four Reels – You want the truth? Great flick!
Five Reels – Wow! The stuff dreams are made of.

Jane Louise Boursaw is a freelance journalist specializing in the movie and television industries. Visit her online at www.ReelLifeWithJane.com or email jboursaw@charter.net.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Been There: Jodie Foster


"Strange, ugly things happen between single parents
and children. And also the most beautiful things."

—Jodie Foster, American actress
single mother, child of single mother

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Time&Money: IRS "stimulus" payments

The IRS has begun notifying taxpayers that more than 130 million households will start receiving economic stimulus payments in May.

To receive a payment, taxpayers must have a valid Social Security number, $3,000 of income and file a 2007 federal tax return. IRS will take care of the rest. Eligible people will receive up to $600 ($1,200 for married couples), and parents will receive an additional $300 for each eligible child younger than 17. Millions who usually are exempt from filing a tax return must do so this year in order to receive a stimulus payment. Phaseout reduction begins at $75,000 for single filers.

More details are available at www.irs.gov.

What should single parents expect? Here are some examples from the IRS:

Head of household with children:
1) Single parent with two children, wages of $4,000, no federal income tax liability before child tax credit.
Individual rebate is $300
Qualifying child credit is $600
TOTAL is $900

2) Single parent with two children, no wages, veterans’ payments of $2,000, social security benefits of $2,000, no federal income tax liability before child tax credit.
Individual rebate is $300
Qualifying child credit is $600
TOTAL is $900

3) Single parent with two children, no wages, no social security benefits, veterans’ payments of $4,000, no federal income tax liability before child tax credit.
Individual rebate is $300
Qualifying child credit is $600
TOTAL is $900

4) Single parent with two children, no wages, no social security benefits, no veterans’ payments, AGI is $20,000, federal income tax liability before child tax credit is $195.
Individual rebate is $300
Qualifying child credit is $600
TOTAL is $900

5) Single parent with two children, AGI is $22,000, federal income tax liability before child tax credit is $395.
Individual rebate is $395
Qualifying child credit is $600
TOTAL is $995

6) Single parent with two children, AGI is $60,000, federal income tax liability before child tax credit exceeds $600.
Individual rebate is $600
Qualifying child credit is $600
TOTAL is $1,200

7) Single parent with two children, AGI is $90,000, federal income tax liability before child tax credit exceeds $600.
Individual rebate is $600
Qualifying child credit is $600
Phaseout reduction is ($750)
TOTAL is $450

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

News&Buzz: Odds after adultery

The blogosphere's abuzz over New York's governor being linked to a prostitute. What do the numbers say about the toll on his marriage?

Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil, author of Adultery: The Forgivable Sin, says her research reveals that only 35 percent of marriages can thrive after infidelity and that more than half of all marriages have had one person commit adultery, Huffington Post reports.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Advice: Use the 4 pillars to de-stress

Q. I feel like I'm treading water all the time with work, chores, payments, household stuff. Last visit to the doctor my blood pressure was borderline high and my MD said I need to "de-stress." But ... I don't know how. Is there one first-best thing I could do?

A. Absolutely. The one first-best thing you can do is put your health first. You won't be able to juggle it all if you are not feeling well. You must make the time to keep your Four Pillars of Biological Health in place: eat well, sleep well, exercise regularly and practice relaxation techniques on a regular basis. Next step will be to re-prioritize your schedule and plan accordingly. Look at what only you can do, and look at what you can delegate or ask for help.

—Psychiatrist and Life Coach Gabriela Cora, MD, MBA
Author of Leading under Pressure, Managing Work in Life, Quantum Wellbeing
Executive Health & Wealth Institute

##

Have questions about your children, dating, coparenting, juggling life, dilemmas particular to single parenting? Shoot us your questions and we'll try to round up an expert for their advice. Click here.

Friday, March 7, 2008

The How of Happiness 6—Coping Skills

Positive psychology guru Sonja Lyubormirky’s new book The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want reveals the University of California professor’s research-based tactics for taking control of the 40 percent of happiness and joy within our control. Here, we'll share her advice in an ongoing series:

THE HOW OF HAPPINESS
Step 6: Develop Coping Skills

By Sonja Lyubomirsky

No life is without stress or adversity. Fortunately, most of the strategies that help you to be happier also help you to manage life's lowest ebbs. Those who manage to find benefit among the pain, when faced with even the most serious traumas such as the loss of a loved one, cope better.

—Remember that post-traumatic growth and happiness is not the same as being joyful and carefree. Most survivors acknowledge that they feel a great deal of distress at the same time as reporting strengthening and progress.

—Social support is crucial to coping. Friends, family and partners give you a place to share your feelings and see the event with a new perspective, so talk to them.

—More and more research shows that writing it all down can be hugely beneficial. Spend at least 15 minutes a day writing down your worries.


—Hug more.


The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want
By Sonja Lyubomirsky
Penguin Press HC
Hardcover
Dec. 27, 2007
ISBN-10: 159420148X
ISBN-13: 978-1594201486
available from booksellers everywhere and Amazon.com

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Time&Money: Supershopper Secrets III

By Lori Hall Steele

Care to save up to $5,200 a year on groceries? We're sharing secrets of supershoppers who do just that. Here's the latest in our ongoing series:

Is the Price Right?—The majority of shoppers return again and again to their favorite grocery store. But is it the best deal? It’s well worth it to scope out the competition’s prices. Play detective, and pop into other area stores to write down normal prices on five or ten items you purchase religiously (milk, butter, bread, cheese, a pound of romaine, organic eggs, and so on). There could be as much as a $10 difference between stores. If your store doesn’t have the best prices, switching where you shop could save $520 a year.

Small price differences may seem insignificant, but because foods are repeat expenses, even a 30-cent difference in a weekly gallon of milk adds up to $16 a year.

Also ask your store whether they match sale prices offered by other stores (many do) and, if they do, and you like reading ads, be sure to scan other stores’ weekly fliers for deals.


From a story that originally appeared in Woman's Day. Lori Hall Steele, founder of You&Me Kid, is an award-winning journalist who writes for national publications.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Books: Single mothers who made history


History is peppered with stories of women who persevered for the sake of their families, not for fanfare. What many do not know is that every day remarkable women take on the challenges of life alone -- raising their children and making history -- as single mothers.

"If you are a single mother, you're not alone," says author Janine Turner. "History provides the warmth and comfort of women who have done it successfully before you."

Turner is perhaps best known as an accomplished actress who has starred in hit television series, such as "Northern Exposure" and "Strong Medicine," as well as box-office and television movies.

Turner is also a director, singer, and now an author. Her book, Holding Her Head High: 12 Single Mothers Who Championed Their Children and Changed History (Thomas Nelson Publishers), chronicles the lives of 12 women in history and brings to light how they advocated for their children to make a difference.

Take, for example, Abigail Adams, whose husband John became the second U.S. president. She helped change the course of history by helping to birth democracy with her valiant wartime single motherhood during the American Revolution. Adams had to clothe, feed, educate and nurture her children as she managed the family farm and her husband's business.

Adams endured bitter winters and wartime fears and famine. Her devotion helped shape the character of her son -- John Quincy -- who would go on to further the family's political legacy by becoming the sixth U.S. president.

Turner, herself a single mother, pored through thousands of historical documents to bring alive the stories of women she says not only provided strength and inspiration, but changed the course of history as well.

Stories span generations and pinpoint women from the Roman Empire, such as Christian pioneer and saint Helena Augusta, to medieval times when Christine de Pizan became the first female professional writer. She may have been the antecedent, of sorts, for Elizabeth Timothy, the first female editor in colonial America.

"These women turned tribulations into triumphs, championed their children and changed history," offers Turner. "I find their voices to be amazingly modern, no matter the era."

Find Holding Her Head High: 12 Single Mothers Who Championed Their Children and Changed History at your local bookseller or by visiting www.thomasnelson.com.

Source: PR NewsWire

Monday, March 3, 2008

Jane's Review: Penelope


by Jane Louise Boursaw

Reel Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Reels
MPAA Rating: PG for thematic elements, some innuendo and language
Released in Theaters: Feb. 29, 2008
Genre: Comedy, Family, Romance
Runtime: 102 minutes
Directed by: Mark Palansky
Cast: Christina Ricci, James McAvoy, Catherine O’Hara, Reese Witherspoon, Peter Dinklage, Richard E. Grant

SYNOPSIS: This modern-day fairy tale tells the story of Penelope, a young heiress who’s born with the nose of a pig. The family curse, cast by a wicked witch generations ago, can only be broken if Penelope finds true love with “one who will love her faithfully.”

Sex/ Nudity: Some romantic overtones and kissing between characters, but nothing overt.

Violence/Gore: Comic action when potential suitors flee for their life once they see Penelope’s face (they crash through a window, and a guard tackles them). A photographer is injured trying to get a picture of her.

Profanity: “Damn” and “hell”.

Which Kids Will Like It? Ages 8 and older who like romantic, modern-day fairy tales like “Enchanted” and “Shrek” (though those movies are better).

Will Parents Like It? Yes. Although it’s a rather pedestrian take on the fairy tale, there’s nothing objectionable here, and the message is good: love yourself, and be true to yourself.

REVIEW: This likeable little movie harks back to the days of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, when evil witches, family curses, and handsome princes were the norm. Only this movie is set in a modern day metropolis and tells the story of Penelope Wilhern (Christina Ricci), a beautiful young girl except for the fact that she has the nose of a pig.

It’s all because of a family curse that dates back a couple of generations. The town witch, miffed that her servant daughter was scorned by a Wilhern, placed the curse on the family, giving the next-born female the pig of a nose. To break the curse, Penelope must find true love with “one of her own kind who will love her faithfully.”

As you might imagine, finding a wealthy socialite to love a girl with a pig nose is a challenge. Hidden away in her family’s estate, Penelope’s overbearing mother (Catherine O’Hara) and hen-pecked father (Richard E. Grant) parade a string of suitors through the house in the hopes that someone will love the girl for who she is.

Hidden behind a one-way glass, Penelope chats with the guys via microphone, including a blue blood named Edward (Simon Woods). All is well -- until they get a look at her nose and run screaming from the house in horror. All except for one, that is – Max (James McAvoy).

The only problem? Max is working with a photographer named Lemon (Peter Dinklage) who’s desperate to get a shot of the pig-nosed girl. Also, Max has a heart and may not be the person he claims to be.

Penelope finally escapes from the house and goes into the real world, where she sips beer in a pub (her first!) and makes friends with Annie (Reese Witherspoon), an edgy delivery girl who takes her for a ride on her Vespa.

I think this is one of those movies that could have been really good – but isn’t. Christina Ricci hits all the right notes as a girl plagued with a curse beyond her control, and Reese Witherspoon and James McAvoy are adorable, as always. You’re really pulling for Max to make it work with this girl.

Over-the-top Catherine O’Hara is too much of a caricature to be believable. I’m not even sure why Richard E. Grant was in the movie, because he really doesn’t do much at all.

Still, the message is good, especially for young girls dealing with school cliques and self-esteem issues: Believe in yourself and love yourself for who you are. Don’t try to change for someone else.

Too much like a fairy tale? Maybe, but maybe life doesn’t have to be as complicated as we make it.

JANE’S REEL RATING SYSTEM:
One Reel – Even the Force can’t save it.
Two Reels – Coulda been a contender
Three Reels – Something to talk about.
Four Reels – You want the truth? Great flick!
Five Reels – Wow! The stuff dreams are made of.

Jane Louise Boursaw is a freelance journalist specializing in the movie and television industries. Visit her online at www.ReelLifeWithJane.com or email jboursaw@charter.net.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Jane's Review: 101 Dalmations on DVD














by Jane Louise Boursaw

Reel Rating: 4 out of 5 Reels
MPAA Rating: G
DVD Release: March 4, 2008
Genre: Musical, Comedy, Family, Animated

SYNOPSIS: Pongo and Perdita are two lonely Dalmatians who meet in a London park and arrange for their pet humans to marry so they can all live together. Soon after, the dogs become the proud parents of 15 pups, who are quickly stolen by the psychotic, fur-loving Cruella De Vil.

Sex/ Nudity: None.

Violence/Gore: Comic action by Cruella De Vil’s henchmen, as they chase the pups all over the countryside. Young kids might be scared of the cigarette-smoking villainess (note the word “devil” in her name).

Profanity: None

Which Kids Will Like It? Ages 4 and older who like Disney tales with talking animals, and who aren’t scared by villainous cartoon characters.

Will Parents Like It? Yes, the imperiled animals work together to set things right.

Special Features:

Disney's Virtual Dalmatians: Adopt, name, train and care for your very own virtual puppy, with over 101 possibilities.

Puppy Profiler: Find out which dog you're most like.

Fun with Language Games: Geared toward young preschoolers, it teaches numbers and the names of common household items.

101 Pop-Up Trivia Facts: Discover 202 amazing things you never knew about the movie as you watch it, with 101 pop-up facts for the family and 101 for the collector. Includes tons of film trivia about the voice talent, Disney animators who worked on the film, and technical devices, such as multi-pane shots and the Xerox process.

All-New “Cruella De Vil” Music Video: The classic song gets a contemporary twist when teen Disney Channel star Selena Gomez performs it in a brand new video.

Redefining the Line: The Making of 101 Dalmatians: Go behind the scenes with the animators, writers, historians, producers, and story men, and learn about the technological innovations employed in the film.

Cruella De Vil: Drawn To Be Bad: Marc Davis, an animation legend and one of Disney's immortal “Nine Old Men,” reveals how this iconic character, inspired by flamboyant actress Tallulah Bankhead, came to be.

Sincerely Yours, Walt Disney: A 12-minute dramatization of the correspondence between Walt Disney and author Dodie Smith.

Deleted Songs. A variety of deleted and abandoned songs, as well as many alternate versions used in the final film.

All-New Digital Restoration with Enhanced Picture and Sound.

REVIEW: It’s the familiar story we all know and love. Pongo (voiced by Rod Taylor) is the Dalmatian companion of Roger Racliffe (Ben Wright), a single song-writer living in London. Thanks to some fancy footwork, Pongo helps Roger to meet Anita (Lisa Davis) and her female Dalmatian Perdita (Cate Bauer) in the park one day.

Soon after, Roger and Anita are married, and Pongo and Perdita are the proud parents of 15 puppies, each with their own personality. The joyful birth leads to the visit of Anita’s over-the-top school chum, Cruella De Vil, who wants to buy the pups and make a fur coat out of them.

Refusing to take no for an answer, Cruella hires two bumbling minions, Jasper (J. Pat O’Malley) and Horace (Fred Worlock) to steal the puppies. They transport the scared pups to a ramshackle country mansion where 84 other dogs are awaiting their doom.

Thanks to the quick thinking of Pongo and Perdita, and some helpful old-fashioned networking among other animals in London, you can bet a happy ending is in the works.

By the time this movie was made, Disney was suffering some financial woes from the disappointing revenue returns from “Sleeping Beauty.” In short, they had to cut costs wherever possible.

As we learn in the special features, Un Iwerks came up with the idea of Xeroxing the drawings rather than animating every frame hand by hand. The result was a cost savings, but it also created some compromises. For instance, you’ll notice in some scenes where the foreground characters are fully animated, but the background looks more one-dimensional and static.

The highlight of the movie is the dastardly Cruella De Vil. With her operatic entrances and exits, wildly coiffed hairdo, and clouds of yellow smoke trailing her everywhere, she’s truly one of the great animated female villains of all time.

All in all, while not as technically advanced as other later Disney classics like “The Jungle Book” and “The Aristocats,” “101 Dalmatians” scores high with little ones because the puppies are so darn cute.

JANE’S REEL RATING SYSTEM:
One Reel – Even the Force can’t save it.
Two Reels – Coulda been a contender
Three Reels – Something to talk about.
Four Reels – You want the truth? Great flick!
Five Reels – Wow! The stuff dreams are made of.

Jane Louise Boursaw is a freelance journalist specializing in the movie and television industries. Visit her online at www.ReelLifeWithJane.com or email jboursaw@charter.net.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

On DVD: Martian Child


Martian Child, now out on DVD, features John Cusack as a single man who adopts a 6-year-old boy who thinks he's from another planet. The movie highlights some of the ups and downs of single parenthood, and Cusack said his role made him realize how serious fatherhood is.

“I have the ultimate respect for (fatherhood) and I would not take it lightly," he said in Malaysia's TheStar.com. "It’s pretty incredible."

Monday, February 25, 2008

Gwyneth Paltrow bows to single moms

In a recent Harper's Bazaar interview, Oscar-winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow offered a salute to single moms everywhere:

“I do not know how single mothers have more than one child with no help," she said. "It requires so much of my life, and I don’t have to change sheets and clean toilets, you know.

"My hat – no, my clothes — go off to the single mother with no help; I stand naked, kowtowing before her.”

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The How of Happiness 5—Relationships

Positive psychology guru Sonja Lyubormirky’s new book The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want reveals the University of California professor’s research-based tactics for taking control of the 40 percent of happiness and joy within our control. Here, we'll share her advice in an ongoing series:


THE HOW OF HAPPINESS
Step 5: Nuture Social Relationships


By Sonja Lyubomirsky

Romantic partners and friends make people happy, and happy people are also more likely to acquire friends and lovers. If you resolve to improve and cultivate your relationships, you will reap the gift of positive emotions. With enhanced happiness you will attract more and higher-quality relationships and embark on what psychologists call an "upward spiral."

—For every negative act or statement in your relationship, make sure you employ five positive ones. Express your love and gratitude physically and verbally. I once heard a family expert say, "A spontaneous kiss while doing the chores can do wonders."

—Friendships don't just happen, they are made. Make time for friends; communicate by listening and be supportive and loyal.

—Hug more.




The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want
By Sonja Lyubomirsky
Penguin Press HC
Hardcover
Dec. 27, 2007
ISBN-10: 159420148X
ISBN-13: 978-1594201486
available from booksellers everywhere and Amazon.com

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Body&Soul: Phluff those breasts, ladies!

Massage pioneer Cheryl Chapman's new, humorous health tome, The Happy Breast Book, preaches an everyday-touch technique to nurture our bosoms: Phluffing.

Phluff—an acronym for personal hand lymphatic undulating flow facilitation—is basically a one-minute massage that can help keep breasts healthy and happy by bringing blood and oxygen to tissue and decreasing lumps and cysts in fibrocystic breasts. Phluffing activates the lymphatic system to protect breasts from cancer and bacteria, cleaning out toxins, enhancing breastfeeding and relieving breast pain.

Find a brochure on phluffing here, order the $14.99 book from Chapman directly, and be sure to tell your girlfriends.

“If everyone who reads our book would show and tell another woman how important and easy it is to love us, we can change the world,” Chapman writes. “It happens by one lady at a time.”

Monday, February 18, 2008

Books: "My Life Isn't Perfect"



Here's an excerpt from TV host and filmmaker Malonda Richard's new memoir of becoming a single parent, My Life isn't Perfect but Thank God my Baby Is:

This book was born in order to give life to new ways of thinking about single motherhood. It is my way of forgiving myself for allowing my life to go "off track," because it has materialized better than I could have imagined. It is my way of thanking my beautiful daughter Ameerah for choosing me as her mother. It's also a wake-up call to encourage all single women to love themselves before they attempt to be loved by anyone else.

The book's available from Richard's web site, MyLifeIsn'tPerfect.com.

Friday, February 15, 2008

The How of Happiness IV: Kindness

Positive psychology guru Sonja Lyubormirky’s new book The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want reveals the University of California professor’s research-based tactics for taking control of the 40 percent of happiness and joy within our control. Here, we'll share her advice in an ongoing series:


THE HOW OF HAPPINESS
Step 4: Practice Kindness


By Sonja Lyubomirsky

One of the strongest findings in the literature on happiness is that happy people have better relationships than less happy people. Investing in social relationships is a potent strategy on the path to becoming happier.

Kindness can jumpstart a cascade of positive social consequences. Helping others leads people to like you, to appreciate you, to offer gratitude. It also may lead people to reciprocate in your time of need.

—Pick one day a week to commit one new act of kindness.

—Vary what you do. Surprise someone with a home-cooked meal, an outing, a gift or a phone call. Do something that doesn't come naturally to you.

—At least once a week, do a kind deed about which you tell no one, and expect nothing in return.



The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want
By Sonja Lyubomirsky
Penguin Press HC
Hardcover
Dec. 27, 2007
ISBN-10: 159420148X
ISBN-13: 978-1594201486
available from booksellers everywhere and Amazon.com

Thursday, February 14, 2008

News&Buzz: Slacking on support

A recent GFK Roper poll conducted for Divorce360.com (a new site I've written for) showed that while a quarter of divorced Americans are supposed to receive child support or alimony payments, the majority aren't getting all -- or any -- of it.

The poll showed:
--24 percent of those ordered to receive child support or alimony do get the full amount.
--17 percent receive some of the ordered support.
--29 percent receive none of the financial support ordered.
--14 percent have given up trying to get court-ordered payments
--6 percent are fighting for ordered payments.

Divorce360.com's editor, Marisa Porto, said the results were shocking -- she assumed most folks just paid their payments.

"Naturally I have heard of deadbeat parents," she said in a prepared statement. "But the numbers of people who aren't receiving any support or have given up any hope they'll get it, I never realized the numbers were that high."

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Eminem: Putting fatherhood first


Single-dad Eminem's touring future is in limbo, his friend 50 Cents told MTV, because he wants to focus on being a dad to daughter Hailey, who apparently gets upset when dad's away rapping to the masses.

"A lot of people don't know the reason behind him touring less - but Hailey would put boxes in front of the door thinking this would stop him going," 50 told MTV.co.uk. "He would fly back on a private plane after the show so he could drive her to school in the morning. So for him the tour was exhausting."

Monday, February 11, 2008

Jane's Review: Snow Buddies














By Jane Louise Boursaw

Reel Rating: 4 out of 5 Reels
MPAA Rating: G
SYNOPSIS: Those cute little Buddies are back in an all-new adventure that takes them to Alaska and dog-sledding territory.
Sex/ Nudity: None.
Violence/Gore: Some mild scenes, involving sled crashes and a sled-through-the-ice scene that puts dogs in peril.
Profanity: None.
Which Kids Will Like It? Ages 5 to 10 who liked “Air Bud” and the other “Buddy” movies, or who like family movies featuring talking animals.
Will Parents Like It? Yes, parents who’ve followed the Buddy movies will love this G-rated installment of the franchise. Aside from a few gratuitous passing-gas scenes, this movie is fun for the whole family.
DVD Extras: Audio commentary with the dogs; blooper reel; hip-hop-style music video of “Lean on Me” by “Hannah Montana” star Mitchel Musso; Behind-the-scenes “dog-u-mentary,” giving a tour of the set from the perspective of B-Dawg, Rosebud, and Mudbud; featurette on the film’s visual effects.

REVIEW: With the opening credits brings the all-too-familiar music taking us back to Fernfield, Washington, home of Buddy, the athletically gifted Golden Retriever who kicked off this popular franchise with several movies of his own.

Picking up where “Air Buddies” left off, we find Buddy (voiced by Tom Everett Scott) and his main squeeze Molly (voiced by Molly Shannon), in search of their puppies -- Buddha (the zen puppy), Mudbud (the dirty one), Rosebud (the fashionable one), Budderball (the lover of fine food), and B-Dawg (the hip-hop dog). Unfortunately, the Buddies inadvertently find themselves on an ice cream truck and then a plane bound for Ferntiutuk, Alaska!

As the puppies touch down in snow country, we’re introduced to Adam (Dominic Scott Kay), a boy who dreams of leading a sled-dog team, and his Husky, Shasta (voiced by Dylan Sprouse of “The Suite Life of Zack & Cody”). Because of a previous accident wherein Adam’s father lost Shasta’s parents, the family is opposed to Adam’s dream of leading a dog-sled team.

Meanwhile, the Buddies take refuge in the family’s shed, and Shasta tells them the only way they’ll get back to Fernfield is by plane. It just so happens that the airport is also the finish line of the Ferntiutuk sled-dog race. They decide to help Adam and Shasta fulfill their dream, with help from wise Husky, Talon (voiced by Kris Kristofferson).

Without his father’s blessing, Adam breaks open his piggy bank and registers for the annual sled race, while a member of an opposing team, lead by the villainous musher Jean George (John Kapelos) takes the opportunity to intimidate the pups. Don’t worry, though. They’re not easily deterred, and they continue to train for the race and find their way back home. Little do they know that their parents, Buddy and Molly, are already en route to Alaska, having scoped out the clues to their whereabouts.

Throw in a daring rescue, near-blizzard conditions, and some cut-throat competition, and you’ve got the makings of a thrilling adventure that’s fun for all ages.

I have to admit, I love the Buddies. They’re fun and innocent, and it’s a hoot to watch their mouths move when they talk. And they always have a good message or two about helping each other and honoring their commitments. Yep, I give the Buddies four out of five reels – not because they’ll win an Oscar, but because there are so few age-appropriate movies for little ones that parents can watch, too.

JANE’S REEL RATING SYSTEM:

One Reel – Even the Force can’t save it.
Two Reels – Coulda been a contender
Three Reels – Something to talk about.
Four Reels – You want the truth? Great flick!
Five Reels – Wow! The stuff dreams are made of.

Jane Louise Boursaw is a freelance journalist specializing in the movie and television industries. Visit her online at www.ReelLifeWithJane.com or email jboursaw@charter.net.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Valentines: The Singelringen phenom


The Swedish Singelringen (translation: single ring?) is crossing the Atlantic and picking up celebs, it appears. More than 150,000 singles are sporting the turquoise-acrylic over sterling band, first introduced in Sweden in 2005. It's been spotted on celebs (Vivica Fox, Terrence Howard) and politicians like Texas state Rep. Dawnna Dukes.

What's the appeal? Well, according to Singelringen spokesfolks, singles gravitate toward the power in stating your status.

"Getting unstuck from a marriage on the rocks takes courage and independence. The message behind Singelringen is to embrace single life with open arms," says T. Murray, author of Stuck on Stupid: A Guide for Today's Single Woman Stuck in Yesterday's Stupid Relationships. "For women who've experienced the difficult steps of divorce, Singelringen is also a symbol of survival."

The rings are $59 from Singelringen.com. And if the idea of rings appeals to you -- don't hesitate to treat yourself for Valentine's Day. I did just that last year; bought myself a gorgeous triple aquamarine that's as shiny as any diamond.

Valentines II: Celebrate with wine, chocolate

Treat your sweetest friend -- yourself -- to some perfectly paired wine and chocolate this Valentine's Day (yes! you deserve it!).

The creamy flavors of chocolate go best with sweet, full-bodied, high-alcohol wines, says Natalie MacLean, author of Red, White and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass, who's got a wine-dessert matching tool online. Her top ten favorite pairs? Voila:

1. Dark Chocolate and Banyuls, France

2. Chocolate-Covered Biscotti and Recioto Della Valpolicella, Italy

3. Chocolate-Orange Cake and Liqueur Muscat, Australia

4. Chocolate with Nuts and Tawny Port, Portugal

5. Milk Chocolate and Tokaji, Hungary

6. Bittersweet Chocolate and Amarone, Italy

7. Chocolate-Dipped Fruit and Icewine, Canada

8. Chocolate Ganache Truffles and Sauternes, France

9. Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake and Framboise, California

10. Chocolate Hearts with Cream Filling and Cream Sherry, Spain

Thursday, February 7, 2008

News&Buzz: Single grandmothers' health

Caring for grandchildren generally won't have a negative effect on a grandmom or granddads' well-being, a new study says. But there's one exception: Single grandmothers looking after grandchildren alone report initial declines in some areas of health—particularly depressive symptoms and declines in self-care.

“But those who continued with the arrangements saw a modest improvement, suggesting the negative effect of starting this kind of care giving disappears as the arrangement continues,” wrote researchers from the University of Chicago and three other universities. In this new study, fewer than 3 percent of 13,000 participants were raising their granchildren. (The U.S. Census says more than 200,000 grandparents are primary caregivers to grandchildren.)

There was no evidence of health declines among grandparents who provided other forms of care, such as baby-sitting, for their grandchildren.“These findings suggest that health declines are not an inevitable consequence of grandchild care,” the authors wrote. The authors note that grandparents who provide custodial care reported they were in worse health to begin with, which raises concerns about how long they may be able to provide this care without support and assistance from others.

For more information, visit The University of Chicago's press room.

Endings&Beginnings: The Shoveling Game

Here's an essay on learning to do (and love) something new, post-divorce. Happy shoveling.

By Lori Hall Steele



Winter’s first snow is a happy magic—shimmery flakes falling from the black sky, sparkly white covering up barren grass. Last year, when the first flurries descended from heaven, my 3-year-old son and assorted relatives fell over each other trying to get out and play. We scrambled for mittens. We threw snowballs, made a teetering snowman, stuck out our tongues for flakes. We fell backward into the powder and made angels. Later we went to bed, cozy against the cold, listening for snowplows, snug and exhilarated by winter’s white.

The next morning, the newspaper skidded onto the white-white-white sidewalk. Inside was a handwritten note: “Please shovel the walk.”

Oh.

That.


Each season has its magic. Each season also has its chores. Now, shoveling shouldn’t be difficult but I’d never actually done it in any meaningful or comprehensive way. It was as if I’d had a get-out-of-jail-free card: Someone else had always cleared the paths. Until now. So--still giddy with snow fever—my son, Jackson, and I headed to the store to buy shovels.

He zeroed in on a pint-sized orange model and was off, pushing it up and down the aisle, making snowplow noises as I stared at the grownup options. Scoop or shovel? Bent or straight handle? Metal or plastic edge? How hard could this be? “You’re going to need a metal edge with all the snow we get,” said a fellow shopper offered.

My son drove his shovel back and forth, unfazed by the choices. He gets it, I thought.

“Don’t forget pellets,” another shopper said. “You don’t want ice.”

I grabbed pellets and a sober gray model with a metal edge and, as my son snowplowed his orange shovel to the checkout, calculated just how much snow we really do get: something like twelve feet a year, give or take. Take the cubic weight (I guessed oh seven pounds) and multiply it by all the walkways and driveways, paths and porches. Well, the winter’s scary math equaled something like, oh, 25,000 pounds of snow, all for me and my shovel to push around.

That night, I parked the shovel on the porch and planned to call the neighbor kid first thing in the morning.

And that night, we got a ton of snow. My son is a boy who dreams of machinery—bucket trucks, front-end loaders, firetrucks. Useful machines, made to do useful things. That night he dreamed of his very own useful tool, his new orange shovel. He woke and sped down the stairs and pulled his boots on over his footie pajamas and told me to hurry please hurry.

“We have to shubbel,” he said urgently. I thought about it for a nanosecond.

“I have to drink coffee.”

“We have to shubbel.”

The universe was commanding him. And I thought, why not? I could go out on a blue-sky sun-bright morning and watch him shovel.

Jackson zigzagged his orange shovel down the drive, then looped back and completed his “racetrack.” He pulled his tricycle out of the garage and positioned himself on the track. As he pedaled, his tires lodged in snow. He pushed and on his pedals, inching forward on the thin track. “Here,” I said, setting my coffee down and grabbing my shovel. “I’ll make it bigger.”

I widened his road and he pedaled like mad, circling and circling, delirious as only toddlers on trikes can be. Then he got up and grabbed his shovel and said, “Come on mom.” He blazed more roads. And I followed. From the backyard to the front. Down the city sidewalk. Up half the neighbors’ walks in our downtown Traverse City block. He cut the trail and I widened it. Then he ran for his Radio Flyer tricycle, and as he pedaled around his mini-autobahn, I sprinkled pellets so ice wouldn’t build up. The drive was nearly clear, so I swiped it a few times to finish up.

The next day we did the same thing. And the next. I never got around to calling the neighbor kid. Day after day, week after week, shoveling became part of our winter rhythms. I woke up happy about going outside into the freezing sunrise with my hot coffee, squinting at the winter dawn. There was something Zen-serene about the pure motions of scraping and pushing, the mindless repetitive movement. Back and forth, tiny diamonds. A red tricycle in snow.

We’d push the snow into a pile that became Jackson’s igloo, with walls and windows, and he’d invite me in for pretend pancakes. We raced our shovels down sidewalks to see who was fastest. We’d throw snowballs at icicles. But mostly we were quiet in the morning, clearing the way together.
As those twelve feet of snow piled up—to my knees, to my waist, above Jackson’s head—the paths became more and more distinct. Soon they were the only passageway from home to the world, our only way out.

And one winter morning, the newspaper skidded up the walk. Inside was a handwritten note: “Nice job on the shoveling.”

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

News&Buzz: Coparenting arrangements

Research from the Australian Institute of Family Studies breaks down co-parenting arrangements there as follows:

--34 percent: Weekends or alternate weekends with non-custodial parent
--26 percent: Sees non-resident parent less than once a year
--6 percent: Equal time with both parents


That leaves 36 percent of children in other arrangements. If you're among those with other coparenting arrangements, how do you handle it, and how does it work?

Research based on interviews with 500 Australian families.

Time&Money: Think 'carpool'

Tired of high gas prices and needing to be three places at once? Then think retro (as in 1970s): carpooling, if you haven't already. Check your child's class lists and neighbors to see if you can buddy up with other parents to split the transportation load.

A new nationwide, free online carpooling tool also recently launched. Divide the Ride says it offers carpooling calendars. If you try it, we'd love to hear how well it works.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Eat&BeMerry: Valentine's brownies

This is a variation on have your cake and eat it too -- brownies that contain carrots and spinach, but with such finesse, no one will notice they're eating their veggies.

Brownies
Makes twelve

Nonstick cooking spray
3 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup carrot puree
1/2 cup spinach puree
1/2 cup firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 Tbsp. trans-fat-free soft tub margarine spread
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 large egg whites
3/4 cup oat flour or all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt


Preheat the oven to 350. Coat an 8-by-8 baking pan with cooking spray. Melt chocolate in a double boiler or over a very low flame. In a large bowl, combine melted chocolate, vegetable purees, sugar, cocoa powder, margarine and vanilla and whisk until smooth and creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in egg whites. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt with a wooden spoon. Pour the batter into the pan and bake 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely in the pan before cutting.

—Jessica Seinfeld's Deceptively Delicious

News&Buzz: Boundaries for single parents

Single dad Peter Ehrlich, a columnist for the Toronto Star, writes about boundaries today, ruminating over wanting to hang out with his 17-year-old son yet be the dad. He asked David Wolfe, chair of the Children’s Mental Health at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, for advice on single-parent-and-child boundaries.

Wolfe suggests this (which, actually, applies to all parents): "There is nothing wrong with saying you're friends with your child, but as an adult, not on the same level as peer friends. Boundaries are required.

“Children want us to be parents,” he says. “Parents need to stick to their generation so their teenage children can have theirs – their clothing, hairstyle and music. Moms shouldn't be making an effort to run out and try to look like their daughters, getting a navel piercing or whatever, and men 50-plus shouldn't be hanging out in muscle shirts.

Erlich says he’s got no plans to stop singing ‘70s songs with his son and his son’s friends – but he’ll leave the room after the music ends.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Time&Money: Supershopper Secrets II

By Lori Hall Steele

Care to save up to $5,200 a year on groceries? We're sharing secrets of supershoppers who do just that. Here's the latest in our ongoing series:

Make a 10-Meal List—Stock your pantry with items that you routinely use to avoid expensive emergency runs to the store. If you dash out for milk or a stick of butter even twice a month, it’s possible you’re spending $10 to $30 unnecessarily, grabbing items at inflated convenience store prices. (Which can add up to a not-so-convenient $360 a year.)

Avoid this by making a list of the 10 meals your family eats most often, then keep ingredients on hand, always, so you don’t have to dash out to grab something. If you do run out of ingredients, then improvise. But whatever you do, stay put. “That’s probably my No. 1 tip,” says Tawra Kellam, editor of LivingOnADime.com. “Make do with what you have. If you go to the store you’re going to come out with $30 worth of stuff. You’re not doing to die if you don’t have milk for one day.”

Making a 10-meal list takes about five or ten minutes. Stay on-program by posting a list or dry-erase board on the refrigerator, jotting down items when they run out, and taking the list to the store.

From a story that originally appeared in Woman's Day. Lori Hall Steele, founder of You&Me Kid, is an award-winning journalist who writes for national publications.

Jane's Review: Hannah Montana


by Jane Louise Boursaw

Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus:
Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour in 3-D


Reel Rating: 3 out of 5 reels
MPAA Rating: G
Released in Theaters: Feb. 1, 2008
Genre: Musical, Comedy, Family, Tween
Runtime: 74 minutes
Directed by: Bruce Hendricks, Kenny Ortega (stage director, producer)
Cast: Miley Cyrus, Billy Ray Cyrus, The Jonas Brothers

SYNOPSIS: Miley Cyrus hits the road with her 54-city concert tour last year, sharing the stage with the Jonas Brothers. This movie includes bits of behind-the-scenes stuff, but it’s mainly concert footage.
Sex/ Nudity: None, although Miley dons a few mini skirts and struts some racy dance moves – but not many.
Violence/Gore: None, although dancers accidentally drop her during a stage sequence.
Profanity: None.
Which Kids Will Like It? Ages 7 and older who love Disney Channel shows like “Hannah Montana,” “Life With Derek,” and “High School Musical.”
Will Parents Like It? Yes. Although both my 10-year-old daughter and I wish they would have included more behind-the-scenes footage. The bulk of the movie is concert footage.

REVIEW: Miley Cyrus, the beloved sweetheart of Disney Channel’s “Hannah Montana” series and daughter of singer Billy Ray Cyrus, stars in this movie chronicling her 2007 concert tour. It’s in 3-D, which sort of makes you feel like you’re at the concert. On the other hand, makes you realize how much you missed by not being at the concert.

If you were able to snag tickets to Cyrus’ actual concert, you probably shelled out thousands for them – a price that outraged many parents of tween girls begging to attend. Tickets for the movie are high, too, selling in the $15-$18 range. Why? Because it’s all a giant money mill! On the other hand, it’s a small price to pay to make your little Hannah/Miley fan happy. Or, you might say, it’s the best of both worlds.

The movie opens with 14-year-old Miley (her age at the time of the tour) donning her trademark blonde wig to go on stage. On “Hannah Montana,” the wig is what “disguises” her from her alter-ego – although my daughter and I laugh about that, because she looks just the same, only with a blonde wig!

The first half of the concert, she’s Hannah Montana. The second half, she’s Miley Cyrus. There are plenty of wardrobe changes throughout, which means lots of frenzied quick-change sessions back-stage.

While the Hannah segment is wholesome and saccharine, the Miley part gets a little racier. Though she never goes over the line, Miley’s mini skirts and half-seductive dance moves might raise a few parents’ eyebrows.

The songs themselves are addictively catchy, from favorites like “The Best of Both Worlds” to the punchy “I Got Nerve.” Cyrus joins the Jonas Brothers – also Disney Channel favorites – for “We Got the Party.” Between musical numbers, we see tiny glimpses of her life off-stage, including teaching her dad a song she wrote. Not nearly enough, in my view. I would have liked to see more of her real life, and less of her onstage persona. As a performer, however, she’s truly amazing and never shows a smidgeon of nerves.

As mentioned, the movie is in 3-D, although aside from a few flying guitar picks and confetti blizzards, we don’t really notice it that much. I found the 3-D distracting and would have preferred to see the entire movie in regular format.

And all I could think through the whole movie was, here’s this 14-year-old girl who’s getting all this attention and who’s the center of a huge money machine and media frenzy. I can’t imagine letting my kid do this or giving her such a huge responsibility for so many people.

And at one point, her mom says, “They finally brought me into the loop to help dress her between sets,” and I’m thinking, you mean, you weren’t in the loop before? Man, if it was my girl, I’d be there every second. I mean, maybe she was, but it didn’t come off that way.

Plus, during one of the concert sequences, some dancers accidentally drop Miley during a lift. She gets a little spooked and doesn’t want to do the stunt, but her mom and director encourage her to do it, saying they’ll change the moves so there’s no chance of dropping her.

Again, it just seems like they’re laying a lot on this girl, and I hope she doesn’t fall into the downward spiral of so many young stars.

REEL RATING SYSTEM:

One Reel: Even the Force can’t save it.
Two Reels: Coulda been a contender.
Three Reels: Something to talk about.
Four Reels: You want the truth? Great flick!
Five Reels: Wow! The stuff dreams are made of.

Jane Louise Boursaw is a freelance journalist specializing in the movie and television industries. Visit her online at www.ReelLifeWithJane.com or email jboursaw@charter.net.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Been There: Jewels


"My advice to other single mothers is to celebrate your sons and daughters.
Be excited about everything they do, praise them for efforts big and small, and minimize arguing.
Allow them to have good relationships with their fathers.
Make them feel loved and appreciated."



—Single mother Brenda Stubbs
Quoted on child-rearing in the new book
Jewels: 50 Phenomenal Black Women Over 50
by Michael Cunningham and Connie Briscoe
Little, Brown (2007) $29.99

Friday, February 1, 2008

The How of Happiness III—Don't Overthink

Positive psychology guru Sonja Lyubormirky’s new book The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want reveals the University of California professor’s research-based tactics for taking control of the 40 percent of happiness and joy within our control. Here, we'll share her advice in an ongoing series:

THE HOW OF HAPPINESS
Step 3: Avoid Overthinking and Social Comparison


By Sonja Lyubomirsky

Many of us believe that when we feel down we should try to focus inwardly to attain self-insight and find solutions to our problems. But numerous studies have shown that overthinking sustains or worsens sadness.

Social comparisons are ubiquitous – we can't help but notice that others are richer, more attractive or successful and then feel inadequate, but you can't be envious and happy at the same time. The happiest people take pleasure in other people's successes and show concern at others' failures.

—When you find yourself preoccupied with something that is tormenting you, do something else that makes you feel curious, peaceful, amused or proud.

—Take in the bigger picture – will this matter in a year?

—Set aside 30 minutes every day to ruminate – and then stop.


The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want
By Sonja Lyubomirsky
Penguin Press HC
Hardcover
Dec. 27, 2007
ISBN-10: 159420148X
ISBN-13: 978-1594201486
available from booksellers everywhere and Amazon.com

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Go&Explore: New border rules take effect

Quick reminder: If you're traveling to Canada or any other by-land or by-sea ports of entry to the United States, alone or with the kids, starting today, you'll need to carry more paperwork to get over the border. Here's the lowdown:
--Ages 19 and up: Carry a birth certificate and photo ID, like a state-issued driver's license.

--Ages 18 and under: Carry a birth certificate.

For a complete list of acceptable travel papers, visit www.cbp.gov.

And plan ahead -- passports will be required for these border crossings starting in June 2009. For more information, visit the Department of Homeland Security or www.travel.state.gov.

News&Buzz: 10 tips for 'Heartache Leave'

In learning of Japan's Hime & Co.'s decision to offer its employees "heartache leave," celebrity family law attorney Stacy Phillips, author of Divorce: It's All About Control -- How to Win the Emotional, Psychological and Legal Wars, says the new perk is a sensible addition to other leaves of absence such as sick and maternity leave.

Hoping other companies will follow suit to aid their workers in processing their grief after a bad breakup, Phillips offers the following 10 appropriate unisex activities in which to engage during the one- to-three-day mourning period. They include:

1. A sleepover with your best friend(s) -- You are never too old!

2. Target practice at a shooting range -- How cathartic.

3. Shop until you drop -- Women, shoes; Men; ties.

4. Surf the Internet -- There are lots of reputable dating services.

5. Box -- Don't forget to affix his/her picture to the bag.

6. Watch every movie available on Pay Per View -- Pick dramas. Grab Kleenex. Cry it out.

7. Paintball -- Pets are off limits.

8. Hire your shrink for the day -- The company insurance should pay for it.

9. Stay in your pajamas/favorite sweats -- No answering the door/phone. Sulk.

10. Spa Yourself -- Clock out, clock in there, and don't leave until your "leave" is up.

Phillips contends that a breakup is one of life's hardest and stormiest events to weather, but those releasing hurt, frustration and/or anger once it has happened have a better chance of moving on.

"A break up is a loss, a death," Phillips says, "and processing the five steps of loss according to Elisabeth Kubler-Ross -- denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance -- takes time." While one to three days may not be adequate for everyone, Phillips says, it's a start. "Employers are moving in the right direction."

Source: PR Newswire. Visit Phillips at ControlYourDivorce.com.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Get a head start on college financial aid

Nearly 2 million college students miss out on free money annually because they don't fill out federal forms for financial aid, which is awarded based on need and merit. Don't be among them -- with tax season upon us, it's an ideal time to send in financial aid forms for yourself or the kids.

'Don't pay more for college than you have to," says Martha Holler, spokesperson for Sallie Mae, the nation's leading provider of saving- and paying-for-college programs.

Fill out federal forms for scholarships, grants and low-interest student loans online at www.fafsa.ed.gov. or get hard copies at high school guidance counselor's and college financial aid offices. Save yourself some time, too, by doing them simultaneously with taxes.

Sallie Mae's College Answer Web site also has a checklist to help you gather documents needed to complete financial aid forms and a free scholarship search that provides access to an award database containing more than 2.8 million scholarships worth in excess of $16 billion.

Jane's Giveaway: Hannah Montana DVD


Our very own film reviewer extraordinaire, Jane Boursaw, is giving away two copies of the new Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour (rated G and green-lighted by Jane for ages 7 and up) over at her Film Gecko blog. To be in the running, click here and add a comment. Good luck!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Poll says divorcees having little sex

Forget the sex, if you’re a divorcee. A new online poll asked 10,000 divorced women how much sex they have per month, and a surprising 55 percent said ... none.

"It might have to do with self-esteem and confidence issues," First Wives World co-founder Paul Lambert, told the New York Post. "But most of all, there's the trust issue. Your window of opportunity for sex is very small, and you're busy with children or career. It seems all the stars have to be lined up perfectly.”

Another 22 percent of divorced women said they were “lucky” to get sex one to three times a month. Thirteen percent reported sex three to six times a month. And 11 percent said they had more romps per month “than they’d admit to.”

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Been There: Jacqueline Kennedy




If you bungle raising your children,
I don't think whatever else you do
matters very much.

—Jackie Kennedy Onassis
Former First Lady, Former Single Mother

Friday, January 25, 2008

The How of Happiness 2: Optimism

Positive psychology guru Sonja Lyubormirky’s new book The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want reveals the University of California professor’s research-based tactics for taking control of the 40 percent of happiness and joy within our control. Here, we'll share her advice in an ongoing series:

THE HOW OF HAPPINESS
Step 2 - Cultivate Optimism


By Sonja Lyubomirsky

All optimism exercises involve changing the way we see the world. It takes hard work but if you persist at these strategies they will become a habit.

—Try to identify your pessimistic thoughts and replace them with more favourable viewpoints. Ask yourself, "What can I learn?"

—Think about what you expect your life to be in one, five or ten years from now. Visualize a future where everything has turned out the way you wanted.

—The more you rehearse optimistic thoughts, the more natural they will become. With time, they will be a part of you and you will have made yourself into a different person.



The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want
By Sonja Lyubomirsky
Penguin Press HC
Hardcover
Dec. 27, 2007
ISBN-10: 159420148X
ISBN-13: 978-1594201486
available from booksellers everywhere and Amazon.com

We're Boomerang-Proofing Our Kids

Junior's far less likely to return to the roost if he's raised by a single parent or has lots of education, a recent study by Statistics Canada says.

Men raised by single parents are 43 percent less likely to boomerang — move back home after moving out as young adults — than men reared in two-parent families. Women raised by single parents had a 23 percent lower risk of returning. (Growing up in a step-family didn't affect men, but women raised in step-families were 26 percent less likely to return home as grownups.)

Children from affluent two-parent families were most likely to return home as grownups.

The study doesn't say why single parent and step families are more resilient to boomeranging, but its authors speculate that lacking resources in lone-parent families or tensions in stepfamilies may be at play.

That could be. But there's got to be more going on here—maybe single parents are role modeling independence and self-sufficiency, day in, day out?

Anyone care to speculate?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Body&Soul: Ease their growing pains

By Lori Hall Steele

Your 4-year-old wakes up crying in the night saying his legs ache like crazy. You rub them and soothe your child, but should you give him medication? Should you call the doctor?

Chances are, your child is experiencing growing pains, a normal occurrence in children. A recent study of confirms what parents have long suspected: Bones really do grow at night.

Ninety percent of bone growth in a University of Wisconsin study of sheep happened while they rested. “When the animals were sleeping or laying down, they were growing rapidly. When they were standing, they’d stop growing,” says child orthopedic surgeon Ken Noonan, who conducted the study with Norman Wilsman.

Growing pains in children occur in the lower extremities—around knees and ankles, especially—but not in the arms and upper body, which leads researchers to believe that compression in cartilage around weight-bearing bones may halt bone growth. At night, when children are off their feet, the growth can resume.

“This might be the cause of growing pains,” Noonan says. “Kids who are really active during the day, jumping around like monkeys, may have more compression.”

This doesn’t come as news to parents like Lisa Brinkley, whose 13-year-old daughter, Nicole, would wake in agonizing pain on and off last year. The pain usually began in evening, a time when Nicole likes to read, play on the computer or watch television. She’d complain of general aches. Later that night, she’d wake up crying hard and in severe pain.

Brinkley began asking Nicole what had happened during the day, and inevitably she’d had gym class or another intense physical activity. “In the beginning I’d say ‘sweetie, you’re just probably sore from soccer or kickball,”’ Brinkley says. “But it was way too over the top. There’s a difference between sore and excruciating pain.”
Brinkley took Nicole to the doctor, who ruled out Lyme disease and advised her to give Nicole Motrin or a similar pain reliever to ease the aches.

No one yet knows why some children but not others experience growing pains. Deeper sleepers may not wake up, and children with higher tolerance of pain may snooze through aches. Pains may not be so severe on days without lots of physical, on-their-feet activity.

Growing pains are episodic—there may be one or two incidents, or a couple months of them. Pain usually begins in late afternoon or evening, and is most often localized at or below knee level.

“When Johnny’s had a soccer tournament and played 14 games, parents can take comfort in knowing that if he wakes up in pain, it’s probably growing pains,” Noonan says.

EASE THEIR PAIN
Growing pains concentrate in muscles, rather than joints. Most children report pains in the front of their thighs, in the calves, near ankles or behind the knees.
Though there’s no cure for growing pains – and no way to tell when they’ll strike, or how severely, growing pains can be comforted by:
--Ibuprofen and acetaminophen (never give aspirin to children under 12).
--Gently stretching the area
--Massaging the achy area
--Applying a heating pad
And don't forget the hugs and snuggles.

WHEN TO CALL THE DOCTOR
Pain that lasts through the day, that’s progressively getting worse, that’s not relieved by massage or pain relievers—all are signs something more might be going on and it’s time to see a physician. There are other conditions with similar pains — sports injuries, Lyme disease, juvenile arthritis, rheumatic disease and fibromyalgia among them.

A prime indicator that it’s growing pains is whether you child wants to be touched. With growing pains, children usually feel better if they’re massaged, held and cuddled, while with other medical conditions, kids may dislike being handled because touch and movement can increase pain. Something else might be happening if your child experiences:
--Persistent pain
--Swelling, redness, rashes
--Fever
--Weakness, fatigue
--Appetite or weight loss
--Easy bruising
--A limp
--Uncharacteristic behavior, including acting rundown

Lori Hall Steele, founder of You&Me Kid, is an award-winning journalist. Contact her here.

Paula, Patron Saint of Widows


Saturday's the official Catholic feast day for Paula, patron saint of widows, and in that spirit, here's warm tidings to all widowed parents out there. For the lowdown on Paula, check this post on the fourth-century woman by Thomas Craughwell, author of Saints Behaving Badly(Doubleday, 2006).

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Time&Money: Secrets of the Super Shoppers

By Lori Hall Steele

When it comes to saving on groceries, we all know the drill—scan the weekly flyers for deals, stockpile bargains and clip coupons. We know! And we're doing it! (Okay, some of it.) But the grocery bill keeps nudging up, up and up.

What to do? How can we outsmart rising grocery costs? Well, the nation's super shoppers (mothers of many and frugality queens, among them) have ways to beat the system and lower their grocery bills by anywhere from $100 to $500 per month. Think that's impossible? Then meet Tawra Kellam, who scores gallons of milk for 90 cents and saves herself about $5,200 a year on groceries, compared to other similar-sized families. And this Kansas mother of three doesn't bother with coupons. "They're too much hassle," says Kellam, editor of LivingOnADime.com, a thrift site. "It's not how much you save; it's how much you spend."

Kellam and other super-shoppers have some simple practices that help you spend as little as possible (and we do mean simple—as easy as changing which day you shop). We’ll share those tips with you in upcoming weeks and months.

Today’s tip comes from Kellam:

Stalk The Markdowns— Kellam regularly buys meat for 99 cents a pound. The secret? Ask your grocer when they do markdowns on meat, dairy, bread and produce—most likely it's a set schedule—and do your shopping then.

Stores often slash prices as items near expiration dates or to make way for incoming stock. (Meat remains good for five days after its expiration date, or it can be frozen.) Some stores do daily markdowns at a set time. At Kellam's local grocery store, vegetables and meat are marked down early every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. So she shops then. "I got bagged lettuce for 99 cents—regularly it's $3.29. How can you beat that?" asked Kellam.

Markdowns often ring up at 50 percent off the original price, so it's possible to save $5 to $20 a week on meat alone using this strategy (That adds up $270 to $1,040 a year—or more.)

Check for markdowns at farmer’s markets around closing time, when farmers are trying to eliminate fresh and often organic produce so they don’t have to lug it home. Kellam once nabbed 50 green peppers for $1. She diced and froze them, then grabbed a handful as needed.

From a story that originally appeared in Woman's Day. Lori Hall Steele, founder of Youn&Me Kid, is an award-winning journalist who writes for national publications.

Monday, January 21, 2008

News&Buzz: More Singles Seeking In Vitro


Northern California is reporting a sharp rise in female patients using assisted in vitro fertilization to become single parents.

"One in 10 of my patients is now a single woman," said Susan Willman, reproductive endocrinologist at the Reproductive Science Center of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Another indicator of the single-parenting-by-choice trend: sperm donation use. In 2005, about 60 percent of the customers of California Cryobank, the nation's largest sperm bank, were single women and/or lesbians, as compared with 40 percent in 1998, MSNBC said.

"More single women are coming to us to say they feel the time running out on their biological clocks," Willman said. "That's coupled with a number of medical advances that make IVF more attractive to single women, especially those who've delayed parenting for career reasons."

Among those advances in recent years, Willman says, are doubled chances of a successful IVF pregnancy compared to a decade ago, improvements in freezing embryos and eggs, and more creative financing options for IVF treatment.

Births by choice to single mothers remain on the rise. According to a Centers for Disease Control report, nearly 40 percent of American babies in 2005 were born to single mothers, up from 35 percent in 2003. Teen pregnancy rates, meanwhile, continue a decades-long decline.

For more information, visit the Reproductive Science Center of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Jane's Review: The Game Plan (DVD)


by Jane Louise Boursaw

Reel Rating: 3 out of 4 Reels
MPAA Rating: PG for some mild thematic elements.
Theatrical Release: Sept. 28, 2007
DVD Release: Jan. 22, 2008
Genre: Family, Comedy, Sports
Runtime: 110 minutes
Directed by: Andy Fickman
Cast: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson (Joe Kingman), Madison Pettis (Peyton James), Kyra Sedgwick (Stella Peck), Roselyn Sanchez (Monique), Morris Chestnut (Sanders).

SYNOPSIS: A rugged quarterback learns he has a 7-year-old daughter from a previous relationship. Now he has to figure out how to juggle football practice and parties with bedtime stories and Barbies.

Sex/ Nudity: None, but Joe is shirtless in many scenes and insinuates that he scores with the ladies.

Violence/Gore: Lots of football violence and slapstick comedy (Joe bumps into ballet dancers and knocks them over, Peyton causes him to spatter a blended health drink all over the kitchen).

Profanity: None.

Which Kids Will Like It?
Ages 7 to 14 who like sports, physical comedy, or tough-guy-turns-softie stories. Also, since Madison Pettis is a regular on “Cory in the House,” fans of that show and/or the Disney Channel will like it.

Will Parents Like It? Yes. There’s nothing new here, but it’s a cute movie with a good message about what’s truly important in life (family).

DVD Extras:
ESPN’s SportsCenter: The Rock Learns to Play QB; Bloopers With Marv Albert; Drafting “The Game Plan”; The King in Search of a Ring; Deleted Scenes; Peyton’s Makeover Madness. Available subtitles/audiotracks: English, Spanish, French.

REVIEW: Like so many movies that have come before it (think Vin Diesel in "The Pacifier"), this one follows a pat formula: Tough guy gets thrown into a situation with kids and learns life lessons, such as 1) family is important; 2) fame and fortune aren't everything; and 3) it's ok to let down your guard.

Joe Kingman (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) is a star quarterback who parties hard, earns a big paycheck, and plays the field in both sports and romance. But his livin'-large lifestyle gets an overhaul when 7-year-old Peyton (Madison Pettis) shows up at his door claiming to be his daughter. Will Mr. Big-Shot Football Player step up and take responsibility? Or will he pass the buck to someone else?

We know where this is going right from the beginning. It's the "how we get there" that's the question. In Joe's case, he doesn't want to mess up a good thing. His team is on the cusp of a big championship, and he's wanted it for a long time. But how can he focus on that while learning how to be a dad? Bedtime stories, ballet lessons, and Barbies are all new to this muscle man.

And Peyton's girlish antics aren't going over so well. She decorates his trophy football with rhinestones, puts a pink tutu on his bulldog, and turns his workout pool into a giant bubblebath. Joe's uber-intense agent, Stella (Kyra Sedgwick) is no help, since she doesn't have a clue about parenting and is only interested in how much money Joe can earn.

After a series of misadventures involving young Peyton, Joe discovers there's more to life than a big bank account, mega endorsements, and thousands of adoring fans. It's the Disney plot we all know and love – even if we've seen it a thousand times.

Jane Louise Boursaw is a freelance journalist specializing in the movie and television industries. Visit her online at www.ReelLifeWithJane.com or email jboursaw@charter.net.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Been There: J.K. Rowling






"Single parenthood is not all stress and hardship. My flesh-and-blood daughter is the best thing that ever happened to me, including my fictional son. Jessica has been a constant source of pride, joy and motivation since the day she was born, but I don't want her to grow up in a society that tells her that her upbringing is second rate..."

—J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter series author,
former single mother