How Netflix Threatens The Sanctity Of The American Family

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More frightening: Liam Neeson or "Bratz: Fashion Pixiez?"
My family "consciously uncoupled" from Netflix's DVD plan a year or two ago. Many of our entertainment choices of the non-streaming variety come from discs I've ripped to a hard drive playing via media server on our TV -- leaving me with the dilemma of what to do with three or four hundred shiny drink coasters, but that's a lament for another day. The rest of our viewing options come from Netflix Streaming.

The service's other problems aside (Surprise price hikes! Streamageddon!), Netflix's means of handling multiple user accounts is what I'm referring to here. Because if you have kids and are trying to manage viewing options on certain devices, you may be facing a threat to your family unit on a scale not seen since the rise of single motherhood.


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How To Fight The Preteen Power Struggle And Still Lose

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Photo by Angelica Leicht

So, I feel like I should preface this blog by saying that for the most part, I'm a pretty rational, sane parent.

But there are times -- middle school times -- that I am not rational. Not even a little bit.

And that, my friends, is because middle-school kids are impossible to deal with. They are eye-rolling, mouth-foaming child-demons, who feed on the forgotten dreams of their parents. Oh, and their dramatic attitude? Well, it is parental Kryptonite.

Luckily, they do grow out of it. Middle school ends, and they're back to being a tolerable level of dramatic. However, while they're in that tween-demon phase, and not yet in high school, it is imperative that a parent does everything he or she can to keep the middle-school monster from winning. And that means guerrilla parenting tactics.

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Breastfeeding Mom Has Beer, Gets Arrested. Seriously?

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Old wives' tale or old awesome tale?
As a new mother, I can attest that spending nine months pregnant had its challenges. Some women absolutely love it and some don't. I fell more on the "don't" side of the spectrum. I missed turkey sandwiches and jogging and clothing that fit and wine. I mostly missed wine. I don't drink more than the average person, but I like a glass of wine here and there; it makes life seem nicer to me.

I've written before about the growing inconsistencies on whether or not it's okay to drink during pregnancy. This topic is a never-ending debate, like global warming or whether Modern Family is actually a good show or we've all been duped. I struggled to get pregnant, so to me not drinking was a no-brainer. Whether it hurt or not, why take the risk?

But drinking while breastfeeding, now we are onto a totally different situation.

Last week the news hit that an Arkansas woman, Tasha Adams, a mother of three, had been arrested for having a beer while nursing her child. In an interview with ABC's 20/20, Adams told her sudsy tale. She was out to dinner with some family, having a bite to eat and a beer. Her six-month old baby also was hungry, and so Adams fed her, as a mother should do when her child is looking for food.

A off-duty waitress happened to come into the restaurant, and took it upon herself to call the police. The waitress didn't know how many drinks Adams had had, nor did she go and discuss her concerns with the mom; she just called the cops. The police came and arrested Adams for endangering her child.

Just so you know, Arkansas might have some strict laws and many dry areas, but drinking and breastfeeding is not illegal there. It's not illegal anywhere.

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My Daughter, Her Handheld, and Why I Love For Her to Have It

Categories: Parenting

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Photo by Jef With One F
Huffington Post recently ran an article talking about the dangers of handheld use in children and how devices like tablets, cell phones, and the like should be banned for children under the age of twelve. Now in this article I will freely admit that pediatrician Chris Rowan cited a ton of studies and I have not thoroughly investigated every single one of them yet. However, she did link increased aggression to violent video games like Grand Theft Auto V, which is not intended for children anyway, and the first study she linked to about exposure to technology being associated with "executive functioning and attention deficit, cognitive delays, impaired learning, increased impulsivity and decreased ability to self-regulate, e.g. tantrums" was a study about watching television (A passive medium), not handhelds (Most times an interactive one).

In conclusion, I didn't take it terribly seriously.

One of the best $125 I have ever spent was on a LeapPad2 educational tablet for my daughter when she was three-years-old. I honestly believe it has done wonders for her, especially in two areas that I am most keen for her to excel in.

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Memorial City Mall Needs to Get It Together on Paying for Attractions

Categories: Parenting

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Photo by Jef With One F
When other parents ask me for cheap outing ideas with their children, I always used to recommend an afternoon at the Memorial City Mall because you can spend hours there having a good time for $20. Lately I find that recommendation to be rather false as the mall struggles to modernize the way it charges for attractions like the carousel and the mall train.

Don't get me wrong, the indoor play area is still one of the best in the city. It's absolutely massive, featuring a huge tree house, slides, rope bridges, a dragon to climb, a great toddler area, and plenty of places for parents to sit down. When you add in the fact that it's not only gated, but actively manned by a security guard to ensure children can't elude you and wander out into the mall, not to mention that it's free, I firmly state that you can't go wrong planning a couple of hours running around there. They've even instituted a more firm rule about the number of kids allowed in at one time, which cuts down on the overcrowding.

No, the problem is that the other fun things to do like the carousel and the mall train impose convoluted ways in which to pay for them, and it's really soured me on the destination as a place to go when money is tight.

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Real Pirate Treasure Comes to Moody Gardens

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Photos by Lynda Rouner
Left: A recreation of the ship's bell, used to authenticate the wreck. Right: A recovered rifle
It was a weird fact to learn, but in all the history of nautical archeology there has been one, and only one, completely authenticated pirate ship wreck that has been discovered. It was the Whydah, which sank in 1717 but was discovered by Barry Cliffords in 1984. Now, the surviving artifacts from the ship are on display at the Moody Gardens Discovery Pyramid.

The Whydah started out as a slave ship. It was taken by Captain Sam Bellamy, a sailor turned pirate lord on a quest for the gold needed to marry the woman he loved. He took a fancy to the ship and made it his own personal vessel. Over the course of a year he plundered more than 50 ships using Whydah before deciding to return home with the loot and fulfill his promise to his beloved. A deadly storm made sure his promise was broken, and Bellamy was lost with his ship. Several men survived to bring the tale back to England, and only one escaped death to regale others of the magnificent Whydah.

The tale of Bellamy and his crew, including nine-year-old pirate John King, forms the background of the exhibit, with extremely well done recreations of life at sea in set pieces with mannequins serving as human reminders among the recovered bits of their life as pirates. Cannons, pistols, rifles, and real honest-to-goodness pirate treasure ate all on display along with dramatic audio descriptions narrated by their previous owners.

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Too Many C-Sections Going On, Say New Guidelines

Categories: Parenting

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Sounds about right
When I first found out that I was pregnant with twins, a friend emailed me, "Don't let your doctor force you into a C-section." This statement meant nothing at the time as the bulk of my brainpower was either being sucked dry by growing babies and/or I was in a complete state of shock. The actual "giving birth" part seemed like it was years away.

Eventually, like most new parents who have no idea what they've gotten themselves into, my husband and I took one of those educational classes offered by our hospital. They showed various videos of the birthing process. I was immediately transported back to seventh grade when our biology class was forced to watch "that movie," which we not only needed parental approval for but also years of therapy. All I recall of that video was closing my eyes when the crowning started thinking that I would never do that.

Apparently my maturity level has not changed since middle school because I did the exact same thing during my birthing class. Watching women grunt and cry and bleed and yuck all over their doctors and husbands was just too much for me. We left the class in silence; I was literally in a state of shock.

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The Fine Art of Radical Dolly Surgery

Categories: Parenting

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Photos by Jef With One F
When my daughter became old enough to stay overnight with my mom in order to give me and my wife a break and a chance to go out the first thing Nana did was go out and buy a big box of dollar store toys. She figured the kid wouldn't know or care where they came from, and since she was probably going to break it all anyway at some point what was the difference? My mom is kind of awesome like that.

So over the years mom has added to the box here and there whenever it runs low, and this past weekend one of the new additions to Toy Story 4: Story in the Hood was a knock-off Barbie doll with a pretty braid that my daughter named Amber. Knock off Barbies are always interesting to me because they generally have closer to normal waists and other measurements. Almost as if some factory in China was sending out a message to the poor girls of America that while they will never be the television image of rich perfection they can still have their own adventures just the way they are.

Or they're calling us fat. One or the other.

So there was Amber, my cherub's new best thing in the world, but there was also the fact that my mother recently adopted two small puppies. Don't ask me what kind they are... some sort of cross breeding of a Dalmation, a baby goat, and possibly a bulbasaur is my guess. The point is that they are young and dollar store plastic is not particularly tough. Before my daughter or mother could stop them they had slowly removed Amber's right leg at the calf and her left foot at the ankle. Blown, chewed stumps were all that remained.

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What to Expect When Your Child Punches You in the Dick

Categories: Parenting

One morning last week I was feeling pretty good about myself. Despite a late night of writing I'd gotten up early and with enough energy to achieve that magical concept of being on time at my day job. The Kid With One F had been mostly accommodating in the morning ritual, and even agreed to play her LeapPad at a reasonable volume. The traffic on 290 actually only stopped completely dead for no reason just one time, a record. All was right with the world.

When we got to daycare there wasn't an answer to my knock at the door, which isn't unusual. There's still one child in diapers enrolled and that kid loves to move his bowels right when I show up so my provider often has her hands full of doodie and takes a few minutes to get to the door. Subsequent knocks went unanswered, and my daughter asked if she could ring the doorbell. I hoisted her up and let her do so.

Meanwhile, my head was full of "No Invaders, No Dragons, No Trolls" from the new show on Nick Jr., Wallykazaam. I'm currently in Step 4 of the 8 Steps of cartoon binge-watching insanity process as far as that show goes, and the song was stuck in my head so hard that I, a grown man, was now singling it out loud to no one in particular while standing on the porch.

My daughter quickly joined in, and as she finished the chorus with me she shouted "AND NO GIANTS!" Then she punched me right in the dick.

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Lying to Your Kid About Adoptable Lobsters

Categories: Parenting

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U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Rosy lobsterette
In my family I am the errand runner, the burro, the hunter and gatherer. It is my job to acquire the bare necessities and bring them back to the cave for consumption. Often, I take my four-year-old daughter along with me on my missions because I kind of feel like Batman with a little Robin when I do that.

Yesterday we were walking through the grocery store toward the land of lunchmeat when we passed an almost empty aquarium of lobsters. Only two of them were left, aimlessly padding around the barren tank and waving with their rubber banded claws.

"Look Daddy," the Kid With One F said. "It looks like all the lobsters found good homes."

Uh oh...

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