Blog Posts by Lylah M. Alphonse, Senior Editor, Yahoo! Shine

  • Back-to-School Trends for 2012-2013: Stainless Steel, Glitzy Accessories, Superheroes, and iPads

    What's hot for back to school 2012? Bright colors, among other things. (Photo: Thinkstock)Back-to-school spending is expected to top $500 per shopper, a consumer survey says, but just what are the things kids are clamoring for this season?

    Related: 10 tips for beating back-to-school stress

    Parents may assume that their kids want new clothes to kick off the school year, but according to a Harris Interactive survey conducted for Ebates.com in June, most kids -- 42 percent -- said what they really wanted was a tablet computer or a new smartphone. Pre-teens are most likely to want some sort of high-tech gadget, even though their age group is less likely to be allowed to bring smartphones to school.

    Out of the 2,208 parents surveyed by Ebates, 43 percent said that they planned to do their back-to-school shopping in August, 5 percent said that they wait until September to stock up, and just 30 percent have started scoping out the back-to-school sales already. More parents than ever before plan to shop online, paying special attention to free-shipping deals, the National

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  • Recipes from the Kids' State Dinner: Kid Created, Let's Move! Approved

    White House Assistant Chef Sam Kass chats with 8-year-old Avery McNew from Michigan just before the first-ever Kids' State Dinner at the White House on Aug. 20. (Photo: YouTube/White House)White House Assistant Chef Sam Kass chats with 8-year-old Avery McNew from Michigan just before the first-ever Kids' State Dinner at the White House on Aug. 20. (Photo: YouTube/White House)While parents are looking for lunch box inspiration this back-to-school season, some kids are coming up with creative, inspiring recipes that even adults would be happy to eat.

    Eight- to 12-year-olds from all over the country submitted recipes for The Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, a collaboration between the White House and Epicurious.com, and the winners were in Washington, D.C., on Monday to celebrate with First Lady Michelle Obama. The first-ever Kids State Dinner (which was actually a luncheon) featured some of the winning recipes, which ranged from pasta dishes and healthier hamburgers to salmon wraps and quinoa salads.

    "10-year-olds can come up with this stuff," said Marshall Reed, 12, co-author with his mom of "Portion Size Me" and one of the contest's judges. "I didn't even know what quinoa was until I started doing this."

    "We asked them to design a dish that was healthy, affordable, and tasty -- and which met the nutritional guidelines set up by the U.S.

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  • Rep. Todd Akin: "Legitimately Raped" Women Don't Get Pregnant

    When people say that the GOP has launched a War on Women, things like this are at the core of their complaint: Rick Santorum saying that rape victims who get pregnant should "make the best out of a bad situation." Georgia state Representative Terry England comparing women to farm animals. And now, Republican Congressman Todd Akin insisting that allowing abortion in cases of rape is unnecessary because women who are "legitimately raped" don't get pregnant.

    Is the Republican party really anti-women?

    "First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare," Akin told KTVI-TV, a Fox affiliate in St. Louis, in an interview broadcast on Sunday. "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."



    He seems to genuinely believe what he's saying, even though it's wrong on so many levels -- physiologically, statistically, emotionally. But what's especially chilling is the implication that if a woman becomes pregnant after

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  • Temple Grandin's Advice on Educating Children with Autism

    Dr. Temple Grandin in 2011. (Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images)The key to helping kids with autism succeed in school is to stay positive and focus on building their strengths, according to Dr. Temple Grandin, a scientist, inventor, and educator who also has autism herself.

    Related: "He doesn't look autistic" and other misconceptions about autism

    "Special educators need to look at what a child can do instead of what he/she cannot do," she writes at Take Part. "An emphasis on deficits should not get to the point where building the area of strength gets neglected."

    After Grandin was diagnosed with autism in 1950, her parents were told that she should be institutionalized. Now a successful author, inventor, designer, and teacher with a bachelors degree in psychology and both a masters degree and a Ph.D. in animal science, she says that it is important for parents to look past the labels and discover what skills a child really has. In Grandin's case, her talent was art.

    "I heard about sad cases where a teacher forbids an elementary school child to

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  • WATCH: Flash Mob Hands Out Flowers for a Super-Sweet Marriage Proposal

    When Boston-resident Jack Cushman decided to propose to Teresa Elsey, his girlfriend of nearly three years, he was certain that she'd say yes. So all that was left to figure out was how he'd make the moment memorable.

    "Since I wasn't too nervous about the question itself, I decided to come up with a ridiculously complicated plan to worry about instead," Cushman wrote in an essay for The Huffington Post.

    "My first thought was just to get a bunch of strangers to give Teresa flowers as she was coming home from work, people in all kinds of improbable places," he told Yahoo! Shine in an interview. "I wanted to create a world where good things happen for no reason, a world full of bounty. I just loved the idea of just being able to give that to her."

    Related: Why do people propose in public?

    When she suggested a date to the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) in Boston, where they'd had their first date back in 2009, the timing seemed perfect. He enlisted his best friend and his brothers

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  • Airline Loses 10-year-old Child. Do You Let Your Kids Fly by Themselves?

    Do you allow your children to fly by themselves?It's a perennial problem for parents of summer campers and for divorced parents who share custody of their kids but live far away from one another: Do you let your child fly by themselves?

    Related: 5 ways to prepare your child to fly alone

    Annie and Perry Klebahn dropped their 10-year-old daughter, Phoebe, off at the San Francisco airport on June 30th for her first-ever solo trip to sleep-away camp in Michigan. They paid the $99 unaccompanied minor fee to United Airlines and listened as United personnel reassured Phoebe that she would have someone with her at all times and reminded her to only go with someone wearing a United badge. They waited at the airport until Phoebe's flight took off, tracked it online to Chicago, watched online as her connecting flight took off and landed in Traverse City, Michigan, where someone from the camp was scheduled to meet her plane.

    But Phoebe wasn't on it. The 10-year-old spent hours alone in Chicago while United officials ignored her requests for

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  • One Woman's Story: "I Wish My Mother Had Aborted Me"

    Writer Lynn Beisner says that her mother might have had a better life if she had aborted Beisner. This article was originally published on Role/Reboot, and was republished on Yahoo! Shine with permission. It was written by Lynn Beisner.

    If there is one thing that anti-choice activists do that makes me see red, it is when they parade out their poster children: men, women, and children who were "targeted for abortion." They tell us "these people would not be alive today if abortion had been legal or if their mothers had made a different choice."

    In the past couple of months, I have read two of these abortion deliverance stories that have been particularly offensive. The first story is one propagated by Rebecca Kiessling, the poster child for the no exceptions in cases of rape or incest. On her website Kiessling says that every time we say that abortion should be allowed at least in the case of rape or incest we are saying to her: "If I had my way, you'd be dead right now." She goes onto say, "I absolutely would have been aborted if it had been legal in Michigan when I was an

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  • Paul Ryan on the Issues that Matter Most to Women

    Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and vice presidential candidate and Wisconsin native Rep. Paul Ryan during a campaign event in Waukesha, Wisconsin, on Aug. 12. (Photo: Darren Hauck/Getty Images)"I'm not concerned about the very poor," Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney told CNN in February. "We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I'll fix it." But the budget proposed by his Vice Presidential candidate, Paul Ryan, targets much of that same safety net, with more than half of its cost-cutting measures aimed at the very poor, including women and children.

    Related: Who is Janna Ryan? A stay-at-home mom with a powerful -- and democratic -- political family

    Ryan's track record on the issues that matter most to women has come under fire in the few days since Romney picked him to be his running mate. He voted against the Lily Ledbetter fair pay act, is a passionate advocate for fetal personhood, and has voted several times to defund Planned Parenthood. As a first-term congressman in 1998, he said that he favored overturning Roe v. Wade and would let states decide whether to criminalize abortion. (While he says he hasn't called for jailing women who have abortions

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  • How Your Junk Drawer Could Set Your House on Fire

    An organized junk drawer could keep your house from burning down. (Photo: Thinkstock)We all know we should clean out our junk drawers, but the real reason has nothing to do with getting organized. A 9 volt battery in a messy junk drawer is being blamed for a recent house fire in Amherst, New Hampshire, and the state's fire marshal is warning people to take a good look at the stuff they stash away.

    "The potential is there," Londonderry, New Hampshire, Fire Chief Kevin MacCaffrie told CBS News in Boston. "There are a lot of things in a normal junk drawer that do burn, and apparently the ignition source was a 9 volt battery."

    Related: 4 fire-safety mistakes to avoid

    The battery that sparked the Amherst house fire had been stored in the kitchen junk drawer inside a plastic bag filled with other batteries, the fire marshal's office said in a statement.

    "The 9 volt battery rubbed against another battery and ignited the fire," the statement read. The fire spread to Post-It Notes, paper, and other flammable items in the drawer and "produced smoke throughout the first floor

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  • Janna Ryan: A Stay-at-Home Mom with A Powerful (Democratic) Political Family

    Republican vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan greets his wife Janna and daughter Liza during a homecoming campaign rally in Waukesha, Wisconsin, on Sunday. (Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) After her husband, newly named Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, introduced her to the country on Saturday, Janna Ryan smiled broadly and waved, but turned down a chance to speak to the crowd.

    "You sure?" GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney asked as she politely refused to take the microphone he held out to her after the rally.

    It's easy to assume that she must be new to the scene, but Janna Ryan has simply managed to stay out of the spotlight until now. As the wife of a congressman, she knows that everything from her dresses (department store bargains) to her home (eight bathrooms) will be under the microscope, and she's no stranger to politics: A former Washington insider turned stay-at-home-mom, she grew up Madill, Oklahoma, the daughter of two lawyers in a politically active family with deep Democratic connections.

    Related: Is there really a "War on Women"?

    "She came from a small town, and we had big ideas of going to Washington and making a difference,"

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