Blog Posts by Claudine Zap

  • The High Cost of Kids' Sports

    On the phone from Seattle, Sherry Weinberg Cromett ticks off the long list of sports: gymnastics, soccer, swim team, skiing, T-ball. Not to mention tennis, bike riding, and roller-skating. Then the costs: Bike: $200. Gymnastics lessons: $80 a month. Swimming lessons: $75 a month. Soccer season: $75. Ski lessons: $500 for a week at Whistler.

    Related: Get stains out of sports uniforms like a pro

    Now multiply all that by two and you've got the beginning of the wallet-gouging bill for parents who want their twin girls involved in athletic activities.

    For Sherry and her husband Mark, who both have well-paying jobs, cost was not a game-ender. "We want the kids to be exposed to these things." The working mom added, "We find the most economical way to do it. But it was never a question; it's a matter of how and when and where."

    The activities are varied, as she and husband want their twin daughters, who are aged six, to explore many different sports "to see what they like." (Full

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  • Ad Praising Moms of Olympians Moves the Web

    It's a special event that brings together people from all over the world. And now it has inspired a commercial that praises moms of Olympic athletes -- and it has gone viral on the Web.

    The spot from Procter & Gamble has already been viewed on YouTube more than 700,000 times, receiving thousands of comments. (Full disclosure: P&G is a sponsor of Yahoo! Olympics coverage.)

    "Best Job," which was created for the London 2012 Olympic Games, honors the mothers of the extraordinary athletes who will compete in this summer's games.

    The ad starts with moms around the world waking their young children when it's still dark outside, feeding them breakfast, and seeing them off to sports practice. The moms, tireless supporters, watch their sleepy children grow into talented athletes. The payoff comes as their kids compete in the Olympics.

    There is little dialogue; instead, a lush, orchestral score plays in the background. The ad's simple text reads "The hardest job in the world is

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  • Hot-Dog Stuffed-Crust Pizza Offered at Pizza Hut UK

     Pizza Hut UK's latest offering.America has been caught napping. While we were resting on the laurels of the KFC Double Down, the Paula Deen doughnut burger, and deep-fried butter, Pizza Hut UK has one-upped us with hot-dog-stuffed pizza crust.

    You read that right: Pizza Hut UK. This development happened in Britain, a place that presumably learned about junk food from us. Then made it better. Or at least, more meat-filled. Where's the innovation, people? Who doesn't look at a crust and think, "This would be so much better if it had a hot dog inside of it"? That's a whole meal in the part of the pizza that some people don't even bother to eat!

    The latest fast-food combination is described on the company's menu as "succulent hot dog sausage bursting from our famous stuffed crust, with a FREE Mustard Drizzle." A feeding frenzy of searches on Yahoo! were salivating for "hot dog stuffed crust" and "hot dog stuffed crust pizza."

    Come on, people. If we put our heads together, we can outdo this. How about a pizza

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  • Easter Bunny's Pagan Past

    Cute, cotton-tailed, chocolate filled: The Easter Bunny is coming. But what does the long, floppy-eared critter have to do with the Christian holiday?

    Well, officially, not much. The blog on Discovery dates the origin of the Easter Bunny to 13th-century, pre-Christian Germany. As the site notes: "The Teutonic deity Eostra was the goddess of spring and fertility, and feasts were held in her honor on the Vernal Equinox. Her symbol was the rabbit because of the animal's high reproduction rate."

    Eggs -- another holiday tradition -- are also a pagan fertility symbol, especially hatched. And the first documented legend of the Easter Bunny laying eggs -- not biologically possible, of course -- happened in the 1500s.

    Easter Bunnies first arrived in America with the Germans, then predominantly Catholic, who brought their Christian, pagan, springtime ritual with them when they came to America in the 1700s.

    According to the website, the Teutonic settlers to

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  • Leprechauns: Sweet or Scary?

    On St. Patrick's Day, some facts are clear: Celebrate the patron saint of Ireland by wearing green, drinking green liquids, and celebrating the luck 'o the Irish. But what about leprechauns -- do they bring luck or terror to the party? In the movie "Leprechaun," they're seriously scary. But on a box of "magically delicious" Lucky Charms cereal, not so much.

    So what's the history of the tiny Irish fairies? The Oxford English Dictionary defines a leprechaun as a "mischievous elf … usually conceived as a shoemaker and believed to reveal the hiding place of treasure if caught." The leprechaun has been described in Irish folklore as "about three feet high, and is dressed in a little red jacket or roundabout, with red breeches buckled at the knee, gray or black stockings, and a hat, cocked in the style of a century ago, over a little, old, withered face."

    Sounds harmless enough.

    But these pint-size creatures, which originated in Irish pagan mythology are, as D.R. McAnally points

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  • Dr. Seuss's Birthday: Celebrating a Beloved Author

    (With apologies to Dr. Seuss.)

    Hey, hey, what do you know,
    The late Dr. Seuss has a birthday on Friday -- that's so.

    But even now at one hundred and eight
    the kids this fine man are sure to relate.

    He wrote books for young ones, but his message was bigger,
    his tales turned into movies, musicals, TV shows, go figure.

    There's Yertle the Turtle, the Lorax, the Grinch,
    Just read all the stories, it's really a cinch.

    There's a very good reason
    That reading a Seuss book is now back in season.

    On the day of his birth,
    Read Across America Day is annually unearthed.

    So on Friday March the second,
    Stop what you're doing,

    And pick up a Seuss book, that literary shoo-in.

    That's all that you do.
    Spread some laughs and good cheer,

    Or hey, watch a movie or two.
    So don't put it off, go on and get to it,

    You'll be glad you did. It's a snap to get through it.

    Watch the Rev. Jesse Jackson read from "Green Eggs and Ham."

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  • Fun Facts About Leap Day

    Leap Day questions answered.2012 is a leap year, meaning that February, the shortest month, has an extra day, bringing the year to 366 days. This notable event comes only every four years. Which means you have an extra 24 hours. So what will you do with yourself? How about heading to Disneyland for 24 hours straight, catching a movie, or spending the day skiing?

    Lookups on the Web are taking a leap, including "leap day activities," along with the quadrennial questions: "what is leap year," "why is there a leap year" and "history of leap year." Here, your guide to the day.

    When is it? An extra day is added to the month of February every four years. This year, Leap Day is on Wednesday, February 29.

    Why we need Leap Day: Usually, our year is 365 days long. Except that it's not: A full cycle of seasons is actually 365 days, 5 hours, 49 minutes, and 16 seconds long, or about 365.25 days. Over time, the extra quarter of a day adds up, and without Leap Day, the calendar would be one day out of sync with the

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  • Meet Sheryl Sandberg: Facebook's Highest-Paid Employee

    Mark Zuckerberg may be the face of Facebook. But Sheryl Sandberg can take much of the credit for the company's success. As chief operating officer -- and the self-described "grownup" in the room -- she was also the highest-paid employee at the social networking site. Her salary and stock awards last year: a cool $30.87 million, putting her on pace to be one of the wealthiest self-made women in the world once the company goes public.

    Sandberg, who's second in command at Facebook, is often not just the grownup in the room, but also the only woman, which she finds mind-boggling. As she told an audience at TED in Washington, D.C., "One hundred and ninety heads of state; nine are women. Of all the people in parliament in the world, 13% are women. In the corporate sector, women at the top, C-level jobs, board seats, tops out at 15-16%. The numbers have not moved since 2002 and are going in the wrong direction."

    Sandberg, however, is moving in a trajectory that goes straight up: She

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  • Groundhog Day Storms the Web

    Groundhog Day is almost upon us, when marmot meteorologists take over the weather report to answer the pressing question: Is spring almost here, or are we subject to six more weeks of winter -- and maybe more important, are rodents ever right?

    Searches on Yahoo! have forecasted a storm of interest, including "what is groundhog day," "when is groundhog day," and "history of groundhog day."

    The story goes that on February 2, if the groundhog (also known as a woodchuck) emerges from its burrow and sees its shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter. No shadow means an early spring.

    The history of this now American tradition stems from pagan and Christian holidays brought over from Europe that looked to hibernating animals to signal the end of winter. The Germans used hedgehogs as their weather guides. In Pennsylvania, early American settlers found groundhogs, not hedgehogs, and the forecasting began in the new country with a new rodent.

    Thanks to the movie "Groundhog Day,"

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  • Sarah Palin Debuts New 'Do

    The GOP Iowa caucuses caused plenty of talk. But when Sarah Palin appeared on Fox to give her take on the race, it was her new wavy 'do that caught viewers' eyes.

    The former governor of Alaska gave her rundown of the candidates while debuting a look that had the signature Palin pouf (the Huffington Post, noting Palin's new 'do, suggested the pouf might have been from a Bumpit) -- but went a little more curly than the usual flat-ironed straight tresses that, say, Michele Bachmann normally wears.

    Sarah Palin's hairstyle, if not her speaking style, has been a little flat. In South Korea to give a speech, her hair lacked body. She was really due for a new 'do.

    Palin declined to endorse fellow social conservative Rick Santorum, but perhaps her hairdo is a clue. The tea party darling pronounced Mitt Romney, who won the vote by a hair, the "most electable," and perhaps her flowing locks mirrored Mitt's mane. She called for Bachmann, with her helmet head, to get out of the race

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