Blog Posts by Mira Jacob, Shine staff

  • Whooping cough is declared an epidemic in California

    Getty ImagesGetty ImagesAfter 910 cases of whooping cough that have left five babies dead, California has officially declared the outbreak an epidemic. If that isn't bad enough, the case load is 400 percent higher this year than last, putting the state on track to break a 50-year record. With an additional 600 pertussis cases currently under investigation, officials believe things are about to get worse. Those most at risk? Unimmunized or incompletely immunized babies, whose lungs are still developing.

    "Children should be vaccinated against the disease and parents, family members and caregivers of infants need a booster shot," California Department of Public Health director Dr. Mark Horton said Wednesday. A full regimen of pertussis vaccines includes shots at 15-18 months, along with a last round between 4-6 years. Additionally, health officials recommend additional booster shots at age 10 to 11.

    According to Santa Clara Public Health Officer Marty Fenstersheib, the disease, which is a highly

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  • The tick, the meltdown, and the list of things I will now always take with me on family vacations

    So much of this parenting business is humbling. Just when you think you've got the essentials down-a good sleep schedule, a balanced diet, at least one clean spare outfit-something comes along to make you understand that in fact, you've got nothing.

    This morning, that something was a tick. It was also-almost-my personal undoing.

    To explain: We're spending the week on a Fire Island, a barrier island on the New York coast best known for the absence of cars, rats, shootouts, and celebrities that plague our city existence. Having grown up in New Mexico, I'm used to the quiet, thrilled by the deer that come up to the house, and delighted to see my son wandering around a yard in wondrous circles, pretending to cook pine cones. Not so delightful? The apricot sized spiders that occasionally dive bomb us from the roof, the raccoon that I swear flipped me off the other night as I was locking up a garbage can, and the ticks.

    Who knew that something so small could be so terrifying?

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  • Rough-and-tumble parenting can help kids grow up to be brave

    I had a highly unorthodox father-the kind you'd find in the backstory of a Hollywood movie as some comically troubled woman details why she is scared of flying, or unable to commit, or still needs to sleep with the lights on. My dad did things that, according to the inferred rules of modern parenting, just shouldn't be done. He threw me in a pool before I could swim. He taught me how to drive a tractor when I was eight, and fly a small plane when I was ten. He watched me climb way too high in the tall cottonwoods that surrounded our house, and let me use his table saw unsupervised. Not all of these ventures ended well (I was better at flying the plane than getting out of the tree, for example), but somewhere along the way I learned that fear is not the only thing you can take out of a scary situation, and that at any rate, it can often be overcome.

    According to MSNBC, a spate of studies over the last decade show that rough-and-tumble child rearing, done primarily by fathers,

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  • Dads are getting just as stressed out as moms

    Well, the good news is the bad news: Dads are starting to feel just as stressed out as moms when it comes to balancing work and home life. According to a recent study reported in the New York Times, a combination of economic and social factors have brought us into a brave new parenting landscape, one in which women and men make up an equal percentage of the workforce and are increasingly sharing the child rearing duties at home. The result? Dads are having a hard adjustment period.

    The Boston College study maintains that at least part of the difficulty is due to perception: even though dads are taking on more responsibility at home, the assumption in the workplace is that "they will be largely unaffected by children." They are also less likely to advocate for themselves-rather than ask formally for a flexible schedule or time off to take care of sick children, fathers tried to take care of their families "in 'stealth' fashion."

    "Men are facing the same clash of social ideals

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  • Where's Brenda?

    Hey Lovely Shine folks--

    Just wanted to answer Rose's question today so you all don't worry. As many of you have noted, our lovely Brenda is curiously absent lately. Rest assured, she's doing fine, but she needs a little rest herself--bed rest, to be exact. That means that she's checking in less often and taking care of herself and the boys.

    We talked today and she wanted me to tell you all that she misses you and is thinking about everyone. In fact, I'm going to send her a link to this post, so if you have anything you'd like to say, feel free to post and she'll see it when she's feeling better.

    BRENDA!! WE LOVE YOU AND MISS YOU AND SEND ALL OUR LOVE!! --whoops, sorry, that just sort of slipped out. Okay, your turn.


  • Outsourcing pregnancy to India? This is just the beginning

    There are several scenes that catch viewers by surprise in HBO's new documentary film, "Google Baby": The exact moment an Indian surrogate mother sees the child she has held in her body for months, and is told not to cry by the doctor performing a Caesarian-section; The tired afternoon in which a 28-year-old American mom plugs in her big-screen television, and explains that she donates her eggs to afford her lifestyle; The telephone conversation in which an Israeli businessman sells a childless couple on the idea of impregnating more than one surrogate to have a better chance a viable pregnancy, and then hangs up to wonder out loud about what he has done.

    Following the new big business of unregulated, international surrogacy, "Google Baby" goes to places both familiar and foreign, tracing the strange supply and demand of baby production. If those words sound cold, consider that many of the parents applying for international surrogates are desperate for their own children, and

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  • Worst Father's Day Gifts ever!

    Okay, now listen-we're not trying to put a damper on the holiday, we're just gently pointing out that some of these presents make dad feel less-than-grateful. Is it a sad day when dad looks askance at your ashtray? Well, if you're over 10 years old and he doesn't smoke, it only makes sense. Of course there will be a dad who loves every single one of these items, but in general, these are the ones to avoid.

    Did we miss any? Tell us the worst Father's Day gift you've given or received!

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  • Would you do an internet, email and texting "ban" in your household?

    Listen, even my 19-month-old kid knows this one: screen time is not the same as face time. With an increasing amount of parents texting, tweeting, and surfing while their kids are looking to them for guidance (or just, you know, presence), the recent New York Times article "Your Brain on Computers" doesn't present a lot of surprising information. It does, however, reiterate what we know but don't want to admit to ourselves, namely:

    We're using more and more technology.

    We're allowing ourselves to parent with a certain amount of permanent, persuasive distraction.

    It's making our kids unhappy.

    According to Sherry Turkle, director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Initiative on Technology and Self, "Over and over, kids raised the same three examples of feeling hurt and not wanting to show it when their mom or dad would be on their devices instead of paying attention to them: at meals, during pickup after either school or an extracurricular activity, and

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  • Taliban allegedly executes 7-year-old boy for "spying"

    There is plenty that the Taliban has already done to incur global loathing, including planting IED's in girls' schools, killing scores of Afghan civilians to gain power, and horribly misrepresenting Islam by performing atrocities in the name of Allah. So why is the political movement's reported execution of a 7-year-old boy on the premise that he was "spying for the government" newly sickening?

    Because it's horrendous. As a mother, I am disgusted that grown men could ever justify this act. The fact that the Taliban are not alone in killing children to gain political power, or even in persecuting kids for supposedly committing an adult criminal actions, does nothing to stem my horror. These are kids. They cannot be tried as adults because they haven't had the benefit of growing up yet. Kids at this age don't make decisions to further political agendas. They make decisions to please the adults around them, or to stay safe from harm, or to eat.

    Afghan President Hamid Karzai summed it up

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  • Children's quality of life has gone down, study says

    The statistics coming out of The Child and Youth Well-Being Index Project at Duke University are overwhelming. According to the study, which was funded by the private philanthropy Foundation for Child Development, 21 percent of children in the United States will be living below the poverty line in 2010. That's the highest rate in 20 years. Furthermore, the economic well-being of families has nearly fallen to levels last seen in 1975.

    Kenneth Jay Land, project coordinator and professor of sociology and demography at Duke University, puts it this way to CNN: "Virtually all of that progress is wiped out through job losses, through declines in real income, and other aspects of family economic well-being."

    Poor indications, but rising hopes

    Basing its predictions on 28 indicators of well-being (including economic stability, safe and risky behavior, social relationships, emotional and spiritual health, community interaction, and access to education and health care), the study

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