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Whoa, Momma!

Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Tracey Henry and Suzannah DiMarzio

Kids can be art collectors, too

artforkids.jpgThis weekend's Gasparilla Festival of the Arts has a special treat for kids, a special kids-only shopping tent for Art Collectors in Training.

The ACT program is for ages 6 to 14. Last year, more than 115 artists donated 400 small pieces of art to the ACT collection. Children shopped in a “kids-only” shopping zone, purchasing items priced at $5 to $10. Artwork was labeled with the artists’ names and booth locations so the children and their parents could meet with the artists face to face.

It was so popular they had to hold back some of the art for Sunday or they would have sold out on Saturday.

A mom I know took four kids to the festival last year and let them each pick one piece. She said it was neat to see the difference in tastes and to watch them talk to the artists when they found the booths. Plus, the money goes to a great cause, the Children’s Cancer Center.

Our colleague Kim Wilmath covered the event last year and I got a kick out of her story that one child, after several laps around the booth, made his selection. Smiling, he looked toward his dad waiting outside — and held up a bag of Cheez-It crackers. …

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Taking aim at potty training a boy

potty.jpgI feel like I’m a pretty decent mom-to-a-boy. I don’t pine for pink. I can whip up a Play-Doh truck or Lego train in minutes, as requested. A little dirt and grime is no biggie. And I look forward to teaching my son how to keep score at baseball games like my dad taught me.

But there’s one area I am feeling particularly, uh, ill-equipped these days.

I have no idea how to stand up to pee.

My son is 2.5 and began potty training at day care six months ago. His teachers started him sitting, which was great by me, and we took it slow. Within the past month, the whole process has really started to click with him and I guess now that he feels like he has mastered the timing, he is ready to change things up.

As with everything child-rearing, I feel like I’m a step behind him.

He hurried into the bathroom on Monday toward his little red potty and then suddenly stopped. “I want to stand,” he said.

Help?

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Single moms now the majority under 30

singlemom.jpgOur colleague Lane DeGregory did a very well-written look at the life of a single mom that you can read here. She was prompted by the news that for the first time in history, the majority of births to American women under 30 take place outside marriage. And the fastest-growing group in that number of single women having babies? Moms just like Jamie Lee Zehnder she profiled — white women in their 20s with some college education. 

What does this say about us that more young women are on this path? The feminist blog Jezebel says it's actually a good thing, that is shows women aren't settling for a poor union and unhappy marriage just because they have a baby. …

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Parenting tricks from around the world

earth.jpgAn eye-opening book by Mei-Ling Hopgood landed on my desk this week called  How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm and Other Adventures in Parenting

The suburban Michigan mom is now living in Buenos Aires and was shocked by some of the parenting customs she encountered (like letting kids stay up all hours of the night), and realized how our American "rules" of child rearing are unheard of in other parts of the world. It started her on a quest to learn how other cultures approach our common challenges of bedtimes, feeding, playtime and potty training. She discovered:

China: Where children as young as 12 months are fully potty trained. From early infancy they wear split trousers and the parents (or more likely grandparents who watch the child for their working parents) hold the baby over the potty and make a clicking noise so the child associates it with going to the bathroom. This confirms my theory that dog training and tot training are eerily similar.

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Free and cheap things to do with the kids this week

cowboyz.jpgWe've got free block parties and free concerts and free pancakes, oh my! There's also a high-octane and hugely popular motocross show in town, Nuclear Cowboyz. Read on for more wallet-friendly diversions:

The downtown Clearwater’s free street festival, Blast Friday, this month will feature a performance by ’70s hitmakers Pablo Cruise. (Admit it, you can’t help but blast the radio when the slick synth-rockers ask, “What you gonna do when she says goodbye?”) There will also be a variety of vendors, plus food, beer, wine and non-alcoholic beverages. The street fair begins at 5:30 p.m. Friday with entertainment outside until 10 p.m. in the 400 block of Cleveland Street in Clearwater. Free.

Nuclear Cowboyz Freestyle Chaos has two shows roaring to town this weekend.  For the uninitiated, Nuclear Cowboyz is a show that combines the sport of freestyle motocross with the plot of, well, a B movie. Catch them this weekend at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. Tickets start at $10 for ages 2 to 15 and $20 for adults. (813) 301-2500.

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Free and cheap things to do with the kids this week

cowboyz.jpgWe've got free block parties and free concerts and free pancakes, oh my! There's also a high-octane and hugely popular motocross show in town, Nuclear Cowboyz. Read on for more wallet-friendly diversions:

The downtown Clearwater’s free street festival, Blast Friday, this month will feature a performance by ’70s hitmakers Pablo Cruise. (Admit it, you can’t help but blast the radio when the slick synth-rockers ask, “What you gonna do when she says goodbye?”) There will also be a variety of vendors, plus food, beer, wine and non-alcoholic beverages. The street fair begins at 5:30 p.m. Friday with entertainment outside until 10 p.m. in the 400 block of Cleveland Street in Clearwater. Free.

Nuclear Cowboyz Freestyle Chaos has two shows roaring to town this weekend.  For the uninitiated, Nuclear Cowboyz is a show that combines the sport of freestyle motocross with the plot of, well, a B movie. Catch them this weekend at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. Tickets start at $10 for ages 2 to 15 and $20 for adults. (813) 301-2500.

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Here's this year's Rays giveaways

zimbear.jpgI'll admit it, I love free stuff. I don't care if it's junk. Gimme it. When they are shooting T-shirts out of cannons or dropping coupons from above, that will be me making a dive for it. Maybe it's because my newspaper has a strict ethics policy that won't let me take even a cup of coffee from a source, so when I'm allowed a chance you can bet I snag the swag.

So I am gleefully rubbing my hands together over the newly released schedule of promotional items to be given away at the Rays games this season. You can snag an adorable bear with the face of Don Zimmer  (or is it creepy?) at the Tigers game June 29, or relish the memory of the Evan Longoria’s walkoff home run with a special figurine at the April 21 Twins game. The bobblehead giveaways include Joe Maddon and DJ Kitty!
Single game tickets go on sale Saturday at 10 a.m. on raysbaseball.com and Monday at all outlets.

Here are some highlights, but you can see a complete promotional schedule here, which includes some pictures.

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Sex change operations for kids on the rise

Interesting to read here that doctors not only have guidelines about giving children sex change operations, they say they are on the rise.

By some estimates, 1 in 10,000 children have the condition known as "gender identity disorder."  Offering sex-changing treatment to kids younger than 18 raises ethical concerns, and their parents' motives need to be closely examined, said Dr. Margaret Moon, a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics' bioethics committee.

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The myth of the "mama's boy"

mamasboy.jpgIt's rare that the mere title of a book gets me to exclaim, "Finally!" but that's what I muttered under my breath when I arrived this morning and found this from our book editor awaiting my perusal: The Mama’s Boy Myth: Why Keeping Our Sons Close Makes Them Stronger written by New York Times contributor Kate Stone Lombardi.

Mothers are constantly warned not to be too close to their sons, don't cuddle or coddle them, he needs to learn to be a man, after all. The spark that started Lombardi on her quest to write this book was when a friend "confessed" that she and her son were particularly close. The kind of supportive relationship that would be bragged about with a daughter was somehow a dirty little secret with a son. Lombardi "confessed" that she too rejected the mama's boy pressure and saw nothing wrong with nurturing the relationship. Over and over, she found women who delighted in their closeness with their sons, but didn't want their names used or spoke in hushed tones. This of course is because the image in pop culture of a boy who's close with his mom is of a man who is timid, wimpy, unmanly -- one who can't form healthy adult relationships.

But Lombardi found that research shows the opposite to be true.

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Garden in a truck aims for picky eaters

fruits-and-veggies.jpgMy 2-year-old dismisses most vegetables with a “yuck.” Same goes for fruits, unless it’s applesauce.

But fruits and veggies grown in the bed of a truck?

Well, that might be enough to get the attention of this truck-loving, picky eater.

Truck Farm -- a garden on wheels -- is coming to Tampa, thanks to a national grant and a mom with a passion for healthy living.

Marisa Langford, a mother of three with her fourth on the way, received a “We Can” grant last month that will provide up to $10,000 for programs locally that promote nutrition and exercise. Only 18 community sites nationally got the funding. “We Can” (short for Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity and Nutrition) is an effort through the National Institutes of Health to educate parents and prompt community change. Its three main goals are to encourage healthy eating, increase activity and reduce screen time.

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Insider tips for Rays Fan Fest

fanfest.jpgIf only the Rays could draw the crowds during games that they will likely see Saturday at the Rays Fan Fest! We have some insider tips on how you can make the most of this free day at the stadium on Saturday with your kids, meeting players, running bases, touring the club house and maybe even having David Price phone a friend for you. Read on for tips from Fans Fest veterans on how to make the most of a day at the Trop: …

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Free and cheap things to do with the kids this week

zoo.jpgWe've got a deal day at the zoo, a free day of baseball fun at the Rays Fan Fest, a special train exhibit to mark Amtrak's 40th and the Florida State Fair had us at "Lawn Mower Races." Read on for more wallet-friendly diversions with the family this week.

Look here for insider tips on how to enjoy the free Rays Fan Fest at Tropicana Field. The team has promised even more kid-friendly activities this year, including Reading with the Rays, high-five stations, batting cages, clubhouse tours and running the bases.  …

Full Story

Free and cheap things to do with the kids this week

zoo.jpgWe've got a deal day at the zoo, a free day of baseball fun at the Rays Fan Fest, a special train exhibit to mark Amtrak's 40th and the Florida State Fair had us at "Lawn Mower Races." Read on for more wallet-friendly diversions with the family this week.

Look here for insider tips on how to enjoy the free Rays Fan Fest at Tropicana Field. The team has promised even more kid-friendly activities this year, including Reading with the Rays, high-five stations, batting cages, clubhouse tours and running the bases.  …

Full Story

Not everyone cheered dad's shooting up laptop

tommyjordan.jpgAs our colleague Ben Montgomery reports here, not everyone was cheering on angry dad Tommy Jordan, who made a video response to his daughter’s angry Facebook post, put it on her Facebook page and capped it off by putting a cap in her laptop. More than 23 million people have watched his 8-minute performance. And thousands posted support on Jordan's Facebook page cheering on a dad who gave a bratty kid her comeuppence.

But family therapists say it may have felt good, but public humiliation will only damage their relationship further.

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It's $5 day at the zoo Sunday

leopards.jpgLoad up the kids and get to the Lowry Park Zoo early on Sunday because the $5 Day at the Zoo deal only comes along a couple times a year and it’s hugely popular. The crowds are often three times their usual size because everyone gets in for $5 — instead of the usual $23.95 adult admission — on Sunday starting at 9:30 a.m. You still have to pay for extra for some rides and experiences, like feeding a giraffe or riding a camel that can cost $1 to $5 each.

You get lots of exotic animals, from penguins to tigers to manatees, but the kids can also have fun in the splash play area (wear water shoes).

What I have done is give each kid a set amount,  $5-$10,  and let them choose how to spend it. That usually ends up being one or two rides and one hand-feeding of a giraffe and then we move on to the exhibits. Even on a busy day like this you can see whatever you want, but prepare to be patient while waiting for the crowds to move on.

On our last visit there on a $5 day, the parking lot filled up so we had to park a couple blocks away and hoof it. When we got caught in a rainstorm going back to the car later, it made some of us think paying full price is worth it sometimes.  …

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