Acing Competitive Admissions + Eating Disorders + College Tuition Sticker Shock

Kim Palacios, author of From Preschool to Grad School.
Topic: Strategies for success at any level of competitive admissions.
Issues:Three things all schools want; two questions you must be able to answer; crafting your story; the role of social media; application fraud and cheating; admissions consultants.

Johana Marie McShane, coauthor of Why She Feels Fat.
Topic: Understanding your loved one’s eating disorder and how you can help.
Issues:Why what seems to family and friends as bizarre, irrational behavior actually makes sense to the person with the disorder; evaluating therapy vs hospitalization; the gender breakdown of eating and body-image disorders.

David Rye, author of Financial Aid for College.
Topic: Getting the money you need ant for the school you want.
Issues: Overcoming college tuition sticker shock; the difference between loans, grants, scholarships, and work-study programs; how to find little-known scholarships; federal and state grants.

“Please, Daddy, Please? Just One More….”

netlflix delay tactics

netlflix delay tacticsKids are natural—and often quite masterful—negotiators. “Please, please, please, just one more…..” Fill in the blank. One more story, one more piece of Halloween candy, one more game, one more minute, one more beer (oh, wait, that’s you). You could get hit with a “one more” demand at any time and at any place. But there’s one time when those stalling tactics flow especially fast and furious: getting ready for bed. And the plea is always the same: “just five more minutes.”

The justifications for those extra minutes are a carnival of youthful creativity. “I have a headache.” “There’s a monster under the bed.” “It’s too loud.” “It’s too quiet.” “I’m thirsty.” “I’m hungry.” “The sheets are uncomfortable.” “You forgot to kiss me goodnight.” “I forgot to kiss you goodnight.” “I didn’t finish my vegetables.” “I just heard the doorbell ring.” “I’m getting too big for this bed.” “The stars are too bright.” “My stuffie will be lonely without me.” “What time is it?” “What time is it in Timbuktu?” “I have to count my books.” “My fingernails are talking to me.” “I’m wearing the wrong PJs.” And on and on and on.

What’s most amazing about these excuses is that they’re probably exactly the same ones you tried on your parents. Seems a little odd, doesn’t it? In fact, if I were a little more paranoid, I might suspect that my parents had coached my kids on what to say, perhaps in a calculated way of getting back at me for pulling the same crap when I was little.

As parents today, we have access to one weapon to fight the “one mores” or “just five more minutes” ploys that our own parents didn’t have: Netflix. Wait, am I suggesting that we bribe our kids with videos? Kind of. But there’s a twist. Netflix and DreamWorks Animation partnered on a series called “Dinotrux 5 Minute Favorites,” and they’ve just released a bunch of new episodes.

So next time your little ones demand just five more minutes or just one more episode, take the wind out of their sails by reluctantly caving. “Okay, if you get five more minutes, do you promise you’ll go to bed with no more complaining?” “Yes, daddy.” “Are you sure?” “Yes, daddy.” Then all you have to do is resist the urge to say, “Gotcha, sucker!” Just click Play on one of the Dinotrux episodes and you’re golden. At least until they figure out some new ways of delaying bedtime even further. Hopefully, Netflix is on the case.


Disclosure: As a member of the @Netflix #StreamTeam, I occasionally receive product and free access to programming, but it would take a lot more than that to get me to recommend something that I don’t truly believe in.

Baby It’s Cold Outside—and It’s Only Getting Colder

Just because the weather outside has gotten a bit frightful, there’s no reason why the clothes you bundle up in can’t be delightful. Check out these snazzy layers (that will last more than just one season) from some of our favorite brands.

swainby half zip fleeceSwainby Half-Zip Fleece (Craghoppers)
When it’s cold enough to need more than a long-sleeve shirt, the Swainby half-zip fleece is just the ticket for the men (and teen boys) in your life. Soft, comfortable, and nearly impossible to stain (trust us—we’ve field-tested this), it also comes out of the dryer without all the ugly pilling that some fleece gets. And the classic styling means it goes well with just about anything. Oh, and it keeps you warm too. The high collar and elasticized cuffs and hem help keep that heat in. Too warm? No worries; that’s what the half-zip is for. $60 at


skipton jacketSkipton Jacket (Craghoppers)
When you need a little more than a sweatshirt—even a warm, fleece one like the Swainby—try Craghoppers’ Skipton Jacket. It’s water resistant, which makes it great for those snowy, sleety, rainy days. It’s also soft, lightweight, super insulated, and nowhere near as thick as you’d think it would need to be to keep you warm in 30-degree weather (which it does). It’s stylish enough to complement any outfit and to wear everywhere you go, and the satiny-smooth lining feels great up against your skin. It has both a zipper and buttons, and you can use either one or both together for added wind protection. To top it off (quite literally) is an attached hood. Two fully functional side pockets are big enough for your hands, a pair of gloves, keys, or your phone. About $180 at sites like

ice bug bootsIcebug Diana BUGrip boots (Icebug)
Sooner or later you’re going to head outside, where you may have to deal with cold, wet, icy weather. The Icebug Diana BUGrip boots are amazing in all those scenarios. Besides being nice to look at, they keep your feet warm and dry, and the BGrip outsole maintains a firm grip on the ground. These half-calf high, fleece-lined boots are good for tromping about on snowy days and keeping your pants dry, too. They’re zippered, which makes them easy to put on, and come with a front lace for easy adjustment. About $200 at or retailers like Amazon.


hi tec bootsSt. Moritz Lite 200 i WP boots (Hi-Tec)
Still got cold feet? Check out the St. Moritz Lite 200 i WP. That’s quite a mouthful, but these insulated, fleece-lined, water-resistant, boots will keep your feet warm and dry as you stomp through the snow no matter how cold it gets. And when you get back, these cuties with their faux-fur tops will have everyone you know asking where you got them. They come in black, brown, or gray and are odor resistant as well, so you won’t have to leave them outside the door to air out. About $100 at


naot vistosoNaot Vistoso (Naot)
Looking for something a little less “outdoorsy” but still ready for winter festivities? The Naot Vistoso will be your go to boot. Zipping up the side, these adorable ankle boots come with a Holiday-ready bow. They’re padded for extra comfort and have a memory foam footbed that molds to your feet, making them even more comfortable with time. Sturdy yet flexible, you won’t feel like you’re doing a balancing act when you’re out, and you won’t feel the need to kick them off as soon as you get home. About $200 at or other retailers.

November is National Adoption Month

Adopting a child has always seemed to me to be one of the bravest, noblest, and most selfless things an adult can do. And since November is National Adoption Month, I’m reaching out on behalf of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, AdoptUSKids, and the Ad Council to ask for your help in spreading the word about a new PSA campaign that encourages prospective parents to adopt older youth from foster care.

The theme for National Adoption Month is, “We Never Outgrow the Need for Family.” That’s because older children and youth still have many big milestones in their life they need a family for.

There are 415,000 children in the U.S. foster care system and 108,000 are waiting to be adopted. AdoptUSKids’ maintains a national photo listing service for children waiting to be adopted. Since the project launched in 2002, more than 25,000 children who were once photo listed on have been adopted and nearly 38,000 families have registered toadopt through the website.  Nevertheless, older youth are disproportionately represented – approximately 41 percent of children and youth photo listed on are between 15 and 18 years old, but only 17 percent of those adopted have been in this age group

Older youth and teens have lower adoption rates than younger children, and they often wait longer to be adopted. But no matter their age, all kids need a supportive, loving home and the teenage years are a critical period for growth. The new TV PSAs, which were created for the campaign probono, portray a dad giving advice to his teenage daughter after her first breakup, and a mom giving her son a haircut at home. The humorous, lighthearted scenarios aim to overcome fears adoptive parents may have regarding their own imperfections. The PSAs end with the tagline, “You don’t have to be perfect to be a perfect parent,” reassuring prospective parents that even if they are not ‘perfect’, they have the ability to provide the stability and security that older youth in foster care need and deserve.

The PSAs direct audiences to visit or to call 1-888-200-4005 (English) or 1-877-236-7831 (Spanish) to receive the latest information about the foster care system and theadoption process.

Here’s how you can help:

  • Use #NAM15 and #perfectparent to share your experience or the new PSAs on social media.
  • Spread the word! Let us know if you know a blogger who might have a place in their hearts for the Adoption from Foster Care campaign.

For more information about adoption, or about becoming an adoptive parent to a child from foster care, please visit or visit the campaign’s communities on Facebook and Twitter.
Why Older Youth?

  • All of us – and that includes older youth in foster care who are waiting to be adopted – need and want families throughout life to support us and to share important life events. Learning to drive a car, applying for higher education, and birthday and holiday celebrations are just a few examples of the times in life we need and want to share with family.
  • Older youth are overrepresented in the foster care population, as they generally wait longer to be adopted, and have lower overall adoption rates.
  • On, roughly 41 percent of the children and youth actively photolisted are between the ages of 15 and 18 years old. About 58 percent are male. (Most recent stats as of May 31, 2015)
  • Families who adopt older youth, are providing them with the support and stability of a family during a critical period of normal adolescent concerns and additional self-identity issues.

Some of the Misperceptions about Adoption from Foster Care:

  • Adoption is expensive.  Unlike the private adoption of an infant or adopting internationally, there are virtually no costs associated with adoption from the US child welfare system. In addition, the vast majority of youth adopted from foster care are also eligible for monthly adoption assistance up to the level of the foster care rate.
  • You have to be married. You do not have to be married to adopt in most states. Many children have been very successfully adopted by single parents. Single-parent families accounted for 29 percent of all adoptions from foster care in 2014 (AFCARS).
  • You have to have a college degree. Having a high school diploma or college education is not required. What is important is that you are stable, flexible, and compassionate, and that you have a good sense of humor. Most importantly, you must have the support and commitment to raise a child and to be there for him throughout his life.
  • You have to own a home and each child has to have their own room. You can rent your home or live in an apartment or a mobile home so long as your living situation is a stable one.
  • You have to be of child-bearing age to adopt. Experienced parents and empty-nesters are encouraged to adopt. In most instances, you’re eligible to adopt regardless of age, income, marital status or sexual orientation.
  • You can only adopt a child who is the same race and ethnicity as you. Federal law prohibits the delay or denial of an adoptive placement based on the race or ethnicity of a child in U.S. foster care and the prospective parent or parents who are seeking to adopt them. The only exception to this law is the adoption of Native American children where special considerations apply.
  • You can’t adopt if you’re in the military. Military families stationed overseas and within the U.S. are eligible to adopt children from the U.S. foster care system.


Raising a Material Girl

ask mr dad - fashion - material girl - unsplash-safouan besrour

ask mr dad - fashion - material girl - unsplash-safouan besrourDear Mr. Dad: My 12-year old daughter has become obsessed with designer labels. Basic Levis and generic shoes aren’t good enough anymore. And if I so much as mention the word “Walmart,” she won’t even speak to me. What is going on with her? I find her materialism revolting. Is there anything I can do to stop it?

It’s pretty obvious that you were never an adolescent girl. Same here, but I’ve been through the whole price-tag-obsession thing with my two oldest daughters. So far, my youngest has largely avoided getting sucked into the materialism wars, but that could change any minute.

Although she’s technically not a teenager, your daughter has clearly been affected by peer pressure. And it’s perfectly normal for kids her age (especially girls) to focus at least as much (maybe more) on price tags as on the items those tags are attached to. I remember an exchange with one of my then-teenage daughters who had run out of shampoo and wanted to borrow mine. When I offered her my Costco brand bottle, she sneered and asked whether I had anything “more expensive.” Not better, just more expensive.
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