How Bullying Affects the Brain

Carrie Goldman, author of Bullied.
Topic: What every parent, teacher, and kid needs to know about ending the cycle of fear.
Issues: Eye-opening stats on the prevalence of bullying; the harmful effects of bullying on the brain; creating a home environment that produces neither bullies nor victims; why typical school anti-bullying/zero tolerance policies do more harm than good.

What’s on Your @Netflix #shelfie List?

netflix - mad men

When I first heard the word “shelfie” I had no idea what it meant. So, naturally, I started guessing: Sean Connery trying to pronounce the word “selfie”? An elf on a shelf? A small piece of seafood? A gift you got but never use and it languishes on a shelf, all alone? When a bully hangs one of his or her victims from a shelf?

Turns out, a shelfie is none of the above. It’s a word coined by Netflix that refers to a TV show that you want to (binge) watch but just haven’t had the time. So it sits on your virtual shelf unwatched, gathering dust.

Around here, our shelfie list is pretty long, in part because the school day is so long. It starts with an hour drive to school, includes an hour (twice that on Fridays) to get back home, and finishes up with an hour or two of homework (not including the time spent arguing about it). By the time we add in a dog walk, some dinner, and a little exercise, it’s pretty much time to wake up and start all over again.

So our shelfie list keeps on growing. Here’s what’s on it now.

netflix - narcosNarcos. A Netflix Original. The true story of Colombia’s violent drug cartels. Since I loved “The Wire” and “Breaking Bad,” this one seems like a natural.

netflix - scandalScandal. DC lawyers who make scandals disappear while keeping the wheels of government well greased. I spend a lot of time in DC and I want to see whether the fictional players are anywhere near as sleazy as some of the actual ones I’ve met.

netflix gothamGotham. What is it about Bruce Wayne, The Joker, Penguin, and the rest of Gotham City’s underworld that’s so engaging? No idea, but I’ll always be first in line to see it and my 12-year old daughter will be right there with me.

netlifx - orange is the new blackOrange Is the New Black. Another Netflix Original. The concept sounds loony–a privileged women ends up in prison–but it just keeps on winning awards. I have a terrible feeling that I’ll groan through the first episode, then watch a second to be sure I hate it, and then watch the rest of the seaason in one night.

netflix - mad menMadmen. I took some classes on advertising in grad school and have been intrigued by Madison Avenue (the “Mad” in the title) ever since.

netlifx - sons of anarchySons of Anarchy. What little boy hasn’t had a fantasy–if only for a few minutes–of riding a Harley without a helmet. Plus, I met one of the show’s actors who convinced me to give it a shot.

netlifx - lutherLuther. Back to “The Wire.” Idris Elba was riveting. Plus, there’s some talk about him possibly playing James Bond. But he’ll have to kill Daniel Craig first.

Disclosure: I’m a member of the Netflix Stream Team and I receive occasional promotional products and some early access to programming. But all of the opinions are mine and mine alone.

Squeezing the Charmin Ultra Strong–You Just Can’t Stop Yourself

charmin ultra strong

charmin ultra strongOkay, I admit it. As a single dad on a budget, I have a bias towards bargain brands, and toilet paper is no exception. I’ve used my favorite warehouse brand TP for decades and never made a connection between it and the underwear skid marks (I always assumed it was operator error—mine and the kids’). So when the folks at Charmin sent me some Charmin Ultra Strong and asked me to review it, I wasn’t terribly excited. I mean, toilet paper is toilet paper, right? Coincidentally, though, it was time to install new rolls in two of our four bathrooms, which gave us a chance to do a butt-cheek-to-butt-cheek comparison.

The difference was immediately noticeable in several ways. First, Charmin Ultra Strong is really soft. It made all those commercials with the family of bears seem a little less silly (plus, they always make me miss Mr. Whipple, who, sadly, died in 2007.) That by itself wouldn’t have been enough to get me to switch brands (although if I lived in Morocco, where the TP feels like sandpaper or one of many countries where they use newspaper, I would have switched immediately).

Second, there were fewer skid marks (aha! So it might not have been operator error after all). Maybe it’s just our family’s diet, but even with bleach, those marks never got completely out of our underwear, which meant I needed to buy replacements pretty regularly. The difference seems to be Charmin Ultra Strong’s washcloth-like texture. Human bottoms are apparently kind of like English muffins, in that they both have all sorts of nooks and crannies. Regular, flat TP can’t clean out those hiding places very well unless you use a ton of it and wipe three or four times (and, let’s face it, who’s got time for that?). But Ultra Strong’s texture did the job after just one wipe. The bottom line? You end up with cleaner underwear and use less three or four times less toilet paper to boot. Actually, let’s call it half as much: Ultra Strong is so soft that you may end up giving yourself an extra wipe just because it feels so nice. Either way, the trifecta of using less TP, cleaner underwear, and softness is definitely reason enough to switch.

Disclosure: I received free product and some compensation to facilitate this review. However, it would take more than a few rolls of toilet paper and a few bucks to make me give something a thumbs up that I don’t honestly believe it deserves.

photo credit:

End Bullying + Safety vs. Panic + Adolescents and Risk

Carrie Goldman, author of Bullied.
Topic: What every parent, teacher, and kid needs to know about ending the cycle of fear.
Issues: Eye-opening stats on the prevalence of bullying; the harmful effects of bullying on the brain; creating a home environment that produces neither bullies nor victims; why typical school anti-bullying/zero tolerance policies do more harm than good.

Paula Statman, author of Raising Careful, Confident Kids in a Crazy World.Topic: Teaching kids to be safe and strong.
Issues: Striking a healthy balance between safety and panic; turning nice kids into safe kids; why scare tactics don’t work; what parents and kids need to know about sex offenders; much more.

Michael Ungar, author of Too Safe for Their Own Good.
Topic: How risk and responsibility help teens thrive.
Issues: Adolescents are safer now than at any time in history—why are we overly protecting them? How bubble-wrapping kids stunts their healthy growth and puts them at harm; the benefits of experiencing manageable amounts of danger.

Hey, Let’s Take a Road Trip!

When you’re hitting the road with the family, comfortable and occupied kids are quiet. And quiet kids make for a far more peaceful experience for everyone. Here are some new road trip accessories for kids of all ages to help you keep on truckin’.

Junkie orgznizerJunkie and Sneck (BubbleBum)
Junkie is a car organizer/activity station combo that keeps kids’ stuff all in one place and your car cleaner. Just stock it with your children’s favorite toys, harness it into the backseat, and you’re ready to roll. There are two retractable trays, two cup holders, an insulated area for cold items, and plenty of storage for coloring books, snacks, crayons, and anything else you can think of. There’s also a removable tote bag so you can bring your finished (or in-progress) projects into the house, hotel, restaurant, or wherever you’re headed. Sneck is a travel pillow (microbeads on the inside, plush on the outside) that makes easy for kids to nap in the car. You can use the Velcro strap to attach it to almost any headrest and your child can then adjust it to the perfect spot. Sneck also has a small mesh pocket that can hold a small toy or electronic device. Junkie and Sneck are both available at  or most major retailers.

Necknapperz (Necknapperz)
Like Sneck, Necknappers are microbeads-inside-plush-outside neck pillows. But they’re also adorable, cuddly stuffies that your kids will love to play with while they’re waiting to board the plane or entertaining themselves in their car seat. When they get tired, a few zips and shakes and they’ve got a supportive U-shaped pillow that will minimize the stiff shoulders and necks caused by sleeping with your head flopping around. All 22 Necknapperz have snaps and are easy to attach to your (or your child’s) luggage so they won’t get lost. Retail for $19.99 at

EquiptBaby (EquiptBaby)
This portable bassinet is so small, you can fold it up and put it into your diaper bag. The outside is fine, see-through mesh that lets you keep an eye on your baby from any angle. Besides keeping bugs away, the mesh has an SPF 50 rating to protect your baby from the sun. The padded insert is machine washable, so post-diaper-blowout cleanup is easy. Setup takes literally three seconds (folding it back up takes maybe 10). For ages 0-6 months. $69.95 at

If you’ve ever run out of sleeping space on a camping trip, grandma’s house, or even a kids’ sleep over at your own house, you really need to check out Kid-O-Bunk portable bunkbeds. They look a little like army cots, but they’re smaller, come in far more attractive colors, and are much more portable. Setup takes just minutes, no tools, mattresses, or ladders required. You can also configure Kid-O-Bunks as a bench for daytime use, or as two single beds if you’ve got the space or the kids can’t decide who gets the top bunk. Regardless of the configuration, they come with plenty of pockets that are ideal for holding books, glasses, pens, and—if you’re allowing it—electronic devices. The material is machine washable, which is always nice. And they come in a zippered bag which makes storage and schlepping really easy. Recommended for kids up to age 12, each cot can hold up to 200 pounds, so weight (hopefully) won’t be an issue. Tall kids, however, may have a little trouble fitting. Comes with two bunks, adapters for stacking, two carry bags, two organizers, and a set of footpads (to minimize ground sinking outdoors or floor damage indoors). $289 at or