Small Steps Make a Blended Family

potted plant-smDear Mr. Dad: I’m engaged to an amazing man with a 9-year old son who’s with him every other weekend. When I first started going out with his father, the boy and I got along great. But the closer we get to the marriage, the worse things get between us. I’ve tried to talk with him about it, but he just screams at me that, “you’re not my mother!” and runs to his dad, whose usual response us to take his son’s side and spend more time with him. That leaves me feeling completely left out and unheard. I’m not trying to replace my fiancé’s son’s mother or interfere with his relationship with his dad. At the same time, I need more attention and understanding from my fiancé. How do I have these conversations?

A: The dynamic you’re describing is incredibly common, but that doesn’t make it any less unpleasant for anyone involved. Think about this from your boyfriend’s point of view: He’s trying to balance being there for you and being a good dad. Because he sees his son only every other weekend, he wants those precious days to be as conflict-free as possible, which may explain why he seems to be taking his son’s side over yours (although there really are no “sides” here). He may also be feeling guilty about not being able to be more involved, which may explain why his response to conflict is to spend more time with his son. Unfortunately, that leaves you out in the cold.
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How Our Microbiota Affects Our Health

Justin Sonnenburg, co-authhor of The Good Gut.
Topic:
Taking control of your weight, your mood, and your long-term health
Issues: The relationship between our bodies and the trillions of organisms that live in our gut; the ways those organisms (called “microbiota”) determine whether we’re sick or healthy, fit or obese, sunny or moody; why our microbiota is facing a “mass extinction event.”

Fat-Talk Nation + The Good Gut


Susan Greenhalgh, author of Fat-Talk Nation.
Topic:
The human costs of America’s war on fat.
Issues: The politics and culture of fat in America; how the war on fat damages the physical and emotional health of our young people and disrupts families and intimate relationships; how to change the national conversation and reframe our relationship with our bodies and our health.

Justin Sonnenburg, co-authhor of The Good Gut.
Topic:
Taking control of your weight, your mood, and your long-term health
Issues: The relationship between our bodies and the trillions of organsms that live in our gut; the ways those organisms (called “microbiota”) determine whether we’re sick or healthy, fit or obese, sunny or moody; why our microbiota is facing a “mass extinction event.”

A Midsummer Days’ Dream

Summer is fully upon us, in all its glory. And by “glory” we mean that it’s hot, sticky, and sweaty. (Almost enough to make you forget what a brutal winter it was. Almost.) For those of you looking for ways to cool down, try these.

fisher price sand and water tableLittle Tikes Treasure Hunt Sand and Water Table (Fisher Price)
Kids love water play and they love sandboxes. Combine them? Oh, yeah. There are several things about this toy a great summertime option: there’s zero tech, it gets kids to play outside, it encourages creative play, it can be used in a variety of ways, multiple kids can play together (or separately), you can bring it indoors in case of summer rain showers, and, best of all, it keeps kids busy for hours. The Sand and Water Table is a great way for you and the kids to spend time together getting your hands dirty and wet. It’s also a great option if you need a few minutes to mark some of those boring grown-up things off your to-do list (but you’ll never, ever leave small children alone around water, right?) Oh, and did we mention that it’s a bargain at $59.99. http://www.littletikes.com

little tikes slam n curve slideSlam ‘n Curve Slide (LItle Tikes)
While we’re on the topic of things that will get the kids up, outside, and occupied for hours, check out the Slam ‘n’ Curve Slide. It’s easy to set up—less than a minute if you use the included pump—and anchors solidly to the ground to keep it steady. Then you attach your water hose, turn it on, and voila! water slide/bouncy house fun, right in your very own backyard. The slide comes with a basketball net and mini inflatable ball, and there’s a small pool at the bottom that gradually fills up, but it doesn’t get very deep. The Slam ‘n Curve is one of the best warm-weather toys we’ve seen and it’s perfect whether you’ve got the kids at home all summer long or you’re just planning a short staycation. The only downside is that it’s a little cumbersome to put away—you have to empty it out, let it dry, roll it up like a giant sleeping bag), and stuff it into the included storage sack. It’s also a bit heavy, but given how much you’re going to be using it, you want something solid. The Slam ‘n Curve Slide provides days (not just hours) of entertainment for the whole family and is well worth the $399.99 price. Find it at your favorite retailer or http://www.littletikes.com

dyson am09 bladeless fanAM09 Fan + Cool Heater (Dyson)
This fan is perfect for those long evenings when, even though the sun has gone down, everything still feels sticky and gross.  Some of the coolest features about this fan are that it oscillates, tilts, is easy to clean, and is blade-less. You know kids and fans: They always want to stick their fingers (or toys, or straws, or silverware) into the slots to “see what will happen.” As adults, we all know what happens, and it’s never good. Eliminating the blades eliminates most of those potential disasters. It also makes the fan easy to clean (you’ve seen how dust accumulates on fan blades: no blades = much less dust to blow around). The AM09 is quieter than most other fans and comes with a remote that controls oscillation, temperature, and airflow. It also has a sleep timer. When summer turns to fall and then winter and the nights get cooler, the AM09 functions as a heater. Get yours at http://www.dyson.com  for $449.99

Dragons: Race to the Edge–More Than Just Another Hiccup.

Disclaimer: I’m part of the Netflix #StreamTeam, but I’ve been a Netflix power user for years and it would take a lot more than a few free movies to influence my opinions.

When my kids were young, say under 10, it was easy to get them to snuggle up somewhere cozy and read stories together or watch movies or special TV shows. Some of my happiest memories with all three of them involved exactly that. Over the years, I read hundreds of books—doing special voices and accents for each character—including every single one of the “Harry Potter” and “Series of Unfortunate Events” books.


I also dug into some timeless classics like Beverly Cleary’s “Henry and Ribsy” books and Eleanor Cameron’s “Mushroom Planet” series, and some of my childhood favorites, from “The Phantom Tollbooth” and “A Wrinkle in Time” to “Mr. Poppers Penguins” and everything ever written by Lloyd Alexander and Roald Dahl. The kids read to me as well, practicing their decoding when they were first learning letters and words, picking out their own favorites and the library, reading their assigned books from school, re-reading some of the books I’d read to them (and doing their own voices), then making their own book choices, such as Rick Riordan’s entire “Percy Jackson” and “Kane Chronicles” series, “Bone,” and “Amulet.”
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