Lunch Box News

How to Play: Ghost

How to Play: GhostLose the game, and become a "ghost."

What you need:
All you need for this game is at least two players.

How to play: This is a word game in which players take turns adding letters to a growing word fragment, but they cannot complete the word. A player who completes a word loses that round and receives a letter of the word "ghost," as in the basketball game Horse. Each fragment must be the start of an actual word.

The rules: The person whose turn it is may challenge the previous player to prove the current fragment is actually a word. If the player can name the word, the challenger loses that round. If the challenged player cannot name a word, that player loses the round.

How to win: The first person who receives all the letters in the word "ghost" is the loser of the game.

What else you need to know: In some versions of the game, players that have gotten out of the game continue to participate by trying to distract other players and turn them into ghosts. If a player does not have all the letters of the word "ghost" and he or she talks to an existing ghost, they are immediately out of the game and become a ghost.

Agreeing to Disagree: Can Moms With Wildly Different Parenting Styles Manage to Stay Best Friends?

As the mother of three kids under the age of 3, I consider my best friend, Joanne, one of the great saving graces.

Agreeing to Disagree: Can Moms With Wildly Different Parenting Styles Manage to Stay Best Friends?
The mother of almost 4-year old twin boys Kyle and Adam, Joanne hosted innumerable play dates for Ben, my 2-year old son, when I was struggling through my pregnancy with my own twin girls.

She's brought her crew to see us weekly in the 10 months since Charlotte and Elizabeth were born, and helped me on my early voyages out of the house with all three kids (testing the claim of a few restaurants that they are, indeed, "family-style.") She's also given us more baby clothes and gear, advice and moral support than I can count.

But, though we've been friends since second grade, Joanne and I have always been different ("We'll never steal each other's compact discs or men," she used to joke in our single 20s) -- and our parenting styles reflect that.

Joanne is, by her own admission, the stricter mom of the two of us, while I am hopelessly over-permissive. Her boys frequently take time-outs on the stairs ("the naughty step") when they visit our house, whereas my son didn't even know we had a naughty step. Dinner at Joanne's house is a well-mannered affair; ours is a mess of games and songs. And her boys know they must eat the dinner put in front of them, while I'm pushing more food at my son an hour later if he doesn't eat. Read more...

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How to Protect Kids From Online Tracking

Tracking and profiling kids online -- and selling their information to advertisers and data brokers -- has quickly become widespread.

How to Protect Kids From Online TrackingDigital life has lots of benefits -- online tracking isn't one of them.

Our online digital world lets kids connect with family and friends and consume, create and share enormous amounts of content. It also lets companies track kids and collect their personal information.

Online tracking of kids is growing.
Tracking and profiling kids online -- and selling their information to advertisers and data brokers -- has quickly become widespread. The Wall Street Journal recently found that the top 50 websites for kids and teens installed 4,123 cookies and other tracking tools on a test computer -- 30 percent more than were installed by the top 50 general sites.

It's time to take action to protect kids' privacy.
We need a "Do Not Track Kids" law. Policymakers must take action to protect kids' and teens' online privacy. Kids' online behavior shouldn't be tracked, and companies shouldn't be allowed to sell or transfer kids' personal information.

More information can be found on The Wall Street Journal article.

School Lunch Makes Teacher Lose Her Appetite

When we went to school, the cafeteria featured such things as food cooked by human beings, served with big metal spoons from giant trays. But according to Chow.com article, as the blog Fed Up: School Lunch Project demonstrates, times have changed. Each day, an anonymous schoolteacher in Illinois pays $3 for the school hot lunch, photographs it, eats it, then gives a report on her blog.

School lunchesEven after only a few weeks of posts, Fed Up paints a devastating picture of how the school lunch program is failing kids. Mystery meat, still-frozen fruit cups, "pizza" with cheese that separates into fat layers. Everything is individually wrapped and, if it's hot, it's been microwaved. Weird pairings are rampant: Pizza and pretzels? A hot dog, cookie, and Tater Tots? The pictures are disgusting enough, but the descriptions are even worse: "I guess the green beans had some kind of butter sauce. I didn't taste a sauce but there was a little buttery residue on the bottom of the paper package." Is this food supposed to be fueling the next generation?

It makes the work done by people like school lunch activist Ann Cooper seem even more important.

Writing a Will: Yes, Parents, You Need One!

The idea of writing a will gives some of us the creeps. After all, what you're preparing for is your demise -- hardly a rosy thought. But, if you're a parent, it's essential to start planning for that fateful day.

Writing a Will: Yes, Parents, You Need One!
Your kids depend on you f,or more than your love -- they depend on you for their quality of life. And, if something happens to you and/or your spouse, you need to make sure they're taken care of. Who will they live with? How will they be raised? Who gets your wedding ring? You want a say in all these decisions and more.

Beyond a gloomy reputation, there are also lots of misconceptions about wills. Two biggies: what they cost and how they work.

Myth No.1: Wills are expensive. Cost is number one on the list of why more of us don't have wills. In fact, a study by Lawyers.com last year found that more than 40 percent of folks blamed tight finances as the reason why they haven't gotten a will yet. But a basic DIY will kit -- which makes clear who will be the guardians of your children, along with some basic estate decisions -- only costs about $50 on sites such as Nolo and LegalZoom. Read more...

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Connect With Your Child Through Play

When you think about your own childhood, do you recall times when you and your parents played together? Maybe it was hide-and-seek, or Monopoly or rock-paper-scissors. I remember pretending to be circus performers with my mom and dad, and playing gin rummy with my grandmother.

Connect With Your Child Through Play
We used to think of family games as inexpensive entertainment or simple ways to pass the day. Now, with competing demands on everyone's time, the excess of toys marketed to kids and so many electronic diversions, these kinds of activities can seem a bit dated. But they are the stuff memories are made of. They were fun, and they allowed us a chance to feel close to people we love. That's reason enough to play together as a family.

But there are also many other benefits of play -- and research shows its role in children's development.

Play is both a catalyst and context for learning. Through play, children make sense of their experiences, and express their ideas and emotions. Play helps them develop and practice skills underlying success in school and beyond: self-control, working memory, cognitive flexibility, persistence and following rules among others. Playing with others also helps children build relationships. Read more...

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Paging Dr. Buzzkill: Playing Video Games Can Mess Up Your Wrists

This looks fun, but your wrists may suffer.

Paging Dr. Buzzkill: Playing Video Games Can Mess Up Your Wrists
What? You think you can save the world from alien mutant freaks without a little bit of personal discomfort?

If you're not prepared to take the risk, put down the video game.

Researchers tell WebMD you risk a lot more than being blown to virtual smithereens. You may experience (heaven help you) wrist and finger pain.

According to the website, researchers looked at the effect of playing computer games on Gameboy, Xbox and other systems where you have to move your fingers and wrists faster than Liberace. In all, some 257 gamers ages 9 and 15 were studied in St. Louis schools.

"Our study has shown the negative impact that playing computer games and using mobile phones can have on the joints of young children, raising concerns about the health impact of modern technology later in life," Yusuf Yazici, a professor of rheumatology at New York University Hospital, tells WebMD. "We hope that further research in this area will shed light on what could be a serious health concern for today's gaming children in later life."

Well, thank you, Dr. Buzzkill.

WebMD reports kids in the study were given a questionnaire about game consoles, hand-held gaming devices and mobile phones. The hours they used these devices were recorded.

Kids who used a Gameboy or Xbox experienced more pain than kids who used iPhones. Researchers tell the magazine that each hour of play increased the odds of pain twofold.

But, hey, no pain, no gain -- or bonus lives.

4 Reasons Why Packing Your Lunch Will Change Your Life For The Better

4 Reasons Why Packing Your Lunch Will Change You For The BetterWe are surrounded by soda, candy, snacks and all-around unhealthy foods, which commonly lead to poor diets.

Some of us are fighting weight gain because of unhealthy snacks and a lack of exercise.

Although this is harsh news to face because weight gain can lead to serious health issues, today is the day to shed light on the issue. March 10 is National Pack Your Lunch Day.

Let’s face it: When we are at work or school, the easiest thing to do is spend a little cash during lunch hour to buy food.

However, you probably aren’t getting a very balanced meal, and although it is delicious and easy, it is not necessarily healthy.

If we added 10 or 20 minutes to our nightly schedules to make lunch for the next day, we would all start to journey into new, healthier lifestyles.

Packing your lunch offers many benefits; although they may not be life-changing, they have great long-term effects and will make your life much easier during the busy workweek: Read more...

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Passing on Perfection: Why Being a ‘Good Enough’ Parent Is Great

Yesterday morning, I got home after my 5:30 a.m. boot camp to find my husband of 16 years had locked one of the cats in the closet, and she had pooped in his favorite carry-on bag.

Passing on Perfection: Why Being a ‘Good Enough Parent Is Great
Neither of the children was up, and the bath I ask him to draw every morning was ice cold. That meant the cranky son wouldn't want to wash his hair in it (and our water pressure doesn't allow us to run the bath and shower at the same time). This was a surefire combination for a sibling battle and just another day in the life of a Good Enough Mother.

I'm René Syler. Welcome to my world! I bet it looks a lot like yours. Three years ago, I wrote "Good Enough Mother: The Perfectly Imperfect Book of Parenting," which outlined my philosophy on parenting and life in general. Back then, I had a high-powered job as a network news anchor, a husband and two beautiful kids -- my daughter, Casey, and son, Cole. I was trying to do it all. Read more...

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Why Summer Break Scares Me

Summer break has begun.

Why Summer Scares Me
Some moms are thrilled about this. They can't wait to go on adventures and hang out all day long for weeks at a time with their kids. Their calendars are already filled with plans for family field trips and crafts and such. They are giddy just thinking about it.

I'm not one of them.

The summer scares me. It makes me nervous. I feel like I don't know how to entertain my children all the time. I can only do it in short bits and bites. And then what? They'll go off for a while and play on their own, but then it's back to Mama. Mama, watch this. Mama, do that. Mama, play this imaginary game with me. Mama, read this book to me. Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama.

I'm staring down the barrel of 10 weeks straight worth of figuring out what to do to entertain these fabulous creatures, and it scares me that I don't have 10 weeks worth of entertaining things to do.

People use the word "overwhelming" or "overwhelmed" quite a bit when discussing postpartum depression and its equally unpleasant cousins, postpartum anxiety and postpartum OCD. Even though I'm years away from having postpartum OCD, and even though I adore being a mom to my children, I can still get that feeling of being overwhelmed. It's not like it was when I was sick, of course, but I sometimes have moments of feeling like it's all too much. Read more...

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