Friday, May 27, 2011

Fashion and the First Lady, sex-selective abortion in India, the dark side of gluten-free, the Rapture, and more

Sometimes I don't get around to posting as frequently as I'd like, but I'm still writing as much as ever (or more!) elsewhere. As promised, here is a round-up recent articles. If there's radio silence over here at WriteEditRepeat, be sure to click over to my archive at Yahoo!'s Shine, where new posts go up nearly daily.

President Barack Obama, Queen Elizabeth II, and First Lady Michelle Obama in England this week. (Photo: Getty Images via Yahoo! Shine)

Michelle Obama goes glam and stays stylish while touring Great Britain: A slideshow (with commentary) on what the First Lady chose to wear in England and Ireland this week—and how her choice of designers also makes a political statement.

Fewer girls being born in India due to sex-selective abortion: India's 2011 Census reveals a serious problem: a big decline in the number of girls younger than 7 years old, a sign that the practice of aborting female fetuses may be on the rise.

Going gluten-free? Or hiding an eating disorder? The latest controversy erupts when a blogger at Forbes says the gluten-free "fad" is another way for teens to disguise anorexia. I think she's wrong. Here's why.

The most well-read cities in the U.S.: It's no surprise that Cambridge, Mass.—home to Harvard University and MIT—topped the list. What's more surprising is which cities aren't on it.

Botox Mom isn't the only one: 3 other famous scams: Last week, I covered the story of the California mom who said she injected her 8-year-old regularly with Botox. It turned out to be a hoax, but her case isn't the first one in which a parent pulled a scam and forced their kids to go along with it.

What if you believe the Rapture is coming—but your family doesn't? Harold Camping is officially zero for two with his Rapture predictions, but that didn't stop some of his followers from selling all their things because they were certain that they were going to be taken up on May 21. It didn't happen (his revised date is now October 21). What is it like when the parents are true believers, but their kids aren't? Related: The CDC—yes, the actual CDC—offers tips on preparing for a zombie apocalypse.

What's up with Beyonce's skin tone? Beyonce's latest album, "4," drops this summer and on its cover she looks brighter—and lighter—than ever. We take a look back at her album covers over the years. Is she being styled to look "whiter," as some critics claim? Or is it just a trick of the light?

Monday, May 23, 2011

On hope, and finding lost things

When my now 6-year-old daughter was a baby, my mom gave her a fuzzy cream-colored toy Easter bunny that my daughter, for whatever reason, named Minno.

Minno quickly became a permanent fixture in our lives, traveling with us to and from that hectic early-evening childcare hand-off my husband and I had, snuggling with our daughter at bedtime, even occupying the high chair with her. I quickly realized that all hell would probably break loose when (not if) the bunny got lost, and decided to get a couple of identical backups. Which is when I discovered that the bunny had been discontinued a couple of years earlier.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Botox for an 8-year-old? Mom says it was all a lie

This week, whenever I wasn't writing about Schwarzenegger and Shriver over at Shine, I was following the crazy story of a California mom who said that she injected her 8-year-old daughter with Botox to make her a contender on the child beauty pageant circuit.

In March, 34-year-old part-time beautician Kerry Campbell was interviewed by U.K. tabloid newspaper The Sun, about giving her 8-year-old daughter, Britney, body waxes and Botox. Last week, she appeared on ABC's "Good Morning America" to defend herself; the program also broadcast photos Campbell provided of her injecting her child with the nerve toxin. Just hours after her nationwide appearance, she was under investigation by San Francisco's Human Services Department:
"We were getting into the pageants," Campbell recalled. "I knew she was complaining about her face, having wrinkles, and things like that."

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Schwarzenegger/Shriver saga: How much is too much?

I've been writing about the breakup of one of the most famous couples in both Hollywood and politics: "Terminator" star and Republican former-governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger and journalist, feminist, and Democractic Kennedy clan-member Maria Shriver.

Last week, I took a look at their marriage and asked Shine readers whether Shriver gave up too much in order to support her husband's political career:

"My experience with politics was one of loss," Shriver told Oprah Winfrey in an interview in 2008. "I'd learned early on that political life was about constant travel and being surrounded by 50 people in the house, and either you lose or you get assassinated. So I wanted nothing to do with that." ... (Read More)
Today, my post is about Schwarzenegger's admission that he had an affair and fathered a child with a member of his household staff—and then kept his mistress on the payroll, and in his house, for 10 more years.

"After leaving the governor's office I told my wife about this event, which occurred over a decade ago," Schwarzenegger said in his statement. "I understand and deserve the feelings of anger and disappointment among my friends and family. There are no excuses and I take full responsibility for the hurt I have caused. I have apologized to Maria, my children and my family. I am truly sorry. I ask that the media respect my wife and children through this extremely difficult time. While I deserve your attention and criticism, my family does not. "... (Read More)

I should probably start posting weekly round-ups of my work on Shine, just to offset the radio silence here at WriteEditRepeat! In the meantime, you can stay on top of the latest posts by visiting me in the Manage Your Life section at Shine.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Musical geniuses: These kids can really play

At Shine today, I'm inspired by some amazing musicians—all of whom are younger than 10 years old. Here are three of the ones that really blew me away:

I started playing violin when I was 6, and even when I performed at Carnegie Hall as a first violinist with the youth orchestra I was in, I didn't sound this good. It takes a long time to learn how to play the violin with such emotion, intensity, and clarity, but somehow Brianna Kahane mastered it by the time she was 6. Here she is playing "La Cinquantaine" on a tiny, 1/8-size violin:

Emily Bear played piano at the White House when she was just 6 years old. Not only does she play like a virtuoso, she writes her own music as well. Here she is performing one of her own creations, called "Northern Lights," at age 7. Please note: She's so tiny, the piano is outfitted with special, raised pedals.

5-year-old Jonah is destined for the stage. Here he is rocking out on the drums to "Tom Sawyer" by Rush, a challenge for many adults, let alone a kid who's still in kindergarten.

You can see more amazing musical kids in my video post over at Yahoo! Shine.

Monday, May 9, 2011

3 ways to avoid e-mail overload

Juggling a full-time job with a freelance career means that I have several email address. I consolidate them to an extent, having most of them forward themselves to my main real-life account (thank you for that, gmail). But avoiding email overload is a challenge.

As I've mentioned before, my inbox can get out of control. Also: I work with a great team of people who are scattered across the U.S., which means that I can't use the cool trick that Nataly and Miss Britt love; if I don't check my email first thing in the day, I don't know what the California part of my team was discussing after I logged off last night, or whether there's a last-minute news story I'm supposed to cover ASAP. Since my teammates are spread far and wide, if we're not emailing one another then we're instant messaging (and that's in between the twice-daily teleconferences), so I can't check email only at set times.

What's a busy working mom to do?

Friday, May 6, 2011

On being a stepmother on Mother's Day

I honestly believe that if you're parenting, then you're a parent, regardless of whether your kids arrived in your life via birth or adoption or marriage.

Over at Shine, I'm sounding a positive note: Tips to encourage stepmoms to have a happy Mother's Day. And I couldn't agree more with what relationship expert Karen Stewart, founder of Fairway Divorce Solutions, told me in an interview: "I don't think Mother's Day is about mothers," she said. "I think Mother's Day is about teaching gratitude and teaching the value of mothers." 

Even though I love my stepkids like they're my own, and even though I happily did many of the things that mothers do for years, when they were small and staying with us for weeks at a time, we didn't really celebrate Mother's Day in our house. Why not? It was pretty simple: Because as much as I adore my stepkids, I'm not their mom. (In fact, we didn't even create a Mom-like name for me; they just call me Lylah.)

Once our youngest kids were born, celebrating Mother's Day became an easy thing. But even before their births, I felt loved and appreciated for who I am and what I have done—I have a stack of notes written in magic marker and crayon that testify to it, even if they weren't given to me on the first Sunday in May.

Here are five tips for stepmoms, to make Mother's Day go more smoothly: