Our other halves

OK moms,

We all know that motherhood wouldn’t be possible without fatherhood (at least on a fundamental level).

For Father’s Day, we’re asking readers why their dads are the greatest.

So fill in the blank:

My dad’s the best because ________________________________.

Email responses, your name, your dad’s name and a photo to newsdesk@missoulian.com and we’ll use some of them in our Father’s Day coverage!

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How do you change a diaper?

What happens when you ask fourth-graders to write down directions for changing baby diapers?

Turns out, quite a bit of humor and a surprising amount of wisdom.

The gist in Jared’s students’ essays was the same. Take off the old diaper, wipe the baby’s bum and put on a new diaper.

One student didn’t get too far into describing the steps, but her intro summed up the reason behind actually changing diapers nicely.

“If you want to (or more likely have to) change a diaper, here’s how and the various situations I have encountered,” she wrote.

“Well for beginners you always need wipes by you and another diaper,” one student began her directions.

Those wipes apparently come in handy when you “wipe the baby’s bottom to get off the gross stuff that I’m not naming,” according to another student.

One kid must think I can do two things at once, because he wrote: “You tear the diaper off and plug your nose at the same time.”

Keep plugging your nose until the baby’s bottom is wiped clean and the old diaper thrown away, he advised.

After changing the diaper, “go have fun with your baby until it makes another stinky explosion,” another student wrote.

There were some gems in the essays, too.

Not like this one: “Grab a roll of toilet paper wrap it around the baby butty and staple the toilet paper together.”

But like these:

“Softly wipe the baby’s toosh clean do not rub too hard or it might hurt the baby.”

Also be gentle with the tabs. “Be careful though because the strap can rip off pretty easily.”

I definitely heeded this one: “DO NOT throw it away in the garbage can in your house or else it will smell very, very BAD!”

The best piece of advice, though: “After that you put the dirty wipes back in the diaper and fold the diaper up and throw it away.”

Ah, Jared said in amazement. Did you know to do that? That sounds smart.

I didn’t know that – but am storing the nugget of wisdom for August.

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Nearly one in five young men still live with parents

It’s no surprise that, in a recession, more young adults would opt to share a home with their parents. What is a surprise is this week’s news from the Census Bureau that a full 19 percent – or nearly one in five – men between the ages of 25 and 34 report living at home with their parents.

Back in 2005, pre-recession, the number was 14 percent.

But get this: That’s still higher than the current number of young WOMEN living at home. In 2005 that number was 8 percent, and now, it’s 10 percent.

So why do nearly twice as many young men cohabitate with their parents as young women? Well, the Census Bureau doesn’t get into that.  It does, however, note that the recession isn’t the only reason for the increase.

“The increase in 25 to 34 year olds living in their parents’ home began before the recent recession, and has continued beyond it,” said Rose Kreider, a family demographer with the Fertility and Family Statistics Branch, and author of the new Census Bureau study (which can be found by clicking here: America’s Families and Living Arrangements: 2011).

As for the younger crowd, more than half of those between the ages of 18 and 24 are currently living with their parents: 59 percent of men and 50 percent of women. This, too, is an increase since 2005 – but these numbers also include all the nation’s college students who are currently living in dorms.

There’s lots more statistical information to be gleaned from the study, such as the number of children 18 and YOUNGER living with two parents (remember, this is this year, 2011, we’re talking about), and that sort of thing. But you’ll have to read the study for yourself if you want a more exhaustive analysis.

I’ll leave you with one interesting item, though: In 2011, there are 74.6 million children in the United States under the age of 18. That’s a lot of young-uns, isn’t it?

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Saturday is deadline for A+ List nominees

For the past month or so, the Missoulian has sponsored the 2011 A+ List School Awards Contest to find Missoula’s “Most Influential Educator,” “Outstanding Student” and “Best Extracurricular or Classroom Project.”

Missoulians were invited to submit their nominees in each of three categories – elementary school, middle school and high school – to the website, www.missoula.com/aplus.

If you haven’t yet put in your submission, you might want to take note that the contest closes this Saturday. So hurry up and get those nominees named!

The winners will get prizes and be featured in a special section of the Missoulian that will run on May 3.

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Shaken Baby Syndrome topic of Great Falls conference

The two-day Family and Community Heath Conference put on by the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services starts today in Great Falls, and is bringing in a national expert to talk about how to prevent Shaken Baby Syndrome.

This is the syndrome that results when an infant is severely or repeatedly shaken. It can cause serious and permanent damage to a baby’s eyes and brain. And it’s a form of child abuse.

The national expert who will be speaking this afternoon in Great Falls is Julie Price, of the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome, and the title of her talk is “The Period of PURPLE Crying.”

Here’s a little more background on Price:

Price, of Utah, has 19 years in education, training and program management. In addition to her work with the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome, Price oversees Utah’s Period of PURPLE Crying® hospital-based program. She assists hospital administrators, education personnel and maternity services with nurse training and coordination of the Shaken Baby Syndrome prevention and parent education program.

And here’s a little bit more about the PURPLE Crying program:

The Period of PURPLE Crying® is the phrase used to describe the point in a baby’s life when he or she cries more than at any other time. This period of increased crying is often described as “colic”, but there have been many misunderstandings about what “colic” really is.

The acronym PURPLE is used to describe specific characteristics of an infant’s crying during this phase. The word PERIOD is important because it lets parents know that it is temporary and will come to an end.

P: Peak of crying. A baby may cry more each week. The most at 2 months, then less at 3-5 months.
U: Unexpected. Crying can come and go and there is no clear reason why.
R: Resists soothing. A baby may not stop crying no matter what a parent does.
P: Pain-like face. A crying that may look like the baby is in pain, even when he/ she is not.
L: Long lasting. Crying which lasts as long as five hours or more a day.
E: Evening. A baby may cry more in the late afternoon or evening.

“It may be confusing and concerning to be told a baby ‘has colic’ because it may sound like the baby has an illness or a condition that is abnormal,” says Ann Buss of the DPHHS Family and Community Health Bureau. “Parents and caregivers need to know that what they are experiencing is indeed normal and, although frustrating, is simply a phase in their child’s development that will pass.”

This is important, says DPHHS Director Anna Whiting Sorrell, because, “The concept of the Period of Purple Crying is a new way to help parents understand this time in their baby’s life, which is a normal part of every infant’s development. DPHHS is committed to bringing this valuable information to Montanans.”

Here’s more about the presentation:

This presentation is part of an overall DPHHS effort being led by the Montana’s Children Trust Fund of DPHHS to educate families of babies born in Montana about Shaken Baby Syndrome and Abusive Head Trauma. Recently, the MTCTF distributed 45,000 ‘Crying Cards’ to parents of newborns though hospitals, family and pediatric practices, child care facilities, and groups that offer babysitting classes.

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Missoulian looking for A+ students and educators to honor

The A+ List School Awards Contest is now officially underway and actively soliciting submissions for Missoula’s “Most Influential Educator,” “Outstanding Student” and “Best Extracurricular or Classroom Project.”

The Missoulian-sponsored contest is broken out into three categories: Elementary school, middle school and high school submissions.

I’m sure the website, www.missoula.com/aplus, is going to be flooded with submissions.

Students, parents and educators themselves are encouraged to participate. The Missoulian also plans to partner with businesses in the community to provide prizes to the winners.

And, of course, the winners will also be featured in a special section in the Missoulian on May 3!

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State of the Young Child to be held on St. Patrick’s Day

There’s not much time left to register for this Thursday’s State of the Young Child luncheon and symposium in Missoula. Yes, this Thursday is St. Patrick’s Day, too. So wear something green to the luncheon.

This year will mark the sixth annual such gathering hosted by the Healthy Start Council of the Missoula Forum for Children and Youth in the Missoula County Office of Planning and Grants. The public – and especially parents – is encouraged to attend the very affordably priced event (it’s just $5 per parent, $7.25 for others; and free childcare is available on a limited basis).

For your money, you get lunch and the words of Montana Kids Count research analyst Thale Dillon; Missoula County Public Schools’ Carol Ewen, who will be talking about the literacy readiness of incoming kindergartners; parent and inspirational speaker Karen Marsolek of Made You Think LLC; and Richard Manning, a research associate in childhood trauma at the University of Montana’s Institute for Educational Research and Services and the National Native Children’s Trauma Center.

It’s all taking place from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. this Thursday, March 17, at the City Life Teen Center, located at 1515 Fairview Ave. For more information call Susan Barmeyer at the Healthy Start Council at 721-3000 ext. 1022 or e-mail sbarmeyer@co.missoula.mt.us.

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Barbie not a huge hit in China

The Associated Press ran a story yesterday on Mattel Inc.’s closing of its flagship Barbie store in Shanghai, China.

Apparently, the business model for the six-story building, complete with “spa, cafe, design studio, fashion stage and shelves and shelves of Barbies and Barbie products” never caught on with Chinese parents. The AP posits that this is due to the Chinese parental preference of spending their money on things like music lessons, rather than things like hot-pink fashion accessories for their kids’ dolls.

Personally, I would rather spend my money on a Butterfly House and Insectarium for Missoula. And yes, I am totally going to keep harping on this until the place opens.

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Missoula educator to discuss new parenting/teaching book today

“Parents should think strategically, that what they’re doing affects the kid the rest of his or her life,” says Al Yee. “It lays down the foundation and affects their habits, motivation, sense of fairness and decency, their love of life.”

Al Yee

The Missoula educator is the author of a new parenting book, “Raising and Teaching Children for Their Tomorrows.” In it, Yee categorizes parenting and teaching styles into four categories: indulgent-permissive, authoritarian-dictatorial, neglectful-indifferent and authoritative-engaging. The fourth category, he says, strikes the proper balance and is healthiest for children.

“Authoritative-engaging parents and teachers believe that youths should be raised to become thoughtful, self-sufficient people,” Yee writes in his book.

You can meet the author and take a look at the book today at Fact & Fiction in downtown Missoula. At 1 p.m. Al Yee will be at the bookstore, located at 220 N. Higgins, to talk about the book and sign copies.

If that’s too short of notice, other opportunities will take place on March 26 (2 p.m. at Barnes & Noble) and April 23 (11 a.m. at the Red Willow Learning Center).

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Should parents have the right to leave their kids unbuckled?

In Montana, people have the right to decide whether they want to significantly increase their odds of dying in a car crash by opting not to use their seat belts. Even though it is against the law not to use a seat belt while riding in a vehicle, it’s considered a secondary offense, meaning you won’t be pulled over for it unless you’re doing something else wrong.

Reportedly, our state is the only one in the nation that allows even children to be driven around unbuckled. Even if a police officer sees a kid or two bouncing around in a moving vehicle, not buckled up or strapped into an age-appropriate car seat like they’re supposed to be, the officer cannot do a thing about it unless the driver is committing some other traffic infraction as well.

The Missoulian’s editorial board has said before that this sends a weird message – essentially that the people of Montana consider a broken tail light a bigger problem than an unbuckled seat belt.

Today, the editorial board over at the Billings Gazette opined in favor of a billSenate Bill 319 – that would apply specifically to child safety restraints in vehicles. It would allow police to pull over drivers if anyone in the car younger than 18 isn’t wearing a seatbelt.

The Gazette reported that:

Last year, 25 people under the age of 18 were killed in Montana highway crashes, 60 percent of them weren’t wearing seat belts or in child safety seats, said Jim Lynch, MDOT director. If all had been buckled in, statistically, five lives could have been saved.

That’s reason enough for parents to make sure their kids are buckled up every time they hit they road – whether it’s the law or not.

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