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Road Ready Dogs: Best Pooches for a Trip

An ideal traveling companion?

An ideal traveling companion?

So many people can’t live without their dog, however, when it comes time to visit family during the holidays or take that much needed vacation, Fido usually gets shacked up with an acquaintance or sent to the kettle. But, says Marguerite Cimino—owner of For Paws pet store in Fairfax, California—provided your beloved pooch has the appropriate traits, separation isn’t always necessary during a trip.

“If your dog is under 15 pounds and has the right personality,” Cimino says, it may be the ideal traveling companion.

Personality is key, as even a bigger dog, provided it has a stable character, can successfully tag along during most journeys—your mode of transportation does create certain limitations, as stuffing your St. Bernard into a mini-cooper or convincing an airline stewardess a Doberman fits on your lap can pose problems.

Cimino knows from experience that Shiatsus and English Bull Dogs both handle a trek away from home remarkably well, while “Chihuahuas can have anxiety.” Read more »

Question of the Week: Too Young to Sail Around the World?

If a couple kids have their way, 18-year-old solo sailor Mike Perham might lose his record. Photo by Matt Dinnery

If a couple kids have their way, 18-year-old solo sailor Mike Perham might lose his record. Photo by Matt Dinnery

Over the summer a remarkable young American, 17-year old Zac Sunderland, set the record for youngest person to sail alone around the world. Less than two months later, Mike Perham, a slightly younger 17-year old hailing from Britain, broke that record.

“I’ve made it, I’ve made my dream come true and it feels amazing. A big big thanks to my dad, mum, all the sponsors and every one who has helped me along the way,” Perham said, just prior to finishing his voyage. No one can take away his achievement, but at least two even younger teenagers have their sights set on snatching his title. 16-year-old Jessica Watson of Australia and 13-year-old Laura Dekker of the Netherlands both intend to take Perham’s place in the record books, yet, both have run into problems.

Watson literally rode her yacht into a cargo ship and has since been asked by the government of Queensland to abort her attempt.

Citing safety concerns regarding her age, the Dutch government halted Dekkers bid to sail around the world before it began. She’s currently meeting with psychologists who will decide whether she is capable of undertaking the demanding journey.

Dekker’s mom, who has expressed reservations about the endeavor, says her daughter can “sail like the devil,” but skill is not always enough to successfully traverse the high seas. In 1999 32-year old professional sailor Giovanni Soldini rescued a senior competitor, Isabelle Autissier, during a solo sail race around the world after her yacht capsized.

A year early, however, Soldini’s attempt to break a transatlantic crossing record with a crew of four ended in tragedy when a gale led to the death of his close friend Andrea Romanelli.

Few would argue that sailing, especially sailing alone, can be a dangerous adventure, but it’s also clear that youngsters who accomplish a voyage of this magnitude have a defining achievement and memory they will treasure forever. The question: is there an age minimum for this kind of challenge?

Are these teenage women too young to circumnavigate the world alone? If you’re a parent, would you let your child tackle something as ambitious as a global solo sail? Discuss!

Blogger Spotlight on Vered Deleeuw of MomGrind

Vered Deleeuw of MomGrind.

Vered Deleeuw of MomGrind.

Vered Deleeuw is a blogger for hire, a term you didn’t hear much up until recently. But Deleeuw is among a burgeoning number of tech savvy writers ready to help individuals and companies find an audience on the web. She also keeps a personal blog, in which she talks about everything from blogging to Obama’s recent speech on education to cupcake recipes.

We caught up with Deleeuw and asked her about her writing, family, and the role of social media in the home.

In a MomGrind article you wrote about children’s self-esteem, you advised that parents should “encourage your children to be adventurous and to try new things.” How can parents tell where the line between “adventurous” and “risky” is?

Simply listen to your instincts. I know I write a “mom blog,” and I sometimes give advice to other moms, but I’ll confess that I rarely take advice from others. I strongly believe that parents should listen to their own instincts instead of relying so much on information from the outside (books, blogs, etc.). Read more »

The Hidden Dangers of Competitive Sports

Are you aware of the dangers of high school athletics?

Are you aware of the dangers of high school athletics?

Sports are a staple of high school extracurricular activities, but are they worth the time commitment and potential dangers of injury?

Writer Jonnie Wall on sports website Sportales breaks down the pros and cons of youth athletics, though most of the arguments on both sides are fairly familiar, especially on the emotional and mental tradeoffs of sports. But the most interesting debate is whether competitive sports can be damaging physically. Read more »

Question of the Week: What to Tell your Kids about Kidnapping?

Stranger danger? Photo by sholeh

Stranger danger? Photo by sholeh

A kidnapped child: it’s every parent’s worst nightmare, and as the Jaycee Dugard case has so pointedly reminded us, it’s something that can happen. The clamor surrounding Dugard’s escape and the circumstance of her long captivity (not to mention the behavior of her abductors, Phillip and Nancy Garrido) have heightened many people’s concerns for their children’s safety. Meanwhile, it has also ignited a debate about how parents address this danger, especially when explaining it to their kids.

Even before these recent events, comedic magicians Penn Jillette and Teller tackled a serious subject and raised similar questions during an episode of their myth busting show, “Bullsh$t”, called “Stranger Danger.” In the linked clip, two mothers present archetypal stances on the issue. The first: You can never be too careful; kids should be warned to the fullest extent. The second: making kids think the worst about the world is unhealthy; kidnappings are remarkably rare.

Abductions of children by unknown persons are indeed uncommon in the US. According to a 2002 Department of Justice study, the chances of a youngster being snatched by a stranger are about .47 in 1000. Still for an estimated 33,000 children that year, those stats were meaningless.

Every parent wants to keep their progeny safe, but can (and should) parents find a balance between apprising their kids of the world’s risks and its better aspects. How have you cautioned your child about the danger of kidnapping? Discuss!

NOAA, Bill Gates and You: Ready for a Hurricane

Man with a plan.

Man with a plan.

What you’ve heard is true: Bill Gates is developing a weather control device. No need to panic yet Mac people; it’s far from ready, may be impossible, and the software mogul’s intentions—minimizing the damage and danger caused by hurricanes—seem more akin to his philanthropic tendencies than his world domination ones of years past.

That said, until Gates or someone else succeeds in dictating the weather we will have to deal with hurricanes as they come. We’re currently still in the Atlantic Hurricane season, which lasts from June through November, and this year several storms including the recent Fred have threatened harm to life and property, albeit with limited actual damage. Read more »

Blogger Spotlight on Amy Bellgardt of Mom Spark

Amy Bellgardt of Mom Spark

Amy Bellgardt of Mom Spark

Amy Bellgardt is the founder and administrator of online magazine Mom Spark, a network of 17 moms who contribute advice, stories, and recipes online. She’s also worked with companies like Warner Bros., Ford, and Nestle. We caught up with Bellgardt and asked her what about blogging, social media, and why she never writes about her kids.

So let’s start off simple: why do you blog?

I originally created Mom Spark because I was an overwhelmed stay-at-home mom with a difficult newborn, a strong-willed eight year-old, and a husband who worked a lot. Need I say more? I needed the companionship, advice, and support from other moms, even if I had never met these moms in “real life.” Mom Spark became my therapy, my way of connecting with the world amidst the chaos in my head, home, and heart. Please let me note that I love my children and husband and want to stay home with them and never regret doing so at all, but when I started Mom Spark, I especially needed that extra boost of confidence, assurance, and hope. Read more »