Moderate Moment | Moderate Moms

Archive for August, 2013

In Syrian refugee camps, another day of childhood is lost

By Eddie Izzard, special for CNN

updated 11:38 AM EDT, Fri July 19, 2013
 
(CNN) — Yousef is two years old and lives in a refugee camp in Iraq. Her mother tells comedian and UNICEF ambassador Eddie Izzard that she wants to return to her country, but will not jeopardize her children’s safety. With every day that passes in their life as a refugee, she fears that they are losing another day of their childhood.

Yousef (not his real name) is two years old and lives in a shack that once sheltered animals. He arrived in Northern Iraq from Syria a few months ago. In Syria he lived in a nice home, in a nice area – full of middle-class comforts. But planes began to whirr through the skies and bombs began to fall in his region. The power supply diminished and the police disappeared.

UNICEF UK Ambassador Eddie Izzard meets Yousef\'s mum.
UNICEF UK Ambassador Eddie Izzard meets Yousef’s mum.

And, one day, a group of men came to the house and threatened his young sister. His mother said enough. So, Yousef was bundled up, packed into a car and set off to the border, where his mother carried him and his sister across to Iraq.

Syria’s forgotten refugees

The family lost everything in Syria — their house, their roots, and most of their loved ones. They followed in the footsteps of the only relatives who had already fled and moved into a large settlement of improvised homes, not far from Domiz refugee camp near Dohuk. An uncle had found the shell of a shelter for sheep and goats. They built up walls and covered holes with tarpaulin. Sixteen people moved in. There are now three rooms, with a family sleeping in each.

I traveled to Northern Iraq with UNICEF to report on the growing catastrophe facing Syrian children. I was surprised to find that three quarters of refugees are in Yousef’s situation and do not live in formalized camps. Instead, refugees cram into overcrowded, rented flats; shacks they have built from scratch, or converted dwellings. Others squeeze in with family members.

 

Syrian photographer documents destruction

 

Stemming the Syrian violence

 

U.N.: 5,000 Syrians dying every month

Refugees find a home where they can. There is not enough space in camps for everyone. Domiz refugee camp alone was designed for 15,000 people and is already home to 45,000. There are 160,000 refugees in Iraq and the number is anticipated to more than double by the end of the year to 350,000. Towns, cities and wasteland soak up the overspill.

The needs in these communities are dire. One young refugee girl I was told about had been out of school for two years and had forgotten how to read. Keeping children safe from harm and abuse is also problematic in fractured and ad hoc settlements.

And — perhaps most crucially as the temperatures hit 45 degrees – there is not enough clean water or sanitation facilities for everyone. With cholera epidemics most common in September, the threat of disease looms large in people’s minds.

UNICEF, along with the Kurdistan Regional Government and other humanitarian organizations, is doing everything it can to get aid to children and their families who need it — safe drinking water, adequate sanitation, specialist psychological support, education and health services. A dedicated plan to cater to the needs of urban refugees in northern Iraq is currently being drawn up with partners including UNHCR.

But numbers are huge and expanding — and there are not enough resources to go round and not enough funds to scale up existing programs. UNICEF has only a third of the money it needs for the year in order to deliver vital aid. At the moment, the agency simply cannot help everyone it wants to.

Yousef’s mother does not know how long they will have to stay in Iraq. She wants to return to her country, but will not jeopardize her children’s safety. She fears her son and daughter will forget Syria and they are growing up without the education, basic services and protection they deserve. With every day that passes in their life as a refugee, she fears that they are losing another day of their childhood.

Syrian refugees plead with U.S. secretary of state in Jordan

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Eddie Izzard.

Chicken with herbs and ginger

From Food Network: 

Sauteed Chicken Breasts with Fresh Herbs and Ginger: Low Carb

 

Ingredients
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, like soy or peanut
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, about 6 ounces each
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Juice of 1/2 lime (about 1 tablespoon)
3 tablespoons chicken broth, homemade or low-sodium canned
2 teaspoons finely grated ginger
1/4 cup packed fresh basil leaves, torn
2 tablespoons packed fresh mint leaves, torn
Directions
Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Season both sides of the chicken breasts with salt and pepper, and place them skin side down in the pan. Cook, turning once, until firm to the touch, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken breasts to a plate.

Add the lime juice to the skillet, and scrape up any browned bits that cling to the pan with a wooden spoon. Add the chicken broth and ginger, and bring to a boil. Off the heat, add the basil and mint to the pan and swirl the pan to combine.

Divide the chicken between the 2 plates and spoon the herb sauce over the chicken. Serve.

Serves: 2

Calories: 316

Total Fat: 16 grams

Saturated Fat: 1.5 grams

Protein: 40 grams

Total carbohydrates: 2 grams

Sugar: 0 grams

Fiber: 0 grams

Cholesterol: 99 milligrams

Sodium: 238 milligrams

Copyright © 2004 Television Food Network, G.P., All Rights Reserved

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/sauteed-chicken-breasts-with-fresh-herbs-and-ginger-low-carb-recipe/index.html?oc=linkback

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2 year old tests positive for pot; daycare worker arrested 

Boston Bombing Victim’s Family Inspired by Daughter / NYT

 4 Comments

By JENNIFER PRESTON

On the four-month anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings on Thursday, the family of 8-year-old Martin Richard, who was killed, published an update on their Tumblr blog. They discussed the constant pain they feel over the loss of their son and described the inspiration they are drawing from their daughter, Jane, 7, who lost a leg in the blasts but has made remarkable progress with a prosthetic leg.

“When she is able to have it on, she struts around on it with great pride and a total sense of accomplishment. Her strength, balance and comfort with the leg improve every day,” Denise and Bill Richard, of Dorchester, Mass., said as they shared the first photo of their daughter. “Watching her dance with her new leg, which has her weight primarily on the other leg, is absolutely priceless.”

Denise Richard, who was also seriously injured in the bombings, is well known in the Irish dance community in Boston, and Jane took lessons in nearby Milton every Tuesday. The Irish dance community nationwide has rallied around the family.

At the time of the blasts, the two children and their mother were near the finish line in Boston’s Back Bay, waiting to cheer on their father and husband, who was running in the race.

Martin would have turned 9 years old on June 9.

Here is the family’s full statement on Tumblr, which also mentions their son Henry:

Jane RichardCourtesy the Richard FamilyJane Richard

Today marks four months since our family, and indeed our community, were savagely and cowardly attacked for reasons we remain at a loss to understand. While we have made progress with our physical injuries, the emotional pain seems every bit as new as it was four months ago.

An hour doesn’t go by that we don’t feel the agony of Martin’s death and the senseless way it came about. The pain is constant, and even the sweetest moments can become heartbreaking when we are struck by the realization that “Martin would have loved this…”

But it is not all heartbreak for our family, as we are making progress on this long, difficult and painful road forward. After three months in hospitals and hundreds of hours of physical therapy and other work at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Jane was discharged a few weeks ago. That night was the first time any of us slept at home in our own beds since before the bombings. We left home together on April 15, and we were determined that none of us would sleep at home until all of us could do so. As so many things have been, returning home without Martin certainly made that important milestone bittersweet, but we know he was with us, as he is every moment of every day.

Jane continues to be an incredible source of inspiration — and exhaustion. The loss of her leg has not slowed her one bit, or deterred her in any way. As we knew she would, when we finally returned home, Jane walked into the house with the aid of her crutches, but under her own power. She has since received her prosthetic leg. And while she is getting more comfortable with it, she is also limited with how much she can wear it at any one time. When she is able to have it on, she struts around on it with great pride and a total sense of accomplishment. Her strength, balance and comfort with the leg improve every day. Watching her dance with her new leg, which has her weight primarily on the other leg, is absolutely priceless.

As for the rest of us, we are still dealing with our injuries and their impact on our lives. But we are also making progress, and just like Jane, we each endure the occasional setback here and there along the way.

Henry has continued to be strong, attentive and protective of all of us. He has also managed to be busy this summer, having attended a few cool overnight camps and occasionally sneaking away to spend time with close friends.

Throughout all that has happened, we have worked hard to maintain our bond as a family. With the love and support of family and friends, including those who were total strangers just four months ago, we feel like we are succeeding.

 
Grandmother gives birth to her own Twin Grandchildren

Grandmother gives birth to her own Twin Grandchildren

By MICHELLE CASTILLO / 

CBS NEWS/ August 16, 2013, 11:35 AM

The Larkins of Iowa have two new bundles of joy thanks to a very special woman — the twins’ grandmother.

“They are so much Ashley and Jay’s. I never considered them to be other than their babies,” 53-year-old grandmother and gestational carrier Susie Kozisek told CBSNews.com. “We just love to be with them and spoil them.”

The newborns, named Hadley and Hallie, mark the second and third babies that Kozisek has carried for her daughter, Ashley Larkin.

Larkin, 28, was told it was too risky to get pregnant because she had pulmonary hypertension. The condition causes high blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs, which makes the right side of the heart work harder than normal.

The Larkin family poses with their new additions.

 / COURTESY OF ASHLEY & JAY LARKIN

Larkin and her husband Jay decided that they were going to try to adopt children, until Koziesk made her generous offer.

Koziesk had been watching a talk show that featured gestational carriers, who are women who carry and deliver a child for another couple or person. She went to her doctor to see if it was feasible for her, and was told that she would be a good candidate because she didn’t have pre-existing conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes. Larkin admitted that the couple did have some concerns about her mother carrying their first child, especially since she was 50 at the time.

“She was more than willing to try so we gave it a shot,” Larkin explained to CBSNews.com.

In the Larkins’ case, the genetic material from the egg and sperm came from the husband and wife, and their fertilized eggs were implanted into Koziesk. Because Kozeisk has already gone through menopause, she had to go on hormone treatments as well to prepare and keep her uterus in the state it needed to be to bear children.

The first pregnancy, which resulted in the couple’s daughter Harper, went so smoothly that they decided to ask Koziesk if she was interested in giving her first granddaughter a sibling.

However, this time around there were some issues. The family’s fertility expert Dr. Jani Jensen, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., told CBSNews.com that typically the cutoff age for gestational carriers in the U.S. is about 51.4 years old, which coincides with the average age of menopause. Koziesk was 52 when she was approached for the latest plan.

“We took into serious consideration her age from an ethical medical standpoint,” Jensen said. “But she had done really well with the first pregnancy, and this family still had embryos available in storage. If we didn’t use them on Suzie, we would have to get rid of them entirely.”

Jensen said her team has handled about two dozen gestational carrier cases.

“I’ve definitely had sisters carry for sisters, cousins carry for cousins, but I’ve never had a parent carry for a child,” she admitted.

What no one was counting on was both embryos that were implanted would end up attaching themselves to the uterine wall, resulting in twins.

“(I was) shocked, and not quite as confident as I had been when we started the process with Harper,” Koziesk admitted. “You just wrap your head around it and just trust the doctors.”

Jensen explained that the pregnancy was high-risk, not only because of Koziesk’s age, but because she was carrying multiple fetuses. However, outside of a couple extra doctor’s visits and ultrasounds, Larkin said there wasn’t much extra work needed to be done for this pregnancy.

“I’m amazed at how well she did,” Jensen said. “I’ve had patients who are two or three decades younger who didn’t do as well in pregnancy as she did. I think she’s a real role model.”

Larkin was in the delivery room when her daughters were born via C-section. They didn’t know they were expecting girls until they came out, which was a nice surprise for the couple.

The family has their hands full — so there’s no talk of trying again or adopting a boy — but the possibility is always there. For now, they’re enjoying their three young girls.

“(The kids) are her world obviously,” Larkin gushed. “You can just tell there’s a special place in her heart for those kids.”

As for Koziesk, she only spent three days in the hospital. She said doctors told her that these gestational pregnancies would not be as easy as her previous four children, but Koziesk admitted she really didn’t feel a difference. A month after giving birth to twins, she was back to work at her part-time job.

“I didn’t have to get up at night with babies,” Koziesk said about her quick recovery. “I can come and help her when I want and visit the babies when I want — and go home.”

© 2013 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

 

COURTESY OF ASHLEY & JAY LARKIN

 

The Larkins of Iowa have two new bundles of joy thanks to a very special woman — the twins’ grandmother.

“They are so much Ashley and Jay’s. I never considered them to be other than their babies,” 53-year-old grandmother and gestational carrier Susie Kozisek told CBSNews.com. “We just love to be with them and spoil them.”

The newborns, named Hadley and Hallie, mark the second and third babies that Kozisek has carried for her daughter, Ashley Larkin.

Larkin, 28, was told it was too risky to get pregnant because she had pulmonary hypertension. The condition causes high blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs, which makes the right side of the heart work harder than normal.

The Larkin family poses with their new additions.

 / COURTESY OF ASHLEY & JAY LARKIN

Larkin and her husband Jay decided that they were going to try to adopt children, until Koziesk made her generous offer.

Koziesk had been watching a talk show that featured gestational carriers, who are women who carry and deliver a child for another couple or person. She went to her doctor to see if it was feasible for her, and was told that she would be a good candidate because she didn’t have pre-existing conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes. Larkin admitted that the couple did have some concerns about her mother carrying their first child, especially since she was 50 at the time.

“She was more than willing to try so we gave it a shot,” Larkin explained to CBSNews.com.

In the Larkins’ case, the genetic material from the egg and sperm came from the husband and wife, and their fertilized eggs were implanted into Koziesk. Because Kozeisk has already gone through menopause, she had to go on hormone treatments as well to prepare and keep her uterus in the state it needed to be to bear children.

The first pregnancy, which resulted in the couple’s daughter Harper, went so smoothly that they decided to ask Koziesk if she was interested in giving her first granddaughter a sibling.

However, this time around there were some issues. The family’s fertility expert Dr. Jani Jensen, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., told CBSNews.com that typically the cutoff age for gestational carriers in the U.S. is about 51.4 years old, which coincides with the average age of menopause. Koziesk was 52 when she was approached for the latest plan.

“We took into serious consideration her age from an ethical medical standpoint,” Jensen said. “But she had done really well with the first pregnancy, and this family still had embryos available in storage. If we didn’t use them on Suzie, we would have to get rid of them entirely.”

Jensen said her team has handled about two dozen gestational carrier cases.

“I’ve definitely had sisters carry for sisters, cousins carry for cousins, but I’ve never had a parent carry for a child,” she admitted.

What no one was counting on was both embryos that were implanted would end up attaching themselves to the uterine wall, resulting in twins.

“(I was) shocked, and not quite as confident as I had been when we started the process with Harper,” Koziesk admitted. “You just wrap your head around it and just trust the doctors.”

Jensen explained that the pregnancy was high-risk, not only because of Koziesk’s age, but because she was carrying multiple fetuses. However, outside of a couple extra doctor’s visits and ultrasounds, Larkin said there wasn’t much extra work needed to be done for this pregnancy.

“I’m amazed at how well she did,” Jensen said. “I’ve had patients who are two or three decades younger who didn’t do as well in pregnancy as she did. I think she’s a real role model.”

Larkin was in the delivery room when her daughters were born via C-section. They didn’t know they were expecting girls until they came out, which was a nice surprise for the couple.

The family has their hands full — so there’s no talk of trying again or adopting a boy — but the possibility is always there. For now, they’re enjoying their three young girls.

“(The kids) are her world obviously,” Larkin gushed. “You can just tell there’s a special place in her heart for those kids.”

As for Koziesk, she only spent three days in the hospital. She said doctors told her that these gestational pregnancies would not be as easy as her previous four children, but Koziesk admitted she really didn’t feel a difference. A month after giving birth to twins, she was back to work at her part-time job.

“I didn’t have to get up at night with babies,” Koziesk said about her quick recovery. “I can come and help her when I want and visit the babies when I want — and go home.”

© 2013 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

 

Gluten Free Lasagna – Whole Foods

 

  • 1 (14 ounce) package soft tofu (not silken), drained
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 pound ground turkey or chicken
  • 3/4 pound button mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch spinach, stemmed, cleaned and coarsely chopped
  • 1 small bunch basil, stemmed and coarsely chopped
  • 4 cups gluten-free tomato or marinara sauce
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons garbanzo or fava bean flour
  • 1 (16 ounce) package gluten-free lasagna noodles

 

 

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Method: 

To prepare the filling, coarsely crumble tofu onto two layers of a lint-free dish towel. Wrap tofu in the towel and lightly press out excess moisture; set aside.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until tender, about 4 minutes. Add turkey and cook, stirring frequently, until just brown, about 8 minutes. Add mushrooms, garlic, oregano, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes. 

Add spinach in 2 batches and cook until just wilted, about 2 minutes each. Stir in basil and tomato sauce, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Whisk eggs and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt together in a medium bowl. Add flour and whisk until well blended and slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Unwrap tofu, crumble it into small pieces and add it to egg mixture. Stir well; set aside. 

Meanwhile, cook lasagna noodles according to package directions in salted boiling water, but reduce the cooking time by 5 minutes. The noodles should be slightly firm, as they will continue cooking in the oven. Drain, rinse with cold water and drain again. 

Preheat oven to 350°F. To assemble the lasagna, ladle 1/4 cup of the sauce into the bottom of a 13- x 9- x 2-inch baking dish and spread it out evenly. Arrange 3 lasagna noodles on top of the sauce. Place 1/3 of the tofu mixture on the lasagna sheets along with about a 1/4 of the sauce, distributing it evenly. Repeat layering two more times with 3 lasagna noodles, 1/3 of the tofu mixture and 1/4 of the sauce. Finish with a final layer of noodles and remaining sauce, taking care to spread the sauce evenly all the way to the corners. Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes. Set aside, uncovered, to let stand for 15 minutes, then slice and serve.

Nutritional Info: 
PER SERVING:570 calories (170 from fat), 18g total fat, 3.5g saturated fat, 115mg cholesterol,880mg sodium, 69g carbohydrate (6g dietary fiber, 2g sugar), 30g protein
Special Diets: 

Note: We’ve provided special diet and nutritional information for educational purposes. But remember — we’re cooks, not doctors! You should follow the advice of your health-care provider. And since product formulations change, check product labels for the most recent ingredient information. See our Terms of Service.

Time Lapse Politics / Christine Doyle

If you’re a fan of photography, you know the time lapse technique involves setting up a camera, often to record something like a sunset, minute by minute.  Once edited, these shots show a magical progression of light and color but shooting one is excruciating. That nuanced change can only be seen when sped up. It isn’t perceptible to the naked eye as it us unfolding.

There is a wave of post-1970’s feminism percolating in this country right now.  From the “Lean In” movement to the fact that Hillary Clinton will likely run for President, a modern woman’s movement is impacting the workplace, our social mores and if the Democrats get lucky, our politics.

In terms of public opinion, there is no doubt that the dial has moved on gay marriage and assault weapons. I think most Americans would prefer to keep abortion personal and not political. But, when you look at who is running and who is serving, and the issues that still divide us, it’s clear we are only at the very beginning of an excruciatingly slow time lapse in women’s politics.

What you can’t see in this time lapse moment in politics is the Republican women doing their part behind the scenes to “Lean In in their own communities. They’re starting PACs, websites and schools as a way to impact their communities in positive ways. But these Republican women are waiting for their party and the system to catch up with them. Until that happens, Moderate and Independent women who vote for Republican men, will continue to be accused of  supporting a party that doesn’t get them. 

Do the Democrats still have a lock on women’s votes? And is it because of social issues? According to the Center for American Women and Politics, of the 20 women in the U.S. Senate, only 4 are Republicans. Of the 78 women in the House of Representatives, only 19 are Republicans. The prospects of getting elected a Governor are better for female Republican candidates. Right now 4 out of five female Governors are Republican. Of the state legislatures, of the 1,788 women serving, female Democrat legislators outnumber Republican women legislators nearly 2 to 1.

I am not going to criticize Hillary Clinton or Claire McCaskill who is her front woman, not only here in Missouri, but in key states like Iowa where the Clintons have never been very popular. According to the New York Times, a battalion of women is now forming in Iowa and encouraging Hillary to run. Senator Claire McCaskill, who I voted for once because of her support of stem cell research but couldn’t vote for a second time because I disagreed with her on Obamacare, is Hillary Clinton’s biggest supporter. Again, I am not going to criticize her. Because McCaskill can see women are engaging.

The question I would ask is what is the most effective way to speed up this painfully slow moment in politics? Is it for more Republican women to run as Non-Partisans? Only 10 of the 1,788 state legislators currently serving are NPs. Is it too late or too early in this progression to build up a moderate Republican female voice? It might have been too late for Olympia Snowe to run for President and unfortunately, it might be too soon for the Republicans to fast track the other moderate from Maine, Susan Collins, who is in favor of universal access on healthcare, but is also green, for school choice, pro-choice on abortion and pro-gay?

One thing I have to agree with Sen. McCaskill on is that she is right that this is a historic moment. Or at least the beginning of one.

 

Football Camp ... for Moms?

Football Camp … for Moms?

By Anna McDonald | Aug 1, 2013

Special to espnW.com

 The NFL recently invited mothers to attend a safety clinic at Ohio State University.

 NEW YORK — NFL commissioner Roger Goodell quietly entered the conference room at league headquarters and stood in the middle of the group. Instead of positioning himself away from the table and chairs and guests gathered there, he chose to stand behind one of the visitors and rested his hands on her chair.

She was one of 30 mothers who were invited by the NFL to attend a roundtable on youth sports. Also at the June meeting were CEOs from youth basketball, hockey, cheerleading, football, lacrosse, soccer and Little League baseball who spoke about the status of safety in their sports. I was there as a mother; my 12-year-old son, Caleb, plays contact football and his safety is important to me.

Goodell came in midway through the meeting and had only a few minutes to spare, but his message was still impactful.

“We are all learning from one another. We can all get better,” Goodell said. “That’s what you want as moms, that’s what I want as a father.”

Goodell exuded authority with kindness, control with openness. Concern over safety in football? Sure, he communicated that; but the message was also mixed with a plan to turn around football’s entire culture.

“We are committed to being leaders in promoting safety in sports,” Goodell later said to me via statement. “Our actions continue to positively affect the health and safety of NFL players but also reach the youth level. It’s a responsibility we take seriously and we continue to be relentless in our work towards a safer game.”

But how can the league, recently placed under the microscope for its player safety, accomplish this? And how can it do so without the message coming off as a cliché or insincere? Part of its plan is reaching out to mothers like me whose children love the sport, the same children who, in many ways, carry the future of football in their hands. (The NFL invited me to be part of the program after reading my article on why I let my son play football.)

 

Courtesy Anna McDonald

At a recent safety clinic at Ohio State University, Buckeyes special teams coordinator Kerry Coombs walked mothers through specific drills.

 

And the league made its first step, asking us for feedback on how to reach parents through its primary safety effort, Heads Up Football. The program continues its outreach initiative Thursday in Columbus, Ohio, as the NFL hosts the first clinic for mothers (along with USA Football and Ohio State University), which will focus on equipment fitting, concussion awareness and proper tackling techniques. (Goodell and Ohio State head football coach Urban Meyer will also be on hand to answer questions.)

“If we are going to change the culture of football we have to have the parents involved,” said Scott Hallenbeck, executive director of USA Football.

The problem now with the message of USA Football and the Heads Up Football program is the question of credibility. Some may think it is just a marketing campaign by the NFL. More important to me as a parent, I know the science on concussions is still developing. I need to base any decisions on facts, not marketing; on science, not hysteria over the dangers of playing football. I want to know if there really is such a thing as safe tackling.

“I think Roger [Goodell] is someone who, as the commissioner, is someone who has a genuine interest in the safety and well-being of the players in the game and how the game is played,” Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive lineman Howie Long told me in a recent phone interview. “I think Roger has a difficult job and I think he [is doing] a job that is well worth the effort. I applaud him for his efforts; it’s a difficult position to be in.”

Long is the perfect person to answer my question. Not only did he play 13 seasons in the NFL, but he also has football-playing three sons. Chris, 27, Long’s oldest son, is a defensive end for the St. Louis Rams. Kyle, the middle child, was an offensive lineman at Oregon and was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the first round of this year’s draft. The youngest, Howie Jr., played in high school.

“I can tell you technique is really the most important aspect of learning how to play football,” Long said. “It’s so true. I’m a firm, firm, believer in it. I see people taking on blocks the wrong way. I worry about their shoulders, I worry about their necks and I worry about their heads. If you’re not taking a block on in the right way, you are putting yourself in peril.”

Long said the most important thing he could do as a dad and former player was to teach his kids the fundamentals of the game. Over an eight-year period, Long coached all three of his boys in high school.

“It’s not like I can help him with his chemistry or his trigonometry or his course load at the University of Virginia,” Long said, for example, of his son Chris. “The one thing I can do is I can certainly help him understand and teach him the right way to play the game. … For me, that was the best gift I could possibly give him as a parent.”

Parents also need to be aware that there are other key elements to having safer youth football programs. The most important question to ask: What is a program’s concussion plan?

“I would be very reticent to let my child play a high-risk contact sport without having a trained professional on the sidelines that understands the injury,” said Dr. Michael Collins, the Clinical and Executive Director for UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Center in Pittsburgh. “Athletic trainers understand concussions very well.”

Dr. Collins said parents should also be educated about concussions. In particular, parents should know how to conduct baseline testing on their children; know what to look for in recognizing a possible head injury; know who to see if there is a problem; and know whether the athletic trainers or personnel watching their child play is educated in recognizing the signs of concussions.

“There are formulas here that work,” Dr. Collins said. “We see people get better. We can treat this injury. I think that when parents go through that process and they see their child managed appropriately and with the right information and with the right education and the right treatment protocols, this injury isn’t so scary. It’s something that is manageable.”

Once Heads Up Football is integrated into a football program and a team has a concussion plan, parents should also make sure the program has proper equipment that fits correctly.

This is the NFL’s package to parents.

“I really believe that the pro game in so many ways impacts high school, college and youth football,” Long said. “The emphasis on safe play and clean hits is starting to resonate.”

And when it does resonate, what then? When the culture of football begins to change, can parents be assured their children will never get hurt playing football? No, that will not happen in any sport. But football is so important to many kids and to our culture, largely because of the team-centered values it teaches.

There is nothing more important than my son’s safety, but I also know football touches his life in a way no other sport can. In his own words from his sixth-grade class:

My football games are spectacular. If it’s not the time I get to spend with my friends than it is the sheer compelling feel of the game. All at once the lineman rushing toward each other and yelling and the adrenaline when the ball falls to the ground; dances around like the ground is on fire. Everyone rushing for it at the same time. The feel of it is amazing and that’s why I love playing football.

When people take an honest look at the state of the NFL, the reality is like anything in life — there is good with the bad. For every heart-breaking story of a life damaged by concussions or other injuries, there is a story of a life that has been changed for the better.

“I honestly believe that, and this is reality, coming from a challenged background myself, if you trace the social and economic background of a majority of the players, they come from a challenged background,” said Long. “As long as there are people who are striving for something better, it’s a definitive opportunity.”

Even Chris Long, who grew up with a different background than his father, says football has given him so much.

“You have to be accountable for what you do and when you make mistakes own up to it; and not everybody does that,” Chris said. “I think football has helped me a lot, to be able to be more accountable and then also just the teamwork. Obviously, that’s probably a cliché but having been exposed to so many different people with so many different backgrounds, it has taught me skills of communication, problem solving, all types of stuff.”

But have we really reached a point in our culture where something like teamwork is a cliché?

Teamwork hasn’t lost its meaning for my child. It still matters. Hard work hasn’t lost its meaning for him, either. It still matters. Being friends and teammates with kids from different backgrounds hasn’t lost its meaning. It will always matter.

We have a long way to go before science can help parents fully understand all that needs to be done to make the game safe, but the NFL’s effort is there and that matters to me.

It matters because the league is setting an example for my child. Its effort matters to me because, whether kids end up playing football in the NFL or not, they will influence the league’s future. They are the players or fantasy football devotees or professionals who will excel at their jobs because of the life lessons they learned through playing football. They are the next generation to tailgate, gather on weekends at high schools, colleges and NFL stadiums.

This is the generation entrusted with keeping football alive.

Anna McDonald is a regular contributor to ESPN.com’s SweetSpot blog.

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Who says Republicans aren't Funny? / The Mom Vivant

Who says Republicans aren’t Funny? / The Mom Vivant

by Josh GrossbergWed., Aug. 7, 2013 9:36 AM PDT Comedy Central

The word last night from Stephen Colbert? How about “Daft Punked?”

After getting word that Daft Punk canceled out on The Colbert Report Tuesday night, at the last minute so they could make a surprise appearance at the MTV Video Music Awards, the faux pundit had a little fun at the Robots’ expense.

Colbert kicked off the show by welcoming Colbert Nation to “Stephen Colbchella ‘013,” his now-annual summer musical bash, which was to feature Daft Punk performing their mega-hit “Get Lucky” or, as the funnyman called it, “the song of the summer of the century.”

But what his fans didn’t expect was for Colbert to start bashing the reclusive electronica duo, referring to them as “The Artists formerly booked as Daft Punk.”

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The Colbert Report 
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“Now they’re not here tonight and I have accepted a lot of money from our Colbchella sponsor, Hyundai, so not delivering the song of the summer is a real kick in my balls,” the Comedy Central star informed viewers.

He then added that he’d been “daft punk’d,” at which point he brought out Punk’d purveyorAshton Kutcher for a quick exchange.

“So Ashton, Daft Punk not being here, did I get punk—ED?” asked Colbert.

“No, you got f–k—ED,” quipped the Jobs star.

Colbert subsequently proceeded to explain (with the aid of a little booze) that Comedy Central’s corporate bosses at Viacom, which also owns MTV, pretty much left him hanging, having already cashed a check from Hyundai.

VIDEO: Watch Colbert spoof “Accidental Racist”

“We booked Click and Clack over here about a month ago. Apparently, Daft Punk are going to make a surprise appearance on the MTV Video Music Awards,” Colbert said, then purposefully letting the cat out of the bag, added, “Don’t tell anyone, because fun fact: No one told me until two hours ago.”

But the comedian wasn’t going to let a little no-show get him down. With or without Daft Punk, a defiant Colbert vowed to give his audience the dance party he promised—and that he did, with a few special guest stars to boot.

“I don’t care what MTV allows. My audience gets the song of the summer if they want it and I don’t even need Daft Punk to choose my show over the VMAs to get it. This is Colbchella, goddamnit, and it is time to dance,” he yelled.

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The Colbert Report 
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At that point, “Get Lucky” started up and Colbert began dancing around his studio, lip-synching the song, at which point he ran into Hugh Laurie, whom he promptly punched out. Stephen then took the party outside, getting down with Jeff Bridges and Jimmy Fallon on the set of NBC’s Late Night, before heading on over to Charlie Rose‘s PBS show, where he crashed an interview with the cast of Breaking Bad and mugged for the camera with Bryan Cranston.

The hilarity continued from there with a virtual disco dance floor and more cameos from the likes of Rockettes, a bearded Jon Stewart, still on hiatus from The Daily Show, and Matt Damon. Colbert even turned up on America’s Got Talent!

The VMAs are set to take place at Aug. 25 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. But it’s nice to know Colbert hasn’t lost his sense of humor.

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Gluten Free Peach Cobbler / Gluten Free Goddess

Gluten-Free Peach Cobbler

 
A new gluten free cobbler recipe made with juicy ripe peaches
Warm from the oven. My gluten-free peach cobbler recipe.

 

Is Mercury in retrograde? And if so, Darling, do I believe it can wreak havoc with recipes? I started out with a different approach to this peach cobbler recipe, you see. I thought I’d try out the new Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Bisquick mix I bought this week. I imagined a golden topped biscuity crust you could sink your teeth into, a melt-in-your-mouth forkful of shortcake, dripping with warm and sticky-sweet juice.

But what I got was a bone white mound of anemic dough (scarily reminiscent of Play Dough) baked into what can only be described as yesterday’s mashed potatoes. It didn’t even try to turn golden. And it didn’t melt in your mouth like a biscuit. It just sat there on your tongue. Flavorless. Bored. Expecting to be admired without effort. Like those fame junkies who are famous for simply being famous. They haven’t actually accomplished anything to garner their celebrity status. They just nurture a deeper narcissistic ambition than your average high school beauty queen. They expect adulation because they exist.

Like an awful lot of the gluten-free foods churned out by corporate entities.

They expect we’ll fall to our knees with gratitude just because it sports two little words on its label. As if the virtue of being gluten-free is enough. Enough to get us to shell out almost seven hard earned dollars for two and a half cups of cheap refined starch and the privilege of convenience.

And don’t get me wrong. I get the allure. I do.

I mean, you’re standing there in the supermarket. It’s late. You’re hungry. And it’s right there in front of you. Right next to the 40 acres of shiny wheat laden stuff you can’t have. Ever. And those magic words: Gluten-Free! They sparkle. Someone up there in the land of corporate giants has heard of us! They validate you and your odd little disease.

We exist!

And hence, we may consume.

They are recognizing us now, Sweetpea, because we constitute a billion dollar windfall. The food industry has awakened to the perky reality TV version of celiac disease. And sure, I know. The argument is, It’s all good. Any awareness is positive (even though the gluten-free diet may be in danger of losing street cred because of its faddish status with actresses who subscribe to its hyped promise of weight loss).

Can the drive for GF profit lead to better eating, though?

I’m not so sure. If the tepid taste of Betty Crocker’s Bisquick is any indication, we have not come a long way, baby. Big companies use the cheapest ingredients they can to conjure stuff for the growing gluten-free demand. That means there’s an awful lot of “old school gluten-free” going on (based on Bette Hagman’s twenty-year old white rice flour and starch blend, perhaps?). G-free mixes and packaged foods use predominately refined white rice flour and inexpensive starches. A glut of empty calories.

Like @AutumnMakes tweeted yesterday, “…funny how it seems the big corps are years behind the everyday gluten-free bakers…” 

Indeed. We humble home cooks have discovered the soft, lovely crumb of sorghum and almond flour. Gluten-free cornmeal and buckwheat. Our baking isn’t dull or crumbly, dry, or without pizazz. Our flour choices reflect a preference for taste, texture and higher nutrition. And I think we’re smarter than the average consumer.

So for now I’m going to continue to eschew the walk down the center food aisles (as Michael Pollan advises). I’ll focus on my own gluten-free flour blends and eating whole foods daily.

And in a pinch, when some wild craving hits and I’m too tired to deal with three separate flour bags, I’ll use a GF pancake mix (both small family companies who have been in our celiac corner from the beginning).

And I’ll create my own cobbler topping, thank you.