Jeanne Sager

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I have strung words together for Kiwi Magazine, Babble.com, AOL, Parents Magazine and more. I live in upstate New York with my daughter, husband, dogs, and too many cats. I rock a cool 'do because I shave my head most years to fight children's cancer with the St. Baldrick's Foundation.

Though my daughter is officially an elementary schooler, I'm pleased to report I've yet to give in to the curse of the appliqued mom sweater. Small victories, people.


Sipping on:

Seltzer

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    The diagnosis comes. Your child has what's commonly known as a "special need." So you turn to the experts, to the books, to anything and anyone who can answer the questions swirling through your head.

    But if there's anyone you should be asking how to proceed now that your child has a diagnosis, it's the people who have already walked in your shoes -- the mothers of other kids with special needs. So we asked moms of kids -- moms who have autistic kids, moms who have kids with limb differences, moms with kids who were born with Marfan syndrome, even moms who have their own differences -- for one essential "life tip" they would give to any other parent who is about to embark on the journey of parenting a child with special needs. Here's what they had to say:

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    They say it takes a village to raise a child. For mom Sonia Green, the global village of parents is helping her protect her children every time they get their kids vaccinated. That's because three of Green's four sons aren't vaccinated.

    They can't be. All sufferers of an immune deficiency called x-linked agammaglobulinemia, a rare condition that affects approximately one in 200,000 newborns, Harrison, Holden, and Davis Green's bodies can't produce antibodies to disease, rendering vaccines ineffective and sometimes downright dangerous.

    But when other kids are vaccinated, their mom says it helps create what's known as a "herd immunity," a sort of security blanket of health for kids like the Green brothers. It's why the law professor is a fierce advocate for the very immunizations that her kids can't get.

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    June Cleaver. Carol Brady. Marge Simpson. The list of TV moms we all wish were our own is long and varied. And since Parenthood debuted on NBC, it's grown to include Kristina Braverman, mother of three, breast cancer survivor, and the type of candidate for city mayor who will stop everything during a town hall meeting to pass her phone number to a mom in crisis. Kristina Braverman is the mom we want and the mom we want to be, and without actress Monica Potter, there is no Kristina Braverman.

    Like her character, Monica is a mother of three. And like her character, the soft-spoken actress shines on the homefront -- she even has a growing line of home products -- in a way that lifts other moms up rather than making us feel inadequate.

    Parenthood fans who are bemoaning NBC's decision to give us just one more season, and a shortened one at that, have heart: Kristina Braverman is alive and well and living in California. 

    Proof?

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    When I reached out to a photographer friend to book our family portrait, I had just one request. We needed to schedule an appointment for sometime before the babysitter leaves for college. We didn't need our babysitter to occupy our child or encourage her to smile with funny faces. As a family portrait photographer myself, I've seen it happen, but our daughter is 9 and quite capable of following directions. Instead, we were booking a pre-college shoot because our babysitter needed to be in our family portrait.

    In as in standing in line with my husband, my daughter, and me, smiling at the birdie.

    He made it happen, and the photos are everything I wanted them to be. But as soon as I uploaded them to Facebook, the comments flooded in.

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    It hits you like a freight train. An awful smell that seems to be coming from the general direction of your child. Welcome to the next phase of growing up: developing body odor. You're about to go from buying bubble bath to buying deodorant for your child, and it all happens in the blink of an eye. 

    So is your kid normal? Can they possibly be ready for deodorant when they just learned to tie their shoes yesterday (or so it seems)?

    Well ... yes!

    Typically, body odor can begin to develop as early as 7 years old in girls, 9 years old in boys, as the body hits puberty. Suddenly, your child is beginning to sweat more and sweat specifically from what are called the "apocrine sweat glands," glands in the armpit and groin region.

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