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Archive for the 'Parenting' Category

A new life for this work-at-home mom


I became a mother almost four years ago in the second half of my 30s. This was long after I had crafted an identity for myself as a newspaperwoman devoted to her career. I wasn’t prepared for how profoundly it would change how I feel about myself and how much I would love it.

Like most working moms, when I was pregnant I anticipated putting my baby into day care after she was born. When the Pumpkin arrived three months early, day care wasn’t an option. I wasn’t allowed to expose her to the potential germs of other children until she reached 15 pounds — a milestone that didn’t come until her first birthday.

I was profoundly blessed to have a wonderful editor, Frank Brill, who knew my diligence and gave me permission to work from home. My most recent editor, Mike Bieger, has also been a supportive and a wonderful mentor. For four years, I’ve worked from home most of the time, covering my beats in business and technology and writing this blog.

While a terrific solution for me, working from home hasn’t been easy. The first year, when I was pumping every two hours, was a blur. Since then, I’ve gotten into a pattern, often getting up at 6 a.m. to write my feature stories while the house is quiet and taking calls well into the evening. I’ve had to say no to my daughter’s pleading for me to play with her more times than I’m happy to remember. But the best part was being around to share her days, to hear the laughter as she played with her grandmother in the other rooms of the house. Crawling, toddling and then running into my home office for hugs, cuddles and to give me “presents” of toys, Cheerios and crayon drawings, she has brightened my life more than any office gossip ever could.

Starting tomorrow, she and I will have a lot more time together. I am one of the 50 employees in the newsroom who has been laid off as our parent company, Gannett, trims expenses to refit the newsroom for the future.

I want to offer my gratitude to my co-workers who have made me feel as connected as I ever did in the office. I want to thank my editors who made my work-life balance a reality. Most of all, I want to thank the readers who have offered me such encouragement over the years. And to the amazing, talented and inspirational parents I’ve met and written about because of this blog, I wish I could give you a big hug. You will not be forgotten by me! If anyone wants to keep in touch, I’m on Twitter (twitter.com/everythingjulie) or you can e-mail me at juliealterio at gmail dot com.

“At work, you think of the children you’ve left at home. At home, you think of the work you’ve left unfinished. Such a struggle is unleashed within yourself, your heart is rent.”  — Golda Meir

“Mama exhorted her children at every opportunity to ‘jump at de sun.’ We might not land on the sun, but at least we would get off the ground.” — Zora Neale Hurston

Posted by Julie Moran Alterio on Thursday, August 27th, 2009 at 5:30 pm |

Tips for that first Broadway play


On Wednesday night, we saw “The Little Mermaid” in New York. It was the Pumpkin’s first-ever Broadway play and it couldn’t have been a better introduction to the experience. Not only does she know the movie very well — having seen it, oh, a dozen times — but the colorful spectacle and cheerful songs were literally dazzling. There was some hiding of the eyes and cuddling up to mommy in the scenes with Ursula, the Sea Witch, but otherwise she was attentive and entranced. I came up with some suggestions based on our experience that might be helpful to other parents pondering whether their child is ready for the Great White Way:

• Pick a play that’s easy for your child to understand, preferably based on a story or movie that’s familiar. The action is fast and the figures on a stage are more abstract than those on a movie screen, so the younger the child, the more of a head-start he or she needs. We actually watched “The Little Mermaid” the day before the play to refresh my daughter’s memory.

• Make sure you have an aisle seat for your child. We were in the orchestra with an aisle seat, which was helpful because Pumpkin was able to see the stage well.

• Arrive early and ask for a booster seat. By the time I noticed an usher passing out booster seats, all the cushioned seats had been taken. We ended up with a plastic seat. It was fine, but a cushion obviously would have been more comfy.

• Try, if you can, to avoid spending money at the merchandise booth on things you can buy in the wider world for less. I was tempted by the cast recording, but daunted by the $25 price tag. Checking at home later, I found the original cast recording on Amazon.com for $14.99. I also managed to avoid spending $15 on a plastic toy “Dinglehopper.” I did, however, find the cost of a nice keepsake T-shirt for my teenage niece was well worth it. If only the children’s sizes hadn’t sold out, I would have bought one for Pumpkin, too.

• Find out what kind of discounts you can get through your work. As a Gannett employee, I saved $30 each on the four tickets I purchased, a $120 savings.

• Reserve a table at a kid-friendly restaurant. We had a 5:45 reservation at Ruby Foo’s on Broadway, just three blocks away from the theater. Energetic and dramatic but not so uptight that a booster seat and children’s menu were out of place, it was an ideal way to relax before the show. There were even training clips for the chopsticks!

• Wait at the stage door afterwards for autographs on your Playbill. The actors were charmed by the adoration of such a tiny young fan, with “King Triton” calling the Pumpkin “Precious.”

• Consider driving in. I know there are many people who hesitate to drive into Manhattan. But we had a great experience. We had a traffic-free and relaxing drive from Northern Westchester along the Saw Mill and Henry Hudson, turning off onto 50th Street and heading to a parking garage on 48th right near 7th. It took us less than an hour. When we stepped out, we had a short walk to the Build-A-Bear store on 5th and then to the restaurant. After the show, it was a short stroll through the bright lights and excitement of Times Square to our car. We left at 11:30 and were home by 12:20 a.m. I can’t imagine how tedious it would have been to schlep to Grand Central, stand around waiting for the train and then sitting on a 70-minute ride. I also found coupons online that cut the parking rate from $37 to $20 for up to 12 hours.

Please share your own Broadway tips and memories!

Posted by Julie Moran Alterio on Friday, August 21st, 2009 at 12:19 am |
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Telling the kids when recession hits home


Not a pleasant thought but a very real one these days.

The truth is unemployment is soaring and the economy continues to sputter. Every job, including our own, is facing looming layoffs and perhaps salary cuts for those that remain.

How the hell to tell the kids?

I have a few friends in this position, and likely will have more soon. One is taking the tact that it’s best not to tell his children until he has to. Another has kept his two kids abreast of developments.

It’s a personal choice, obviously. But I did come across an interesting piece from Business Week magazine that provided some tips on how to broach the subject with the family, and kids in particular.

I hope none of us ever end up in this situation. But life doesn bring twists and turns, and, as is the case with other difficult topics we bring to our children, it’s helpful to have a plan when you go in.

So, hats off to Business Week. Here’s their report:

You lost your job! Should you tell your kids?

Posted by: Mauro Vaisman on September 16

As I read the news today about the thousands of people that are coming to work so they can pack their personal belongings, several things cross my mind—but at the top of the list is: “What is the right way to tell your kids that you just lost your job?”

I did some web research and found an article from 2005 at CareerBuilder.com. Not sure who wrote it, since the byline says only “CareerBuilder blogger” but it has some good advice from Lorie Lewandowski, a counselor for the Mountain Lakes School District in NJ.

Here are some advice from the article:

-Be honest
-Gauge their reaction
-Choose an appropriate time
-Be positive
-Assure them they will be taken care of
-Give them hope
-Watch for behavioral changes
-Let them be a part of your search

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Posted by Jorge Fitz-Gibbon on Thursday, August 20th, 2009 at 1:16 pm |


How do you rate the movie ratings system?


When we went to see “Wall-E” last summer, my daughter, then 3, cried piteously when Wall-E’s cockroach buddy was left behind as the spaceship blasted off. She was so sensitive — and she loves bugs — that the emotional impact hit her hard. “Wall-E” was rated G.

Being big movie fans, we’ve since taken the Pumpkin to many kids’ movies. And we haven’t had any more tears. I think it’s mostly due to her greater sophistication in responding to filmed entertainment.  We don’t watch much TV at home and the shows she sees don’t have the heightened intensity of a movie. “Planet Earth” DVDs, “Sesame Street” and “Miffy” aren’t exactly edge-of-your-seat entertainment.

But now that she’s used to movies, we don’t necessarily go by the ratings when we determine whether it’s suitable. For instance, “Bolt” and “Madagascar 2” were both rated PG, but neither seemed too scary or intense. We’ve shunned “G-Force,” perhaps unfairly, because I don’t like the idea of weapon packs on cute little animals.

One place a lot of parents go for advice is <a href=”http://www.commonsensemedia.org” target=”_blank”>Common Sense Media</a>, a nonprofit organization that rates everything from movies to TV shows to books to music to Web sites. It’s a good site, and I can recommend it. I do think they are way too conservative when it comes to ratings. For instance, “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs” and “Up” were both suggested for ages 6 plus. My daughter, who is now 4, loved both of them.

On the opposite end of the age scale, my 17-year-old niece is coming to visit for a few days and we hope to watch a movie with her after the Pumpkin is in bed. We already know we don’t want to watch something with an R rating because we certainly don’t want to confront any sexual scene or foul language. We’ll have to figure out what might be a good compromise on the PG front.

I’d love to hear what other parents do when it comes to ratings. Do you keep your preschoolers away from PG flicks or do you judge each one individually? What’s your strategy for evaluating their worth?

Posted by Julie Moran Alterio on Friday, August 14th, 2009 at 5:52 pm |
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‘Coraline’ and the distant parent


Watching “Coraline” on DVD this past weekend, I cringed and even paused the movie to turn to my husband and say: “I hope that’s not how the Pumpkin sees me.” If you’ve watched the movie, you are familiar with the scene in the beginning when Coraline fails to wrest her mother’s attention from her computer screen. (Warning: If you haven’t seen <a href=”http://coraline.com/” target=”_blank”>”Coraline,”</a> stop reading now and go rent it. It was wonderful.)

I was speaking mostly in jest, of course. I’ve never shooed away the Pumpkin so harshly, but I have to admit that there are times when she knows that I’m working on the computer and can’t play with her. Given the amount of indulgence and love my daughter gets in general, I’m not worried about her. But Coraline does make you think about children who aren’t so cosseted and whose parents really do tell them they are too busy to make time for them much of the time.

The evil witch who preys on Coraline’s vulnerability isn’t just a fairy tale creation. There are those who prey on young children by offering them the love and companionship they are missing at home. Just as the “other mother” offers Coraline the homecooked meals and cozy surrounding she craves in hopes of stealing the child away, pedophiles and other criminals can weasel their way into youngsters’ hearts by exploiting their need for love. Children are vulnerable when their parents are absent or uninvolved. Even if they don’t encounter a witch who wants to steal their souls and replace their eyes with buttons, they will encounter peers with dubious morals who might offer the approval they aren’t getting at home.

While cast as a fairy tale (that would earn an R rating if it were a live-action picture)‚ “Coraline” teaches its younger audience about the dangers of believing in something that’s too good to be true. And it provides a reminder to the parents watching that if you aren’t there for your child, someone else (someone scary) might be.

Posted by Julie Moran Alterio on Wednesday, August 5th, 2009 at 2:36 am |
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When kids die


It’s been maybe 12 years since I wrote about Shayna Bryant.

Shayna was tiny, and by the time she died she was painfully emaciated and brutally abused. I was working for the New York Daily News, covering the Bronx County Courthouse, and it fell on me to cover her death.

When crime scene photos were being displayed during pre-trial hearings, I had to walk out of the courtroom. It was the first and only time it happened in my 23 years on the job.

I’ve never forgotten her. Because, on my job, children die, and I have to write about it. It’s never easy. About 15 years ago a friend of mine who was a court officer in the Bronx told me, ‘You must be used to this by now.’ And many have said that to me. The answer is, no, you never get used to it. If it doesn’t affect you, it’s time to call it quits.

Then there was this week.

I happened to draw the weekend shift a week ago today. That’s when Diane Schuler drove the wrong way on the Taconic State Parkway and caused a head-on crash that killed three people from Yonkers and everyone in her minivan except her 5-year-old son, who will, thankfully, recover – at least physically.

Dead in that carnage was Schuler and her 2-year-old daughter, along with her three nieces, the oldest of whom was 8 years old.

How does one cover that? One has to when that is their job.

But it is a unique kind of hell to be immersed in. It’s not nearly the hell of Schuler’s husband, Daniel, who has to raise the only surviving victim of this tragedy with this nightmare always looming over them. It’s not even close to the hell Diane Schuler’s brother, Warren Hance, has to live with after losing all three of his little girls.

Still, it is hellish. And it’s not something you ever get used to.

My prayers are with the Schuler and Hance families tonight, and with the Bastardi and Longo families, whose loved ones also died in that crash one week ago today.

I do recall one conversation I had with a witness to this whole thing last week. She saw it happen, and barely missed being the head-on driver herself. Her name is Katrina, and she had her two kids – a 6 1/2 year old boy and a 4-year-old girl – in the car with her.

When I got home at 1:30 a.m. one week ago, I emailed Katrina and told her one simple thing: Hug your kids especially tight tonight, because you have them.

I did the same with mine.

That’s one hell of a story.

Posted by Jorge Fitz-Gibbon on Monday, August 3rd, 2009 at 9:00 pm |
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Bored? Here’s something (incredibly ambitious) to do with the kids


I think every parent and child should do one crazy, ridiculous gigantic project that will be so outrageous that for years and decades later the memory and story will be a family topic. Great for first dates! Q: So what was your family like growing up? A: Well, let me tell you about the time we made a giant loft bed out of “Star Wars”….

And when the kid a month later decides to switch his devotion from “Star Wars” to “Harry Potter,” it’s just more fodder: “My dad nearly killed me when I decided to become a Harry Potter freak. He made me sleep in that bed until I was 17!”

Share your stories of wacky childhood projects!

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Posted by Julie Moran Alterio on Monday, August 3rd, 2009 at 6:26 pm |
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One, two, five


I got a bit nervous recently when a former colleague told me that her 16-month-old daughter was counting to 15 and could recite the alphabet.

My son, a month older, knew the letter A and the number 5. He had to know five – his grandmother counts to five with him every time she sees him and I taught him how to High Five months ago. Couldn’t really explain though why he hadn’t picked up the first four numbers.

But with a bit of prompting, once we say 1 now, or 1 and 2, he usually follows up with the next few numbers. Curiously, though, he always knows 4 now and also 6 but sometimes skips 5. When we read him Sandra Boynton’s ‘Hippos Go Berserk’, in addition to screaming out ‘Bus’ as several of the hippos leave the party on a bus, he always stops and yells ‘Four’ when 4 hippos arrive. We aren’t sure why he knows 6, other than it comes after 5 and 7 isn’t far behind. We think 4 is on his mind because that’s the floor he lives on so he’s always pushing that number on the elevator (although by that logic, he should also know the letter L because he’s always pushing it for lobby).

Anyway, he’s getting there.

Posted by Jon Bandler on Tuesday, July 21st, 2009 at 10:27 am |
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When do we walk on Saturn?


I was 7 when the first moon walk took place. When the second one came around, I was in the second grade, and we all sat down in the hallway at school to watch the grainy image on a black-and-white TV.

It was fascinating stuff for a kid.

How do you put that in perspective for today’s kids?

In an age where space shuttles are launched regularly, it’s incredibly obvious that kids today don’t understand the significance of that moment. My son even wonders why we would ever want to be on the moon. Saturn, now that would be cool.

The truth is that the technological generation gap between my generation and my son’s generation is remarkably vast. When I started college I took a computer class — for what that was worth relative to today.

We were using this massive mainframe, and my professor predicted that one day every home would have a computer.

We thought it was the funniest thing we’d ever heard. Well, there you have it. He must be sitting back in retirement now repeating the professorial version of “I told you so.”

Either way, events like the moon walk were hallmark events in my childhood, as was each new development in the space program. At one point we all kind of became jaded, and kids my son’s age just take it for granted that we can launch people into space with pretty good regularity.

So, where are the hallmark events for our kids?

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Posted by Jorge Fitz-Gibbon on Monday, July 20th, 2009 at 9:43 am |
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Our blended family vacation


There’s always a unique kind of dynamic with these situations — in our case two parents, each with their own child. That’s our blended family.

Last week we all hauled ourselves upstate and settled into a lakeside cabin, and I came away with some observations.

The interesting dynamic is how a blended family operates in these situations. We did all of the family activities you would expect: Canoeing, swimming, toasting marshmallows, taking a hike to a waterfall, etc.

But, in the end, there’s always a bit of a division that happens at the end of the day. That’s not to say it’s in a bad way, necessarily. But, ultimately, I gravitate toward my son and my girlfriend towards hers. The inescapable fact is that I am ultimately responsible for my son and she for hers, much as we do generally function as a family.

Is that bad? As I said, not necessarily.

But it’s certainly a different component that you don’t find in your traditional family. The hope is that, with time, those divisions are minimized. But I suspect they’ll always be there in some capacity.

My question is does this happen in traditonal families also?

Posted by Jorge Fitz-Gibbon on Monday, July 13th, 2009 at 12:31 pm |

Being there


Tonight was my daughter’s dance recital. This is an event we’ve been looking forward to for nine months. She’s taken lessons nearly every Saturday since mid-September, with a few exceptions for holidays and vacations. It’s been a journey of growth for her and for me. There was even a time early on when there was a question of whether she’d be able to continue with the class because she was so undisciplined her first day the teacher feared she’d be a bad influence on others.

But tonight, she shined. And I don’t have one photo of it or one minute of videotape. This was a choice made by a parent who has 17,000 photos on my Mac, 99 percent of which were taken since the Pumpkin was born four years ago.

Why did I choose not to record this precious memory? Because I wanted to live it. I didn’t want to see the Pumpkin dance through a viewfinder or a 3-inch LCD screen. I didn’t want to be distracted. I wanted to be present in the moment, enjoying every second. And I was. And I did. I cried. I smiled big. I held her father’s hand. I was *there*.

As a parent who watched her daughter blow out her birthday candles two years in a row from behind a camera, I can say that being there — truly there in the moment — beats the recorded memories.

I can only look at the pictures of that fourth birthday moment because I don’t have the images in my head to enjoy.

Tonight, I have something better than pixels. I have the afterglow of the feeling that welled up in me. I can only describe it as bliss.

I’m curious about the choices readers of this blog have made in similar circumstances. Have you, like me, been too willing to experience the milestones from behind the lens? What occasions have prompted you to just put down the camera and live? Or, do you derive such joy from rewatching the event that it’s worth it to be distracted by the filming of it?

Posted by Julie Moran Alterio on Saturday, June 27th, 2009 at 12:39 am |
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Becoming the parent you want to be


Chances are, you have a parenting philosophy even if you’ve never articulated it. You might be against spanking, for instance. (And hopefully.) You might limit TV. You might attend church or temple every week and talk about the lessons afterward. You might have a rule that there is no shouting inside the house.

In conversations with friends and relatives, I’ve come to realize I have a pretty strong sense of what I want my parenting to be. I don’t always meet these aspirations. I can be impatient at times. I have raised my voice rather than reasoned. I have tired of childish games sooner than I would like. In the everyday tumble of life amid work demands and sleep deficits, the gap between our ideals and our realities can widen.

That’s why I had to share with you a wonderful blog post that lays out “<a href=”http://zenhabits.net/2009/06/7-secrets-to-raising-a-happy-child/” target=”_blank”>7 Secrets to Raising a Happy Child</a>.” It’s as if writer Sean Platt crept into my head and wrote down my thoughts. I have spoken in favor of all of these guidelines to friends and family at one time or another, though I certainly didn’t express my thoughts as well as this writer. Sean has his own blog, <a href=”http://writerdad.com/” target=”_blank”>Writer Dad</a>, that’s also well worth bookmarking. (He also loves “<a href=”http://writerdad.com/writing/why-lost-is-the-best-television-show-ever/” target=”_blank”>Lost</a>,” which makes him an automatic kindred spirit.)

Here is the short version of Sean’s post, with some of my addenda. (If you want to read the unexpurgated version, just click on the link above.)

“1. Let your child know you are excited to see them when they enter the room. Let them see the light dance inside your eyes when their gaze drifts into yours. Be mindful of their presence by showing them your smile and greeting them warmly. Say their name out loud. Not only do children love to hear the sound of their name, they also long to feel validation from their loved ones.”
(This is such a simple and joyful thing to do that it’s going to be No. 1 on my list as well. I am pretty sure I do this most of time already, but I’ll try to never forget even on days when everything is going wrong.)

“2. Teach your child it’s okay to be bored. As parents, it’s often our instinct to entertain our children each and every waking hour. When we don’t possess the time or energy, it is all too easy to allow the glowing blue babysitter in the living room to do the heavy lifting. But when we rely on television, or any other form of autopilot attention, we succeed only in limiting our child’s development. Children have vivid imaginations that flourish upon nurturing. But without the opportunity to coax their creativity, it will only whither on the vine.”
(I totally agree with this! I often have said that I think boredom is useful. It forces the mind to wander and who knows where that might lead? I am against DVDs in the car and will never give my child a portable gaming device. Let her be a little bored once in a while! Maybe she’ll daydream herself to a magical place that can only be found in the imagination.)

“3. Limit your child’s media. Related, but not limited to number two. Limiting your child’s exposure to media isn’t only a positive move for promoting their creativity, it is an excellent method to broaden their attention span while grooming their ability to stay calm. Your child will have plenty of exposure to more than you want soon enough.”
(Thanks to Tivo, the Pumpkin has no idea that some people just sit down and channel surf. Whenever I allow very limited TV time, we watch a show recorded specially for her.)

“4. Let your child know they are more important than work by giving them eye contact and attention. Your child doesn’t just need you around, they need you present. Play with your child, interact with them, find out what is important to them by asking questions and listening to their answers.”
(This is the hardest one for working parents, isn’t it? It’s so hard sometimes to pull away from the e-mail or phone messages to just stop and sit on the floor and make time.)

“5. Let your child make a few of the rules. You don’t have to make them the boss to let them feel empowered. Often, power struggles with our children are the direct result of them feeling a loss of control.”
(My strategy is negotiation. We have an elaborate system of working out “deals” in our home. I lay out what I expect, she listens and sometimes makes a counteroffer. Then we both agree on the terms and even shake hands. Obviously, I don’t allow her to have a say when safety is at stake, but if we’re talking about trying a new food or reading a book before or after we brush teeth, I think negotiation is fine.)

“6. Teach your child — don’t assume it’s all happening outside the house. Home schooling is every parent’s job.”
(This is an example I received from my husband’s family. His dad used to give the kids regular assignments. The tradition lives on today with my husband’s two sisters and brother. In our house, the Pumpkin knows that she is attending “home school,” where she is learning everything from the names of creatures in the sea to which island in the South Pacific grows cloves. We have a lot of fun. )

“7. Model appropriate behavior. In my opinion, this is the most important item on the list. Children do as they see, not as they’re told. If you want your child to be mindful of others, you must be mindful of others yourself. If you want your child to by happy, you must smile without hesitation. There is no one more influential to your child than you. At least for now.”
(This is without a doubt my weakest link. I lose my temper too often. I let little things get to me at times. I don’t “go with the flow” as much as I’d like. This is definitely an area I have to emphasize myself as I strive to become a better parent.)

I hope you enjoyed this list as much as I did. The “<a href=”http://zenhabits.net/” target=”_blank”>zenhabits, simple productivity</a>” site has other useful links as well, like this one that lays out “<a href=”http://zenhabits.net/2007/02/100-ways-to-have-fun-with-your-kids-for/” target=”_blank”>100 Ways to Have Fun with Your Kids for Free or Cheap</a>.” I wonder how my mom would like No. 100: “Prank call their grandparents, using disguised, humorous voices.”

Posted by Julie Moran Alterio on Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009 at 2:23 am |


Recommended: Pacem in Terris


Pretty unique and rewarding Father’s Day for me this year, and something I’d recommend.

We shelved the idea of a cookout or a ballgame this time out, and instead headed upstate to Warwick to visit Pacem in Terris — six acres of sculpture and meditation gardens along the Wawayanda River.

The gardens are the life work of Frederick Franck, a Dutch-born sculptor and author who spent nearly half a century adorning the land around his home with sculptures, artwork and meditation spaces. The NY Times did a nice piece on it three years ago.

Pacem in Terris essentially translates from Latin to mean Peace on Earth, and it’s in keeping with Franck’s spiritual outlook on life. Franck, who wrote more than 30 books on Buddhism and other subjects, died in 2006 at the age of 97, and the property is now maintained by his son, Lukas, as a nonprofit corporation.

Pacem is laced with Franck’s message, and immediately alerts visitors that it is “neither church, nor chapel, nor temple.” He cites his associations with Albert Schweitzer, Pope John XXIII and Buddhist scholar Daisetz Suzuki with helping shape his world view — and homages to them abound throughout.

Franck, a dental surgeon-turned artist, also has his work on display at the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Tokyo National Museum and St. John the Divine Church.

My girlfriend turned us on to the place, which she frequented in past during times when she sought solace and tranquility. It was also a hit for my son, who is 11.

I would note that younger children may not be as enthralled — the place is not a playground. But for older kids, it’s a worthwhile experience. My son was very taken by it and was very vocal about appreciating that he and I shared it on Father’s Day.

Anyway, Pacem in Terris is at 96 Covered Bridge Road in Warwick, and, while it’s a tad out of the way, it’s worth a trip. Most of it is literally in Franck’s back yard, so visitors are asked to be respectful.

However, it is also free, and opens to the public on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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Posted by Jorge Fitz-Gibbon on Monday, June 22nd, 2009 at 10:30 am |

Study: Dads like breadwinner role but want time with kids


Some interesting statistics coming out of CareerBuilder.com’s pre-Father’s Day poll of working dads.

In a nutshell, the poll of 797 dads who work full-time found that fewer fathers would be willing to let their spouse or significant other be the main breadwinner, but many were still willing to take a pay cut in exchange for more time with the family.

CareerBuilder did the survey online between Feb. 20 and March 1, focusing on dads who are not self-employed and work full-time, with at least one child under 18 living at home.

Among the findings:
• 31% said they would leave their jobs if their significant other earned enough to support the family — down from 37% last year and 49% back in 2005.
• 30% said they were nonetheless willing to take a pay cut in exchange for having more time with their children — down from 37% last year — while 40% would consider a pay cut of 10% or more.
• 50% said they missed a significant event in the child’s life in the past year due to work, while 28% said they’ve missed more than three such events over that time span.
• 39% spend two hours or less with their kids during an average workday, while 14% spend one hour or less.
• 31% percent bring work home with them at least once a week — up from 25% last year.

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Posted by Jorge Fitz-Gibbon on Wednesday, June 17th, 2009 at 6:20 pm |

Father’s Day a little less bountiful this year – but not by much


Dads can expect a little less for Father’s Day this year, but we can still count on our fair share of neckties and dinners.

At least that’s what we’re getting from the National Retail Federation, which says the average Father’s Day spending will be about $90.89 this year, a slight dip from the $94.54 average spent last year.

Not too bad, considering the recession.

I guess no one is in any condition to complain. And if the breakdown on the expected expenditures is any indication, we’re more likely to get a gift card and a shirt or tie than the electronics we’re really hoping for.

Well, it is the thought that counts.

Anyway, here’s a portion of the report from the Retail Federation:

The survey found people will spend the most ($1.9 billion) on a special outing such as a dinner or even a sporting event, but clothing still ranks high among gift givers who are expected to shell out $1.3 billion on new socks, slacks and ties. Others will treat dad to a gift card ($1.2 billion), electronics ($1.0 billion), books or CDs ($548 million), home improvement items ($522 million) and sporting goods ($502 million).

Discount stores and department stores will be going head to head this Father’s Day as 33.9 percent of Americans plan on shopping at discounters and 33.7 percent will shop at department stores. Others will head to specialty stores like electronics and home improvement stores (26.8%), online (17.9%), at specialty clothing stores (6.1%) or through a catalog (2.8%).

When it comes to who is getting gifts this year, the majority of people said they will only buy for their father/stepfather (51.1%). Husbands (28.6%), sons (7.6%), grandfathers (4.7%) and brothers (5.1%) will also see gifts from family members.

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Posted by Jorge Fitz-Gibbon on Monday, June 15th, 2009 at 3:36 pm |


About this blog
Parents’ Place is a hangout for openly discussing the A’s to Z’s of raising a child in the Lower Hudson Valley. From deciding when to stop using a binky to when to let your teenager take driving lessons, Parents’ Place is here to let us all vent, share, and most of all, learn from each other.
Leading the conversation are Julie Moran Alterio, a business reporter and mom of a toddler, Jorge Fitz-Gibbon, a reporter and single father with joint custody of a 9-year-old son, and Len Maniace, a reporter and father of two sons.


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About the authors
Julie Moran AlterioJulie Moran AlterioJulie Moran Alterio, her husband and baby girl — “Pumpkin” — share their Northern Westchester home with three iPods and more colorful plastic toys than seems necessary to entertain one tiny human. READ MORE
Jorge Fitz-GibbonJorge Fitz-GibbonJorge Fitz-Gibbon has been a journalist for more than 20 years and a father for nine. READ MORE
Jane LernerJane LernerJane Lerner covers health and hospitals for The Journal News in Rockland, where she lives with her husband and two children. READ MORE
Len Maniace.jpgLen ManiaceLen Maniace is a reporter and father of two sons. READ MORE