Football – a debate

by Louise

With fall fast approaching, we return to sports at all levels – school, college and pro. A big one is football.

I was discussing football with my kid and he mentioned that students were out of school due to football related concussions. I happened to have lunch with a bunch of people and one guy was very opposed to his kid playing football. Then, I watch Last Chance U where football seems to be the only way out for young men from disadvantaged backgrounds. They want to play in spite of concussions hoping that they will be recruited to big football schools. I was troubled by this.

Next, I see this article on CTE.

CTE found in 99% of studied brains from deceased NFL players

What do you think ? Do you think football will continue as is or will people slowly turn away ? Will kids continue to play given the emerging research ? Discuss.

The Good Old Days

by Louise

Posters mention now and again their days as children and young adults. I find these a fascinating description of time and place.  Though most of our experiences may be positive, some may not be.

These days pictures and slide shows on Facebook pop up to remind us what happened a couple of years ago.  But prior to that there was just memory, faded pictures and some of you have mentioned home movies.

Describe your good old or bad old days.

Grandparents in the family picture

by Louise

This morning while reading about Melania Trump’s move to the White House, the article mentioned that her parents had moved to Washington. Wasn’t clear whether they moved to the White House too or were living separately but they had been living in the Trump Tower.

Michelle Obama’s mother lived with the family while they occupied the White House. I wonder about the impact on my kids from living with their grandparents. Perhaps my kids situation is more common than I thought.

In the situations above and in most current day situations it has been the woman’s parents in the picture, not her in-laws.

What do Totebaggers think of having grandparents in the picture ? I know some Totebaggers are grandparents themselves, what do they think ?

How to deal with personal issues affecting work

by Louise

There have been a few times when health crisis/issues have forced me to request even more flexibility at work. One time I was reluctant to share the details but I found that all up the management chain were very sympathetic and actually asked me what I was doing at work instead of taking care of the issue.

Recently one new hire didn’t work out because she had not got over the death of a grown child. I felt I was way more sympathetic than others in my workplace.

How have you managed a personal crisis and work? Have you been forced eventually to quit because things became too hard to manage?

How To Deal With Personal Issues At Work (Keep Personal Issues From Harming Your Job And Career)

Rituals and superstitions

by Louise

I grew in a country with a great deal of superstitions. People had various rituals to ward off the evil eye, observed auspicious days and times and matched birth horoscopes of potential life partners.  I lived for a long time in a city obsessed by The Curse of the Bambino (thankfully broken). Baseball players are known for their rituals.

The only superstition I have is being cautious of sharing certain bits of news. I waited three months to announce my pregnancies and didn’t reveal the name until the baby was born. Even now, I am cautious about sharing routine achievements of my kids.

What are some of your superstitions or (cough) rituals ?

Foods and Health

by Louise

I have become interested in the many people I meet who are careful about what they eat.  Lots of people have reduced or cut out gluten from their diets as well as diary.  Teens now go vegan.

What has been your experience with cutting out certain foods? Do you feel better in your gut, have you lost weight and feel healthier overall?

14 Best and Worst Foods for Digestion

Illness, Setbacks – looking inwards, coping with it all

by Louise

A mouthful of a title! How did Totebaggers cope with illness in themselves or loved ones, how do Totebaggers cope with setbacks? One day everything is fine, the next day dark clouds appear on the horizon.

My household just dealt with a bout of illness and all our issues are not yet resolved.
I thought of this book, I had been intending to read it but put it off, will pick it up again.

Review: In ‘When Breath Becomes Air,’ Dr. Paul Kalanithi Confronts an Early Death

Impact of Social Acceptance on Food and Lifestyle Choices

by Louise

The article below caught my eye. We now drink more bottled water than soda. A big part of this has to do with how we as a society now perceive soda. Sure we still drink it but at least among the Totebag set it is a once in a way item (or banned completely) rather than drunk daily.

What food or lifestyle habits have you made changes to over the years. Any items you have given up due to social pressure?

Soda Loses Its U.S. Crown: Americans Now Drink More Bottled Water

What are you watching?

by Louise

I have found discussions of shows, especially on streaming services and movies, to be a great ice breaker and a source of conversation with people around town I interact with.
I learn the names of some new shows, we have a good chat about shows we have watched. Beats talking about the weather.

I began watching Outlander. I had read one book in the series a while ago (didn’t realize there were so many). I am learning about Scotland as I go along. Very good place for a hiking holiday.

So, what shows have you been watching ? Any movie recommendations ?

Holiday Letter

by Louise

Very few people send out holiday letters anymore but two of my relatives do and I must say I have enjoyed reading them.  Their letters are balanced, not over the top cheery nor down in the dumps.

It has been a tumultuous year. Capture that spirit in your own holiday letter spoof. You can pretend to be someone else. Make us laugh, spread the cheer!

Jobs, Industries, Workplaces

by Louise

It has been a while since we talked about or vented about our jobs. Let’s talk about that. Also, what about our respective professions, industries and workplaces. Any changes there ? Any impacts from the election, favorable or unfavorable ? Did anyone make changes that worked out or not career wise?

Electives, seminars and classes

by Louise

The Editor’s share their favorite electives

This topic is right up the Totebag alley. What is the most fun elective you took in school/college ? What are some interesting seminars or classes you attended where you learnt something outside your field ?

I had limited opportunity to take non core classes at school/college but the few classes that I was able to take taught me things which I still remember and I had fun taking them.

What electives have your kids chosen ? Anything interesting?

Strong communities

by Louise

Totebaggers, we often hear about doing good for our communities. In today’s world what does that mean?  Volunteering, donating or taking care of our families and helping out our friends the best we can?  What are the issues facing your communities?  How about experience with government programs at the community level. Have they worked?

I feel with this election cycle there has been a long period of time where we have become distracted by day to day sound bites and have lost focus on the issues that really affect our communities.

Discuss.

College Confidential (Totebag Version)

by Louise

Totebaggers with older kids, what is the criteria for getting into a college that people would recognize ? I am not talking of Highly Selective Schools but maybe a tier below ?

Also, if you have experience with HSS, please share that. Some Totebaggers have left the decision on where to apply, how hard to work to their kids, others may have offered tips or made suggestions.

Still others have inside experience as readers of applications, college administrators and professors. I would love to hear your views on this edition of The Totebag College Confidential.

Urban Suburban

by Louise

This article talks about mixed use, denser development in the suburbs. It is definitely a trend in my city. Apartments and town homes are being built at a rapid pace in suburban centers and construction cranes fill the skyline. No large lot is left unbuilt.

What do you think of this tend ? Did you start off or still live in a dense setting ? Discuss.

Suburbs Trying to Attract Millennials Diverge on Development Patterns

Fired

by Louise

This article caught my eye. One party was fired by their firm, the other was not fired by another firm and continues on.

On a radio show, I listen to callers describe situations and listeners and radio hosts guess whether they were fired or not. Many times, I have thought the callers must have gotten fired, but no – they carried on.

Have you been fired? Or know of situations where people should or should not have been fired?

Fifth Third Fired Counsel Over Relationship With Fannie CEO

Bad eats

by Louise

Guacamole Lovers Say Low-Fat Florida Avocados Are the Pits

I read this article with a smile. It is about the Florida avocado that doesn’t quite measure up to the Hass Avocado.  I am glad that fat is no longer on the bad list because some purchases of low-fat and sugar-free items didn’t go well in my house.

Totebaggers, any examples of food that you dislike ? Have you successfully substituted ingredients in any recipes ? How about those following or cooking a certain diet ? Any tips for the rest of us ?

Safety First

by Louise

The basic — but often ignored — rules of zoo safety

The Gorilla Incident that occurred on Memorial Day Weekend caught my eye. I am a safety first person and get uncomfortable when others put themselves in dangerous situations. Though I can swim, I will heed all warnings about currents, not swimming too close to fishing piers etc.

Have you observed any dangerous behaviors? Any safety tips?

Innovation

by Louise

I watched this documentary – Silicon Valley. I was struck by the description of the atmosphere of innovation described in Silicon Valley. The many companies that were started as a result. Have you been at places where there was something new being discovered or something old being reinvented ? What do you think of risk taking, not being afraid to fail which accompany innovation ? Have you been innovative at work ? Any other areas ?

Silicon Valley

Language choices

by Louise

The choice of foreign language comes up during discussion of academic choices. A lot of kids are taking Spanish. Their parents hope that they will be able to communicate with Spanish speakers in the U.S. There are a couple of issues though. The teaching of foreign languages, at the neighborhood schools (excludes language magnets or immersion programs) is not rigorous enough in my opinion. The languages are in many cases taught by non native speakers and the graduation requirement is only two years. It seems that the goal of being fluent in a language is not achieved. I am not sure if fluent in a language was ever the goal of the education system. I know some posters studied abroad during high school and college. What has been your experience as a student or as a parent ? Any language teachers among us who want to weigh in ?

Cliques, social groups, and popular kids

Today we have two posts on similar topics

Cliques and social groups

by Rocky Mountain Stepmom

Grace:  Oh, he’s very popular Ed. The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wastoids, dweebies, dickheads – they all adore him. They think he’s a righteous dude.


I had an interesting discussion with some online friends the other day. In my high school, the social groupings were very much like the scene above from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Well, not quite, but we had the rah-rahs, the jocks, the jockettes, the nerds (represent!), the burnouts, the Beautiful People, the Jesus Freaks, the stoners, the Band Geeks, and more that I’m probably forgetting.

My friend from Florida: “Are you crazy? We had three groups. The whites, the blacks, and the Cubans. That’s it”
My friend from rural Ontario, Canada: “We didn’t have social groups. We were all rural Canadians.”

And I kind of get that. At Paly in my day, we had a black kid. Her name was Cammie. She didn’t really count as a social group, though. So the many, many white kids all subdivided ourselves into the groups I mentioned.

Do your kids go to a school with many different social groups, or are they mostly divided by race? By rural/urban? Something else? What about your high school?

*********

Popular kids

by Louise

Recent posts from Totebaggers have described taking action against bullies. My kids are now navigating through the tween years where kids split into groups. I would describe my kids as being in the middle – generally getting along with everyone. Do you see a change from when you went to school ? Have the anti bullying and respect for different types of kids programs worked ? If you could go back what would you do differently ?

Popular Kids

The golden years

by Louise

My husband has stopped cheating on me after 35 years

This piece caught my eye. I know of a few long-term marriages where there was cheating and dysfunction. Everyone knew including the kids. Now, there is posting of pictures on FB of the happy couple in their golden years. I want to shout “fakes” but am I right ? Is it possible for partners to change ? To let go of resentments and forgive ? To enjoy their golden years together ?

Social media — what not to do

by Louise

The 10 worst parental crimes on social media

This is a piece about teens, their parents and social media. What are some things about people’s posts on social media that annoy you ? What shouldn’t people post ? Are there age limits to posting certain kind of pictures ? Are there things that are appropriate on one type of social media that are inappropriate on others ?
Discuss.

All about hair

by Louise

My family has become a little hair obsessed. I found a local barber shop that does a great job of DS’s hair. DS is now quite happy with his hair and is actually using a brush and looking in the mirror before he heads out. DD and I spent time looking at updos for dance. I had to practice using YouTube and I ended up with a mini salon. Combs, hair pins, hair spray, donut (for updo). I hope I have mastered how to do her hair and the updo doesn’t fall down as she dances. DH is trying out hair color and sometimes the color comes out more red than black. Then in a panic he rushes to a professional for a color fix. I am wondering whether to get a haircut and shake up my hair style.

Totebaggers what hairy tales or advice do you have. Any products that you like ? Discuss!

Ideas for gift giving

Two Totebaggers seek advice about gift giving, and you can post your own questions in the comments.


Gift giving on a budget

by Louise

I like to give gifts but I have to look at my budget as well. DH has over the years delegated gift giving to me. I primarily buy for my nieces and nephews. For the adults it is occasional gifts if I think they would enjoy them.

I try not to splurge. In a nod to MMM, I had my DD “save” her birthday gifts (craft kits) and open them in the lean months.

What are your strategies for gift giving on a budget, saving gifts for later or do you turn into MMM (modern day Scrooge) and declare a gift free holiday ?


Gift giving for families in transition

by SWVA Mom

I was wondering today if I should get my estranged husband a Christmas gift and thought I should ask the Totebag. Do you or your friends/family exchange holiday gifts with the ex-spouse? If so, what’s appropriate? More specifically, is booze OK?

Do you help young children purchase something nice for their other parent or just let them go with the craft project they made at school? I’m not there yet, but same question for step-siblings who might come into the picture.

What about ex-in-laws? (I did send gifts to my nieces.) And do you still exchange holiday cards with the ex’s aunts/uncles/cousins?

Any other holiday etiquette tips for families in transition? Please share your funny stories or cautionary tales about broken & blended family holidays.

Individual eating habits

by Louise

This post has come about because increasingly we have to cook around whatever issues the adults in our family have with certain foods. These are not allergies, just that some foods don’t agree with them.  Then, there are my parents who would like to eat everything but cannot due to health reasons. It seems that as I come to know of and would like to try new things, my family is moving the opposite way, becoming more restricted in their eating. Totebaggers have mentioned various diets and I confess to be bewildered by them, since I am still following my everything in moderation playbook from twenty years ago. I don’t think I am alone. What have you learnt from your diets, cooking for a family with differing food tolerances and eating healthy in general.

Boyz to Men

by Louise

My experience prior to having a boy has been around girls and women. I had male cousins but still women dominated. Then, I became the mother of a boy. It was a different experience. There is lots of energy that has to be channeled or burnt off.

Band Aids fly out of the medicine cabinet. The learning process is different. The color blue was with us for many years. Now, it is a gradual transition from a boy to a man. Socks, shoes and athletic wear are a riot of colors. The brighter the better. Unkept hair is giving way to a more groomed look. The one male teacher is the leader of the pack.

What are your experiences around boys and boyhood? How about the transition from a boy to a man? Three cheers for boyhood!

Non-traditional learning

by Louise

Why Unschooling Is the Next Wave of Home-Based Education for Kids

What is Unschooling?

Unschooling 101

I know families who are homeschooling their kids. In these families the mother was already at home and for whatever reason, starting very early the decision was made not to send the kids on to traditional schools. These families follow curriculums put out by publishing companies. For high school they are thinking of supplementing with online courses. This is still not unschooling which goes a step further.

Does your family or people you know follow non traditional learning approaches? How has that worked out?

Farmed Fish

by Louise

Farmed fish could bring us cheaper food, but is it ethical?

I have wanted to discuss this topic. We like fish but usually don’t buy salmon or tilapia. We prefer wild caught but will buy farm raised shrimp. We eat fish often enough where we can tell if something doesn’t taste right but we are not experts able to tell if the fish is farm raised or wild caught. We also buy fish from Asian markets which are frozen and shipped over (mainly Asian mackerel and sardines). Are those from waters that are over fished? I don’t know. It’s fishy, all right….discuss.

The Swimsuit Issue

by Louise

I know Fred loves the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue but this is a tamer Totebag version. It covers (or reveals) what kind of swim wear you like, how many bathing suits you own AND all beach, pool, camping and outdoorsy stuff. If you have favorite things you bring, cool drinks you make, picnic recipes etc. let’s hear them.

Middle School And Beyond

by Louise

Totebaggers – I need a middle school and beyond road map. Basically what exams, classes and camps to look out for. I am swimming upstream not knowing when to sign kids up for PSAT/SAT and other exams, how to have kids prepare etc. Now all school information for parents is online, so if I don’t look carefully I am afraid I’ll miss things.
I know for instance there are 8th grade placement exams – what does that mean?
Not having been through this school system facing decisions on what to have kid take, I value the Totebag collective wisdom.

Vanity

by Louise

Totebaggers, from the brand post, it seems that only a few of us care for brands. Many of us value experiences. Experiences aside, are there things we are vain about? My old neighbor, a regular guy who couldn’t care about brand names, did all the work around his house and yard himself, drove a very ordinary car, had two fine looking old convertibles in his garage. He drove them in the summer and I was always taken by those cars when he went past with a jaunty wave. These days, I see vintage open bed trucks with families driving to Starbucks on a Saturday morning.

Like these gentlemen, do you have something you are vain about? Do you have great hair for example, that you wear just so? What about a fit figure? A pretty garden? Any signature dishes you make? Any collections you are proud of ? What are you vain about?

Dating And Marriage Across The Lines

by Louise

My children are first generation Americans. As they grow, I wonder what advice I should give them about dating and marriage. In the home country, marriages that used to last till death do us apart, are increasingly coming apart at the seams. So, advice on this topic is hard to impart.

Here, it seems that there are invisible lines. I wonder how other families would feel at having a first generation Asian boy/girl dating their kids. At school and in their lives my kids are surrounded by other Totebagger type families of all stripes. I am presuming it is most likely they will date/marry Totebagger Junior.

How have your kids handled dating/marriage. What about dating across lines? What advice do you have for kids?

What Historical Character Would You Like To Be?

by Louise

Wolf Hall is coming to an end soon. I am a big fan of historical fiction and often wonder what it would be like if I actually lived in those times.

Who would I be? From what I have read I would have liked to be at court in the time of Elizabeth I. I am afraid my head would be chopped off under Henry VIII or worse still I would be burned at the stake.

Which character from history would you like to be?

Kind Criticism

by Louise

In a world where everyone gets a trophy how do we offer constructive but kind criticism?

With my kids a tug of war has ensued over my feedback of their Lego projects. An honest opinion from me is termed as being “too negative”. Too negative? Ha! Good thing they didn’t grow up in the home country where a few people told me, that I needed to watch my diet and get more exercise. It was true that compared to my peers I was fat.

How do you give criticism that is kind but effective? How can the receivers absorb the message yet not take offense? Let’s hear it for kind criticism.

Tortes and Tarts

by Louise

“Mini tarts for an aging tart”. I loved this line and I have come to think of Totebaggers as Tortes (the guys) and Tarts (the girls).

BTW, my neighbor called her friends, women over seventy “the girls”.

As you, Tortes and Tarts have gotten older, what are things you do, that are the privilege of being a certain age? Speaking your mind, two glasses of wine, instead of one, a full cookie instead of half? What are your thoughts on aging?

Here is a snapshot of people who are 100 years old – there is drinking, dancing and marathon running.

David Bailey: this is what 100 looks like

Friday Fun: Dessert Buffet

by Louise

The discussion of cakes – buttercream vs. fondant had me thinking of desserts. My parents used to go to a wonderful restaurant serving continental (French) food and the finale was a dessert cart. There was a chocolate cake, a black forest, a pineapple cake and a chocolate ganache cake. A soufflé and other assorted treats. I would look forward eagerly to dinner there. The restaurant changed over the years and although their food is still good and they serve individual desserts after a meal the dessert cart has vanished into the sunset.

Totebaggers what is your favorite dessert?
Do you have any recipes to share?
Are there any favorite dessert places or treat shops that you frequent. Share with us your dessert haunts.

The Cost of Extracurricular Activities

by Louise

Kids’ Extracurricular Activities May Cost More Than You Think

Totebaggers – I was talking to a lady who was spending approx. $350/month on dance lessons for her two daughters. This didn’t include recital, costumes or other fees. Her daughters had been in dance since they were little but now as high schoolers their interest had waned and they were on the fence about continuing lessons. Their mother decided to cut the lessons out. “I’m tired and spending too much money”. There was some drama but the parent wanted a firm exit rather than continue to pay and have the kids not go.

Totebaggers, what do you think of all the activities your kids have been involved in ?
Worth it or not ? Are we collectively spending too much time and money ?
We have new parents who may benefit from the advice.

Emotional Intelligence

by Louise

Totebaggers have often mentioned social skills, emotional intelligence, soft skills – call it what you like.

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to identify, use, understand, and manage emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges, and defuse conflict.

The one aspect emotional intelligence covers is how to communicate effectively with others. This is an area that needs working on for many people.

What tips can you share with other posters on how to apply emotional intelligence in different situations?

There are a few of us who are academics, lots of lawyers, engineers and other professions – what social skills have your students, coworkers, managers, employees displayed that you have been impressed with ?

As a parent what advice would you give to your children about this topic? I’ve come to realize that this is covered at my kids’ school in guidance class.

Discuss!

Lessons From The Great Recession

by Louise

Totebaggers, it seems like The Great Recession happened eons ago. I still think about how bad things could have been for us as a family. We were lucky in that we had no job loss during that time.

Lots of changes took place in the financial services industry. Some Totebaggers have described changes to their jobs and lives because of the crisis.

How did the Great Recession impact you? Did it change your spending habits, your assumptions about the value of real estate?  What about the role of government?

Discuss…