More Mass Shootings, More "Thoughts and Prayers," More Crickets: SO NOW WHAT?

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Yes, pretty much.

Every school shooting, every mass gun massacre, every image of family members desperately searching the scene for their children, or collapsing as they find out their kids didn't make it: Every single one of these events is absolutely shattering. And still, after so many—so so so so many—of these incidents every year, month, and week, a numbness tends to set in. But the opposite is happening, for me anyway.

Lately, I feel uncomfortable, bordering on queasy, about sending my kids into a school building every day. According to a Huffington Post report yesterday, the U.S. is now averaging a school gun incident every 60 hours in 2018, based on data compiled by Every Town for Gun Safety

One of my kids already goes to a big public school, which does have security guards at both doors, sure, but I've never seen those guards ask any incoming person a question, or check IDs, or inspect bags. I'm sure anyone could walk up to the door any day, carrying assault weapons, and march right into the building.

If that person happens to be a currently enrolled student, someone with a familiar face (who just happens to be carrying an assault weapon in a backpack), I doubt there's much chance he or she will be stopped.

I can't handle this fact anymore, for my kids or for any other kid or parent anywhere. So two solutions come to mind, and gun control isn't one of them since it's apparently never, ever, ever going to happen in the U.S.—unless we pull off the magical feat of banning the NRA, or enacting massive campaign finance reform that keeps the NRA from enriching members of Congress (but even still, the gun nuts will find a way to bankroll legislators one way or the other). 

Senator John McCain, one of the dozens in Congress who tweeted some version of the usual "thoughts and prayers" B.S., has accepted $7.7 million in funding from the NRA. And he's just one example. See this New York Times list for many more.

Until you stop valuing gun-lobby money over kids' lives, John McCain, STFU. Please.

So the only two viable solutions I can imagine right now are:

Homeschooling:

My husband and I aren't seriously considering this yet, but I've been thinking about the option constantly these days. ("Could we? Would we? Should we?") One of the surviving high school kids in the Florida massacre had told her parents repeatedly, over the years, that she's scared of school shootings and wants to be homeschooled. And sure enough, the second-worst school shooting in American history happened this week, right inside her high school.

Metal detectors: 

Let's put a metal detector at every school entrance, in every school in America. Yup, this will mean long lines in the morning and a delayed start to the school day. Not to mention the expense of installing the machines. And the hurdles of getting an initiative like this underway at the federal, state, or local levels. But I can't think of any issue more worth the time and money than our kids' safety, in a country where gun control apparently isn't an option and will never be. 

Is there a downside to lobbying for metal detectors in schools? At least until we can wrestle free of the NRA chokehold that's turning America into the #1 most unsafe country for kids in the developed world?

A guest named Lisa Del Rosso on the Brian Lehrer Show on NYC's NPR station today described the idea of metal detectors in schools as merely "adjusting to the problem" rather than trying to solve it.

But we have to adjust, don't we? Because solving the problem isn't happening anytime soon.

Can we start a raucous national conversation about putting a metal detector in every school? I'm ready.

#MetalDetectorNation

Depressing, but that's where we are now, no?

Image above found on Twitter, @LeaLooDallas.

This 44-Year-Old Olympic Athlete and Mother of Three Kicks Sarah Palin's "Hockey Mom" Butt

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Where do we even begin with Riika Valila? 

1) Finnish ice hockey champ Riikka Valila is an insanely talented athlete and four-time Olympian, currently competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang.

2) Riikka Valila (aka Hanna-Riikka Nieminen-Välilä) is 44 years old. Did we mention she's still competing in the Olympics?

3) Riikka Valila has three kids, and had her youngest at age 35—which counts as advanced maternal age, albeit barely, and also advances the "she's a champ" theme. Raising three kids should be its own Olympic sport, but that's another blog post.

4) Riikka's team lost to the U.S. women's ice hockey team yesterday, but her presence on the ice made it hard not to keep eyes glued on this Finnish phenom.

After the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, where Valila became the oldest female ice hockey player ever to score at a Winter Olympics game, she was quoted as saying: “I don't have to prove anything to myself or anybody else. I just enjoy playing. I really love to train, to improve my body and it's lots of fun to get the feeling that I am getting better on the ice and I can help the team.”

5) While Riikka Valila doesn't deserve to be subjected to the tiresome "How do you do it all?" questions that moms (but not dads) who excel at their jobs always seem to get, she's still the most incredible "hockey mom" we can imagine. Sorry, Sarah Palin fans (if you're not all in hiding right now). Palin may be a proud "hockey mom," but Riikka kicks her butt all the way to Finland, and back again.

Catch Riikka Valila in action when Finland plays Canada at 2:40 a.m. on Tuesday, February 13: Here's how to watch the game.

Photo of Finland women's ice hockey team in 2014 (Riikka Valila in foreground) by Sander van Ginkel via Wikimedia Commons.

Egg Freezing: Should You Do It?

Egg Freezing: Should You Do It?

"I am single and babyless not because my career is standing in the way, but because I haven’t met the person I want to make one with yet," writes 29-year-old Washington Post reporter and filmmaker Nicole Ellis in an article introducing her new serialized mini-documentary, Should I Freeze My Eggs?

Ellis appeared on the terrific Brian Lehrer radio show on New York's NPR affiliate, WNYC, this morning to talk about the documentary, and about her own attempts to figure out how egg-freezing works and whether she should do it herself. As she worked on the series, Ellis wondered why women's fertility is always framed in negative or perilous terms, and her questions led her to the guy who originally coined the notorious term "biological clock" in 1978, another Washington Post columnist named Richard Cohen.

Her response to Cohen, and Cohen's own response to Ellis, are definitely worth a listen, as is Ellis's thoughtful exploration of a question that so many women are confronting now: to freeze or not to freeze?

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When's the Right Time to Say the F Word to Your Doctor?

When's the Right Time to Say the F Word to Your Doctor?

"Are we on the brink of an infertility crisis?" That's the panic-inducing headline of a recent piece in The Lily, The Washington Post's new-ish digital "publication for women." The subtitle reads, "American women are having kids later. What's the impact of 'the new normal'?" 

The Lily's article mentions the declining fertility rates worldwide and cites, among many causes, the fact that more women are deciding to become parents after age 35, i.e. at advanced maternal age, when fertility starts declining.

The point of the piece isn't to make women feel guilty about postponing parenthood to a time in our lives when we actually feel ready for it. And it's not just to give a reality-check (if anyone even needed one) that delaying parenthood can mean missing out on having kids. Chances are,

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Serena Williams for President: After a Harrowing Childbirth, a Heroic Comeback

Serena Williams for President: After a Harrowing Childbirth, a Heroic Comeback

The beautiful Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. popped out into the world this world having no idea who her mother is—tennis world-champ Serena Willams—nor what her mom was about to go through in the next few hours: a life-threatening pulmonary embolism that would most likely have gone undetected if Williams hadn't lobbied hard to get a CT-scan.

Williams had to plead for a scan and a heparin IV drip because the nurses and doctors ignored her initial requests, despite the fact that she's Serena Williams. They eventually listened, likely because she is in fact Serena Williams, and the treatment saved her life.

Too many black women in the U.S. aren't as lucky when they face complications in childbirth, and evidence keeps mounting about how racial bias in hospitals is leading to a rising rate of maternal mortality among African American women—three to four times as high, according to the Centers for Disease Control, as the already exorbitant and rising overall rate of maternal mortality in the U.S. (See this NPR story about Shalon Irving for a shocking and heartbreaking recent example of a woman who wasn't as lucky as Serena Williams.) If anything good could come of the 36-year-old Serena Williams's terrifying near-miss, it would be

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Senator Tammy Duckworth's Quote of the Week:" A 50-Year-Old Mom Is the New 40"

Senator Tammy Duckworth's Quote of the Week:" A 50-Year-Old Mom Is the New 40"

The announcement by Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois) that she's pregnant at 49, and due to give birth in April right after she turns 50, is impressive enough. But the fact that Duckworth is a double amputee who wears prosthetics on both legs after losing them in the Iraq War in 2004—and the fact that she already has a daughter—should certainly catapult the senator into top running for the Total Badass Award 2018. (The award doesn't officially exist yet as far as we know, but there's no time like the present to kick it off.)

Duckworth will be the first-ever Senator to give birth in office, adding to her already long list of firsts:  The first woman with a disability ever elected to Congress; the first Asian-American woman ever elected to Congress from Illinois; the first Thailand-born member of Congress.This Sunday, Duckworth told ABC's Face the Nation , "I feel great. I'm thrilled and happy." She talked about the challenges of getting pregnant both times, and opened up about what it's like to serve in Congress as a new mother. Here are some highlights from her interview:

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The Good News, Bad News, and Good-Bad News About Fertility Stats for Older Moms

The Good News, Bad News, and Good-Bad News About Fertility Stats for Older Moms

Here's the money quote in yesterday's New York Times report, "The U.S. Fertility Rate is Down, Yet More Women Are Mothers":

"In the mid-1990s, it was almost unheard-of for a never-married woman in her early 40s with a postgraduate degree to have a child, according to the Pew report. Today, 25 percent of women who fit that profile do." The NYT story's findings are like a roller-coaster ride

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Word Meds for Winter's Home Stretch

Word Meds for Winter's Home Stretch

"The shortest day has passed, and whatever nastiness of weather we may look forward to in January and February, at least we notice that the days are getting longer.  Minute by minute they lengthen out.  It takes some weeks before we become aware of the change.  It is imperceptible even as the growth of a child, as you watch it day by day, until the moment comes when with a start of delighted surprise we realize that we can stay out of doors in a twilight lasting for another quarter of a precious hour."-  Vita Sackville-West

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One Mom's Journey from "I Give Up" to a Surprise Pregnancy

One Mom's Journey from "I Give Up" to a Surprise Pregnancy

Brooklyn mom Erin Scanlon's little boy is about to turn one, and sometimes that still seems unreal. A couple of years ago, Erin and her husband were convinced they'd never get to be parents. When she was 37, Erin—who is now 40 and a divisional CFO for a financial services company—tried to conceive naturally, then eventually took a friend's advice to start fertility treatments immediately. Multiple rounds later, nothing was working. When Erin finally did get pregnant, she suffered a miscarriage and found out she needed surgeries for cysts and endometriosis. Exhausted and frustrated after the failed treatments and multiple surgeries, Erin and her husband decided to just give up. And then... guess what happened. For more about Erin's inspiring story, check out our exclusive Crunch Time Parents Q&A:

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5 Reasons To Be Optimistic About 2018. Seriously.

5 Reasons To Be Optimistic About 2018. Seriously.

This morning, I Googled "reasons to be optimistic in 2018." Nothing came up. Ok, only "reasons to be optimistic about technology in 2018," or "reasons to be optimistic about the Packers in 2018." Just specific little niches of life that merit good cheer in the coming year, for some people anyway, but not the big-picture positivity I was looking for. Tellingly, as I was typing in "reasons to be optimistic in...," Google's predictive text tried to add "2015" or "2016" or even "2017" (ha). But not 2018, the year that has pretty much everyone going, "Holy F'ing F, what are we in for now?" So here's my own little list of reasons to cheer up this January.

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Word Meds: Don't Call It Meditation

Word Meds: Don't Call It Meditation

“You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day—unless you’re too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.” —Zen proverb

Wise words. "But I don't even have 20 minutes!" "An hour?! That'll get me fired!" Totally hear you. But do you have five minutes? Three? Before January 1 sends us all into a resolution-making frenzy, or makes us want to denounce all resolutions forever, let's all just try this:

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