Ivy League Home Run: Long Island Teen Accepted to All 8 Ivy League Universities

Written on April 2, 2014 at 5:10 pm , by

Awaiting college acceptance letters can be one of the most unnerving experiences for a high school senior, unless of course you are Kwasi Enin, the Long Island teen who scored big-time with fat envelopes from all eight Ivy League schools: Harvard, Brown, Yale, Cornell, Dartmouth, Princeton, Columbia and the University of Pennsylvania. (Oh yes, and he also got into Duke, SUNY Binghamton, SUNY Geneseo and Stony Brook University.)

Enin is the product of a public school education, at William Floyd High School in Mastic, Long Island, and is a first-generation American, the son of immigrants from Ghana; they made huge sacrifices for their children and expected excellence in return. Under their guidance he studied religiously and was expected never to come back with a grade below 95.

Enin took the SATs three times before he was satisfied with his score: 2,250 out of 2,400, placing him in the 99th percentile for all students taking the exam. He’s also a straight-A student who scored highly on many of his Advanced Placement exams.

In addition, Enin is a viola player, and a cappella singer and a shot-putter—in short, perfect Ivy League material. (I smiled and was relieved to hear that the 17-year-old aspiring doctor is also a fan of video games.)

I feel so proud of this kid, bless him and his parents, but it’s easy to feel like an underachiever next to such accomplishment. I’m also the parent of bright kids, but my parenting style is definitely not of the Tiger Mom persuasion, and my kids, although no slouches, just might not pull off such a dazzling Ivy League coup. I can live with that, truly I can, but I have to say Enin has certainly raised the bar for what is possible.

As a parent, how does Enin’s story make you feel? Does it inspire you? Let us know in the comments below.

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Good Reads: Four Books for Pet Lovers

Written on April 1, 2014 at 4:09 pm , by

By Cristina Corvino

Raise a paw to these clever new canine and feline books. From an addictive game of I Spy to an irresistibly catchy tune come to life, these are sure to satisfy your Internet pet craving for the day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cat vs. Human: Another Dose of Catnip by Yasmine Surovec

Explore the unique and unconditionally loving relationship that only cat parents understand best. Yasmine Surovec, author of the successful blog catversushuman.com, debuts 21 brand-new comics for your enjoyment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Find Momo by Andrew Knapp

We spy…a black-and-white border collie. Based on designer and photographer Andrew Knapp’s addictive blog (gofindmomo.com) and Instagram account (@andrewknapp), Find Momo includes images of his dog camouflaged in unusual landscapes. Warning: Once you start searching, it’s hard to stop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Downton Tabby by Chris Kelly

Felines sit atop their aristocratic thrones in this amusing storybook parody of the PBS television hit Downton Abbey. Among the lessons you’ll learn: “How to Argue with Lord Grimalkin About His Most Deeply Held Beliefs.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Does the Fox Say? by Ylvis, Christian Løchstøer and Svein Nyhus

Sing along to the viral hit song (over 380 million views and counting on YouTube!) by Ylvis as you read the entertaining lyrics and get lost in the charming illustrations. What do you say to that?


Chew on This: Talking Breakfast with Teens and Tweens

Written on March 31, 2014 at 2:28 pm , by

By Danielle Blundell

The ironic thing about breakfast is that we’ve been hearing it’s the most important meal of the day for years, yet many of us skip it anyway. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become better about eating in the morning. But for teens, staying up late watching TV or texting with friends, then hitting the snooze button repeatedly in the a.m. sometimes makes breakfast a luxury reserved for the weekends. A good analogy to illustrate the importance of breakfast for kids—and even ourselves—might be sports. Performing like an athlete requires the proper fuel, and it all starts with breakfast.

To that end we asked the New York Giants’ colorful running back Victor Cruz and The Chew’s Carla Hall, who’ve partnered up with Fuel Up to Play 60 to increase school breakfast participation across the country, for their tips on getting tweens and teens excited about breakfast. And who better than skeleton silver medalist Noelle Pikus-Pace, fresh off the Sochi podium and now spokesperson for Kellogg’s Give a Great Start Program, for additional ideas, since she’s mom to—and chief breakfast maker for—children Traycen and Lacee.

1. Convenience is key. 

Kids are always on the go, so breakfast options should be flexible too. Stock up on breakfast bars and instant oatmeal, or prepare baggies of dry cereal ahead of time, like Pikus-Pace does, for kids to grab fast from the pantry. Cruz remembers, “Even if I was running late, I always fit breakfast in because of my mom. She’d say, ‘At least eat some cereal,’ or she’d have a granola bar ready for me to eat in the car on the way to school.”

2. Splurge once in a while.

Sure, a well-balanced, healthy breakfast is ideal, but sometimes kids form good habits faster when you let them indulge in their favorites from time to time. For Cruz, it’s French toast. “I’d eat that every day if I could,” he says. Hall favors pancakes. Make it a point to get the family together and enjoy a splurge breakfast at least once a month.

3. Go pro athlete with your menu.

“On game days, I’ll have a vegetable omelet for protein, oatmeal for extra energy and a glass of orange juice,” says Cruz. Before your athlete’s big game or on a test day, give that combo a try. You don’t even have to bust out a pan or skillet if you don’t have the time. Hall uses an on-the-go omelet recipe made with eggs, a little bit of milk, cheese and veggies or meat that she shakes up in a microwave-safe Mason jar and microwaves for 2 minutes.

4. Make breakfast a group effort when you can.

“Today’s kids are more little foodies than we think,” says Hall. “Getting them involved is key, and it starts with taking kids to the store to pick items out. Or ask them for a list.” Let kids customize their own jar omelets or pick out the fruits they want to top their cereal, oatmeal or yogurt. And remind them that not everybody has it so easy when it comes to breakfast. “Everyone deserves a great start, but every day one in five kids don’t get breakfast,” says Pikus-Pace. You and your teen or tween can help. Watch her video and share it with the hashtag #greatstart on Twitter or Facebook, and you’ll provide a meal to a child in need through Kellogg’s.


You Make It, We Post It!

Written on March 31, 2014 at 9:30 am , by

Now serving: pie for dinner! Instagram user @mobraves expertly made and styled our take on a savory meal switch-up—Broccoli Onion Pies. The simple recipe takes less than 30 minutes to prepare, perfect for busy weeknights. Click here for more quick and easy meals.

Want to be featured here as next week’s chef? 

Here’s how: Make a Family Circle recipe, take a photo and share it on Instagram by tagging @FamilyCircleMag and #FCMADEIT.


March Madness

Written on March 28, 2014 at 1:30 pm , by

 Welcome to our weekly roundup of the best deals on the Web! We love a bargain as much as the next person, so check back every Friday for our favorite family-friendly discounts.

Regardless of whether your team’s been ousted from the tournament, get in on the action with these 3-point discounts. You’ll score nothing but net in savings.

• Grab college Hooded Sweatshirts for everyone in the family—they’re only $9.99 instead of $40.

• Complete your school spirit look with a team iPhone Case, on sale for $11.99, marked down from $29.99.

• Get ready to be the official game-watch house. After you place an order for $15 or more at Papa John’s, you’ll receive 25 bonus Papa Rewards points the next day, valid for a FREE Large Pizza with Three Toppings.

• Round the gang up for Buy 10 Get 10 Wings at Hooters.

• Keep your eyes on all the action with multiple TVs and $5 Off Two Dinner Entrees at Outback Steakhouse.

• You may have a new vested interest in who wins the big game on April 7. If a team with a “winged” mascot wins, Pizza Hut will be giving out a FREE Four-Count Sample of WingStreet Wings. If not, you can still enjoy a limited-time deal of Eight Wings for $5.


Free SAT Prep Classes

Written on March 26, 2014 at 2:24 pm , by

My kids have frequently used the Khan Academy to improve their grades, catch up on classes and complete their homework. So the announcement (above) that this free online classroom has partnered with the College Board to make SAT prep free to everyone made me very happy.

My son has taken the SAT three times and plans to take it again. Every time he does, he plans to study. But somehow he never manages to get in enough studying before test day. Next time, he won’t be trying to drag himself through a book. And I won’t feel guilty if I can’t afford to buy him an expensive test preparation class. Because, according to David Coleman, CEO of the College Board, the Khan Academy will be the best place to prepare for this exam going forward. “To be clear,” explains Coleman in the above video, “this will be the only place in the world—and free to the world—besides on our own website, that students will be able to encounter materials for the exam that are focused on the core of the math and the literacy that matters most…There will be no other partnerships, so this will be the best there is.”

So that’s where my son will be taking practice tests, watching Sal Khan work through actual SAT questions, retaking tests, practicing with real SAT reading and writing problems provided by the College Board, and doing it all from whatever tablet, smartphone or computer he happens to be in front of. To make sure he’s on track, I can act as coach and check his progress online.

For 2016, the SAT will be completely redesigned to put the emphasis back on testing knowledge rather than mastery of test-taking tricks. The Khan Academy is working in partnership with the College Board to create study materials—available for free to everyone!—to go with the revamped SAT, too.

Free test prep for college, free college classes for all students. I love the democratic, egalitarian place the Internet is taking education. All we have to do is dial up learning instead of silly cat videos and we can change the world. It gives me hope.

 

Christina Tynan-Wood has been covering technology since the dawn of the Internet and currently writes the Family Tech column for Family Circle. You can find more advice about buying and using technology at GeekGirlfriends.com.


Fool Me Once…

Written on March 25, 2014 at 2:31 pm , by

By JM Randolph, the Accidental Stepmom

It’s that time of year again, when I peruse the Internet for ideas for April Fools’ Day pranks I can play on the kids that won’t require either a trip to the emergency room or some intervention from the authorities.

You get a glimpse into the deep psyche of the prank-posters when you do this. They reveal a great deal about their daily routines, how they keep house and how they raise children. I feel like I’m creeping through their bushes and peeking in their windows at dinnertime.

Gretchen Rubin’s Facebook page is great for prank ideas. If you don’t know her, you should definitely check out this author of The Happiness Project. I do love her, even though her suggestions and those of her like-minded fans (read: more organized than merely being able to consistently leave the house wearing pants) are for a seemingly different species of mom than I am. I find a ton of great ideas that simply won’t work in my house.

Dye the milk green. My kids would reach for that gallon in the fridge, notice that it was green, and walk away without realizing it was a prank, or thinking to tell an adult there was something wrong with the milk. Someone finally revealed that you have to have a cardboard carton for the element of surprise, i.e., something smaller than a gallon. The only reason we don’t buy milk in containers larger than a gallon is because it only comes in Cow after that, and I’m not going there.

Glue their toilet paper together.
 They regularly are without toilet paper for days at a time in their bathroom before telling me. I do not know what they use instead. I refuse to go in that room.

Put towels in the sleeves of the jackets so they can’t get their hands through. I could pull this off if I knew which sweatshirt of their dad’s they would swipe that morning when forced to wear a jacket, and if I could use dirty towels. I can never find a clean hand towel, but I know exactly where 17 used-only-once hand towels are: on their bathroom counter. I dearly hope the hand towels are not related to my previous observations regarding toilet paper.

Fold the top sheet of their bed in two and put the cover on as usual. They will not be able to get into bed. This implies that we make the beds and that they have both a sheet and a cover of some sort.

Crumble a biscuit into their bed. Wouldn’t notice (see above).

Mix up all their morning ritual stuff: toothbrush in the shower, shampoo where the blow-dryer belongs, etc. This assumes that these items actually have a place that they are regularly returned to. In my house, this will likely lead to the blow-dryer going in the shower and electrocuting somebody.

Superglue coins to the sidewalk.
 This could work if my sidewalk were made of wood, and the kids hadn’t stolen all my change and let the dog eat the superglue.

Wake the kids up 45 minutes early and tell them the time changed again and they’re late. Did I mention I work nights?

Tell your kids the lawn mower is broken and the homeowners’ association is about to fine you and you need them to cut the lawn. Give them each a pair of scissors and a ruler and tell them to cut it to an inch and a half. Let them go for about 5 minutes before you call out “April Fools!” The woman who submitted this is my hero. Her little boys were quite enthusiastic about the task and her daughter was mortified that her friends would see her. Unfortunately, my “lawn” is so small you actually could cut it with a pair of scissors, in about 10 minutes. To pull this off, I would first have to find one of our six pairs of Magically Vanishing scissors. I would then set the kids on task, pour myself a cup of tea and, due to the peace and quiet, completely forget I was in the middle of an April Fools’ prank. They would be done cutting the lawn before I finished my tea. Also, we don’t have a homeowners’ association, which is truly for the best. If we did, they would have mandated martial law on our property by now.

What are your best April Fools’ pranks?

 

JM Randolph is a writer, stagehand, and custodial stepmom of five. She lives in New Jersey with her family and blogs at accidentalstepmom.com.

 


You Make It, We Post It!

Written on March 24, 2014 at 10:46 am , by

Instagram user @aforkineachhand beautifully made our Bombay Chicken Salad—with her own tweak. She subbed in quinoa for the recipe’s couscous, making the dish even more protein-packed. Head over to her blog, A Fork In Each Hand, to read more about her step-by-step re-creation of this meal.

Want to be featured here as next week’s chef? 

Here’s how: Make a Family Circle recipe, take a photo and share it on Instagram by tagging @FamilyCircleMag and #FCMADEIT.


Lights, Camera, Discounts!

Written on March 21, 2014 at 10:00 am , by

Welcome to our weekly roundup of the best deals on the Web! We love a bargain as much as the next person, so check back every Friday for our favorite family-friendly discounts.

Catching a movie doesn’t have to break the bank, thanks to these great offers. Talk about cinematic genius! (Who doesn’t love a free Disney film?)

• Watch the latest releases and timeless classics from the comfort of your home with a One-Month FREE Trial of Redbox Instant by Verizon. You’ll earn four free DVD credits plus access to the Sony Movie Channel.

• Download the Disney Movies Anywhere App—the go-to way to stream your collection of Disney, Pixar and Marvel movies and buy new ones—and you’ll receive a FREE Digital Copy of The Incredibles.

• Sign up for Two FREE Months of Hulu Plus courtesy of Best Buy Mobile Specialty Stores. (Just be sure to cancel after your deal is over, so you’re not charged a monthly fee.)

• Load up on snacks at Regal Theatres. When you buy a large drink and/or large popcorn, you’ll receive One FREE Refill.

• Flying just got a little more appealing. Beginning April 1 on select planes, United Airlines will allow passengers with an Apple device running iOS 6 and higher to choose from FREE Movies and TV Shows preloaded onto their official app.

 

For more tips that’ll save you money at the movies, watch our video below.


Broken Smartphones Are a Trend in My Household

Written on March 20, 2014 at 2:12 pm , by

 

It’s been a rough month for phones in my house. My daughter dropped hers on the floor in the locker room at school and shattered the screen. Mine took a small tumble out of my pocket, landed on an edge and suffered a crack. Both falls would have been immediately forgotten if we’d had a case on our phones. Instead, I found myself researching repairs. And while it’s not that difficult to get a phone fixed—or, in some instances, fix it yourself—it’s much easier not to break the phone in the first place.

I broke mine in the morning and got it fixed by noon at a small phone repair place that was only a few blocks away, but I spent nearly $200. (iPhones are probably cheaper to repair than my Nexus 5, since there are so many of them.) My son fixed a phone he broke by ordering a replacement kit from eBay and watching a how-to video on YouTube. Otherwise, you can usually call your phone’s manufacturer, ship it to them and have it back—good as new—two weeks later. The cost will depend on the model and the size of the screen. Newer phones are usually cheaper to fix, since replacement screens are more readily available.

For all the small drops we experienced, any case—even a cheap one—would have probably offered enough of a buffer to prevent the screen from cracking. Of course, you can also get a bit spendy and protect the phone from water, serious impact and other hazards.

Here’s a selection of cases to keep from shattering your screen—and your budget.

This simple Catch case ($35) from STM is also a wallet and offers a small amount of protection.

 

The Otterbox Commuter case ($45) also doubles as a wallet and offers lots of protection. (The video below, courtesy of Otterbox, demonstrates how cool it is!)

If you own an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy and want to express your interests, personality or fandom—or just have so much style that you can’t be limited by an off-the-rack product—check out the artist-designed cases at Redbubble.com. Warning! It’s very fun to shop there.

 

For utilitarian protection that will keep your phone out of trouble and give you the look of a pragmatic worker bee, consider this Pelican Vault ($75) case. You have to install it, but your phone will survive practically anything once you do.

If you don’t own one of the most popular phones, your search will be a bit more difficult. But until you find the perfect fit, swing by Amazon and buy a $10 case. Even a little protection is better than a shattered screen.

 

Christina Tynan-Wood has been covering technology since the dawn of the Internet and currently writes the Family Tech column for Family Circle. You can find more advice about buying and using technology at GeekGirlfriends.com.

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Your Kid’s Homework Load Isn’t Too Much, New Study Suggests

Written on March 19, 2014 at 12:44 pm , by

So the kids are all right. That, at least, is the conclusion of a new study on homework by the Brookings Institution, which says that the average homework load for 9- to 17-year-olds has pretty much stayed the same over the last 30 years. This, of course, flies in the face of all the horror stories we’ve heard about kids drowning in nightly homework, of exhausted parents who can’t cope, and of families fraying at the seams because of it all.

So what to think? My own experience, or I should say that of my 12-year-old, is that she consistently has at least 2 or 3 hours every night—about double what the Brookings study found. She’s not suffering under the load—I half-jokingly describe it as “only mildly soul-crushing”—and our family isn’t falling apart, though it’s still too much. Then again, she’s in an honors program at a public school that’s something of a learning factory, but that was the choice we made, since the alternative was a school that wouldn’t have challenged her enough.

I’m grateful for the excellent education she’s getting. And the homework isn’t busywork. It does what I believe take-home assignments are supposed to do: that is, reinforce the lessons learned in class. So I gripe a little, but not too much. At the same time, I don’t dismiss the complainers as whiners. But here’s the thing—the gap between the homework horror stories and what the study found is a pretty big one, which says plenty about the inequality of education nationwide. That’s a much bigger problem, and one that won’t be easily solved.

Tell us what you think in the comments below. 


Be Willing to Learn from Failure

Written on March 18, 2014 at 10:00 am , by

Inspired by my work at an inner-city hospital—but dismayed by what seemed a revolving door of the same critical patients—I decided to obtain a graduate degree in public health 10 years ago. I was exhausted by having a job during the day and school at night, but I felt like the luckiest student in the world when I confidently turned in my first paper.

I can still remember gasping for air when I checked my grade on my smartphone: C minus. I had let myself and my family down. I was an academic disappointment—or was I?

Looking back, that episode taught me a valuable lesson. I realized that there is a difference between a moment and an experience. Yes, I had let myself down in that moment. But the experience made me want to improve. This was not a fatal event, but one from which I could regroup.

Whenever you attempt a victory—whether it’s hitting a fundraising goal for your child’s school trip or creating the ultimate Easter basket—there is a risk that you may not succeed. The question is whether you stay in the game, knowing that there is always room for improvement, or slink over to the sidelines and never try, try again.

Be willing to learn from the experience of failing and be determined to turn things around. I did so with hard work and a willingness to listen to painful but honest feedback from my advisor. You can too. Remember: Failure is a symptom. It does not have to be a condition.

 

Janet Taylor, MD, MPH, a mother of four, is a psychiatrist in New York City. Follow her on Twitter @drjanet.

Got a question for Dr. Janet? Email her at askdrjanet@familycircle.com.