Love it or leave it: Beyonc

Are you in a mom hair rut?

For the past decade or so I’ve been alternating between two different looks: I grow my hair out, eventually realize there’s not much point having long hair if it’s in a “mom ponytail” every single day, and then chop it into a shoulder-length bob. A few months down the road I get a bad case of long hair envy and grow it out again. It’s a never-ending cycle and I feel like it’s time to break it. But how?

When in need of style advice, there is one question every woman should consider: What would Beyoncé do? (No, really. That’s actually a common question: #WWBD.) I’m no fashion icon, but I do know that Beyoncé wouldn’t be caught dead rocking this split-end situation that I have going on right now.

She did, however, debut a brand new ‘do yesterday. All eyes were on the ‘Flawless’ singer’s bold, blunt bangs when she was spotted out and about in London with her husband Jay-Z and their 2-year-old daughter Blue Ivy.

Beyonce bangs hair REX USA Love it or leave it: Beyoncé rocks a bold new do

Honestly, I’m way too tame to try to emulate Blue Ivy‘s mom. I admire her confident style, but my midriff-baring days are well behind me, these heels wouldn’t even be allowed at our preschool, and I’m not really sure what’s going on here.

I don’t love Beyoncé’s new ‘do, but I kind of love her for trying it out. As for me, I think I’ll get a little crazy and opt for a chin-length bob next time I’m at the salon. Or maybe I’ll be really bold and pioneer a brand new hashtag instead: #MHDC. Mom hair, don’t care. Sing it, ladies.

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Check out Beyoncé’s changing post-baby style…

Photos: REX USA/Beretta/Sims/Rex

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Thinking about my friend's beautiful, stillborn baby boy

I was in a hotel room when I learned my friend, Jaya’s, full-term baby had been born still. I had been in Boston for two weeks with my 11-month-old daughter, Isla, who was being treated as an outpatient at Shriners Burns Hospital after being badly scalded by hot tea. My world was faced entirely inward, focused only on the healing of my baby girl, and the nursing of my guilty heart, before I got that call.

Learning that Jaya and her husband Scott had suffered this unspeakable tragedy, that Jaya nearly died from a ruptured uterus, and that their living daughter, a friend to my daughter, had to be told that her little brother would never smile at her, knocked the self pity, and the air, right out of me.

Absorbing a loss that isn’t your own is a confusing experience. You feel pain, you feel sorrow, you ache deeply for your friends, yet you feel useless. For you know that nothing can console a mother and father who have had their newborn baby’s breath snatched away before their eyes could even meet, before their hands could touch and exchange warmth.

thinktraceoak2 433x650 Thinking about my friends beautiful, stillborn baby boy

The call came while I was opening a surprise care package– filled with consoling cards and sweet, homemade goods– from friends and neighbors back home. I learned later that that care package had been organized and sent by Jaya just days before her son died. It was her hands that had lovingly placed each item in that box as she patiently waited for her baby to arrive. Heavy with new life and dealing with pre-labor symptoms, she had still taken the time to think about, and help, a friend in need.

When we got back to town a week later, I was afraid, at first, to go visit Jaya and Scott. What could I say? What could I do? When I did finally go, I cried the moment I saw her. And the only thing I remember getting to come out of my mouth, other than “I’m sorry,” is “I don’t know how you can even stand up straight.”

What I meant by this pathetic uttering, was “The sheer weight of what’s happened to you makes me want to lie down on the floor. You are so brave. You amaze me. Life amazes me. Love amazes me. I can only imagine the hell you’re experiencing, yet still, somehow, I’m feeling it with you, and I’m so glad you are still here.”

Every time the leaves start to turn, and October approaches, I think of Scott and Jaya and remember their tragedy. And I’m well aware that their son, that little boy I never got to meet, would be turning 8 soon.

I’m also well aware that a loss like this is not something a mother and father get over. It’s something they learn how to carry, with grace. And I see them carrying this devastating loss with them, every day. And I am in awe.

Feature image from Thinkstock

Image 2: Thinkstock

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Ruining recess: Can adults stop interfering with free play?

We often complain that kids are physically inactive. They don’t know how to play outside anymore, not unless somebody tells them what to do. The problem has gotten so bad that some American schools are actually hiring recess “coaches” to teach kids casual games like “tag.”

How did we get here? There may be many reasons — the rise of electronic entertainment; city traffic that makes it dangerous for kids to play on the streets or walk to parks; the perception that children must be kept indoors to keep them safe from crime.

But I think there is another problem, too. We have become too intrusive and bossy. When we offer our kids “free time” to play outside, we impose so many rules that our kids no longer feel free. We’re sapping their motivation.

To see what I mean, consider an elementary school I know.

It’s got great potential. There are play structures and gymnastic bars; a blacktop area with basketball courts; and a lovely, sloping hillside — perfect for kids to climb or roll down — lined by shade trees. Several small, smooth, flat-topped boulders poke up about two feet from the ground, natural features left in place by the school architect. And what’s probably most striking is the expanse of grass, a huge field encircled by a paved track.

With resources like these, you’d think the students are having a wonderful time during recess. But instead they are frustrated.

They aren’t allowed on the rocks. The entire hillside is off-limits. They’ve been told they can’t sit or play under the trees, not even when temperatures were in the high 80s. And they’ve been told they aren’t allowed to play on any part of the grassy field except for a small section between two soccer goal posts.

Since that section must be yielded to students who want to play soccer, and the blacktop is only open to students on rainy days, kids aren’t left many options for free play in an open space. Kids aren’t allowed to run around in the area around the play structures, and in any case they feel heavily policed there. The equipment must be used just so; no digging in the bark chips; no running on the bridge; no touching of the ice that is melting off in the morning sun.

That leaves the paved track to play on, but even here there are problems. Ask the kids, and they’ll tell you they aren’t permitted to do anything but walk or run when they are on the track. No games.

So the great place to play is an illusion. All those interesting things to investigate are forbidden. All that open space is being left unused. Instead of being a time for spontaneous, vigorous exercise and creative play, recess has become yet another opportunity to get bossed around.

Is this an isolated case? I don’t think so. Look up the words “recess rules” on the internet you’ll many find many schools are similarly restrictive. I’ve seen documents specifying that children must not move their swings from side-to-side. Should we be surprised if many kids no longer show the enthusiasm — and know-how — for free outdoor play?

The case against adult intrusiveness is compelling. Research suggests that recess can renew a child’s ability to pay attention in class, but the effect likely depends on getting a break from all that adult control. Observational studies show that kids become less active when adults hover, and experiments indicate that physical exercise is more likely to benefit the brain when it is voluntary and fun.

Moreover, play advocates argue that kids can’t learn to handle risk if they aren’t given opportunities to test themselves. And as Neil DeGrasse Tyson has argued, kids need to be given the opportunity to tinker and experiment.

But if we want to make big improvements, we need to do more than complain. Sure, there are arbitrary rules and over-zealous enforcers. But schools are obviously concerned about injuries and lawsuits, and their fears aren’t unfounded. Can we alter the status quo? I hope so. But it will mean changing the attitudes and behavior of the population at large.

Image: SerrNovik / Thinkstock

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Printed 3-D heart model saves newborn with congenital disease

Thanks to ground-breaking medical technology, surgeons at New York-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital were able to save the life of a 1-week-old baby in an amazing way.

A printed 3-D model of the baby’s heart was used as a road map for surgery on the infant, who was born with a life-threatening form of congenital heart disease (CHD,) according to a hospital news release. Using the model, a team of surgeons was able to repair all of the heart’s complex defects in just one procedure. Babies born with this particular form of CHD normally require three or four high-risk surgeries.

“The baby’s heart had holes, which are not uncommon with CHD, but the heart chambers were also in an unusual formation, rather like a maze,” said Dr. Emile Bacha, director of congenital and pediatric cardiac surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital. “In the past, we had to stop the heart and look inside to decide what to do. With 3-D printing technology, we are able to look at the inside of the heart in advance, giving us a road map for the surgery.”

unnamed Printed 3 D heart model saves newborn with congenital disease

Photo credit: NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital

The baby was actually diagnosed with CHD while in the womb, according to the news release. This early diagnosis afforded doctors the time to develop a plan of treatment before birth. After the baby was born, pediatric cardiologist Dr. Anjali Chelliah worked closely with a company called Materialise, which specializes in 3-D printing for healthcare.

The 3-D heart model was created with data from a low-dose CT scan performed when the baby was only one day old. Two days after this data was received, the printer produced an exact replica of the heart, which allowed doctors to examine and understand the exact details of its congenital defects.

“After the success of this surgery, it’s clear that 3-D models can be successfully used to help surgeons in complex procedures,” said Dr. Bacha, in the news release. “This technology is the future, and we are proud that NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital is leading the way.”

Wow! You have to admit this is some pretty fascinating technology going on here. (Grey’s Anatomy-esque, anyone?) And just think of the implications. If doctors were able to successfully save a tiny, 7-pound baby with the help of a printed 3-D heart model, how else can 3-D printing help the medical world?

Featured photo via Thinkstock

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Amy Poehler doesn't see her divorce as a failure

While Amy Poehler is well loved for her ability to call things as she sees them, this mom of two has been uncharacteristically quiet about her 2012 split from Will Arnett up until now.

“Imagine spreading everything you care about on a blanket and then tossing the whole thing up in the air,” the 43-year-old star wrote in her new book, Yes Please. “The process of divorce is about loading that blanket, throwing it up, watching it all spin, and worrying what stuff will break when it lands.”

“When you are a person going through a divorce you feel incredibly alone, yet you are constantly reminded by society of how frequently divorce happens and how common it has become,” the mother of 6-year-old Archie and 5-year-old Abel continued. “You aren’t allowed to feel special, but no one knows the specific ways you are in pain.”

Amy Poehler Nick Kroll Amy Poehler doesnt see her divorce as a failure

These days Amy Poehler is once again in love, this time with fellow star Nick Kroll.

“I have a boyfriend who knows how to settle me. He puts his hand on my chest and tells me boring stories,” she wrote about their relationship. “On one of our first nights together I woke up apologizing for my snoring and he pulled out two earplugs he had worn to bed so he could hear what I was saying. It was one of the most romantic gestures I have ever seen.”

“I am proud of how my ex-husband Will and I have been taking care of our children,” she also shared of how they’ve managed to work out co-parenting, adding, “I am beyond grateful he is their father, and I don’t think a ten-year marriage constitutes failure.”

It’s particularly interesting to me to hear this smart, funny woman’s take on divorce, because last year I had the pleasure of meeting her in person at a press junket for Free Birds. Amy was great, and happily talked about her kids with us, but leading up to the question and answer session it was made quite clear to our group the topic of her split was absolutely off limits.

At the time I thought it understandable, but was also a bit surprised. Amy is so good at tackling topics I hadn’t thought there’d be such a blatant line drawn for our chat. Truthfully, the rules being set out so clearly made me think the split must have still been quite upsetting for her at that time.

Reading her comments now, and her take on 10 years of marriage not being a failure, I’m slightly reminded of Gwyneth Paltrow’s notorious “conscious uncoupling,” as well as Jewel and Ty Murray’s “undoing” of themselves. Seems to me there’s a desire out there to have more than one way to look at splitting up.

Photos: PR Photos

From funny to tear-jerking, check out what more famous folks have had to say about divorce:

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