Author Archives: Kara Gause

Kara Gause

About Kara Gause

Kara Gause is a junkie for TV, film, pop culture, and health food--in that order. A Yankee girl happily transplanted in Nashville, she spends her days as a freelance writer juggling the needs of her twin toddlers, two Bassett hounds, and one fantastic husband--in that order. Read more of her day-to-day shenanigans on her blog,


Gadgets Geared to Get New Dads Ready

fitpregnancy_june2010.jpgI hate to buy into stereotypes, but my husband does fit the mold of a gearhead dad. When we were expecting our girls, I nested by decorating their room as he read up on the best video monitors. While Fit Pregnancy magazine‘s June 2010 issue didn’t really offer any specific ways to celebrate Dad in his impending fatherhood, the magazine did give examples of gadgets that might help get him excited about his part in the parenting with its article “Tackling Fatherhood?” Here are three of my favorite gift ideas from the article:

  • Roku Digital Video Player ($79): Those first few months as a new parent were intense, and sleep was hard to come by! Being up in the middle of the night allowed me to catch up on a little TV while feeding the babes. Nifty little devices like the Roku can make sure you have access to on-demand shows and movies, and can watch them whenever you like. Three o’clock in the morning? No problem.

  • Jawbone ICON ($99): This I love. This Bluetooth earpiece can keep Dad connected to the office while he changes diapers. But that’s not the real draw: It promises to help drown out crying babies for the party listening on the other end of the line! Can I get this technology implanted into my ears?
  • Deuter Kid Comfort III ($279): This one is a little pricey, and I’m not sure there isn’t a cheaper version out there; however, I know my husband would love showing one of his peanuts the great outdoors with this hiking carrier.

Fit Pregnancy kind of fell short in saluting dear old Dad, but did offer more ideas on the magazine’s website. As a new mom, I’m always looking for ways to let my husband know what an incredible father he is to our daughters. I only wish magazines like this one would offer a bit more help.


Grandparents’ Great Expectations

pregnancy_june.jpgOnly nine months into this crazy club of motherhood (no, I didn’t take the hint about the “all-night” partying) and not only have I got these two new relationships with my twin daughters, but I’ve also found my relationship with my own mother to be renewed. However, there have been some bumps and bruises and misunderstandings along the way. Honestly, I wish I’d read an article from the June 2010 issue of Pregnancy magazine called “Build a Better Grandparent: Getting This Tricky Relationship Right From the Beginning Matters More Than You Know.”

This is so true. SO TRUE. This is a new relationship, just like the one you have with your baby. One of the sweetest moments of my life was my folks meeting us (and the girls) in the driveway at our house when we came home from the hospital. But the weeks afterward were rough. Hormones, they were a-flyin’ around! Thankfully, I had already gotten some advice from my friends about what to ask of these new grandparents once the girls arrived. The advice was much appreciated, but honestly, seeing some of the same advice in print was, albeit retrospectively, pretty comforting.

Here’s more of what a new, nervous and hormonal mom can take away from the article:

  • Everyone has lofty expectations about the new baby. Decide what you think you want the role of the grandparents to be at the hospital and when you first arrive home with the baby. Do you want the help right away or do you and your husband need some time to adjust alone? Can Mom/Grandma be on speed dial if you change your mind? Everybody’s different. The best thing is to remain flexible and open with your desires in these new relationships.

  • Getting everyone involved in the celebrating and memory making can take the pressure off of ordinarily strained relationships. You may even find that having that new bundle around can really loosen up some old tensions and give everyone the opportunity to reset what they thought their relationships with one another looked like before baby.
  • Be open to the (strong) possibility that grandparents do have a great deal of experience, and their advice usually comes in the best interests of the baby. And if that advice can only come in small pockets due to distance, consider getting yourself and the grandparents technologically up to speed with the latest gadgets for videoconferencing. Even encourage Mom and Dad/grandparents to join Facebook (I did! They did!) for regular updates and pictures of the wee babes.

And what to do when the advice isn’t as current? Well, Pregnancy magazine has thought of that too, with a “Baby Care Then and Now” page devoted to up-to-date practices on parenting trends (bottle vs. breast, etc.). Regardless of the advice, the important thing to remember is that everyone loves that new little life, and in the end, that equals more love. So, with some hesitance, I say the more the merrier.

Parenting School Years Magazine Says Vacations Are in My Future

parentingschoolyears_june2010.jpgRight now, with my girls at the tender age of ten months, it’s difficult to imagine going on a trip, but I can’t help but think some families know a secret about family travel we do not. We have these friends who constantly seem to be going on vacation (to Mexico!), which leaves my husband and his exhausted wife, uh… me, wondering how in the world they do it.

Parenting School Years magazine must be in on that secret too. They devote a section each month to the family vacation. And the suggestions are pretty great, if pricey, but at least they’re sayin’ there’s a chance, right?

Earlier this year, the suggestion was to take a look again at the
all-inclusive resort. To be honest, I hadn’t thought of that one since
we were trying to decide on a honeymoon. Turns out all the romance is
there for parents, but this time around a certified nanny and a bevy of
activities are there to back you up. From bocce ball on the beach, scuba
diving, and even a circus school with trapeze training, activities for
kids today venture into more sophisticated fare than building sand
castles. Some places even offer romantic candlelit dinners on the beach
while the kids are entertained, elsewhere.

April’s issue of
Parenting School Years had such a fun idea too: “Hay, Dude!” is an
invitation to all things Wild West, whether it is on a farm for the
little guys or a ranch for your tougher little nuggets. I like the idea
of these vacation ranches because it invites the visiting families into
an experience, together. Kids are learning how to lasso and ride horses,
which sounds pretty incredible. There’s even talk of the kids helping
to set the table for dinner–a novelty while on a ranch, but maybe it’ll
look like a lot less work for your family of four when you return home.
Sign me up for that!


Got the Fever for the Flavor-of-the-Month Justin Bieber

j-14_july2010.jpgPick up virtually any “teenybopper” magazine like J-14 and you’ll probably come across baby-faced success story Justin Bieber. Initially gaining popularity via family YouTube videos, Bieber’s music and dance moves have got the tweens swooning. How do I know this? Well, did I mention I work with eighth graders? At the risk of sounding like an ancient, I will now insert the adage, “If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard a kid sing his song ‘Baby,’ I’d be a very rich woman.”

So how did this 16-year-old wunderkind rise to fame? Well, it’s actually a really sweet story. According to his website bio, Justin Bieber entered a local talent show in his hometown of Stratford, Ontario, Canada. He came in second place and wanted to share the news, his music and moves with friends and family. Enter his adoring single mom who began posting videos of his informal performances on YouTube. Here’s where the story gets wild: Those videos received over 10,000,000 hits! Justin subsequently found a manager and a record deal through the process, and now, well, now it’s impossible to escape him.

With a mentor like recording artist Usher (who signed Bieber to his record label) and collaborators like rapper Ludacris, Bieber continues to establish himself on the music charts. It begs the question: Is it too much for a 16-year-old to handle? J-14 magazine‘s April 2010 issue had an “exclusive Q-and-A” with the star in a feature called “Justin: Too Famous, Too Fast?”

The magazine, clearly geared toward tweens and teens, gives the appearance of an exhausted, young phenom trying to balance a personal life with performances at the Super Bowl and the Grammys. The article in no way gives depth to Bieber’s meteoric rise, but the thing is, it’s not just teen magazines that are covering Justin Bieber. I found recent articles on him in The New York Times as well as Time, People and Billboard magazines. It’s apparent that this kid is turning his 15 minutes of fame into 20.

The records themselves seem innocent enough; bubble gum pop is nothing new and has always appealed to the young masses. But will teens and adults alike be singing along with his songs years from now? Well, that remains to be seen. For the time being, J-14 magazine, which touts itself as the “#1 Justin Bieber Authority,” is capitalizing on Justin fever, proudly declaring on its July 2010 cover that the issue features “Justin on every page!”

In a strange way, Bieber is the star the Internet created, as he built a fan base before the music business ever really entered the picture (a no-brainer for music execs). In that vein, his fans are invested in his success and may want him to continue being the soundtrack to their teenage angst. As for me, I’m only committed to Justin Bieber as a closet listener: I’m not sure I want my friends to catch me singing along with “Baby”–but I can’t guarantee they won’t.


Teeter Toddling

parentandchild.jpgAh, how early on the temper of a baby can develop. I’ll never forget the time I locked eyes with my husband when we realized one of our tiny girls was throwing down her first tantrum. Friends confirm that it’s going to be a challenge as the babes get older. Some have been open enough to talk about their own experiences. It seems even the best of parents shed tears in the process.

Parent & Child magazine‘s June/July issue attempts to dispel the mysteries surrounding the toddler years in its article, “All By Myself.” It would seem the toddler’s strong desire to be independent while still needing Mom and Dad for nearly everything can be confusing.

What can we do to help them gain independence and temper the tantrums?
Parent & Child suggests allowing the child to practice a new skill
over and over (and over) again to feel a sense of accomplishment.
Praise for their successes can be affirming, but the article points out
that over-praising could come back to bite you in the end. Eventually,
kids could come to expect applause for everything. Even kids can
sense insincerity, and no one needs a “high five” for feeding themselves
past a certain point. Besides, it’s probably unrealistic to “ooh” and
“ahh” over everything, all the time.

affirmation can help instill the good behavior, I think it’s the
negative that’s really in question. After all, my friends and fellow
moms find it easy to applaud the good. It seems like this article did
little to help solve that problem. There weren’t really any solid
problem-solvers for the “throe-down” in the middle of Target. But maybe
that’s the point? Maybe there are no easy answers, and we just need to
try to understand where our toddlers are coming from. 
watching some of my closest friends parent (some of the best parents
I’ve ever been around), it’s easy to see that even the best laid plans
can blow up in your face–seemingly always in a restaurant. What I’ve
learned from them is that being aware of your child’s “triggers,” so to
speak, seems to be key. If nothing else, you can sometimes anticipate
the tantrum before it begins. 
Probably the
most important part of the equation is the parent’s temperament. If you
can remain calm (easier said than done, right?) that can only help get
your boundary-testing tot back to the sweeter version of your offspring.
Being in the beginning stages of this parenting thing myself, I try to
offer my friends a bit of humor in those more “public” moments: They
should take notes for me because I’ll be facing those tantrums two at a
time with my twins! My position is not one of judgment, but of awe.
the fussing and
the tantrums
are part of babies trying new things. They’ll succeed
sometimes, and they’ll fail sometimes. They’ll probably fall down a lot.
The best thing for us to do as parents? Just be there to pick them back
Any advice for this newbie mom? I’d
love to hear your approach to your own tot’s “special” moments.

Girls’ Life Magazine: Inspiration From the Top

girlslife_june-july2010.jpgI sincerely hope Girls’ Life magazine will stick around for a long time for my baby girls. All I had to do was open to the “Karen the Editor’s Page” to get a feel for what the magazine hopes to accomplish. And I loved that it all started with a tease and a challenge: “Stop! Reading this page can make you rich (or successful or happy or all of the above).” How could a teenager help but read on?

Karen Bokram, the editor and creator of Girls’ Life (and just “Karen,” I guess, because she’s trying remain accessible to a young
audience), decided to write about how she got where she is today, to show her readers that success doesn’t just happen overnight. She even references author Malcolm Gladwell who says that in order to master something, you need to practice that skill for 10,000 hours! Over the course of the editorial in the April/May 2010 issue, she tells a reader that she always wanted to be in writing and publishing. Lucky for her she knew from age 8, and with a lot of hard work she was interning at Rolling Stone magazine by 19 and was the senior editor of Psychology Today by 21! But Karen’s not just using the page to list off her own accomplishments; she’s trying to make her young readers understand that with a passion and hard work, they can be whatever they want to be.

At the risk of sounding cliché, Karen clearly presents one of the goals of the magazine: to “encourage girls to go after their dreams–big and small.” But she doesn’t stop there! Giving some clear goals to the reader sets this magazine apart from the get-go. Girls, while extracurriculars look good on a college application, you need work experience to get you going toward your ultimate goals. No, you shouldn’t expect to get a dream job right away; anything that will teach you the value of a dollar and get you a reference will help. As the head of a magazine that is in the position to hire people, Karen knows what college graduates are lacking: experience in the workplace. She makes a great case for the need to work and offers even better suggestions for how to go out and get it.

The message here for young women is clear: Take the time to find out what it is you’re good at. What are your talents? What are your gifts? What do you think you want to do with those talents? Now work at being the “master” of that talent. Shadow someone at work, intern, get some great references, and with some hard work and education, you’ll be successful. “GET GOING on (your) lives NOW”! If that’s not a dose of real, live (forgive me here) girl power, I’m not sure I know what it is.