Corrections A story in the April issue misidentified the Lake County Area Coordinator for the Christian Youth Theater. Her name is Cathy Woodside. In addition, parents are required to volunteer 20 hours, not 50. Due to an editing error, the Resource Guide section of the spring Chicago Baby magazine, published by Chicago Parent, did not include current information. The updated guide is available at www.chicagoparent.com. Chicago Parent regrets the errors.

About Letters Chicago Parent welcomes letters from its readers. In order to publish a letter, we must have the name and phone number of the writer, and the name of the town in which he or she resides.

Please send letters to:

• Susy Schultz, editor, Chicago Parent, 141 S. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park, IL 60302

• Or fax them to Susy at (708) 524-8360

• Or e-mail them to [email protected]

We may edit letters for space or clarity. We will not divulge the addresses or phone numbers of letter-writers or forward messages to them.

You forgot La Leche’s Web site Thank you for your Q & A on La Leche League International. Because you list Web sites in many of your other stories in the April edition, I am sure it was just an oversight not to include La Leche’s. Here it is: www.lalecheleague.org

I am not a member and have never been to a meeting, but after reading your article, I realized how influential La Leche League has been to me and my 8-month old twins. If not for their resources I don’t know if I could have done what I did-breastfeed, exclusively, my boy and girl, from birth to today.

Your article has inspired me to financially support La Leche League International because I want future mothers for many generations to receive the knowledge and support the organization has given me. BRIDGETT BARON, Oak Park

Headline or appeasement? Under the headline, "Keeping kosher in a fast food world" on the cover of the April 2004 Chicago Parent, you felt a need to point out that "We have a lent story, too."

Who are you trying to appease? CHAVA ROSEN , Morton Grove

A soy spot in school lunches I was thrilled to hear the news that soy is making its way into Illinois school cafeterias. ("Soy What?" March 2004)

With the delicious soy-based meats and milks available, my family has made a big switch from an animal-based diet to a plant-based, vegetarian one. The best part is that I finally feel I am practicing what I preach; not only do I want to teach compassion to my family, I want to model it, too.

Every meal gives my family a chance to exercise empathy for the billions of farmed animals treated like mere machines and packed into cages in which they can’t even turn around. Every meal gives us a chance to choose Silk over milk, Soyrizo over sausage, Boca over burgers and compassion over cruelty. DANIELLE MARINO , Chicago

Good job but no chapters here I am writing to thank Chicago Parent for the article in the April 2004 issue, "Grassroots support: Homeschooling group relieves pressure on parents."

As a member of Grassroots Homeschoolers, I was very pleased to have Chicago Parent get the word out about not only our organization, but also homeschooling in general.

However, I would like to make one clarification. In the article, Grassroots is cited as having "chapters in Joliet, Tinley Park, Matteson and Beverly." Grassroots Homeschoolers is a single, non-profit organization with members from all over the Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana area. Grassroots does not have chapters.

Again, thank you for sharing homeschooling information with your readers. KAREN HOOGLAND, Vice-President, Grassroots Homeschoolers, Alsip

Can’t mothers just get along? I just want to say "here! here!" regarding your "From the Editor" piece in the April 2004 issue. Since I began mom-and-tot classes nine years ago, I understand what you went through.

In my case, I was seen as a child-bride-mother by the more "experienced" mothers. It was difficult because I, too, was looking for another mom to relate to and become friends with. In the end, nothing came of it.

Now my girls are 7, 7, and 10. I still get the "experienced mom" look. But I see how well- behaved my kids are compared to their kids and I’m glad that I’m not the "snotty, rude and comparative parent" who fails to give the support, love and encouragement kids need to excel in life. NICKIE PACETTI, Oak Lawn

TV isn’t just for couch potatoes When I was a kid, I didn’t just watch TV passively as your writers assume everyone does. I was also thinking. Even now when I watch a show such as "American Idol" I try to match songs that would best showcase that particular singer’s strengths.

TV, even the most worthless drivel, could be used in beneficial ways. Your or your child could write more creative, funnier, realistic or insightful scripts. You or your child could translate the entire program into another language while you watch.

People use onscreen events to trigger action in the audience (think drinking games or events such as "The Rocky Horror Picture Show"). There is no reason this couldn’t be used for exercise. For example, if the onscreen character is running, your family could run in place. You could even tailor exercise to the individual program, such as when Homer utters some of his signature phrases on "The Simpsons," you could raise a dumbbell.

Maybe a future essay assignment could feature how families use ordinary TV programs to expand their minds or reduce their waistlines. JAMES REYES, Chicago

Accentuate the positives I am writing in reference to the Ad Council’s plan to promote breastfeeding. I agree with critics of the breastfeeding advertisements that the message to breastfeed should not be militant or make mothers who choose to bottle-feed their children feel guilty. Scare tactics have no place in the promotion of breastfeeding. However, I strongly advocate the Ad Council’s advertisements if they outline the benefits and encourage women.

Many new mothers come from a generation whose mothers did not breastfeed. These women may hear the negatives of breastfeeding.

I had a great experience breastfeeding both of my children. I never would have tried without all of the information I learned about the benefits of breastfeeding. Studies have found that breastfeeding helps to reduce the likelihood of breast cancer in women and helps mothers to bond with their babies. Breastfed babies are less likely to contract certain illnesses including diarrhea, lower respiratory infections and urinary tract infections. In addition, breast milk saves money for young families. All mothers should hear about the benefits of breastfeeding.

I set goals for myself: I would try it for three weeks and if I did not like it, I would stop. I changed my goal to six weeks, then three months, and then six months. I breastfed my first son for six months and second son for one year. I am so happy I was able to experience this natural and beneficial way of feeding my children.

The Ad Council’s breastfeeding advertisements should not condemn those who are unable to breastfeed. They should encourage women facing the decision to breast or bottle-feed to consider trying it.

Breastfeeding is wonderful for the right mother and the right baby. How will a woman know it is right for her unless she tries it? LORI K. THOMAS, Woodstock

Grandmother did know best I loved the essay by Roberta Sotonoff, "Being the pregnant grandmother: Watching her daughter, mother knows best." (April 2004)

It’s not only humorous for soon-to-be grandmothers but veteran moms as well. I can still remember what my husband and I planned to do after our daughter was born 23 months ago. Since she came in late May, I had a "whole summer vacation" in front of me. That whole summer vacation consisted of all-day nursing sessions, staying indoors from heat and not tending to our outdoor garden at all even though "the time at home would allow me to do that".

If I only knew then what I know now, I would have registered for only about a third of what we did. Also the pre-baby courses were silly at best. The baby will come whether you have the courses or not, just as the author learned.

But as she said, it’s great to call both moms. Now we are learning things about our parents that we would never have known had we not had a family ourselves.

I’m glad Roberta is blessed with a grandchild and also that her daughter cancelled her trips. I look forward to reading more about this child and other grandchildren in the future. AMY PREVITI LEBEAN, Lombard

Benefits for grandparents I read with interest the article in the April 2004 edition titled, "Parenthood the second time around." It offered a good combination of upbeat responses to the challenges encountered by a specific family and demographic information on the numbers of families headed by grandparents and the burdens they encounter. Unfortunately, the information on support available to grandparents raising children was incomplete.

• TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), a federal program, is available to support children under the care of their grandparents without regard to the grandparents’ income and resources. These benefits are not subject to the 60 month limit if only the child receives TANF.

• Medical insurance coverage for children raised by grandparents was not discussed. Children receiving TANF are eligible for Medicaid. KidCare offers similar comprehensive health insurance for children who are not receiving or are not eligible for TANF.

• Grandparents who are working can qualify for valuable tax benefits that are often overlooked. The Earned Income Tax Credit is available to grandparents caring for children under age 19; the maximum EITC benefit for the 2003 tax year is $4,204. The Child Tax Credit is now worth up to $1,000 for each dependent child under age 17. Work related childcare expenses qualify for the Child and Dependent Care Credit. Grandparents who have already filed a tax return that overlooked any of these benefits can file an amended return to collect a refund retroactively up to three years!

I hope you can alert your readers to these valuable resources. MICHAEL O’CONNOR, Chicago

Please tell us... Call for reader comments, kids’ photos In June, it’s dads’ turn in the reader poll. Tell us about the perfect Father’s Day. Does it require complete control of the television remote? A day on the links? Or a game of touch football with the family? Deadline: May 10. With school out and the weather finally feeling like summer, July brings at least the occasional trip to the beach. Before loading the kids into the car, what do you always pack into your beach bag? Tell us about those must-have items that make the outing fun and safe. Deadline: June 7. If we run your response, we’ll enter you in a drawing for a family membership to the Chicago Children’s Museum. We’ll print your first name, the town in which you live and the names and ages of your kids; please provide us with your full address and phone number for verification purposes only. Send all submissions to: Sandi Pedersen, Chicago Parent, 141 S. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park, IL 60302. E-mail: [email protected]; fax: (708) 524-8360. June brings the freedoms of summer. Send us pictures of your kids playing at the park, swinging on the swings, playing in the sprinkler, riding their bikes or otherwise enjoying the summer sunshine. Deadline: May 10. July means picnics. Send us photos of your kids lunching on the lawn, making the sandwiches, pawing through the picnic basket or enjoying the fried chicken. Deadline: June 7. We will keep all photos and may use them in future issues of the magazine. By sending in your child’s photo, you give us permission to run it now or in the future and post it on our Web site. Send prints to: The Gallery c/o Chicago Parent, 141 S. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park, IL 60302. Send digital photos, 300 dpi or greater in jpeg format, to: [email protected] Include the first names of everyone in the picture, the children’s ages, the town in which you live and a phone number for verification.


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