This month's postings, December 2009

Stampin’ up
A sign of the times: Food stamps are now accepted at . . . Costco. About 420,000 families receive food stamps in our state (up a depressing 30 percent from last year); Costco says accepting the stamps is just good business. The company says it will accept food stamps at all 28 Washington locations by the end of the year. The stamps can’t be used on non-food items, such as diapers, wine and toilet paper.

Speaking of toilets . . .
The economy is beating the tinsel out of holiday spending — at least so far. A new survey of mothers with kids between ages 8 and 12 finds that 77 percent are changing their spending habits this year (no surprise!). About 60 percent say they’re cutting back on gifts outside the immediate family; 51 percent say they’re using more coupons and store circulars. Especially grim for kids: 28 percent of moms say they’ll buy necessities — as gifts for their kids. (“Look, Billy! New pants!”)

Meanwhile, Madison Avenue keeps banging the drum, pounding out tempting new messages for our kids — and it’s working. A study by Mediamark Research finds that kids between 6 and 11 years old are going online more and more to check out products they see advertised in the media. In all, about 46 percent of kids visited a site they heard about in an ad (are you a Fruity Pebbles PebPal yet?).

Lucky CharmsSneaky Trix
Speaking of cereal killers, here are some fun stats, courtesy of those silly wabbits over at Yale University. Top 10 cereals with the poorest nutrition ratings that are advertised to kids (beginning with the worst): Reese’s Puffs, Corn Pops, Lucky Charms, Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Cap’n Crunch (tied), Trix and Froot Loops (tied), Fruity and Cocoa Pebbles (tied), Cocoa Puffs and Cookie Crisp. Lots more crunchy goodness is linked to this story at

Glass of milkD-pressing
So, you’ll hold the cereal, but keep that fortified milk flowing — research shows that one out of every five little kids in this country is not getting enough vitamin D. Teens and adults falling shy of good D levels is old news; the new analysis, by Harvard docs (and published in the journal Pediatrics), is the first to assess vitamin D levels in kids ages 1–11. Experts recommend 400 units of D daily for children this age — that’s about 4 cups of fortified milk.

Aw, shucks!
The untrained lemurs who produce our weekly free e-newsletters are blushing (beneath their fur) over the raves that keep pouring in for Passport and Hall Pass:

Hall Pass“I think Hall Pass is FANTASTIC! I keep referring people to it . . . Love your catchy little titles for each topic. Great, just great!!” says Betsy, who is not related to the lemurs.

“Whoever writes these Passport newsletters is very funny. I got a big kick out of the cowering dust bunnies and ‘sadly Depp-free’ pirate event. Kudos!” says Aletha, also not a relative.

“My compliments to the copywriter for your Passport newsletter — even though my kid is too old for most of it, your writing makes it a must-read every week!” says Pam (her real name).

Up for a little crazy? Sign up! The lemurs will do the rest.

—Kristen Russell Dobson

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