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Kids have a lot to look forward to during the winter months. There's time off from school, the excitement of opening presents, and, for many families, a fun tradition of going to the movies.

Thanksgiving and Christmas are popular days for moviegoers, and while the holidays are often prime season for heavy dramas and Oscar bait, there are usually some great picks for kids, too.

This year is no different: From highly anticipated sequels to soon-to-be Christmas classics, there's plenty for little kids (and even parents and older siblings) to enjoy at movie theaters this holiday season.

Here are seven films we're especially excited to see.

1. The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

When's it out? November 2

Age recommendation: 8+

What's the buzz? The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is a live-action fantasy from Disney based on the classic Christmas story/ballet about a young girl and her toy nutcracker that comes to life.

On Christmas Eve, Clara (Mackenzie Foy) receives a nutcracker from her godfather (Morgan Freeman); at the stroke of midnight, it comes alive, and they're transported to a gorgeous, magical world. There she meets the Sugar Plum Fairy (Keira Knightley), Mother Ginger (Helen Mirren), the evil Mouse King, and more.

Many families will be familiar with the story, but Disney will likely up the fantasy action with intense battle sequences.

2. Dr. Seuss' The Grinch

When's it out? November 9

Age recommendation: 6+

What's the buzz? Dr. Seuss' The Grinch is a full-length animated version of the classic holiday book from the studio behind Despicable Me and Sing.

It stars Benedict Cumberbatch as the grumpy, mean-spirited Grinch who hates Christmas, especially the loud, bright celebrations down in Whoville. He disguises himself as Santa Claus and—with the help of his dog, Max —sets out to steal Christmas from the Whos.

This holiday story will likely bring lots of laughs, and it includes some slpstick and rude humor, but it should be mild enough for younger viewers—and will hopefully come with plenty of positive messages.

3. Ralph Breaks the Internet

When's it out? November 21

Age recommendation: Not released yet

What's the buzz? Ralph Breaks the Internet is the sequel to Disney's animated comedy Wreck-It Ralph. This time around, Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly) and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) travel to the internet through a new Wi-Fi router and discover infinite possibilities for fun (and trouble).

The first movie had strong positive messages but also a lot of rude humor and some scariness; you can expect similar content in the sequel. This is also the first Disney movie in which princesses like Elsa, Moana, and Rapunzel appear outside of their own franchises/storylines, which will definitely appeal to kids.

Just be ready for internet-based jokes—about things like pop-up ads, clickbait and online shopping—that might go over kids' heads.

4. Elliot: The Littlest Reindeer

When's it out? November 30

Age recommendation: Not released yet

What's the buzz? Elliot: The Littlest Reindeer is an animated underdog story about a miniature horse who dreams of pulling Santa's sleigh.

Mini-horse Elliot (voiced by Josh Hutcherson) decides to try out for the open spot on Santa's team, despite being much smaller than the other reindeer. With the help of his goat friend Hazel (Samantha Bee), Elliot trains and enters the tryouts. But when his friends back home are in danger, Elliot is faced with a difficult choice: save his friends or follow his dreams. Morena Baccarin, John Cleese and Martin Short also lend their voices to the cast.

Expect some rude humor and insults, but overall this looks like a family-friendly Christmas story.

5. Mirai

When's it out? November 30

Age recommendation: Not released yet

What's the buzz? Mirai is an anime fantasy film about a young boy who learns to adjust to a new baby sister in a magical way. After his parents (voiced by John Cho and Rebecca Hall) bring home new baby sister Mirai, 4-year-old Kun is overcome with jealousy and sadness until a magical family tree turns his world upside down. He travels through time and meets his family members at different ages, including a teen version of his baby sister. With her help, Kun is able to change his perspective on family and welcome the new baby into his life.

This film looks like a sweet, original take on an older sibling coming to terms with a new brother or sister. Although the main character is a preschooler, parents might want to be careful with young or sensitive viewers, as there could be some intense images or situations.

6. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

When's it out? December 14

Age recommendation: Not released yet

What's the buzz? Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is an animated superhero adventure that adds a twist to the familiar Spidey story. Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore) is a prep school student from Brooklyn with web-slinging powers. But then he meets another Spider-Man named Peter Parker (Jake Johnson), who claims to be from a different dimension. They team up with another "spider-person," Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld), to take on an inter-dimensional threat.

This movie doesn't take place in the same universe as Spider-Man: Homecoming, but it's based on the 2011 Marvel comic (and novel) that first introduced the young, mixed-race Morales. In addition to stunning animation, you can expect some violence, peril, rude language and flirting, but overall this will likely be less intense than the live-action Spider-Man movies.

7. Marry Poppins Returns

When's it out? December 19

Age recommendation: Not released yet

What's the buzz? Mary Poppins Returns is a follow-up to the classic 1964 musical about the world's most magical nanny. It's based on the many other Mary Poppins stories written by P.L. Travers and takes place many years after the original.

By now, the Banks children have grown up and had kids of their own. But after a tragic loss, Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt) returns into their lives. With her magic bag and the help of her friend Jack (Lin-Manuel Miranda), she helps the family rediscover joy and wonder.

It's hard to follow in the footsteps of the wonderful original, but with a star-studded cast that also includes Meryl Streep, Colin Firth, Angela Lansbury, Dick Van Dyke and more, this looks like a kid-friendly movie the whole family can appreciate.

Originally posted on Common Sense Media.

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Is there anything cuter than adorable hairstyles on kids? We love when little ones look put together and a chic hairstyle is the icing on a cake.Mamas have upped their game and are delivering trendy, inspo-worthy looks beyond basic ponytails.

We get that creating no-fuss hairstyles (preferably ones that don't require toddlers sitting more than 10 minutes) isn't exactly stress-free and shelling out cash for a stylist isn't something we'll spring for. But we're all about easy styles that we can practically create with our eyes closed. Say hello to getting out the door faster! To be fair, there are a few here that are a tad complicated, so you'll want to screenshot them and share with your mama friend who is a master stylist.

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To help you nail the best kid hairstyles, we've compiled a list of 41 cool hairstyles for little ones from Instagram:

Pigtail buns

This classic style never gets old. If you're concerned about it being too light, loosen it up a bit by adding volume at the roots.






Criss-cross braids

Add a touch of style to a traditional braid.






Top knot

When rushing and don't have time, just throw up their hair in a top bun.



Side braided ponytail

After a few hours on the playground, braids tend to end up on the side of their heads, so why not create it into a style?



Cornrows

We're not going to front—cornrows are tough to create. But if you can get it, it's a style that will last weeks. Need help? Check out these YouTube videos.






Waterfall braids

To add a little more pizazz to a regular braid, braid hair on the side and loosen it a bit at the root.




Triple buns

A bun is probably the easier hairstyle a mama can create, but throw in a dash of style by adding two more bun. Create the look by securing buns from the top of the head to the nape of the neck.








Bun + bows

Add a bow for instant fun.









Lifestyle

When the Coronavirus (COVID-19) started making headlines in early 2020 the expert advice was simple: Don't panic.

This week the CDC warned that the outbreaks of the virus will very likely happen in the United States, but it's important to know that officials still don't want parents to panic, they just want us to be prepared.

"We are asking the American public to prepare for the expectation that this might be bad," the Director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, told reporters during a news briefing Tuesday. "It's not so much of a question of if this will happen anymore but rather more of a question of exactly when this will happen," Dr. Messonnier said.

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It is totally normal to read this and be concerned mama, but there are several things we need to unpack before we let our anxiety overwhelm us.

Here is what you need to know about the Coronavirus response in the United States:

Top doctors are preparing for this

As the virus has spread rapidly overseas America's top doctors have been monitoring the situation. In not quite two months' time 80,000 people have contracted the illness and fewer than 3,000 of those people have died.

In the U.S., 53 cases have been confirmed (most of those were passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was quarantined off the coast of Japan or people who caught the virus while traveling overseas). There have only been two cases of person-to-person transmission on U.S. soil, according to the CDC.

The CDC has more than 1,000 professionals working on the response to this virus, including physicians, nurses, pharmacists, epidemiologists, veterinarians, laboratorians, communicators, data scientists and modelers.

"CDC staff members are working with state, local, tribal, and territorial health departments and other public health authorities to assist with case identification, contact tracing, evaluation of persons under investigation (PUI) for COVID-19, and medical management of cases; and with academic partners to understand the virulence, risk for transmission, and other characteristics of this novel virus," the agency states on its website.

And while there have been delays in implementing Coronavirus testing measures in the Unites States, experts are working to resolve issues and make testing more efficient. As the New York Times reports, the health and human services secretary "told a Senate panel that federal and local health departments will need as many as 300 million masks for health care workers."

In other words, the experts in the United States are preparing to fight this virus and they want the American public to be prepared, too.

This could impact school, work and daily life

That's why the CDC is telling us to get ready, not to cause panic or anxiety but just to set the expectation that life could be disrupted by this virus. "Now is the time for businesses, hospitals, communities, schools and everyday people to begin preparing," Dr. Messonnier said Tuesday.

She says schools may have to close or otherwise adjust to an outbreak and students may have to start doing tele-schooling online. She also wants businesses to start preparing to hold meetings remotely rather than in-person and to encourage telecommuting during any outbreak. Community activities like sports and church may also have to be canceled or modified.

As the New York Times reports, "Scientists don't know who is most susceptible to the new coronavirus. Children seem less likely to be infected. Middle-aged men seem to have been disproportionately infected, according to some studies."

This could be really disruptive for families

It is true that the scenario Messonnnier is outlining could be really disruptive for families. No one wants this to happen, but if it does have to happen it's a good thing we are getting the heads up.

Here are some steps you can take to prepare for possible interruptions to daily life:

  • Talk to your workplace about any plans it has for operations during an outbreak.
  • Speak to your child's school or childcare provider about how it plans to operate in a worst-case scenario.
  • Ask your doctor for an extra prescription of any medications your family needs, just in case an outbreak makes going to the pharmacy not possible.

Here's how to protect yourself + your family from the Coronavirus

The CDC does not recommend that we all go buy face masks. Face masks are only recommended for people "who show symptoms of COVID-19...[and] health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility)."

Instead, here's what we can all do to avoid the illness, according to the CDC:

  • "Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe."

We know this is serious and kind of scary, mama. But please, don't panic. Know that pandemic experts are working to keep your family safe. According to the CDC, the "National Institutes of Health (NIH) and their collaborators are working on development of candidate vaccines and therapeutics for COVID-19."

On Tuesday, President Trump said the coronavirus is "very well under control in our country" and "is going to go away." The health experts who work for the government are doing everything they can to prove the President right, but they do want the public to be ready in case it doesn't go away as fast as he (and all of us) would like.

News

For nine months, your mother was all you knew.

Before I held you in my arms, your mother held you and never let you go.

Before I sacrificed time for you, your mother gladly sacrificed her body.

Before I consoled you when you were upset, your mother consoled you with just the beat of her heart.

Before I comforted you when you were restless, your mother comforted you with just the sound of her voice.

Before I could do anything for you, your mother gave everything for you.

Your mother is the reason I hold you today.

Before you were even a twinkle in my eye, you were in your mother's heart. Your life, your safety, and your very existence depended on her. Something I'll never be able to repay.

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It will take a long time for you to understand the weight, the depth and the immeasurability of your mother's love for you. But someday, when you have children of your own, you will understand what I now see so clearly.

So, I'll hold you tight. But I'll hold your mother tighter because my love for you grows the more I understand the measure of a mother's love.


This essay was previously published here.
Life

What would bath time be without rubber duckies? Probably not as much fun—but also a whole lot cleaner, according to a study published in the journal Biofilms and Microbiomes.

That's because it turns out those squeaky toys are far from squeaky clean thanks to “potentially pathogenic bacteria" in four out of the five bath toys examined by researchers.

For the study, Swiss and American researchers looked at the biofilm communities inside 19 bath toys collected from random households as well as six toys used in controlled clean or dirty water conditions. They found that all of the examined bath toys “had dense and slimy biofilm" on their inner surfaces. What's more, 56% of the real-use toys and all of the dirty-water toys had fungi build up. ?

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Although the researchers note exposure to bacteria and fungi may have some benefits, the strong existence of grime in bath toys is still concerning. They note, “Squeezing water with chunks of biofilm into their faces (which is not unexpected behavior for these users) may result in eye, ear, wound or even gastro-intestinal tract infections."

Besides tossing all your bath toys, what can parents do?

The researchers say more experimental work is needed. But, for starters, it doesn't hurt to remove water from the toys after usage or give them a good, regular dunk in boiling water. The researchers also said they would like to see more regulations on the polymeric materials used for many bath toys.

There is, however, one simple solution—it just comes at the cost of rubber duckie's squeak. “In fact, the easiest way to prevent children from being exposed to bath toy biofilms is to simply close the hole," the researchers say of toys like this water-tight duck. “But where is the fun in that?"

[A version of this post originally appeared April 13, 2018. It has been updated.]

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