Henrico County VA
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Henrico’s grocery wars

By the time you finish reading this column, another grocer will have announced plans to open a new store in Henrico County.

Ok, maybe not quite. But doesn’t it feel that way?

Since last fall:
• Kroger has opened its newest “superstore” on Staples Mill Road at Hungary Spring Road;

Tots better off with low-tech learning

In today’s society, where computer literacy is considered an essential part of education, many parents assume that the earlier their children are introduced to technology, the better.

Entire multi-million-dollar industries have sprung up to cater to this assumption, introducing multitudes of smart toys as well as an explosion of the phenomenon known as lapware, such as JumpStart Baby and Baby Wow.

So named because babies play with it while sitting in Mommy’s or Daddy’s lap, lapware is designed to introduce infants as young as six months old to the keyboard, mouse, and monitor by allowing them to flail at the keys and produce images or sounds.

Early starts best – but late starts possible when raising slow kids

Years ago, when columnist John Rosemond was about to become a grandfather, he wrote a column giving his son, Eric, just two pieces of advice about fatherhood.

Although I am not a Rosemond worshipper by any stretch of the imagination, and cannot even recall the second piece of advice, one piece has remained chiseled into my brain for life.

Rosemond’s suggestion to his son? To lock up the TV set until his child entered school.

The idea might seem radical, but it grew out of Rosemond’s own difficult experience raising Eric. After learning that he was failing third grade, Rosemond and his wife imposed a number of changes in household rules and routines. Convinced that Eric’s TV-watching habit was the chief contributor to his problems, they decided not just to limit the family’s viewing; they gave the family TV set away.

True puppy love explained


I believe it was the day after our 15-year-old border collie-Lab mix died that my two children (ages 8 and 5 at the time) began to lobby for a new dog.

Even though we didn’t miss her daily accidents and tumbleweeds of fur and old-age stink, the house wasn’t the same without our sweet Sydney. We needed something furry and licky and waggy to love on us again, and of all pets, only a dog is capable of giving that particular ego-boost.

About four months later, my husband pointed out an advertisement in the pets section of the paper; my eyes subsequently oozed from their sockets as I gazed on the three most adorable creatures ever made in the world. They were five-week-old border collie pups, and I knew I had to have one, preferably that day.

Yes, Henrico, we have slow kids

Thank you. My faith in parents has been restored.

I was beginning to think that all 21st-century children were growing up tethered to electronic toys from birth, cutting their teeth on Baby Einstein videos and graduating from diapers straight to Gameboys – and that parents today popped techno-gadgets into toddler hands the way we once popped pacifiers into their mouths.

So it was heartening to hear the response to "Raising Slow Kids" (March 1 Citizen), and to learn that there are plenty of parents out there who are members of the resistance. Moms from Sandston to Short Pump wrote about the constant struggle to unplug their kids – and about their belief that doing so is better for them.

‘Restful’ vacation quickly turns to purgatory

We just got back from a week-long trip to Orlando, Fla.

The kids had a blast, but my husband and I would be content if we never visited another amusement park for the rest of our lives.

On the third or fourth day of our “vacation,” we knew ourselves to be trapped in some sort of amusement park purgatory. Similar to Sisyphus, forced to endlessly push a boulder up a hill only to watch it roll down again, we were compelled to forever push a stroller and herd two other children through a maze of people and attractions, to stand in long lines only to ride neck-jarring roller coasters, to stand in long lines to buy expensive but poor quality food, to wait
in long lines and pay ridiculous amounts of money just to park our over-priced rental car.

Raising ‘slow’ kids no small feat today

By now most of you have heard of the slow food movement – the growing trend to support local farms and foods and sustainable growing methods.

I’m all for the slow foods movement, but I believe there’s another national treasure – yes, even more important than food – that could benefit from a slowdown.

I say it’s high time we start a slow kids movement.

I’m not advocating that we raise kids who aren’t bright. I mean we should raise them the old-fashioned way, with access to less technology and fewer gadgets.

Hearing through the noise

Senseless chatter is my new pet peeve.

Even as I set foot from my bedroom in the morning, I am subjected to the verbal pull of my children. Always a chipper early riser, my 11-year-old son seats himself at the kitchen island and proceeds to talk at (not to) me.

As he monologues, I feel my brain sluggishly turning about, still covered up and dreaming. I respond zombie-like as I try to get breakfast on the table, but it doesn’t deter him from talking a blue streak about anything that comes to mind: a rabbit warren he’s designed, a Mario strategy he’s perfected, a koala’s receding habitat, his top-five favorite fish (not mammals) that live in the sea.

The son also writes

Forgive me, readers. It’s been six years since my last confession, by which I mean a column for the Henrico Citizen.

I took some time off from column-writing to pen a novel, never believing it would be published. But the historical novel, entitled The Outer Banks House, was published by Crown in June of 2010.

I made the whole business look too easy, I’m afraid, for now my eleven-year-old son believes that he too will be a published author, most likely in the next couple of years.

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Community

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden nominated for North American honor

Henrico's Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is one of only 20 gardens in North America nominated for USA Today’s “10Best Reader’s Choice” contest for Best Public Garden.

The 20 public gardens nominated are:

• Bloedel Reserve, Bainbridge Island, Wash.
• Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn, New York
• Buthcart Gardens, Victoria, B.C.
• Callaway Gardens, Pine Mountain, Ga. > Read more.

Henrico PAL honors seven community members at annual banquet


The Fifth Annual Henrico Police Athletic League (PAL) Award Banquet, held Feb. 6 at The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen, honored HPAL’s top volunteers and employees, including Morgan Lewis, Youth of the Year; Dale Alexander, Volunteer of the Year; Lowell Thomas, Employee of the Year, and Victor Williams, Board Member of the Year.  Also honored for their support were Jim and Christi Dowd of Richmond BMW and Josh Davis of Henrico County Public Schools Pupil Transportation.

Keynote speaker for the banquet was Tim Hightower, a University of Richmond alumnus and former NFL running back. Hightower was introduced by Billy McMullen, former NFL player and a Henrico PAL board member. > Read more.

DAC chapter donates $1.3M in coupons

The Pocahontas Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Colonists, based in western Henrico, last year donated more than $1.3 million worth of manufacturers coupons to U.S. military personnel overseas. Throughout 2013, members and friends of the chapter clipped 952,349 manufacturers’ coupons valued at $1,350,630, which Program Chairman Carole Featherston shipped to U.S. military bases abroad. Military personnel can use the coupons when shopping in base stores.

The National Society Daughters of American Colonists is a women’s genealogical and patriotic society whose members are descended from a man or woman who rendered civil or military service in any of the American colonies prior to July 4, 1776. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Hardball, the hard way

‘Million Dollar Arm’ inspires with true story of Indian pitchers

Million Dollar Arm is your traditional sports flick. It’s based on a true story, so if you’re curious, have access to Google, or follow baseball to some degree, you may know Dinesh Patel and Rinku Singh. In 2008, they were victorious on the Indian reality series Million Dollar Arm and won the opportunity to train for a shot in the major leagues.

But Million Dollar Arm isn’t so much the story of Dinesh and Rinku as it is J.B. Bernstein (Jon Hamm), the scout who first came up with the idea to take baseball (or, at least, a baseball-themed reality show) to Southern Asia. Because this is a Disney pic, and that is the typical Disney sports formula. Consider Miracle and Remember the Titans, two incredible athletic stories that were less about the athletes, and more about the coaches – played by Kurt Russell and Denzel Washington, respectively. But that’s not such a bad thing, because Million Dollar Arm benefits from the endless charm of Mad Men star Hamm. > Read more.

Weekend Top 10


The Richmond Men’s Chorus will end their season with “The Music of Elton John” – tomorrow at The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen. There are concerts this weekend for bluegrass and Mozart fans too! An organization that really needs fans is the Special Olympics – you can volunteer to cheer at their summer games, taking place this weekend at the University of Richmond and other local venues. For all our top picks, click here! > Read more.

Restaurant watch

Find out how your favorite dining establishments fared during their most recent inspections by the Virginia Department of Health. > Read more.

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