SHARING A MEAL: Teachers eat with children at the Verner Montmorenci Center in Candler. Pictured clockwise from left: Jenny Jarvis, teacher; David Ferguson; Isabella Ramirez; Cynthia Reavis, teacher; Elifelet Argueta; Alissa McCloud. speech therapist; Emilyan Kennedy; Yarianna Ambrocio

Rainbow Table: Dining together

Research indicates a range of benefits from dining together as a family, including increased consumption of healthy foods, lower rates of obesity and a decreased likelihood of substance abuse, teen pregnancy, depression and eating disorders. In addition, family dining has been shown to increase vocabulary, raise self-esteem, increase grade-point averages and foster family relationships. All this in one hour a day!

With love: YWCA MotherLove program helps pregnant and parenting teens, seeks mentors-attachment0

With love: YWCA MotherLove program helps pregnant and parenting teens, seeks mentors

At 14 years old, Svetlana Contreras found out her life was about to become more complicated than any homework assignment she could ever receive as a student at A.C. Reynolds high school: She was going to be a mother. But for Contreras, she had help taking on these new responsibilities when she signed up for the Asheville YWCA’s MotherLove program. (Photo of MotherLove director Tangela Bowman, top, and Svetlana Contreras)

Edgy Mama: taking the kids to local swim spots *Updated, with correction*-attachment0

Edgy Mama: taking the kids to local swim spots *Updated, with correction­*

Western North Carolina is rich with water — rivers, lakes and creeks abound. Given the recent heat wave, that’s a lucky thing. While I know of some secret spots that I’m not sharing (sorry), here are some fun places for you and your kids to get wet, cool off, and enjoy the beauty of our region. [Note: The original story misstated some of the entry prices for Lake Powhatan and North Mills River. The correct prices are included in this post.]

Edgy Mama: Grinchy for the holidays-attachment0

Edgy Mama: Grinchy for the holidays

I’m feeling a mite bit grumpy this holiday season. I haven’t had time to shop or bake cookies or plan any holiday events. That’s part of my problem. But there are other holiday irritants (in addition to the Fraser fir next to my desk that I may be allergic to). I’m hoping that if I identify the stuff that’s turning me into a parenting Grinch, we can all commiserate together, purge the poison and find some pleasure in the holidays.

Edgy Mama: 7 billionth baby born — a cause for celebration and concern-attachment0

Edgy Mama: 7 billionth baby born — a cause for celebratio­n and concern

The 7 billionth person on earth was born on Halloween, according to the United Nations. The UN chose a symbolic baby, giving the title to baby Danica of the Philippines, although a little girl named Nargis, born in Utter Pradesh, India, was also chosen. Perhaps she’s 7,000,000,001. In actuality, a number of other babes in other countries also were celebrated as potentially being the 7 billionth.

Edgy Mama: celebrating the Cesspool of Sin on All Hallow’s Eve-attachment0

Edgy Mama: celebratin­g the Cesspool of Sin on All Hallow’s Eve

The modern day take on Samhain has given me an excuse to load up on crappy candy that I’d never buy otherwise. It also gives me the excuse to wear outrageous outfits and decorate my house with bones and dead things. In past years, I’ve written about child obesity and dental decay, costume drama and expense, and the dangers of letting one’s kids take candy from strangers. But this year, I’ve decided to let go and embrace the decadence of Halloween, especially since I live in the Cesspool of Sin.