Readers’ Favorite Posts

In descending order of popularity, my top ten posts with “read more” links attached:

#1 (also #3 as a repost):  Should I Vaccinate My Children?

I’m going to give this to you straight. As in 23-gauge needle straight:

∗Vaccinate your kids.

∗Let them eat dirt.

∗Don’t freak if they eat their boogers.

∗(Do freak if they eat someone else’s.)

Evidence supports doing the first two. The third falls under the “can’t hurt ’em” line of thinking. And the fourth, well, goes without saying.

What can hurt, as we know, is the sting from a needle delivering a vaccine, often several administered in rapid succession. But what can hurt even more are the repercussions from choosing to forgo “shots.”  read more…

#2:  Don’t Get Burned by the Sunscreen Controversy

Everyone notices when someone sports that gorgeous sun-bronzed skin from a sunny vacation. But my family? The people who get sunburned through car windows? We return from a week away and people look at a quizzically and say, “Where did you go, again? Submarine cruise?”

I honestly could kick myself for not buying stock in a sunscreen manufacturer before we had kids…given their genetic legacy I knew they would be more sun-sensitive than a field of solar panels.

Most of us use more sunscreen in the summer than any other time of year. And most of us don’t think twice about slathering it on our kids or ourselves because the jury has been out on the topic for a long, long time: sunscreen, when used properly, not only prevents sunburn but reduces the risk of skin aging and skin cancers (notably melanoma). Despite the difficult-to-pronounce ingredient list few of us give the exposure to such a second thought, especially given the alternatives: painful, blistering, aging skin and possibly the big “C.” Not to mention no one wants the papier-mâché appearance of titanium or zinc-based (“physical”) sunscreens unless limited to the noses of their children (which is darn cute).

But what about all those chemicals? Their safety has been a question mark in the back of my brain, and perhaps yours as well. But given few viable other alternatives, I just keep a-slatherin’.

Until my husband emailed me this link:

read more…

#3  The Influenza Vaccine:  Setting the Records Straight

The bad news: cold and flu season is upon us. The good news: we can put up our dukes against it. The season is a hot topic amongst moms and I recall one particular day that was no exception. Discussion of who was ill and for how long infected a session at my yoga studio and the talk led to that of who got the flu vaccine, who did not, and the defense of their decisions. Back when I was a practicing physician assistant the misinformation about the flu vaccine was something I often addressed with my patients and the same rumor mill about getting a “jab” was alive and well over the yoga mats of Durango, Colorado. So bothered I was by the flu mythology that during savasana I couldn’t stop thinking about writing this blog post! Not good. I can’t have “final rest” interrupted…I get grouchy, like haven’t-had-my-morning-coffee grouchy.

So first, let’s clear the air regarding “flu” terminology.  read more…

#4:  Should I Vaccinate My Children?  (see #1 above)

#5:  My Daughter is Growing Up.  How Can I Help Her?

My daughter. Just yesterday I seemed to notice her again, growing taller, holding herself with the air of a budding “tween”. Even her facial features have changed. Why is it kids seem to take another step towards maturity over night?

Right now my daughter is in such an awesome place. She has a great second grade teacher. She does advanced mathwork. Her friends are really good kids who have a positive influence on her. Right now, this tight little group plays with dolls and is reading Harry Potter. This is the kind of peer pressure parental dreams are made of. When your daughter dresses her doll like Kit from the Depression Era and also wants to get up early in the morning to read before school, who can complain?

And believe me, I am not. But my daughter is only eight. There are lots of pitfalls ahead with emerging adolescence, the teen years themselves (as a friend of mine said, “Sixteen is going to be so much FUN!!!”) and then the self-discovery of early adulthood. These times are confusing and a girl’s support system is not only her immediate family but also her “peer family.” The latter becomes pretty darn important and how as parents can we help our daughters make and maintain good friends who may become part of that adolescent peer family? It is a daunting question and task, especially as I see my girl right now in this sweet spot with wholesome friendships both of us want to last for years to come.   read more…

#6:  The Thing About Box Tops for Education

It’s reflexive. I see that little rectangle of cardboard on a box and automatically rip it off. I stick the little chips in a Ziploc-brand plastic bag (one of the participating products, I might add), and hand them over to one of my kids to take to school. I think very little about the process, which has somehow been ingrained in my psyche. I’m like a rat in a Skinner box.

But Psyche woke up. A few days ago, a call went out on our school’s Facebook page to turn in our Box Tops for Education (or, as the logo reads, Box Top$ For Education). I was surprised, given my own subconscious efforts, to see the extended thread this announcement unfurled; it seemed over the (box) top. The rules for submitting, for one. The ideas to get kids to bring in more Box Tops so our school can exceed the amount of money received the year before, all through the submission of appropriately trimmed and bagged, non-expired cardboard dimes. It seems to me the folks at BTFE were dictating these rules (who can actually read those teensy expirations dates??) just to see how many hoops school volunteers would jump through to raise money. Then I realized my own new-found obsessiveness; all of a sudden I was by putting way more thought into this (box) topic than anyone on Facebook did. With this perseveration, though, I came to a conclusion. Yes, I thoughtlessly rip off those colorful little logos but

Box Top$ for Education is the real rip-off.  read more…

#7:  What Every Parent Needs to Know About Kids and Sleep

It still sticks in my brain: the girls teasing me about the time I went to bed. Why? Because I wasn’t smart enough to not answer when they asked, even though they weren’t my friends and kinda mean. So of course my 8 o’clock bedtime became fodder for calling me a “baby.”

Even though I slept like one, this “baby” would have much preferred to stay up later. What kid doesn’t? But my parents were unwavering on when I went to bed, which was good: I went out fast and rarely awakened during the night. So I must have needed the extra two hours that the “cool” kids were missing out on with their stated 10:00 bedtimes. Maybe that was just me. And now my kids as well. If they aren’t out by 8:30, God help us all the next day.   read more…

#8:  Kids Do Listen, Sometimes Years Later

I don’t remember what I made, but I do remember the process. Or at least, I remember what I disliked about it. The measuring, the tailor’s tacks, the ironing of narrow seams. In short, my mom tried to teach me how to sew and I really, really, didn’t want to learn.

I was the teenage daughter of an exquisite seamstress: she made her own wedding dress. She helped sew bridesmaid’s dresses for her sister. She painstakingly pieced together, with her two equally talented sisters, a quilt for their parents. My mom grew up sewing. And thought I should, too.  read more…

#9:  Life Lessons, By Temple Grandin

Recently our local college had the privilege of hosting a lecture by noted author and scientist Temple Grandin and we were fortunate enough to be in attendance. This remarkable woman, diagnosed with autism as a child, has overcome the obstacles of her diagnosis to earn a degree in psychology and a PhD in animal science and pen several books. To hear her speak (which she didn’t learn to do until the age of four), is to experience how nurturing and support and sheer will can help a person overcome odds and accomplish amazing things.

Temple Grandin speaks quickly and one needs to be pretty attentive to keep up. She also covers a lot of ground in a short amount of time, offering up insights regarding autism, describing her work, and tossing in a blunt opinion here and there (like “why are we funding sports and at the same time cutting band!?”). About a third of the way into her talk, it occurred to me that while she was offering her path to success as one that could help others with the same diagnosis, her lessons can apply to us all. And also extrapolate to how we as parents can raise successful children. A few of Temple Grandin’s points:  read more…

#10:  When a Loved One Dies:  How We Can Help Our Kids

I was in second grade when my grandfather died unexpectedly. It was a horribly difficult time made even harder by the fact that he died a day after my family returned from the funeral of another family member. As a child I recall feeling confused, sad and so scared I couldn’t even go into the living room to see my grieving grandmother.

The death of a loved one is difficult to explain to children, especially as we adults are trying to process our own loss, sadness and grief. Funerals are emotional and perplexing. I didn’t go to my grandfather’s. Because a few days earlier, I blacked out during the open-casket funeral for my great-aunt. Not that my parents didn’t prepare me . They explained the best they could what would happen, what I would see that day (“She will look like she’s sleeping.”). Despite their best efforts, I was simply overcome.

None of us is prepared to accept loss. Whether we have been through it or not. Unfortunately, we will all experience it at one time or another. As heartbreaking as it is to think about, our children will as well. Perhaps even as children. How can we help them through it, given we are also hurting?  read more…


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