Welcome back to school! Welcome back to meanness.

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We’re all familiar with bullying in schools.  Who hasn’t encountered a playground bully or adjusted their route to avoid a cluster of mean girls in the school hallway?

But what of kids today?

Unfortunately, physically avoiding a school bully is only half the equation.  Cyberbullying, or bullying by electronic means, has emerged as a major threat for post millennials.

Cyberbullying comes in a variety of forms and is not always easy to track.  Online, perpetrators can be anonymous which often leads to more vicious and persistent bullying than what occurs in-person.  Also, for the victim, there is no down time from abuse and no respite from the mockery.

In some cases, relentless bullying leads to feelings of hopelessness, isolation, instability and depression.  Cyberbullying also leads to thoughts of suicide more often than traditional bullying.  In fact, victims of cyberbullying are two times more likely to attempt suicide than those who are not cyberbullied.… Read more

The Moldy Truth About Bath Toys

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I’ve heard warnings about bath toys being vectors for mold.  There have been stories from friends, social media posts, and plenty of viral articles circulating.  I figured, sure, tub toys can get grubby, but not in my house.

Each month I soak our kid’s bathtub, and the toys, in a bleach solution.  It’s part of my cleaning routine.   I also collect the toys after my kid’s bath, dump or squeeze out standing water, and let them drip dry in a KidCo bath toy organizer.  Given this, and that I’ve never seen visible mold on the surface of anything, I figured we were good.  Until recently.

Over the weekend I noticed little black flecks squirting out of a favorite tub toy.  With the help of a pair of scissors, I soon isolated the source.

Squirt toys. Pretty innocent looking, right?
Squirt toys. Pretty innocent looking, right?
Eww. Mold.

Yep. Mildew and mold. Full of it.  Completely disgusting.  So I collected up all the other tub toys that had holes or entries for water to get in and stagnate.… Read more

The post election state of our schools, social learning theory, and raising kids who are good citizens

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We’ve all been feeling it.  An intensity within us, rising up, as we process the results of the election and an upcoming transfer of political power.  Whether it’s excitement, peace, uncertainty, anxiety, or tremendous fear – we are all experiencing something.  For or against our president-elect, let’s agree on one thing – our children are watching and they’re feeling the feels right alongside us.

Let’s be honest, the kids are not ignorant of our reactions to the world.  They read our faces and mirror our emotions as we process and discuss current events.  They hear our words, often parroting them as truths to their friends, and they bring dinner table discussions to the school cafeteria with the same passion and enthusiasms they see modeled in our homes.  Some of that’s good. We want our kids to be politically competent and engaged with world events.  Unfortunately, civil discourse is difficult.  Heck, even adults don’t always get it right – especially in the arena of politics.Read more

Weaning the pacifier, Elmo, and why I think security objects are awesome

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This past weekend our family took the plunge: We weaned our 20-month old off the pacifier.  I say “wean,” but the reality is we went cold-turkey.  I didn’t have the patience for a more subtle approach or the time to formulate some complicated plan.

Saturday morning was game-time so my daughter and I sat together on the couch to watch a YouTube video of Elmo’s “Bye Bye Binky” song.  I searched her face for buy-in and she honestly looked intrigued.   After she watched the clip we collected her binkies in a little bag and I asked, “Can you say bye-bye to your binkies and throw them away?  Just like Elmo?” She looked curiously at me, like it was a game, then confidently said, “Yes.”  She clutched the bag in her tiny hand, held it above the trash, released her grip, and away they went.   She waved with a smile, “Bye-bye binkies,” then ran off to play.… Read more

A Summer Tale of the Mystery Rash

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A few weeks ago my oldest noticed a red rash and a few odd “spots” on his forearm. The spots itched and looked like bug bites so I applied anti-histamine ointment and told him to ignore the area. If you scratch you’ll only make it worse! Days went by and new spots manifested daily.  I was boggled.  Was this hives?  Did we have a bug problem in the house? Did he get into poison ivy?

Two weeks into the saga his skin condition worsened and he  grew more and more uncomfortable. Sites of the rash that were once small, separate entities, coalesced into large, rough, red regions fully covering his arms and legs. When it began to spread to his upper chest and face I became concerned and was clear out of ideas – what on earth was causing this?

I sent some pictures to my Pediatrician and she agreed we should come in for an evaluation.… Read more

The Shy Factor

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I know the posture well.  Brows raised, eyes wide.  Head barely peeking out from behind my leg.  Little arms wrapped so tightly around my thigh it’s near impossible to break the hold.  This is my three year old being shy.  This was him at soccer practice a few Saturdays ago when we encountered a chaotic swarm of unfamiliar three and four year olds.  The kids were hyped up and squealing with energy as they awaited the start of practice.  Tiny legs jumping, bodies spinning, and hands high-fiving their energetic coaches.  My little guy loves soccer and loves other kids, but warming up to chaotic environments, especially with unfamiliar people, can take him some time.  Watching the others and observing the crazy of it all, he felt intimidated.  Instinctively, he clung to my body and hid his face.

My child was in good company, there were a few other hesitant kids on the sidelines.  Not actually standing on the sidelines but clinging to legs or held in the arms of parents who wore faces of frustration as they negotiated, bribed, even fear mongered to get their kids on the field.… Read more

On loving the earth

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“Holy mac!”

The day my son was introduced to real mountains, the Rockies of Colorado, he was awestruck.  “Holy mac!” he exclaimed.  Short for mackerel, apparently.  We were driving up I70, deep into the rocky terrain, with peaks all around us.  “Wow!  It’s beautiful, right Mom?  Let’s hike to the top of the mounts’!”  He was into abbreviating his words this vacation.  It was beautiful, so beautiful.  We did end up taking him hiking on that trip, but turns out, despite the enthusiasm, his little three year old legs weren’t quite up to the task of summiting.  Maybe when he gets older.

No one teaches us to love the earth.  It’s in us.  Babies giggle at playing in the dirt, attempt to climb trees the moment their limbs are long enough to reach the first branch, and display wonderment at rippling water long before they can form proper words.  Given this innate drive within us to seek nature, it’s not surprising that there are a wild array of health benefits to spending time in the great outdoors.… Read more

Neurodevelopment, my three year old, and the day he hit me

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The fruit snack that started it all.
The fruit snack that started it all.

Today my three year old hit me. Out of rage.  I didn’t allow him to have a pack of Annie’s fruit snack bunnies after dinner and he completely lost it.  Not only do we have a “fruit only” after dinner rule (fruit snacks don’t count as fruit, even he knows that) he also snuck into the pantry and retrieved the snack himself.  He’s supposed to ask first.  I offered to put the fruit snack in his lunch the next day and he looked at me like I had lost my damn mind and screamed, “No!!!! I want it NOW!!!!”  I then plucked the pack out of his hand to return it to its box and that’s when I got walloped.  It’s the first time he’s ever hit me (intentionally and out of contempt) and it stopped me in my tracks.  I’ve never hit him. … Read more

Apparently I make a good model

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A couple of weeks ago I had my debut as a model.  A vagina model.  I landed a job as a gynecology model for a graduate level physical examination course taken by nurse practitioner students.  My role was to act as a “mock” patient for the students to practice their pelvic exams.  You know, the type of medical exam where a female patient puts her feet into the fold out stirrups of an exam table and has her lady bits assessed for problems by a medical professional.  In the real world, it’s common to undergo this type of examination for needs such as a pap smear, testing for vaginal infections, and assessing for other vaginal, uterine, or ovarian conditions.

With two kids in daycare, and the growing expenses of life as a family of four, becoming a gynecology model seemed a creative way to bring in additional income.  I’ve personally had routine pelvic exams throughout my adulthood and, as a medical provider, I’ve performed countless pelvic exams as a skill set of my profession.  … Read more

That time I got the flu

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A few weeks ago I got the flu.  The real flu.  Influenza, not just a bad cold.  My symptoms were classic – body aches, fever, cough, and a sore throat.  I’m pretty certain I know precisely when the flu virus entered my body.  I was caring for a sick patient, somewhat up in the child’s face to swab their nasal passages for a flu test, when the kid coughed directly into my mouth.  Gag! In desperation I actually Purelled my face as I left the room.  Of course, hindsight is 20/20 and I should have been wearing a mask, but it was too late.

Spew! Credit: Andrew Davidhazy/RIT
Spew! Droplet spray from a cough.
Credit: Andrew Davidhazy/RIT

It didn’t take more than a day or so before I started feeling ill.  Being a relatively healthy person I figured I’d get through the ordeal with only supportive measures: namely, hydration and rest.  Heck, I thought this would be a good excuse to entrust the kids to my husband, lounge out on the couch, and get caught up on Netflix. … Read more

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