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


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

A Summer Tale of the Mystery Rash


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. … 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

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

Just another sore throat, or could it be strep?

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It’s hard to get through the winter without having at least one sore throat.  Most sore throats are minor, more of an annoyance than anything else, and they tend to be the first sign of a viral cold.

But what if it’s strep?

Strep is a bacteria that commonly invades the throat and tonsils causing pain, fever, and swollen lymph nodes.  We care because strep bacteria can be pesky.  Left untreated, the bacteria can wreak havoc in more than just your throat by invading other parts of the body.  Some complications of strep are minor, such as an ear or a sinus infection.  Some, however, are more serious involving a collection of pus in the back of your throat called an abscess, a blood infection, heart disease, kidney inflammation, or a neurologic disorder known as PANDAS.  If you do not treat strep throat with an antibiotic, there is also a greater chance that you will spread the infection to someone else.… Read more

#TheDollEvolves: What Barbie’s New Body Can — And Cannot — Do For Our Girls’ Body Image

Petite, Tall, Curvy, and Original Barbie

Also check out this article as published on Cognoscenti, a new ideas and opinion page developed by WBUR, Boston’s NPR news station.

Last week, Mattel announced a new line of Barbie dolls, complete with a new hashtag: #TheDollEvolves. The dolls have one of three “real woman” figures — curvy, tall and petite. The new bodies are outfitted with various skin tones, hair colors and hair textures, so that when kids peruse the Barbie aisle, they will see dolls resembling the real people in their lives. This is Mattel’s latest attempt to increase their bottom line, to win back the fandom of families, and to give Barbie more realistic features and proportions. Of course, the standard white, thin, blonde and busty Barbie will still exist, but now kids (and parents) have a more diverse set of options when choosing which doll to take home.

It’s helpful that Mattel is expanding the diversity in their doll line, but I’m not convinced that the new Barbie will sell.… Read more

Surviving a Stomach Bug

Folded Baby Laundry Kids' Health with Sarah

Can’t even. Piles of folded baby laundry after countless loads run in the wake of my daughter’s stomach bug.

The last four days have been miserable. It is no surprise that my 11 month old, who is constantly putting things in her mouth, crawling around in public spaces, and going to daycare full-time, came down with a stomach bug. She is absolutely beside herself with a crampy belly, low-grade fever, vomiting, and diarrhea. I am beside myself trying to keep her happy, disinfect, clean-up, and run laundry. Ugh. The medical term for her condition: gastroenteritis.

You may have heard gastroenteritis more commonly called “stomach flu.” Personally, I’d like to go on a campaign to remove the term from colloquial language. Calling a stomach bug a “flu” is confusing and a misnomer. Gastroenteritis is not flu. The only illness that is flu is influenza.

The term gastroenteritis is self-explanatory when you break it down: gastro (stomach) – entero (intestine/gut) – itis (inflammation).… Read more

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