Archive for April 2011

Monthly Archive

Why The Pony Doesn’t Win

I was reminded one week ago why the pony doesn’t win. When I was finished with bedtime stories, I sat on the edge of F’s bed. He’s nearly 4 1/2 years old now (he’s counting the days), full of ideas but also still busting with thoughtfulness. We’d had a day out of a story book. Really. It started with an Easter party (with chocolate!) at a neighbor’s home, an Easter egg hunt at our local park, a spotting of the Easter Bunny, a balloon artist, and A PONY RIDE. A pony ride! By the end of the day, the sun was out and I was full, satiated, calm, and feeling very connected to my boys.  The husband was on call, so I had the boys primarily to myself for the majority of the day. As we readied for a night of sleep,we snuggled in. Mindful of the day and noting the space, I finished reading the book and asked him a question.  I wouldn’t have thought to tell you the next part, but you’ll need to know more to understand his answer. Read full post »

Lunch (Time) With Alison Singer, Advances in Autism Research

Tomorrow I have the privilege to give opening remarks and introduce Alison Singer. Ms Singer is the founder and president of the Autism Science Foundation. She’ll speak about advances in autism research in honor of National Infant Immunization Week. Ms Singer has a daughter with autism as well as a brother with autism and has worked for both Austism Speaks and with the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee to provide leadership on strategic goals for autism research at the national level. She’ll speak about her belief that immunizations do not cause autism while highlighting goals for ongoing research and education efforts to support families with autism. Everyone is welcome; please join us! Read full post »

Read The Data On Bouncy Houses

I was forwarded a case series that captured a bit of data about injuries in bouncy houses and inflatables. It’s not a large study (only 21 families injured in a bouncy house were interviewed) but it sheds light on 2 things. One, orthopedists worried enough about bouncy houses that they set out to determine the risk, and two, bouncy houses do pose a real risk for fractures. Their suspicion alone doesn’t confer a problem, of course. But, validate my worry? Maybe. Change my decision? I don’t know…

The post I wrote last week about hating the bouncy house was more about negotiating my experience of parenthood than it was about the bouncer itself. What I mean is, I was writing about the internal wrestle I have with wanting to do things one way but feeling compelled (in my gut) to go in the opposite direction. You know what I mean, the parenting dynamic in which we set out to do one thing, then being tugged by instinct, we find ourselves in yet another spot. It feels typical, maybe expected, and entirely normal. For example, I set out not to use the pacifier with my first son. At hour 2 of crying, on about day of life 6, we grabbed onto that pacifier and gave it to F. Parents in my clinic will state that they meant to wait until 6 months to introduce solid foods, but once their darling 4 month-old started staring at their spoon with each bite, they gave in and grabbed the carrots. I set out not to use any television in our home. But after the second baby arrived, showing Sesame Street to the 2 year-old allowed me to take a shower. The list goes on and on and on. The ideas of how we’re going to parent and how we implement our choice are not always aligned much less overlapping. Like I said, this is normal. Being a parent helped me “get this.” Read full post »

Happy Earth Day: 1 Thing To Do Today

One thing you can do for Earth Day; a gift for your kids…

Why I Hate The Bouncy House

I hate the bouncy houses. I mean, I really hate them; I get a sick, nervous stomach when the boys are inside them. And it’s created a parenting perplexity for me. See the photo? I bet my HR is about 160 and my BP 150/90 (translation: high). I’m not kidding, I have a visceral and then flight-type response when the boys jump…it’s one of those instinctive parenting responses I am dutifully trying to govern and rule. See, I don’t want to hate bouncy houses. I want to be one of those moms who calms down, chats at the sideline, and chills out while my children enjoy the thrill of bounding around a primary-colored-over-sized balloon. Even this pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Stanford says she encourages families to have fun bouncing. And a pediatric ER doc I spoke to recently said she gleefully took her son to “the inflatables,” too. There was a calm in her voice when she told me. And then envy coming out of mine; I want to simply let my kids enjoy these houses without feeling tortured. But when F and O are bounding around in one of those houses, big kids flying, and limbs and heads rising about the horizon, I worry. And I can’t seem to rid myself of the response. When the birthday party invitation at the bouncy house comes with a waiver of fiscal responsibility for injury or death, you know something is up… Read full post »

Monday Phone Call

I called my doctor today. Well, I called her office, of course. I needed an appointment to see her this week. First available appointment was next Friday (11 days). “Okay,” I  thought, settling, “That will do.”

But forgive me, let me rewind. The receptionist asked me for my medical record number. Before my name. It was the first question he had for me upon answering the call. When I didn’t have it, he started with my first and last name along with my birth date. We found my record without trouble. But he noticed it had been 5 years since I’d been in. This brought trouble.

I said, “I’ve been having babies, so my OB has been doing my preventative care,” to which he said nothing. “Well,” he said, “I’ll have to e-mail the doctor. She’ll need to agree to see you since it’s been so long.” It gets worse: “It’s going to be another week until we know,” he said. “She’s on Spring Break this week, so it may not be until next week that you hear if you can get in. Unless she is checking e-mail while away.”

Oh, I hope she’s not checking e-mail on Spring Break. Really. But, Read full post »

Social Media: Where We Are

Social media is a part of the majority of our lives. A recent poll found that nearly 80% of mothers (with children under 18) were using social media. And it turns out if you’re over the age of 11 or so and live in the United States, you may be more likely to be involved in social media than an organized sport. As adolescents work to define their identities, they are doing more and more of this “work” online. Adding to the long list of things to talk about in the 15-20 minute check up with your doctor, social media and the use of new media technology is moving closer to the top of the list. It’s obvious but not necessarily instinctive. On a typical day in clinic, I have to ask a patient to put down or turn off their phone to talk with me. Plenty of teenagers think it’s perfectly normal to text or surf while talking with their doctor about birth control or concussions or vitamins or driving. Some parents do, too.

This month, an AAP report was published urging pediatricians to be involved in discussions with families about where we find ourselves with social media. The lead author, Dr Gwenn O’Keefe, wisely explains that social media has moved past being a technology issue and started to become a health issue. I entirely agree; simple math tells us that when we’re spending hours every day existing on social networks, it will inevitably affect our health. As you know, I’m an evangelist of social media for social change. My take is not that social media is all bad for me or for children and families. But it’s not all good, either. Clearly when you capture over 500 million peoples’ attention (Facebook), you’re onto something relevant.  Social media really is social and can help plenty of teens connect with peers, improve their technical skills, and augment their communication skills. Yet, of course, like anything in life, when moderation goes out the window, so does the pure benefit. Here’s an outline of the report and rationale of why I believe you, as a parent, should get involved with social media and why it matters. Read full post »

Tina Fey’s Triannual Sob, The Mommy Wars, And A Truce

Tina Fey, I hear ya. As working moms, we’re asked an unfair question when we are asked about “juggling it all.” And I’m with you on the angst about working and parenting, except your triannual sob is my quarterly crisis.

Tina Fey, about-to-be-Momma-again-hilarious-comedian-“ridiculously-successful-and-famous”-deserving-it-girl, was showcased in an article in yesterday’s New York Times. It was in The Sunday Styles section, a portion of the paper I fondly refer to as the “Ladies’ sports section.” I can’t remember who coined the name, but the section is defined by wedding announcements, articles about junky TV, and snapshots of random strangers carrying coffee or poodle accessories in Manhattan. But I sincerely don’t mean to marginalize it. Often the section houses little storytelling gems that sit with me all week. Yesterday’s piece about Ms. Fey got my heart pounding. There she was, one of the funniest people on the planet, saying the same things that I do. Well kind of. Our only similarity really may be that I’m just another working mom. But it made me want to listen to her even more.

Tina, like the rest of us, is asked to defend her work, her “juggle,” her parenthood differently because she’s a mom. Curtis Sittenfeld writes that in Ms Fey’s new book Bossypants (dying to read it–can you find me 4-5 hours?) Ms Fey asserts, “‘The rudest question you can ask a woman’ is, ‘How do you juggle it all?”” Simply put, it’s archaic to think of life this way. Women are continually reminded to question their choices differently than male counterparts in the work place even when we share parenting responsibilities. The questions alone arguably bring the working-mom struggle back to our windshields. And it ultimately perpetuates gender inequality. Why is it any different for me than it is for my husband? He works just as many hours as I do. But no one asks him about balance. Or commitment. True, this struggle really doesn’t tug on him like it does on me. I believe cultural norms play a role in this. Read full post »

Atta Boy, Coach Madden

I believe all media is instructive. I know we (adults and children) learn about health care when watching (reruns) of ER, Scrubs, or Grey’s Anatomy nearly as much as we do from the nightly news, Dr Oz, or our newspapers. And although entertainment may not feel instructive, I know it is. Media, from what’s online, to what’s on the television, to what’s on your phone, to what’s in your Xbox, informs and instructs. I don’t care how you cut it, I believe that every second of media produced has the potential to make change and educate. That’s why I’m so pleased to have heard some news. The husband pointed out that ESPN announced last week that Madden NFL 12, a hugely popular video game (5 million copies sold of the last edition alone), is about to have some new rules. And a new role.

It turns out, Coach Madden (a giant in football) is really putting money where his mouth is, working to educate and make change. EA Sports announced that their newest version of Madden NFL (12) will now incorporate new rules surrounding concussions and play. The game, coming out August 2011 (regardless of player lockout) will emulate the real game. When a player gets a concussion, they are not only out for the remainder of the game, the announcers will explain that the player was removed because of the seriousness of head injuries. The new video game will also block the ability for players/avatars to make helmet-to-helmet tackles, dangerous headfirst tackling, and hits to the heads of defenseless players.

I don’t play football and I don’t play video games, but I do know that: Read full post »

My 3-Day Family Emergency Kit in 6 Minutes

Is it on that ever-present, ever-too-long to-do list of life? Can you bring it up in the queue?

This week I did a segment (above) where I showed my actual emergency kit and talked about ways to start making your plan. But really, this isn’t just about the kit. It’s about preparing your family for unexpected events. Fortunately, terrible-nesses like Katrina, the Japan Tsunami, large earthquakes, volcanoes erupting, and tornadoes are rare. But prepping your family for unexpected large events may really help in prepping for smaller ones like a family illness, accident, or power outage. Knowing what your risks are specifically (what is the biggest risk on your block–a flood, transportation issues/bridges/tall trees/earthquake) is also a great start.

In prepping, I bet you’ll never be sorry you got to know your neighbors (I hope), stashed water and emergency medications, put aside clothing and a first aid kit, and put in place a plan for how you’ll reunite with your family during a moment of chaos.

Watch 6 minutes for a 3-day kit. Although I admit it will take you far longer than a few minutes to make a plan and a kit (I’d set aside 10-15 hours to get it done top to bottom)…
Start today with buying water and a embarking on a communication plan.

Make An Emergency Communication Plan For Your Family:

  • Teach your children age 4 and up a contact cell phone number for Mom or Dad. Once they master those, try for additional contacts like Grandma or neighbors. Try it out with your precocious 3-year-olds in school, as well!
  • Designate a location, outside of your home, that you will meet if your home isn’t a safe place (local park, fire station, community center, school). Inform all family members, babysitters, nannies, and relatives where you’ve selected.
  • Make a card for your wallet, your child’s back pack, your partner’s wallet, and your daycare and/or school with your out of state contact number (the MIL or a favorite trusted friend). Call your friend (or MIL!) and review with them their role in case of an emergency.
  • Remind everyone in your communication plan to try to use text messaging if cell phone use is difficult. Text messages don’t use as much bandwidth and may go through when a call doesn’t.
  • Remind everyone that often in times of natural catastrophic emergency, 911 is not always able to respond immediately. Having a good plan for your family can be a great start to put you all at ease and keep you safe. Practice your plan; quiz your kids!
  • In the next week, get to know 5 new people on your block if you don’t already know every one. Even Boo Radley…. Tell them you’re creating a kit and plan. Ask them if they have one. Make a new friend. May come in handy for a less tragic moment, like needing an extra egg for that cake you’re baking.
  • Get 3 gallons of water for every human and animal in your home. Put it in an easy to reach area like a shed, garage or porch.

Tell me if you’re in the works making a plan and a kit. How much time it is taking you? How does it feel to assemble this kit and what struggles have you had?