Archive for March, 2008

Stop the Sweet Sixteen Madness!

Posted on March 30, 2008. Filed under: Family Life | Tags: , , , |

Today is about Family Life.

I have teenagers. And like most American teenagers, they watch MTV. As a result, they have been exposed to “My Super Sweet Sixteen” which is a show about over the top sweet sixteen birthday celebrations. While she did realize that the show is about over the top coming of age parties, after going to a couple of bar and bat mitzvahs in the eighth grade, my daughter started to drop hints about wanting to do something REALLY special when she turned sixteen. I could just see her eyes light up as she imagined an event that would make her queen for the day.

Where did all of this need to celebrate each birthday like it’s a national holiday arise? I remember my 16th birthday was the year I was allowed to have a house party with some of my friends coming over–I have no recollection what we did for my sister who is one year younger.

So can we parents make a pact? Can we promise to keep it simple, not raise expectations about wedding-like sweet sixteen parties, and stop this madness? As we have gone through this past school year, I held my breath waiting to see what kind of sweet sixteen invitations would come in. It turns out, there were very few. Unlike eighth grade, when each weekend found my kids at a major bar or bat mitzvah event held in every country club in the county, this year has been relatively quiet. So I think the sensible nature of most of parents is prevailing, and we are not having over the top events.

I am doing my part. As long as she has been lobbying for a fantastic sweet sixteen event, I have held steadfast and said “No”. Having seen what some of these events are like, I realized that it was a choice between her dream Sweet Sixteen party and paying for her first year of college–I choose college. We are currently discussing a more sedate barbecue for 50 of her closest friends.


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What Are the Medical Uses for Honey?

Posted on March 25, 2008. Filed under: Take Care of Yourself | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Today is about Taking Care of Yourself

Photo by toutersebee.jpg
I like to use natural substances for healing as much as possible. However, I need proof that they work–particularly when they are expensive. Honey is a natural remedy and has been touted as good for treating lots of ailments. I first thought of its medicinal use after reading about a study that reported on honey and its effectiveness in treating night time cough in children.

After looking more into honey’s healing properties, I found there was lots of evidence showing that honey has good antibacterial qualities, and can be used to help heal wounds and burns. It has even been reported to be effective against staph aureus which causes a lot of wound infections, including the antibiotic resistant strain of staph called MRSA (methicillin resistant staph aureus).

Apparently, honey works to help heal wounds because it provides high concentrations of hydrogen peroxide, killing bacteria. The high sugar content (scientifically known as high osmolarity for you chemistry buffs) also kills bacteria. So the healing properties of honey are well described and well known.

But what are the drawbacks?

There is lots of variation in the strength of the healing properties of honey, and it depends a lot on what were the floral sources for the honey. Whatever source you use, it would be wise to make sure it is organic and does not contain pesticides or other contaminants. One type of honey that is reported to be created for medicinal use is Manuka honey from New Zealand. While the Manuka people insist nothing else will do, I am not clear on why it is so much better than a good organic honey. Many of the studies I saw used this honey, while others did not specify that it was Manuka.

I also have concerns because I’ve recently seen news stories about CCD, or colony collapse disorder, which is a condition where the worker bees in a colony suddenly disappear. The cause of this is not known, but the experts think it may be due to a combination of viral infections in beehives, exposure to toxins, or some immune problems with the bees. Since CCD has now been observed in Europe, North America and Taiwan, it would be important to make sure that any honey you use (even for your tea) does not come from a hive with CCD until the experts know the cause and risks to people.

So the bottom line is honey seems to work well not only for coughs, but for healing wounds and skin infections. It may provide alternative or supplemental treatment to antibiotics, and reduce our need for them (which contributes to antibiotic resistance). It is also effective against MRSA, a type of bacteria that is becoming harder to treat with current antibiotics. If you are going to use it, make sure it is free of impurities and pesticides, so invest in organic honey.


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Stepping Stones Museum

Posted on March 24, 2008. Filed under: Things to Do, Westchester |

Today is about Things to Do

We are now in the last days of winter, and soon it will be warm enough to spend lots of time outside. Until those warm days come, I am still working to find things to do with my kids on the weekends. I recently was introduced to The Steppingstones Museum for Children Norwalk, CT, and consider this a great find and a wonderful way to kill an afternoon with young children. I regret that I have been here for a couple of years, and am just now discovering this little treasure.

Steppingstones is completely hands on and has spaces where kids can play with water, roll balls through mini roller coasters, pretend to be in the rain forest, learn about the human body, and build model cars for racing. Whenever I mention this place, my four year old starts to hound me until I take her there. I think her favorite part is the water exhibit. You walk into this large room, and a helper puts an apron on your child (they immediately won points with me for that detail). Then the kids can run around to different pools where they play with floating balls, boats, a huge funnel, water channels, and all sorts of hands on water play.

Embedded in all of this activity are attempts to teach something to the kids. However, I find that unless they can read, a child will only be interested in the hands on play, and not so interested in the structured lessons they try to provide. In my book, play is work for kids, and it is how they learn so I find this to be a minor limitation.

Despite its location in CT, it is only a 40 minute drive from Westchester–just take route 95 to Exit 14–and is an easy hop from most places in Westchester. In fact, when we went there a couple of weeks ago, we ran into three other families from our town.

So if you you are looking for something to do with a toddler or preschooler, I strongly recommend Steppingstones as a great way to spend an afternoon.


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Stopped by Runner’s Knee

Posted on March 13, 2008. Filed under: Running, Take Care of Yourself | Tags: , , , , , |

Today is about Running and Taking Care of Yourself

I mentioned before that I signed up to run the More half marathon as a way to keep me motivated to run through the winter. Well after several Sundays of long runs, early mornings on the treadmill, and lots of time devoted to training, my body just quit.

After a Sunday run two weeks ago my knee started to hurt. It went away with ice and rest. Then during the week, I did my usual shorter runs, but noticed that my knee hurt when I walked down the stairs. By the following Sunday, I couldn’t run because of my knee pain, and found that it was swollen. Over the next few days, I found I couldn’t walk. At first I hoped that the pain would go away with ice and Motrin, and I could still walk the race. However, my knee still hurts me everyday, even though I am not running. Sometimes it doesn’t hurt until the afternoon, other days it doesn’t hurt until the evening. What is clear is that basic daily walking is about all my poor knee can take. And 13 miles is not a basic daily walk.

I have runner’s knee, which is a common overuse injury from so much running. Part of the cause is weakness in my thigh muscles. So I will need to be serious about weight lifting, lunges and squats if I want to do this again. But for right now, all I can do is ice my leg and wait until it stops hurting.

I am bummed. All of that training and I cannot run the race! Maybe I can walk it if I continue to rest. Otherwise, all I got for this effort was a tee shirt, and I don’t feel like I can wear it since I won’t run the race.

Well, at least I can go watch the race, and cheer on my running partner.

This stinks!


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    Musings on how a disorganized woman with a full time job, three kids and a real need to relax is trying to make life simple.

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