Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Sibling Rivalry

Brothers and sisters are prone to have problems getting along with each other. Like pack animals, they compete for the attention and favor of the pack leaders, aka parents. This competition can cause constant conflicts between the siblings and drive their parents crazy.
So, what can be done about it?
It helps if parents schedule the same amount of special time alone with each child every week. However that isn't always possible, and doesn't completely solve the problem. It also helps to praise each child for the things that make them unique and avoid comparing them with each other.
There are lots of books about sibling rivalry and sharing them with the kids and discussing the topic can also help. Sharing family activities that everyone enjoys and emphasizing the concept of family unity can also make a difference. Reading books aloud together even with older kids is a good example of that.
Nothing will solve the problem of sibling rivalry completely, but after the children are grown they are likely to get along well together. Time doesn't heal all emotional wounds, but maturity does heal a lot of them. My brother and I quarreled a lot as kids, but now we are close friends and appreciate the memories we share.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


Some time ago I blogged about the unintentional plagiarism thousands of people do by forwarding things on the internet. As I mentioned, twice I was reading books written by authors I knew personally and, each time, I found chapters from those books in my inbox with no mention of who had written them on the same day.
If writers' material is sent for free all over the internet they can never sell it again, and that's partly how they support themselves.
Even if forwarded messages have cute pictures and fancy fonts it doesn't mean they weren't stolen.
I was reminded of that problem today because I listened to a CD of a workshop about copyright laws from a writers conference I attended. The speaker mentioned that plagiarism is a serious, legal offense. Although nobody is likely to sue or fine all the thousands of people who forwarded the same material, it is still against the law to send it.
Please don't forward "forwards" unless you're positive that the material is in the public domain.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Zits, etc.

I just got another ad for something to treat acne. Luckily, I'm far to old to worry about that problem, but lots of teenagers get pimples.
People of all ages are prone to get dandruff, and we're constantly bombarded with ads for things to treat that, too.
Unfortunately, the products that supposedly cure those conditions often make them worse. (Maybe that's how the manufacturers and advertisers stay in business.)
Both conditions can be caused or aggravated by sensitivities to the chemicals in the soaps, shampoos, creams, etc. intended to treat them. Makeup that's used to conceal zits can make them worse for the same reasons. Sulfur and related chemicals and fragrances are frequent offenders, but others can be a problem for some people.
And serious acne in anyone with a tendency to have allergies can often be a result of eating certain foods. That's probably why long ago people thought chocolate caused acne; in people allergic to chocolate it actually does.
For anyone with dandruff or acne it's a good idea to read labels and try switching to fragrance free personal care products with as few chemicals as possible. And I hope anyone with serious acne and a family history of allergies of any sort will talk to a health practitioner about an elimination diet, which can reveal foods causing that reaction.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Martha Swirzinski on Exercise

Building Better Bodies and Brains.

What is the one thing you can do for yourself and your child that will have the biggest impact on your body and brain? If you said exercise, you were right. We all know that getting your body moving is great for your health but did you know it is just as important for good brain health? That's right, when you and your child get up and moving it actually helps increase learning.

Advances in brain research show that most of the brain is activated during physical activity. Eric Jensen, author of Brain Based Learning and Teaching, tells us that after 10 minutes of sitting our brain starts to shut down. The learner gets sleepy and learning declines. So what is one to do? Yep, that's right get your body moving. Moving “increases blood vessels that allow for the delivery of oxygen, water, and glucose (“brain food”) to the brain” (Pica, Rae)

A few facts to ponder:

o “Aerobic exercise just twice a week halves your risk of general dementia. It cuts your risk of Alzheimer's by 60 percent.” (Medina John)

o “Being active grows new brain cells.

o Balance improves reading capacity.

o Movement can help reinforce academic skills for all students.

o Play can increase attention.” (Blaydes, Jean)

The holder of a Bachelor's degree in therapeutic recreation from Clemson University and a master's from the University of Maryland in Kinesiology, Ms. Martha Swirzinski has more than 15 years of experience working in the field of movement with children. She is also a certified personal fitness trainer. She currently lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia with her husband and two daughters.

“More and more research is being developed about the rise of obesity in children,” notes Ms. Swirzinski, who teaches movement education in a local pre-school and offers teacher training workshops and customized consultations. At the same time, numerous studies continue to link increased brain function and movement, she explains. “Being active grows new brain cells!”

Ms. Swirzinski believes that every child should be afforded structured movement opportunities every day to promote an active, healthy lifestyle and become part of a lifelong regime.

It is along this vein that Ms. Swirzinski has published three children's books focused on movement. Using entertaining rhymes and charming pictures, these developmentally based books offer fun and creative ways for children to move while also providing mind stimulating activities on each page. By following the suggested activities, children can engage in 30-60 minutes of their recommended structured daily movement, as well as enhancing other mind/body skills. Designed to be enjoyed again and again, the pages of these books are filled with laughter, learning, movement and more.

To learn more about Martha and her work with kids please go to or

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Computers! We can't live with them and we can't live without them!
All my e-mail accounts were down for about 24 hours. At least the automated message from tech support told me what to do so I didn't have to wait on hold for ages. But when the messages did arrive they all went to the junk mail file. Guess now I'll need to reset and retrain that.
But every time I start to complain about this kind of problem I remember how things were in past centuries when it took months to get letters, if they arrived at all. People who came to America from other continents might never again have heard from the people they left behind. Even half a century ago letters often took two weeks to arrive, and phone calls only worked if the other person happened to be available. Even answering machines didn't exist.
Okay, even with the nuisance of occasional tech problems, internet access is much more a blessing than a curse.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Safety First

A young kid I knew was riding his bike when he hit a bump and tipped over, falling down some cement steps. His helmet was smashed, but he only suffered a bruise on his head. His doctor said it was a good thing he had the helmet on or his skull would have been smashed.
Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago.
An adult I know was riding his bike on a country road, rounded a corner, and smashed head-on into a truck. He wasn't wearing a helmet. Fortunately he wasn't killed, but he certainly could have been.
Once I was waiting to be seen in a hospital emergency room. Another patient was a pretty young woman who had been riding a motorcycle off-road when she spun out and rolled in some gravel She was wearing nothing but a string bikini and helmet and her entire body looked like raw hamburger. She was in extreme pain and her body was probably scarred for life. But her face, which had been protected by the helmet, was okay.
Please, please, please be sure your kids always wear helmets when biking, riding scooters, skateboards, etc. And, grown-ups, please do the same. Helmets may feel hot or uncomfortable and some people think they don't look cool, but they can save your life. Nobody is invulnerable.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Teasing can be a form of bullying.
As a child I was teased constantly because I was skinny. (Even as an adult I sometimes got rude comments about that, mostly from people who were overweight.)
The other kids in grade school didn't mention my asthmatic wheezing, which could usually be heard all over the classroom, but that's probably why they were uncomfortable around me. I thought of myself as the class victim and it never occurred to me that I, too, was a bully.
No, I never physically hurt anyone or threatened to do so, but I often "defended" myself by making sarcastic comments or said things laden with sarcasm because I thought they were funny. Looking back, I realize I must often have hurt the feelings of other kids.
Although I can scarcely remember the physical threats made against me, most of which never actually happened, I can still remember some of the nasty comments my classmates made. And I'm afraid some of them might remember similar things I said to them.
A while ago I mentioned a website that gives wonderful advice about how to deal with bullies. On rare occasions in my childhood and as an adult I'd used the tactics suggested there and can vouch for the fact that they do work. I strongly recommend
As an adult I try hard never to say things that might hurt someone else's feelings because I don't want to be a bully. And if someone says things like that to me, I know how to react.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Cecil Murphey

Most adults who win awards in public grin for an instant, then try to look dignified as they approach the stage to accept their prizes. Not Cec Murphey. I happened to be sitting near him at a writers conference when he won an award and rose to claim it, grinning like a little kid. About a year later at another conference I told him he had the most authentic smile I'd ever seen and he told me he prays every day for God to keep him authentic. His prayer is obviously answered.
Cecil Murphey is the author of many best-selling books and an admired public speaker. It would be easy for someone in his position to become conceited, but I'm sure he never will. He has also been through more than his share of troubles but manages to keep smiling authentically and helping others in many ways.
My tagline is "Opening Eyes, Opening Hearts" and I only wish I could do that as well as Cecil Murphey. He can be funny, too.
If Cec sees this post he'll probably be embarrassed, but I can't think resist mentioning him because there's nobody I admire more.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Many years ago I read that scientists had discovered a way to triple the lifespan of nematodes and they thought eventually they might be able to do the same thing for humans. Every stage of the little worms lives was three times as long.
Let's see....
If that happened to humans we'd be pregnant for 27 months and be awakened by crying babies most nights for several years. Potty training and the terrible twos would last three times as long. Eventually we'd have (and be) teenagers for 24 years. Let's not even think about how long we'd have to deal with hot flashes and, for some people, the aches and pains of old age might last for about 90 years.
Thanks, but no thanks.
No wonder we've never heard any more about those experiments! You don't have to be a scientist to figure out that it's better to leave the long lives to the worms.