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General Article

It’s a Mouse Potato World

It’s a Mouse Potato World

One of my favorite photos is a shot of our younger daughter at age two. She’s standing at the desk, her chin just barely clearing the top. Her hand is working the mouse as she plays on our computer. When I was two, I didn’t even know how to operate the television set, let alone a computer.

The electronic devices available for home use has grown exponentially. Many homes have multiple televisions, computers and cell phones. DVD players, MP3 players, home theater systems and game consoles are becoming more common. Electronics aimed at young children, such as Leapfrog and other teaching aids. In fact, the average age children begin to use electronic equipment is getting lower every passing year.

What does this have to do with childhood obesity? When we were growing up, the TV might or might not work, and when it did we had three channels. There was no equipment to play movies, you either went to the movies or watched them on TV. We spent a lot of time playing outside. We rode our bikes or played pickup baseball.

In fact, while we referred to it as playing, we exercised.

Many women still grew and preserved food when we were growing up, my mother, grandmother and aunts included. We kids were conscripted to help weed the garden, pick the produce and preserve it. That’s a lot of work. We also lived on a farm for many years. Added to the garden were chickens, ducks, rabbits and other domesticated animals that needed our care.

That translated to grooming, cleaning cages, gathering eggs and otherwise caring for the animals. It meant a whole lot of mowing, so that we could keep the grounds looking nice and occasionally provide extra nourishment for the grazers. That, too was a lot of work. All of that work did provide us with lots of exercise and healthy food to eat.

We’ve mostly lost that lifestyle now. Instead, our kids play on the computer, use a gaming system, text message each other and otherwise stay indoors and inactive. It might be an idea to limit the amount of time and the type of device our children use. Take them outside and play an active game with them. Plant a small garden and teach them how to grow things. Show them the learned as children.

They are our future, and the responsibility lies with all of us.…

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General Article

Puberty and Sex Hormones and Their Effect on Your Body

Puberty and Sex Hormones and Their Effect on Your Body

For every boy and girl, there comes a time just before or early into their teen years when they experience a major change in their body’s natural chemistry. This change is caused by a surge of hormones – sex hormones to be specific.

Sex hormones are produced in minuscule amounts in early childhood and have very little activity until puberty. In most cases puberty starts when a child is 11 to 13 years old. The actual age is determined by one’s genetic makeup and heredity.

Regardless of when it happens, puberty causes the sex glands (ovaries in girls, testes in boys) and the adrenals in both sexes to manufacture and release into the blood large quantities of sex hormones. Estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone flood the system, which causes rapid transformation of a child into a young woman or a young man.

Girls start developing a clearly feminine form, with the appearance of breasts, pubic and armpit hair, and a female hour-glass figure. When the levels of estrogen and progesterone become high enough, a girl will ovulate and get her first period. This flood of hormones causes mental and emotional changes as well. I am sure you are familiar with the rapid mood swings and short tempers teenagers can have. But most importantly, high levels of hormones are responsible for the glowing health and boundless energy that most teenagers enjoy. They can eat an incredible amount of junk food and not gain an ounce. They can go without much sleep for days. They hardly get sick and if they do, their recoveries are usually speedy and complete. They tend to have a positive and optimistic outlook on life.

The sex hormones have a stimulating effect on energy production, causing the cells to burn more fuel at a greater rate. This is why teenagers have such a high metabolic rate, which allows them to consume a lot of food, seemingly without any consequences. In general, high levels of sex hormones have nothing but positive effects on the health and well-being of kids going through puberty.

While estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone are known as the sex hormones, they are not fully intended for the purposes of sex, especially since teens are not prepared emotionally and financially for handling reproductive responsibilities. As we grow, these hormones take on a vital role in the proper development and regulation of the body’s essential functions, especially in women.…

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General Article

Pediatric Brain Tumors and Brain Cancer Alter the Definition of Normal

Pediatric Brain Tumors and Brain Cancer Alter the Definition of Normal

For most of us, today will begin like any other day. We’ll sip our coffee, skim the morning paper, drop the kids off at school, and perform the normal rituals that make up our daily lives. The good, the bad, and yes, even the somewhat ugly; we’ll tackle it all with confidence and a sense of comfort, knowing that tomorrow, as routine as it may be, we’ll get to do it all over again.

But, for several families across America, today will be different. Today will be life-changing.


• Nine families will learn their child has a brain or spinal cord tumor;

• Three families will mourn the loss of their child to this dreadful disease; and

• Six families will transition to survivorship.

Each year, an estimated 3,400 children in the United States are diagnosed with a brain tumor or brain cancer. Approximately one-third of these children will survive no more than five years, making this the deadliest of all childhood cancers. For the families of these kids, there will never be another “normal” day. Their days will now be filled with medical appointments, treatment options, and learning how to operate within a new definition of “normal.”

Thankfully, hope springs eternal. The survival rate for children with brain tumors and brain cancer has increased significantly over the past twenty years. Advancements in research have resulted in better treatment methods, improvements in the quality of life and the long-term outlook for these young patients. However, survival does bring with it an all-new set of unique challenges. Treatments can cause damaging late effects on survivors; effects that range from cognitive impairment, to physical challenges, to social isolation.

Collaborations between nonprofit organizations, research foundations and leading medical institutions have proven to be instrumental in the fight against these childhood cancers. By joining forces, these groups are able to connect the best of the best to keep research moving forward, raise public awareness, and provide support to the patients and families who need it.

Several non-profit organizations have been established over the years to provide help to families who find themselves on this new and very difficult life path. Most of these groups offer resources for education, assistance with medical and financial services, and much-needed emotional support through a variety of family outreach programs and special events.

These nonprofit organizations work tirelessly in their battle to make pediatric brain tumors and brain cancers a disease of the past. They are continually searching for research partners, corporate sponsors, and private foundations to help support ongoing research. Individual donations are also critical to the success of these organizations. While much work is being done, and progress is being made, the need to raise awareness, fund research, and provide support is ongoing.

A quick Internet search and a few simple clicks of the mouse will land you on the website of one of these dedicated, nonprofit organizations. Once there, you’ll likely find an abundance of valuable information, along with resources and opportunities to help. Why not spend a little time today learning more about this devastating disease? Perhaps, make a donation, or even sign on as a volunteer. Not only can you help to redefine “normal” for these kids and their families; you might just alter your own idea of “normal” as well.…

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Financial Family

The Evil Sister-In-Law

The evil sister-in-law can pose big family problems – what’s a family to do when one person comes along and has the power and the inclination to wreck every function she is invited to? Don’t invite her!
Easier said than done when she’s the wife of your brother (she seemed so nice when they were dating). Apparently there are a lot of ‘evil’ sisters-in-law at large out in the world of families – some of them hate the family functions and outings – maybe there are too many or every Sunday doesn’t leave too much weekend time to explore other avenues of entertainment with her hubby. What might start out as a happy family unit can turn over bearing if there is too much closeness and expectations abound if you’re expected to show up at every single gathering.
Often, we hear from the family about the outsider, your brother’s wife, but not so often do we get to hear things from her side. Perhaps one family member could have a heart-to-heart and try to get to the origin of the matter, especially if she wasn’t always a b___.
Has someone in the family made her feel unwelcome, made fun of her, and offended her in some way? Unless she is asked, who’s to really know, especially if her husband isn’t telling.
There are as many different types of sister-in-law problems as there are families that have them. They might come across as ignorant to others needs and are unable to see another’s point of view or way of life as different but OK, from their own. Many people with these characteristics have no desire to participate in group talk or discussion mainly because they’re really unable to contribute anything of value.
One problem not to be tolerated is unwarranted rudeness toward the parents of the son, ever. They bore and raised up her spouse, out of respect for him and his family, she has to refrain from treating them with nastiness and disrespect. This type of behavior must be addressed sooner than later, not sugar-coated – get in her face about her nastiness and what effect it has on the entire family.
She then can choose to refrain, change, or retreat from family gatherings altogether so the family can continue to enjoy the company of each other.
Often people are unaware of how they are seen by others – bring her behavior to her attention, make a united stand and she will either have an attitude adjustment and change, or fade away. A win-win solution either way, I think.…

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Close Family

How To Know If Buying A Home Will Work

When someone wants to buy a home for the first time, they may wonder about being ready and prepared for the challenge. When buying a home is a topic that is on someone’s mind, there are certain points that they can consider when making the choice. People who follow a guideline and checklist for home ownership, may discover that their dreams of owning a property are more realistic than they thought.
One of the first things a person should look at, is their job stability. Having a job that is stable and reliable are key factors in thinking about buying a piece of property. If someone has just started a job, they may need to wait until they have gotten out of their probation. Some companies have a yearlong probation, while others have a shorter time.
Some people know that their job is only temporary or that there may be some layoffs in the future. If there is any doubt about the long term status of a profession, then buying a new house may not be a wise choice at the moment.
Debt and loans should be at a low amount. Some buyers think that they will simply pay off loans as time goes by, however when a house is owned there could be little money left over for paying off bills and paying down bills. Debt and credit cards should be very low, in order to afford a home and manage debt at the same time.
Property investment may be for a long time and should be thought of as a long term goal. Some buyers feel that they can buy and sell homes quickly. While a buyer may want to buy a home at the time, they may know that in the future they are going to sell and move somewhere else. If it is known that a change may happen in the next year or two, then buying real estate may not be that easy. Sometimes it takes awhile to sell a property and some homes stay on the market for a year or more before being sold.
The location of a new home should be thoroughly thought about. Often a person will buy a home for all the wrong reasons. They may have fallen in love with the garden or simply liked the kitchen cabinets; however there are many things to consider when purchasing a house. The location to the buyers work is crucial. While some people think that commuting a long way to work is not that bad, it can get tough in bad weather and when someone has to do it each and every day.
The actual neighborhood that the home is in is also equally important. Some neighborhoods have high crime rates or are popular for a certain aspect that may not be enjoyed. Neighborhoods could be used to rent rooms to students in a nearby collage. Some are family driven or adult orientated. It may be wise to find out what kind of neighborhood it is first.
When buying a home becomes an option for someone, they should ensure that they are ready and prepared. An older home may require many unexpected repairs and bills that could take a toll on a person’s monthly budget. Having extra money and low debt, could be a great way to afford the right home.…

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Family Tips

A Few Tips For The First Time Home Buyer

If it is finally time to think about buying your own home, get some tips for the first time home buyer. You will want to look for certain things to make sure you are getting not only the best quality for your money but also as close to your dream house as possible.
The size of the house is an important thing to consider. It is best to decide according to the size of the family, or the expected size of a future family. Decide whether or not a future family will happen soon or in the distant future. It may be time to purchase a starter home.
If you are already a parent and the family is steadily growing, larger homes should be preferred, if possible. Be sure to look around the neighborhood of any chosen location to see what the atmosphere is like.
A neighborhood full of young children may be just what you are looking for. It will provide friendship for the children and extra security from other careful, watchful parents in the area.
If you are a single person who likes the quiet, consider a smaller residence in a more secluded neighborhood. It does no good to buy a home where there are only families. Doing a background check on the crime aspect is always suggested. Decide how many bedrooms you will want, how many baths, whether or not you want a basement or an attic, neither or both. There are more options, as far as dens, kitchens and living areas. How big the yard is would be yet another consideration. Ask yourself if a condominium might be more your style.
Remember that once a place is chosen, it may take some time before it can be occupied. The whole process should not be done quickly. As a home that you plan to stay in for the rest of your life, you should consider the permanency of the decision and weigh all options and opportunities that are available to you before signing any papers.
Be sure to consider interest rates, taxes and insurance on the residence. These are very important. If you are going through a real estate agent, they will be able to inform you and choose homes to show you that follow your specific guidelines. They will be able to suggest many different options and let you decide what is best for you.
Take notes on what you see when your agent is showing you through some of the homes he or she has chosen for you. This will help you remember what was good and what was bad and will remind you of questions to ask in future showings. A camera is a good idea. This will also help when trying to remember the features of certain homes that you have been in. It is a good idea to visit at least twenty houses to get a good idea of what is available on the market, what locations seem best and what size is most appropriate for your situation.…

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General Article

How Divorce Can Make Your Child Gain Weight and What to Do About It

How Divorce Can Make Your Child Gain Weight and What to Do About It

Forty years ago, only about 11% of children lived in a single parent home. Today more than 50% of children will live for some part of their childhood with a single parent. Often their parent will get remarried and they will then live with a step father or mother. Some single parents never remarry and others live together unmarried. The most common type of single-parent family is one that consists of a mother and her biological children. In 2002, 16.5 million or 23 percent of all children were living with their single mother. When single families are mother headed the economic burden is greater. The balance of work and family duties become distorted. Many single mothers pay large fees for daycare services.

Children who lived with single mothers were significantly more likely to develop obesity. Parental marital conflict and divorce may increase the risk for adverse health consequences both in childhood and adulthood.

Here is how separation, family discord and divorce influences child and teen’s eating:

Threatens children’s sense of emotional security including depression, anxiety, anger,loneliness.

Dysfunctional family climate including lack of regular meals, more eating in front of the TV

Income decline after a divorce leading to more fast food restaurants and purchasing less healthy, high cost foods at home

Children are left alone, without adult supervision or placed in day care because mother’s are required to work longer hours

Even more important is when one parent goes about sabotaging the efforts of the other

How Can Both Parents Help Their Children Survive Divorce?

Both parents need to talk (often sounds impossible) and decide what is best for their children. They need to provide a united front and start thinking about their kids first. Maintain as much normalcy as possible by keeping regular routines, including mealtimes, family rules about behavior, and discipline apply equally whether the child is with the father or the mother. Often the father who is living out of the family home starts lavishing presents, breaking rules and not enforcing limits, often because of guilt.

Kids should not witness parental conflict. Kids whose parents maintain anger and hostility are much more likely to have continued emotional and behavioral difficulties that last beyond childhood.Consistency in routine and discipline across the households is important. Similar expectations regarding bedtimes, rules, and homework will reduce anxiety. Wherever possible work with the other parent to maintain consistent rules – and even when you can’t enforce them in your ex-partner’s home, you can stick to them in yours.

What can they do with an ex-husband, who often acts simply out of spite or anger? Not an easy situation. Maybe the child’s doctor or pastor can speak or write a note to the father. May be the father can bring the child to the pediatrician’s office for a talk. Often the children can help, even young ones can tell the father that they simply cannot go to these restaurants. You would think that the father would think of his child first, but that’s not all the way things work out.…