Are You Cold All Cold All The Time? You may want to get your thyroid checked.

Parked in front of the school a few years ago to watch for kids blasting out of the building, I jumped out of my Jeep Wrangler to chat with my girlfriend Carmen, who also was waiting for her 8th grader. I was cautiously dressed to combat the crisp fall weather. Why take any chances? Shivering with cold is no fun.

So I’d dutifully donned my signature fuchsia scarf and swaddled it securely around my neck. My puffer coat reached to the top of my knees. Really. Sensible. And my furry beanie? It’s warm and cute — nailed it: a win-win.

I gave Carmen a quick hug, and she asked what was up with all my winter gear. It was then I realized Carmen wasn’t wearing much — I mean, a fleece vest?

“I’m the classic cold-girl-type,” I automatically chirped. Maybe, maybe not, Carmen challenged without missing a beat, as only the best of friends will do.

Read in full at AARP, The Girlfriend.

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What Does a Yellow Ribbon on a Dog Mean?

While out on a walk, you observe a dog retreat behind his owner with a growl when approached by another dog. Eventually, a scuffle erupts—and thankfully, the owners are able to pull the dogs away without serious incident.

In an ideal scenario, a nervous dog who needs space will not be approached at all until he’s ready to be social, says Tara Palardy, founder of The Yellow Dog Project.

Read in full on PetMD.

Help! Friend Needed Immediately! I adore my dog, but I need a real bestie.

While out of town visiting friends, we went around the dinner table and shared our goals and hopes for the rest of the year. Foolishly, I took the exercise to heart. There was an awkward pause after I blurted, “I’d like to make a friend — just one friend!”

The others’ comments didn’t disclose anything, so mine really stuck out. How I wish I’d come up with something bland like, “Finally moving forward on our kitchen remodeling project. Yay for us!” Since I couldn’t retract my statement, my honest words just hung there eliciting lots of sympathetic aahs amid pats on the back. Blech. I’d been honest, and it was awkward, but even more, I realized just how much this desire for a friend was bugging me since I couldn’t stop my words from rolling out.

Read in full on AARP, The Girlfriend.

The Top Winter Foot Problems And What To Do About Them

“Every winter I sigh when I send my cute summer feet underground into socks and boots for the season. There they go, buh-bye, all sun-kissed and wonderfully moisturized, flaunting a sassy pedicure. Perpetually covered, they will not see the light of day all winter. Let’s be honest, when spring comes my feet are not ready for public consumption. Oh no, they are pasty white and wrinkly from being cooped up in winter boots. You’ve heard — if not seen — what a broken arm looks like after it’s healed and emancipated from its plaster cast, right? Pale. Yep. Wrinkly. Yep. A bit unsightly. Yep.”

Read in full on AARP, The Girlfriend.

Loving fully in an unfair world

Today, a bird slowly died in front of my children. The impact against our sliding glass doors was deafening. Housebound by a winter storm, the kids and I quickly abandoned our hot chocolate in our rush to discover that a bright crimson cardinal had struck the glass. It now lay helpless in the snow.  

Be honest and don’t construct a cover-up. What’s been seen can’t be unseen: I watched, helpless to intervene or make my kids unsee this tragedy. The suffering we were witnessing elicited, “Mom, let’s help it!” “Should we bring it inside and nurse it?” “What do we do?” “Poor bird.” Our 12-year-old’s large eyes were brimming with tears. Her younger brother couldn’t look away. I wanted as badly as my kids to watch this bird miraculously fly away. But the cardinal grew still and we, silent, mourning the loss of an innocent bird.  

Show sensitivity and respect for their particular attachments: Unlike adults, children fall in love fearlessly, without baggage. Maybe it’s toys as much or more than the people surrounding them they cherish. In the case of my children, it was their stuffed animals—each complete with name and personality.  

As enjoyable as it was for me to witness the creative powers at work in my children’s play, I knew that the depth of attachment would create a storm of trouble if any of these animal kingdom favourites were lost. After all, these were real as flesh and blood friends in my children’s world. On many occasions, we did come close to losing a stuffed friend. At the grocery store, in the airplane, on the sidewalk, silently fallen out of the stroller.   

In every instance, the look of shock and pain in the affected child’s eyes was a small step into the brutal world, where fierce affection is often accompanied by sorrow, a pain equal to the love.  

Read in full on City Parent Toronto Magazine.

Holiday Parties: Getting Your Kids Involved

Holidays guarantee entertaining, in one form or another. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the chaos of hosting, cutting dramatically into family time during a season which should be above all, family-centric.

I countered this once by asking our son and daughter to be servers at a small dinner party we hosted. To my surprise, they took on the task with creative fanfare, devising a plan to emerge dressed “alike.” Our petite daughter stuffed herself into her younger brother’s khakis and plaid shirt, and with a mustache drawn on her face, appeared side-by-side with her khaki, plaid-shirted and mustached brother to greet guests, take drink orders, hand out water glasses and clear appetizer plates as needed. They called themselves “Bob and Bob” and ended up stealing the show. They enjoyed their popularity, and my husband and I appreciated their helpfulness, since we were stretched with finishing the meal and welcoming our guests.

This positive experience reinforced my commitment to invite the kids into the process of planning and executing a dinner party so they participate in a meaningful way.

Read in full at Washington FAMILY.

 

Stirring Up Peace In The Home, Complete With Love And Mutual Respect

With all the confrontation and strife around us, who doesn’t wish for a more peaceful world? I’ve watched people become embroiled in polarizing issues and hope that they’re paying attention to the sphere of influence where they are in control. As one concerned parent, I’ve decided to look first into the place where I can directly stir-up peace: my own home. Here are some straightforward tips to help encourage other parents in the realm where they hold significant influence.

Resist yelling around the house, no matter the size of your home. Walk into the next room and talk face-to-face with your child.

With her characteristic transparency Lori Borgman, grandmother of eleven, syndicated columnist and author of, “I Was A Better Mother Before I Had Kids” pleads guilty to sometimes raising her voice around the home. But, she says, that though it may be momentarily expedient, in the long run, it’s “a horrible habit to develop”. So, if we mess up from time to time, don’t give in. Work intentionally—like Borgman does—to prevent this oops from morphing into a hardened habit.

“Face-to-face is always better,” Bellaire High School counselor Susan Childs told me. She continued, noting that when one person’s voice is raised, it’s reciprocated and pretty quickly, no matter the topic, the point of conversation is lost. Meredith Bodgas, mother and editor-in-chief of WorkingMother.com agrees that the message is affected by its delivery: “Get down on their level so you’re talking to them, not at them or above them. Not only will they may be more inclined to listen to what you’re saying but you’ll also be less inclined to raise your voice since you’ll be so close to their little face.”

Read in full on Houston Family Magazine.

Step into a Fairytale: Exploring Heidelberg with the Family

Once upon a time, in a valley surrounded by towering hills, there was a magical town with a magical castle perched overhead.

We lived in Germany as a young American expat couple and have since traveled back numerous times to visit our favorite city of Heidelberg. Yet, I still felt a thrill this past summer when our family drove across the bridge toward Bizmarckplatz, the main transport square, into the heart of this medieval city, which was largely spared in WWII. Perhaps it’s the magical castle on the hill which makes it so treasured, or the peaceful Neckar River flowing past the city through the valley, or its bustling pedestrian zone. It certainly doesn’t hurt that Heidelberg is home to Germany’s oldest university, contributing to its charming aura with students and professors walking about. Truly, the combined total of Heidelberg’s individual features are what make her special today as when the song, “I Lost My Heart in Heidelberg” was written in the 1920s.

Read in full on Houston Family Magazine.

Arms Around Both Generations

Lessons Learned From Teens Assist With Aging Parents

Juggling the demands and learning curve of blossoming adolescents is tough, but just what if this process prepared parents for handling their aging parents? Understanding where similarities lie between teens and aging parents puts a new twist on the popular theme of feeling ‘sandwiched’ between these two lovable but stretching generations.  

Houston family therapist Colleen O’Grady, author of “Dial Down the Drama” says there are similarities between teens and aging parents and that “skills you learn from raising teenagers are helpful.”

Read in full on Houston Family Magazine.