Monthly Archives: June 2012

A Better High by Matt Bellace, Ph.D.

A Better High by Matt Bellace, Ph.D.

A Better High by Matt Bellace, Ph.D.A Better High: Laugh, help, run, love… and other ways to get naturally high, this week’s book review, is all about ditching the alcohol and drugs and using natural means of attaining a high in life.  Specifically geared towards teenagers, A Better High author Matt Bellace, Ph.D.  details in each chapter better ways of becoming high.

In the first chapter, Matt describes his own background.  He has been involved in youth drug and alcohol prevention efforts since high school.   Matt is also a stand-up comedian and speaks at schools nation wide to encourage students to find their own way of reaching a natural high. I was especially impressed by Matt’s support for educators.  By joining Natural High teachers receive materials for teaching their students on how to achieve a natural high.

The book chapters each discuss a group of natural highs.  For example, chapter 1 covers ‘laughing, smiling and other highs better than cocaine’.  Matt explains how to reach a high in each of the ‘better highs’ with examples from his own life and those of his friends.  Each section ends with a ‘Try This’ paragraph describing an exercise that will help get a teenager through painful or stressful times using a natural high.  Tools like making up a song to describe the painful situation are also described.

Other chapters devote time to running or surfing (or whatever exercise works best), to eating (healthfully) and cooking, to helping others, listening, loving and caring.  It struck me that all of these topics apply to anyone and everyone who is trying to achieve a happy, healthy balance in life.

A Better High also includes how to avoid using natural highs unnaturally.  For example, eating too much or too little food in order to avoid addressing stressful situations.  Matt than ends the book with his ‘best natural high day’ for each season and encourages readers to do the same.

This was a very interesting and fun book to read.  Matt uses humor to illustrate many of his points and I found myself smiling at his stories as I absorbed his message.  I would recommend this book for any teenager looking to achieve a natural high in life.

Leave a comment about this blog post and enter to win a copy of A Better High.  Comments must be left by 12 midnight PST on Friday, June 29th, 2012.

Title IX Celebrates 40 Year Anniversary

Title IX Celebrates 40 Year Anniversary

Today marks the 40th Anniversary of Title IX – the legislation requiring schools and colleges receiving federal money to provide the same opportunities for girls as they do for boys.  While the law does not specifically mention athletics, this is were the greatest impact has been seen.

I attended Catholic schools through 12th grade.  Not attending a public school meant not experiencing the early impacts of Title IX.  My all girls high school did not have a gym until after I graduated.   And while my brother participated in team sports like Little League, there was no comparable sports leagues in our town for girls.

And so when my daughter showed interest in playing basketball starting in the 3rd grade, I jumped right in to support her.  There were several teams in our town that she could participate in and she choose the one where her best friend played.  The team played in leagues at the Boys and Girls Club and the YMCA.  She played on school teams while in middle school and high school.  At both schools there was equal access for boys and girls to play and practice in the school gyms.  It was wonderful to watch the boys and girls come out to support each other in their games against other schools.

Times have changed for girls. In 1971, the year before Title IX was enacted, approximately 310,000 girls and women participated in high school and college sports.  Today, there are more than 3,373,000.  Female athletes can look forward to professional careers in basketball and soccer, along with a handful of other sports.

According to the Women’s Sports Foundation, girls who participate in sports are less likely to have an unwanted pregnancy, have better grades in school, have lower risk of certain types of cancer and better long term bone health among many other health benefits.

If your daughter is not currently engaged in sports, consider encouraging her to join a team or take up an individual sport.  Need help figuring out which one may be right for her? Today ESPN launches the espnW Channel through July 31st.  Watch some shows and talk about what your daughter may or may not like about each sport.  The London Summer Olympics will also be a perfect TV watching opportunity to see female athletes from around the world participating in a wide range of events.

Now I’m off to walk in the Seattle Rock and Roll Half Marathon with my daughter.  This is our 4th year in a row and we enjoy it more and more each year.  And that is the best part of having a sports minded daughter – she gets me up off the couch too!

Chemorella by Ken Phillips and Katy Franco

Chemorella by Ken Phillips and Katy Franco

Chemorella - by Ken Phillips and Katy Franco

A wonderfully sweet book about beating cancer and seeing your dreams come true is our book review selection this week.  Chemorella uses the Cinderella story to teach us all that obstacles like cancer can be overcome with grace, good humor and most importantly with the love of others.

Inspired by author Katy Franco’s own battle with breast cancer the story of Chemorella follows a young woman from diagnosis to recovery.  Because of Ms. Franco’s Puerto Rican heritage, the book is bilingual in English and Spanish.

Chemorella is illustrated by Scott Sackett whose lovely art work depicts how a young woman must deal with hair loss while undergoing chemotherapy.  Not wanting to be known for her bald head, Chemorella uses her artistic talent to decorate sneakers with glittery designs.  The sneakers draw attention to Chemorella who is invited to participate in a charity fashion show event.

The ugly step sisters from Cinderella are replaced by Chemorella’s ugly roommates. The Fairy Godmother is a kindly elderly neighbor who convinces Chemorella to participate in the charity event.  And then there is the prince, Vince, a stylish artist who is looking for true love.  He tracks Chemorella down after she leaves her glittery sneaker behind at the charity event.

The story ends happily as all Cinderella stories do.   However, the  stronger lesson from this story is that it’s not what happens to you, but how you handle what happens to you.  This book will help any patient and her family with laughter and hope for the future.  I would recommend Chemorella to any one facing cancer or other serious illnesses.

Katy Franco is a stand up comedian and spokesperson for breast cancer awareness.  She was recently the keynote speaker at the 25th Annual Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor Conference “Beat the Blues with Humor”. She also frequently appears at children’s hospitals and her schedule may be found on the Chemorella Facebook page.

Leave a comment about this blog post and enter to win a copy of Chemorella.  Comments must be left by 12 midnight PST on Friday, June 22nd, 2012.

Period Tips for Summer

Period Tips for Summer

With the summer solstice upon us tomorrow and the lure of outdoor activities for your daughter we thought some summer time period tips would be helpful.

If your daughter is one of those girls who likes to stay active during the summer, she’ll need some advice on how to manage her period when she hits the play fields, rides her bike or dives into the pool. Even if she does not participate in organized activities, other physical activities like hanging out at the beach or hiking with friends may present a challenge.

Here are some helpful tips to share with your daughter–

  • Have her keep an “emergency kit” in her beach bag or always keep supplies in your car if you are her main driver. Fill the kit with feminine hygiene products, an extra pair of underwear and a wash rag.
  • Many sports uniforms require loose fitting shorts. Wearing spandex shorts underneath the sport shorts will keep pads in place and provide a feeling of comfortable control.
  • If your daughter is a swimmer you may want to introduce her to tampons. Have her practice at home until you find the brand and fit that she’s comfortable with. Be sure to remind her how often tampons should be changed to avoid infection.
  • Sometimes bathroom facilities are hard to find when you’re hiking or beach combing. Tuck a few pads into any backpack or jacket she might use. Wrap the pads in plastic bags which can also be used to keep used product in until she gets to a trash can. Pre-moistened hand wipes are also good to have on hand if running water is limited.
  • Encourage your daughter to track her monthly cycle with a calendar. It may take some time before its regular but soon enough she’ll be able to anticipate when her flow will start.  She’ll know if she needs to pack supplies for overnight camps.

Periods should not get in the way of an active lifestyle. Providing these tips to your daughter will help her to manage her period with confidence as she participates in her favorite physical activities this summer.

First Period Stories

First Period Stories

First Period Stories are always coming our way from women eager to share memories of their first time.  It reminds us that every girl will at some point go through a first period experience and even though the experience is common to all girls, each has their own unique story on when and how it happened to her.

We have asked a few of our readers permission to share their stories.  Please be sure to share the stories with your daughter to let her know she is not alone in this step towards womanhood.  Note that stories are not edited for grammar.

Betsy’s Story
I started my period on the last day of the 7th grade. I had just arrived home from school and was looking forward to a wonderfully carefree summer. I went to the bathroom and my period started. I yelled to my Mom to tell her, and to ask what to do, but she was too embarrassed to talk about it so she simply tossed me a box of maxi pads. I had no idea what to expect. I quietly endured the cramps and wondered if any of my friends had gone through it yet. When my Dad came home from work, my Mom told him. He called me into the family room and started talking about how I was a “woman now”, and that we were going out to dinner to celebrate. The whole thing was really uncomfortable–from the cramps, to my Mom’s embarrassment and lack of communication, to my Dad’s celebration idea. I learned how NOT to handle it with my daughter!

Kristen’s Story
I was 14 when I first had mine. All my friends had already had theirs for years. My mom was constantly asking the pediatrician why I hadn’t started. It was extremely embarrassing. She used to have regular discussions about it with my aunts and grandmother. Completely humiliating and I always felt like a freak. When I finally got it, I was on Christmas vacation. I remember taking Pepto Bismol because I thought I had diarrhea. Later that day when I started cramping it occurred to me what it really was and told my mom. She bought me the “Friend” Care Bear. I thought that was nice, until I found out she called everyone she knew to tell them I was FINALLY a woman!

Ana’s Story
I can remember my first period experience like it was just yesterday even though it has been well over 18 years. My mother hadn’t talked to me about it. She was a single mother of four and working two jobs. I was left to fend for myself. I had to grow up too fast; thank God for my 2nd grade teacher who helped me out and gave me a quick but nourishing run down of what was really happening to me and why. Because at that moment in time I thought that there was something really wrong with me and I also thought that I had done something to cause my private parts to bleed. I was really really scared. And now 18 years later my own daughter is going through this and I have tried as much as I can to give her as much information and support that she needs so she isn’t as scared as I was. I hope I am doing well. Thank You for letting me share my story

The 4-1-1 on Step Parenting

The 4-1-1 on Step Parenting

The 4-1-1 on Step ParentingA couple of weeks ago I reviewed The 4-1-1 on Life Skills – a book perfect for starting your kids on a life of their own.  This week I am lucky to review another book by the same author.  The 4-1-1 on Step Parenting by Michele Sfakianos, RN, BSN is a must read for parents raising a blended family.

I am a member of a blended family, my father remarried five years ago after the death of my mother.  Although I have never had to live with my step-mother, there was still quite a bit of adjustment to having her and her family in our lives.  Reading this book has helped me with a different perspective on managing blended families.

The 4-1-1 on Step Parenting is broken out into 26 chapters addressing topics such as Relationship Building and Roles, Bringing in a New Baby, Adult Step Children and Planning Holidays.

The chapter on Planning Holidays will probably be very useful to many step-parents.  Holidays already create expectations and stress in even the most stable of families.  Adding in multiple step-relationships may lead to more stress and hurt feelings.  Ms. Sfakianos advice to “take on the attitude of ‘the more the merrier’ and everything will work out fine” is spot-on.  And discussing expectations before the holidays when emotions may not be running so high is also great advice.

The book devotes chapters to legal issues such as custody, medical consent and step parent adoptions.  The chapter on Same Sex Marriages and Step Parenting is also very relevant to current changes in society.

The 4-1-1 on Step Parenting will give readers in-depth information and understanding about the topics presented and will be helpful in opening up family discussions.  I’m sure parents can also use the book as a starting point for finding out more information where they need it.   I would recommend this book to any parent managing a blended family.

Leave a comment about this blog post and enter to win a copy of  The 4-1-1 on Step Parenting.  Comments must be left by 12 midnight PST on Friday, June 8th, 2012.

First Period Questions

First Period Questions

First Period Questions

We always seem to be asked the same questions about a girl’s first period whenever we are out and about.  We thought we’d compile a few of the questions and post the answers for all of our readers to see.  If you have any more questions, let us know through our ‘Contact Us‘ page or by commenting on this blog post.

At what age does a girl usually experience her first period?
A girl’s first period usually begins between the ages of 9 and 16. The average age is 12.5 years.

What are some signs that a girl is about to experience her first menstruation?
Girls develop through consistent stages of puberty starting with breast buds and pubic hair. A girl’s first period usually comes about two years after she first develops breast buds.

What are breast buds?
Breast buds are when the nipples are just beginning to elevate. The breast is not fully developed. The average age for breast buds is 10.5 years.

How much blood is there the first time?
A girl’s first few periods are usually light. She’ll lose about two to five tablespoons of blood over a period of two to eight days.

How severe will cramps be during the first period?
This varies from girl to girl. Cramps occur when the uterus contracts. Applying warmth (such as a heating pad) causes muscles to relax and can ease the discomfort. Other things that might help are massaging the abdominal area, taking a slow walk or enjoying a hot cup of tea or hot chocolate.

Should I be worried if all the signs are there and she still hasn’t started her period?
Physically active girls, girls that are underweight or overweight, or girls experiencing significant stress may have delayed periods. Check with your doctor if you have any concerns.

When’s a good time to give a girl The Dot Girl First Period Kit®?
We recommend that a girl gets her first period kit three to six months prior to starting her first period. This gives her plenty of time to look through it, ask questions and gain the confidence to be ready in advance.