Monthly Archives: July 2012

London Olympics Big Step for Women

London Olympics Big Step for Women

London Olympics Brings Back Memories

Terri and I in our Olympic uniforms

The London Olympic Games start tonight and I can’t help but remember how much fun Terri and I had while working for the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee during the 1984 Games.

I was just three years out of college and had my dream job as the Payroll Manager for the Olympic full time staff.  During the games Terri worked as a clerk in a downtown hotel.  Even though it was an overwhelming time for both of us (my husband and I were also moving into our first home), it was a blast being part of the Olympic games in one of the best cities in the world.

The 1984 Olympics was also the first time that a women’s marathon was held.  This was noteworthy for obvious reasons.  Through the years women’s sporting events had slowly been gaining parity with men’s events and a women’s Olympic marathon was a huge step in the right direction.  It was also noteworthy because the route went within a block of our new home.  We gathered a large group of family and friends together and walked down to watch the women run past on the main street through our town of Culver City.

The American Joan Benoit was the favorite to win the marathon.  She already held the women’s world record.  I still remember Benoit as she ran past, leading the pack.  The crowd waved American flags and cheered her on.  We were all thrilled to be so close to these Olympic athletes who had worked so hard to be part of the Games.  Benoit went on to win the race and set the first ever women’s Olympic record.

With the 1896 Olympics in Athens, Greece the modern Olympic movement began.  Women were not allowed to participate.  At the 2012 London Olympics every one of the 205 participating countries will send at least one woman athlete to the Olympic Games.  What a wonderful step forward for the women of the world!

5 Tips for using Lavender during Menstruation

5 Tips for using Lavender during Menstruation

Lavender Uses during Menstruation

Lavender blooming in my garden.

Summer time is my favorite season in the Pacific Northwest.  The sun is shining (mostly), there are dozens of art festivals to attend, and lavender is blooming in my garden.  As I enjoy the fresh scent and scour Pinterest for lavender craft projects, I started thinking about the healing properties of lavender and how those properties might help with menstruation complaints.

I did a little research and came up with a few lavender ideas that you and daughter might want to try during your menstrual periods:

1. Lavender flowers, whether fresh or dried, produce a wonderful soothing scent when crushed between your fingers.  Since relaxation is a good technique for relieving menstrual cramps, try crushing a few flowers and inhaling slowly. Think relaxing thoughts and conquer those cramps.

2. Lavender oil can be added to a nice warm bath for a relaxing pick me up and overall clean feeling during menstruation.  I keep lavender triple milled soap from Trader Joe’s stocked in my bathroom – another lavender treat for any time of the month.

3. Use fresh or dried lavender flowers to make a tea.  Add one heaping tablespoon of the flowers to a tea pot and then pour boiling water into the pot.  Infuse for about ten minutes.  What a fragrant way to relieve anxiety and stress and possibly reduce menstrual headaches.  Make lavender tea a part of your daily routine.  A nice ritual for you and your daughter to have some quiet time together.

4. Having trouble sleeping during your period?  Sprinkle lavender oil on your pillow before going to bed.  Or make a sachet filled with dried lavender flowers and tuck it into your pillowcase.

5.  And here is my favorite idea since I always would crave sweets during my period – bake some lavender cookies! Another great project for you and your daughter to do together.  Combine the cookies and the tea and you will probably find that tea break becomes the best part of your day.

If you need lavender for these projects, be sure and stop by my house during the summertime.  I will be happy to supply you!




Should your daughter have a dog?

Should your daughter have a dog?

Should my daughter have a dog?

Pearl with tail in motion

Last year my daughter Hayley and her boyfriend Andrew went to the local animal shelter and picked out a dog to take home.  Pearl is a Jack Russell mix who came nicely house trained and eager to please her new owners.  Over the past few months I have had the pleasure of dog sitting while Hayley and Andrew went out of town.  My last dog sitting gig over the 4th of July holiday lasted a week, much longer than usual but still enjoyable.

Growing up my family owed a German Shepard, Fritz.  He was primarily an outdoor dog. My siblings and I shared ‘walking the dog’ responsibilities.  Fritz died when I was in college so I was not home for his last days.  When our children were young, we brought home a black Lab puppy, Kelly.  She was also an outdoor dog, as Kelly grew older and calmer though she became a family room dog and would quietly lay on the carpet while we watched TV.  Hayley was in high school when we lost Kelly and it was a difficult experience for her.  But that didn’t stop her from getting her own dog once she had her own apartment.

Which is my long winded way of saying that it’s good for your daughter to have a dog or other kind of pet.  Why? The number one reason usually heard is that having a pet teaches children about responsibility.  However, my number one reason is that it teaches children about love and loss.  It is often said that humans are the only species that loves another even though we know the object of love will one day die.  Dogs and other household pets have much shorter life spans and so a child will often learn about loss in their adolescent years when a family pet dies.

The lesson learned though is that it possible to love, to lose, but to love again.  Whether that be another pet or another human being.  Life does go on and we must adjust while still honoring the memory of those we have lost.  Which I think is an important life lesson for any child to learn.



Menstruation Supplies Needed!

Menstruation Supplies Needed!

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women WorldwideMy book club just finished reading Half The Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicolas D. Kristof (a New York Time columnist) and Sheryl WuDunn. The title Half The Sky refers to a quote by Chairman Mao that women hold up half the sky, meaning a country cannot succeed without including all of its citizens in their economy.

The book concentrates on how to raise the level of female economic participation in countries throughout the world while also ridding the world of such things as sexual slavery and female genital cutting that are still all too common place.

One of the areas that Kristof and WuDunn explored was how to increase the level of education for girls in third world countries and managing menstruation was one of the items discussed.  While drugstores in industrialized nations are stocked with an overwhelming choice of feminine hygiene products, women in third world countries are often still using and re-using rags and may only have one pair of underwear to their name.

Girls miss school during their periods as they do not have disposable supplies that will keep them going throughout the day.  Missing five to seven days a month of school only puts these girls further and further behind, which leaves a serious impact on overall education levels of girls.

To learn more about the Half The Sky movement and how you can support their mission visit the organization website. Other organizations that support providing menstruation supplies to disadvantaged girls throughout the world include the Sanitary Towel Project and Proctor and Gamble’s Protecting Futures campaign.   Consider how easy it is to walk into a local Walgreens or Target to purchase feminine hygiene supplies and then consider donating to one of these worthwhile organizations.



My Daughter Hasn’t Started Her Period Yet!

My Daughter Hasn’t Started Her Period Yet!

How many times have you heard your kids complain because they were the last one chosen for a team? Everyone wants to be chosen first and no one wants to be last. In fact, most kids just want to keep up with their peers and would rather not be singled out for being the last to do anything. If your daughter is reaching puberty milestones slower than her friends she may get the feeling that she’s being left behind in the great race to grow up.

Here are some ways you can help your daughter if she is a late bloomer:

1. Sit down with your daughter and explain the developmental bench marks for puberty (see How to Tell Your Daughter’s Period Might Be Coming). The average upper age for starting menstruation is 16. Delays may be caused by low body weight or heavy participation in sports. If you are at all concerned then talk to your doctor.

2. If your daughter is developing normally but appears to be a “late bloomer” then your job will be to reassure her that her body is unique and is just developing at its own pace. Read through some magazines and point out to her the wide variety of body types there are in the world. Remind her that everyone eventually grows into their adult body, it will happen to her too.

3. In a cheerful voice remind her that this is a great time to look at the bright side of not having a period: no pads, no cramps and no worries at the pool. Also point out that some girls who started menstruating early may be feeling uncomfortable about that. There’s really no hard and fast age of when it’s supposed to happen.

Some girls may equate getting their periods with being more mature. Let your daughter know that emotional maturity and physical maturity are two different things. Encourage her in all the other ways she shows maturity. Keep a positive attitude and look for ways to celebrate her uniqueness. She’ll know that she’s moving along fine and really not coming in last at all.

Study Abroad a Bonus for Kids

Study Abroad a Bonus for Kids

Kathy Pickus and son Dylan Pickus

Dylan and Mom

On Saturday, we sent our youngest son Dylan off to a summer study abroad program in Istanbul, Turkey.  His older siblings both studied abroad during their college years.  Older brother Aaron spent a school year at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland.  Older sister Hayley spent two quarters studying Spanish in Granada, Spain and one quarter studying public health in Ecuador.  Needless to say, our kids are not afraid of traveling and learning about new cultures and places.  More importantly though, my husband Glen and I fostered the idea of going abroad in our children.

Neither my husband nor I studied abroad, something I think we both regret.  When is a better time to travel and learn then when still foot loose and fancy free and more than likely still on the parents payroll? The world seems so much smaller today than it did 30 years ago.  Internet access allows an easy way to keep up with news events from around the world.  Many high schools (and even middle schools) sponsor overseas trips for various school programs.  And America being a nation of immigrants, our children are exposed to other children from different countries among their daily playmates.

The main key to all of this though that as parents we were willing to let go.  We took the risk of allowing our children to travel halfway around the world and be gone from home for weeks or months at a time.  Sure, it is easy to keep in touch with Skype, email and Facebook.  And yes, there are risks just walking down the street of any American city.  But to be in a foreign country means being out of reach in case of emergency as it is usually a one or two day trip to where they are.  It means trusting they will make the right decisions in unfamiliar surroundings where English is not the common language.

We have no regrets about this though.  Aaron and Hayley learned valuable lessons being on their own in a foreign country and we expect Dylan will too.  And we had the advantage of seasoned tour guides when we visited Aaron in Scotland and Hayley in Spain, a wonderful byproduct of children studying abroad.  Regretfully we will not be able to visit Dylan in Turkey. However, I think he will still have fun without us!