Archive for April, 2009

New studies find Autism linked to genes that wire the brain

Two large studies about Autism were released this week in Nature magazine, and I wanted to make sure you guys saw this information! Time magazine did a wonderful job covering the new discoveries, plus linking parents to more information about Autism.

Here is part of what Time reported and here is the link to the full story!

“The largest genetic study of autism ever attempted – involving more than 3,000 participants from AGRE, 1,453 cases from other sources and over 7,000 additional control subjects – identified genetic variations in a region of chromosome 5 that appears to play a pivotal role in about 15% of cases of autism. What makes this region particularly fascinating is that it seems to regulate gene-coding for proteins that are essential to forming connections in the brain. This fits well with earlier research – including imaging and autopsy studies – that suggest autism is essentially a disorder of poor connections in the brain. . .”

“A second paper in Nature, published …

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Overnight field trips worthwhile? Would you chaperone?

It’s noon on Wednesday, and I am currently packing to chaperone Rose’s second-grade class trip to Zoo Atlanta.  They spend the night at the zoo learning about the animals through the Night Crawlers program. Rose is so excited to go, and I am too! (Am I an idiot to be excited about sleeping on a concrete floor in sleeping bag with 80 second graders?)

I am normally an overpacker, and it makes it even tougher trying to anticipate odd things the kids might need during the night. So far I have bright yellow electric tape and a Sharpie to put their names on the garbage bags of their belongings, wipes, hand sanitizer, Band-Aids, sunscreen, pens, plastic bags in case clothes get wet somehow … I’m still thinking.

They have six chaperones going with the class so we’re only responsible for about three kids each but you still feel stress taking care of someone else’s child.

It seems like schools used to do a lot more overnight type field trips. When my brother was in school everyone went …

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How do you celebrate Mother’s Day — with kids or without?

One of our regular contributors sent me a bunch of ideas for topics last week and one was about Mother’s Day, which is rapidly approaching. (It’s not this Sunday but the next Sunday.)

She wrote: “I’ve always been fascinated by the irony that some moms’ idea of the perfect mother’s day is spent AWAY from their children!  And do moms “retaliate” at Father’s Day if the Mother’s Day wasn’t up to expectations?”

My current quandary is do you celebrate your mom on Mother’s Day or yourself or both?

Do you like to stay at home for a special meal? Sleep in (it’s on Sunday though so many might have church)? Go out to lunch? Do you honor your mother or spend time with your own family?

Do you retaliate if the celebration’s wasn’t up to snuff? Do you think moms or dads do a better job putting on a celebration for the other?

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Are you freaking out about the Swine Flu?

You all know I am a major hypochondriac, as well as a germaphobe so I am REALLY trying hard not to panic over these Swine Flu outbreaks (maybe soon to be called pandemic – which is a super scary word!) I kind of want to keep my kids out of school, but I’m sure Michael wouldn’t allow it.

Things aren’t looking good though. The Associated Press reports:

“World health officials raised a global alert to an unprecedented level as swine flu was blamed for more deaths in Mexico and the epidemic crossed new borders, with the first cases confirmed Tuesday in the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific regions.”

“With the swine flu having already spread to at least six other countries, authorities around the globe are like firefighters battling a blaze without knowing how far it extends.”

” ‘At this time, containment is not a feasible option,’ said Keiji Fukuda, assistant director-general of the World Health Organization, which raised its alert level on Monday.”

“With the virus …

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Did you suffer postpartum depression? Act could help others!

I recently received a note about a new bill before the United States Congress that is designed to help research and treat postpartum depression.

The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act will help provide support services to women suffering from postpartum depression and psychosis – a serious and disabling condition that affects about 14 percent of new mothers. It will help educate mothers and their families about these conditions. In addition, it will support expanded research into the causes, diagnoses and treatments for postpartum depression and psychosis.

You may think postpartum depression would never happen to you or dismiss it as not serious, but I wanted to share with you my experience with postpartum depression after I had my first child Rose. I had never suffered any type of depression before, but the first few months of my daughter’s life were some of the darkest I have ever experienced.

I struggled for a year to get pregnant with our first daughter. We were so joyful …

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Do you kiss your spouse goodbye every morning?

I was talking to a friend one morning on the phone when my husband left for work. She was aghast that I didn’t kiss him goodbye. I did stop talking to her to say to him “I love you. Have a great day.”

I realized that I rarely kiss him goodbye in the morning, but I do always say “I love you and have a great day.”  I think when I worked downtown with him and we drove in together, we kissed goodbye on the street. I am wondering if I don’t kiss him goodbye in the morning because I am rarely out of my pj’s when he leaves and haven’t brushed my teeth yet. (That’s the reason I’m going with!)

What about you? Do you make a point to kiss your spouse goodbye every morning? Why do you make it a point? What do you think it signifies if you do or if you don’t?

Note: Childcare Web site offering free time to search for help

Guys – I got a note from a company about a free weekend on this Web site to search for childcare. I don’t really know anything about the company other than what was …

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Would you leave your kids by the side of the road?

I’m sure most of you have heard about the New York mother,  Madlyn Primoff , who told her two daughters , 12 and 10, to get out of the car when they were fighting on the way home. Somehow the 12-year-old talked her way back into the car, but the 10-year-old was left crying and roaming the streets. When the mother went to pick the child up at the police station, she was arrested and later arraigned on one count of endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor, and released on minimal bail.

Primoff is a lawyer and partner in the Business Reorganization and Creditors’ Rights Practice Group at the firm and has clients such as Bank of America, Merrill Lynch and Wells Fargo, the firm’s Web site said.

Here are two articles with more details and updates on the story: The New York Daily News, The AJC.

(Total side note: Do you remember in the first season of “Desperate Housewives” when Lynette threw those crazy triplets out of her minivan?)

While, I think we can all agree it was …

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Do you invite the whole class to birthday parties?

I am in the middle of working on both my older children’s birthday parties. Their parties will hit only two weeks apart. My current dilemma is whether to invite Walsh’s whole kindergarten class to his party. (There are 18 kids in all.)

During preschool I always invited the whole class, and other mothers told me when your kids hit grade school nobody invites the whole class anymore.

In first grade, Rose wanted just girls to go roller skating. So we invited just the girls from the class – an easy, non-offensive way to decrease the number.

However, this year Rose asked for a handful of specific friends from her class — boys and girls — to come to her party.  Originally, I felt fine about not inviting her whole class because Rose has only been invited to a few birthday parties this whole year so I figured everyone else was doing that too.

I sent the invitations out during Spring Break to the kids’ homes to further ensure that it was OK that we didn’t invite the whole class. …

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Another tragic death: How can parents/schools stop bullying?

A heartbreaking story on the front page of today, an 11-year-old boy from DeKalb County hung himself last week after he was bullied relentlessly at school, his family said. Here’s the link to the story and some excerpts.

From the AJC story:

“On Thursday afternoon, after returning home from Dunaire Elementary School, Jaheem Herrera quietly went into his room and hanged himself. His 10-year-old sister, Yerralis, also a fifth-grader, discovered Jaheem’s dead body.”

“Jaheem was bullied relentlessly, his family said. Keene said the family knew the boy was a target, but until his death they didn’t understand the scope.”

” ‘We’d ask him, ‘Jaheem, what’s wrong with you?’” Keene recalled. ‘He’d never tell us. ‘ ”

“He didn’t want his sister to tell, either. She witnessed much of the bullying, and many times rose to her brother’s defense, Keene said.”

“They called him gay and a snitch,” his stepfather said. “All the time they’d call him this.”

“In an interview with WSB-TV, …

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Are Judy Blume books still relevant to today’s teens?

In an age of sex-texting and seemingly random sex among some teens, are Judy Blume’s books still relevant? Do they still reflect the teenage experience and what adolescents can expect in their middle and high school years? Are there still lessons to learn from these books written almost four decades ago?

For my generation growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, Blume’s books were the guideposts. They gave great insight about how to handle your first spin-the-bottle game, start your period or buy your first bra.  I read almost all of Judy Blume’s books between elementary and middle school. Scenes and lines from the books are still vivid to me. I even remember the brand of maxi pads Margaret buys in “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.” (Teenage Softies.)

My husband recently brought me home a book of essays written by women authors who had also grown up reading Blume books. In the book, “Everything I Needed to Know About Being a Girl I Learned from Judy Blume,” the women discuss …

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