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The Ikea Effect of Cooking

August 6, 2016 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

by Mommy MD Guide Ayala Laufer-Cahana, MDIKEA

You’re never too young — or too old — to start cooking; Standing on a stool my kids barely reached the faucet when they started. Our first kitchen adventure involved making a good green salad, and included the basics of how to wash and dry lettuce, and the simple principles of mixing a good salad dressing. The second lesson’s product was a nice bowl of lightly salted edamame in their shell, which my kids still think of as “addictive food.”

We didn’t get into brownies and cupcakes until much later. I figured that creating a dish makes its creator treasure it, and why waste a lesson of love on brownies, which any kid’s bound to fancy anyway.

In his book The Upside of Irrationality Dan Ariely, professor of behavioral economics, devotes a chapter to the well know phenomenon of falling in love with the things we make, and the irrational value we attribute to the objects we had a more intimate relationship with. Ariely titles the chapter “the IKEA effect”— the Swedish maker’s assemble-it-yourself shelf Ariely labored over for hours somehow has a special place in his heart, and Ariely investigates why it’s so.

Through a series of experiments, involving the creation of origami animals, Lego patterns, and real-life examples of successful and unsuccessful businesses, Ariely comes to several conclusions regarding the evident connection between labor and love:

  • Putting effort into an object changes how we feel about it — we value the things we labor over• The harder we work on something, the more we love it
  • We’re so invested in the things we labored over, and value them so much, that we assume others share our (biased) overvaluation of our creation
  • Although working hard on a task makes us love it more, not completing the task is a deal breaker. We have no attachment to tasks we failed at or failed to complete.

Interestingly, Ariely also shows that both people and animals would rather earn their keep and work for their food. Even mice seem not to value free meals, at least not on a regular basis.


The lessons above are valuable and applicable to many aspects of life: I think “the IKEA effect” chapter (the whole book in fact) has lessons for any employer or employee seeking greater work productivity and satisfaction, and for any parent contemplating showing photos of his kids to a stranger (no, he doesn’t think your kids are the cutest — he couldn’t care less).

But back to kids in the kitchen. Learning how to cook is a valuable life skill that will not only enable kids to eat healthier — no matter what you make at home it will usually be healthier than the bought version — but can also be a great tool in directing their preferences toward those foods you’d like them to eat more of, namely, fruits and veggies.

Ariely’s lesson also made me think of the importance of giving kids a task they can complete. Being responsible for just one small step in a complicated dish would result in much less creator’s pride than being able to claim the creation from start to finish as your work. So selecting recipes that are of just the right technical difficulty — challenging, but not too hard for a kid to complete — is the name of the game.

As time went by we moved to things like potato gnocchi from scratch. I wasn’t sure my kids would be able to create dumplings that hold up in the boiling water on their first try — I had many less than stellar attempts at this dish before I sort of mastered it — but beginners luck, or maybe I can take some credit as the instructor, theirs turned out incredible and light-as-a-clouds.

Ariely wrote nothing about clean-up — it doesn’t, unfortunately, reward one the way cooking and serving your handiwork does. For cleanup to be pleasurable the best tricks, I think, are joint effort and/or some good music.

I’d love to hear about your adventures in the kitchen —  as a kid or with them.

Dr. Ayala

“Learning how to cook is a valuable life skill that will enable kids to eat healthier”

5 Immunologist’s Tips for Building Your Child’s Immunity

October 27, 2014 by  
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Girl blowing her nose --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbisby Mommy MD Guide Sonal R Patel, MD

I often get asked “How can I build my child’s Immunity?”  Here are some suggestions:

1. It starts with a great diet.

You are what you eat! There may be something to the old saying. Healthy things in everyday foods — from yogurt to walnuts — may help boost a kid’s natural defenses. So whether you’re arming your kid for cold and flu season or just aiming for good, year-round health, immune-boosting foods may help.

Foods that may Boost Immunity

  • Yogurt contains helpful germs called probiotics. You may already know that these organisms live in your gut and can improve the way your body uses food. But they’re also important in helping your body fight sickness. What type of yogurt should you get? Look for brands that say they contain live cultures. Just stay away from artificially added sugars, colors, etc.
  • Walnuts. Walnuts have healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for you in lots of ways. Experts believe that omega-3s help your body fight illness. Walnuts are easy to sprinkle into a snack mix or on cereal. This is an especially great way to get natural omegas for vegetarians.
  • Fruits and veggies. To help your immune system, some experts suggests aiming for ones that are high in vitamin C, like citrus fruits, strawberries, bell peppers, broccoli, and sweet potatoes.

Sugar has been shown in many clinical trials to actually suppress immunity. To keep kids well, limit their overall intake of additives, sugar, and find out which foods are allergens. Focus on plenty of fresh veggies, whole fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, and eggs.

2. Maintain your child’s microbiota!

Probiotics are the friendly helpful bacteria that naturally occur in our guts. They protect our digestive tracts, help us to digest food, and shield us from invading bacteria and viruses. When this bacterial balance becomes disrupted in children, we can see changes in a child’s ability to fend off infections. So eat food that have probiotics like yogurt and avoid unnecessary antibiotic use. Urging your pediatrician to write a prescription for an antibiotic whenever your child has a cold, flu, or sore throat is a bad idea. Antibiotics treat only illnesses caused by bacteria, but the majority of childhood illnesses are caused by viruses. Studies show, however, that many pediatricians prescribe antibiotics somewhat reluctantly at the urging of parents who mistakenly think it can’t hurt. In fact, it can. Strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria have flourished as a result, and a simple ear infection is more difficult to cure if it’s caused by stubborn bacteria that don’t respond to standard treatment.

3. Help calm their stress and anxiety.

In today’s fast-paced world, parents are overstressed, children are over-scheduled, and everyone suffers. Children’s bodies have the same response to stress that adults’ do — their cortisol and adrenaline rises. When this elevation in stress hormones is sustained, their immune systems’ response is lowered. It’s important for children to have lots of down time, time for creative play, and simply times of rest.

4. Make sure they’re getting enough good sleep.

Most children are not getting the required amount of sleep. Depending on age, children need between 10 and 14 hours of sleep per night.

5. Remember that fever helps fight infection and infections develop your immunity

Although many parents panic at the first sign of a rise in temperature on the thermometer, it’s important to recognize that fever is only a sign of and not an illness itself. Fever is your child’s body’s natural response to an infection, and without it her body isn’t as effective at fighting the illness. Minor illnesses are part of life, and not every infection can be prevented or treated. When you do have an infection, your immune system builds immunity and memory to that particular virus or bacteria.


  • All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.






Back-to-School Transitions

August 18, 2014 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

by Mommy MD Guide Deborah Gilboa, MDBook Get the Behavior  You Want

“Back to School!” is everywhere right now! Like it or not (and I know a lot of parents are torn about this), we do have to start thinking about a new set of issues. Here are some tips to ease the shift. I’m going to tackle these by topic and age group, the same way I’ve laid out my new book, Get the Behavior You Want… Without Being the Parent You Hate!


  • Toddlers and preschoolers: Kids this age rarely struggle to get up in the morning – usually it’s us parents who struggle! All little ones need is a reminder of the morning routine, so have a few practice runs, when you aren’t time-stressed, so your kiddo can be in the zone before the first real drop-off.
  • Elementary schoolers: Head back to school wakeup time and bedtime, and use that early(ish) morning time to do some things your child actually wants to do. This will make motivating them out of bed easier.
  • Middle schoolers: Push wake up time an hour earlier than it has been during the summer, then an hour earlier. Do this until you are at least in the neighborhood of school wake up time. Go back to eating breakfast!
  • High schoolers: Make a plan this year for wake-ups. You should not be the human alarm clock. Be clear with your child about what you are and are not willing to do to help them get up in the morning and what the consequences will be if they don’t get up. (Remember, you want them to make their morning college classes someday without your help.)

Social Life

All the fun and relaxation of summer can disappear when a child contemplates the first day of school. And even when our kids aren’t nervous, we often are! Talking and strategizing can help, as long as we don’t project our anxiety onto our kids.

  • Toddlers and preschoolers: Most little ones have faith in their ability to make new friends, but first day of school is always easier with some familiar faces. So get a list of kids your child will be with this year and plan a couple of playground meet ups. If you can meet at the school’s playground, it will be even better!
  • Elementary schoolers: Don’t leave it all to chance. Encourage your kids to be pro-active about this. Often kids have no control over who will be in class together, but they can hang out with some friends (new or old) in the couple of weeks leading up to school so that first day doesn’t feel so much like jumping in.
  • Middle schoolers: Role play, by talking through the most common rough spots – such as finding a seat in math or that first encounter by the lockers. Not every tween or teen will do this, but it can be amazingly helpful to “know your lines” when confronted by someone who makes you really nervous.
  • High schoolers: Join a team or group. A unity of purpose or interest can help make new relationships a lot faster than standing with a lunch tray looking for somewhere to sit.


Cue the heavy music. Here are a few things that might help.

  • Toddlers and preschoolers: Rejoice, they don’t have any! Of course, if they have older sibs, they may ask for homework, but that is their teachers’ problem!
  • Elementary schoolers: Create the space. Where is your child going to do this homework? Get that space ready with a cubby, desk, bulletin board, wall calendar, whatever makes sense to him.
  • Middle schoolers: Plan ahead. Often the curriculum is available online, so suggest to your child that she get a head start by getting books a little early and reading a little ahead. That will mean more hanging out and a slightly less shocking work load the first week or so of school.
  • High schoolers: Write a contract. If you have patterns you want to avoid this year about homework, be clear now. Decide what is up to your child (timing of work, space, music, etc) and what is nonnegotiable (completion, grades, etc). Link your requirements to privileges your child wants (cell phone, friend time, extracurricular, whatever fits your philosophy). Write it down!

MMDG Debi Gilboa 2About the author: Parenting expert, Deborah Gilboa, M.D. aka “Doctor G” is a family physician, mom of 4, international speaker, author and TV personality. She developed the “3 R’s of Parenting” to empower parents to raise respectful, responsible, and resilient kids.Her book, Get the Behavior You Want, Without Being the Parent You Hate will be released September 10, 2014 and is available on Amazon.com. 


Halloween Safety Tips

October 22, 2013 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

by Mommy MD Guide Jennifer A. Gardner, MD

We want our little ghouls, ghosts, and goblins to have fun, but we also recognize that even simple pleasures like pumpkin carving and dressing up while roaming door-to-door pose some risk. These practical tips make it easy to plan ahead for safety to ensure the fun goes from here to November!

Dressing for Fun and Safety

  • Wigs, masks, large hats, and costumes that cover the face can impair vision. Avoid masks and opt for painting the face instead (look for nontoxic face paints).
  • Light-colored clothing has the best visibility, especially at night, but isn’t always practical. In this case, use strips of reflective tape (front and back) to increase visibility.
  • For extra visibility at night, have your child carry a flashlight or glow sticks (have extra) or wear a glow-in-the-dark necklace.
  • Consider using a brightly colored goodie bag. You can also put reflective tape here, but don’t make this the only thing that is visible as it could be lost.
  • Costumes that are baggy or too long can pose a tripping hazard. So do large shoes and high heels.
  • Any props kids carry, such as magical wands and fantastic swords, should be flexible and blunt. Remember, tripping is not uncommon when kids are hurrying along on sidewalks, so avoid anything that could cause an eye injury.
  • Look for flame retardant costumes. Jack-o-lanterns with candles inside can be an unintentional fire hazard.
  • Be sure your child has a costume that is an appropriate weight. Nothing ruins trick-or-treating fun like being too hot or cold.
  • For younger children, label the inside of the costume with your phone number.


Rules of the Road

  •  If your child will be trick or treating without you (generally safe around age 10), plan the route out in advance and set well-recognized limits surrounding busy roads or isolated stretches.
  • Provide clear guidelines on what time your child should return home.
  • Have your child carry a cell phone and be sure your child can call 911 for an emergency.
  • All kids should know their phone number in case of separation.
  • Only trick-or-treat on streets with sidewalks, and avoid busy roads altogether.
  • If possible, only trick-or-treat at homes in your own neighborhood.
  • Teach kids to cross the street only at crosswalks and to never assume that vehicles will stop at intersections or stop signs.
  • Teach kids not to enter a home to collect a treat.
  • Have children trick-or-treat (and stay) in groups. Remember, safety in numbers.
  • Kids (as always) should not talk to strangers, especially masked individuals.
  • If trick-or-treating at night, only trick-or-treat on well lit streets and only approach well lit homes.
  • Be sure your child will not be returning home alone. If this is the case, arrange to pick up at a friends.
  • Teach kids to throw away any candy that looks tampered with (unwrapped or opened, small holes, or a seal that looks glued).
  • Protect little ones from choking hazards like gum, hard candy, and popcorn. Do not allow children to walk with lollipops in their mouths. (As a pediatric ER doc, I have seen the dangers first hand.)


Careful Carving

Never allow children to handle a sharp knife. Even kids experienced with using knives will find it difficult to cut through pumpkins, and may exert too much pressure, resulting in injury.

  •  Instead, have them draw the shapes on the pumpkin and let a responsible adult do the carving.
  • If kids want to be more involved, allow them to remove the seeds and guts with a large spoon.
  • Once carved, use flameless (battery operated) candles for safer illumination.
  • You can also have them paint the pumpkins instead of carving them.

And Remember, Keep Kids Safe as They Approach Your Own Home!

  • To avoid trips and slips, remove rakes, hoses, children’s toys, bikes, or anything that might occlude the walkway.
  • Remove any wet, slippery leaves.
  • Make sure your house is well lit.
  • Keep pets way from trick-or-treaters (upstairs or in the back of the house). Even if pets are dressed for Halloween fun, many children may be scared or allergic. Remember, a costume could also frighten a normally friendly pet.
  • And of course, pets around candy is a bad idea. Chocolate can be fatal for doggies, so keep candy out of reach!

Dr. Gardner is a mom of a three-year-old son, a pediatrician, and the founder of an online child wellness and weight management company, HealthyKidsCompany.com, in Washington, DC.

Want to read more blogs by Mommy MD Guide Jennifer A. Gardner, MD? Here’s her recent blog about making sure your kids eat healthy meals at school.

Ants in the Pants or ADHD?

January 11, 2013 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

by Mommy MD Guides blogger Stacey Weiland, MD

My seven-year-old son, Andrew, is always on the go. He is up and dressed at 6:00 am every morning, even though school doesn’t start until 9:00. He rushes through his schoolwork and sometimes makes silly calculation errors on his math problems. He fidgets at dinner and rushes to play his new Wii game as soon as he’s excused from the table.

My husband, David, and I sometimes wonder if Andrew has “ants in his pants,” or could it be ADHD? I’ve asked Andrew’s teachers. Usually, their response begins with a sigh and a rolling of the eyes, followed by reassurances that he is “fine” and that he is “just a boy.”

I suppose I’m a bit oversensitive and may be overreacting just a little. But you see, Andrew’s older brother, Zachary, was recently diagnosed with ADHD. Believe it or not, it actually took the “experts” (a slew of psychologists, psychiatrists, and special-education teachers) about four years, and more than 50 tests, to come to this conclusion. The process was expensive, time-consuming, and stressful for all of us, and especially for Zachary.

After enduring this experience, I started looking into the scientific literature. I wanted to find out why it was so difficult to diagnose ADHD in our son. Some of the answers that I found were quite surprising.

ADHD, which stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is thought to be present in about 5 percent of kids and 10 percent of adults. There are actually three subtypes: a hyperactive subtype, an inattentive subtype, and a combined subtype.

The hyperactive ADHD subtype is the one that people always think of when they hear the term ADHD. These children are described as “fidgeters” who “can’t sit still.” They talk excessively, and interrupt others’ conversations or games. They can be reckless, have repeated injuries, and can be aggressive toward other children. Teachers notice these children because they’re disruptive in the classroom, and children complain about them because they’re bothered by them both in class and on the playground.

The inattentive ADHD subtype, in contrast, is often overlooked. These children sit quietly in class, don’t call out answers, and behave well. Unfortunately, these children still have major problems. They are forgetful and frequently lose their homework or articles of clothing. They are easily distracted by extraneous stimuli and fail to pay attention when instructions are given to them. They are disorganized and often avoid engaging in activities that are felt to be too difficult. They are criticized by teachers as being lazy or willful. Parents become frustrated when it appears as if their child just doesn’t seem to listen when spoken to.

Inattentive ADHD children (Zachary fits into this category), it turns out, are significantly more common than their hyperactive ADHD counterparts. Inattentive ADHD children are at just as much risk for academic and social difficulties, and possibly even more so, because they tend to be recognized later, if at all.

Another interesting feature of ADHD is that behaviors tend to change with time. Zachary, for example, was extremely forgetful in kindergarten. Nearly every other day, I would pick him up in the carpool line and discover that he was missing something. I would find a parking spot and run back into the classroom to retrieve his homework folder, or his backpack, or his lunchbox, or his coat. No amount of lecturing to Zachary or pleas or notes to his teacher seemed to make any difference.

As Zachary progressed into first grade, and then especially into second grade, his forgetfulness problem gradually disappeared. We thought maybe he’d grown out of it, and it was just some sort of maturity thing. However, in the ADHD child, when one difficult behavior disappears, another one always comes in to replace it.

As he got older, Zachary would freak out when it was time to do his homework. One page of math problems that should have taken two minutes would become a two-hour production. He refused to do simple chores around the house, such as making his bed, setting the table, and tidying up his room (things that his younger brother, Andrew, had no problem with).

Looking back, I now realize that there were signs pointing to Zachary’s differences even as a baby and a toddler. Many of these differences, I might never have noticed if I didn’t have two other children to compare him with.

Zachary slept way more than his brother and sister and was sometimes even difficult to rouse. Sleeping differences are common in ADHD children. Some have difficulty falling asleep, while others sleep excessively.

While he appeared just as intelligent as my other two children and developed language skills early, Zachary seemed slow to mature in other areas. Potty training took a full year longer than his siblings, and he had accidents in school and at night up until the third grade. Bedwetting has been documented as being significantly more common in children with ADHD, possibly related to an unusually deep sleep state.

Zachary didn’t respond to punishments or threats like my other two children and appeared to not even care about potential consequences. Ironically, Zachary always appeared to be a much easier child compared with his brother and sister. However, in contrast to Abby and Andrew who would yield in their behaviors with a little discipline, if Zachary did not want to do something, it was impossible to make him. This is also a classic behavior of ADHD children, who often are described as “good-natured except during outbursts.”

Taken individually, the behaviors I’ve described in Zachary, as well as a long list that I haven’t even mentioned, can be seen in all children. The difference in ADHD, however, is that these behaviors are excessive.

For a hyperactive ADHD child, for example:

…on the playground, his top speed is not greater than that of other children. What is so different about the ADHD child is that when he is requested to turn off his motor, he cannot do so for very long.”(Paul Wender, MD, a noted researcher and clinician in ADHD)

The excessiveness of behaviors in ADHD children negatively impacts their academic and social experiences and can lead to problems throughout life.

Unfortunately, there really is no one standardized test available to unequivocally make a diagnosis of ADHD (we should know).

Believe it or not, parents are actually the most qualified “experts” out there in figuring out if their child has ADHD. Parents spend the most time with their children and can notice subtle differences when compared with siblings and peers. Parents notice when certain behaviors are more extreme in their child or persist longer compared with others.

Parents can visualize the whole picture. They see not just individual behavior differences at one point in time, but a whole series of differences during the child’s development. And most important, parents are able to recognize whether the child’s behavior is negatively impacting his life.

My younger son, Andrew, for all of his activeness, is doing fabulously in school and has a wonderful group of friends. He’s quick to do his homework and rarely complains about his chores. His behaviors are really no more excessive than any of the other seven-year-old boys in his class, just like his teachers keep telling me. He does not have ADHD.

In contrast, while Andrew’s older brother, Zachary, may not ever have had ants in his pants, his forgetfulness and inattentiveness have had a significant impact on both his academic success and social interactions, despite a very high IQ.

If my husband and I had known what to look for, I feel sure that it would not have taken us four years and more than 50 tests to figure out that Zachary had ADHD.

ADHD is a difficult diagnosis to make. If you think your child is displaying some excessive behaviors, keep observing him. Compare him with your other children and his classmates. See if these behaviors are affecting his life. You are your child’s best advocate. Don’t be afraid to educate the experts if you have serious concerns.

What Are the Rates at the Bank of Mom and Dad?

October 17, 2011 by  
Filed under J.Bright

Lord knows, you can’t pick your parents. Fortunately, my husband and I were both very lucky, and we both have excellent parents. They taught us so much directly, and they also taught us so much by example.

When I was growing up, I remember so well my parents’ financial discipline. They never used credit cards. If they didn’t have the money for something, they simply didn’t buy it. They worked hard, and they saved up. To teach my sister and me about money, we got an allowance early on, we were encouraged to save money, and we were supported in getting jobs at early ages. My husband’s parents had a different approach: He didn’t get an allowance, but they paid him for doing extra jobs around the house.

Now that Tyler and Austin are six and four, my husband and I do a bit of each. Each week, our boys can earn an allowance. If they haven’t broken too many house rules that week, they earn $1. Each time they do something extra good, without being asked, such as if they pick up something someone dropped on the floor or do a kindness for each other, they earn a “bonus point.” For each five bonus points they earn in a week, they earn another $1.

Tyler and Austin also can pick up extra “jobs” around the house to earn a dollar, such as folding socks, running the little vacuum cleaner, and helping to empty the dishwasher. It’s true the “jobs” are mainly about trying hard and keeping me company, but they enjoy doing them to earn extra money.

Tyler and Austin are pretty much always saving up for something, such as a new Star Wars figure or toy.  Generally, they save up for it, and then they buy it. Otherwise, they can “put it on their wish list.” Occasionally, they see something they want and have a good reason to fear that if they don’t buy it now, it’ll be gone, such as if the store only has one left. If they don’t have the money, they can borrow from the “Bank of Mom and Dad.” We loan them the money to buy the item, and the item goes up on the fridge with a note of how much money they’ve borrowed. The key is, if they borrow from the Bank, they can’t spend any other money on anything until they’ve paid that money back!

All of this gives us tons of opportunities to practice math, “Let’s see, your Star Wars figure cost $12, and you have $10, how much more money do you need to earn?” It also is teaching them how hard you have to work, and sometimes how long you have to wait, to afford what you want. And it’s giving me lots of company folding the laundry and emptying the dishwasher.

It’s Okay to Believe

August 31, 2011 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

by Julie Davidson

The tooth fairy. Santa. St Nick. They’re all a big part of many kids’ lives. But sometimes I feel like a liar.

Think about it. We tell our kids they’re safe in our home. We have sturdy doors with strong locks. We install security systems. Yep. We’re all safe and no one can get in the house. Except the Tooth Fairy, Santa, and St Nick. It sounds kinda hypocritical.

And you have to know your stuff when it comes to these characters. Miles once asked me, “Does the Tooth Fairy have wings?” I said yes because I thought she was somehow related to Peter Pan. And Santa does watch you. And has a very strict budget (this one is really not a lie). Oh, and he’s cousins with St. Nick. I think. And they hang with Kris Kringle.

And at school they talk about the Blanket Fairy. My guess is that this is the one that takes away your baby blanket when you no longer need it. I’m waiting to be asked were they take all those blankets after they retrieve them.

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the Easter Bunny. This one baffles me the most. See, the bunnies in our backyard are small and on four legs. They don’t wear clothes. But the ones at the mall are like six and a half feet tall and standing on two legs. And they sport very snappy outfits. And why are they hiding eggs? They don’t even lay eggs. I’m thinking we should have an Easter Chicken.

The other day, Miles lost a tooth. He left his tooth under the pillow, and the next day he found a dollar under his pillow.

I was in his room right after he’d found the money. “Mom, did Dad put the money under my pillow?” Now is the time. Explain to him that the Tooth Fairy isn’t real, I thought. But as soon as I had that thought I felt sad.

I told him he could ask his Dad to find out. He just smiled and replied, “No. I’m pretty sure the Tooth Fairy is real.” Whew.

There’s something almost sacred about those childhood beliefs. It’s magical and mysterious. And they bring so much happiness to kids. How dare I bring an end to that? It will stop when it needs to. And that’ll be okay too because my son needs braces, and the Tooth Fairy will most certainly be contributing to that.

Fire Flies

August 2, 2011 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

by Julie Davidson

I’m not certain if it’s because of the heatwave, but I’ve noticed an abundance of fire flies around our yard this year. My youngest, Max, was out catching them a few nights back.

After he’d caught one, he proudly brought it over to me and explained, “They light up, and they look for girls at night. Did Daddy light up when he was looking for you?” I thought back to that David Sanborn concert 14 years ago. Well, he smiled a lot. That’s close to lighting up.

Max was looking at me, waiting for my answer. “Yeah. Daddy did light up for me. Why do you think the fire flies are looking for girls?” I asked, knowing this could be dangerous territory.

Miles, my oldest, very matter-of-factly answered before Max had a chance to. “They’re looking for someone to mate with.” Gulp.

Now I was curious. How much of this “mating” stuff did he understand? My mind panicked with ideas of stuff he might have heard on the street. Did he hear something at camp? Could the sitter have let them watch an R-rated movie? Instead of playing Angry Birds on my iPhone, was he looking at You Tube videos?

I was getting close to the edge now. “Do you know how babies are made?” But inside I was thinking, No! No! Don’t tell me. I can’t take it.

Clueless about my anguish over the situation, he continued, “Well you mix your DNA with Dad’s.” What? That’s it? It was like expecting to get a shot in my arm and instead I got a gentle pat. Yeah. DNA mixing. Kinda like making cookies. A little bit of this. A little bit of that. I like the sounds of that.

“You know, Mom, like you and Dad. First you gotta meet someone. Like maybe on the computer. Like the website Zoosk.” What the? I had no idea what he was talking about. Website? What is a Zoosk and how does he know about it? Maybe he meant Dr. Seuss. Now that I’m okay with. You know, Green Eggs and Ham, Fox and Sox, Oh the Places You’ll….

My Dr. Seuss moment was interrupted as the conversation continued. “When I’m older, I’m going on Zoosk to find a girlfriend.” And continued. “Can I get a girlfriend in high school if I show them to you? You know to make sure they are nice. Can I?”

Listen here, Zoosk. My kid is still a kid. He sleeps with his teddy bear. The only female allowed in his room besides me is the Tooth Fairy. His closet is filled with Legos. He hasn’t lost all his baby teeth yet. Santa trumps you any day. And he doesn’t need a girlfriend; he’s eight! Back off, you website thing…or whatever you are. Go back to wherever you came from! We’re going went back to catching fireflies. My husband can teach them how to light up for the ladies. He did just fine, if you ask me.

Lessons from the Royal Wedding

April 12, 2011 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

by guest blogger Jennifer Goldsmith Cerra

After months of breathless updates, the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton is two weeks away. As a Canadian living in the United States, I confess a certain fascination with all things royal, an interest not generally shared by my American friends. After all, I grew up with Prince William’s grandmother on my currency, so it’s probably to be expected that I obsessively follow that family’s comings and goings.

That’s great, you say, but what does this have to do with the Mommy MD Guides?

Good question.

In my royal wedding watch the other day, I read that according to “close friends of the couple” (are these people invited?), William and Kate won’t wait long before starting a family. If that’s true, they’ll be following in the tradition of William’s parents, Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales, who announced they were expecting him a mere four months after their July 1981 wedding. Where they’ll differ: Kate would be at least 30 before an heir to the throne arrived (she’s 29 now), and Diana was 20 when she got married (and almost 21 when William was born).

A whole decade. Kate will be a mom in her thirties, whereas Diana began her motherhood journey barely into her twenties.

What do those 10 years mean? Apparently, a lot of moms in their thirties wouldn’t have it any other way, even though older women face increases risks of pregnancy complications and other health issues. A cross-section of articles I’ve scanned lately recounts women who say that “age really does come before wisdom” when you’re an older mom. While acknowledging the decline in fertility that comes with each decade, women often write that “beyond laying the foundation for career fulfillment and a happy marriage, many women say delaying pregnancy until their thirties also meant the freedom to get to know themselves better, before taking on motherhood.”

Certainly Diana’s marital woes, which began right after the wedding and accelerated after William’s (and later, his brother, Harry’s) birth, affected her understanding of who she was. In the 1990s, a few years older than Kate is now, Diana was finally able to carve out an impressive niche for herself as a crusader for land mine safety, the homeless, and a host of other charities. Meanwhile, Kate has already held a number of jobs, and she is already making her presence known in philanthropic circles. Another key difference: the age gap between William’s parents and their relatively brief courtship, which both felt strained their relationship. William and Kate are the same age, and they’ve been dating for nine years. They seem to have created a strong partnership that would seem to bode well for a new Wales.

Diana and Kate. While they’ll never know and learn from each other, we can learn from them. As a mother, Diana’s skills were very much in evidence, and today her sons are the embodiment of her success.  As a very young mom, she was able to give her sons the foundation they needed for a happy life. Chances are, as an “older” mom, Kate will do exactly the same.

So, as William and Kate prepare to walk down the aisle, let’s tip our hat to mothers of all ages: women with different perspectives based on life experience. Ultimately we all have one thing in common: the love we have for our children.

What’s Your New Year’s Resolution?

January 17, 2011 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

Well it’s got to be an interesting sign that it’s taken me until January 16 to post about my New Year’s Resolutions! Maybe it’s a sign that I’m sticking with them! Or maybe it’s a sign that I’ve been too busy to even think much about them.

In any event, I thought it could only help to write about them. This year, I’m making two resolutions. The first is that every night after we finish eating and cleaning up, we have about an hour before my kids have a snack, watch a video, and go have a bath. That hour goes by so fast! And in time, it’s become time for me to race around the house, catching up on chores or even dash in here to check email. My days go by so quickly and because I work from home I feel like I spend a lot of time with my sons, I don’t feel like I get to spend a lot of time playing with them. They might be in the room when I’m checking email, or folding laundry, or cooking dinner, but that’s hardly the same thing as playing with them. And so I resolve to take back that precious hour as family time. No chores, no email. I will engage with and play with my kids!

My second resolution involves the 10 pounds that have crept on since I lost my pregnancy weight. I admit I hardly notice them. I feel so happy with my body having had kids, and the fat must be in a clever place because I still fit into my clothes! But my scale doesn’t lie. And so my second resolution is to lose those 10 pounds, by eating better and also by actually listening to the reminders that pop up on my computer each day at 10 am to “do situps,” at 1 pm to “do pushups” and at 3 pm to “do leglifts.” (You can take the girl out of the Army, but you can’t take the Army out of the girl.)

Here’s to your health and happiness!

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The information on MommyMDGuides.com is not intended to replace the diagnosis, treatment, and services of a physician. Always consult your physician or child care expert if you have any questions concerning your family's health. For severe or life-threatening conditions, seek immediate medical attention.