Grad Gifts

It’s that time of year where high school and college graduates nationwide are celebrating their achievements. And many of us are being sent party invitations and announcements in the hopes that we will help them celebrate (preferably with a generous cash gift). But, as Homer, at least according to Alexander Pope, put it: “In youth and beauty, wisdom is but rare!” So why not give a gift with a little wisdom already in place.  How about a gift that those graduates who feel invincible and are ready to conquer the world would rarely think of, something to keep them safe and/or healthy?

Here are some ideas:
1.    Food is essential.  Whether your grad is continuing on his/her educational path, job-hunting, or just getting back to full-time life, everybody needs to eat. So why not encourage some healthy meals with a gift certificate to an organic market (like Roots, David’s or MOMs), or a healthy or whole-foods restaurant (such as Great Sage or Mango Grove)?
2.    A cooking class might also be nice, especially for someone who is entering “the real world,” whatever that means. There are loads in the Maryland-DC area; you can Google around, try a community college, and Epitourian lists some.
3.    Your grad too busy to cook? Want to help cut-down on the calorie-compounding restaurant trips? Many pre-prepared meal places, such as Let’s Dish, Dream Dinners, and Supper Thyme USA, have gift options.
4.    Try an online vitamin store gift certificate. If you can’t feed em, at least you can give them some health ammunition.
5.    A pedometer might be an especially great gift for someone moving on to college.  It will be like earning health points for all the walking around campus a student has to do anyway.
6.    Sweats also make a for a great gift for the college-bound graduate. One can roll out of bed and right to class in them.  But maybe you’ll want to throw in a yoga DVD so that they get worn occasionally for their real purpose.
7.    A gift membership to a gym can also make a nice gift, but it can be a big commitment of money and time, so you may want to check with the intended recipient before making the splurge.
8.    If your grad is far away, consider a healthy gift basket. There are plenty of online places that deliver, or you could make your own and put it in the mail.
9.    Most grads are very techie these days. A gift certificate toward their smart phone or tablet might be treasured. How can this relate to health? There’s an app for that! Get online and peruse the many options like Superfood HD and Insight Timer.
10.    And even if there isn’t an app for that…yet..there is probably a book. You may want to consider a healthy cookbook (like Simply Ming One-Pot Meals: Quick, Healthy & Affordable Recipes), a book on leading a healthy lifestyle (like 52 Small Changes: One Year to a Happier, Healthier You), or even one on seeking proper health coverage (like HorizonHelp).  There are seemingly endless options in the world of books.

And of course, cash is still the most welcome of gifts.  You just may want to write a note encouraging the grad to put it toward something life-changing, like vegetables or health insurance.


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Get Active! Family Wellness Day 2012

The Annual Family Wellness Day (formerly known as Healthy Howard Day) is this Sunday, June 3rd from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Centennial Park. If you’ve been to this event in the past, you know what a terrific day this is for families and a great chance to Get Active!

This one-day showcase, which promotes physical activity and healthy lifestyles, will highlight the many activities and wellness resources available to our community. The annual free event is chock-full of fun things to do including games and demonstrations, wellness and health screenings, school showcases and competitions and much, much more.

Where else can you see our high school mascots square off in competition, or partake in a free Zumba class, sponsored by CA?  If you are curious about your blood pressure or body mass index (BMI), Howard County General Hospital will be there to give you the numbers. Always wanted to try a yoga class? Awaken Wellness is on hand to get you started. SAC soccer challenges, Doug Dellinger B-Ball shootouts, Fly fishing demonstrations and performances by the Kangaroo Kids are all on the schedule. If you still need to be convinced about how fun this day is- check out the photos from last year.

The best and biggest event of the day is new this year, and if you read our Well & Wise blog post last week about A Heart Stopping Event, you’ll want to participate. The Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS), in support of its goal to train all Howard County residents in “Hands Only CPR”, will be teaching this new technique throughout the day. Then, at 12:30 p.m. HCDFRS – with the help of 20 CPR dummies- will engage participants in the first ever 30-minute rotating “Pump-A-Thon” challenge. HCDFRS will need a lot of hands on deck to keep those dummies going for 30 minutes!  Plan to lend a hand- or actually two- for this challenge which is sure to keep everyone’s heart rate in the aerobic zone!

I hope to see you there!


About Hands-Only CPR– Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is the sudden, unexpected loss of heart function, breathing and consciousness that kills approximately 250,000 people a year in the United States. Bystander CPR- after a witnessed collapse is the best chance of survival. A staggering 88% of these arrests happen at home or in the workplace, which means the chances of you knowing the victim are highly likely. With the advancements in medical technology, the American Heart Association devised a new method of cardiopulmonary resuscitation called “Hands-Only CPR”. This fast and easy-to-learn method of CPR does not require mouth-to-mouth or rescue breaths and is giving more people than before an opportunity to learn to save lives two hands at a time. The Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services have adopted this new method from the AHA with the goal of training everyone in CPR who lives and works in the county. HCDFRS is asking you to be the first responders in saving a life by having a basic knowledge of CPR and knowing what to do if you witness an arrest. Remember, SCA happens mainly at home or at work so having everyone in that environment familiar with CPR increases the chances of survival.

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Zumba Under the Stars!

Last summer, I decided it was time to start taking group classes for fitness. (I was getting tired of hopping around to outdated videos down in the basement of my house.) As a recent transplant to Columbia, meeting new people was important to me, too, and meeting people through fitness seemed like a good idea.

I decided to try Zumba®. It sounded fun! I had no idea what to expect of the class. Would everyone else look like a model and dance like a professional dancer? I hoped not. That doesn’t describe me! I was still overweight, not very fit and definitely not a natural dancer. I was nervous, but I went anyway.

In that first class, I remember going to the back of the class to hide. And, of course, I was looking around to see if I was out of place or not. What I discovered was that there were all shapes, sizes and ages of people in class. No one look like a professional dancer either. I began to relax. It looked like it was going to be fun!

Then this bundle of energy of an instructor came in, introduced herself and started the music. I was hooked. The music was lively, the instructor was energetic, spirited and easy to follow, and most importantly, the class was a blast, not a chore. To me, that is key – exercise should be enjoyable. If you enjoy it, you’re likely to keep doing it and if you want to be healthy and get fit, you need to exercise consistently.

Zumba Under the Stars

That is why I am so excited about the Columbia Association’s (CA) Zumba Under the Stars, 40 minutes of outdoor Zumba followed by an Aqua Zumba class in the heated outdoor pool at the Swansfield Mini Water Park. It is being offered on three summer dates — June 3, July 15 and August 12 — from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Admission is $10 for CA Package Plan Plus members; $12 for Club members; and $14 for non-members. Registration is available at the Columbia Athletic Club by calling 410-730-6744. Participants who register at least 24 hours in advance of the event will receive a $2 discount.


Want to know more? Check out this video with Megan Cooperman about Zumba through the Columbia Association. It is a great introductory video:



Melissa Sinclair works in the Communications & Engagement Division at the Columbia Association (CA). Melissa recently moved to Columbia with her three-generation family. She has lived in more than a dozen cities in her lifetime and is looking forward to making Columbia, Md., her permanent home! Over the past year she has worked on losing weight, getting fit and doing volunteer work; she is now looking forward to working for CA after staying home with her family for the last several years. Melissa has a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and a Master’s degree in Educational Administration.

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The First Thing to Go

by Angie Engles

Total Memory Makeover by Marilu Henner is not, as the New York Journal of Books writes, “going to teach you how to memorize the order of the cards in a deck, or long sequences of pi. It is not a book about improving one’s memorization skills, however helpful that might or might not be. Instead, this is a book about reclaiming what, in many cases, has been lost—the individual’s ability to recall the details of his or her own life.”

Henner writes of the secrets and benefits of having a great autobiographical memory and how having one that is reliable has helped her in countless situations. Readers will discover how to make their memory work best for them, from having the right attitude about life and developing a healthy mindset about the past, to building a “track” of sorts that allows easier access to memories, both old and more recent.

Having appeared on 60 Minutes and been interviewed by Huffington Post, the former Taxi star says: “And it [memory] was not just about touching down on a fleeting image or a feeling from the past, but rather going deeper and deeper into memories and specific moments, exploring my past thoughts through the lens of the present.” She is one of only a handful of people in the entire world who can pretty much remember everything that has ever happened to her. That sounds both amazing and kind of frightening, too.

I’m pleasantly surprised to find that there is not just a lot of personal experience woven into Marilu Henner’s book, but helpful factual tidbits about different kinds of memory, how to improve it and how even though we think we’ve forgotten the seemingly little things that have happened, they still shape our lives and are always somehow with us, often holding us back because we cannot let go of the things that have hurt us. Henner is here to tell us that even bad memories can be used to jump start our lives again with inspiration and motivation.

Marilu Henner promises she will leave her readers with tricks to retrieve long-forgotten memories and how to turn bad experiences into life lessons. Oddly enough, I’m reading a fiction book, The Street Sweeper by Elliot Perlman, right now that just happens to deal with memory, and one of my favorite quotes from it is: “If you can manage not to hate yourself, then it won’t hurt to remember almost anything: your childhood, your parents, what you’ve done or what’s been done to you.”

Angie Engles has been with the Howard County Library System for 17 years, 14 of which were at the Savage Branch. She currently works at the Central Branch primarily in the Fiction and Audio-visual departments. Her interests include music, books, and old movies.


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Upcoming Classes to Make You Well & Wise

2012 CalendarMay 25 and every Friday through October, 2:00-6:00 p.m. HCGH Farmer’s Market.  Come and pick out some fresh fruits and veggies from our Farmer’s Market.  Did you know that the products at HCGH are 100% Howard County grown or produced?

May 30, 6:30pm. Invitation To The Ballet With Misako Ballet. A concert at the Miller branch featuring ballet with Japanese and classical themes and contemporary dances. Includes an opportunity for children to learn and perform a short piece. All ages; 30 – 40 min. No registration required.

May 31, 7:00pm. Calling All Volunteers. 
Helping others is good for you! Learn how you can help at the Savage Branch. Make reading fun for kids and earn service learning hours. Volunteers assist HCLS instructors with the summer reading club and other tasks. To register for this orientation session, submit a volunteer application to the teen instructor at the branch where you would like to volunteer. Accepted applicants will be contacted to confirm registration. Register by calling 410.880.5980.

May 31, 7:00-8:00 p.m. Shoulder Wear and Tear: What Can Be Done About It?   Join Johns Hopkins shoulder specialist, Dr. Uma Srikumaran for a discussion about wear and tear of the shoulder and conditions that commonly affect the shoulder such as arthritis and rotator cuff disease. Review symptoms, surgical and nonsurgical treatment options and what to expect from treatment.  Admission is free, but registration is required.

June 1, 5:00-9:00 p.m. First Friday in Historic Ellicott City.  Bring your friends and family to town for a fun filled night of free live music, sales, specials and surprises. For info: 410-465-6400

June 2, 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Fitness & Sports Medicine ClinicJoin Howard County General Hospital: Johns Hopkins Medicine at Center Court at the Mall in Columbia.  Talk to physicians and sports medicine specialists, participate in screenings and learn fitness tips and ways to incorporate movement into your life.  Screenings include blood pressure, ankle/foot, knee, shoulder, pain management, Body Mass Index (BMI), pulmonary function and more.  Seminars include information on nutrition, MRSA prevention and smoking cessation.

June 2, 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Summer Reading Kickoff. How do you keep them reading and thinking this summer when school’s out? Encourage them to win prizes for reading or listening to books, magazines, or newspapers, when they join Howard County Library System’s summer reading club. Kick off summer reading on Saturday, June 2 at Miller Branch. Sign up for a summer reading club and participate in a day of fun including children’s stories, face painting, crafts, and activities for children, teens, and adults. Library staff will be on hand to recommend great books for teens and adults.

June 3, 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. Family Wellness Day. A fun free event for the whole family brought to you by Get Active Howard County!  Events include exercise classes, exhibits and demonstrations.  Wellness screenings by Howard County General Hospital.  Check out the whole schedule or the event flyer!

June 9, 8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. HCLS 5K and Family Fun Run. Lace up your sneakers and bring your family, friends, and neighbors to the 5K and Family Fun Run benefiting the Library.  The course begins and ends at East Columbia Branch. For more informaiton read this great blog post!  Don’t forget to Register online.

June 10, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.  Second Sunday Market at the Courtyards at Tonge Row in Historic Ellicott City – just off 8267 Main Street.  Fresh produce and baked breads and cheeses and much more. Call 410-465-5995 for more information.

June 12, 7:00-8:30 p.m. From Medications to Fall Prevention: What You Should Know About Elder Safety.  Join us for this informative session geared towards caregivers.  Knowledge is the key in decision-making. Elder safety is focused on four areas; Medication management, mobility, nutrition and medical care. Learn about this and more from our experts, Dr. Anirudh Sridharan and Francie Black, RN, CRNP.

June 15-30Columbia Festival of the Arts. An annual celebration of the arts in a broad spectrum of art forms and cultures, encouraging interaction among artists and audiences. Free opening weekend at Columbia Lakefront.

June 16, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.WomenFest. Howard County’s Department of Citizen Services, Office on Aging is pleased to present the 4th annual WomenFest, a wellness event for women.  WomenFest is an interactive day that focuses on health and wellness and is designed to inspire women to live balanced, healthier and fuller lives. This event will feature health screenings, demonstrations, workshops, seminars and more.  Admission is free.  Gary J. Arthur Community Center, 2400 Rt. 97, Cooksville.  For more information contact the Office on Aging at 410 313-6410.

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Running for Your Life

Have you heard the one about the two hikers who spot a bear rushing them.  As they flee for their lives, the one says: “We’ll never outrun that bear.”

His cohort replies: “I only have to outrun you.” Though self-preservation may be the most essential motive for running, running can be a life-saver even without a bear giving chase.

Obviously, one of the main benefits is the exercise factor. No one can deny that exercise is essential.  We are told over and over again that diet and exercise go hand-in-hand, and  both are necessary for maintaining a healthy life. According to Women’s Health Magazine, running blasts more calories than your average fitness equipment and provides a super cardio workout.  So you are keeping the weight off and making the heart strong all in one fell swoop.

MedicineNet adds that running can also prevent or reduce the risk of certain health problems.  Running has been shown to help lower cholesterol AND blood pressure, as well as help stave off osteoporosis and some types of arthritis.

Some sources suggest running can increase stamina and reduce stress and make you happier. Running can also provide a social outlet, and it is usually a low-cost activity.

And, running is hot. Celebrities run, politicians run, models and star athletes run. And you and I can without having to be rich or famous. And it never goes out of style.

HCLS is continually getting new books on  running and its many related topics.  Here are a few recent additions:

Running with the Kenyans: Passion, Adventure, and the Secrets of the Fastest People on Earth by Adharanand Finn

Chi-Marathon: The Breakthrough Natural Running Program for a Pain-Free Half-Marathon and Marathon by Danny Dreyer

14 Minutes: A Running Legend’s Life Death and Life by Alberto Salazar

All that being said, why not put it into practice on Saturday, June 9 for the HCLS 5K and Family Fun Run! The race begins at 8 am. Here’s everything you ever wanted and needed to know about the race and then some:

How much is the entry fee?
     $25 adults – in advance, 
$30 adults – after June 5, $10 children under 10 – in advance
, $15 children under 10 – after June 5

Registration fees are non-transferable and non-refundable. The first 350 people to register receive a T-shirt.

How do I register?     
Online – Register online at Online registration closes June 5 at 7 pm.
In person – Register during the advance packet pickups June 7 from 3 – 7 pm at the East Columbia Branch  or June 8 from 12 to 7 pm at Feet First (6420 Freetown Road, Columbia).
Event day – Registration and packet pickup begin at 6:30 am and end at 7:45 am the morning of the event.

When and where can I get my T-shirt, number, and packet?

Can I run with a team?     
Groups are encouraged to run as a team. The largest registered team will win an award. Each team member must register separately.

What is the course route?
     5K: Runners begin in the East Columbia Branch parking lot, turn right out of the driveway and run on Cradlerock Way until just past Homespun Drive. Runners then cross Cradlerock and run down Columbia Association pathway to Lake Elkhorn. Runners run along the north side of the lake, cross under Cradlerock Way, get back onto Cradlerock Way, turn right on Broken Land Parkway, right on Cradlerock Way, and right into the East Columbia Branch entrance.

Fun Run: Fun run participants begin in the East Columbia Branch parking lot, turn right out of the driveway, and walk on the sidewalk around Cradlerock Way. Fun run participants then turn right onto the sidewalk along Broken Land Parkway then back to Cradlerock Way. The Fun Run course ends at the East Columbia Branch.

Do I get a T-shirt?     
T-shirts are available for the first 350 participants (one shirt per participant). Additional shirts available for purchase at $10 each with advance registration. Shirts will not be held or mailed.

What can I win?     
Top three overall finishers (male/female) receive a $100 gift certificate to Feet First. Prizes awarded to top three finishers (male/female) in each age category: 15 and under, 16-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, and 60+.

What if it rains?
     The event will be held rain or shine. If unsafe conditions exist (e.g., lightning), the event will be canceled and the fees donated to Howard County Library System.

Can I bring a stroller and/or my dog?     
For safety reasons, strollers, headphones, skates, bicycles, scooters, and pets are not allowed on the 5K course.

While strollers are allowed on the Fun Run course, they must stay on the sidewalk.

Where does the money go?     
All proceeds benefit Howard County Library System’s educational initiatives.

What happens after I finish?     
Fit for Life’s Brenda von Rautenkranz will lead warm-up aerobics beginning at 7:45 am. After the race, visit exhibitors and enjoy refreshments, chances to win door prizes, and the awards ceremony. Courtesy of the Columbia Association, participate in 15-minute Zumba classes at 8:10 at 8:45 am.

Thank you to all of our sponsors! Special thanks to AllCare of Maryland for providing EMT services.

Questions? Call 410.313.7750.


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A Heart Stopping Event


National Emergency Medical Services Week

Twenty-four years ago this week I was a recovering new mom. My two year-old lay sleeping soundly in his big boy bed, having vacated the crib for his new little sister. My one week-old little girl was also asleep and tucked into her infant seat. I sat nearby writing notes on pretty pink stationary announcing her recent arrival.  It was a rare moment of quiet and serenity in the infant and toddler period of my life.


My baby girl.

Too quiet. Suddenly I realized that my baby girl was no longer breathing and was, in fact, turning blue. I moved quickly to her, unfastened her from the seat, and lifted her up and out but still she did not breathe. Afraid, but calm, I began to assess her situation: I checked her color,  listened closely for breathing, and felt for a pulse… but as the panic began to edge out the calm I took the critical life-saving step of calling 9-1-1.

The voice on the other end was firm and spoke deliberately. She gathered my name, my address, age of the infant… I heard her dispatching the ambulance, all while walking me steadily through the drill- the one I knew, but had trouble recalling at the very moment I needed it most. No breathing, no pulse, no movement. Gentle shakes and taps, lay the baby prone on the floor (hard surface), 30 two-finger compressions, open the airway… and then… a little squeak, a little gasp and a cry. The relief that washed over me is one that I have rarely felt since.

A sudden loud banging on the door roused me from the floor and baby on one arm and 9-1-1 operator still in hand I went to the door expecting the ambulance, though barely 3 minutes had passed. Instead, standing in the doorway was an off-duty EMT in shorts and t-shirt and grass stained shoes with his own toddler under one arm and a 2-way radio in his other hand. My angel, my rescuer, my neighbor- who had heard the call and knew he was closer than the ambulance. I said the first thing that came to my mind…   “Here- let me take your child and you can have mine… mine seems to be broken.”

He waited with me till the ambulance came and helped me call a neighbor for my still sleeping two year-old. The EMTs that quickly arrived were thorough and reassuring as they prepped the Emergency Room at Howard County General Hospital for our arrival.  The rest of the story is blissfully dull. Baby Girl relied on a monitor that alarmed if she failed to breathe or if her heart stopped again. Wires and patches and midnight klaxons were oddly comforting until she outgrew the need for drama at about six months of age.


Still my baby girl.

We are fortunate in Howard County to have phenomenal emergency services in place and last week what we’ve known all along became national news when the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue (HCDFR) received the annual Heart Safe Community Award from the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC). Our department was selected for many reasons including partnering with Howard County General Hospital to produce a STEMI (ST Elevated Myocardial Infarction) program to minimize heart damage for patients.  But the award winning reason that resonated with me personally was HCDFR’s innovative new community program in Bystander CPR which seeks to train all Howard County residents and employees in Hands-Only CPR. For more information about the award check out this Columbia Patch article.

Bottom line? Every one of us needs to be trained.  No excuses.

Where is that sweet, vulnerable baby girl now? She still breathes. In fact, she breathes fire, tends bar and waits tables in Colorado- and- in her spare time- she is a referee with the Women’s Professional Roller Derby League. She’s still a heart stopper- but of a whole different kind.


CPR Classes In Your Community


Mary Catherine Cochran is a big believer in communications and the critical role that it plays in community building.  (Although she is still adjusting to doing it in 140 characters or less!) When she isn’t busy truncating the message, she works as a Senior Communications Project Manager at Howard County General Hospital: Johns Hopkins Medicine where, among other things, she manages and writes for the Well & Wise blog.

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Biking: It Does A Body Good

Benefits of Bike Riding

According to a Healthy Women article, people can achieve the same cardiovascular benefits from cycling that they get from any other form of aerobic exercise like walking, jogging or dancing. Bike riding strengthens your thighs, hips and rear end; and including hills to your course adds strength to your arms and upper body. Cycling is gentle on your joints and helps preserve cartilage. Biking can also aid in weight management and heart health. Last, but definitely not least, cycling and exercise in general can be highly beneficial in reducing your risk for Type 2 diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control, “Interventions to prevent or delay Type 2 diabetes in individuals with pre-diabetes can be feasible and cost-effective. Research has found that lifestyle interventions are more cost-effective than medications. That’s a good reason to get moving.

Connecting Columbia

For me, one of the most amazing things about moving to Columbia was the bike paths. They connected us to schools, tot lots, village centers, churches and the mall! The biking/walking paths are still a wonderful asset of Columbia and the Columbia Association (CA) is planning improvements to the pathways through Connecting Columbia, a project to create an Active Transportation Action Agenda to create a more interconnected and extensive bicycling and walking path system for health, recreation and transportation purposes.

On May 23, please join CA and consultants from the Toole Design Group (the consultants hired for the project) at 7pm for a Connecting Columbia public meeting at the Other Barn (5851 Robert Oliver Place in Columbia). Registration is appreciated, but not required. If you have any questions, please contact Scott Templin at 410-715-3166 or



Anita Baxter is a group fitness instructor who teaches belly dancing for the Columbia Association fitness facilities. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in social and community service.

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by Barbara Cornell

I am so glad the Howard County Farmers’ Markets have opened!  Now I’ll be able to pick up some fresh growing things that I haven’t had the time or inclination to grow in my own garden.

Some of us make an assumption that a vendor at the Farmers’ Market is selling organic produce.  Let’s clear up the issue if we can.  Howard County Farmers’ Market rules state that “All products sold at the market must be grown or produced by the entity to whom the space has been assigned” so we know the produce is “local.”  But is it organic?  The Farmers’ Market rules also state that vendors may not use the term “organic” unless they are certified by the Maryland Department of Agriculture as “Organic.”  This certification can be expensive and time-consuming for a small farmer.  It is a good thing to be able to talk with our local Farmers’ Market vendors and ask about their practices and whether they use pesticides.  Based on conversations with them, you may decide they farm the way you like and this may mean more to you than actual “organic” certification.

This year I have decided to learn more about herbs and how to make the best use of them in my kitchen.  This will mean buying plants to grow as well as perhaps buying fresh-cut herbs.  And this will mean studying up on the subject at the library!

Howard County Library System has many great titles on herbs including a few from our good friend and herbalist Susan Belsinger such as The Creative Herbal Home, which she and Tina Marie Wilcox wrote in 2007.  They teach us how you can use herbs for much more than seasoning your food, such as sunburn soothers, insect repellents, and essential oil spritzers.  I also like Susan’s Not Just Desserts: Sweet Herbal Recipes.  Scones can be completely transformed with a few snips of fresh lemon scented herbs!

Jerry Traunfeld gives us The Herbal Kitchen: Cooking with Fragrance and Flavor, 2005.  The photographs in this book will have you swooning!  And his creative uses of all kinds of garden herbs make me think: “I wish I had thought of using herbs in that.”  He even includes “Good dog, bad dog biscuits”–the recipe makes 2 to 4 dozen for a good dog, or one “helping” for a big bad dog.

The Complete Herb Book by Jekka McVicar, 2008, seems to be exactly what it claims to be—complete.  McVicar’s 30 years of experience with her own commercial herb farm in South Gloucestershire give her an air of expertise born of firsthand knowledge.  In her 250-page “A to Z” section (by botanical name), McVicar gives information on cultivation, harvesting, and uses—culinary and otherwise.  Here is where you will find her few recipes.  She follows this with sections on general details of herb growing, including layout plans for 8 different types of herb gardens such as an aromatherapy garden and a natural dye garden.

Homegrown Herbs: a Complete Guide to Growing, Using, and Enjoying More than 100 Herbs by  Tammi Hartung, 2011, is another “complete” book but arranged in quite a different way.  Also an  herbalist with years of  professional experience, Hartung encourages us to “think a bit more like a plant and less like a person” as we care for our herbs.  After covering garden layouts such as a “chef’s retreat” and “Mr. MacGregor’s vegetable & herb patch,”  she covers soil needs, propagation, pest control & harvesting.  Her section on cooking with herbs includes a chart of edible flowers and reminds us there are many garden “weeds” we can use as food.  I especially like Hartung’s use of charts throughout the book, in which she gives us, in her various chapters, the plant characteristics, habitat preferences, propagation needs, harvesting guidelines, and other information for each herb. Chapter 10 covers “Herb Personalities” with thorough profiles and photos of the herbs we have seen in her charts.

This summer I will again present Farmers’ Market Chef classes at Howard County Library System’s Glenwood Branch one Saturday a month through September.  For the first session, June 16, I will actually be helping at an information table at Womenfest at the Gary J. Arthur Community Center next to the Glenwood Library from 10 a.m. to noon.  You can count on a few great books to sample as well as some herbs to sniff and sample!

Barbara Cornell joined the Howard County Library System in 1993 as Assistant Branch Manager at the new Elkridge Branch.

Since 2000 she has enjoyed a shorter commute to the Glenwood Branch.


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Upcoming Classes and Events to Make You Well & Wise!

2012 CalendarMay 18-25, Various Times and Branches. Calling All Volunteers.
 Helping others is good for you! Make reading fun for kids and earn service learning hours. Volunteers assist HCLS instructors with the summer reading club and other tasks. To register for this orientation session, submit a volunteer application to the teen instructor at the branch where you would like to volunteer. Accepted applicants will be contacted to confirm registration. 
Contact the specific Branch for the training session you are interested in to register.

May 19, 1:00pm.2012 Refresh Fest: A Health, Style, And Education Expo. Excited about the summer? Would you like to end the school year on a high note and prepare for next year? Join us at the Savage Branch for tips and tricks for studying, staying fit, feeling your best, and making the most of your time and opportunities. No registration required.

May 19, 1:30-2:30pm. Textures & Scents Of Plants. Join Master Gardener Anne Roy at the Miller Branch as she discusses plants that smell good; feel fuzzy, soft, or scratchy; and look pretty or interesting. Go into the garden to touch, see, and smell many of the plants. Ages 5-8. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.

May 19, 3:00-4:00pm. Herbal Apothecary. Join Master Gardener Anne Roy at the Miller Branch for a brief look at plants and their uses for medicines, perfumes, cooking, and flavorings. Go into the garden to touch, see, and smell many of the plants. Ages 9-12. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.

May 20, 2:00- 4:00 p.mRiver Watch Monitoring Event. Join the Robinson Nature Center for an afternoon in which you and your family can discover the wonders of the Middle Patuxent River and watershed. participants will help monitor the Patuxent by testing for chemicals and catching bugs and fish.  Enjoy a walk along the river.  Dress appropriately for the water; water, nets and equipment will be provided. Registration is required!  For more information call 410-313-0425

May 21, 10:15 &11:15am. Twist And Shout. Music and movement at the Elkridge Branch for little ones. Ages infant – age 4. No registration required.

May 21, 3:30-5:30pm. Blood Pressure Screening. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring at the Glenwood Branch offered by Howard County General Hospital. 1St & 3rd  Mondays. No registration required.

May 22, 10:30-11:00am. Mini Milestones. Prepare your toddler to learn manners, succeed with toilet training, and overcome separation anxiety through literature, songs, and activities at the Glenwood Branch. Ages 18-36 months with adult. Register online or by calling 410.313.5579.

May 22, 10:30-11:00am.  Just For Me. A Class at the Glenwood Branch for children ages 3-5 who are ready for an independent class that includes creative expression, listening comprehension, and early reading skills. Register online or by calling 410.313.5579.

May 22, 11:00pm. Herbal Apothecary. Anne Roy comes to the Miller Branch to present an overview of the historical use of plants with medical applications and other cultural uses. Discover books that explain the use of herbal plants for healing, perfume making, and cooking. During the class, you are welcome to discuss your own culture’s culinary use of herbs and spices. University of Maryland Extension – Howard County Master Gardener. This class concludes with a tour of the new herb and apothecary garden area Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.

May 22,12:30pm. Multi-sensory PlantsAnne Roy comes to the Miller Branch to discuss ways to enjoy a garden through smell, touch, and sight. University of Maryland Extension – Howard County Master Gardener. This class concludes with a tour of the new multisensory and herbal garden area. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.

May 22, 7:00pm. Guided Meditation In The Enchanted Garden. Led by Star Ferguson, licensed acupuncturist, at the Miller Branch.  Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.



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Do You Know Where Your Grandparents/Parents/Elderly Neighbors Are?

Just as we thought.  Don’t feel bad; you are not the only one who hasn’t been thinking too much about the older people in your life. In fact, we’re more than halfway through the month of May and we’ve heard nary a mention of the fact that it is Older Americans Month. That’s right, since 1963 there’s been a month dedicated to showing our nation’s commitment to recognizing the contributions and achievements of older Americans.”  Pretty cool, huh? And this year’s theme is “Never Too Old To Play”–the idea being to encourage “older Americans to stay engaged, active, and involved in their own lives and in their communities. ” We’re all for that! But how?

The U.S. Administration On Aging offers plenty of resources to make play possible for the older Americans in your community, even offering a downloadable activity guide. Of course Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine gives you access to many valuable resources for older Americans, as do the Howard County Government and the Maryland Department of Aging.

And the Howard County Library System is continually growing the collection available for and about older citizens.  Here are just a few of the more recent additions:
Life’s Little Emergencies: A Handbook for Active Independent Seniors and Caregivers by Rod Brouhard
Rethinking Aging: Growing Old and Living Well in an Overtreated Society by Nortin M. Hadler
The Big Book of Health and Fitness: A Practical Guide to Diet, Exercise, Healthy Aging, Illness Prevention, And Sexual Well-Being by Philip Maffetone
Social Networking for Seniors: In Easy Steps for the Over 50s by Anne Sparrowhawk

Listen, Sonny, we’re not trying to give you a guilt trip. We just want to remind you that older Americans should not be ignored or forgotten. The U.S. Census reported the population of Americans 65+ was 39.6 million in 2009 and is projected to be around 88.5 million in 2050. And the fact is none of us is getting any younger.  But, if next May, you find that you remember it’s Older American Months, then maybe you’re doing pretty good.


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New Study Shows Simple Task at Six Months of Age May Predict Risk of Autism

Kennedy Krieger reports that an early screening for motor development might be an indicator for autism spectrum disorder.

“A new prospective study of six-month-old infants at high genetic risk for autism identified weak head and neck control as a red flag for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and language and/or social developmental delays. Researchers at the Kennedy Krieger Institute concluded that a simple “pull-to-sit” task could be added to existing developmental screenings at pediatric well visits to improve early detection of developmental delays.

“Research aimed at improving early detection of autism has largely focused on measurement of social and communication development,” said Dr. Rebecca Landa, study author and director of the Center for Autism and Related Disorders at Kennedy Krieger Institute. “However, disruption in early motor development may also provide important clues about developmental disorders such as autism.””

Kennedy Kreiger Video demonstrating head lag:

For more information and to read the entire news article- visit the Kennedy Krieger website.

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… And Healthy Howard County is No Exception

Childhood Obesity Over Time

Childhood Obesity Over Time

On Monday morning in the Howard County Pediatric emergency room, my first patient is a 15 year old girl with high blood pressure who  has pain in her knees when she walks; she weighs 230 pounds. The next patient is a 10 year old boy who weighs 180 pounds having an asthma attack.  A little later I see a 13 year old boy who weighs over 260 pounds: he has skipped 40 days of school this year and refuses to go today because he is being picked on.

These are all nice children who live in Howard County, they have caring and concerned parents, but they are obese. Before I can ponder this too much, the nurse asks me to see an 8 year old girl who weighs 175 pounds with an MRSA infection. When I enter the room the mother has a crumpled Twinkie wrapper, and an empty bag of Doritos in her lap; she uses the half eaten Snickers bar in her hand as a pointer and asks me if they will be finished in time for lunch. The girl is on the exam table and next to her are two empty candy wrappers and her hands are clutching a bag of chips.

These patients are all being seen in Howard County General Hospital’s pediatric emergency room, not an obesity clinic. Some of these children are already having complications from their obesity. The girl with the knee pain tells me she has been walking 2 to 3 miles a day to lose weight.  The 13 year old boy says that he has attempted dieting for years and is finished going on diets.  The parents of the 10 year old  have “tried and tried” but are now waiting for him to “grow into his weight.”

These patients all tell me how difficult it is to get their weight under control. It is hard partly because exercise, while a great start, won’t do the job all by itself. For example the 15 year old will barely burn off one Snickers bar for every 40 minutes of walking. The 8 year old has an even more difficult task; she would have to a run a 10-K every day just to burn the calories from her morning snack (neither the 10-K nor the snack are recommended). In addition, as the children said, diets are tough to stick to. The easily available foods are loaded with calories and because they have very few nutrients like vitamins and minerals, they don’t really satisfy our bodies needs… so we end up eating more of them and getting way more calories than we need. We store these extra calories as fat.

To put this calorie/nutrition imbalance in perspective: a child could eat 2 bags of Doritos, a Snickers bar, an extra large soda and a helping of French fries and still not get the vitamins she would obtain from a single banana. Sadly, obtaining all that junk food can be easier than getting one piece of fruit.  The junk food would add 30 extra pounds a year to the child’s waist line, and as one of the parents commented, she would still be hungry.

While there is no easy fix, the recent guidelines issued by the Institute of Medicine try to make healthy choices part of our everyday lifestyle. The guidelines are:

  • Integrate physical activity every day in every way
  • Market what matters for a healthy life
  • Make healthy foods and beverages available everywhere
  • Activate employers and health care professionals
  • Strengthen schools as the heart of health

We need to start now or our children are going to grow up obese with serious medical problems.


David Monroe, M.D., is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University and has served as the Director of the Children’s Care Center at Howard County General Hospital since 1996. He has been a member of the National Health Services Corps, providing pediatric care to underserved children, and a member of the executive committee of PECARN, a national pediatric emergency care research network. He has lived in Columbia for more than 20 years and enjoys the challenges and rewards of caring for children.



Is Your Child Overweight? Body mass index (BMI) uses height and weight measurements to estimate how much body fat a person has. To calculate BMI, use the CDC BMI calculator for children and teens. Once you know your child’s BMI, it can be plotted on a standard BMI chart. Kids fall into one of four categories: underweight:

    • BMI below the 5th percentile normal weight
    • BMI at the 5th and less than the 85th percentile overweight
    • BMI at the 85th and below 95th percentiles obese
    • BMI at or above 95th percentile

BMI is not a perfect measure of body fat and can be misleading in some situations. For example, a muscular person may have a high BMI without being overweight (because extra muscle adds to a body weight — but not fatness). In addition, BMI may be difficult to interpret during puberty when kids are experiencing periods of rapid growth. It’s important to remember that BMI is usually a good indicator — but is not a direct measurement — of body fat. If you’re worried that your child or teen may be overweight, make an appointment with your doctor, who can assess eating and activity habits and make suggestions on how to make positive changes. The doctor may also decide to screen for some of the medical conditions that can be associated with obesity.

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There’s tons of information out there on how our parents screw us up.  Entire schools of psychology and sociology focus on the damage parents can do.  But, on the heels of Mother’s Day, we decided it might be nice to focus on some of the benefits of having a positive maternal figure.

Let’s start with a very obvious benefit. A parent’s #1 job is to keep a child safe and help her/him survive to adulthood and, hopefully, become a contributing member to society. This actually requires a lot more thought and effort than keeping the toxic cleaners out of reach and teaching a toddler to stop biting.  Even young adults need a mother or father figure to help them navigate the hazards of sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll that crop up as they age. Simple things, like making sure children are well-fed, are not so simple. Not to be sexist, but moms are traditionally the organizers of family meals, and these meals have proven to be extremely beneficial and not only in providing and modeling healthy diet. Sharing in regular family meals “improves academic performance, reduces risky behavior, promotes physical well-being, stabilizes emotions, and eventually enhances your family relationship, all at no cost….”

Mother figures are also crucial in promoting a healthy body image, particularly among young females. So a girl whose mom or female role model is not overly concerned about her own weight or the girl’s weight or appearance, encourages healthy eating habits and physical activity (while discouraging drug and alcohol use), counters negative media messages,  and praises the girl’s accomplishments is less likely to have eating disorders and more likely to have a positive body image and high self esteem.

Self esteem leads us to another key role of mother and father figures – developing emotional stability. Parents are often on the front line in equipping children with what they need to cope with trauma. suggests that it is a parent’s task to meet the multiple demands of family life with energy and creativity, thus enabling children to grow and develop in positive, healthy ways and to experience satisfaction and success. Creativity and energy can be tricky though. One mom’s creativity may feel like nagging or abject humiliation to the child. Ideally, a mother figure “instructs children and gives guidance about personal values and social behavior… instills discipline and helps them learn and internalize codes of conduct that will serve them for the rest of their lives… helps them develop positive interpersonal relationships, and…provides an environment that encourages learning both in the home and at school.”

And what about learning? Did your parents help you to be smarter? Parents can and should (and often do) help kids become better learners through the development of some critical skills:

  • Building spoken language through talking and listening and teaching them the sounds of spoken language
  • Familiarizing them with print and books
  • Teaching them about letters and numbers
  • Reading to them
  • Helping them spell and write
  • Building vocabulary
  • Building their knowledge of the world

At the end of the day, being a good parent is a tall order. Moms and dads are charged with keeping a child safe (difficult when she prefers pointy rocks to dolls); spending time, showing affection, and listening (even if he’s told that knock knock joke 300 times…today); providing order and consistency (whether or not if there’s three feet of laundry to get to); setting and enforcing limits (“but whyyyyyyy?”); monitoring a child’s friendships and activities (did someone say Facebook?); and, of course, leading by example (probably the most difficult one).

So, if you are reasonably happy and not too much of a threat to others, perhaps you can thank your mom (or dad, or anyone who helped you turn out pretty okay). And to better understand, help, or celebrate the mother figure in your life, or if you are a mom looking for solidarity and support in this “mom is the root of all my problems” world, check out some of these:

Making Babies: Stumbling into Motherhood by Anne Enright

Good Enough Is the New Perfect: Finding Happiness and Success in Modern Motherhood
by Becky Beaupre Gillespie

Mom Energy: A Simple Plan to Live a Fully Charged Life by Ashley Koff


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An Enchanted Day for the Opening of the Library’s Enchanted Garden!

Check out the photos of the opening of the Enchanted Garden! It was a beautiful day!

The Enchanted Garden is a quarter-acre parcel adjacent to the Children’s area, the Enchanted Garden’s primary focus will be as a teaching garden.

The demonstration gardening area of the garden will feature a variety of vegetables, herbs, and flowers planted in raised beds. Come visit our Stir Fry Garden, Peter Rabbit Patch, Multisensory Garden, Herbal Apothecary Garden, and Pizza Garden to see what we have planted.

Children are more interested in eating vegetables and fruits when they participate in growing them.

Providing our children an environmental and nutritional education while instilling a love of nature is the best way to inspire them to be the stewards of our future.

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Upcoming Classes and Events to Make You Well &Wise!

2012 CalendarMay 10-12. Preakness Celebration Hot Air Balloon Festival. Turf Valley’s annual Hot Air Balloon Festival is perfect for young children and those young at heart. Family activities, handmade crafts and live entertainment.  Don’t miss the nightly Balloon Glow at dusk!  On Saturday May 12, the Balloon Festival will culminate with the launching of the balloons at 6:30 a.m. Admission is free and open to the public.

May 10, 6:00- 7:00 p.m. Howard County General Hospital Presents: Advanced Directives. Review  what advance directives are, who needs them, and how you get them in this free seminar. You will have the opportunity to leave this class with a completed advance directive document.  Also, learn what it means to appoint or be appointed, a health care agent. Registration is required.

May 11, 2;00- 6:00 p.m. HCGH Farmers Market!  Join us for the season opening of our farmers market.

May 12, 1:00- 4:00 p.m. Enchanted Garden Grand Opening at the Miller Branch of the Howard CountyLibrary. Opening day events include the official ribbon cutting, unveiling a historic contribution by Martha Clark from Clark’s Elioak Farm, demonstrations by Howard County Master Gardeners, and garden-related activities for children. Celebrate spring by strolling through the garden to enjoy 65 varieties of native plants, many blooming in May. Visit the demonstration gardening area to see what is planted in the Stir Fry Garden, Peter Rabbit Patch, and Pizza Garden this year. No registration required.

May 12, 10:00 a.m. WONDER WALK: Mother’s Day Special: Fresh Bouquet and Card-making. FREE. Mothers might be happy to go off to a spa or take a relaxing hike on the Conservancy’s trails while fathers, grandparents, or other relatives bring kids to this creative event offered by master gardener Lisa Baum. The children will use flowers and plants to create beautiful bouquets and cards with which to surprise their moms on Mother’s Day. FREE.

May 20, 2:00- 4:00 p.m. River Watch Monitoring Event. Join the Robinson Nature Center for an afternoon in which you and your family can discover the wonders of the Middle Patuxent River and watershed. participants will help monitor the Patuxent by testing for chemicals and catching bugs and fish.  Enjoy a walk along the river.  Dress appropriately for the water; water, nets and equipment will be provided. Registration is required!  For more information call 410-313-0425

when should i have a baby10 year olds having babies videos get pregnant fast how do i get pregnantwhen will i have a baby horoscope

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Fitness Fun

by Matthew Hall

Summer is approaching, and that usually means people start to make every last ditch effort they can to get into shape before having to bust out their swimwear. While this article is not about a miracle diet or a new fat-melting, vibrating belt, I am hoping to expose you to fun and challenging ways you can exercise outdoors. The most expensive option costs, at most, as much as 2 months of a gym membership (though most are much less), and all are very durable and versatile pieces of equipment.

Battling Ropes have gained popularity with the rise of MMA. Battling Ropes are in essence just a long piece of thick rope with grips on each end, and you can do a large number of exercises with them. They are typically 40-50ft long and 1.5-2” in diameter. The most basic move is “the wave,” in which you alternate moving each hand up and down in order to make the rope move in a motion that looks much like a sound wave. There are a lot of different exercises that can be done, each posing a different challenge. Expect an intense workout, stressing your core, grip, and entire upper body that will leave you breathing like you just ran a marathon. At roughly $150, they can be on the more expensive side for someone who is trying to kickstart a fitness routine, but someone who has settled into a dedicated program could benefit from these ropes for years to come.

Medicine balls are another very fun option. They can be purchased in various weights, from 2lbs to upwards of 30lbs. You can slam them, throw them, do overheard squats with them, use them as a platform for pushups, or incorporate them into your abdominal work. Doing any of these moves in an interval fashion will provide an entertaining, fast-paced workout that can be done in a backyard, playground, or parking lot near you. These are more reasonably priced, ranging from $15-$75. If there is an option for a ball with a rubberized coating, this will greatly increase the life of your purchase and make certain exercises like slams much easier.

Kettlebells are quickly gaining popularity in many commercial gym classes and home fitness videos. There are several great resources on how to properly use kettlebells and incorporate them into a fitness routine. Like medicine balls, these vary from 5lbs to over 100lbs. Proper form and knowledge of how to perform exercises like the Snatch and the Clean are VERY important. Kettlebells are not inherently dangerous and proper form is not difficult to learn, but like any exercise if performed incorrectly, injury can occur. Once you learn, find an open space and start swinging, kettlebells offer a very versatile workout. Like medicine balls, the price of a kettlebell can vary greatly depending on weight and quality. Budget kettlebells are available at places like Target for around $20, or if you get really into it you can purchase authentic Russian weights for $200.

Any of these pieces of equipment would be an excellent way to begin a fitness regimen, or to adapt your current program to be more fun and incorporate being outside.

Matthew Hall is currently an Operations Specialist for Howard County Library System and a student at Liberty University.

He spends the majority of his free time with his wife and kids. His interests include religious studies, psychology, and fitness.

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Take a Walk

Walk Along Blog Logo


Walking is a wonderful thing to do. Whether you are walking for work, fitness or relaxation, walking is a great mode of free transportation. The benefits of walking are numerous and touch many aspects of our lives. Walking improves the health of the environment by using less fuel and reducing air pollutants. According to the Centers for Disease Control, walking on a regular basis can aid in weight management, help strengthen the heart, reduce risks for some types of cancer, help with depression and significantly reduce one’s chances of developing type-2 diabetes. For those of you who live within walking distance of your job, walking to work several times a week can save you money and reduce the wear and tear on your car; which can also be a savings.

Walking is also a great way to relax your mind, renew your spirit and get in touch with your community.  On Saturday May 12, the Columbia Archives will be facilitating three walking tours of Columbia. Director of the Columbia Archives, Barbara Kellner, shared that “These tours will allow people to see Columbia up close and enjoy a leisurely walk. This activity will also show people how easy it is to actually walk from the Town Center Lakefront to Oakland Mills, Wilde Lake and the residential area of Town Center.” The WalkAlong event is a perfect way to blend a little physical activity with learning and will allow participants to enjoy some of the history of Columbia and Howard County.

The tours are free but registration is required and limited to 30 people per tour. Click here to register.


Another guest post from our friends at CA! Anita Baxter is a group fitness instructor who teaches belly dancing for the Columbia Association fitness facilities. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in social and community service.

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Shoulder X-ray

by Uma Srikumaran, M.D.

The shoulder is one of the most complex joints in the body and provides an incredible range of motion that we often take for granted on a day-to-day basis. Although we don’t walk on our shoulders, this joint is susceptible to wear and tear just like hips and knees. In the shoulder, wear and tear most frequently refers to thinning or loss of the cartilage lining of the joint (arthritis) or tears of the rotator cuff tendon. The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that help lift and rotate your shoulder.

Arthritis and rotator cuff tears are increasingly common as we age, with the majority of people developing arthritis after the age of 60 and rotator cuff tears after the age of 40. Prior injuries such as dislocation can accelerate the loss of cartilage in the joint, leading to arthritis at a younger age. Likewise, placing a higher demand on your shoulder with repetitive overhead activities can lead to more advanced rotator cuff disease earlier in life. These conditions are referred to as ‘wear and tear’ because of the slow and progressive nature of the degeneration, much like wearing a hole through your sock.

Arthritis presents gradually increasing pain and loss of motion, ultimately making it difficult to participate in sports or perform basic activities of living, such as getting dressed. Rotator cuff tears also present with pain, but can also be associated with weakness, making it difficult to reach overhead or lift things away from the body.

There are many treatment options for both arthritis and rotator cuff tears ranging from preventative approaches to surgical reconstruction. If you are having ongoing pain or are losing function of your shoulder, see your orthopedic surgeon so a diagnosis can be made. Together with your surgeon, management options can be discussed and the appropriate treatment can be selected.

Learn more…

Join Uma Srikumaran, M.D., on May 31st from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. for “Shoulder Wear and Tear” at the Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center. Dr. Srikumaran will talk about wear and tear conditions that commonly affect the shoulder such as rotator cuff disease and arthritis. Review symptoms, surgical and nonsurgical treatment options and what to expect from treatment. The seminar is free, but registration is required.



Uma Srikumaran recently returned to Johns Hopkins from Harvard (Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital), where he completed a fellowship in shoulder/elbow surgery. Dr. Srikumaran first joined Johns Hopkins as a medical student before completing his residency with the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. Currently he serves as an Assistant professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Johns Hopkins University, sees patients at Howard County General Hospital and downtown Baltimore AND serves as a team physician to the Baltimore Orioles.

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Event Alert: Building A Bully-free Community: Continuing The Conversation

Join us at the Miller Branch on May 17, 2012, at 7:00pm to continue the discussion from the 2011 Choose Civility Symposium. Howard County middle school students consider the effects of bullying and learn practical strategies for resolving conflict with instructors from the Mediation and Conflict Resolution Center at Howard Community College. Audience Q&A and small group discussions follow.

Registration is required. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.


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Ray Rice and Calvin Ball

HOWARD COUNTY, MD. ( The Howard High School Auditorium was full this afternoon for the Ray of Hope anti-bullying event emceed by Keith Mills.   In addition to Ray Rice, panelists included; Reese Butler of Hopeline, Pamela Blackwell, Director of Student Support Services at the Howard County Public School System, Lt. Rowlette, and Office Glen Weir of the Howard County Police Department, and Council Representative Calvin Ball.  The McComas family and first lady, Kate O’Malley were special guests.

Ray Rice began his remarks by saying;  “Today is a very special day in my life. This situation has touched me in my heart.”

Students from every high school in the County listened in rapt attention as Rice reminded them “You are not alone in this world.  You are not alone.”  He encouraged victims of bullying to seek help and encouraged the audience to band together. “There’s a smart way to attack this problem. We all have to attack this together.  We all have a voice in this.  If we do this together, I promise you, we will save lives.”

Chris McComas, mother of Grace McComas, the Glenelg High School student who was victimized by bullying and took her own life this past April, spoke to the teens and parents in the audience; “If this happened to Grace, it can happen to anyone and therein lies the horror.  Because it should happen to no one.”   Twitter feeds of the bullying that Grace endured were read aloud and the audience was visibly shocked and many were moved to tears.  McComas urged the audience to “Show love. Speak up when you see or hear hatred. Practice peace.”

Grace’s father also spoke on behalf of the family about the role that leadership and hope must play in the defeat of bullying.  McComas said; “This forum is a starting point for change.”  He defined leadership.  “ Leadership is when you take responsibility for another person.  We each have to take responsibility whether it is in the classroom, the locker room or the boardroom.  We need to become a community of leaders that inspires”, McComas said.  He concluded his remarks by saying “I hope that- in whatever role you serve- you will become a ray of hope and a touch of grace.”

Parents and teens in the audience took turns expressing frustration with the process currently in place to identify and end bullying.   County Executive Ulman pledged to bring the school system, the police department- including school resource officers, and the State’s Attorney Office together to address the issue and improve the process. Rice reminded the audience that the responsibility to end bullying rests on the entire community and not on just one entity such as the school system or the police department. Rice said the question is; “What are WE going to do stop this?”

Mary Catherine Cochran is a big believer in communications and the critical role that it plays in community building.  (Although she is still adjusting to doing it in 140 characters or less!) When she isn’t busy truncating the message, she works as a Senior Communications Project Manager at Howard County General Hospital: Johns Hopkins Medicine where, among other things, she manages and writes for the Well & Wise blog.

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Upcoming Classes and Events to Make You Well & Wise!

2012 Calendar

May 5-6. The 39th Annual Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. The largest sheep and wool show in the U.S. Shearing, spinning, weaving, working sheep dogs, and more!  Free fun for the whole family!

May 5, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Camp Day at Centennial Park. Come enjoy a free day of fun with your family at Centennial Park. Enjoy making crafts, playing games, watching demonstrations and learning about Howard County Recreation and Parks many summer camps. Face painting, arts & crafts, prizes and giveaways galore!

May 10-12. Preakness Celebration Hot Air Balloon Festival. Turf Valley’s annual Hot Air Balloon Festival is perfect for young children and those young at heart. Family activities, handmade crafts and live entertainment.  Don’t miss the nightly Balloon Glow at dusk!  On Saturday May 12, the Balloon Festival will culminate with the launching of the balloons at 6:30 a.m. Admission is free and open to the public.

May 10, 6:00- 7:00 p.m. Howard County General Hospital Presents: Advanced Directives. Review  what advance directives are, who needs them, and how you get them in this free seminar. You will have the opportunity to leave this class with a completed advance directive document.  Also, learn what it means to appoint or be appointed, a health care agent. Registration is required.

May 11, 2;00- 6:00 p.m. HCGH Farmers Market!  Join us for the season opening of our farmers market.

May 12, 10:00 a.m. WONDER WALK: Mother’s Day Special: Fresh Bouquet and Card-making. FREE. Mothers might be happy to go off to a spa or take a relaxing hike on the Conservancy’s trails while fathers, grandparents, or other relatives bring kids to this creative event offered by master gardener Lisa Baum. The children will use flowers and plants to create beautiful bouquets and cards with which to surprise their moms on Mother’s Day. FREE.

 May 20, 2:00- 4:00 p.m. River Watch Monitoring Event. Join the Robinson Nature Center for an afternoon in which you and your family can discover the wonders of the Middle Patuxent River and watershed. participants will help monitor the Patuxent by testing for chemicals and catching bugs and fish.  Enjoy a walk along the river.  Dress appropriately for the water; water, nets and equipment will be provided. Registration is required!  For more information call 410-313-0425

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A Message from MHIP

Well & Wise is such a great resource for all of us in Maryland who are trying to stay healthy. From how to know if your iron levels are right, to lowering your cholesterol, to why to eat more fruits and vegetables, this blog has the scoop! But when reading these informative pieces, you might notice a common thread of advice: “Check with your doctor.”

This phrase isn’t just a disclaimer. We all know how vitally important it is to include your health care providers in all aspects of your health. And sometimes a balanced, healthy lifestyle just isn’t enough to address your high blood pressure, for example, or another chronic issue you might be living with.

But what happens when that very chronic issue is keeping you from seeing your doctor? It sounds contrary to common sense, but those of you familiar with the dreaded term “pre-existing condition” know exactly what we are talking about. If you have a pre-existing medical condition – anything from cancer to colitis – you may have been unable to get health insurance.

We understand how crucial it is for folks with medical conditions to see their doctor, fill their prescriptions, and access the medical treatment they need, without worrying about astronomical costs. That’s why the Maryland Health Insurance Plan (MHIP) Federal was created. This program was created specifically to provide comprehensive health care to Maryland residents who have a pre-existing medical condition and have been without coverage for at least six months.

Right now, the MHIP Federal team is stepping up our efforts to make sure that every uninsured Marylander with a medical condition knows that this plan could be an option for them. Maybe that Marylander is you, or maybe it’s a friend or family member. We hope that you’ll simply pass along the message about MHIP Federal so that your loved ones have the chance at the health care they deserve.

To learn more about MHIP Federal, visit our website at You or a loved one can see if you are eligible by taking our quick eligibility questionnaire. And if you have any questions, or just want to keep up with us, follow MHIP Federal on Facebook!

MHIP Federal is a health insurance plan created specifically to provide comprehensive health coverage to Maryland residents who have been unable to obtain individual coverage for six months or more due to pre-existing medical condition. The MHIP Federal program was implemented in September 2010 as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). For more information, contact us at

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Art “Therapy” at Howard County General Hospital

Artist John Parker installs Swallowtail at Howard County General Hospital.

Howard County General Hospital is fortunate to be included as one of the 12 ARTsites 2012 locations. ARTsites 2012 is a yearlong outdoor public art exhibit, taking place throughout Howard County.  The goal of ARTsites, a Howard County Arts Council initiative is to generate interest in public art and make it more accessible to the community.  Sites and artwork were selected from submissions by a panel of artists and public art professionals.

Our Well & Wise partner, the Howard County Library System is also participating in the initiative with sculptures at four of their library locations.  Howard County tourism is planning a self-guided tour of the complete list of sites and sculptures once all installations are complete.

John Parker, the artist of Swallowtail earned a M.F.A. from Rinehart School of Sculpture, Maryland Institute College of Art and a B.F.A. from the Cleveland Institute of Art. Parker says; “My sculptures have evolved out of a life long interest in nature. This interest spans the field study of insects and fascination of dinosaurs, to exotic flowers. I have combined nature with steel, in giving heavy industrial materials a living, animated presence.”


Mary Catherine Cochran grew up in Clarksville and currently resides in Ellicott City, Maryland. Among other things, she serves the hospital as a communications project manager overseeing varied initiatives including the Well and Wise blog. Her short term goal is to hike the entire length of the Patapsco River before the end of 2012.

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Healthy Soil, Healthy People

As a child, I spent a lot of time outside playing in dirt. Digging for earth worms, squishing clay in the creeks and working in my dad’s garden was how I spent many summer days. My father’s concept of a garden is not what usually comes to mind when someone hears the word “garden.” Picture rows and rows of corn, green beans, tomatoes, peppers, sweet potatoes and okra. These rows totaled up to at least one acre of vegetation. Garden time was when my sister and I learned about the value and importance of knowing the source of food, nutrients and what, if any, fertilizers were used in the growth process. My father was an organic gardener and before planting he had the garden soil tested for acidity, minerals and phosphate levels. After receiving the results, the garden would be tilled using manure and other natural elements to give the vegetables a nurturing foundation, a foundation built in healthy soil.

Soil and health

Soil has been described by some as the “skin of the earth;” it helps sustain life. Soil provides support for lawns and vegetation that serve as food for humans and animals. Soil is also the foundation for goods and products such as cotton for clothing, medicines that are derived from plants and trees that provide lumber and oxygen. Soil, like skin, is a living organism, according to an article on The way it is treated can affect the levels of nutrients and pollutants deposited in ground water. This is very important because soil is the natural filter for the water that we drink and enjoy in the form of lakes, streams and ponds.

Columbia is known for its beautiful lakes and winding streams. According to the Columbia Association’s (CA) Watershed Manager, John McCoy, a key indicator of excessive fertilizer in soil is the overgrowth of green algae and unwanted vegetation in the lakes. McCoy shared that having soil tested before fertilizing is a valuable step in creating healthy soil and reducing algae overgrowth in the lakes. Another interesting point shared by McCoy was that soil testing is a future requirement of the Fertilizer Use Act of 2011.

CA’s Test Your Soil Program

Columbia residents can have their soil tested for free through CA’s Test Your Soil program. Residents can request a soil test bag from their local village community associations. After gathering a soil sample from their lawn, residents can then return the sample to their village community center to be sent out for testing. To learn more about soil testing, e-mail John McCoy. Learning about soil and soil testing can help you make informed decisions that have profound effects on preserving the Earth’s natural resources and keeping Columbia beautiful and sustainable. Healthy soil benefits everyone. To learn more about CA’s watershed protection and environmental sustainability efforts, visit


Another guest post from our friends at CA! Anita Baxter is a group fitness instructor who teaches belly dancing for the Columbia Association fitness facilities. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in social and community service.


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