Did you know teens read nonfiction too? And, no, we don’t just mean Wikipedia or sources for research papers. A lot of questions come up during adolescence, and sometimes when you’re a teen, you want to find a reliable answer without having to consult another person (or swim in the sea of too many conflicting answers known as the Internet). This little video highlights some of the Teen Nonfiction Collection at HCLS.


Joanne Sobieck-Lingg is glad to blog about her many, disparate interests (though expert in none, except maybe parenthetical asides). In past lives, she was a writer, proofreader, editor, project manager, teacher, and even co-coordinator of a certain health blog. She has been happily ensconced among the fiction and teen books at the Central Branch of HCLS since 2003.


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crafting calm

Sharpen those colored pencils, clear some space at your desk, and begin your creation meditation. The adult coloring craze is well underway and there are designs for everyone. Many of the bestselling books on Amazon are adult coloring books and an abundance of beautiful designs are available free on the web. Even Crayola now has a product line for adults. You may experience many added social and emotional benefits if you start coloring.

Popular designs include mandalas, landscapes, plants, flowers, animals, and patterns. The mandala is a circular pattern with recurrent kaleidoscopic shapes. A Sanskrit term for circle, mandala has importance in both the Buddhist and Hindu traditions. The patterns may be interpreted as views of the universe and visual aids in meditation. The act of creating a mandala in sand symbolizes the life cycle in that there is birth, brief enjoyment of the image and then death. An episode of the television series House of Cards included a group of Tibetan monks painstakingly creating a large vibrantly-colored sand mandala. It took many days to create and then was swept away in a ritual ceremony. The fictional White House staff and visitors were reminded to appreciate the beauty and the value of the act of creation. We can be so busy that we forget to enjoy the people, work and art surrounding us.

Spending time coloring forces us to slow down and redirect our attention. We have to be creative and select the colors we will use to fill in the image. Let us practice true focus, ignore distractions, and enjoy the coloring motion. We must put aside competing tasks in order to complete the picture.

The repetitive motion of coloring is relaxing. Selecting the colors gives a sense of freedom without imposing the stress of making potentially risky decisions. The focus of filling in the coloring sheet promotes mindfulness and can help alleviate anxiety. Solo coloring may be the downtime an introvert craves, while group coloring might be an extrovert’s preference. Psychologists and neurologists have noted that tasks with predictable results are calming. Concentrating on positive tasks has the potential to dislodge negative thoughts and disrupt unhealthy emotional patterns. True art therapy usually includes the guidance of a mental health professional, but it’s clear coloring (itself) can be therapeutic. Artistic pursuits can to improve mood, focus, and attention. Concentrating on coloring can decrease feelings of fear and worry.

On it’s most basic level, coloring is fun, so if you’re a fan, it will brighten your day. If you’re interested in going beyond coloring in the lines, HCLS has wonderful instructional books on drawing, painting and crafts for children, teens and adults. The HCLS Lynda courses database offers free classes in software such as CorelDRAW and Photoshop.  Simply go to hclibrary.org, click on HCLS Now and select LEARN Online Classes.

Cherise Tasker is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Central Branch and has a background in health information. Most evenings, Cherise can be found reading a book, attending a book club meeting, or coordinating a book group.

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Summer4827805659_9da7bd0ae7_b is all about having fun in the sun. We’ve all made plans to enjoy the beach, lake, and/or pool. Many of my friends are planning to lay on the beach and even out their tans for that perfect summer-kissed glow (due to all the up-coming weddings they are attending). Seems like no big deal, right? Well, it’s NBD until you have few moles removed from your back and your doctor is telling you that a sunburn you got 10-15 years ago is probably what made those moles a problem today. Listen, skin cancer is the most common type of cancer and accounts for about half of all cancers diagnosed. According to the American Academy of Dermatology nearly 145,000 Americans will be diagnosed with some form of melanoma this year. Moreover, 75% of skin cancer deaths are due to melanoma. It is a big deal.

My fiance just had a mole removed from his back two weeks ago. Today, he goes in to have the stitches removed. The doctor explained to us that on a scale of 1 – 5, where “1 is normal” and “5 is cancer” the previous biopsy of the mole was a “3” and that’s why the mole and the area around it needed to be excised. As a cancer survivor and liver transplant recipient, I understand the importance of protecting my skin because I am “100 times more likely than the general public to develop squamous cell carcinoma.” Despite the cautionary tales I’d shared and the “wear sunscreen” speech I’ve relayed from my doctors, friends, and fellow cancer survivors- it wasn’t until this happened to him that it “clicked.”

I don’t want you to have to end up with a cancer diagnosis to realize and practice the simple steps you can take to avoid getting sunburned. Sunburns today could be skin cancer in a year or 10 years. Trust me. Cancer is expensive and interrupts your life significantly. Below are some questions and answers to help make the case for protecting your skin this summer.

Q: If the sun is so scary, are you expecting me to stay inside all summer?

A: Please don’t hide in your closet all summer. Go outside, be active! It’s essential to your health in countless ways. I’m just asking that you be smart about it. Avoid going outside during the hottest part of the day when the sun is at its highest peak. If you can’t avoid being outside during that time, limit your time in the sun, find shade, wear broad spectrum protective clothing, hats, sunglasses, etc. Think about it this way, one hour of sun at 9 A.M. is nearly equivalent to 15 minutes of sun at 1 P.M. Your goal is to stay safe in the sun. As my fiance says regularly, “Fun ends when safety ends.”

Q: So, how much sunscreen do you really need? 

A: You need to apply at least one oz. of sunscreen every two hours in order for it to really be effective. Truly! If you’ve spent 4-5 hours at the beach and a quarter of your 8 0z. tube of sunscreen isn’t gone, you didn’t use enough. If you went with a group and you still have any sunscreen left- clearly, you all didn’t use enough. Rule of thumb: apply sunscreen 30 minutes prior to being out in the sun and reapply often. Even if your sunscreen is labeled as “water-resistant” or “water-proof” you still need to reapply. Efficacy of these kinds of sunscreens means about 40-80 minutes of SPF coverage when wet.

Q: Fine! I’ll wear sunscreen. What SPF (Sunburn Protection Factor) should I use? 

A: There is some debate over this. Many believe that the higher the SPF number is, the greater it is at protecting you from UVA/UVB rays. Actually, it’s pretty negligible; but for someone who has a history of or susceptibility for skin cancer, the marketing of SPF numbers could mean peace of mind. Truth is, no matter the SPF you put on, it’s ineffective after a couple hours. Which means, it’s not necessarily the SPF number that counts, it’s how often you reapply. Effectively, you should reapply after you do anything that could make the sunscreen slough off. Be sure to purchase a quality sunscreen with “broad spectrum” protection. An everyday SPF of 15 (blocks 93% of harmful rays) for your daily commute through life, in and out of buildings, etc. should be sufficient (reapply religiously). Thankfully, many lotions and make up products include SPF 15 already. However, if you’re playing in a sporting event, or near water (which is reflective) in directly sunlight, etc. you’re probably better off with a thicker, higher SPF of 30+ (blocks 97%+ harmful rays) which is the recommendation found on hopkinsmedicine.org.

Q: Sunscreen is gross. Couldn’t I just use a tanning bed?

A: If you want to jump from the frying pan and into the fire, that’s your decision as an adult. However, there’s a reason why Howard County, Maryland does not allow tanning for minors. If you read the report and its findings, I expect that you’ll see how important your skin is too. Perhaps you’ll decide tanning beds aren’t for you and that wearing sunscreen isn’t such a bad idea after all.

Clearly, I’m not a doctor or medical professional. Please consult with your primary care physician or your dermatologist for your skin health needs. Take these questions and answers as what they are: another way to hear the “wear sunscreen” speech.

Remember: use high quality, broad spectrum sunscreen, and reapply religiously!

JP is the HCLS Editor & Blog Coordinator for Well & Wise. She is also a Children’s Instructor & Research Specialist at the Savage Branch & STEM Education Center. She is a storyteller, wannabe triathlete, myriad hobbyist, cancer survivor, and liver transplant recipient.

 

 

 


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Summer is not half way done and many of us are involved in the back to school process. Educators, parents and students will all experience that half-excitement, half-dread, pit-of-the-stomach feeling that unfamiliar experiences and change generate. And of course, there is a picture book for that. Lots of them. Reminding us that we can do this.

415307 everyone can ride a bicycleA little girl in a humongous blue-striped helmet chooses a bike, practices a lot, and (aided by a patient guy in a green tie) learns to ride. The gentle text offers pithy encouragement. “Let’s go! . . . Watch everyone ride . . . They all learned how . . . Come on, let’s give it a try . . . Training wheels are helpful . . . They keep you from tipping over.” Raschka’s well-chosen words, spread over several pages, admonish: “Find the courage to try it again, again, and again until… by luck, grace, and determination you are riding a bicycle!” Raschka deconstructs what’s needed to acquire this skill (which may be unique for its lessons on the physics of motion and the rewards of self-reliance), but also suggests the complexity of achieving balance and independence in any of life’s transitions.

From those wobbly first steps to those wobbly last steps, it’s all about the balance. And if you have a cheerleader and someone to catch you that’s an extra bonus.

75577 wemberly worriedKevin Henkes’ wonderfully appealing child-mouse has a stubborn habit: worrying. Wemberly, a shy white mouse with gray spots, always feels nervous. “At the playground, Wemberly worried about/ the chains on the swings,/ and the bolts on the slide,/ and the bars on the jungle gym.” She tells her father, “Too rusty. Too loose. Too high,” while sitting on a park bench watching the other mice play. Her security, a rabbit doll named Petal (rarely leaves her grip. Henkes lists Wemberly’s worries, “Big things” heads the list, paired with a vignette of the heroine checking on her parents in the middle of the night with a flashlight, “I wanted to make sure you were still here.” He shows how Wemberly’s anxieties peak at the start of nursery school with huge text that dwarfs illustrations. At school Wemberly meets another girl mouse, Jewel, who turns out to be a kindred spirit (she even carries her own worn doll). Henkes offers no solutions, handling the subject with realistic gentleness; while playing with Jewel, “Wemberly worried. But no more than usual. And sometimes even less.”

Sometimes you just want to know that you are not the only one. A perfect book for those with anxiety and for those who ‘don’t understand what all the fuss is about’.

118275 i like myselfSometimes you need to be your own cheerleader and this girl has it covered. No matter what she does, wherever she goes, or what others think of her, she likes herself because, as she says, “I’m ME!”. Evoking Dr. Seuss’s work with quirky absurdity, she is so full of joy that readers will love her. Even with “-stinky toes/or horns protruding from my nose”. The rhymes are goofy, the illustrations are zany (for the “I like me on the inside” verse, he shows the narrator and her horrified dog in X-ray mode).

Whatever new experiences await you, you can do this! And we have a book, DVD, or e-resource that might help. See you at the library.

Shirley ONeill works for Howard County Library System as the Children’s and Teen Materials Specialist. She cannot believe she actually gets paid to do this job.

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Prácticas de Piscina By Asdrubal Velasquez (Visionado on FLICKR)


I rejoice when the weather is warm enough to swim! Swimming is one of the most healthful ways to exercise, and is broadly enjoyed by people of all ages, from babies to the aged. People can get into the pool and enjoy themselves so much that they don’t even know how much beneficial aerobic (heart-pumping) exercise they’re getting.

Aerobic exercise itself has important health benefits: it reduces harmful inflammation linked to many diseases; lowers stress; lowers blood pressure; strengthens muscles (including the heart), and can even help smokers to quit. In fact, swimming is one of the most highly-recommended types of aerobic exercises, according to Johns Hopkins exercise physiologist Kerry J. Stewart, Ed. D. In addition, it’s one of the best exercises for older adults, as it’s easy on the joints.

Most swimmers in Howard County don’t have access to natural bodies of water, such as lakes or the ocean, so we swim in the neighborhood pool, kindly supplied by Columbia Association, one of the neighborhoods in other towns, or by a private owner. The water in these pools needs to be carefully maintained for cleanliness, because the people splashing around bring bacteria into the standing water of the pool. The operators of these pools add chemicals to the water. Without chlorination, health risks would prevent our swimming in a pool.

Most pool operators maintain water cleanliness with chlorine-based chemicals, then test the water for the correct balance of pH (acid-alkaline balance) and chemicals several times throughout the day. Although several alternatives to chlorine exist, each has a disadvantage, including a substantial differential in price. So additions of chlorine seem to be the default choice for water cleanliness.

But chlorine use has its side affects: it’s drying to skin and hair, and may make swimmers’ eyes redden and burn. Some some people are undeniably allergic to chlorine; some people suspect chlorine of causing serious diseases of the respiratory tract or even cancer; but research on these serious side effects is not conclusive.

But (sniff) what’s that sharp smell? Smells like too much chlorine!

Actually, that smell is the result of inadequate amounts of chlorine. Here’s the science: molecules of chlorine combines with molecules of nitrogen or ammonia being thrown off our bodies (organic matter). This is what smells bad. Whenthere is more chlorine in the water, the chlorine can do its job and the odor should be minimal. It’s inadequately-chlorinated water that is most irritating to the skin and eyes, and may be implicated in swimmer’s ear, a common ear infection due to constantly-wet ear canals and bacteria in the water.

And why is the water so cloudy? It’s due to any combination of these events: particles forced out of the water by imbalanced water, poor filtration or sanitation, or heat. Hot days can contribute to cloudy water.

Unless there are other health-related risks, the health benefits, fun, and social value of swimming far outweighs the disadvantages posed by chlorine. One of the rites of summer is swimming, especially out of doors on a hot Maryland day.

The Center for Disease Control’s Triple A’s of Healthy Swimming go into depth on ways to keep everyone healthy when in the water. The most important and easiest of these include:

  • Staying out of the water if you are ill, especially illness of your digestive tract. Also stay out of the water if you have a cut or other break in your skin. Being aware of potential water-borne problems.
  • Showering before you swim to rinse off the organic materials on your skin. This way, you won’t be contributing to what the chlorine as to break down.
  • Regular bathroom breaks for children and adults are crucial. Urine, after all, in another organic material.
  • Protecting yourself with eye goggles, an after-swim shower, shampoo, and body moisturizer.
  • Questions to ask the pool operator: “Are chemical levels checked at least twice per day, or more often when the pool is heavily used?”, “What is the latest pool inspection score?”, and “Has the pool operator completed specialized training in pool operation?”Have a great swim!
Jean has recently retired from Howard County Library System. She also swims at four different Columbia Association pools each summer.

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method express 617397With the pressure of the beach and pool season upon us, many people start looking for stomach exercises to look better in their bathing suits. Visions of 6 pack abs, or any pack abs for that matter, from magazine photos and TV ads often drive these requests. It takes months and months to build muscle tissue and developing visible abs requires a great amount of work with both nutrition and exercise as well as the right genetics. Additionally, any sort of 1, 2, or 6 pack does not necessarily equate to great posture and daily function just as the absence of a “pack” does not indicate weak muscles.

So, where’s the motivation to exercise if the visible benefit comes with so much work and little promise of actually seeing those abdominals? Ever experience back pain or stiffness? Or neck/shoulder “stress”? Going beyond what we look like in our swimsuit and on to exercises that impact our posture takes a generic workout and extends it into specific and appropriate movements for each individual person to help minimize some of these annoying, painful issues.

Posture! Such an exciting word, right? At some point, we’ve all had to address our posture either because of a constant nagging to “stand up straight” or our bodies screaming at us in pain. Let’s take a deeper look and investigate what this means. Throughout this article, you will learn how posture influences breathing, muscular tightness and balance and some tips to help make improvements and feel better overall.

fixing you back pain 317138A normal spine consists of a curvature in the neck or cervical area, the mid back or thoracic area and the lower back or lumbar area. Over time, abnormal curvatures develop in one or more of these areas contributing to various aches and pains. The terms kyphosis, lordosis and scoliosis define these curvatures. Kyphosis means a curve in the upper part of the back1, often appearing with slouched, rounded shoulders and a forward head. Lordosis appears as a strong curve in the lower part of the back, like a sway back. With scoliosis2, the spine curves in a C or S shape and the shoulders and/or hips appear higher on one side.

In the average person, these postural issues signal how our bodies develop over time and can come from sitting for hours, carrying a purse or backpack, and in most cases can be positively impacted through the right exercises. Finding the balance of appropriate strength training, range of motion exercises, and cardiovascular exercise can help improve these muscular imbalances.
For example, for someone with rounded shoulders doing exercises to open up the chest, strengthen the upper back and mid-section will bring the head and chest back up into better alignment. Doing lengthening exercises on the hamstrings may help as well. This will also help open up the lungs for better breathing. The person with a sway back will benefit from exercises loosening up the lower back, strengthening the muscles that extend the hip and opening up the hip flexors. Look at how you stand in the mirror. While it may not seem extreme, pay attention to how your shoulders, hips, and head sit in relation to each other.

Spend time working on incorporating exercises that strengthen the entire body and develop a well-rounded program with all components. With exercise, take time to be intentional with your movements. Make sure to use appropriate progressions with the right intensity for your fitness level, at that point in time. Learn proper form and the benefit of movement for a lifetime, not a moment in time.

[Editors note: As always, please speak with your family physician before starting a new exercise program.] 

Lisa Martin founded the Girls on the Run program in Howard County in 2009. Lisa is AFAA & NSCA certified, has more than 15 years of personal training experience, and practices a multidimensional wellness approach at her studio, Salvere Health & Fitness. Lisa says that one of the best things about being in the health and fitness industry is watching people accomplish things they never thought possible.

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blood pressureMy son had his blood pressure checked at a recent doctor’s visit. He made a terrible face as the cuff squeezed his arm. I assured him he was going to live. After the nurse left the room he said to me, “what do the numbers mean?” I told him I was not sure, but your numbers must be good or the nurse would have said something. Not the best answer or the most reassuring, so I decided to educate myself. Blood pressure is commonly recorded as two numbers and written as a ratio. The top (or typically higher) number is your systolic pressure, and it measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats. The bottom (or typically lower) number is your diastolic blood pressure, and it measures the pressure in the arteries between beats.

What are normal numbers? If you are a person age 20 or older, a systolic blood pressure reading of 120 or lower and a diastolic blood pressure reading of 80 or lower puts you in the normal range.  Your blood pressure changes throughout the day. It is lowest when you are sleeping and may go up when you are excited, nervous, or physically active. Systolic pressure readings of 140 or higher or diastolic pressure readings of 90 or higher are in the range for hypertension or high blood pressure. The range for high blood pressure does not change with age, and one reading in the range for hypertension does not automatically mean you have high blood pressure.

Even if your blood pressure is within the normal range there are things that you can do to minimize your risk for developing hypertension, especially because hypertension can take years to develop, and you may not experience any noticeable symptoms. Some of the risk factors for hypertension are advancing age, diabetes, family history, obesity, stress, or a sedentary lifestyle. Other risk factors include smoking, high intake of sodium, saturated fats, or alcohol. High blood pressure may increase your risk for further health complications, such as kidney failure, stroke, or heart attack. You can read more about hypertension/high blood pressure and the risks here.

dash dietIt is vital (recommended that you) to get your blood pressure checked regularly, even if you are symptom free. The HCLS Savage Branch has free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine on the second Monday monthly during the summer from 10-12 pm. You can also measure your own blood pressure at home with a digital blood pressure device that can be purchased from your local pharmacy or store. It is a good idea to calibrate your reading with your reading at the doctor’s office. It is best to take the measurement when you are at rest and at the same time every day.

The good news is that if you have high blood pressure there are things that you can do to modify your lifestyle and lower your blood pressure and your risk for other cardiovascular diseases. The next time you visit the library check out one of the books on hypertension or DASH-type (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets.

I was just at the doctor’s last week, and I had my blood pressure checked. I immediately sent a text to my son with my readings—120/70. What are your numbers?

Nancy Targett is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Miller Branch. She lives in Columbia and is the proud mom of three boys and a girl and a Siamese cat.

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fortify your lifeI don’t know whether you’ve had any lab work done recently, but if you have, there’s a good chance your healthcare provider took a look at your vitamin D level. Why all the growing interest in vitamin D? Won’t a couple of glasses of milk per week and some sunlight take care of it?

Sufficient vitamin D promotes bone growth and repair and is required for our bodies to absorb calcium. Adequate calcium levels help assure bone strength. Conditions associated with low vitamin D levels include rickets, osteomalacia, and osteoporosis. Symptoms of decreased vitamin D include bone pain, muscle weakness, and fatigue. Older adults may experience symptoms of depression and cognitive impairment.

The NIH Dietary Supplements site notes that vitamin D is naturally present in very few foods. Fatty fishes such as mackerel, tuna, and salmon contain vitamin D. Tiny amounts of vitamin D are found in beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks. Some mushroom varieties are grown under ultraviolet light to boost their vitamin D content. Much of our vitamin D, however, is ingested from artificially fortified products such as milk, breakfast cereal, and yogurt. Ingestion of supplements and cod liver oil will also boost vitamin D levels. Patients with an abnormally low level of vitamin D may be advised to take vitamin supplements as it is difficult to obtain significant amounts of dietary vitamin D.

the vitamin D cureSun exposure causes our skin to synthesize vitamin D. During cold winter days and in smoggy conditions, sun exposure is limited, thus decreasing the body’s vitamin D creation. People who have more pigment in their skin are able to block some UV radiation – helpful in preventing sunburn, but detrimental to generating vitamin D. As we age, our skin’s ability to synthesize vitamin D decreases. The use of sunscreen also blocks the initiation of vitamin D production. Patients with digestive disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease or celiac disease may have decreased ability to absorb ingested vitamin D. Obesity is also be associated with decreased vitamin D levels as fat cells absorb vitamin D from the blood.

Studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency can lead to an increased susceptibility to colds, especially for those who have asthma and lung conditions. Blood cells critical to immune function have vitamin D receptors. When enough vitamin D is not present, the risk of autoimmune disease and infection increases.

Researchers have also found an association between low vitamin D levels and stroke. When vitamin D levels are insufficient, patients are at higher risk for strokes. In patients who have had strokes, the stroke is likely to be more severe if the vitamin D level is decreased. Links have also been found between poor bone health, low vitamin D level and increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Much research is underway to improve our understanding of population studies indicating high rates of hypertension, obesity and glucose intolerance in patients with low vitamin D levels. Further studies are needed to increase our understanding of the significance of vitamin D levels.

[Editor’s Note: As always, please consult your physician before taking any kind of supplement. Your doctor(s) are your greatest resource for your health needs. The post above is for informational purposes only and should not be interpreted as medical advice.]

 

Cherise Tasker is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Central Branch and has a background in health information. Most evenings, Cherise can be found reading a book, attending a book club meeting, or coordinating a book group.

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trio booksAs you may already know, the Central Branch of HCLS closed its doors for an exciting three-month renovation (it’s going to be so cool when it reopens!). Central team members have been temporarily relocated to the East Columbia and Miller Branches during this time. Both East Columbia and Miller have been welcoming and accommodating beyond belief. Moving, however, is never without stress, confusion, and a bit of nerves. It occurred to me, as an adult woman, that if a temporary move into a more-than-friendly territory gives me the jitters, then a young person encountering his or her first move into a new home must be completely freaked out.

So if you’re getting ready to move and you’ve lost your mind (as well as your keys and match to every other sock) in a slew of boxes, and you haven’t accidentally packed the kids, then they may be just as stressed out, if not more so, than you. The first thing you can do is head to the library and pick up some books that might ameliorate your kids’ unease.

peanut butter and cupcakeOne of my favorites out of the gate is one from our Summer Reading 2015 picks, Peanut Butter & Cupcake by Terry Border. A simple tale about newly transplanted Peanut Butter who wanders around his new town with a soccer ball looking for a new friend to play with. Don’t be fooled by the simplicity and humor of this story; one of the biggest fears of a child who is moving is finding new friends.

lenny and lucyContinuing with the theme of friendship, but also focusing on the anxiety caused by how “scary” a new place can be, is the charming Lenny & Lucy by Phillip C. Stead. This American Library Association Notable Books for Children pick and Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year for 2015 will reassure your kids that their feelings are perfectly normal and that things will get easier.

before i leaveBefore I Leave by Jessixa Bagley takes a different tack. This sweetly sad picture book focuses on the fear of leaving behind a beloved friend with a new move. And the heartwarming Ice in the Jungle by Ariane Hofmann-Maniyar touches on the loss of the familiar and how alien a new place can seem. While Eve Bunting’s Yard Sale explores the theme of loss even more deeply as the main character must watch her family sell off some of their possessions to move from a house to an apartment. And if you want a book that that’s less of a story and more of an aid to help you start a conversation about the fears your child may be having about the move, then a nonfiction book such as Moving by Caitie McAneney might be what’s needed.

trio books 2This is just a drop in the bucket of books covering this topic (a catalog search on moving, household will give you many more options). We even have some books for the older kids such as Seven Dead Pirates by Linda Bailey for middle grade readers (if you think moving is hard, try moving into a house occupied by the ghosts of seven pirates). There’s also Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum for teens (about a teen grappling with grief, navigating a new school and step-family, and corresponding online with a mysterious new “friend”). Or maybe a graphic novel such as Lost in NYC: A Subway Adventure by Nadja Speigelman will provide some comfort.

Moving, at any age, can be a trying experience. A book might bring a sense of peace (or at least help alleviate some of the loneliness and anxiety) for a kid. Even adults need support and comfort during a move. That being said, if you get a chance, I hope you’ll swing by the East Columbia Branch and say hi to me sometime during the next three months.

Joanne Sobieck-Lingg is glad to blog about her many, disparate interests (though expert in none, except maybe parenthetical asides). In past lives, she was a writer, proofreader, editor, project manager, teacher, and even co-coordinator of a certain health blog. She has been happily ensconced among the fiction and teen books at the Central Branch of HCLS since 2003.

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I love carbs! Technically, our bodies and brain NEED carbs. But the carbohydrates I’m referring to are the “bad” ones. The ones I grew up with: white rice, white potatoes, taro, and all kinds of breads. Frankly, I have a potato problem. I love potatoes in all their glorious forms! However, I am partial to a giant mountain of home made mashed potatoes. So, in order to keep an eye on my blood sugars, I trick myself with one of my favorite low-carb sides: garlic cauliflower mash. It’s a surprisingly delicious way to enjoy cauliflower while simultaneously satisfying those carb cravings for mashed potatoes.

cauliflower mashIngredients: cauliflower, minced garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil, butter, milk (optional: paprika, spinach, white beans, pesto)

Chop a head of cauliflower into florets. You can either blanch the florets in boiling water for 15 minutes, or stem the florets in the microwave or on the stove. You just need to get the cauliflower tender for “mashing.” While florets are cooking, get a small fry pan going with medium heat- then, drizzle a bit of olive oil, add a minced garlic clove. (At this point, you could add add a handful of spinach to lightly wilt in the pan or white beans or pesto or additional seasonings.) Whatever healthy, brave concoction you’ve created in your garlic pan, add to a food processor. Then, drain the water from your blanched cauliflower and add florets to the food processor as well. Blend in food processor with a little bit of salt/pepper, up to 1 Tbsp of butter, and splash of milk until its nearly smooth. Scrape down the sides occasionally. Keep an eye on its consistency so you don’t put it over the edge as a puree. You can also do this step manually with a fork or masher. Either way, it’ll be tasty. Dress up your mash with chives or other fresh herbs.

Another delicious and simple way to get more cauliflower into your diet: cauliflower rice!

My sister-in-love (as opposed to sister-in-law) bought some cauliflower rice from the store the other night. It was basically a head of cauliflower that was pulsed in a food processor and repackaged in a foam tray with a price tag and plastic wrap. Save yourself the extra cost and just get a head of cauliflower. Once your raw cauliflower is pulsed to the point of rice (or cous cous) texture, you should set a fry pan on medium heat with a drizzle of olive oil. You can then add a clove of garlic minced, along with a small white/yellow onion minced, maybe a handful of baby portobellas chopped. Saute until mushrooms are soft and onions are nearly translucent. At that point, add the cauliflower. This is a great base for any and all flavors you’re interested in creating. Simply season with salt and pepper or anything your heart desires! What’s great about cauliflower is that (like rice) it will absorb the seasoning beautifully. I’ve seen Indian cauliflower rice with cumin, turmeric, ginger, etc. The pellets of cauliflower will also absorb the colors of your herbs and spices! Try something fun like a Spanish style cauliflower rice or something Guam-style like achote red-rice (annatto seeds).  

Cauliflower is pretty easy to work with, you just need to put in time. There’s all kinds of great recipes for cauliflower tots (like potato tots), cauliflower soup, cous cous like salad, cauliflower popcorn (deep fried cauliflower), “steaks”, tortillas- the only limit is your imagination! Try out our Paleo cookbooks for more ideas!

 


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Hdrivenbyemotionsave you ever experienced an emotion that you could not explain or describe? If you have, you can attest to this unexplained emotion leading to even more indescribable emotions. Before you know it, you are left feeling like you don’t understand yourself.

I have had experiences where loved ones have told me to “be happier” or “calm down” after I try to explain what I’m feeling. These dismissive responses have caused me to repress my emotions at times; as if they didn’t exist. You can’t just “be happy” because someone told you that you should be. In fact, you shouldn’t tell someone how and when to feel a certain way. Instead, be respectful of their feelings and find ways to help them.

Many people living with depression and/or anxiety can’t always put their feelings into words. Much less, explain why it’s happening, just that it is. The society we live in is very good at prescribing solutions to fix, assist, or aid in one’s physical health. If we tell a friend we’ve broken our arm, the solution is a cast. If we have any kind of  physical illness or disease we have everything from physical therapy to surgery to address these ailments. Unfortunately, when it comes to emotional health (and intelligence) our friends and family aren’t always able to come up with tangible solutions. In fact, mental wellness is often seen as a more abstract concept and, sadly, isn’t always taken seriously.

Working to recognize your emotions (and the emotions of others) and the ability to distinguish between different feelings is key. Once you’re able to identify your emotions and the feelings that come with them, you can use that information to guide your thinking and behavior. Having a plan and taking action to healthfully address your state of mind is an essential step in managing your wellness. A few examples include: examining your diet and exercise regimen, trying meditation, exploring a new hobby, exploring the outdoors, making time for yourself, talking with a close friend or therapist, and coloring. These are just a few ways you can find positive behaviors that can make you both happier and healthier.

Each person experiences life, and the world around them, in a different way. So, the answers to their emotional needs will be just as diverse. Let’s find more ways to be more understanding and practice compassion when the people around us are comfortable sharing their feelings. Besides, we’re on this planet to help each other.

Laci Radford is a Children’s Instructor & Research Specialist at Miller Branch. She is a music lover, writer, and an avid reader. She enjoys attending concerts, plays, and other forms of live entertainment. Her favorite activities include scoping out unique items at thrift stores, bonfires with friends, and having tie-dye parties. She is studying Psychology and plans to become a music and art therapist sooner rather than later.


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“When it comes to eating right, I find it’s so important for food to be tasty, so that you’ll want to keep eating well for a lifetime,” so goes the opening to the super neat and scrumptious The All-Natural Diabetes Cookbook, which covers everything from classic comfort foods to more exotic fare.

all natural diabetesThere are so many good cookbooks out there, but sometimes you just want a few that you can count on again and again to provide you with you healthy (and even happy) meal choices that will never disappoint or deny you enjoyment in your eating life. Whether it is Diabetic Living’s beautiful and wonderful Diabetes Meals by the Plate: 90 Low-Carb Meals to Mix & Match, Jackie Newgent’s The All-Natural Diabetes Cookbook, or Kate Gardner’s The New Diabetes Cookbook: 100 Mouthwatering, Seasonal, Whole-Food Recipes, you will not only want to eat healthy, you will be excited about doing so!

Essential to Jackie Newgent’s philosophy is simplicity, both with time in the kitchen and in choosing the freshest, least-processed foods. One of my favorite recipes in her book is “Buckwheat Banana Pancakes with Walnuts” (page 26). I was surprised to discover that buckwheat is not wheat at all but an herb of Russian descent. Central to Newgent’s cookbook is the idea that non-starchy vegetables promote an essential (and delicious) plant-based approach and that some vegetables can become the entrée, such as yummy cauliflower “steak” (see pages 256-257) “A good rule of thumb,” the registered dietitian nurse says, is “to fill half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables, whether grilled, steamed, roasted, microwave-baked or raw.”

diabetes meals by the plate useJessie Shafer, Food and Nutrition Editor for Diabetic Living, supports the half plate non-starchy veggies “ideal” as well. In the intro to the fabulously colorful and very user friendly cookbook Diabetes Meals by The Plate she explains that the trick to healthful eating is in how you arrange your plate. “Visually divide your plate in half and fill one of those halves with nonstarchy vegetables,” she begins, then “divide the remaining half of the plate in two and fill one quarter with a protein. Fill the last quarter with a serving of grains or other starchy food.” Diabetes Meals by The Plate features dozens of pretty, but more importantly, very tasty and healthy recipes. There are lots of offerings for people who like their meat, but also (and in a very neat and unique way) there are offerings for the vegetarian and “Caribbean Tofu and Beans” (see pages 182 and 183) just jumps off the page with vibrancy and the promise of a terrific meal, even for those normally wary of tofu.

new diabetes cookbookPerhaps the most “foodie” of the cookbooks mentioned here, in terms of looks and taste, though (thankfully) not complexity, is the gorgeous (and mouthwatering) The New Diabetes Cookbook. One of my favorite recipes in the book is for “smoked gouda and broccoli lasagnettes.” (see pages 94 and 95) If you love lasagna as much as the author does then you might understand what she means when she says that one of the things she does not like about it is how easy it is to overeat it. That’s where “lasagnettes,” not lasagna, come in. Lasagnettes are mini lasagnas made in a muffin tin, where wontons are used instead of pasta, which saves on both both carbs and calories. Lasagnettes also travel very well and make for easy on-to-go snacks AND they freeze well.

Kate Gardner wrote The New Diabetes Cookbook knowing that cooking and eating well with diabetes is not always easy. There are the worries about carbohydrate content, blood sugar and making the “right” choices. All three cookbooks mentioned here focus on the belief that eating well with diabetes means eating whole, unprocessed foods in moderate portions. Jackie Newgent calls it “eating real” and makes cooking with vegetables a real joy, even to those who are not veggie lovers. Each color group provides distinctive health benefits and makes for terrific presentation in your meals as well as a tasty treat for your palate. It is the position of the American Diabetes Association that there is not “a one size fits all” pattern to eating and that is delightfully evident in all the wonderful and varied choices delivered in these three cookbooks.

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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February is American Heart Month. President Obama stated in his proclamation, “Every person can take steps to reduce the risk factors associated with heart disease in themselves and in those they care about –whether as parents, caretakers, or friends—by encouraging healthy eating, physical activity, and by discouraging the use of tobacco.”

go freshOne of the ways to keep your heart healthy is to eat well. Howard County Library System has an extensive collection of cookbooks to help you get started. Go Fresh: A Heart-Healthy Cookbook with Shopping and Storage Tips is one of the cookbooks in a series by the American Heart Association. What I liked best about this cookbook is that most of the ingredients cited I have on hand in my kitchen or I know I can find easily in the grocery store. This cookbook includes in an appendix a list of the approximate equivalents in weight and volume for the most common vegetables and fruits. Also included in the appendices, are vegetable cooking times and a food storage guide. I learned it is best to store fresh herbs, such as parsley, dill, and cilantro, in the refrigerator in a juice glass half-filled with water and, covered loosely with plastic. Now let’s get to the recipes, which by the way, include desserts! My boys liked the Peppered Sirloin with Steakhouse Onions (p.167) and I liked the Ancho Chicken and Black Bean Salad with Cilantro-Lime Dressing (p.96). We are going to try the Buffalo Chicken with Slaw (p.147) next. I think I can even convince them to try one of the vegetarian entrées, especially if we can have Soft-Serve Blueberry-Cinnamon Ice Cream (p. 297) for dessert! Visit the library to find more cookbooks from the American Heart Association, including titles on slow cooking, reducing sodium, and reducing bad fats.

secrets of healthy cookingI also recommend Barbara Seelig-Brown’s Secrets of Healthy Cooking: A Guide to Simplifying the Art of Heart Healthy and Diabetic Cooking published by the American Diabetes Association. This cookbook is great for the new cook because it includes sections on building a pantry for healthy cooking, an essential equipment list, a kitchen glossary, how to read a recipe, and the must-know basic wine pairing. I found the fish know-how section very helpful. I am not a fan of seafood, so I liked the tip “…if you don’t like fish, then disguising it with strong flavors is for you.” There are colorful pictures throughout the book that illustrate step-by-step how to, for example, cook in parchment, steam shrimp, peal and chop garlic, cut a mango, cook with wine, make pizza/calzone dough, or a phyllo pie crust. My favorite recipes were the salad pizza (p. 28) and the crunchy quinoa stuffed zucchini (p. 99). The next time my kids are all home I might just feel brave enough to try the lemon garlic shrimp on a cucumber flower (p. 82). What I liked about this cookbook is that it is perfect for both the beginner cook and the experienced cook.

Healthy eating and cooking can make a difference in improving your cardiovascular health. Some of the foods that are heart-healthy include fish high in omega-3s, such as salmon and tuna, healthy nuts such as almonds or walnuts, berries, such as blueberries and strawberries, dark beans, such as kidney or black beans, and red, yellow, and orange veggies. You can find more information on heart healthy foods at  Johns Hopkins Medicine. This month when you’re shopping for your valentine, remember that your loved ones need you to take care of the most important heart of all, your own. After looking at these cookbooks in your local library, you might just be inspired to cook a healthy-heart meal instead of making that reservation.

Nancy Targett is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Miller Branch. She lives in Columbia and is the proud mom of three boys and a girl and a Siamese cat.

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compassionate self disciplineRemember January 1st, the fresh new year spread out before you, brimming with heady promises and possibilities of a newer, sleeker, much improved version of yourself? You tried to convince yourself you’d stay on track. Deep down you knew that your faith in the efficacy of these lofty resolutions flew in the face of factual evidence from previous years when nary a resolution had been kept. Those past years’ resolutions were long forgotten, not even worthy of another Auld Lang Syne. No, you had not changed. Alas, you were and still are imperfect.

Einstein once defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Isn’t this what we do every year when we jump on the resolutions bandwagon proclaiming that THIS will be the year the resolutions will finally stick and we will achieve perfection?

News Flash: There ain’t no perfect people, people!

Soon, January will be a distant memory. Was it really only a few weeks ago that you vowed to make a total life transformation by means of a numbered list called “My New Year’s Resolutions”? Yet, only last night you found yourself sprawled lazily on the couch, staring woefully into your pint of Half Baked FroYo, berating yourself for failing at yet another vague, perfunctory set of annual to-do’s, only days into what you are now certain will turn out be an annus horribilis. Well, join the club! Broken resolutions are cliché, but then again you knew that.

Don’t be so hard on yourself, please. If resolutions actually worked, we would not feel compelled to keep making the same ones over and over each year.

To be sure, I am not saying that setting goals is not a good thing, or that we should not strive to be the best and healthiest individuals that we can be. All of us who enjoy this blog know how very important good health is. As the old saying goes, good health truly is your wealth. Anyone who has navigated through a major health crisis can tell you just how true that adage really is.

joy in simpleWhat I am proposing is that instead of making big yearly pronouncements (inevitably forgotten faster than you can say Jack Robinson), let’s make it our goal to embrace small, daily acts of self-care that build upon each other to create a chain of healthy, long-lasting habits with real staying power.

You can make a fresh start every day of your life. I find this idea to be so freeing because mistakes happen. Back-tracking happens. Reverting to the old comfortable ways happens. Yet, every morning you can wake up to a fresh start with a clean slate. You can choose the healthy options that work for you, whether that looks like more servings of fruits and vegetables, more physical activity, or more time devoted to cultivating that certain joie de vivre. Thank goodness, there’s no need to wait until next year to start anew. You don’t even need to wait until morning to hit that reset button. Get going now!

By developing this mind set, you will learn to be more forgiving of yourself and you will learn to celebrate simple successes. Focus on the small scale, achievable, healthy lifestyle choices on a daily basis, and the big results will take care of themselves.

So, won’t you join me in making a no-more-New-Year’s-resolutions resolution?  You may just find 2016 turns out to be your annus mirabilis after all.

Andrea L. Dowling has been with HCLS since 2006, and is currently an Assistant Customer Service Supervisor at the HCLS East Columbia Branch. Andrea’s interests include genealogy, travel, reading banned books, and collecting vintage cook books.

 


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What must it feel like for a sixth-grade girl with a smile as big as the sun to be physically battered by classmates for wearing religious clothing to school? Or for teens to endure rock throwing, offensive touching, and abusive name-calling – all while teachers stand by condoning such attacks? In the aftermath of Paris and San Bernardino, some of the most emotionally scarred people in the U.S. are American Muslim kids and their parents.

You want a resolution you’ll stick with in the New Year?
Get out your library card and check out a book for your kids (and yourself) about what it’s really like to be Muslim and American right now.

Then pass it on.

Children, Ages 4-9

the librarian of basraThe Librarian of Basra by Jeanette Winter Alia is a spunky librarian in Basra, Iraq. When the “whispers of war grow louder,” Alia decides to rescue every book in her beloved library. After all, in the Qur’an, the first thing God said to Muhammad was ‘Read.'”

Mirrormirror, by Jeannie Baker, is a mixed media collage which uniquely depicts the commonality between two boys of different cultures. One in Australia and one in Morocco. Their mutual day unfolds from sunrise to moon up, and in few words young readers realize how much we all share with one another – no matter where we’re from.

 

Middle Grades

Ten Things I Hate About Meten things i hate about me by Randa Abdel-Fattah.
When Muslim-Australian, Jamilah bleaches her hair blond and sticks blue contact lenses in her eyes it’s for one thing only – to appear less ethnic. This is the very thing she would be mercilessly teased for at school. In fact, no one knows she is Lebanese until… Well, let’s just say this book is a satisfying and very funny look at why teens conform to the culture at large.

Guantanamo Boyguantanamo boy by Anna Perera is the story of an ordinary British teen, post 9/11. He’s picked on a little too much by his teacher, worried over by his mother, and indulged by his father. Typical. Right? Until the moment this second-generation fifteen-year, on a family visit to Pakistan is kidnapped, then arrested (without formal charging) as a terrorist and sent to the Guantanamo Bay Prison Camp. His Crime? He’s Muslim. A powerful and harrowing story every teen and their parents should read.

Adult

Finding Nouffinding noufthe language of baklava by Zoe Ferraris A stiletto and a lone camel are the only clues in the disappearance of a young Saudi heiress. It’s now up to a devout Bedouin tracker, and a lonely forensics expert, to unravel a cultural conundrum that Ferraris has woven into an exquisite mystery.

The Language of Baklava by Diana Abu-Jaber captures the ache of Abu-Jaber captures the ache of displacement and the longing for a home far away in this tender memoir about her Jordanian father struggling to root in upstate New York with his American wife and children. Funny, warm, and all-embracing, Abu-Jaber shares with readers what her father taught her: that the taste of cumin, lamb, and pine nuts is a way for anyone of any culture who has immigrated to this country to “hold on to the shadow of memory.”

Aimee Zuccarini is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the East Columbia Branch. She facilitates several book discussions and writes the book reviews for The Maryland Women’s Journal.


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this year i willIt’s that time of year, again. Most of the holiday celebrations are wrapping up and the New Year is just a couple days away. Many people reflect during this time and make promises to “be better” in the coming year. Here’s one piece of advice for you as you mull over your possible resolutions: be realistic.

If you’re 50 lbs. overweight and want to lose those L-B’s, make a plan that you can execute. If you want to stop eating out so much and cook more at home, make a plan that fits your lifestyle. If you want to work on your relationships, take steps that you can actually accomplish. Basically, don’t make promises to yourself and others that you simply cannot keep.

So, here are some suggestions gathered from myriad books, articles, and personal experiences that could help as you draft your own resolutions for the New Year.

Read
Do your research. Read up on your topic of interest. Visit your local library, take a look at their recommendations or look at the best-sellers. You could check out prominent, credible authors’ works or (dare I say it?) briefly search online. The latter of these is best done with high scrutiny, or best yet, with your favorite library staff. Gathering information is always the best thing you can do when you’re not sure where to start.

Consult Expert(s)
If you’re looking to improve your health in any way, visit your primary care physician. Get a physical. Visit a nutritionist. See an endocrinologist, a dermatologist, or a psychiatrist. Whatever your health needs are, take steps to find the specialist who can help you. Remember, finding an expert is like giving an interview. It can take time to find the right expert for your needs. Advocate for yourself and don’t settle for anything less than what’s best for you.

Write it down!
Literally! Write down your goals. Be as specific as you possibly can. Instead of writing down, “Lose weight.” Consider writing, “I will exercise for 30 minutes, three days a week. I will eat a healthy breakfast every morning. I will check in with my doctor to monitor my progress.” Post them where you can see them daily or keep them in a journal. Be committed to that promise to be better and do better in the coming year. Words are incredibly powerful and when written (and read) can provide the inspiration you need to change. It’s real now. Make it happen!

Get Support
There are few things in life you can do alone. Big goals require big support. Little goals require big support. Make sure someone outside of yourself holds you accountable. Tell your family, listen to your experts, and find others who’re on the same journey. It’s proven that those who have meaningful support as they tackle their goals are significantly more successful than those who hide under the table and go at it alone. Every single one of Mark Hyman’s books goes over this; read his works!

Measure Progress, Adjust to the Real World
How do you know you’ve been successful? Well, when you wrote your specific goals down, you should be able to say whether or not to were able to achieve those goals. If you can’t identify whether or not your were successful, it’s time to rewrite your goals in a way that it is measurable. How you measure your progress can also be another discussion with your expert. Remember, it takes 21-29 days to form a habit. Make sure you’re forming good habits. Evaluate your goals and adjust if necessary.

Finally, be kind to yourself. You’re not going to get everything right all of the time. You’re going to mess up. You will fall short. Accept it and learn from it. When you’re realistic with your resolutions you will find success. Success requires work- hard work and a lot of help, but you can do it.

What are some of your resolutions for the New Year? Do you have any advice for resolution makers?


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jazminRainy weather should not stop us from getting our exercise. Remember being a child, and playing in the rain?

Jazmin is all set to lead the neighborhood parade. She flings the door open and encounters a big problem: the weather. Wind and thunder are followed by rain: “Slap! Rain poured down in buckets.” Thus begins Jazmin’s tale of disappointment and frustration as she waits for the storm to stop. ” Mounting frustration leads Jazmin to step outside and shake her fists at the rain and stomp her feet. But frustration gives way to fun as she kicks and chases the rain down the sidewalk: “I am Jazmin, the Rain Stomper!” Other youngsters come outside to watch; they urge her on, laughing and clapping. By the time Jazmin has finished, the sun has come out and the cheering children end up having their parade after all. “And so it was that Jazmin, the Rain Stomper outstomped the rain.” Large letters in white, black, or red and in different sizes emphasize the sounds and rhythm of the rain and thunder (“BOOM walla BOOM BOOM!”; “clink, clink WHOOSH!”).

who likes the rain yeeA delightful read-aloud that deals with making the best of a disappointing situation.

It’s time to put on your rain gear for a rainy-day romp! It’s time to put on a raincoat, grab an umbrella, and head outdoors. The worms like rain, and so do the fish and frogs. But what about the cat and dog? In this lyrical picture book, one spunky little girl discovers just who likes rain–and who doesn’t–as she explores the rainy-day habits of the world around her. The rhyming text (and often the illustrations) provides clues to her guessing game, so young listeners will easily guess the answers: “Who likes rain? / Not Papa’s old truck. / Who likes rain? / Quack, quack… / It’s a duck!”

Grab your umbrella (and shiny rain boots) and take a walk in the rain. You never know who you might see out there on the walking paths of Howard County!

rain ashmanA child and an adult look at rain from both sides. A grumpy elderly man resents the rain (“Dang puddle”); meanwhile, his young neighbor is overjoyed by it (“It’s raining frogs and pollywogs!”). The boy happily and energetically responds to the greetings of his neighbors as he hops like a frog into the puddles. The man snaps at everyone and harrumphs his way through the streets. An act of kindness and a bit of role playing lead to a change of heart, a happier outlook and a big splash. Text and illustrations are beautifully constructed and perfectly complementary. Ashman imparts the essence of the tale in just a few well-chosen phrases. Robinson’s renderings fill the city setting with crisp details. The boy and the man move briskly through the pages along with a cast of supporting characters and passersby, all of whom are depicted with expressive individuality. It’s all about attitude, isn’t it?

Shirley ONeill works for Howard County Library System as the Children’s and Teen Materials Specialist. She cannot believe she actually gets paid to do this job.

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Thanksgiving dinner has to be the most favored hedonistic joys of the holidays. It kicks off the season of excused gluttony with family and friends. Thanksgiving dinner is second only to the Halloween candy binge and is truly the beginning of bad food decisions for the winter months. Oh, the sheer excitement of pigging out with those you love only to collapse in a heap on the couch to watch football. Oh yes, I LOVE Thanksgiving, but the results of the aforementioned food binge don’t help me meet my health goals. Believe me, losing weight, staying healthy, and making food decisions around the holidays is tough, but it’s necessary. Here are some swaps to consider.

  1. Cauliflower mash is awesome. I was skeptical myself at first, but this is one really tasty way to make your Thanksgiving dinner less fattening and more interesting. Check out this recipe for garlic cauliflower mash, 600 plus reviewers can’t be wrong, right? Also, try Brassicas for more healthy vegetable based dishes.
  2. Sweet potatoes slathered in butter and toasted marshmallows are sweetly decadent. Unfortunately, for most people, and particularly diabetics, the extra sugars (and fat) in this traditional dish would require a serious bolus shot of insulin and a several days of cross fit sessions to counteract the damage. Instead, opt for a savory herb casserole packed with flavor not with empty calories. Vegetable Literacy may have the right recipe for you. Please, stay strong, you don’t need those toasted marshmallows, you just want them.
  3. Stuffing is, in my book, a hearty, gratifying, carb-city of deliciousness. Unfortunately, this dish is a real pain for many of my family members. Celiac is no joke and stuffing is a nightmare of sorts for those living with the disease. Celiac Creations for Multiple Allergies is a 2015 title that may help find the right substitute to satisfy that stuffing craving.
  4. Lay off the booze or seriously reduce your intake. I get it, everyone wants to have a drink once in a while, but sometimes it seems like people use the holidays as an excuse to… well, binge. Listen, I know you’ve either been to a holiday party (or heard about) where someone went overboard with the punch and, well, got a little too “punchy.” Trust me, that’s never pretty. Binge drinking hurts your body in numerous ways. Instead, opt for a small glass of sparkling juice or mix sparkling water with fresh fruit if you need a little bubbly. Cool Waters has some great low and no-cal drinks you can try. If you do choose to drink, limit your intake, and always have a plan for getting around town or getting back home. A glass of wine or a couple beers may not hurt you, but you could hurt someone else.
  5. Go for a walk or play a game of touch football in the yard. O.K. I know this isn’t a “food swap,” but it’s definitely a way to switch things up. Instead of sinking into that couch post-turkey feast to watch the Panthers & Cowboys, go outside and take a walk around your neighborhood. Besides, the Bears-Packers game will be much more interesting (what with the recent jinx conspiracy based on Ditka doing that fast food commercial wearing Packers’ gear). Basically, if you don’t do any Thanksgiving food swaps, but do go for a walk or do some exercise after your meal, you’ll reduce your blood sugars and, at least, feel like you’re burning a few of those extra calories.

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As summer turns to fall, I feel the seasons changeover with achy twinges in my joints. Some people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), like myself, feel changes in the weather with their bodies. I can feel big storms, pressure changes, and shifts in humidity.

Frequently, the most challenging transition I encounter is when summer shifts to fall. I often feel my best during summertime. I experience less joint pain, swelling, stiffness, and have more energy overall. Unfortunately, as those warm summer days darken into chilly ones, my joints grow achier and harder to move.

Through the years, I’ve developed coping mechanisms to handle these seasonal changes. I don’t think I have a perfect routine, but I better understand what helps me to feel better and manage the changes in my physical condition.

      • Get more rest. Instead of getting angry at my body and denying the problem, I have to be gentler on myself and take time to get more rest. I try to go to sleep earlier, if possible, on week nights. And on weekends I may sleep in or take naps during the day. On especially bad days, I may scale back my schedule and replace activity with more resting.
      • Stay warm. When my joints become cold I have two problems. I feel worse, with more pain and stiffness. Plus, it takes a ridiculously long time for me to warm up and feel better. The best plan is to stay warm in the first place. I often dress warmer than most people—taking out the sweaters as early as September. And at night I have a heating blanket turned up on high. Taking proactive measures can help prevent bigger problems with my RA.
      • Keep up with gentle exercise. When my RA feels worse, it can be very difficult to motivate myself for exercise. It’s natural for my body to complain about moving when my joints ache and feel stiffer than molasses. But even on bad days if I do some gentle stretches and slow motions, then my bones loosen up and some of the pain dissipates. A little exercise can go a long way, which will hopefully help me feel better tomorrow as well.

Living with rheumatoid arthritis has its limitations, but I can still take care of myself with some gentleness. While I can’t necessarily fight the effects of winter, I can ease my body into it with a little self-care. Taking the time to observe how I feel and experiment with some techniques for combating the worst symptoms has helped me navigate the changing seasons.

Kelly Mack lives in Washington, DC, and works for a marketing communications firm.

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calendar_2015_blogMonday, October 19, 3:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Glenwood Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Well & Wise event. No registration required.

Tuesday, October 20, 10:30 a.m. Brain Aerobics at Miller Branch. Give your brain a workout. Enhance your memory and have fun! Challenge your brain with puzzles, word games, and other smart tasks. Well & Wise event.Register online or by calling 410-313-1950.
Tuesday, October 20, 7:00 p.m. HCLS Literary Salon – Giving Voice to the Healing Arts at Miller Branch. Ann Bracken, Frederick Foote, M.D., Jen Grow, and Michael Salcman, M.D., read their works of poetry and prose that explore themes of physical, emotional, and psychological healing. Little Patuxent Review editor and poet Steven Leyva moderates the readings. Refreshments served. Books available for purchase and signing. Meet the Author event. In partnership with Little Patuxent Review and Howard County Poetry and Literature Society. Sponsored by Friends of Howard County Library System. Register online or by calling 410-313-1950.
Wednesday, October 21, 10:30 a.m. EatPlayGrow™ at Elkridge Branch. Explore health and safety concepts inspired by children’s literature. Ages 3-5 with adult; 45 min. Multi-week series. Ticket required. Limited space; tickets available at Children’s Desk 15 minutes before class.

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calendar_2015_blogTuesday, October 13, 1:00 p.m. -3:00 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Elkridge Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Well & Wise event. No registration required.

Wednesday, October 14, 10:30 a.m. EatPlayGrow™ at Elkridge Branch. Explore health and safety concepts inspired by children’s literature. Ages 3-5 with adult; 45 min. Multi-week series. Ticket required. Limited space; tickets available at Children’s Desk 15 minutes before class.

Wednesday, October 14, 7:00 p.m. CPR Class at Central Branch. Sudden Cardiac Arrest can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere and kills someone every two minutes in the United States. Learn to save someone’s life in this class that teaches the simple steps of Hands-Only CPR for victims over the age of eight years old. Discover how to recognize sudden cardiac arrest, how to perform Hands-Only CPR, and how to operate an Automated External Defibrillator (AED). This is a non-certification class. In partnership with Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services. Well & Wise event. Register online or by calling 410-313-7800.


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As technology increasingly shapes and informs how we interact with each other online, how can we foster positive communication through social media, and how can we encourage people to make good choices about the information they share? What does it mean to be a good digital citizen, and what impact does our online presence have on our off-line reputation? How and why do our online and offline personas differ? Could our online personas benefit from more deliberate thought about how we portray ourselves and interact with others? What role, if any, should civility play in our online personas? Learn how social media users of all ages can cultivate and demonstrate digital civility, appropriate communication, and personal responsibility when using social media platforms.

Wellness permeates all facets of our lives from physical and mental to behavioral and beyond.
Howard County Library System invites you to join the discussion and register for this event here.

 


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calendar_2015_blogSaturday, October 03, 2:00 p.m. I’m Going to Be a Big Brother or Sister at Central Branch. Prepare for the arrival of a baby in this class for new siblings. Enjoy stories, activities, and bring a favorite doll or stuffed animal to practice holding your baby. Resources for parents, too. Families; 30 – 45 min. Ticket required. Well & Wise event. In partnership with Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Limited space; tickets available at Children’s Desk 15 minutes before class.

Monday, October 05,  3:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Glenwood Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Well & Wise event. No registration required.
Thursday, October 08, 7:00 p.m. CPR Class at East Columbia Branch. Sudden Cardiac Arrest can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere and kills someone every two minutes in the United States. Learn to save someone’s life in this class that teaches the simple steps of Hands-Only CPR for victims over the age of eight years old. Discover how to recognize sudden cardiac arrest, how to perform Hands-Only CPR, and how to operate an Automated External Defibrillator (AED). This is a non-certification class. In partnership with Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services. Well & Wise event. Register online or by calling 410-313-7700.

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calendar_2015_blogTuesday, September 29, 10:30 a.m. Brain Aerobics at Miller Branch. Give your brain a workout. Enhance your memory and have fun! Challenge your brain with puzzles, word games, and other smart tasks. Well & Wise event. Register online or by calling 410-313-1950.


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How many hours does your child spend in front of a screen? Factoring in smart phone, video game, computer, and television time, the average child today spends 7 hours with electronic media. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises parents to wait until a child is at least 2 before allowing any screen time. Older children and teens should be limited to 1-2 hours per day. The AAP recommends that every home have a “screen-free zone” where there are no electronic devices. Ideally, bedrooms and dining areas should have no computers, televisions or video game consoles.

growing up socialThe Johns Hopkins Medicine online library includes information on school-aged children’s developmental milestones as well as television guidelines. Children learn and enjoy so many new skills and activities as they grow. Watching television to the exclusion of playing, reading, doing crafts and spending time with friends narrows a child’s world. When they do watch television, children benefit from watching with their parents so they can discuss what they see. Selecting kid-appropriate shows allows parents to guide their children toward the highest quality programming. Most children spend 3 hours per day watching television. This is time that could instead be spent participating in sports, exploring nature, writing a poem, playing a new board game or discovering an amazing author.

Excess screen time has been associated with poor school performance, attention deficit disorder, and obesity in children. Increased exposure to social media platforms places children at higher risk of bullying, anxiety disorders, depression, suicidal ideation, and dangerous behavior. We are all so busy that it is already challenging to get enough sleep. Using electronic devices before bedtime, however, can make it more difficult for children to fall asleep and contributes to sleep disorders.

screen free activitiesAs parents, we can promote reading, creative play, and activities that use the imagination. We can model limited use of electronic devices with our own behavior. We should show true interest in our childrens’ school and free time plans and encourage open communication. Family activities such as hiking, card games, art projects, and making music are great ways to spend time together. The HCLS collection includes many books about travelling with kids. For some local adventure, check out Fun with the Family in Maryland: Hundreds of Ideas for Day Trips with the Kids and Day Trips in Delmarva. HCLS has so many wonderful books filled with ideas for family entertainment. Take a look at Project Kid:  100 Ingenius Crafts for Family Fun, 150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids:  The Very Best and Easiest Playtime Activities from FunAtHomeWithKids.com, and Unbored:  The Essential Field Guide to Serious Fun. All include imaginative play and craft ideas for all ages. Enjoy some time being a screen-free family.

Cherise Tasker is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Central Branch and has a background in health information. Most evenings, Cherise can be found reading a book, attending a book club meeting, or coordinating a book group.

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calendar_2015_blogMonday, September 21, 3:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Glenwood Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Well & Wise event. No registration required.
Tuesday, September 22, 7:00 p.m. CPR Class at Central Branch. Sudden Cardiac Arrest can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere and kills someone every two minutes in the United States. Learn to save someone’s life in this class that teaches the simple steps of Hands-Only CPR for victims over the age of eight years old. Discover how to recognize sudden cardiac arrest, how to perform Hands-Only CPR, and how to operate an Automated External Defibrillator (AED). This is a non-certification class. In partnership with Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services. Well & Wise event. Register online or by calling 410-313-7800.

Wednesday, September 23, 7:00 p.m. Brain Aerobics at Miller Branch. Give your brain a workout. Enhance your memory and have fun! Challenge your brain with puzzles, word games, and other smart tasks. Well & Wise event. Register online or by calling 410-313-1950.

Thursday, September 24, 6:00 p.m. Babysitting 101 at East Columbia Branch. Learn the essentials of babysitting with a University of Maryland Extension instructor. Participants receive a certificate (must attend all three sessions): Sep 10, 17 & 24. Well & Wise event. Ages 13 & up. If you would like a reminder for this class, please provide an email address. Register online or by calling 410-313-7700.


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calendar_2015_blogMonday, September 14, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Savage Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Well & Wise event. No registration required.

Monday, September 14, 7:00 p.m. Calming Crafts at Miller Branch. Research shows that creative activities can boost serotonin levels. Join us to use artistic expression to improve your mood. All levels of artistic ability welcome. Well & Wise event. Register online or by calling 410-313-1950.

Wednesday, September 16, 7:00 p.m. CPR Class at Savage Branch. Sudden Cardiac Arrest can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere and kills someone every two minutes in the United States. Learn to save someone’s life in this class that teaches the simple steps of Hands-Only CPR for victims over the age of eight years old. Discover how to recognize sudden cardiac arrest, how to perform Hands-Only CPR, and how to operate an Automated External Defibrillator (AED). This is a non-certification class. In partnership with Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services. Well & Wise event. Register online or by calling 410-313-0760.

Wednesday, Sept. 16, 6-7 p.m. $88 for 8 sessions. Prenatal Exercise with gentle stretching and light exercises to help condition birth muscles and enhance well-being to help prepare your body for the birthing process. For prenatal mothers only. Held in the Howard County General Hospital’s Wellness Center.

Thursday, September 17, 6:00 p.m. Babysitting 101 at East Columbia Branch. Learn the essentials of babysitting with a University of Maryland Extension instructor. Participants receive a certificate (must attend all three sessions): Sep 10, 17 & 24. Well & Wise event. Ages 13 & up. If you would like a reminder for this class, please provide an email address. Register online or by calling 410-313-7700.

Monday, Sept. 21, 6:30-8 p.m. Free. Healthy Eating on the Go! Join us for a discussion on eating healthy in a fast-paced world. Learn how the new food label can help you make better choices when dining out and how you can prepare healthy, low-cost lunches at home. The seminar is in the Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center.


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DD5kHeaderImage2015WebV2Howard County Library System has teamed up with the Downtown Columbia Partnership for the second annual Discover Downtown Columbia Running Event happening September 27, 2015. The event kicks off at 9 a.m. with a one mile Fun Run for children up to 10 years old. The 5k begins at 9:07 a.m. at the Plaza at The Mall in Columbia and will finish at the People Tree on the Downtown Lakefront. This is also listed as a Road Runners Club of America member event.

Runners will experience the iconic landmarks of Columbia like Symphony in the Woods and Merriweather Post Pavillion in a new way. The course will guide runners past Howard County Library Central Branch and onto Columbia Association’s newly renovated pathway around Lake Kittamaqundi, and set runners toward the finish line at the People Tree.

Participants can enjoy myriad post-race activities courtesy of Downtown Columbia Partners including live music and entertainment for all-ages. In fact, it’s rumored live entertainment may be present along the course with a post-race concert awaiting finishers. Clyde’s “Beer Garden” and Whole Foods Market’s “Runners Garden” will be on site offering free beer and food to participants. Friends and family of the runners will be able to purchase food and beverages.

While the course will close at 10 a.m., it’s certain that the last of the runners across the finish line will be greeted with cheers and fun festivities. Register for the event today!


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calendar_2015_blogSunday & Monday, September 6 & 7, 2015: Howard County Library System Will Be CLOSED in Observance of Labor Day. 

Tuesday, September 8, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Elkridge Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Well & Wise event.

Tuesday, September 8, 7:00 p.m. I’m Going to Be a Big Brother or Sister at Miller Branch. Prepare for the arrival of a baby in this class for new siblings. Enjoy stories, activities, and bring a favorite doll or stuffed animal to practice holding your baby. Resources for parents, too. Families; 30 – 45 min. Ticket required. Well & Wise event. In partnership with Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Thursday, September 10, 6:00 p.m. Babysitting 101 at East Columbia Branch. Learn the essentials of babysitting with a University of Maryland Extension instructor. Participants receive a certificate (must attend all three sessions): Sep 10, 17 & 24. Well & Wise event. Ages 13 & up. If you would like a reminder for this class, please provide an email address. Register online or by calling 410-313-7700.

Thursday, September 10, 7:00 p.m. Sustainability and Happiness at Central Branch. Dr. Sabrina Fu teaches science and environmental management at the University of Maryland University College (UMUC) and is a master watershed steward in Howard County. She conducts a conversation about what makes us happy, what happiness studies have shown, and the overlap between working toward sustainability and happiness. Well & Wise event. Register online or by calling 410-313-7800.

Monday/Wednesday, Sept. 14-Nov. 4, 9:30-10:30 a.m.-Noon. $64. Fitness Fun for Seniors is for those 60 and older. Exercise to music at your own pace for fitness, flexibility and fun. Class includes stretching and low-impact exercise. Held in the Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center.

Monday, Sept. 21, 6:30-8 p.m. Free. Healthy Eating on the Go! Join us for a discussion on eating healthy in a fast-paced world. Learn how the new food label can help you make better choices when dining out and how you can prepare healthy, low-cost lunches at home. The seminar is in the Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center.

 

 


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Monday, August 31, 10:30 a.m.calendar_2015_blog & 11:15 a.m. Tae Kwon Do: Mommy & Me at Miller Branch. Mommy and child participate in a fun-filled activity, led by instructors from Sykesville Tae Kwon Do, while developing movement awareness, motor skills, balance, coordination, flexibility, and agility. Wear athletic shoes, and loose fitting pants or shorts. Well & Wise event. Ages 2-3 with adult; 30 min. Registration and a signed release form is required. Register online or by calling 410-313-1950. 10:30 a.m. Registration & Release Form Download | 11:15 a.m. Registration & Release Form Download

Thursday, Sept. 3, 7 to 9 p.m., $15. Pre-Diabetes: our certified diabetes educator will teach you how to make changes to prevent or delay Type 2 diabetes in this class held in the Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center.

Monday, Sept. 21, 6:30-8 p.m. Free. Healthy Eating on the Go! A discussion on eating healthy in a fast-paced world. Learn how the new food label can help you make better choices when dining out and how to prepare healthy lunches for $5 a day. The seminar is in the Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center.


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eFriends

living well online

We need new vocabulary. We require more extensive terminology for social media friends and electronic interactions. My kids do not know a world where social media friends did not exist, but still, they seem to know that there is a difference between a Facebook friend and a friend who knows your heart. Depending on your personality and social comfort zones, however, it might not be so easy to know the difference. My kids enjoy interacting with people in person, talking with them, hanging out with them, so they know that an internet-based relationship is not the same. On some level, they know that an Instagram follower you see pictures of or posts from almost every day is a different relationship from someone you only see once a year but with whom you’ve shared a summer at camp or a year in high school precalculus. Your classmate moved away and you’ve kept in touch with her ever since. You don’t hear from her every day on your smart phone, but you feel close to her anyway. In the most basic terms, children with human interpersonal relationships know not to confuse quantity with quality. Still, the blur of daily digital bombardment can confuse one’s emotions. A Snapchat community may feel more real than your favorite school group. A stranger’s Snapchat story may be more engaging than the cafeteria conversations you shared with classmates.

For me, who has spent the greater percentage of her life to date without social media friends, the concepts demand further definition. Is Jimmy Fallon my friend because I follow his daily tweets from The Tonight Show? Of course he isn’t, but I have access to his ideas 24/7 as long as I have an internet connection. On the other hand, my human friends may be out of town or at work or offline (perish the thought). I find myself wondering, do I know that fact or have that opinion because I exchanged ideas with another person or because I had a frequent electronic interaction with a particular point of view? Did I hash out a social argument or did I just absorb it, become saturated with it, through posts on Facebook by people I don’t even know, people who have their privacy settings set to “public” or “friends of friends.” Friends, facts, opinions vs. eFriends, eFacts, ePinions.

safe social networkingA reason for new words is to provide us with a common language. Each individual’s use of terminology helps us understand whether that person has a healthy understanding of social media interactions. A person who cannot clearly distinguish between a social media friend and a human interaction friend might not use the terms correctly or precisely. This would help us recognize, for example, if a child was having an online relationship with someone they had never met, someone whom they really didn’t know. It would be a clue that your widowed father wasn’t getting out much and had become isolated in an online world where he no longer shared human laughter and had become quite lonely. Alternatively, it would be a way to talk about relationships with a highly introverted coworker who seeks help developing vital personal interactions and bridging a gap to emotional fulfillment.

As we evolve as an eSpecies, the percentage of time we spend in electronic versus human interaction will change. These interactions affect our personalities, our relationships, our cultures, our societies. Let’s grow our language to encompass these different worlds and empower us to differentiate between them.

Cherise Tasker is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Central Branch and has a background in health information. Most evenings, Cherise can be found reading a book, attending a book club meeting, or coordinating a book group.

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calendar_2015_blogMonday, August 24, 11:00 a.m. My Friend the Firefighter at Miller Branch. Meet local firefighters and see a fire truck. Families; 30 – 45 min. Ticket required. Limited space; tickets available at Children’s Desk 15 minutes before class.

Wednesday, August 26, 7:00 p.m. Food for Thought Book Discussion on Pam Anderson at Glenwood Branch. Borrow a cookbook from HCLS by the chef of the evening, prepare a few recipes at home, then discuss your experiences. Refreshments. Register online or by calling 410-313-5577.

Thursday, August 27, 7:00 p.m. 75 Years Ago…A Year in the Life of a Howard County Resident at Miller Branch. Take a stroll back in time to 1940 when Howard County boasted about 500 farms, Rt. 29 was a country lane, and Howard County Library System first opened its doors. Learn about our community’s past with vivid pictures and descriptions presented by John and Virginia Frank, directors of the Living Farm Heritage Museum. In partnership with Living Farm Heritage Museum and Howard County Historical Society. Register online or by calling 410-313-1950.


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how to stop worryingModern life is riddled with many problems and situations involving SWAT. This is a constant, perennial, and vexing by-product of our current lifestyles. As such, SWAT, in one form or another, follows us like a shadow, everywhere. They rob us of the sense of freedom and enjoyment we should experience from living our everyday lives.

Stress is caused by feelings of anxiety, tension, and worry about situations (or unpleasant experiences) that are happening to us. They cause a great deal of psychological and emotional distress and pain. Often, this manifests itself in the form of a sense of helplessness and lack of control. Their effects are pernicious on both body and mind: constant irritability, physical exhaustion, sleep deprivation, inability to concentrate and to deal with the various tasks at hand that need our attention. Consequently, time, energy, and money are often wasted in unproductive ways to combat SWAT. Some seek quick relief for their distress, in remedies such as: drugs, alcohol, smoking, binge eating, and compulsive shopping—all of which only compounds the problem, without solving the underlying root causes.

Of course, there are other cheaper and more sensible short-term remedies:

(1) Take a walk; (2) Listen to music; (3) Enjoy nature (smell the flowers); (4) Try to feel grateful for what you have; (5) Read a good book such as Dale Carnegie’s How to Stop Worrying and Start Living.

Ask yourself, “Is the SWAT caused by some self-imposed, misguided values and beliefs which trip you into doing things and engage in activities causing more harm than good?”

Common SWAT Situations:

1. I have no time! Many Time-starved modern families find themselves too busy, trying to do too many tasks, which cannot all be completed within a certain time period– (day, week, or month). Are all of them really necessary? Do they all make sense? Will these activities/choices help to improve your ultimate Quality of Life? If the answers to these questions are mostly negative, then, you should Prioritize these tasks. Give up what is really not important for your long-term wellbeing. Concentrate on a few, and let the others go. “Don’t bite more than you can chew”. Or, as Thoreau advised: “Simplify, Simplify”.

2. I don’t have the money. Are you spending too much? Are you unable to meet your multiple financial obligations? Finding too many bills in the mailbox? Then, look for possible solutions such as: (a) Cut your spending as much as possible immediately; (b) Sell some assets (stuff) and pay off your debts carrying high interest rates; (c) Increase your income temporarily by working overtime/2nd job; (d) Try to re-arrange (stretch) your monthly payments by investigating cheaper, more affordable loans (refinancing); (e) Find out if someone (friends/family/employer) can help you out a bit; (f) Downsize your dwelling/car/association memberships/subscriptions/gifts/donations, etc. (f) Look for other ‘creative’ solutions to increase cash ‘inflows’ and reduce ‘outflows’—depending on your situation.

3. I can’t let go. Don’t try to win every game, all the time. Remember: “It is the journey that is important; not the destination– (or winning)”. Sticking to this wise counsel can save your sanity, and free yourself from many unhappy, hopeless situations/goals, such as—climbing the proverbial “Corporate ladder”, trying to win every argument; getting ahead of others in sports/competitions, building wealth, and various aspects of getting ahead “in the game of life”.

4. I can’t deal. Bend, not break- trying to change others—their habits, values, political and religious beliefs, attitudes and expectations—generally don’t work. Other people are just as fastidious as you are. It is far more sensible and productive to change yourself, before trying to change others. This is within your control, and therefore, doable. It is up to you to try.

5. I’m not happy. Contentment. Enjoy what you have, right now; and don’t fret over the future too much. Have realistic goals. Keep striving, while practicing self-control, with discipline and determination. This will improve your physical and mental health.

6. I have nothing to offer. Finally, try generosity. Share, care and help those who are less fortunate. Provide physical, emotional, financial, and spiritual comfort, to ease their burdens, in whatever way you can. This can be a great ‘stress reliever’, helping you, while helping others as well.

Dr. Gopal C. Dorai is an author, economist, statistician, and Professor Emeritus at William Paterson University.

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calendar_2015_blogMonday, August 17, 3:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Glenwood Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Well & Wise event.

Monday, August 17, 7:00 p.m. Doc McStuffins’ School of Medicine at Glenwood Branch. Explore being a doctor through stories, songs, and activities. Bring your favorite stuffed animal or toy for a special check-up. Well & Wise event. Ages 3 & up; 45 min. Register online or by calling 410-313-5577. Also happening Tuesday, August 18, 10:30 a.m.

Wednesday, August 19, 12:00 p.m. Anatomy Part 2 at Savage Branch. Discover the gross anatomy of the human body. Learn about five body systems that allow us function. Body systems to be discussed include: Cardiovascular, Respiratory, Digestive, Urinary, and Reproductive. Register for all five sessions. Registration required. Ages 11-18. Register online or by calling 410-313-0760.


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calendar_2015_blogMonday, August 10, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Savage Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Well & Wise event.

Monday, August 10, 2:00 p.m. Ecology at Savage Branch. Learn how organisms interact with their environment. Conduct experiments with both plants and goldfish to understand how their surrounding environments affects growth development and cellular respiration. Register for all five sessions. Registration required. Ages 11-18. Register online or by calling 410-313-0760.

Monday, August 10, 7:00 p.m. Movin’ Up to Middle School at Elkridge Branch. Starting sixth grade? Meet new classmates, discuss the big move, and learn the secrets to success. Compete in a book bag relay and combination lock time-trial! Register online or by calling 410-313-5077.

Monday, August 10, 7:00 p.m. Calming Crafts at Miller Branch. Research shows that creative activities can boost serotonin levels. Join us to use artistic expression to improve your mood. All levels of artistic ability welcome. Well & Wise event. Register online or by calling 410-313-1950.

Tuesday, August 11, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Elkridge Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Well & Wise event.

Tuesday, Aug. 25, 5:30-9 p.m. $55. Adult, Child and Infant CPR/AED will teach you the skills needed to clear an airway obstruction, perform CPR and how to use an AED. At the successful completion of this course, you will earn a two-year American Heart Association completion card. The class is in the Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center.


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mask-157574_640By the time you read this, I will be in Costa Rica on an exciting vacation with the hubby and our two cheeky monkeys…or possibly rocking back and forth while curled in a ball alternating between laughter and tears, having just traveled several hours on a plane with the aforementioned cheeky monkeys. This, of course, is an exaggeration (as you may have noticed, I am sometimes prone to exaggeration). The monkeys, though still only in elementary school, have become quite the seasoned travelers, having already traipsed all over the United States many times, and even to Ireland once. This, however, is their first trip where English is not the primary language, and I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit to being a bit nervous.

Though the hubby and I have been doing a lot to get our ducks in a row (everything from organizing travel documents, to making sure that there will be things our one very picky eater will eat, to arranging accommodations, to making sure we’ve purchased1 some reading material to distract the kids en route), we know and accept that, inevitably, something unplanned for will come up. Parenting is definitely not an exact science, and all the preparation in the world is still sometimes not enough.

This is RidiculousThat seems to be at the heart of a delightful little book I recently came across at HCLS: This Is Ridiculous This Is Amazing: Parenthood in 71 Lists by Jason Good. Full of lists with titles such as “How to Defend Yourself Against a Toddler Attack,” “What We’ve Googled,” “Signs That You’re a Bad Parent,” and, one of my personal favorites, “Reasons Your Toddler May be Freaking Out,” this book reminded me of some of the very frustrating and very funny early days of parenting. Even now that my kids are a bit older, there’s still plenty of humor, but the frustration factor has definitely gone down as we’ve learned to just roll with it.2

The book is mainly made up of these light-hearted lists, with the occasional mini-lesson, such as “The Arithmetic of Parenting”–apparently there are formulas for parenting that include variables such as “LI” (likelihood of injury) and CSC (current state of comfort), and “How to Threaten Your Child Effectively”–self explanatory. Remembering to laugh along the way is sometimes, I feel, the best way to get though the trickier times of family life.

Jason Good’s little book certainly brought plenty of smiles and a much-needed reminder that I’m not the only parent out there that thinks less than motherly thoughts on occasion. If you need such a reminder, a sanity check, or just a good laugh, you may also want to check out Someone Could Get Hurt: A Memoir of Twenty-First Century Parenting, Naptime Is the New Happy Hour: And Other Ways Toddlers Turn Your Life Upside Down, The Three-Martini Playdate: A Practical Guide to Happy Parenting, The Sweet Potato Queens’ Guide to Raising Children for Fun and Profit, and I Heart My Little A-Holes: A Bunch of Holy-Crap Moments No One Ever Told You about Parenting.

1 As a dedicated employee of HCLS and a member of a family that consumes books pretty rapidly, I am a firm believer in getting most of our reading materials from the library. However, I am not foolish enough to think that books will not get misplaced, damaged, or completely obliterated during world travel with children. We make the purchase to help mitigate another one of those unforeseen, unplanned for events that seems to come with parenthood.

2 Many of our friends with older kids have warned us that the frustration factor will come back into play in the teen years–let’s hope the humor also increases during these years.

Joanne Sobieck-Lingg is glad to blog about her many, disparate interests (though expert in none, except maybe parenthetical asides). In past lives, she was a writer, proofreader, editor, project manager, teacher, and even co-coordinator of a certain health blog. She has been happily ensconced among the fiction and teen books at the Central Branch of HCLS since 2003.

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calendar_2015_blogMonday, August 03, 3:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Glenwood Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Well & Wise event.

Monday, August 03, 7:00 p.m. Ask A Master Gardener at Miller Branch. Discuss gardening questions. University of Maryland Extension – Howard County Master Gardeners.

Tuesday, August 04, 10:00 a.m. Curie, Radiology, and Pathology Fury at Savage Branch. Learn about Nobel Prize winning Scientist Marie Curie, her discovery of two chemical elements, and the importance of radiation in medical treatments and pathology. Explore how her scientific findings relate to current day medicine and everyday life by performing experiments to demonstrate key concepts that Dr. Curie taught her students. Register for all five sessions. Registration required. Ages 11-18. Register online or by calling 410-313-0760.

Tuesday, August 04, 12:00 p.m. Anatomy Part 1 at Savage Branch. Discover the gross anatomy of the human body. Learn about seven body systems that allow us function. Body systems to be discussed include: Integumentary, Skeletal, Muscular, Nervous, Endocrine, Lymphatic and Immune. Register for all five sessions. Registration required. Ages 11-18. Register online or by calling 410-313-0760.

Wednesday, August 05, 7:00 p.m. Wee Science: 5 Senses at Savage Branch. A class exploring simple science concepts through stories, songs and activities. Various food products may be handled. Ages 2-5 with adult; 45 min. Ticket required. Limited space; tickets available at Children’s Desk 15 minutes before class.

Wednesday, Aug. 5. $40. Dietary Counseling appointments. Meet with a registered dietician one-on-one. Discuss goals, concerns, weight loss, healthier bones, blood pressure, cholesterol and diet health. Held in the Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center.

Thursday, Aug. 6, 5:30-9 p.m. $55. Adult, Child and Infant CPR/AED will teach you the skills needed to clear an airway obstruction, perform CPR and how to use an AED. At the successful completion of this course, you will earn a two-year American Heart Association completion card. The class is in the Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center.


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every dog has a giftAny pet owner knows that spending time with their pets can be a big source of stress relief. Cuddling my cats – and of course I have cats, I’m a librarian! – always makes me feel better, no matter what the problem. It’s not just their calming presence when they sit nearby and let me pet them, I’ve heard that a cat’s purr hits a frequency that can aid in healing. Their furry company is comforting, whether the healing bit is true or not, and I’m glad to say I’m not the only person that holds that opinion.

When it comes to man’s best friend, the ever-loving dog, it’s not surprising that there are a plethora of books to choose from concerning how dogs have helped people. There’s You Had Me At Woof: How Dogs Taught Me the Secrets of Happiness, Love At First Bark: How Saving an Animal Can Sometimes Help You Save Yourself, Every Dog Has a Gift: True Stories of Dogs Who Bring Hope and Healing Into Our Lives, A Dog Walks Into a Nursing Home: Lessons In The Good Life From an Unlikely Teacher, and The Possibility Dogs: What a Handful of Unadoptables Taught Me About Service, Hope, and Healing. Plus loads more! Dog people just can’t help writing about the awesomeness of their furry friends. Of course I jest! Despite being a cat person now, I grew up with a great big dog who was a vital companion for me through my high school years, so I get it. Those lovable, loyal, attentive creatures give their everything, and seem to often bring out the best in their owners (as evidenced by all those titles I mentioned). Dogs in particular can perform animal therapy by visiting patients in a hospital or by being a friendly, nonjudgmental audience for struggling readers as in HCLS’s A+ signature initiative Dogs Educating & Assisting Readers (DEAR).

saved rescued animalsDon’t worry, I didn’t forget about cats. Although not as popular a topic as dogs, there is still Making Rounds With Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat about a cat providing comfort and companionship to patients of a hospice when their time is about to come to an end, Homer’s Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned About Love and Life With a Blind Wonder Cat, and A Street Cat Named Bob: And How He Saved My Life. While most of the pets and animals written about are the most common, cats and dogs, there are still stories like Saving Simon: How a Rescue Donkey Taught Me the Meaning of Compassion or Saved: Rescued Animals and the Lives They Transform which includes many dogs, some cats, horses, birds, turtles, and even a rescued deer.

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m gonna go hug my cat and tell her she’s done a good job.

Jessica Seipel is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Savage Branch. She has worked for the Howard County Library System, in various positions, since 2003. When not at work, she spends her time reading science fiction and comics, visiting local breweries, watching horror movies, and playing video games.

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Scalendar_2015_blogaturday, July 25, 2:00 p.m. I’m Going to Be a Big Brother or Sister at Central Branch. Prepare for the arrival of a baby in this class for new siblings. Enjoy stories, activities, and bring a favorite doll or stuffed animal to practice holding your baby. Resources for parents, too. Families; 30 – 45 min. Ticket required. In partnership with Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Well & Wise event. Limited space; tickets available at Children’s Desk 15 minutes before class.

Monday, July 27, 7:00 p.m. Ask A Master Gardener at Miller Branch. Discuss gardening questions. University of Maryland Extension – Howard County Master Gardeners.

Wednesday, Aug. 5. $40. Dietary Counseling appointments. Meet with a registererd dietician one-on-one. Discuss goals, concerns, weight loss, healthier bones, blood pressure, cholesteral and diet health. Held in the Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center.

Thursday, Aug. 6, 5:30-9 p.m. $55. Adult, Child and Infant CPR/AED will teach you the skills needed to clear an airway obstruction, perform CPR and how to use an AED. At the successful completion of this course, you will earn a two-year American Heart Association completion card. The class is in the Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center.


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There are myriad classes and activities for the young on everything you can imagine. It is easy to find a children’s soccer, tumbling, ballet, art, gaming, or music class, and the list goes on. It is much more difficult for adults to explore an interest or talent. If you are still in the workplace, there are opportunities for training and social interaction, but those opportunities may not always tap your creative potential.

Now is the time to liberate your creativity even if you think you’re not one of those people. Engaging in arts and crafts and other creative projects can have a positive impact on your health. Dr. Gene Cohen was a pioneer and one of the world’s experts in gerontology. In studies of aging people and in Dr. Cohen’s own work, four aspects of creativity stood out: Creative activity strengthens our morale later in life, contributes to physical health as we age, enriches relationships, and is our greatest legacy. You can read more about Dr. Cohen’s work here.

Creative potential is there and alive in all of us. Your creativity is only limited by your own imagination. You can paint, draw, sing, write or do whatever sparks your interest. It does not matter if your project comes out less than perfect. Enjoy it, be creative and have fun. Collaborative creativity allows you to share your ideas and experience in a social setting.

Howard County Library System (HCLS) offers a variety of classes to spark your creativity potential, including Pins and Needles, Crafty Readers, Writer’s Group, and Hands-On, Off Camera Flash Photography workshop. No prior artistic experience is required. One of the classes offered by the library at the Miller Branch on the second Monday of every month is Calming Crafts. Lynn, one of the class’s instructors, said one of the reasons she started the class was because “doing simple crafts can help keep you in “the moment” and some your worries dissipate.” Ann, the other instructor, is the library’s Enchanted Garden Coordinator, so when weather permits, the class is held in the garden. Past projects have included finger knitting, pinch pots, leaf rubbings, card making, and rock painting. During the last two weeks in July some of the class projects will be on display at Miller Branch.

Whatever your age, circumstances, talents or skills, it is never too late to try something new. American folk artist, Grandma Moses, did not launch her painting career until she was 78! Playwright George Bernard Shaw was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1925, at the age of sixty-nine. Shaw was still working on a comedy when he died at the age of ninety-four! What will you do?

Nancy Targett is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Miller Branch. She lives in Columbia and is the proud mom of three boys and a girl and a Siamese cat.

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Friday, July 17, 10:00 a.m. Infectious Disease Academy at Savage Branch. Learn about infectious diseases, how they are spread, and how disease detectives work to find and stop their spread using medical technology and nanotechnology. Participate in mock disease outbreaks around the globe to learn to identify and handle some of the most dangerous diseases, select the right medical or nanotechnology methods, and develop a communication pack to let others know. Register for all ten sessions. Registration required. Ages 11-18. Register online or by calling 410-313-0760.

Friday, July 17, 2:00 p.m. Carver Science at Savage Branch. Join us in exploring the life and accomplishments of George Washington Carver, a celebrated botanist, agronomist, chemist, biochemical engineer, and inventor. Re-explore and test his experiments. Register for all five sessions. Registration required. Ages 11-18. Register online or by calling 410-313-0760.

Saturday, July 18, 2:00 p.m. Crocodile Encounters at Savage Branch. Meet the Author: Dr. Brady BarrFollow along with National Geographic explorer Dr. Brady Barr as he recounts his adventures, such as coming face to face with 13 crocodiles! ReadCrocodile Encounters to discover what happens when you put a 600-lb crocodile on an airplane in a flimsy wooden crate. Meet a real crocodile! Supervised contact with a crocodile or alligator may occur. Books available for purchase and signing. Families; 30 – 60 min. Register online or by calling 410-313-0760.

Monday, July 20, 3:30 pm – 5:30 pm. Blood Pressure Screening at Glenwood Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Well & Wise event.

Monday, July 20, 5:30-7 p.m. Free. Weight Loss through Bariatric Surgery presentation about surgical weight loss options available through the Johns Hopkins Center for Bariatric Surgery. Hear program requirements and how to navigate the insurance approval process. Call 410-550-5669 or visit us online. Held in Howard County General Hospital’s Wellness Center.

Monday, July 20, 7:00 p.m. Compost Demonstrations at Miller Branch. Master Gardeners discuss and demonstrate composting on a drop-in basis. Free bins provided for Howard County residents. 7 – 8:30 pm. University of Maryland Extension – Howard County Master Gardeners.

Tuesday, July 21, 5:30-9 p.m. $55. Adult, Child and Infant CPR/AED will teach you the skills needed to clear an airway obstruction, perform CPR and how to use an AED. At the successful completion of this course, you will earn a two-year American Heart Association completion card. Located in the Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center.


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leaflets three let it beWhen I was ten years old, I got two unforgettable cases of poison ivy. A nature girl, I spent spare time out of doors, digging in the dirt, and climbing trees and fences. In the spring of that year, I was digging a hole (purpose, unknown) and found some pesky roots in the way. In pulling up the poison ivy roots, I released urushiol oil all over my hands and next day, my hands were covered with huge weeping blisters. I missed a week of school, as the medication of choice at that time was calamine lotion, which was totally ineffective. That winter, I left a Christmas party to hike and climbed a vine-covered fence. In climbing the fence, I again exposed my hands to urushiol, and missed another week of school with the misery and pain of poison ivy. Because at least 75% of people react to poison ivy, you might know what I’m talking about.

I took these experiences as a personal affront, and swore a vendetta on this innocent plant. Its urushiol oil covering conserves moisture in hot Maryland summers, and is not a defensive measure. Its green leaves are commonly enjoyed by wildlife such as deer and bears, and birds relish the seeds in the fall. In fact, birds which consume the seeds are responsible for the sudden appearance of the plant in your back yard.

Because the plant flourishes where light is prolific in the forest edges, not in the shade, more poison ivy grows in Maryland in 2015 than before the European colonists cleared the trees. And we may be seeing more of it in the future. A Marine Biological Laboratory study found that the plant is highly sensitive to greater carbon dioxide levels. With climate change bringing rising CO2 levels, poison ivy will enjoy an ideal growing environment.

poison oak poison ivyDepending on the severity of the rash and the location on your body, a case of poison ivy rash can make people a little itchy or endanger their health. Calamine cream may help minor rashes. Medical help should be sought for heavy rashes, swelling (especially on the face and genitals), or breathing problems. Strong medications and even hospitalization may be necessary.

Prevention always beats treatment. Learn (and teach your kids) what how to avoid skin contact with urushiol-covered plants. The American Academy of Dermatology’s website includes excellent photographs of poison ivy, oak, and sumac, all of which produce urushiol.

Wear clothes with long sleeves & long pants when you spend time in the woods or in the garden, removing and washing the clothes after use. After suspected exposure (gardening, walks in the woods), immediately wash a soap or cream such as Tecnu or Zanfel to remove the urushiol. If your pet has run through poison ivy, she won’t get a rash- but she can bring the rash to you, so wash her, too.

Jean has been working at Howard County Library System’s Central Branch for nearly nine years. She walks in the Benjamin Banneker Park whenever she gets a chance.

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Okay, so last month, I confessed my juice reboot failure, but it wasn’t for pity or even to vent my frustration (well, maybe a little venting). It was to share how I’ve learned from my mistakes and turned those lemons into lemonade (or a healthful lemon juice blend).

First off, let me say how much easier it is to incorporate juices into your diet when the weather is warmer–it’s often refreshing to grab a juice or smoothie instead of a big meal on these warmer days. Secondly, when the hubby and I were going for the full, 3-day reboot, we were a little overwhelmed (and hungry). We are currently trying to incorporate just one juice or smoothie into our day. We may try a reboot again just for the “clean slate” effect, but one a day seems much more do-able for us. I should note that though we may choose a juice or smoothie for breakfast or lunch, we are not doing this as part of some fad weight-loss/meal replacement plan. We simply want to incorporate more fruits and veggies into our diet, and a juice or smoothie makes that easier to do.

Speaking of easy, here’s the biggest win we’ve taken from our juice fail: keep it simple. For the juice reboot, we purchased a nice juicer, since we figured the soluble fiber from the juice might be a little easier on my sad digestive tract than the insoluble fiber you get from smoothies made in blenders (and we didn’t want to have to purchase a crazy-expensive Cadillac of a blender). We are still using the juicer, especially for harder fruits and vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots, apples, and pears. But making juicing and smoothies more part of our natural routine has meant looking for quicker and easier ways to do it. We were pleased to discover that our very ordinary blender could handle the job (within reason).

We also took advice from our friend Cristina, who has some family trying out juicing and smoothies. She said that they started with other people’s recipes, but eventually started changing them up a bit and trying things that worked better for them. For example, when the hubby and I started making smoothies instead of just juicing, we used the very popular 10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse as a blueprint. We were a little bummed that some recipes called for sugar substitutes, since we don’t really like things overly sweet and were more interested in just adding some healthier foods to our diet instead of just losing weight. We started tweaking the recipes a bit and came up with a very basic formula for the world’s laziest smoothie, as demonstrated in the video below.

Finally, as I mentioned last month, the original juice reboot called for us to go vegan a few days leading up to the juicing and a few days after. We were going to use it as a jumping off point for the VB6 diet, and did to a certain point. Now that we are having juice or smoothies once a day, we find it is a lot easier to stick to only vegan (or at least vegetarian) fare before 6 p.m. most days. Do we falter some days? Absolutely. But our new simplified and laid-back approach to juicing and smoothies takes a lot of the pressure off and helps us to keep the momentum needed to maintain the healthier eating habits we are trying to acquire.

  • It's amazing how good a well-seasoned avocado can taste!
  • Salad and vegetable broth--sigh--very vegan and satisfying, if not altogether mouth-watering.
  • Steamed broccoli, brown rice, and tofu, made delicious with a little help from their good friends Sriracha and soy sauce.
  • Avocado also makes a great vegan topping for a whole-grain bagel.
  • The little blender that could!
  • Hey, does my blueberry smoothie resemble planet Earth? Maybe just a little?
  • Yummy vegan chili (with a dollop of cheating sour cream).
  • Vegan tacos? Yep, and tasty.

 

Joanne Sobieck-Lingg is glad to blog about her many, disparate interests (though expert in none, except maybe parenthetical asides). In past lives, she was a writer, proofreader, editor, project manager, teacher, and even co-coordinator of a certain health blog. She has been happily ensconced among the fiction and teen books at the Central Branch of HCLS since 2003.

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calendar_2015_blogMonday, July 13, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Savage Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Well & Wise event.

Monday, July 13, 7:00 p.m. Calming Crafts at Miller Branch. Research shows that creative activities can boost serotonin levels. Join us to use artistic expression to improve your mood. All levels of artistic ability welcome. Well & Wise event. Register online or by calling 410-313-1950.

Tuesday, July 14, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Elkridge Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Well & Wise event.

Tuesday, July 14, 2:00 p.m. Carver Science at Savage Branch. Join us in exploring the life and accomplishments of George Washington Carver, a celebrated botanist, agronomist, chemist, biochemical engineer, and inventor. Re-explore and test his experiments. Register for all five sessions. Registration required. Ages 11-18. Register online or by calling 410-313-0760.

Individualized Diabetes Management. Meet with a Howard County General Hospital certified diabetes dietitian and nurse to learn how to manage diabetes. Call 443-718-3000.

Wednesday, July 15, 10:00 a.m. Infectious Disease Academy at Savage Branch. Learn about infectious diseases, how they are spread, and how disease detectives work to find and stop their spread using medical technology and nanotechnology. Participate in mock disease outbreaks around the globe to learn to identify and handle some of the most dangerous diseases, select the right medical or nanotechnology methods, and develop a communication pack to let others know. Register for all ten sessions. Registration required. Ages 11-18. Register online or by calling 410-313-0760.

Wednesday, Aug. 5. $40. Dietary Counseling appointments Meet with a registererd dietician one-on-one. Discuss goals, concerns, weight loss, healthier bones, blood pressure, cholesteral and diet. Held in the Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center.


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Ever heard of no ‘poo? It’s really not what you think.

No ‘poo advocates ditching store-bought shampoo and conditioner for ethical, environmental, economic, and health reasons and replacing it with baking soda and apple cider vinegar.

I had severe dandruff that none of the store-bought shampoos cured.  Head and Shoulders made the dandruff and the itching worse. Neutrogena’s T/Gel worked a while, then it stopped working and the itchiness came back. Selsun Blue helps with the itching but the scent is completely intolerable to me. I couldn’t even watch those dandruff shampoo commercials on TV where the person can’t wear black because of embarrassing dandruff. Desperation led me to no ‘poo two years ago and I lasted a whole three months.  In short, after going no ‘poo, I found that my hair was cleaner for a longer period of time and that my dandruff problem was cured (for the duration that I went no ‘poo).

So why should you try no ‘poo? No more harmful chemicals polluting our waterways. Looked at the ingredient list of shampoos and conditioners recently? I don’t know about you, but I certainly do not know what most of the ingredients are, let alone how to pronounce them. Take, for example, the ingredients in Pert Plus shampoo:   Water, Ammonium Laureth Sulfate, Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, Glycol Distearate, Cocamide MEA, Dimethicone, Cetyl Alcohol, Fragrance, Sodium Citrate, Polymethacrylamidopropyltrimonium Chloride, Sodium Benzoate, PEG-14M, Dihydrogenated Tallowamidoethyl Hydroxyethylmonium Methosulfate, Disodium EDTA, Sodium Chloride, Citric Acid, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone, Ammonium Xylenesulfonate, D&C Yellow No. 10, FD&C Blue No. 1. I probably should have paid better attention in chem class.

Going no ‘poo is also very animal friendly. I highly doubt baking soda and apple cider vinegar mix needs to be tested on animals. Companies that do not conduct animal testing proudly advertise that they do not conduct animal testing. For a list of companies that might conduct testing on animals, click on this PETA link. PETA has separate listings of cosmetics companies that do and do not conduct animal testing.

Another reason to try no ‘poo? Economic reasons. It is vastly cheaper to buy baking soda and apple cider vinegar than it is to purchase shampoo and conditioner, even if it’s a two-in-one shampoo. After the initial shock of switching to no ‘poo, your scalp will begin to secrete less oil, and as a result, you’ll wash your hair less frequently.  Fewer washings means that you’ll stretch your baking soda and apple cider vinegar supply much longer.

Initially, there may be no difference after switching. It took two weeks for me to notice that my hair was less oily, less itchy, and less flaky. My main problem with no ‘poo, however, was the inconvenience of it. There are no shampoo and conditioner-filled plastic bottles ready to go. With no ‘poo, you need to prepare your own baking soda and apple cider vinegar concoctions. It’s not complicated, but it is very inconvenient.

Here’s the recipe: For “shampoo,” mix together 1 tablespoon baking soda with 1 cup of warm water. For “conditioner,” mix together 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar with 1 cup of warm water. Warm water is very important because the one time I used regular room temperature water, it felt very cold once I dumped it onto my head.

Now for the inconvenient part. I keep my baking soda, apple cider vinegar, and measuring spoons/cups in the kitchen. I make the mix in the kitchen before I head to the shower and put it into two separate soda bottles. I use soda bottles because I have a lot of them (soda is my vice), and the smaller neck allows me greater control on how much I pour onto my head at once. I also mark with a permanent marker on the bottle itself how much water goes into the bottle so I need not constantly bring out the measuring cup. Finally, I keep handy a newspaper so I can funnel the baking soda directly into the soda bottle.

One more piece of advice: keep your mouth closed so the baking soda or apple cider vinegar mixtures don’t accidentally stream into your mouth. It’s all natural so it won’t kill you, but it might dampen your enthusiasm for going no ‘poo. The baking soda and apple cider vinegar mixes are not nearly as viscous as regular shampoo and conditioner, and hence, they do dribble all over your head no matter how careful you are.

Finally, does it work, you ask? I had my doubts about this, but I tried it anyway, reasoning I didn’t really have anything to lose and that I’ll be wiser for the experience.  The apple cider vinegar especially worried me as well as I did not want to smell vinegary. I even took precautions for my first attempt to make sure I didn’t have to interact with anyone immediately following my first no ‘poo experience. But to my surprise, my hair did not have even a whiff of vinegar tainting it (with a thorough rinsing of the hair, of course) and my hair was very soft after my first no ‘poo experience. Now, I still do no ‘poo once a week to keep my dandruff in check and use small amounts of shampoo and condition during the week because I cannot resist the sweet smell of shampoo.

Mio Higashimoto is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the East Columbia Branch. She has a background in history and spends much of her spare time knitting, reading, hiking, and watching Star Trek reruns.

(Special repost from November 2012)

 


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Do No Harmdo no harm is a gift of a book bestowed upon us by Henry Marsh, an accomplished British neurosurgeon. These linked stories eloquently describe life as the person who holds others’ lives in his hands. With 35 years in practice, Mr. Marsh has insight into all aspects of providing medical care. (In the UK, surgeons are referred to as “Mr., ” so please allow me to refer to this renowned physician as Mr. Marsh.) He shares his accomplishments, fears, and failures. He boasts, gripes, mourns and vents.Mr. Marsh takes us inside the skull, behind the orbits, into the brain. We join him on a fascinating anatomic journey as he incises through to the meninges, the spine, and the pituitary gland. We are riveted by the urgency of his patients’ conditions such as brain tumors, aneurysms and trauma. We are pulled along hoping that all of his patients do well, but he leaves us with no illusions.  These are stories of life and death and the mistakes even the most experienced surgeons make.

Not only patient outcomes lie at the heart of Do No Harm. Mr. Marsh also describes the challenges he has faced as son, father, husband, medical colleague and customer of the UK’s National Health Service (NHS). There is much dark humor in the aggravation he describes dealing with NHS management and computerized health records. Will there be beds for his patients? Will he be able to coax the NHS computer system to show him the patients’ brain scans? He admits to an arrogance that has mellowed over time, but we see that he continues to be an opinionated force wherever he goes. One of my favorite chapters is “Infarct,” where he confronts how medical care and bureaucracy impossibly conflict.

In Mr. Marsh’s beautiful descriptions of his days, as he cycles to work, evaluates patients, instructs new surgeons, and waits to enter the “operating theatre,” we appreciate his dedication. His powerful introspection illuminates how medicine is a “craft.” Enmeshed in the combination of art and science exists a huge human element with alternately confident and nervous providers striving to develop their skills to provide the best treatment for their patients. As in a lecture he has delivered internationally, “All My Worst Mistakes,” Mr. Marsh is willing to share his experiences so that others can grow from what he still hopes to learn.

Mr. Marsh never loses perspective on his fallibility as a surgeon no matter the fame he has achieved. As an example, he has worked extensively in Ukraine providing care to its medically underserved population. Documentaries have been made about him and his service. Still, he writes “of surgical ambition and of my failure” and reminds us that diagnosis and treatment plans are filled with “uncertainty” and that “patients become objects of fear as well as of sympathy.” As a reader, I am grateful for his honesty and generosity as a neurosurgeon and author.

Cherise Tasker is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Central Branch and has a background in health information. Most evenings, Cherise can be found reading a book, attending a book club meeting, or coordinating a book group.

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Saturday, July 04, 2015: Howard County Library System Will Be CLOSED in Observance of Independence Day. 

Monday, July 06, 10:30 a.m. & 11:15 a.m. Tae Kwon Do: Little Ninjas at Miller Branch. Sykesville Tae Kwon Do Academy students demonstrate skills to aid in focus, balance, coordination, memory, control, discipline, confidence, and fitness through the art of Tae Kwon Do. Wear athletic shoes and loose fitting pants or shorts. Well & Wise event. Ages 5-7 with adult; 30 min. Registration and a signed release form required. Register online or by calling 410-313-1950. 10:30 a.m. Registration & Release Form Download | 11: 15 a.m. Registration & Release Form Download

Monday, July 06, 3:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Glenwood Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Well & Wise event.

Wednesday, July 8, 7 to 9 p.m. Free. Prenatal Class for Your Early Pregnancy is for parents-to-be and parents in the first trimester. Learn about the early stages of pregnancy including your body’s physical changes, your baby’s growth and easy ways to promote a healthier pregnancy in Howard County General Hospital’s Wellness Center.

Wednesday, July 08, 10:30 a.m. & 11:15 a.m. Tae Kwon Do: Little Ninjas at Miller Branch. Sykesville Tae Kwon Do Academy students demonstrate skills to aid in focus, balance, coordination, memory, control, discipline, confidence, and fitness through the art of Tae Kwon Do. Wear athletic shoes and loose fitting pants or shorts. Well & Wise event. Ages 5-7 with adult; 30 min. Registration and a signed release form required. Register online or by calling 410-313-1950. 10:30 a.m. Registration & Release Form Download | 11:15 a.m. Registration & Release Form Download

Thursday, July 9 or Tuesday, July 21, 5:30-9 p.m. $55. Adult, Child and Infant CPR/AED will teach you the skills needed to clear an airway obstruction, perform CPR and how to use an AED. At the successful completion of this course, you will earn a two-year American Heart Association completion card. Located in the Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center.


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diabetes meals by the plate useThe overwhelming majority of type II diabetes is preventable. If we pay attention to our nutrition and exercise we can control our path toward or away from type II diabetes. If your family has a history of diabetes, obesity, or other endocrine disorders, you may be more likely to develop diabetes. Once thought to be genetic, science has revealed it’s our environment (and family’s lifestyle behaviors) that can lead to type II diabetes. What’s more, type II diabetes can be reversed nearly 9 times out of 10 with proper nutritional guidance and an adequate exercise program. While many walk the line of pre-diabetes, the likelihood of getting full-blown diabetes increases significantly if you do nothing to change your ways. I argue that many of us, particularly those who are overweight or obese, are at risk of developing diabetes. Dr. Mark Hyman has explained time and again that when it comes to your body, its sugar levels, and its inflammatory responses, you’re either diabetic or you’re not- much like you’re either pregnant or you’re not. If your blood sugars are out of the normal range, even by just a little, on a regular basis, you’ve crossed the line. Pre-diabetic seems to be a gentle way of saying, “you’re a diabetic, but we don’t have to give you medication- yet.” Thankfully, you have the power to change it; with the help of your doctor, and perhaps, an awesome endocrinologist, you can turn that diabetes train around and live a long, healthy life.

Diabetic Living and Better Homes and Gardens published Diabetes: Meals by the Plate in 2014. I find that this is a simple cookbook with a no-nonsense approach to balancing your nutirion, particularly if you’re struggling with managing your diabetic diet. The book is based on the template of 1/2 a plate of nonstarchy veggies, 1/4 plate of protein, 1/4 plate of starch or grain, and dairy or fruit on the side at each meal. Simple. Direct. Manageable.

My favorite recipes:
The Trattoria-Style Chicken encrusted with parmesan is particularly easy recipe to follow. It’s paired with a lovely spinach salad and spaghetti. See? You can have some carbs. Just not ALL THE CARBS.  (p. 16)
The Indian-Style Beef & Rice recipe is definitely a comfort food type of meal. The peach-grape salsa that accompanies the Indian-spiced beef brings just enough citrus to the flavor party. Even better? The Basmati rice with mint and lemon peel to boot. The skillet-roasted cauliflower and squash that’ll fill 1/2 your plate will fill you up and satisfy for sure. (p. 72)
And for the vegetarian option, I’m a fan of the broccoli cheese tortellini soup. How can something so decadent be less than 400 a serving? Anyhow, you get to whip out your Dutch oven for this recipe and the kohlrabi chopped salad is pretty inspired. (Considering I only ever eat kohlrabi in stews.) (p. 202)

I hope you’ll find the time to take care of diabetic diet, your blood sugars, and yourself. Enjoy and delight in a delightful cookbook that everyone can enjoy!

JP is the HCLS Editor & Blog Coordinator for Well & Wise. She is also a Children’s Instructor & Research Specialist at the Savage Branch & STEM Education Center. She is a storyteller, wannabe triathlete, KPOP-addict, baker of cupcakes, cancer survivor, and liver transplant recipient.

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being mortal“I learned about a lot of things in medical school, ​but mortality wasn’t one of them,” writes Atul Gawande, MD, in Being Mortal:  Medicine and What Matters in the End. Given that the two certainties of life are birth and death, how is it possible that medical training does not include education about preserving a patient’s well being at the end of life? How did survival at any cost begin taking precedence over the quality of one’s final days?
When the time comes to make difficult medical treatment decisions, it can be nearly impossible to see past the immediate choices. When a friend or loved one can no longer care for her/himself, the realities of nursing home and assisted living facilities may defeat even the most dedicated patient advocate. The time to read  Being Mortal is before these life events happen, and they will happen, in some form, to nearly all of us.

In Being Mortal, Dr. Gawande describes his efforts to improve delivery of end-of-life care and what he learned from the experiences of patients, friends and family members. There are no simple reasons for why we struggle with preserving quality of life as we age and experience failing health. There are certainly no easy solutions. Dr. Gawande addresses these complex questions with concise, elegant and insightful prose. The book is at once personal and prescriptive for improving the lives of the sick and the aging. His presentation and formulations are direct but he makes it clear it won’t be easy either for our society or for each of us individually.

Dr. Gawande and both his parents are physicians. When Dr. Gawande’s father is diagnosed with cancer, the treatment options become so complicated that even a family of medical professionals loses track of chemotherapy choices and which course of treatment will best match the end-of-life wishes Dr. Gawande’s father had expressed. His father wanted to be a person rather than just a patient. Like so many of us, he wanted to live out the end of his life on his own terms.

Dr. Gawande is a perceptive investigator known for his articles in New Yorker ​magazine. He has explored such hypotheses as the one in which lessons learned at the Cheesecake Factory and applied intelligently can improve the quality of medical care. He looked at the Cheesecake Factory’s profitable mass production of food people want to eat and their excellence in creating satisfied customers and analyzed how the same management philosophy could improve patient care and hospitalization outcomes. He has published two essay collections, Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science​​ and Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on PerformanceBetter: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance.His writing explores his practice of general surgery, the challenges of applying medical technology humanely, and issues of medical ethics.  In The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right he proposes changes to healthcare delivery that can minimize medical errors.

Now, with Being Mortal, Dr. Gawande gives us a book that should be required reading for all healthcare providers. It’s a book to be read before or during decision making regarding nursing home placement, cancer care planning, and terminal illness management. It’s a book that explores what gives our lives and our mortality meaning.
Cherise Tasker is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Central Branch and has a background in health information. Most evenings, Cherise can be found reading a book, attending a book club meeting, or coordinating a book group.

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Friday, June 26, 11:00 a.m. Superhero Twist and Shout at East Columbia Branch. Be a superhero with music and movement for little ones. Ages 2-3 with adult; 30 min. Tickets available at Children’s Desk 15 minutes before class. Also, Thursday, July 02, 10:15 a.m. & 11:30 a.m. at Miller Branch; tickets available at Children’s Desk 15 minutes before class.

Friday, June 26, 3:00 p.m. Mission: Science (Bioluminescence) at Glenwood Branch. Explore superhero forces in science and nature. Ages 11-17. Register online or by calling 410-313-5577.

Saturday, June 27, 2:00 p.m. I’m Going to Be a Big Brother or Sister at Central Branch. Prepare for the arrival of a baby in this class for new siblings. Enjoy stories, activities, and bring a favorite doll or stuffed animal to practice holding your baby. Resources for parents, too. Families; 30 – 45 min. In partnership with Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Well & Wise event. Tickets available at Children’s Desk 15 minutes before class.

Saturday, June 27, 3:00 p.m. Hands Only CPR & AED at Miller Branch. You could save a life! Learn about cardiac arrest, how to recognize it, and the three simple steps of hands-only CPR for victims over 8 years old. Receive a basic overview of an automated external defibrillator (AED). Ages 9-18; 60 min. Well & Wise event. Register online or by calling 410-313-1950.

Monday, June 29, 4:00 p.m. Meet The Author: Luis Carlos Montalvan & Tuesday of Tuesday Tucks Me In at Miller BranchLuis Carlos Montalvan, former U.S. Army Captain and New York Times bestselling author, and Tuesday, his 2013-14 American Kennel Club recipient of the Humane Fund Award for Canine Excellence, Service Dog, read from their widely acclaimed children’s book, Tuesday Tucks Me In. After the story, Luis demonstrates and discusses how he takes care of Tuesday, followed by demonstrations and discussions of things Tuesday does to take care of Luis. Children and their families are encouraged to ask questions. Allow additional time for book sales and signing. Families (children ages 3 & up with adult); 40 – 45 min. Register online or by calling 410-313-1950.

Monday, June 29, 7:00 p.m. Hands Only CPR & AED at Central Branch. You could save a life! Learn about cardiac arrest, how to recognize it, and the three simple steps of hands-only CPR for victims over 8 years old. Receive a basic overview of an automated external defibrillator (AED). Ages 9-18; 60 min. Well & Wise event. Register online or by calling 410-313-7883.

Wednesday, July 01, 10:15 a.m. Sensory Friendly Stories & Fun at Glenwood BranchBooks, music, and plenty of movement in a small group. Visit this page to read A Children’s Class to help prepare for your visit. Ages 3-5 with adult. 30 min. Register online or by calling 410-313-5577.

Wednesday, July 01, 2:00 p.m. Community Superstars at Central Branch. Local heroes and community helpers explain their careers and lead students in an activity. Ages 6-10; 45 – 60 min. Register online or by calling 410-313-7883.

Saturday, July 4, 2015: Howard County Library System Will Be CLOSED in Observance of Independence Day. 


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raindrops rollThere is something about summer and water. Rain water, ocean water, pool water, all kinds of H2O. One of the miracles of the natural world, and an essential requirement for life. One in nine people lack access to safe water. Howard County residents are fortunate in our easy access to clean, refreshing water, lying within the watersheds of two major tributaries to the Chesapeake Bay. We all appreciate the beauty and the science behind the water cycle, and its importance to our well-being.

With lyrical words and striking images, April Pulley Sayre celebrates rain.”Rain plops. / It drops. // It patters. / It spatters.” From the beginning of a storm to the return of the sun, this splendid presentation reveals the wonder of water. Short, rhythmic lines, often only two words but rhyming or alliterative, are set one to a page against an amazing photograph. Sayre’s close observations, many in an ordinary garden, will lead readers and listeners to look closely at her photographs and at the world around them. Insects shelter from a shower; drops cling to flowers. There are tiny reflections in the globules. Raindrops bend down grasses, highlight shapes and band together. Some of the pictures harbor secrets. Preschoolers can appreciate the poem and pictures, but older children will appreciate the facts in the concluding “Splash of Science,” going on to describe “Raindrops Inside You,” connecting the reader to the water cycle.

June and July offer us many opportunities to enjoy rain storms from the safety of our balconies, decks, and front stoops. Celebrate the return to earth of the clean, safe water.

all the water in the worldLots of picture books introduce young children to the water cycle, but few have such an infectious beat and eye-catching illustrations as this title, which begs to be read aloud. “Where does it come from? / Water doesn’t come. / It goes. / Around. That rain / that cascaded from clouds / …then slipped into rivers / and opened into oceans, / that rain has been here before.” Children encountering the scientific concepts for the first time may need help understanding how, exactly, Thirsty air…licks…sips… guzzles water from lakes and oceans. Little ones will respond immediately to the noisy, delicious sounds and rhythms in the words as well as the kinetic energy in the beautifully put together digital illustrations. Playfully arranged type adds to the visual fun while giving cues for the reader. On the final spreads, a mothers hair swirls into a wave of water that becomes a joyful spiral of living creatures, all reinforcing the simple, profound message: our lives depend on water.

The water cycle is a great way to expose young children to science in a fun way. HCLS has a variety of experiment books for all ages.

bringing the rain to kapiti plainVerna Aardema’s illustrated retelling of a traditional Kenyan folktale is reminiscent in rhythm and repetition of The House that Jack Built. The illustrations are evocative of African artwork, stylized and dramatic. This tale of a shepherd shooting a hole in the clouds to water his herd is lighthearted in its delivery, but it also conveys on a child’s level the trouble that dry seasons can bring to a poor farming community. This is good for children growing up in a wealthy industrialized society where clean water is available at the turn of the tap. Stories like this one may open their understanding to the fact that other people do not have access to the resources they take for granted. Grownups will remember this as a Reading Rainbow book.

Take a swim, wade in a stream, stroll in the rain, appreciate the bounty of nature- just don’t take the book into the pool.

Shirley ONeill works for Howard County Library System as the Children’s and Teen Materials Specialist. She cannot believe she actually gets paid to do this job.

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bettyvilleOf all the books you may want to avoid reading on the harrowing topic of old age, dementia, and caring for an elder parent, don’t let Bettyville be one of them. George Hodgson, an editor at Houghton Mifflin, had just about reinvented himself as a New Yorker, when his mother, Betty, began failing. Believing he could return to his boyhood home in Paris, Missouri and quickly get her situated, Hodgson could not have been more confounded. While there, his job was phased out and his mother was rejected from assisted living. No longer would the willful, capricious, and fiercely defiant Betty drive to bridge games, church choir, or the local beauty parlor. That would become Hodgson’s new full-time job – along with staving off Betty’s encroaching dementia.

Ragged scenes of frustration, fear, and sadness envelop them both. But, equally, there are Hodgson’s beautifully rendered memories of feeling loved – not only by both parents, but the small town of Paris as well. The fact that he was a gay son who never had “the talk” with either one did not diminish that love either.

Hodgson’s monumental commitment to his mother, Betty, continues to this day. Lucky for many of us (facing Hodgson’s same future), that he found the inspiration for this small gem.

Aimee Zuccarini is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the East Columbia Branch. She facilitates several book discussions and writes the book reviews for The Maryland Women’s Journal.

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Saturday, June 20, 1:00 p.m. Family Collaborative Art calendar_2015_blogat Glenwood BranchLooking for a creative outlet as a family to create a lasting keepsake together? Explore the paint resist method and collage techniques to create a family masterpiece on canvas board. Taught by Abrakadoodle Art instructors. Families (ages 3-12 & up with family); 60 min. Register online or by calling 410-313-5577.

Saturday, June 20, 2:00 p.m. Doc McStuffins’ School of Medicine at Savage Branch. Explore being a doctor through stories, songs, and activities. Bring your favorite stuffed animal or toy for a special check-up. Ages 3 & up; 45 min. Well & Wise event. Tickets available at Children’s Desk 15 minutes before class.

Monday, June 22, 2:00 p.m. Reptiles: Diversity in Scales at Glenwood Branch. Examine the diversity in and behavior of the Reptile Class with Richard Anderson from The Snyder Foundation for Animals. The class explores human activity and its negative consequences on the natural environment and on reptiles. More than 60 specimens are used to demonstrate reptile diversity. Participants may have the opportunity to touch some of the specimens. Arrive early and you might see a very large turtle walking around the library. Ages 5 & up; 60 min. Register online or by calling 410-313-5577.

Monday, June 22, 2:00 p.m. Super Science: Aerodynamics at Central Branch. Explore simple science concepts through hands-on activities with food and other items such as paint, playdough, and Borax. 45 – 60 min. Tickets available at Children’s Desk 15 minutes before class.

Wednesday, June 24, 7:00 p.m. Hands Only CPR & AED at Glenwood Branch. You could save a life! Learn about cardiac arrest, how to recognize it, and the three simple steps of hands-only CPR for victims over 8 years old. Receive a basic overview of an automated external defibrillator (AED). Ages 9-18; 60 min. Well & Wise event. Register online or by calling 410-313-5577.

Saturday, June 27, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. $50. Essentials in Babysitting will give you skills to manage children, create a safe environment and apply basic emergency techniques. Held in the Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center. Registration required.

Saturday, June 27, 9 a.m.-Noon. $50. Women’s Self-Defense for ages 16 and up. Learn and practice effective, easy-to-learn techniques. Held in the Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center. Registration required.

Monday June 29, 3-6 p.m. Free. Family Hearing and Vision Screening for ages 6 years to adult. Includes adult glaucoma screening. Bring eyeglasses if you wear them. Held in the Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center. Registration required.


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blissEric Weiner spent many years as a foreign correspondent for NPR, and in that time visited many of the world’s countries. His travels frequently took him to decidedly unhappy places – or at least, people in unfortunate situations. A self-admitted “grump”, Weiner decided he would embark on a quest to find the happiest places in the world and, of course, write about it in his book The Geography of Bliss. Beginning at the World Database of Happiness in the Netherlands, Weiner checks out a list of the happiest countries in the world, statistically. His journey takes him to Switzerland, Bhutan, Qatar, Iceland, Moldova (the unhappiest nation in the world, to see what the opposite of happiness looks like), Thailand, Great Britain, India, and ends in America.

How can happiness be measured? According to Ruut Veenhoven at the World Database of Happiness, “you can’t be happy and not know it. By definition, if you are happy, you know it”, and so, you simply ask people how happy they are (p. 12). According to the research, the happiest person ever should be an extroverted optimistic married religious-service-attending educated busy Republican – as people who meet each of those criteria are happier than those on the opposite end of each spectrum. If that doesn’t describe you, well, no worries! The science of happiness seems to be rather subjective. Plus, there’s “reverse causality” (basically the real term for “what came first the chicken or the egg?”): are happy people more likely to be extroverted/get married/go to church/take on more work/etc or does the factor in question make them happy? Well, that isn’t really the question Weiner set out to answer (and it probably isn’t definitively answerable, anyway), he was more concerned with where and why people are happy. The answers to both questions – as much as they can be answered – were not what Weiner expected. None of the usual suspects predict happiness level, not diversity, equality, wealth, income distribution, or climate. Some things are obvious: basic needs must be met (you need food and shelter, for example), and you need enough income to fulfil those needs and not feel stressed, but beyond that… Weiner spent a whole book looking for that answer.

So, what is it? In the end, happiness is a complicated equation. It’s a careful balancing act: add a bunch of culture, some family and friends, a dash of money, a big helping of gratitude and trust, remove envy and excessive thinking. Weiner’s chapter titles give us some insight into his quest; happiness is: a number, boredom, a policy, a winning lottery ticket, failure, somewhere else, not thinking, a work in progress, a contradiction, home. Weiner asks interesting questions and uncovers some interesting approaches to happiness from all over the world. If happiness research piques your interest, The Geography of Bliss will provide you some intriguing food for thought. It’s also an excellent book for group discussion, complete with questions provided by the publisher.

Jessica Seipel is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Savage Branch. She has worked for the Howard County Library System, in various positions, since 2003. When not at work, she spends her time reading science fiction and comics, visiting local breweries, watching horror movies, and playing video games.

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10662095145_08f4655cb6_zI’m ready for summer. Are you? My youngest son is the only one in my family still in school, so I feel a bit guilty each morning when I have to wake him up. His last day of school isn’t until June 19! The other night, though, it was my daughter who woke me up because she was not feeling well. I felt her head, and sure enough her forehead felt warm. Then came the tough part—finding a thermometer, or should I say, a working thermometer. I was able to find two thermometers, but the batteries were dead. Luckily (or so I thought), I remembered that I had sent each of my oldest kids off to college with a first aid bin that included a thermometer. I asked my daughter and my oldest son to find the bin that had their first aid stuff in it. Both of them answered simultaneously, “ I don’t know where that is. I never used any of that stuff. Are you sure you gave it me?” Finally, in the back of the cupboard in the bathroom I found a temporal artery thermometer, which I had a vague recollection of buying. We were not sure if this thermometer was working, but my daughter’s temperature registered almost four degrees higher than mine, so I felt it was safe to say she had a fever. She was also complaining that her neck was bothering her. I started Googling her symptoms and discovered a plethora of possible illnesses, most very unlikely.

I called my sister, who is a nurse, and she said, “It’s probably important to make sure you get a thermometer that you can count on.” As my kids would say “Thanks, Captain Obvious!” In my defense, I thought I had a working thermometer. My sister also reminded me of the risks of trying to diagnose an illness based on information I found on the internet. She told me to call my daughter’s doctor for a professional opinion.

The doctor thinks my daughter’s infection may have been caused by a bite she had gotten on her foot earlier that day in the grassy area at the pool. Anytime you are outside, you are at risk for infection. Most of us spend more time outside in the summer months than we do during the rest of the year. There are things we can do to keep safe and healthy. After all, we survived a long, cold winter– we deserve to enjoy the warmer weather.

Biting and stinging insects come out in force in the summer months. Most bites are harmless and cause only minor discomfort, but some bites can carry disease. One of the things we can do when we are going to be outdoors is to wear insect repellent. It’s prudent to keep your legs and arms covered as much as possible if you are going to be near wooded areas and grasslands or if you are going to be outside at dawn or dusk, when insects are most active. It’s also smart to remove insect breeding grounds, such as standing water, from around your home and to keep your garbage tightly covered. Everyone should get in the habit of carefully checking for ticks after being outdoors. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Lyme Disease is the most commonly reported tick-born disease in the United States. You can find more information on bites and stings here. You can also check the library for books on Lyme Disease. If you develop a fever or skin rash, please call your doctor.

If you do get bitten it’s a good idea to have some items in your first aid kit to treat any bites, stings, or skin inflammation. Some of the things to include in your kit are: a flat edged object to remove stingers, tweezers, an instant cold compress, antiseptic wipes, calamine lotion, antihistamine cream, an assortment of bandages, aloe vera gel, and of course, a working thermometer! Make sure you have one kit at home and one kit in the car or to pack in your suitcase. Now is a good time to check your first aid kit(s) and replace any used or expired items. A more comprehensive list of essentials to have in your first aid kit(s) can be found here.

Hopefully, the only temperature above 98.6 degrees that will need to go down this summer is the temperature outside. Have a safe, healthy, fun-filled summer everyone!

Editor’s Note: Please consult your family physician when experiencing symptoms of illness or discomfort. In case of emergency please call 911.

Nancy Targett is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Miller Branch. She lives in Columbia and is the proud mom of three boys and a girl and a Siamese cat.

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Saturday, June 13, 11:00. I’m Going to Be a Big Brother or Big Sister at Glenwood Branch. Prepare for the arrival of a baby in this class for new siblings. Enjoy stories, activities, and bring a favorite doll or stuffed animal to practice holding your baby. Resources for parents, too. Families; 30 – 45 min. In partnership with Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Well & Wise event. Register online or by calling 410-313-5577.

Monday, June 15, 3:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Glenwood Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Well & Wise event.

Monday, June 15, 7:00 p.m. Beans for Teens at Miller Branch. Did you know that beans are nutritious, come in different colors, and grow all over the world? Discover a world of beans; help build a bean tepee; and select your favorite beans to plant in the Enchanted Garden. Ages 11-17. Registration and signed release form required. The release form will be included in your confirmation email. Register online or by calling 410-313-1950.

Thursday, June 18, 2:00 p.m. Crocodile Encounters with Dr. Brady Barr at Central Branch. Follow along with National Geographic explorer Dr. Brady Barr as he recounts his adventures, such as coming face to face with 13 crocodiles! ReadCrocodile Encounters to discover what happens when you put a 600-lb crocodile on an airplane in a flimsy wooden crate. Meet a real crocodile! (Supervised contact with a crocodile or alligator may occur). Books available for purchase and signing. Families; 30 – 60 min. Register online or by calling 410-313-7883.


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