you know when the men are goneNow, more than ever, American readers owe it to themselves to gain a deeper understanding of the emotional, psychological, spiritual, and social toll that war – and its after-effect has on U.S. military families.

In, You Know When The Men Are Gone, Siobhan Fallon’s exquisitely linked short story collection, eight distinct experiences, become ours as well:

Meg Brady, of 12A, has become obsessed with her neighbor, Natalya Torres, whose self-serving behavior and Heidi Klum beauty belie terrible secrets—some of which Meg cannot help, nor resist overhearing on the other side of their thin, shared wall. Frantic Ellen Roddy forgoes an imperative visit to her oncologist when she learns that her troubled fifteen-year-old daughter may have kidnapped her own baby brother. And a woman wants to go back in time when she stumbles on an email that could alter her life forever.

Drama and deployment are illuminated in You Know When The Men Are Gone, by first-time author, and army major wife, Siobhan Fallon.
Set on army housing at Fort Hood, Texas, these stories have a dynamic relationship, as characters you meet in one move through the pages of another—surprising, even shocking readers.
And although Fallon is not gender exclusive, her focus is indeed the wives: their intricate kinships and ability to steel themselves for everything from homework to gossip to military readiness is, at times, heart-wrenching.

But best of all, Fallon writes with amazing grace, capturing the fragility and resilience of an American culture sworn to protect us in the event of war.

Aimee Zuccarini

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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calendar_2015_blogMonday, Jan. 12, 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. 2nd Mondays. No registration required.

Monday, Jan. 12, 10:30 a.m. & 11:15 a.m. Tae Kwon Do: Tiny Tigers at Miller Branch. Sykesville Tae Kwon Do instructors focus on motor skills, listening, and taking turns. Wear athletic shoes and loose fitting pants or shorts. Well & Wise event. Ages 3-5 with adult; 30 min. Registration and a signed release form is required.
10:30 a.m. Registration & Signed Release Form
11:15 a.m. Registration & Signed Release Form

Monday, Jan. 12, 7:00 p.m. Calming Crafts at Miller Branch. Research shows that creative activities can boost serotonin levels. Join us as we use artistic expression to improve our moods. All levels of artistic ability welcome. Registration is required. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.

Tuesday, Jan. 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. 2nd Tuesdays. No registration required.

Thursday, Jan. 15, 10:15 a.m. & 11:30 a.m. Healthy Kids at Miller Branch. Explore simple health concepts inspired by children’s literature. Ages 3-5 with adult; 45 min. Multi-week series. Well & Wise event. Limited space; tickets available at Children’s Desk 15 minutes before class. Ticket Required.

Saturday, Jan. 17, 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. Limited space; tickets available at Children’s Desk 15 minutes before class.

Saturday, Jan. 17, 3:00 p.m. Hands Only CPR & AED at Savage Branch. You could save a life! Learn about cardiac arrest, how to recognize it’s happening, 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. Registration is required. Register online or by calling 410.313.0760.


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Childhood headaches or frequent constipation? They can sometimes be symptoms of poor nutrition choices. Here’s five tips to get your child’s diet on track.

Adults in children’s lives play a large role in a child’s nutrition and developing eating habits. “Kids are going to model what their parents do. If their parents are eating a lot of fast food and drinking a lot of soda, their kids are going to develop those habits,” said Michael Lasser, M.D., a pediatrician on staff at Howard County General Hospital. “It is really important families sit down and eat together. Not only to see how the child’s day was, but if parents are eating healthy food, that is what the kids are going to eat.” Check out the below slideshow for more tips to help your children make wise food and drink choices.


  • The Water Connection: Children need to drink more water. "Kids do not drink enough water throughout the day and will come home from school with headaches because they didn't have breakfast or drink enough water and are dehydrated," said Dr. Lasser. [© Yarkovoy |]

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icecream-ipodHappy New Year, and welcome to 2015! Will the babies born this year be the start of a new generation, or will they fall into the growing cohort of “Generation Z”? What will define them? What qualities will they possess? How will the other generations view them? Should we even give a flying fig?

Believe it or not, it is that last question that interests me most of all. Yes, you read correctly; I am most concerned with whether or not we should “give a flying fig.” (Has she lost her mind? Is she recovering from too much New Year celebrating? Is she just desperately trying to fill blog-space?) Well, the last one may be a little true, but I assure you, for the most part, I am legitimately posing this question: Why are we so keen to label and define generations, and is there any validity or potential danger in doing so?

Don’t get me wrong; classifying certain periods of time, especially by some specific events that helped shape the way people lived during those times, is not without use. Even creating handy labels can make discussing a particular generation flow a little better. (Face it, it’s easier to say “The Lost Generation” than “people typically born between 1883 and 1900 who were disillusioned by the war.” Thank you, Gertrude Stein.)

It was The Lost Generation that seemed to really set the trend for naming generations in Western Civilization, particularly the U.S. After that, we have The Greatest Generation (born around 1901 through 1924); The Silent Generation, sometimes called Traditionalists, (1925 through 1942); the Baby Boomers (1943 up through the early 1960s); Generation X (early 1960s through early 1980s); Millennials (early 1980s through early 2000s); and Generation Z (which, at the moment seems to be anyone born in or after the late 1990s or early 2000s through the present. As with most generational labels, however, Z will be more clearly defined after some time has passed).

fast futureThese generational cohorts are interesting and the people born into them do seem to exhibit some shared characteristics (mainly defined by shared events that they’ve experienced, such as economic or political climate, or world events like war or technological advances). Books or studies that examine say, for instance, how many Millennials are comfortable with technology, having been born into it, and how this is affecting the world, like in Fast Future by David Burstein, seem useful, or at least interesting. Other media discussion of generations, some that even focuses on negatives, like the economic worries caused by the larger number of Baby Boomers retiring, as discussed in The Next America by Paul Taylor, also seem realistic, or at least measurable.

But is it fair or right or even healthy to make broad generalizations about someone born during a particular time period? Can we really assume that Millennials are entitled, that Gen Xers are cynical, that Boomers are workaholics, that Traditionalists are rigid rule followers? (On the flip side, we can’t assume that all Millennials value diversity, that all Gen Xers are self-reliant, that all Boomers are optimistic, or that all Traditionalist are loyal.)

the next americaI’m raising this issue now because 2014 seemed like the year of the “generation generalization” to me. I couldn’t go online without seeing something claiming that “Millennials are this” and “Baby Boomers are that.” I found all these claims upsetting for a number of reasons: 1. Many of the claims were less than flattering (Millennials are especially taking a hit, and that is a shame for any group, but especially for one just starting to make its way in the world); 2. I have friends and colleagues of all ages, and I don’t want them to be stereotyped or discriminated against because of age, nor do I want to be; 3. As someone born smack in the middle of the Gen X group, I remember the uncomfortable and stigmatizing feeling I had, particularly as a young adult, when I was “defined” as being shiftless and morbid and apathetic; and 4. Respectable thinkers, news organizations, employers, and many other surprising sources seem to be taking these generational descriptions a little too much to heart, to the point that it is causing some strife for young and old. (Plus, I believe it is irresponsible, lazy science. ←If you do nothing else, please click on this link; I love this article.)

Seriously, reading all these descriptions of how a certain generation is supposed to behave, what that generation values or not, and why that generation is often to blame for some world problems was really starting to upset me. Plus the consequences can be severe; generational biases can even lead to stereotype threat, which is kind of like self-fulfilling prophecies, but with the stereotype determining the action of the person or people being stereotyped. I kept wondering if my reaction to this was the result of too much social media exposure (that’s another topic for another time). So I began to look around and found, happily, that plenty of organizations, from the APA to the AMA, are acknowledging that these generation generalizations can be wrong, hurtful, and limiting. I’m sure that we can see the dangers of all the different kinds of stereotypes in the world and have long fought to dispel many of them.

My wish for everyone for 2015, myself included, is to begin to question all these generational generalizations as well. I think this should be the year that we try to banish any gross assumptions and start making our judgments one individual at a time, as we get to know each person.

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, Jan. 5, 10:30 a.m. & 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.
10:30 a.m. Registration and a signed release form is required.
11:15 a.m. Registration and a signed release form is required.

Monday, Jan. 5, 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. No registration required.

Tuesday, Jan. 6, 7:00 p.m. Guided Meditation at Miller Branch. Enjoy a guided mindfulness meditation designed to impart a feeling of peacefulness and connection. Please bring a cushion or meditation pillow. Presented by Star Ferguson, M.Ac., L.Ac. Registration is required. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.

Thursday, Jan. 8, 10:15 a.m. & 11:30 a.m. Healthy Kids at Miller Branch. Explore simple health concepts inspired by children’s literature. Ages 3-5 with adult; 45 min. Multi-week series. Well & Wise event. Limited space; tickets available at Children’s Desk 15 minutes before class. Ticket Required.

Thursday, Jan. 8, 7:00 p.m. Cutting Edge Discoveries in Neuroscience to Boost Your Brain (Part 3) at Miller Branch. As this three-part series continues, Majid Fotuhi, M.D., Ph.D., teaches how to boost brain capacity at any age. The founder and chief medical officer of NeurExpand, Fotuhi has written three books about brain health: Boost Your Brain: The New Art and Science Behind Enhanced Brain Performance; The Memory Cure; and The New York Times Crosswords to Keep Your Brain Young: The 6-Step Age-Defying Program. Fotuhi received his M.D. from Harvard Medical School and his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. His research findings have been published in The Journal of Neuroscience, The Lancet, Nature, Neurology, Neuron, and The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Fotuhi has been featured on PBS, The Dr. Oz Show, CNN, Discovery Channel, NBC’s TODAY show, and numerous other national media.Registration is required. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.

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Welcome to 2015! We’ve got a clean slate and 364 more days to achieve our new goals. So, what exactly are you hoping to do in 2015? I asked readers to answer the question: “What’s your New Year’s resolution?” Here’s what they said:

My New Year’s Resolution? Sure, I’d like to lose some weight, eat better, exercise more, learn some thing (or things) new, work harder, smile more, kvetch less… But really, I’d like to work on being kinder, a bit more patient, and a better citizen of the world. These should be my everyday resolutions. – Joanne

Training for and running my first marathon. – Anna

Gratitude. I want to be more grateful for my comfortable existence and appreciative of all the wonderful people in my life. – Cherise

Get married. – Jake
Eat Healthier. – Diane
Stay alive. – Rosalie

Touch it once! [An example:] Take off your shoes – and instead of leaving them in the hallway, put them away. – Tracy

Keep a Gratitude List. – Maryam

Say “no,” more often. – Monica S.

Play the piano, again. – Carolyn

Cook more! – Monica L.

Keep one resolution for the entire year – OK, maybe just until spring! – Nancy

I would like to be more creative for food. Why not meatball waffles? – TJ
Life is about milestones not the Government’s stamped bill. 2015 I plan to continue my exploration of my photographic passion. My focus will further my son in school and continue showing him school can be fun. And finally I want to further my relationship with my wife. Marriage will never plateau. – Matt
To turn 42 unscathed! – Stephanie
Travel. Always travel. – Beth
To have a kitchen. Oh wait… I’ll go with self-care. – Rachel

To unpack the boxes that have been upstairs for 6 months! – Megan

Walk. – Shirley
Clean out my basement. – Eileen

To work harder and be nicer. – Tim
To travel more! – Nik

I have signed up for “52 Weeks to an Organized Home” (I do well with lists), joined “One a Month Meals,” and developed a financial plan to help with [managing] my money better. My goal this year is to organize my life. Disorganization sucks time and energy. I am so lucky to have so many wonderful people in my life, I need to get [myself] together so I have more time and energy to spend with them. – Colleen
My resolution is no to never make any more resolutions! – Karl

To dis-assemble my “need to please” wiring and learn how to say “NO,” and be a more patient mommy too. – Sarah
Making resolutions is easy; following through is the hard part.

this year I willM.J. Ryan, author, notable publishing CEO, and business consultant, wrote a book about this difficult task of making lasting change in our lives. Her book, This Year I Will– : How to Finally Change a Habit, Keep a Resolutionor Make a Dream Come True (2006), is absolutely relevant today and more profound than I expected for a “self-help” book. Briefly and effectively, Ryan offers credible advice and insight to the struggles we have with achieving our goals via vivid anecdotes, explanations of the advances in neurological science, and sound, logical reasoning. Possibly one of the best “how-to” books I’ve come across in a while, this book will make you feel like change is not only possible, but achievable.

This book will help you understand what’s holding you back and give you the tools you need to “try, try again.” Motivation is gift, and there’s plenty of it in this title to give you a good push in the right direction- especially if you’re feeling a bit stuck, or overwhelmed by the resolutions you’ve set for yourself. If you’re doing pretty well and feel good about the direction of your life, this book will only help you find that spark of inspiration that you didn’t realize you were missing.

As for me, I think 2015 is going to be a year in which I do all that I can to explore, reinvent, and pay attention to what I need to maintain a wholly healthy life.

I hope 2015 is the year you drive change in your life for a better, healthier, happier you.

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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fattening food; nutrition tips

© Sarah2 |

Did you know vitamin-enhanced water can have as much sugar as 7 chocolate sandwich cookies? Think about your drink and other nutrition guidelines for your 2015 diet.

Here we go again! New Year’s Eve is tomorrow night, and after an evening  (and a season) of overindulging in so many ways, most of us will end the night with a farewell toast to Auld Lang Syne and a pledge to give up at least some of our vices in the new year. Many will be food-related – losing weight, giving up sugar and eating a healthier diet.

But what exactly does that mean? With so many choices and so much information about food and nutrition, it can be difficult—even for adults—to make good decisions when it comes to eating the right foods. These choices are important, because a healthy diet and lifestyle are the best weapons to fight diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and certain types of cancer.

The American Heart Association recommends a diet including lean meats and skinless poultry; fish at least twice a week; selecting fat-free, one percent fat or low-fat dairy products and cutting back on added sugars.

Choosing a healthy lifestyle that includes eating the right foods and getting plenty of exercise goes a long way in keeping the body healthy. Make sure half of your plate is vegetables or salad, and eat your fruit or vegetable first to help fill you up so you will eat less of other things.

Think about your drink
Everything has gotten big. Serving sizes that were once 8 ounces are now 20 ounces and sometimes even larger. When you couple the increasing size with the amount of sugar in many beverages, you have a recipe for weight gain. This is especially true when it comes to energy drinks.

Many beverages that may appear to have health benefits have added sugar that is not healthy. Scientific evidence supports the association between consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and an increased risk of obesity, which can contribute to the development of diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Drinks that are labeled vitamin-enhanced water can have the same amount of sugar as seven chocolate sandwich cookies! To burn off the calories in a fancy 16 ounce coffee drink, you will need to strength train for 30 minutes. Also, calories consumed in a liquid form don’t tell our body to turn off hunger. So we need to be careful about using beverages to satisfy cravings.

Eat the rainbow
It is important to include colorful fruits and vegetables in your meals. Brightly-colored fruits and vegetables indicate that they are high in antioxidants. The deeper and darker the color of the vegetable or fruit, the better it is for you. When thinking about your daily diet, choose at least four servings of colorful vegetables and three servings of colorful fruits. Though there are supplemental pills available you may think would be easier, they do not supply the same benefits derived from food.

Read the labels for these key words
I understand that most of us are not going to soak our own beans and make our own breads, but if you buy pre-packaged food, you really need to read the labels. If one of the first three ingredients is sugar, salt or partially hydrogenated oil, put it back on the shelf. Processed food contains added salt, sugar and fat, and you lose fiber. On a food ingredients label, there are many words that can indicate added sugar that doesn’t occur naturally, including: high fructose corn syrup, agave, fruit juice concentrate – often added in yogurt, dextrose, honey, molasses and brown rice syrup just to name a few. Excess sugar causes inflammation inside our blood vessels even more so than saturated fats. Research is leading us to really take a look at the role excess sugar has on our cardiovascular system.

Let’s start the new year with a resolution we can actually stick to. Think about what you eat and drink and try to make it healthier!

Howard County General Hospital’s Teresa Love, MS, RD, CDE, has been a registered dietitian for more than 30 years and a certified diabetes educator since 2009. She enjoys helping patients manage their diabetes. In her spare time she is an avid tennis player.

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