Archive for April, 2012

Be At My Side by Chris Thomas

by Chris Thomas

…and Mizpah,

for he said “May the Lord

keep watch between you

and me when we are

absent one from

the other.” Gen 31:49 NASB

One of the first gifts from my husband was a Mizpah coin inscribed with the above verse. We each wore half of the coin for years until they were literally worn through. It gave me comfort during college or vacations to know that David and I were praying for each other and reminded of each other by this simple token.

As our love solidified into marriage and we took on the role of parents, separations remain a part of life. They might be as short as a visit with a friend or as long as a week at Grandma’s during the summer. My goal as a mom is not to be such a snug cocoon that our children are hindered from growth but rather to be the foundation from which they stretch their wings and fly.

How does one provide stability and refuge as well as freedom and the confidence to explore?

I asked our children to share memories of going to a new school or camp for the first time. Our fifteen year old daughter said she was comforted when we told her that no matter where or when, if she wanted us badly enough, one of us would come. She confessed to testing us a few times when she was so homesick in kindergarten that she couldn’t stop crying. I remember sitting with her on my lap as I savored her warmth knowing that the next morning I would open my arms and encourage her to

run into the classroom with laughter even as she seemed to forget my presence. Today we remind her that we are still only a phone call away if she needs us, yet we all celebrate as she explores her world.

Our middle son values the strength of a family structure with parents serving as role models. The rhythm of a day’s comings and goings full of familiar activities helped him to feel grounded but not dependent. Mark’s dream career is in the world of opera. Though we have little personal expertise in this field, we delight in encouraging him to pursue his gifts even though to do so he needs to live a thousand miles away from home.

Our eldest son appreciates the fact that we always strive to make our goodbyes and hellos heartfelt. He recognizes the need to take time to be present and not just “there” for these moments.

Mizpah, a Hebrew word for watchtower, was the place east of the Jordan River where Laban bid farewell to his daughters and son in law in the book of Genesis. They shared a meal, accepted gifts and built a memorial at the place of their parting for they knew they might never see one another again. They took time to say goodbye.

Summer is full of opportunities for exploration and growth through experiences around the corner and even around the world. How do you provide your children a grounded environment?

How do you encourage them to fly?


April 25, 2012 at 8:04 pm Leave a comment

Splish, Splash: How To Stay Cool and be Safe on Hot Summer Days

by Molly Sullivan Taylor, Ph.D.

Pools, lakes, ponds and beaches are some of the best ways to bet the heat of East Texas. While it can be fun and kids love the water, accidents can happen in a matter of seconds that can change lives forever. Nearly a thousand children die each year by drowning and most of those accidents happen in residential swimming pools. Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death for people between the ages of 5 and 24. Young children are especially vulnerable and can drown in less than two inches of water. The good news is that there are many safety precautions that can be made to ensure the safety of both children and adults while participating in water activities.


Keeping cool and safe are top priorities this summer.

Safety Tips whenever you are in or around water:

  • Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.
  • Never swim alone, always swim with a buddy.
  • Make sure that everyone in the family learns to swim well.
  • Never leave a young child unattended near water.
  • Have young children wear United States Coast Guard life jackets around water.
  • Establish water safety rules for your family and enforce them.
  • Be cautious around natural bodies of water like lakes, rivers and the ocean.
  • Always wear a life jacket when boating.
  • Avoid alcohol use around water.

Prevent Unsupervised Access to the Water:

  • Install and use barriers around your home pool or hot tub, including covers, alarms, and self-latching gates.
  • Remove ladders and secure the safety cover on above-ground pools.
  • Keep toys that are not in use away from the pool and out of sight so as not to attract young children.

Maintain Constant Supervision:

  • Always supervise children whenever around the water-even when lifeguards are present.
  • Always stay within an arm’s reach of young children and avoid distractions when supervising children around water.

Know What to Do in an Emergency:

  • If a child is missing check the water first.
  • Know how and when to call 911
  • or the local emergency number.
  • If you own a home pool or hot tub have
  • appropriate equipment such as reaching
  • or throwing equipment, a cell phone, life
  • jackets and a first aid kit.
  • Enroll in a Red Cross or other safety
  • courses to learn how to prevent and
  • respond to emergencies.

Other Links

April 25, 2012 at 7:54 pm Leave a comment

Umbilical Cord Blood: to bank or not to bank?

By D’Andra D. Bingham, MD

ImageUmbilical cord banking is just another subject with which expectant parents need to familiarize themselves. Cord blood banking refers to the collection of blood from a baby’s umbilical cord by a physician or midwife immediately after delivery. These cells can serve as stem cells for reconstitution of bone marrow. This means that cord blood cells can be used as a treatment option for a wide variety of diseases such as leukemia, lymphoma, sickle cell anemia and a number of other genetic and acquired disorders. If parents decide to bank their child’s cord blood, it is collected at delivery and then stored indefinitely at a bank’s site. There are two types of cord banks. Public cord banks collect and store blood, usually for free, for the use by any individual who needs a bone marrow transplant. Private cord banks are for-profit companies that store cord blood reserved for exclusive use by the donor or donor’s family. Private cord banks charge a fee from $1500-$2000 for the initial collection, then $100-$200 annually for continued storage. When weighing the decision on private cord blood banking, parents should realize that the use of cord blood stem cells is still considered investigational. The chances of the cord blood actually being needed by a family has been estimated at approximately 1/2700 or less. Also it is not known how long cord cells remain viable in storage. Cord blood stem cells should not be considered “biologic insurance” for a child. If needed, the stem cells are most likely to be used by a sibling or other family member. Stem cells cannot be used to treat genetic diseases or certain cancers in the individual from which they were collected because the cells would have the same genetic abnormality as the individual has. The decision to bank cord blood, public or private, must be made before the onset of labor, as parents need to bring the collection kit to the hospital with them. Parents should thoroughly investigate available companies. Confirm the companies are accredited by a reputable agency such as AABB, how long they have been involved in cord blood banking, whether any units banked through the company have been used for transplantation, and the outcomes of those cases. Parents should, of course, read all contracts carefully. Additional noncommercial information on potential benefits and limitations of cord blood donation is available at,, and

April 24, 2012 at 7:58 pm Leave a comment

School Lunch: Think Inside the Box

By Jennifer Jordan


Are you hitting the school lunch doldrums? Do you hope that your picky eater will eat at least one thing you pack? Or, do you just want to try something different? Think inside the box—the bento box!  The bento box is a Japanese-style lunch box that has gained recent popularity. Bento containers can house a variety of items, which may appeal to a picky eater. The beauty of these little boxes is that they are reusable and less wasteful than plastic baggies or disposable packages.  They also make a great way to use leftovers.


My family discovered bento boxes in order to suit our six year old, who wants a salad or yogurt, hummus, raw vegetables and pita bread every day.  These foods are not as easy to fit into a standard-sized lunch box as they might seem. After a month of searching for the ideal solution last spring, we hit the jackpot with the bento-style lunch.  We fit two small containers housing hummus and vegetables inside our daughter’s lunch box with her other foods.


At the start of this school year, our daughter graduated to a five-compartment, non-toxicstainless steel container called the Planetbox. We love the easy maintenance and sustainability of using just one container.  Bento boxes also allow you to keep lunches more economical by buying larger quantities of food instead of individual serving sizes.  There are various bento-style options available.  You can buy a pre-made set ( has a good selection) or repurpose containers you already own that will fit your child’s lunch box.  However you choose, you can get very creative with small containers.   Turn last night’s pasta into a cold salad with cut-up veggies and dressing.  Mix some fresh fruit or granola into yogurt.  If you are looking to spice things up in your child’s lunch, try bento boxes!


Satisfying Ideas for Bento Boxes


Rolled up sandwiches or wraps Mini bagels with peanut butter

Steamed vegetables Hummus and pita bread

Fruit salad Pudding

Cubed cheese & fruit on toothpicks Hard-boiled eggs

Pasta and bean salads Raw veggies and dip

Yogurt Cheese and crackers


Where to Buy:

$59.95 (for the lunch box shown)

Has numerous bento-style lunch boxes that range in price beginning at $9.99.

April 9, 2012 at 7:56 pm Leave a comment