Hydration 101

Water is an essential part of the human body. About 60 percent of your body is water. The body needs it to function properly. Even the blood contains water (about 80% of your blood is water). However, even with the lightest exercise, the water content in the body can be depleted. You perspire, urinate, and defecate. All these will flush out some of the water in your body. If you are doing a regular exercise and forget to hydrate frequently, you will soon feel exhausted and your performance level will suffer. Whatever you are doing – whether you’re hiking, biking, skiing, running, climbing, or just walking across town, it’s vital that lost body fluids are replaced properly. If you can bring one of the best water bottles for hiking , you wouldn’t have to worry much. But if you still don’t know the basics of hydration, then you have landed on the right page. Here you will learn what you need to do to stay hydrated and some important guidelines to avoid improper hydration. How much do you really need to drink? There are several factors to consider when it comes to proper hydration. These include the following: the intensity of your effort (you perspire more if you are biking than when you are just strolling around town) duration of the activity weather condition your age your body type your sweat rate As your activity level increases, you need to hydrate more will also increase. Some Hydration Tips Keep your water source available at all times Keeping a bottle of water where you can access it easily is a smart way to remind you to hydrate regularly. Hikers, backpackers, and mountain bikers are quite aware of the importance of water throughout the activity. There are so many bottle options that you can choose from either online or at your local store. Find the best water bottles for hiking, cycling, at work, or for just about any activity that you will do at any time of the day. Choose a high-quality bottle that will allow your beverage to remain hot or cold longer and will not mess your stuff with spills from the spout or from its lid. If you are hiking, one of the best options that you can have is one of the Lifestraw bottles and water filters, as you can have clear water wherever you are even when the only source of water is the river or a brook nearby. Lifestraw products come with ultralight and durable filters that can clean up to 1,000 liters (264 gallons) of water. They are made to effectively and efficiently filter protozoa and bacteria, so you can have a safe drinking water any time and anywhere. Drink regularly Rather than drinking to thirst or chugging water infrequently, it is better to take many smaller sips to hydrate continuously. However, you should also know when you have drunk enough as drinking more than what your body requires can also cause a serious condition. Hyponatremia is a case when your sodium level becomes depleted because of excessive drinking. Here is a link to one of the studies indicating several athletes who have suffered from this condition during the Ironman European Championship held from 2005 to 2013. Here are some signs of this condition: nausea, lethargy, muscle cramps, weakness/fatigue, headaches, and restlessness. Hyponatremia may also cause seizures and can also lead to death. Don’t just drink, replace electrolytes When you sweat, you don’t just lose water, you also lose electrolytes. You will need to compensate for any lost sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium in the body. The easiest way to do this is to drink an electrolyte replacement sports drink. Convenient powders and tablets can be mixed with water as well. Drink some of this before you head outside. You can also place them in one of your drinking bottles and carry with you while you’re on the go. Just make sure to follow the directions on the packaging. Drink more when you’re hiking and have more climbs to do Your body will require 28% more energy when you are walking in an uneven terrain than when you just have to walk on a flat surface or a paved ground, so drink more at altitudes. Drink whatever the weather is It doesn’t matter whether the weather is cold or hot. Your body loses fluid whenever the body systems do their functions, so you have to drink up to replace any lost fluids in your body. Pre-hydrate Hydration should not begin only when you are thirsty. It is best to pre-hydrate even before you exercise, go out to walk, run, hike, or do whatever activity that you need to do. Plan your hike You don’t have to bring too much water when you are out. Make sure that you plan a route where there will be water sources or water fountains where you can refill your bottle. You can also set to hike on a trail where you can stop by your car to refill your water bottle or to take a quick snack. Include sun protection in the essentials that you will bring Lather up with a full-protection sunscreen or put on a sun-protection clothing before you hit. Set regular drinking intervals You can set a timer so you’d be automatically be reminded to drink about every 15- 20 minutes. Concolusion Don’t get dehydrated while on the go. Note that feeling thirsty can also be a sign of dehydration. When you are already feeling thirsty, you are already dehydrated. When you are dehydrated, your blood volume drops as well as your blood pressure. Anything can happen. Your performance will be affected. You won’t be able to focus and do as you would like to. You will also feel your head pounding and will become dizzy. Don’t wait until you faint. It is best that you hydrate regularly and don’t wait to be thirsty to hydrate.

Tips in Choosing the Best Underwear for Pregnancy

Pregnancy is both wonderful and unpleasant. You do get the perks that come with it — attention and pregnancy glow. Some expecting woman, receive a different kind of attention and certainly NOT the pregnancy glow. One thing that could ease the discomfort is wearing the best underwear for pregnancy and it is easy to see why. While you are expecting, you experience some of the most unusual things that only a mother-to-be gets to experience. Some of these changes are worth celebrating. Many, however, are not something you would rather want someone else (your husband, perhaps?) should be manifesting. The feeling of seeing and having those unsightly changes can be so stressful. This concern just adds to your list of stressors, which, sometimes, make another day wanting you to think only of the day when the baby has finally arrived. One that could ease the discomfort and the negative emotions are making yourself feel beautiful not just inside but on the outside. You can’t do much with your body, however. The bulge is there to stay for the next few months. You can also change the fact that soon your graceful walk will change to a waddle as your body compensates for the added weight of your baby. It will also be difficult for you breathe if you won’t change the undergarments that you love to wear while you were yet in your pre-pregnancy body. Adjustments! Adjustments! Adjustments! All that you can really do is to make the necessary adjustment to compensate for the physical discomfort that your condition brings. But even if you change your lifestyle, eating habits,  sleep schedule, and exercise regimen, you cannot change the fact that  you will grow bigger by the day. Fortunately, that is also a good sign that your baby is doing well inside your tummy. It might interest you to know that even your choices of your pregnancy underwear can also affect you and your baby’s health, so you really need to pay attention when choosing the best underwear that you can wear during pregnancy. It’s not the brand of course. Your baby will not even notice if you will wear a pair of undies from either a well-known brand like Victoria’s Secret or otherwise. However, the design, cut, and even the material used for the underwear can affect how your body and your baby will respond to what you wear. Hormonal imbalance can disrupt your normal body functions and you will be noticing quite a number of changes on your figure as well as on your skin. You will also notice an increase in your vaginal discharge. This happens as there will be an increase of in the natural bacteria in this sensitive part of your body as hormones surge in your body throughout your pregnancy. This can make your sensitive parts more prone to infections. If you fail to find the right underwear, there will be a greater chance that you will develop a yeast infection. Once you get the infection, it will be probable that your newborn will also develop an infection. This is something that you wouldn’t want to have after having to experience grueling hours before childbirth. It is best to keep yourself always clean and dry to prevent a yeast infection. You will also need to avoid any underwear that is made of a material or cloth that can trap too much moisture as this will create a perfect environment for bacteria. Find one that can provide you with the most comfortable wear even if it means that you will have to pay more for it. Remember that your baby’s health is also at stake. Checking comparison and review sites is also a smart way of determining the best brands that can offer the best underwear for pregnancy. You can find the best brands both online and in your local store. If you would rather buy from the comfort of  your home, you can go to some reliable online marketplace where you can find tons of products that you can compare. Amazon.com is one of such places. You’ll find reviews from other customers while on a seller’s page on Amazon. While checking each product, you can also find out what others are buying, the best seller, and other related information that can help you  to make a wise decision. Make the remaining months of your pregnancy less stressful. Start by looking for the best underwear for pregnancy to allow yourself to feel comfortable and feel good about how you look in them.

If You Are A Cyclist, How Much Fluid Do You Need?

Exercising, even doing the simplest routines, makes you sweat. If you’re doing it on a hot weather and outside where the terrain can be unpredictable, it can be even more exhausting. Other factors such as age, the intensity of your activity, as well as the period of time that you need to be on the fly, contribute to how much you lose water on the go. Just like when you go biking either to stay fit, go to work, or compete. That gives you more than one reason to find one of the best water bottles for cycling where you can store your favorite beverage and take a sip smartly any time you need to. Even the safest roads can provide different obstacles and challenges that will create pressure to cause even a more experienced cyclist to require hydration. The fact that our body is made up of 60% water makes it crucial that any lost fluid should be replaced immediately to ensure that every part of your system will function properly. What is your average cycling speed? There are different degrees of endurance and speed that any cyclist can manifest while on the bike. If you are a beginner and covers about 10-15 miles per ride, you may produce an average speed of about 10-12 mph. For the more competent cyclists or those who participate in tournaments, like a Tour de France, you may be moving at about 40-45 km/hr or 25-28 mph while you are going on a flat terrain. If you are moving on an uphill terrain, your speed may go down to about 35-40 km/hr  or 21-25 mph, however. There are various factors that will determine your cycling speeds. Physiological aspects like age, sex, as well as your overall health will determine how much you will be moving. Other elements related to your cycling status (if  you are a beginner, advanced, or a pro biker), as well as the length of time you have spent on the road and the intensity of your effort. Environmental factors will also influence your cycling speed. It doesn’t matter if you go fast or slow when you are on your bike, however. What matters is that you will need to hydrate to stay performing optimally. If not, your performance will be affected. If you habitually fail to rehydrate while cycling, your health will also suffer. Note that you won’t feel thirsty if you are not dehydrated already. You may think that your senses are telling you that you need to drink water when, in reality, you already lost 2% of your body weight. It should be your practice then that you drink every 10-15 mins to adequately replace any fluid lost while on the move. Never drink more than you think you should, however. Hyponatremia and hydration Drinking more than your body can actually hold can cause a serious condition called hyponatremia, which  has led to several overhydration-related deaths. You may be unaware of this at the beginning, but as your sodium level decreases with the volume of fluid that you take, you may start to feel nauseous  and would feel that you like to vomit. If the condition worsens, you may feel other serious manifestations of overhydration, such as confusion, seizures, altered mental condition, and even death. As you continue with your ride, you may continue to sweat (this, again, depends on the intensity of your effort). As a result, your body temperature will increase. Your blood thickens in the process as well. Note that the amount of water that you release is about four times as much as when you are resting. That means you need to drink more to be able to compensate for any of the lost fluid in your body. If you are on a bike ride of medium to high intensity, your body cannot absorb water as fast as it loses it. This means that you will need to prepare yourself before you start your bike ride. It’s best that you drink about 16 ounces or two cups of water at least an hour or two before you step on your bike. This will give your body to absorb the fluid that it needs to function as well as begin your ride. It is also best that you drink at regular intervals while on the move and not just drink to thirst. Note that experts have indicated that thirst is not a good indicator of our hydration level. Professor Stavros Kavouras, Director Hydration Science Lab & Program at the University of Arkansas, together with his colleagues, conducted a study to see which water intake affects health and performance (drinking to thirst or ad libitum or at one’s pleasure) during cycling. They found out that hydration alone is not the best indicator of hydration levels. Factors already mentioned are also at play, as well as psychological factors like fear of dehydration itself. How much do you need to drink when cycling? Considering all those things that were mentioned above, there really is no one-size-fits-all thing when it comes to hydration. Expert cyclists recommend that hydration should start a couple of hours before riding your bike and should continue throughout your ride. Drinking at regular intervals will be enough to replenish any lost fluid while you are on the move. You also need to remember, however, that you lose not only fluid but essential electrolytes, hence water may not be enough to keep you at your best throughout your ride. You can top up with a great-tasting sports drink or any health drink that can keep you on the go. Just make sure that you keep your body hydrated even after you get off your bike. If you can pair your beverage with other food sources, that will be your best option. Just never leave without a water bottle with you. If you can find and bring one of the best water bottles around, you can be assured that you will be at peace throughout your ride.

Is It Safe To Get a Facial When You Are Pregnant?

Many expecting mothers who are looking forward to that pregnancy glow may have been disappointed at one time or another. Some might have already realized (after their first or second pregnancy), that not every pregnant mom will be fortunate enough to have that radiant shine as their belly begin to grow. However disappointing it may seem, the reality is pregnancy-related symptoms may not be the same for all. Some will have the most beautiful skin, hair, and nails during their pregnancy. Others will just have to bear with the unpleasant effects of the wild hormones that trigger the appearance of dark pigmentations on the skin, acne, pimples, and other skin imperfections. For those who want an easy and quick remedy would consider having a facial instead of looking for the best face wash for pregnancy. In the hope that they can easily clear up any imperfections like the dark circles on their eyes that seem to double up each time, they will look for an easier method to tone done these unpleasant pregnancy features. Benefits of getting a facial during pregnancy Any woman would like to look her best during this most important period of her life. As such, she takes the time to find the best method to provide the best care for her skin and her body. However, she cannot set aside the fact that a tiny life growing inside of her is the greatest determining factor when deciding which products she can use or what method she can apply to achieve that best look she so desired. When thinking of facials and pregnancy, it is best to consider the benefits of this beauty method: Getting a facial relaxes the face, body and the mind. You will look like one of the stars. As compliments pour in, you feel less comfortable even with many other pregnancy-related symptoms that you have. Minor skin problems can be taken care of. It can enhance sleep and relaxation. Is it safe to get a facial when you are pregnant? Dermatologists and beauticians recommend a basic facial, without the use of strong chemicals, heat treatments as well as long-drawn-out massages, is generally safe. If you are looking for a relaxing and refreshing time, a gentle facial can help you feel great at a short time. As already mentioned, only when the treatment is done without any harsh chemicals will the facial be beneficial to your skin and even to your baby. However, it is important to note that there are many salon treatments are chemical-based. Combinations of toxic chemicals like benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, retinoids, and so on, are usually included in the formulations that they use. So, even if a facial can take care of your skin problems, it can have an adverse effect on your baby’s health. What treatments should be avoided during pregnancy? Following are other salon procedures or treatments that you should also avoid: Treatment that requires high or constant electric currents Extracting black-heads/tightening pores Light therapy Chemical peels Dermabrasion Plastic surgery Long massage sessions Heat and steam treatments Many salons today indicate that they use products that are supposedly made only of “natural” or “organic” ingredients. While this could be a great possibility, there is still a possibility that these products can discomfort, even allergies. Note that there are some organic moisturizers that contain soy-based ingredients. These are known to have estrogen-like effects and are especially dangerous during the early trimesters. For a safe facial at a salon, you need to make sure that the products that the salon technician will be using will be safe not only for you but for your baby as well. So, while making the appointment, you need to inform them that you are heavy with a baby. You may also need to consult your doctor for a possible preferred high-quality beautician. You also need to make sure that the treatment session will be done in a clean, hygienic, and safe salon. During your consultation with the salon manager and the staff, get the complete list of the products that will be used for the treatment, as well as all the ingredients in each of the product. Ask for an explanation of how the treatment is done and how it works. Make sure that the salon manager, as well as the technician, clearly understand your point regarding the use of harsh chemicals. During the session, if you observe that your instructions are not followed, request to stop the session right away. You may like the positive vibe that going to a salon may give you. If you are cautious about all those things mentioned, you can enjoy a soothing and enjoyable facial any time.

Proper Way To Wear A Maternity Belt

Your body continues to adjust to the growing baby inside your belly while you are pregnant. This is most especially true with the ligaments that surround and support your womb or the uterus. One of these ligaments is called the round ligament. It connects the front part of the womb to the groin. This is the area where your legs append to the pelvis. This ligament usually constricts and expands or relaxes slowly. The round ligament stretches to accommodate the growing baby in your womb. This may cause the ligament to be strained, especially when the baby makes sudden movements in your belly. The round ligament may quickly tighten causing a painful jabbing feeling. This is one of the common complaints that pregnant women have during pregnancy, more specifically from the third trimester, onwards. Ease Round Ligament Pain With A Maternity Belt Having round ligament pain not only can be physically painful. It can also drag you down and make your day a bit difficult to go through at times. There are several ways to ease ligament pain. One of these is wearing a maternity belt or a belly band. Wearing a good quality maternity belt can help support your growing belly. It can also provide a temporary relief to the round ligament when worn adequately around the abdomen. Soothe Lower Back Pains With A Maternity Belt Another common pain that expecting mothers complain about is lower back pains. The pressure brought about by the growing baby in your abdomen causes your body to overextend and strain the muscles supporting your lower back. With a maternity band, you can support and lift the belly, however. This lessens the amount of pressure on your mid and lower back and relieves the pain that you may have. This can also help relieve fatigue, especially when you need to stand up for a long time. Look Good And Feel Good With A Maternity Belt When you wear a maternity band, it sends external cues to your body to correct its posture. Allowing the belly band to support the belly and the lower back will give you more time to focus on your posture. This will also lessen the fatigue and strains that you may feel when you are not standing or sitting properly. How To Wear A Maternity Belt Properly To ensure that your belly band can fully support your abdomen, allow it to rest comfortably on your undergarments. You also need to consider how to properly place your belly band to ensure that it will not restrict the baby in your belly nor will it make it difficult for you to breathe or do other things. Maternity belts come in different designs. They usually come with the support pad, straps (the belt straps and the upper tummy straps), as well as the fastening systems. Below is the proper way to use a belly belt with this design. The maternity belt, also known as Abdominal Support Pad (ASP), should be placed directly under your baby belly and just above your pelvic area. Wrap one end of the strap firmly (but not too tight) around your body until it meets the other end. Secure both ends with the hooks or loop fasteners or both. Make sure to position the ASP as low under your belly as possible but not so low that it will make it difficult for you to sit or walk. Place it slightly up where it will not touch your legs when lifted. Once the asp is already securely fastened under your tummy, attach the belt to the ASP. To do this, grip the support securely at both ends and stretch it forward to append to the ASP. Use the hook and loop fastening system to attach the belt to the ASP. Then, stretch the belt around your back to attach the other end of the belt to the hook and loop at the other end of the ASP. Locate the upper tummy strap and fasten it to the hook and loop closure on the opposite sides of the belt. When To Wear A Belly Band There is no strict rule when you need to wear a maternity belt. It really depends on how much support that your baby belly needs. As your pregnancy progresses, you may feel the need to wear your belly band more. If you wake up with a back and/or pelvic pains, you can try wearing your belly band while you are sleeping or taking a nap. Although you may feel a lot heavier and more pressure on your back area during the second trimester of your pregnancy, you can wear your pregnancy belt even during the first few weeks of your pregnancy to help strengthen your core muscles. Things To Consider Before Buying A Belly Band As always, you will need to consult your doctor if you feel anything unusual with the pains that you are experiencing. However, if you feel a common pregnancy-related back pain, you can use a belly belt to ease the pain. There are many brands and designs available in most maternity stores. You can also by these maternity belts online. They may also be available in different sizes, so make sure that you pick one that will expand as your baby grows inside your tummy. Noticing how gorgeous a pregnant mom can look even while wearing a belly band like theankitarai, you will just be happy you decided to have one yourself. She recounts how she hurt her L4, L5 during her previous pregnancy in 2015. Wearing a pregnancy support belt made it easier for her to manage all the weight she gained in her pregnancy.

Grownups Are So Confusing: 10 Ways We Mislead Our Children

Childhood is confusing. If we rational, mature grownups are stumped by parenting choices and styles, just imagine how confused kids feel. They are constantly stuck in between the sharp ends of non-sequiturs and conflicting messages; messages that they are just supposed to take at face value, even when face value makes no sense. Here are just a few examples of how we confuse our children by our well-meaning rules and lessons. “Stop being creative and start doing your work,” said a parent volunteer at school. Hmmm… isn’t creativity often the most productive and valuable part of “work?” Isn’t it at the heart of all the problem solving we expect our kids to do on their road independence? “You are fat,” said my son honestly to a man we met. Nothing wrong with telling the truth, right? Yes, there is. Always tell the truth, but A. don’t tell a fat person they are fat, and B. we will continue to lie to you on most holidays, until you realize that we have lied to you all your life about jolly old men and bunnies who lay eggs. “You need to clean your room and do your homework before dinner. Oh, now I guess you also need to clean up the milk you spilled on the floor. Oh, and the wall, too, since you missed the washing machine with the milky rag. But now, it is dinner time, so go wash your hands and sit down and use your manners.” Oh, my God. Who could do all this? We ask our kids to calm down and focus, but please do all the things we are asking of you. It would be enough to drive a person crazy. Oh, wait… kids are crazy. “You’re screen time is all done.  Turn it off, please. No, I can’t turn off my screen because I am working and I have to do that. No, you don’t have to play Minecraft. It’s just different, that’s why.”  Wall-E, here we come. Generally the pronouncement of “Holy crap,” or worse, by a child is met with some form of “That is not appropriate language. Please don’t use bad words.” But how does this line up with popular culture where bad words are everywhere from music to graffiti to forgetful grownups? “Why do women show their boobs all the time?” asked my son, referring to cleavage. We tell our kids that certain body parts are private, but billboards, magazines, and fashion reveal cleavage and butts all the time. Go figure. “It’s time for you to sit down and focus on your homework now,” says a mom (maybe me), who settles down with a glass of wine. “Yes, being curious and trying new things is something I encourage you to do, but hiding behind the door to experiment with a box cutter is not okay.” “Thank you for being a big helper around the house. However, it is not okay to use 50 gallons of water and an entire bottle of dish soap to wash your single breakfast plate. And, by the by, what do you think will be your best solution for un-flooding the kitchen?” “Yes, you are playing with it in private, but when I asked you to vacuum your room I meant vacuum the dirt from the floor, not tickle the skin on that one part of your body.” Imagine how your child sees the world they have to navigate. No wonder kids throw temper tantrums.

Dear Dad,

Dear Dad, I’ve never lived in this world without a dad before. I haven’t gotten the hang of it yet and I’m not sure I want to. All I want to do is call you to talk, but I don’t think they bother with phones or even language where you are. We’ve talked almost every day for the past couple years and the only way I can hear your voice now is to call your phone number to listen to the outgoing message. Yes, I’ve done that. I cannot find you’re your voice anywhere else. And oh, what a voice it was. “An authoritatively resounding baritone voice” is how your friend labeled it in your obituary (he did a really nice job – you would have liked it). It was indeed that. But to me it was just my father’s voice. The same voice that told me to hug my teddy bear tighter when I was sad and missed you. The same voice that told me “well, Dear, it looks like you’ve made something that resembles a mistake” when I got my son a cat because I wanted one, even though he is terribly allergic. The same voice that could not speak back when I said “I love you” for the very last time. That’s the voice I want to hear. My daddy’s voice. I suppose I will have to do all the talking now, though. It’s been a tough week, but we’re all going to be okay. We’re all going to do a good job taking care of each other, just like you would have wanted. If I’m going to be honest, I have to tell you that I checked out for a few days. I went to the desert with my family and friends and tried to pretend that I had nothing to think about other than how to get the sand out of my ears, sleeping bag and food, or what trails to ride. (You should see your grandson on a mountain bike. He’s really getting good.) But now I’m home and it’s harder to be in denial. My sadness comes in waves and I have no control over its power. Today, we found the first Pasque flower of the spring. It was so pretty and fuzzy that we just sat there petting it like a giant bumble bee that would not sting us. The newness of life and the gentle sweetness of my son made me think of you. And the waves came. And I let them. The humor of life also comes in waves, though. You taught me that and grandma taught you that. There’s always a good laugh to be had in there somewhere. Often the laughter was at you. You were always such a good sport at being heckled. So, in death, as in life, we will have to give you a hard time. Who else will we make fun of for being a technological Luddite (“CAN YOU HEAR ME? I’M TALKING ON A CELL PHONE.”)? Who else would use every word in the English language, strung together in James Joycian prose and sprinkled with historical facts to answer a simple question like “Where should we go to dinner tonight?” In between the tears and the laughter I’ll write to you again. I just wanted to drop you a quick note to say I love you, wherever you may receive my letter. I hope the journey is beautiful and like nothing you could have ever imagined. Back on earth we miss you terribly. I love you. Shenna

Sticks and Stones Can Break My Bones, But Facebook Can Kill Me

Shy, dorky, pre-teen me was somehow able to befriend the most popular girl in our seventh-grade class. Fantastic! A new friend and a rocket launcher to popularity, right? No, not so much. In reality, my new BFF was a cunning sociopath who schooled me in the ways of deceit, manipulation, tweaked emotional control over another and just plain ol’ meanness. In a thank-god-I-never-have-to-do-that-again way, I remember this time of my life with disbelief, not only because of the terrible things my friend did to me, but also because of the ways I turned on her. I did things that are really not part of my DNA. I don’t have spite in my bones, but I was spiteful. Middle school is a confusing time for kids. Maturing so quickly, kids have little understanding of what is going on and very few tools to deal with the gaps between problems, emotions, desires and reality. So much of the angst from being woefully ill-equipped to take part in the more grown-up world kids spy ahead turns into things like bullying, manipulation, exclusion and depression. Luckily, mean girls in my middle school era were only equipped with land lines, analog writing devices and face-to-face bitchiness. Because of this, whatever happened between my friend and I could only radiate out so far beyond the two of us. Our tweaked dynamics could only amass a certain level of power, yet even then our bad blood so often felt like the end of the world. After two years, I was free of my crazy friend and learned a whole heck of a lot of lessons from our relationship, including how to stand in who I am and what I believe to hopefully avoid manipulation or being edged into doing things I know to be wrong. In hindsight, I’d like to thank my friend for pushing me into these lessons and more. I am better because of her schooling. But not every victim or perpetrator of nastiness is so lucky, especially today, in the digital age. If our messed up friendship had existed today, we would have a whole quiver of digital weapons through which to enact our drama and wield our malice. It scares me to think of what would have been different if we had access to powerful tools like Facebook with little or no supervision. But this is reality for a lot of kids, like Rebecca Sedwick, who committed suicide after falling prey to a firing squad of cyber bullying. Here story is so sad, yet it is only one story out of a million. Thankfully, things like this are getting media coverage and attention from schools, parents and law enforcement. Perhaps if I were a brilliant sociologist or psychologist I could delve into why and how all these things happen and what we, as a society, should do about it. But I am not. I am just a grown-up who was once a middle-schooler and will someday be parenting a middle schooler. So, here I will be, paying close attention, learning what I can and listening to my own lessons learned long ago.

The Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny are the last to go.

Santa Clause is definitely under suspicion, but the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny are hangin’ tough. Last year I saved the Easter Bunny by pointing to a regular bunny hopping across the yard after an Easter egg hunt and proclaiming “there he is!!” This year, the Tooth Fairy came into question, but I saved her, too. Here is a letter my son received from the Tooth Fairy after he left her a note asking if she was real and would she please tell him because he really wanted to know. Oh, how I will miss them when they depart his world. Dear Boy With The Missing Tooth, Kids always ask if I am real, but I never ask them if they are real. I know it is curious that I only come under cover of dark, but this is just because I am afraid of the sunlight. I also travel at night because then no one wants to capture me and put me in a cage. I like to be free. I also really like teeth. You may wonder why I collect them. If you saw my house you would know exactly why. I live in a big beautiful castle made out of cute little baby teeth from children like you all over the world. Without these teeth I could not have a house, so thank you for all the teeth you have given me. I built a window frame out of the eight teeth you lost. I mean seven, but now with this one I will have all the eight I need to finish the frame. It is for my favorite window. It looks out on to my garden of money trees. They grow like weeds in my world, but I hear that people in your world use money every day. That is so funny to me. I rake up the leaves from my money trees and give the dollars to kids like you. Children’s baby teeth are the most precious thing in my world, so thank you again for being so generous with them. I will think of you every time I look out of my favorite window. The trees are especially beautiful in the springtime. Please do me a favor and brush your teeth VERY well twice a day and stay away from candy. This way your baby teeth will be in good condition when I get them. Take care of yourself. Love, The Tooth Fairy The Tooth Fairy also gave me a gift that morning: the look on my son’s face when he read her letter. It was as if he alone had discovered the missing clue to one of life’s mysteries and held the knowledge to share if he wished. Maybe I can write a letter to my son and leave it under my pillow. Please, little boy with the missing tooth, don’t ever grow up. And if you do, please keep your sense of imagination, wonder and awe. It is the most beautiful thing I know.

Girl Meets Boy: Ten Things My Son Taught Me About Raising Boys

Boys. They were some of my favorite friends when I was a little girl. Then, as I got older, I thought they were mean and smelly. Later, I changed my mind, had crushes on them and, ultimately, married the grown man version. Now, I’m a mother of a boy. Having never actually been a boy myself, I am at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to understanding the care and feeding of a little boy. I’ve relied on books, friends, observation, guesswork, and my son to teach me that being elbowed in the nose is actually a sign of affection, or that my romantic idea of baking gingerbread cookies together is really just a freeway to frustration, and maybe even some hollering. (If you didn’t know, flour is a very fun substance in its many forms and has endless enticing applications beyond baking). I’ve been a daughter, girlfriend, competitor, co-worker, boss, friend and wife, but it took mothering a son to really see the differences between males and females. As a tomboy with an even more tomboyish mom, I used to think boys and girls had different personality traits only because parents and society raised them in line with traditional gender roles. I promised myself not to fall into that trap when I became a mother. But now, with testosterone peeling paint off the walls of my house, I have to reconsider.  Although I used to frown upon gross generalizations regarding gender roles, I now realize they can actually be helpful in understanding our children, especially when we are of the opposite gender. Here are a few things my son (and other people’s sons) taught me about boys. 1. I yam what I yam. Whether your son is into princesses or dragons, you really have no say in the matter. I was determined to raise our son in a gender-neutral way. Although he was drawn to vehicles and predators, I pushed cute bunnies, pink and purple flowers, hand-made androgynous dolls and anything else that might counterbalance his testosterone-fueled energy.  I now realize that this was an uphill battle going nowhere. The real pursuit isn’t creating a sweet little boy, but seeing through the chaos, noise, boogers and motion of the boy to find and cherish the sweet spots. 2. Meet the toy line up. After countless hours of observation in playgrounds and play dates, I’ve decided that there must be an official handbook of obsessions to which most boys subscribe. It starts innocently enough with a ball: feel it, bite it, roll it, throw it, dunk it, but by no means let go of it. Then, boyish obsessions move on to other items in a very specific order according to developmental age: trucks, heavy machinery, airplanes, cars, dinosaurs, dragons, and then the fill-in-the-blank-item of said boy’s favorite sport. The doll I gave my son never made the cut. 3. Stay. Go. Stay. Go. Somewhere around 6 years old, boys figure out that they are different from the females in their life. Suddenly, mom is so yesterday, and daddy is a hero. Thus begins the push/pull of mommy, which can be very emotional and confusing for everyone. Push mom away because I want to be just like daddy and she’s nothing like him. Pull mom back because, she’s mom and I need her. Push mom away because I have needed her too much and I want to be independent. Pull mom back because independence is scary. And on and on it goes. My guess is that it never ends. (And then, somewhere in the teen years, both mom and dad become equally so yesterday, and friends are all that matters. At least we all get a turn.) 4. Active learning. Boys don’t learn by sitting still in a chair. Learning is best done while running between rooms, dancing, farting and singing. I’m amazed at the correct math answers that come hurling at me from around a corner, just when I thought our son had skipped out on homework to build a pillow fort. No wonder boys are the ones getting in trouble at school. Who can think with all that stillness? 5. Girls create. Boys destroy. While boy energy can seem destructive on the surface, deep down it’s just active learning. Boys tend to display their curiosity physically. When exploring a new object, the go-to methods are eating it, throwing it, pinching it, pouring it, smashing it or flinging one’s body off it. Quiet observation and compliance is generally not a top choice for most boys. For example, my son recently learned about gravity and housekeeping all from one simple experiment. I asked him to take a drinking glass to the kitchen. He chose to deliver the glass to the kitchen by rolling it down 20 carpeted stairs to the hard tile floor below. At least now he knows how far glass can travel with a little bit of force behind it. 6. Movement and space. Understanding where one’s body is in space by means of dare devil moves is often a favorite male pastime. Don’t get me wrong, I like to fling myself through space too, but it seems that boys skip a few beats of hesitation because fear and potential injury rank a little lower on their list of worries. One could also say that what constitutes a good idea is different for boys and girls. For example, I would never have thought to climb high up onto a narrow windowsill just so I could free fall face first onto the couch, narrowly avoiding sharp tables, lamps and hardwood floors, but this happens hundreds of times a week at our house. My motto is don’t ask too many questions. Just move aside and protect your eyes. 7. Girls talk. Boys make noise. Girls have a lot to say and are generous with details. Boys have a lot of noise to make, but might not actually say anything at all, other than that they are here in your presence. How could you possibly forget with all that racket? Listen. They are saying something. You just need to translate from the physical to the verbal. (When you figure it out, give me a call because I am still trying to understand why my son thinks that if he is quiet he might be dead.) 8. Praise alone won’t work. I once read that girls tend to do better in school than boys because they are more eager to please others (teachers, parents, etc.), and boys do well in school when they have something internal motivating them. No amount of praise, coercion or peer pressure can motivate my son to do anything. Motivation has to come from his own internal desire and interest, or forget it. Yes, this is irritating, but it’s also admirably genuine. 9. What happens if I don’t? Boys want to know who’s in charge, what are the rules, and what are the consequences for breaking said rules. To them, life is a giant experiment. Every lever needs to be flipped, every button pushed and every flap opened. Of course all kids want to test boundaries, but girls seem to work in relationship with others and enjoy praise, while boys are more drawn to the experiment of finding hard and fast boundaries.  When I was trying to get my son to lift the toilet seat before peeing, I tried everything before stooping to bribery with jelly beans. Put the seat up, pee, get a jelly bean. Simple, right? Nope. Purposely leave really big puddles of pee on the seat and then sweetly say you lifted the seat and ask for your reward. When you get busted and receive no jelly bean, try again tomorrow. This time, leave bigger puddles of pee on the seat (heck, the floor too, while you’re at it) before trying to claim your reward. Note failure and lack of jelly beans and start lifting the lid every time without fail and without jelly beans. Months later, note stale jelly beans in the cupboard but don’t ask for one. 10. Boys do cry. The whole idea that boys don’t cry is hogwash. Boys are just as emotional as girls, even if their style of emotional expression is different. Boys often express themselves physically, which can be misunderstood as tough or unemotional. Don’t believe it. Instead, use your super mother powers of translating the physical to the emotional. And then give them a big hug that lasts a really long time.