Monthly Archives: April 2009

Swine Flu ~ How Do We Protect Our Families?

In case you haven’t heard (please don’t tell me you haven’t heard) about the flu virus that is a mutation of swine, avian(bird) and human strains, we are quickly approaching a pandemic situation.

As a parent, this feels doubly frightful.  If you’ve been paying attention to the news at all, you will have already seen or heard it:  the first swine-flu-related death in the United States has occurred.  The victim?  A twenty-two-month-old boy.  As a mother, as a parent, even as a (grown) child, my heart goes out to this family.

So, how do we as a local and global community respond to this quickly intensifying situation?  Do we keep our children home from school?  Do we lock ourselves in our homes and hope we can hunker down long enough for this global health emergency to pass?

Not quite yet.  Unless you live in Mexico, that is.  And, maybe, New York.

You can frequently check the CDC’s website for current information on where the swine flu has been confirmed in our country (see link below).  If you see reports of increasing numbers in your own state, then you may want to take more aggressive action.  But for most of us, at this point, the same basic recommendations apply as during any more typical flu season:

  • HAND WASHING–teach your children (and yourself) how to properly and frequently wash hands:  15-20 seconds with hot soapy water, all surfaces, in between fingers, each and every time.
  • if you’re sick, stay at home.  Avoid infecting other people with whatever it is you’ve got.  Don’t be the hero that goes to work to “tough it out” and end up spreading your cold/flu to your office mates.
  • cover your cough/sneeze with your elbow–not your hand
  • avoiding rubbing your eyes/nose/ and touching your face/mouth AS OFTEN AS POSSIBLE–especially when out in public.  Viruses enter our bodies through our tissues called mucous membranes (that’s a fancy term for the lining of your eyes, nose, mouth and the like).  If you’re out and about and happen to pick up the germs of the sick person who used that grocery cart right before you, taking these basic steps (paired with toting around a little container of hand sanitizer and using it after touching highly public surfaces) should keep you safe.
  • Because there have been some school closures in the San Francisco Bay area and New York, check with your local school district for any additional information about closures in your area, community-wide instituted recommendations, etc.


And, not least of all, for the best source of up-to-date information on the swine flu, its spread, treatment options, public actions, etc.,
go here.

Oh yeah, and one more thing: no, you can’t contract swine flu from eating pork.  Don’t stop buying pork chops and bacon.  At least, that’s what the national pork industry lobbyists are telling us.

Liz, anything I missed here?  Want to chime in?

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Filed under family, From One Mother to Another, General Health

Why Women Are So Passive-Aggressive

Don’t ask me why, but lately (longly) I’ve been thinking about passive aggressiveness and why it is such a pervasive “technique,” if you will, embraced by so many women in dealing with problems.   I think I’ve got a longer post coming on this topic but, for now, check out this article on Science Daily.com and this associated Wikipedia entry.

As a mother to one girl, I so do not want to encourage this trait in my daughter.  How to fight it…how to fight it…how to fight it…

Thoughts? Additions? Comments?

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Filed under From One Mother to Another, Living, Uncategorized

Women’s Circle of Excellence

Today, I attended the second half of the 2009 Montana State University College of Business Women’s Circle of Excellence conference, thanks to the lovely invitation by a colleague of my husband’s, Sharyn Sears.

The conference, meant to be an inspirational, networking-promoting, educational event, was small enough to be intimate (there were about 70 participants) and yet charged enough with solid speakers and organic energy from the attendees to be a top-notch conference, and well worth the invested time.

As a mostly-stay-at-home-mom, my opportunities for networking with other driven, professionally talented women can sometimes feel few and far between.  Especially living in a small Montana town.  So, today’s event was a welcomed way to spend a Friday (while Andrew took care of the kids–thank you Andrew!).

The day began with marketing guru Mary Perry guiding the group through a series of exercises in which we defined ourselves as CEOs of…well…ourselves.  She talked about seeing yourself as a brand–assigning things like packaging, tag lines, brand descriptions and position statements to our professional personas.  There was a healthy emphasis placed on social media outlets and how these can be used to further our brand.

The dialog about social media continued with an awesome presentation by online marketing expert Shelby Nordhagen of My Business Ideas.com.  Shelby covered the ins and outs of blogging, microblogging (Twitter), book mark sites like Delicious, Digg, Stumble Upon and Reddit.  In all these workshops, certain reminders emerged like  protecting certain elements of personal identity and thinking carefully about comments, photos, etc. that could be used against you in the future (such as when a potential employer Googles you and finds an incriminating photo of you at a friend’s bachelorette party doing something you’d rather a potential employer not see).

Despite all the great things that went on at the conference today, one very disturbing moment occurred which sent a large percentage of the crowd silently reeling in their seats.

A panel of four women–three of them in academia (science) and one in the private sector (ultimately, banking) got around to addressing the issue of balancing work and family.  The consensus these women came up with was this:  ‘I don’t really care if you have a family or not.  I just don’t want to hear you tell me that you have to leave early for your kids’ soccer game.  I don’t want to see you putting your family before work.’

Ugh.

Brenda Davis, renowned former Johnson and Johnson executive, and planning/policy professional in various political venues, spoke up right away, defending the approach she reportedly employed while hanging out in the upper echelons of J&J.  She said she always made every effort she could to support women in the workplace who also had children/family to tend to.  Her theory was, pay it forward now (ie. maintain a bit of flexibility with your employees who are trying their darnedest to do well in their jobs as well as their all-important parenting roles) and trust that in a few years, you will reap the benefits via your employee’s loyalty and hard work.

After the panel discussion was over, I participated in several conversations with other conference attendees (women mostly in my same age group) who were equally shell-shocked at the position collectively taken by the panel members.  These women, by the way, were not necessarily mothers.  Worst of all, there were undergraduate female students in the room.  I hated to think what impression they took away from that session:  perhaps, ‘”if I hope to go into business, I better not plan on maintaining any sort of decent commitment to my family.  Work must always come first…”

Thankfully, Brenda Davis reappeared for the closing keynote talk.  And she totally rocked it.

As Ms. Davis spent an hour expounding upon her personal and professional history, which included being responsible for 1/4 of the U.S. budget at the age of twenty-eight via her work on the U.S. Senate Committee on the Budget, she made note several times of the high degree of committment she maintained to her family.  In fact, while interviewing for one of her many high profile jobs, she even brought the issue of her daughters up in an interview.  Her girls, then 2 and 4-years-old, maintained the #1 priority spot in her life, and she made sure her future supervisor knew there would be times when she would leave the office early with the intent to be with her children for some special event, in exchange for working late at night after her kids were in bed.

Now, criticise this however you like, but, I for one was thoroughly inspired by this female executive tycoon’s ability to succeed in the business world and do a seemingly damned good job in her role as a mother.

All-in-all, it was a good conference and, at the end of the day, I was happy to return home to the cacophony of three spunky kids, dinner on the table, and a lovely bouquet of fresh-cut flowers on the kitchen counter.

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Filed under family, From One Mother to Another, Mommy and Motherhood, politics

Breastfeeding Woes? Avoid Use of Reglan for Boosting Milk Supply

If you currently, or have ever, experienced difficulty with breastfeeding…namely a concern over milk production (which, by the way, is rarely a true problem from an anatomical standpoint) you may have come across the advice to encourage your doctor to prescribe a medication for you called Reglan (Metochlopramide) .  As cited in this article from breastfeeding.org, Reglan has been known to increase a nursing mom’s milk supply.

But, before pursuing this option, be advise of the following:

The FDA is requiring the drug manufacturer, Schwartz Pharma, to put a black box warning on the medication labels about an increased risk of tardive dys-kinesia associated with the chronic use of metoclopramide.

Not sure what tardive dyskinesia (TD) is?  It is a complex set of involuntary oral-facial-neck movements, often times irreversible once they begin (and in fact, commonly worsening over time) that is frequently a side effect of long-time (over three months) medication usage  (certain medications).  Reglan is the latest medication to be added to the list of drugs that can cause this socially devastating , syndrome.

TD used to be associated largely with the use of antipsychotic medications but if you look at the drug list above, you will see that it branches out into many other categories of medications as well.

If you’ve never seen a person with tardive dyskinesia, check out these videos:


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Filed under breastfeeding, From One Mother to Another

More Research that Supports the Practice of Breastfeeding

If someone walked up to you and offered you and/or your children a pill, a regimen, a diet plan or a set of practices that would guarantee to significantly lower your risk of…

heart disease
stroke
diabetes
high blood pressure
high cholesterol
asthma
obesity
food allergies
breast and ovarian cancer

…wouldn’t you sign up?

Well, guess what folks,  that regimen exists.  It always has.  It’s called: breastfeeding.

Maybe you’re done with the phase of your life that could include breastfeeding.  Maybe you happily breastfed your child(ren) for months or years, or maybe you didn’t breast feed at all.  Perhaps you know someone who is the mother of an infant or young child, or maybe a woman who is about to become a mom.

If you fit into any of the categories above, check out this article on BBC News regarding the expanded number of benefits breastfeeding provides mom and baby.  Even if this info does not apply to you, please consider passing this post/article along.

Boy, doesn’t Mother Nature (God) know how to get things right?  Just imagine the number of breastfeeding benefits we, in our finite minds, have yet to discover…

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Filed under Childbirth Issues, family, From One Mother to Another, General Health, Kids, Living, Mommy and Motherhood, pregnancy, prenatal health

Dear Esteemed Literary Agent

Dear Esteemed Literary Agent:

Vulnerability is an inexorable element of metamorphosis.  Mothers recognize it as they gestate, birth and raise their children; teens feel it as they face down adulthood; friends attempt to camouflage it as they navigate constantly shifting relationships with their peers. When vulnerability meets tragedy, an opening in the soul erupts and we are faced with the burden of transformation or stagnation.  A Heroic Survival, an Abysmal Truth: the Story of Dallon Whittaker dissects one such magnanimous journey through the eyes of the extraordinarily intuitive, seventeen-year-old Dallon (Dalli) Whittaker.

Set in present-day Pittsburgh three weeks after his mother, Nora, has died from an aggressive form of breast cancer, Dalli recalls the scenes and conversations between him and his mother which illuminated the previously concealed truth about his father’s distant fatal car accident—an accident that occurred prior to Dalli’s birth—and the ensuing dissipation of his paternal relatives.  Buttressed by his closest friends, Noah and Angelica, and his maternal uncle, Paul, Dalli guides the reader through his quest to make sense of his family’s jaded past and his newly orphaned status, all the while preparing for his matriculation to George Washington University.

An eccentric, Jewish psychologist, Nora is resurrected on the page, ultimately making this maternal-nerve-tapping story a piece of strong women’s fiction.  As Dalli contemplates his late mother’s quirky obsessions with etymology, bodies of water, and the scant form of preeminence she believed him to possess, the reader gains a sense of how deeply entrenched Nora is within certain confines of her son’s persona.  Meanwhile, the edgy, sarcastic, deeply loveable young man traverses the confines of grief, abandonment and unwanted responsibility, while unwittingly approximating self examination, resiliency and hope.  Ultimately, Dalli must choose whether or not he will lay to rest his own vulnerabilities, and those closely guarded by his mother.

Marketable to readers who savor the tangible characters and memorable storylines of Jodi Picoult and Amy Tan, this novel has been crafted fastidiously with filmic imagery, workshopped at Desert Nights Rising Stars 2009 Writer’s Conference, and critiqued by several fellow women’s literature writers.

After living in Pittsburgh for six years, I now live in Bozeman, Montana, where I continue to promote my memoir, A Dozen Invisible Pieces and Other Confessions of Motherhood (Cold Tree Press, 2008), raise three children, freelance for Montana Parent magazine and teach childbirth preparation classes.

Seeking a long-term agent-author partnership, I look forward to sending you the partial or complete manuscript of my book upon your request, and discussing other works I have in the wings which include strong female characters navigating familial and societal drama, and facing off against contemporary women’s issues.

Thank you for your time,

Kimmelin M Hull

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Filed under Artists, book promotion, Writing and Publishing

The Evolution of Human Childbirth

Check out this well-written article on Science Daily.com about the evolution of human childbirth.

Don’t be turned off by that introduction…it’s really a very interesting article that quotes University of Delaware professor and paleoanthropologist Karen Rosenberg.  The article discusses how childbirth changed when humans became bipedal (walking on two vs four legs) by changing the diameters of the pelvis.  The article also highlights why it is so important for women to be attended by significantly supportive people–particularly other women–during their passage through labor and birth (enter the role of the modern-day doula).  Lastly, the article touches on the topic that is so near and dear to my heart: women going on to support each other in their endeavors through motherhood.

Read the article.  Chew on it.  Let me know what you think…

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Filed under Childbirth Issues