Monday, January 31, 2011

Dental Health for Young Children #1

Those of you who were able to tune into WLDY’s talk-line show last Friday had the opportunity to learn a great deal about how to care for the teeth of young children. Dr. Nilesh Thakker, a dentist with the Marshfield Dental Center in Ladysmith and dental hygienist Paula Alexander were my guests on Talk Line. They shared helpful information about the oral health of young children. In the next few weeks in Bringing Up Baby, I hope to share the topics that they covered.
It is always useful to start at the very beginning. In our discussion about the teeth of young children, this means starting before pregnancy. When women care for themselves by eating nutritious foods, by taking care of their teeth by flossing and brushing, and by visiting the dentist regularly to insure no decay is occurring, they will insure that when they become pregnant, their child will have the very best start to life — and to healthy teeth — that they can provide.
Paula dispelled some common myths about pregnancy and tooth loss. It is not true that you lose a tooth for every pregnancy, nor is it true that the fetus takes the calcium from your teeth. This is false. The fetus receives nutrients including calcium from the foods the mother eats. Tooth loss is not due to pregnancy, but occurs because of tooth decay, plaque, and gum disease that started a long time before pregnancy. However during pregnancy, hormone changes can exacerbate some dental problems.
Both for the mother’s health and the newborn’s health, it is important for pregnant mothers to take good care of their teeth. Research links gum disease to premature birth and low birth weight. At any age, it is important to care for one’s teeth!
This Friday, the first Friday of February is Give Kids a Smile Day. Dentists are offering services to young children for free at various locations. In our area, you can go to the Chippewa Valley Technical College for a free check-up for your young child. You can meet Dr. Thakker there!
In the next few weeks we will continue our discussion on dental health, starting a discussion about what age you should start taking your child to the dentist and what to expect in those first visits.
Up through the ground, creep, creep, creep.
The sleepy little groundhog peek,peek,peeks
If he sees his shadow
and the sun is bright.
He jumps down his hole
and is out of sight.
Up through the ground, creep,creep, creep.
The sleepy little groundhog peek,peek,peeks
If there is no shadow
and the clouds hide the sun
He jumps out of his hole
and he’s ready for fun.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Last of the Musings on Oscilloscopes

I have been writing about boy-thinking versus girl-thinking these first weeks of January. After writing last week’s column, I mused upon where the playing with oscilloscopes has taken the boys in our family. Remember, my brain, wired for girl-thinking, could not comprehend the need to ‘conquer’ the workings of an oscilloscope. My niece’s brain would not easily see the reason to smash and destroy the beautifully constructed Lincoln log buildings. My daughter-in-law’s insight into her own children’s thinking has given us all food for thought concerning how we raise our children and provide opportunities without condemning a style of thinking that may not fit our own.
Taken in a larger context, the differences in how political parties approach problems in our country, has a lot to do with how individuals in these parties think. Just as the cave men and women had gender roles that allowed their societies to raise children, keep families safe, find food for everyone, and care for the elderly and dying; our elected officials each take a stand to push agendas that are probably in keeping with how their brains are wired and what experiences they have had.
In the same way, it is difficult for me, a product of my heredity and background of northern Wisconsin to understand the cultures of Mexico, Africa, and the island countries (to name a few). It is as difficult for heterosexual couples to understand the needs of homosexuals.  In today’s world, challenges in understanding religious differences have brought about horrific crimes.
Back to the oscillocopes. I wonder what line of work my sons would be in today if they had not gone to the hamfest with their father and grew up with their grandfather who was forever figuring out how things work. What if the oscilloscopes and the Lincoln logs and erector sets were not allowed in the house because a mother’s girl-thinking dominated the family scene. Or what if a father’s boy-thinking could not understand his son’s or daughter’s need to play housekeeping and practice nurturing.
We will have a change of topics starting this Friday. On WLDY’s talk-line show at 8:30, I will have a guest, Dr. Nilesh Thakker. Dr. Thakker is a dentist with the Marshfield Dental Center in Ladysmith. He will be sharing helpful information about your young child’s oral health. I hope you join us and call in with your questions.


I went to the dentist, today.
I went to the dentist, today.
He checked my teeth and said,“Okay!”
“Keep up the brushing,
Keep up the flossing,
See you next year”
I said, “Hurray!”

Character creation by Steven Baye.

This is a good song for keeping a steady beat. Slap thighs and clap hands in a steady rhythm and
raise arms for okay and hurray.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Oscilloscopes and Boy-Thinking

Talking to my niece about girl-thinking and boy-thinking triggered a memory I have concerning oscilloscopes. They are big, heavy machines, (maybe dinosaurs of the past) that measure electrical waves. The reason I know something about oscilloscopes is that I have a husband and two sons. One of their favorite adventures was to attend a hamfest in the twin cities. A hamfest is like a flea market for electronic nerds. The boys and their father would walk around the grounds looking at all the old ‘junk’ (female definition of what is sold at a hamfest). They generally didn’t buy anything until just before closing time. At that point the sellers, not wanting to cart all their equipment (male definition of what is sold at a hamfest) home again, would drop the prices. At that moment my three boys would gleefully cart away boxes of junk/equipment. (Please use whichever term matches your gender.)
These cardboard boxes would arrive in the evening and take up space in the boys’ rooms and the garage. I learned it was better to close the doors on the rooms and not see what was happening inside.
One time, no less than three oscilloscopes arrived. “Amazing,” I said. “What will you do with these.”
“We gonna see how they work!”
What could a good mother do? Close the door.
After a few months, the oscilloscopes migrated to the garage. Other interesting projects superceded the need to learn more about oscilloscopes. That should have been the end of the oscilloscope story. They should have rusted in place or be sent out for scrape, but it wasn’t. When a college friend came to visit with her two younger sons, I was talking about some electronics with them, just in conversation. Because of their interest, my dear friend is now the proud owner of two of the three oscilloscopes. They currently reside in a garage in Boston, if you happen to be interested. She hasn’t come to visit since.
You would think that should be the end of the story, but no, my little grandson is coming to visit soon. I’ll have to clean out the garage to see if I can still find the last oscilloscope.
Please call me if you have a story I can share in this column. (715-532-3209)

Most of the birds have gone away
On this cold dark winter day.
Here is one bird that I can see
Looking for something good to eat.
Little bird, I’ll feed you
Til the cold winter is through
And all of your friends come back to play
On a warm and bright spring day.
(tune: Up on the Housetop)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Last week I shared a story of boy-thinking with you and asked for your help with stories of girl-thinking. My niece shared a great example of girl-thinking that gets at one of the differences.

Cindy has four children. The oldest three are boys and the youngest is a four-year old little girl. The children have a set of Lincoln Logs—those very durable, creative building sets that are handed down through the generations of children. When the older boys played with them, the goal, before the building was even finished, was all about crashing and destroying the towers and buildings. How one goes about destroying the creation seems as important as how one created it. I can imagine loud army and bulldozer noises accompanying the crashing part. Now when Jenna plays with Lincoln Logs, the goal is to save the creation, not just for an hour or two, but sometimes for weeks.

What is it about Jenna’s girl-thinking that wires her brain to use the same materials in a different way--saving rather than destroying. Cindy had an interesting observation about that. She said it seemed as if Jenna has an emotional attachment to her toys and playthings. Saving is important. The boys do not seem to have that attachment to what they have built. Their goal seems to be one of conquest.

Jenna likes to have the attention of her older brothers, however she often gets mad at them, “He’s not playing right!” she will complain. When visiting the play area at McDonalds she will choose to sit with her mother rather than play on the equipment when there are only little boys playing. She wants to play with girls.

To sum this up, we are who we are because of our genes. Male brains are different than female brains. In the early development of man, this difference is what helped societies form. There were those who hunted and defended and those who nurtured and saved. In today’s world, the different roles become blurred. Women work outside the home and hold jobs that require an aggressive stance. Men nurture and cook and stay home. However, when you look at the behavior of the youngest in our families, you often see remnants of our ancient past.

Have these stories triggered a memory of your own about boy or girl thinking? If they have, please call me so I can share your stories in this column. (715-532-3209)


Feed, feed, feed the birds

In the wintertime.

When the days are dark and cold

Food is hard to find

Feed, feed, feed the birds

Til the spring has come.

Scatter birdseed on the ground

Feeding birds is fun.

Pantomime Motions

tune: Row, Row Your Boat

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Boy Thinking

One of the most interesting topics I can think of is how the minds of young children work. How do they go about processing new information and how do they learn? My daughter-in-law’s blog about the antics of her little boys (my dear little grandsons!) sheds light on this topic. With an excerpt from her recent blog we will start the seventh year of Bringing Up Baby.

Blake and Gavin discovered a bowl of dried, fake decorative stuff we have around the house -- pine cones, pomegranates, and some odd-looking seed balls. The seed ball is perfectly round and manages to fit quite well into a little palm. Gavin made the discovery and Blake was quick to follow and find one for himself. There they were, staring at me with these little balls in their hands and their faces full of anticipation. The words came from Blake:

"What are these?"

"Can we throw them?"

"Can we roll them?"

"How do we break these?"

It was the last question that had me laughing, as well as the rapid-fire delivery of the questioning. I didn't even have a moment to answer between questions.

The reason for documenting this is that I feel Blake's last question gives me great insight into boy-thinking. I'll sum it up as follows: discovering any new item is a matter of "how do I conquer this?" (i.e. break it). This must explain why Blake is constantly taking apart his toy cars with a mini screwdriver and perhaps gives meaning to yesterday's event: Blake digging through the tool drawer collecting all the allen wrenches and explaining to me that he was going to "fix the fire alarm" that was beeping while I was cooking dinner.----

Now I have a challenge for mothers of little girls. Please call me with your insight concerning ‘girl-thinking’. It is almost 38 years since I was the mother of a little girl and I need some help from you!

For your amusement I’m including a Mother Goose rhyme.

What are little girls made of?

Sugar and spice and everything nice.

That’s what little girls are made of.

What are little boys made of?

Snakes and snails and puppy dog tails.

That’s what little boys are made of!

Toad House Publishing

Twinkletime Rhymes to Print

New Year's Resolutions

It is always a challenge for me to decide how to end a year's worth of ideas and information in Bringing Up Baby. I have been thinking ahead to 2011, but I still have this one more column for the year to complete. I thought I would give you a list of some great New Year's Resolutions. They come from deep in my heart.

· Please protect children from the effects of secondhand smoke. If you are a smoker, never smoke in your car or in your house. Try your best to quit smoking so you can be a better role model for your children. When you visit friends and relatives, respectfully ask these people to refrain from smoking while your children are present.

· Please practice changing your own behaviors that you've identified as behaviors you would prefer your children to not imitate. These are things like swearing, yelling, spanking. complaining, speeding and making messes that others have to clean up. Practice behaviors that you want to see in your child when they become adults. You won't get immediate feedback, but your future grandchildren will benefit more than you know.

· Please help your children to be kind to others by modeling that behavior yourself.

· Please talk, talk, talk to your babies and young children. When you can't think of anything to talk about, sing simple children's songs. Grow your baby's brain by banking lots and lots of language.

· Please read, read, and read some more. Read the same book your child loves a billion times! Make it a weekly routine to go to our wonderful library and check out books for your child. Read for yourself too--newspapers, books, and magazines. Show your child that you love to read and if you don't love it yet, keep practicing!

· Please play with your child and let him or her direct the play. Did your child receive a train, blocks, or cooking set? Let your child show you how to play with these toys.

May you and your family have a rewarding new year.


A winter day is very, very cold.

A winter day is very, very cold.

It may just snow, you never, never know.

A winter day is very, very cold.


This song uses the melody, If You’re Happy and You Know It.

Make the w sign for winter with each hand and shiver. Pantomime snowing. Shake head ’no’ and use facial expression for ‘you never know’

Toad House Publishing

Twinkletime Rhymes to Print