Pragmatic Mom

March 22, 2010

Favorite Golf Books Because Spring is Here!!!

To coincide with the holy grail of the Master’s Tournament, my husband suggested these books for the golf nut in your life.  Could make a nice Father’s Day gift for later as well.  He qualifies.   He thinks it’s a crime against humanity if he’s not playing golf on a decent day;  he plays to a zero handicap; and he has amassed a huge collection of golf books and claims to have read every single one.  These are his favorites.  If you become a golf widow every spring like I do, your only recourse is to take up the game of golf.  And be sure to send your kids out to the course with your golf nut.  The kids love it.  They get to drive the cart, eat a hotdog outside, hit balls, play with the reseeding mixture, play with golf tees, and hang with their golf nut who would otherwise be absentee.  They learn great etiquette on the course and improve their  eye/hand coordination as a bonus gift.

The Art of Putting and The Art of the Short Game, both by Stan Utley.  Instructional books.

Playing Through:  A Year of Life and Links Along the Scottish Coast by Curtis Gillespie. 


The Seventh at St. Andrews  : How Scotsman David McLay Kidd and His Ragtag Band Built the First New Course onGolf’s Holy Soil in Nearly a Century by Scott Gummer.

The Edict:  A Novel From the Beginnings of Golf by Bob Cupp.

Scratch by Troon McAllister.

February 5, 2010

Quote Collection

” Never be afraid to try something new.  Remember that amateurs built the Ark. Professionals built the Titanic.”

“In teaching you cannot see the fruit of a day’s work. It is invisible and remains so, maybe for twenty years.” Jacques Barzun

(or in parenting!)

These great quotes are from my Twitter friend, TheTeacherPage, Bob Huges from Halifax, MA

He has great advice AND quotes and I’d encourage you to follow him.

“The object of teaching a child is to enable them to get along without a teacher.” Elbert Hubbard

“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.” Albert Einstein

“Example isn’t another way to teach, it is the only way to teach.” Albert Einstein

“Education is the best provision for old age.” Aristotle

“Teachers open the door. You enter by yourself.” Chinese Proverb

“Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.” Oliver Wendell Holmes

“Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall.” Confucius

“Learning without thought is labor lost; thought without learning is perilous.” Confucius

“Nothing ever becomes real until it is experienced.” John Keats

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” Mother Teresa

“The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery.” Poet and Educator, Mark van Doren

“Even a mistake may turn out to be the one thing necessary to a worth while achievement.” Henry Ford

“There are two educations. One should teach us how to make a living and the other how to live.” John Adams

“Your best teacher is your last mistake.” Ralph Nader

“A wise teacher makes learning a joy.” Proverb

“Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.” Dale Carnegie

“When you shoot for the moon and you come up short, you still end up among the stars.” Les Brown

January 29, 2010

Preventing Accidents in the Kitchen

Filed under: Random Topics — Pragmatic Mom @ 9:15 am
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I just made a new friend from Twitter who blogs on safety in the home.  Check out:  Follow SafetyInTheHouse on Twitter.

I was remembering the time that I knew angels were looking after my family.   We had a made a huge pot of liquidy soup and left it to cool outside so we could skim off all the fat when it congealed (gross, I know, but works really well to de-fat).  We covered the pot with the lid and put it on the stove to reheat for dinner.  We used the burner nearest to us.  The lid sealed the pot, and when the soup was boiling, it caused an eruption with the soup and lid exoloding everywhere.  My son had been playing near the stove but just a few minutes before the eruption, he have moved to a safe distance.  The soup was scalding hot.  We thank the angels that protect us and now we NEVER cover the pot fully unless it’s the Le Cruset Dutch Oven that is too heavy to blow off.  You need a space for the hot steam to escape or your are creating a volcano.

Thanks Twitter friend SafetyInTheHouse for your tips.  You can never be too careful!

Accidents in the kitchen

Many accidents occur in the kitchen, this should not come as a surprise when you consider the mix of electricity, gas, water, sharp utensils, chemical cleaning products and the numerous appliances all in a fairly confined area. So what can be done to minimise the chances of accidents occuring in the kitchen, below are a few ideas.

– put cleaning materials out of the reach of children (consider using cabinet locks)

– do NOT put dish towels on the stove even if the burners are turned off.  BAD HABIT!

– to prevent slipping ensure that floors are not left wet and any liquid spilt is wiped up straight away

– always use kitchen steps to reach items in high places

– keep knives out of the reach of children and to avoid cuts store sharp knives in a knife holder

– keep electrical leads away from the sink and cooker areas

– always turn pan handles inwards to prevent a child from pulling them over, but do not put the handle over a heat source

– if you do the chef thing and saute something first and then put the saute pan in the oven to cook the meat through, REMEMBER to use a pot holder to remove the saute pan from the oven.  I have burned myself a few times doing that.  It’s easy to forget that the pan handle is scalding hot!

– it may be wise to tie back long hair and not wear loose fitting sleeves when cooking in the kitchen.

– make sure you understand how equipment works before using it

– unplug your coffee maker after you finish your morning coffee.  Lots of fires are caused from mal-functioning appliances!

– before cleaning equipment make sure it is unplugged

One type of kitchen accident is responsible for one fifth of domestic fires and injures 4,000 people each year, that is when oil/fat in a pan catches fire, in the next blog we will look at what to do if you are confronted by such a fire and what can be done to prevent it from happening.

– use a hot mitts when handling food in hot oil and use a screen when the food is cooking.  There is one with a handle, but I forget what it’s called that we use and it works beautifully!

December 15, 2009

UCLA Study On Friendship Among Women: An alternative to fight or flight

Filed under: Random Topics — Pragmatic Mom @ 11:10 pm
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My friend sent me this study and it really rang true for me.  This is why we all like to hang out at Starbucks after drop-off!  It’s good for our health!

©2002 Gale Berkowitz

A landmark UCLA study suggests friendships between women are special. They shape who we are and who we are yet to be. They soothe our tumultuous inner world, fill the emotional gaps in our marriage, and help us remember who we really are. By the way, they may do even more. 

Scientists now suspect that hanging out with our friends can actually counteract the kind of stomach-quivering stress most of us experience on a daily basis. A landmark UCLA study suggests that women respond to stress with a cascade of brain chemicals that cause us to make and maintain friendships with other women. It’s a stunning find that has turned five decades of stress research—most of it on men—upside down. Until this study was published, scientists generally believed that when people experience stress, they trigger a hormonal cascade that revs the body to either stand and fight or flee as fast as possible, explains Laura Cousin Klein, Ph.D., now an Assistant Professor of Biobehavioral Health at Penn State University and one of the study’s authors. It’s an ancient survival mechanism left over from the time we were chased across the planet by saber-toothed tigers.

Now the researchers suspect that women have a larger behavioral repertoire than just fight or flight; In fact, says Dr. Klein, it seems that when the hormone oxytocin is release as part of the stress responses in a woman, it buffers the fight or flight response and encourages her to tend children and gather with other women instead. When she actually engages in this tending or befriending, studies suggest that more oxytocin is released, which further counters stress and produces a calming effect. This calming response does not occur in men, says Dr. Klein, because testosterone—which men produce in high levels when they’re under stress—seems to reduce the effects of oxytocin. Estrogen, she adds, seems to enhance it.

The discovery that women respond to stress differently than men was made in a classic “aha” moment shared by two women scientists who were talking one day in a lab at UCLA. There was this joke that when the women who worked in the lab were stressed, they came in, cleaned the lab, had coffee, and bonded, says Dr. Klein. When the men were stressed, they holed up somewhere on their own. I commented one day to fellow researcher Shelley Taylor that nearly 90% of the stress research is on males. I showed her the data from my lab, and the two of us knew instantly that we were onto something.

The women cleared their schedules and started meeting with one scientist after another from various research specialties. Very quickly, Drs. Klein and Taylor discovered that by not including women in stress research, scientists had made a huge mistake: The fact that women respond to stress differently than men has significant implications for our health.

It may take some time for new studies to reveal all the ways that oxytocin encourages us to care for children and hang out with other women, but the “tend and befriend” notion developed by Drs. Klein and Taylor may explain why women consistently outlive men. Study after study has found that social ties reduce our risk of disease by lowering blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol. There’s no doubt, says Dr. Klein, that friends are helping us live longer.

In one study, for example, researchers found that people who had no friends increased their risk of death over a 6-month period. In another study, those who had the most friends over a 9-year period cut their risk of death by more than 60%.

Friends are also helping us live better. The famed Nurses’ Health Study from Harvard Medical School found that the more friends women had, the less likely they were to develop physical impairments as they aged, and the more likely they were to be leading a joyful life. In fact, the results were so significant, the researchers concluded, that not having close friends or confidants was as detrimental to your health as smoking or carrying extra weight.

And that’s not all. When the researchers looked at how well the women functioned after the death of their spouse, they found that even in the face of this biggest stressor of all, those women who had a close friend and confidante were more likely to survive the experience without any new physical impairments or permanent loss of vitality. Those without friends were not always so fortunate. Yet if friends counter the stress that seems to swallow up so much of our life these days, if they keep us healthy and even add years to our life, why is it so hard to find time to be with them? That’s a question that also troubles researcher Ruthellen Josselson, Ph.D., co-author of Best Friends: The Pleasures and Perils of Girls’ and Women’s Friendships (Three Rivers Press, 1998). The following paragraph is, in my opinion, very, very true and something all women should be aware of and NOT put our female friends on the back burners.

Every time we get overly busy with work and family, the first thing we do is let go of friendships with other women, explains Dr. Josselson. We push the m right to the back burner. That’s really a mistake because women are such a source of strength to each other. We nurture one another. And we need to have unpressured space in which we can do the special kind of talk that women do when they’re with other women. It’s a very healing experience.

Taylor, S. E., Klein, L.C., Lewis, B. P., Gruenewald, T. L., Gurung, R. A. R., & Updegraff, J. A. Behaviorial Responses to Stress: Tend and Befriend, Not Fight or Flight” Psychol Rev, 107(3):41-429. (Full text of article in PDF format)

Geary DC, Flinn MV. Sex differences in behavioral and hormonal response to social threat: commentary on Taylor et al. Psychol Rev 2002 Oct;109(4):745-50; discussion 751-3

Cousino Klein L, Corwin EJ. Seeing the unexpected: how sex differences in stress responses may provide a new perspective on the manifestation of psychiatric disorders. Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2002 Dec;4(6):441-8.

A Note from Melissa Kaplan: I have been unable to locate Gail Berkowitz, the author of this above article, so please don’t write me to ask me how to contact her – you can Google or Yahoo her as well as I can. I also have no information on the studies referred to in the article; to find information on them, you can get reprints of the above referenced journal articles (Taylor, et al., Geary and Finn, Cousino Klein and Corwin) and ask the authors any questions you may have regarding study participants, methodology, etc. In the case of Taylor, et al., , read the abstract online and download the full text PDF of the journal article).

December 12, 2009

Birth Order and Personality

I clipped this a long time ago from a paper, but I’m not sure where but it may have been from The Boston Parent Paper.  I also read The Birth Order Book:  Why You Are What You Are by Dr. Kevin Leman because it was kind of fun to see what traits are associated with birth order.  One caveat, if there are large gaps between ages, the birth order switched around.  For example, if the youngest child has a ten-year gap between his two older siblings, this child is really an “only child.”  Likewise, a middle child of three girls is a true middle child but a middle child of girl, girl, boy is ALSO the youngest girl.

Take this quiz to see to what degree classic birth-order characteristics run in your family.  (This is a pretty accurate description of my three kids, give or take a few!).


  • Responsible
  • Conservative
  • Doesn’t make waves
  • Follows parents’ wishes
  • Emotionally intense
  • Authoritarian
  • Perfectionist
  • Driven
  • Surrogate parent
  • Leadership material


  • Peacemaker
  • Negotiator
  • Highly attuned to the needs of others
  • Doesn’t like to follow authority
  • Creative
  • Independent
  • Peer-focused
  • “Chameleon”


  • Comical/entertaining
  • Highly social
  • Laid back
  • Dependent
  • Creative
  • Unconventional
  • Few expectations of self

Recipe for a Good Marriage

I clipped out this article years ago and saved it in my scrapbook of recipes.  The article, and I have no idea where I clipped it from, suggested that you cut out the list and keep in your wedding album.  This is from psychologist Judith Wallerstein’s book The Good Marriage:  How and Why Love Lasts.  She considers this set of tasks essential to maintaining a strong marriage.  To buy the book, just click on the image of the book to purchase at

Recipe for a Good Marriage

– Separate emotionally from the family of your childhood so you can fully invest in your marriage.

– Build intimacy while also respecting your partner’s autonomy.

– Embrace parenthood and absorb the impact of children on your life while working to protect your privacy.

– Strive to confront and master the inevitable crises of life.  Provide nurturing and comfort to each other in times of adversity, satisfying each other’s need for dependency and offering continual encouragement and support.

– Create a safe haven for the expression of anger and conflict.

– Establish a rich and pleasurable sexual relationship, and protect it from intrusions of the workplace and family.

– Use humor to keep things in perspective, and avoid boredom by sharing interests and friends.

– Keep alive your early, idealized images of falling in love, but accept the reality of changes wrought by time.

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