Archive for the ‘child’ Category

The Day of 48 Hands

August 31st, 2015

In the cat's historic timeline, this shall be recorded as The Day of 48 Hands. Those hands belonged to 24 very eager third graders excited to meet Ocho.

Ocho, so peaceful in the morning before the event. No idea what's coming.

Ocho, so peaceful in the morning before the event. No idea what's coming.

Show & Tell time came around for Olivia, and she asked to bring the cat again. Every year the cat gets trotted out for a couple dozen children and every year, surprisingly, she hates it.

I figure it's her contribution to the family since everyone performs a function, and 364 other days a year her function is to look pretty and get fur and paw prints on our cars.

In the morning, Olivia fed the cat and confined her to a small space where I could find her when I got home from work. I felt a little guilty because the cat was happy to see me; purring, rubbing on my leg, and flopping around back and forth the way content felines will.

"You're such a good kitty," I cooed. "You're about to go to school to be shown and told about!" She can't say she wasn't warned.

I picked her up, put her in the crate and hauled her off to my car. If this were a war, this would be the part considered as troops massing on the border. Severe protesting from the backseat.


In class, the children sat nicely while Olivia proudly talked about the cat and answered questions. She did a good job.

Then, the children went up to pet her one at a time with Gentle Hands. Of course, as with anything involving children, the rules were forgotten in the commotion and many hands covered all parts of the cat. Any furry part will do.


Ocho tolerated it politely and realized it was futile to protest. She ended up sitting there with an uncomfortable look on her face but with no meowing coming out.

"I hate this."

"I hate this."

Oh, the kids were cute. They wanted to come up and tell me about their pets, or how much they love cats, or how they've never pet one before. A couple hugged me for bringing Ocho in.

When we came home, Ocho ran directly under the car to make herself invisible. That was the most stimulation she'll have or want for the next year.

Until it's time for fourth grade.

Free Admission for National Park Service's 99th Birthday

August 25th, 2015

Today is the National Park Service's 99th birthday, which also marks a free day of admission, so you and your family can visit any national park for free!

Parks are so much more than the majestic landscapes you might think of; they also protect and preserve our culture and history in urban areas and offer endless ways for families to get involved.

Here are 20 great ways to enjoy the national parks- what's on your list?

1                     Go climbing

2                     Write poetry

3                     Be an urban hiker

4                     Visit a National Heritage Area

5                     Dance

6                     Learn about climate change

7                     Discover a culture new to you

8                     Experience silence

9                     Walk through a doorway of a historic house

10                 Find inspiration in the story of a civil rights leader

11                 Go on a ranger-led tour #rangerspointingatthings

12                 Hug a tree

13                 Make a memory

14                 Earn a Jr. Ranger badge

15                 Relax on the banks of a scenic river

16                 Celebrate innovation

17                 Find life in a desert

18                 Get inspired by a First Lady

19                 Stand on a mountaintop

20                 Bring a kid to a park

Woman Seeks to Raise Awareness After Financial Predators Abused Her Elderly Mother

August 19th, 2015

She had no idea that her family would become involved with criminals. But when three women stole her mother, her savings and eventually her life, she had no choice but to fight back.

“My mother was a victim,” said Glynnis Walker Anderson, investigative journalist and author of the book Stealing Joy: A True Story of Alzheimer’s, Elder Abuse and Fraud.

“And the elderly are not the only victims of financial abuse,” she says. “Relatives, spouses, children and grand-children, employees and the community at large are also impacted. Everybody pays when the elderly are abused and financially devastated by predators and frauds.”

Glynnis describes every detail of the unscrupulous tactics of her mother’s predators, and the shocking failure of local law enforcement, social services and government programs to intervene.

A neighbor and a lawyer offered to help Glynnis’s widowed and aging mother, Joy. Instead of assisting her, they schemed to steal her money and her house, turned her against her own family, and seized legal guardianship. The predators even arranged for questionable surgery to hasten her death.

Glynnis had power of attorney but lived near Chicago while her mother lived alone in Victoria, Canada, so the neighbor and the lawyer named themselves Joy’s primary caregivers.

After a series of strokes, Joy spiraled down into Alzheimer’s. Glynnis arranged for her to move into an assisted living facility. The neighbor and the lawyer convinced the facility administrator and staff that Glynnis and her daughters abused her and “dumped” her in the facility. When Glynnis tried calling her mother, the administrator said Joy was angry with her and didn’t want to speak to her.

The situation became more sinister and damaging. Glynnis learned that the lawyer made Joy sign documents she didn’t understand, illegally giving the lawyer power of attorney and creating a new will. The neighbor made a copy of the door key, entered the house and found checkbooks and savings accounts and emptied them all, even the ones overseas. Later she changed the locks so Glynnis couldn't get in. Glynnis sought help from the police and government agencies, but to no avail.

Glynnis says the lies, manipulations, theft and vengeance against her and her daughters cost Glynnis thousands of dollars in legal fees and court costs and continued after her mother’s death. At least Glynnis was able to save her mother’s house.

“The actual number of elder abuse cases is probably higher than the data available since most cases of financial and emotional abuse are never reported,” said Glynnis. “Crimes against the elderly will increase because the number of people over age 65 will more than double by 2050.”

Glynnis has organized a Gray Rights Movement to increase awareness of this growing criminality so something will be done about it. “Aging women are the most vulnerable, but entire families are affected.”

Glynnis hopes to increase awareness of this life-destroying crime, enhance the Older Americans Act of 2006, require more accountability of the justice system, and make the costly legal system accessible to seniors who can’t afford it.

“The sad reality is that many older people are neglected when they are powerless or show signs of dementia,” says Glynnis. “They can be victimized by people they trust—lawyers, bankers, financial advisors, doctors, home health care providers, retirement and nursing home managers, friends, and even their own family members.”

The most important step people can take to protect themselves is to have an up-to-date will that includes a plan for distribution of their possessions.

“While you are of sound mind, give one or more of your adult children or another close relative power of attorney,” advises Glynnis. “Family members should agree on who should be responsible, or have two people to oversee the finances so they can watch each other and look for signs of elder abuse,” Anderson says.

Among the actions she recommends for whoever has the authority:

· Watch for signs of increasing forgetfulness or dementia, have the senior tested
· Be suspicious of anyone posing as a trusted new friend or anyone who could benefit financially from being associated
· Become co-owner of the senior’s bank accounts
· Consider putting all assets in a trust
· Monitor the accounts and credit card statements for suspicious activity
· Get a second opinion on surgery or medical needs
· Monitor Medicare summary notices for questionable charges
· Warn the senior not to tell anyone how much money or investments he or she has
· Tell the senior to ignore unsolicited investment offers, requests for donations, etc.
· Tell the senior never to give his or her social security number, bank account number, credit card numbers, birth date, or PIN numbers in response to unwanted telephone calls or letters
· If a caretaker is needed, do a background check and specify what the caretaker can and cannot do
· Keep jewelry, cash, checkbooks, credit cards, etc. in a secure place
· Keep the senior and other family members aware of what you are doing

Her story is sad - but serves as a cautionary tale for all those whose elderly loved ones may be at risk and offers guidance on how to fight against elder fraud.

For more information visit

Lack of Small Talk Could Lead to Poor Parent-Child Relationships

August 17th, 2015

My favorite time of day is when I get to cuddle with my daughter before bed. We can talk for the better part of an hour about nothing in particular - her day, her likes, her latest questions about life.

Sometimes I'm tired and I just let her chirp on because I love to hear her voice and her thoughts. The time is short, I know, for her to want to talk on and on with me.

While it doesn't feel like we're doing anything significant, a new study affirms this small talk is a big link in relationship-building. Dr. Stephanie Rollie Rodriguez, Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication and Media at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, conducted in-depth interviews with parents who do not live with their children to understand just what is missing from the relationship when they don’t have a chance to interact with them on a daily basis.

“Research on relationship maintenance shows that day-to-day small talk is important in sustaining relationships, however, not all relationships have opportunities to engage in regular interaction,” said Rodriguez. “Participants who have limited interactions struggle to ‘know’ their children while those with frequent interaction with their children have access to the mundane stories of their children’s lives, which helps to maintain the relationships.”

Rodriguez’s participants revealed several major issues regarding access to information about their children. The major issues dealt with parents feeling like they had to play “catch-up” in order to get information about their children’s daily activities. Often when talking on the phone, they reported their children would not provide information about themselves or only share weekly highlights. This caused parents to have to dig for information to learn details. She noted, too, that parents who have regular interaction with their children during their time apart find it easier to maintain those relationships.

Rodriguez said she first became interested in this topic during a Family Studies course she took as a graduate student at the University of Iowa where she earned her Master of Arts and Ph.D. in Communication Studies. As a student, she was exposed to research which revealed divorced dads were often the least satisfied parents.

This information led to want to understand what factors go into maintaining a good parent-child relationship when one of the parents does not live at home. Although Rodriguez’s study results focus on the parent-child relationship, the findings could be applied to any type of relationship.

“This has implications for all kinds of relationships,” Rodriguez said. “It reinforces the idea that a lot of relational maintenance and a sense of ‘knowing’ someone comes from daily interaction and small talk.”

Rodriguez is currently working with researchers at Kansas State-Salina on a study that looks at how separated parents and children connect through technology.  If you are a divorced/separated parent or teen aged 12-17 with divorced/separated parents and would like to participate, please contact Dr. Rodriguez at 361-825-5753 or

The great shrimp experiment

August 14th, 2015

Not much is known about the Hawaiian red shrimp, opae `ula, but I’m excited to say I’m taking part in a scientific study to learn more about these fascinating critters.

Annette and me

Annette and me

At work, I met a woman named Annette Tagawa, a state aquatic biologist. She co-authored a book about the shrimp and the anchialine ponds they live in. (Click here to read that blog.)

We discussed our mutual enjoyment of opae `ula, and she and her co-author Mike Yamamoto invited me to volunteer in their continuing study of the crustaceans. I’m so happy to be asked!

I already have two tanks – a ten gallon and a five gallon. My batch originates from Hawaii Island (the original shrimp were purchased from Fuku Bonsai, when David Fukumoto still sold them.)

My 10 gallon.

My 10 gallon.

A berried shrimp in my 10 gallon.

A berried shrimp in my 10 gallon.

Mike (the shrimp team leader) asked me to take home a batch he harvested out of a pool in Ewa. I am to separate them into different color strains and observe their reproductive cycles.

Ewa opae `ula

Ewa opae `ula

"We are curious about the different color variations found among opae `ula in Oahu sinkholes. We do know that Hawaii Island and Maui opae `ula are mostly red, while Oahu opae `ula are often clear or banded, with a few other color forms, such as red, white, yellow, and orange. We think that part of the reason is the habitat: the black lava substrate of the Maui and Hawaii Island anchialine pools vs. the light colored limestone of Oahu sinkholes. Diet could also be a factor," he explains.

"Finally, there is the question about the influence genetics plays on the inheritance of color in these shrimp. We know next to nothing about this. Will white opae `ula produce only white young? Will red and white banded opae `ula produce clear and red young? I'm sure it will turn out to be much more complex than this, but the only way we can find answers is start with these simple questions," he finishes.

The task is to make observations regarding the Kona and Oahu opae `ula, particularly differences in behavior, breeding, and feeding between these two groups.

Freshly caught Ewa shrimp, pale from stress.

Freshly caught Ewa shrimp, pale from stress.

Annette brought me the shrimp, and they were all clear from the stress. "Like many aquatic animals, when they are stressed, they lose their normal coloration. The process of being caught from their tank or pool, transported in small containers, and maintained in unfamiliar surroundings have no doubt stressed them. In a bare tank, or in a tank with light colored substrate, they can also appear faded," Mike says.

I’ve enlisted Olivia in my hobby. She likes it, and likes doing things with me. (It’s mutual.) We set up a shrimp home and we're excited about being amateur scientists.

New shrimp bucket for the experiment.

New shrimp bucket for the experiment.

While I think this whole study is cool, one of the really fun side benefits is that the team will include her name as a contributor when it files a report on this. Maybe she’ll be doing science experiments for homework at that point, and if so, I should hope she gets an A on it!

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