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March 31, 2022

"But Doc, I Really Need Some Weed For the Pain In My Foot..."

Wild marijuana plant, Tadapani

Thirteen states have legalized the medical use of marijuana with a doctor’s approval, a development that has led to the rapid growth of cannabis dispensaries from coast to coast.

But one drug-treatment center in Southern California is finding that the recipients of medical marijuana cards aren't just elderly people with terminal illnesses, but young people who are faking back pain and other ailments in an effort to legally obtain the drug.

“Young people are finding they can easily trick doctors into giving them medical marijuana cards by claiming they are suffering from back pain and other ailments whose existence is difficult to prove,” says Jerrod Menz, president of A Better Tomorrow Treatment Center Inc., a Murrieta, Calif.-based drug and alcohol rehabilitation center.

The clinic recently had one client who obtained a medical marijuana card by telling his doctor he was suffering from foot pain. He laughed and said his doctor gave him the prescription after a five-minute examination.

Menz says doctors need to use more care in their examinations of young people who come into their offices with complaints of persistent pain to better prevent people from abusing the intent of medical marijuana laws. Parents, too, need to be aware of this situation.

Thirteen states have legalized the medical use of marijuana, including Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. Additional states are considering laws that would legalize marijuana for medical treatment.

March 19, 2022

Now THAT'S a Moms' Night Out

The press release just landed in my in box, and I HAD to share it with you:

Hi Kathy — Forget those dreaded Tupperware, purse and makeup parties where women gather together, gossip and buy things they don’t need. The new trend for party throwing in 2009, that will make you look and feel fabulous all at the same time?  iZO Transformation Parties — get-togethers designed to impress your friends with the latest in Hollywood health.

Transformation parties? I'm intrigued. Will I get a new hairstyle? A facial? A new lease on life? Let's see...

Transformation Parties offer attendees a chance to learn about the mechanics and incredible benefits of detox cleansing, a phenomenon that is sweeping the nation (fans of iZO include Katherine Heigl, Mandy Moore, Patricia Heaton, Daisy Fuentes and more), in a fun, relaxed setting.

And you can trade in those champagne glasses and fatty snacks — these parties feature a healthy alternative with a live organics juice bar, magical teas and elixirs, delicious raw and vegan snacks, cleansing bodywork, an herbalist and free on-site live blood analysis.

Hey girlfriends! Let's forget manicures-and-martinis night. Dump the chick flicks and popcorn. Who needs champagne? We're gonna get together and detox! Bring on the tea, vegan snacks, cleansing bodywork (I'm afraid to ask) and (call your babysitter NOW!) free, on-site live blood analysis.

I would love to offer Tim Martin as a guide to offer tips on throwing your own Transformation Party.  And, if you are in the LA area on April 6, I invite you to witness an iZO Transformation Party for yourself. Let me know if you want the scoop!

Gosh, I'm pretty sure I'm, uh, busy on April 6. As for hosting a party? After chasing kids, volunteering, working, watching their retirement funds and their kids' college funds dwindle, cooking dinner, and listening to all the lovely AIG news of the day — I do think my mom friends could use a party.

I just think the occasion probably calls for chocolate, merlot, and (yes) a little gossip. And we'll pass on the live blood analysis. But thanks!

March 18, 2022

Got a Teen? Don't Take the Bait!

This morning on the way to school, my seventh grader and I heard a silly commercial on the radio. I commented that it must be running at the same time every day because we had heard the exact same commercial while sitting at the same stop light the day before.

Just making conversation, right?

My son suddenly must have realized that he hadn't fulfilled his "if mom says the sky is blue I must insist it's green" quota for the day. So he came up with: "It wasn't exactly the same commercial as the one that ran yesterday."

Then he looked at me expectantly...

For the record? Yes, friends, it was EXACTLY the same commercial. But to my credit, I did something I don't often manage to do: I didn't take the bait. I just sort of shrugged as if to say "Oh well. You may be right. Who knows?"

Drove him nuts. Who was this mom who failed to engage in a debate over... nothing? After a couple more attempts resulted in less that his desired results, we moved on to another topic.

Success! I was not the catch of the day.

To make it an even better day, a friend just sent me this poster. I'm tempted to print it out and hang it in the kitchen. But then I'd be the one doing the baiting, right?

OK, I'll resist. At least I can share it with you — my fellow fish in the parenting-teens ocean.

Have you been baited by your teen lately? How did you handle it? Today I was on my game. But tomorrow? I may need all the tips I can get!

March 11, 2022

Bob Greene Helps You Feed Your Family Healthy Meals — For Less

I was so jazzed to get to interview health-and-fitness guru Bob Greene recently for makinglifebetter.com.

No, I didn't get to chat with him on Oprah. (I wish!) It was a phone interview. But boy, did his enthusiasm come right through the phone!

We talked about how busy parents can put good food on the table without breaking the bank by choosing quality over quantity, visiting the local farmer's market, skipping highly processed food, preparing and packing lunches and buying in bulk.

Check out the interview here.

March 10, 2022

Feelin' Girly

I live in a house with men. My husband. My 13-year-old son. Even the dog is a guy. There aren't a lot of pink t-shirts, ballet shoes or Taylor Swift CDs laying around the house.

But every once in awhile, it's nice to think about girly stuff: chick flicks, awards shows complete with the red carpet — and make-up.

When I Interviewed Mally Roncal, makeup artist to the stars (including Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Lopez and Beyoncé) for makinglifebetter.com, we hit it off right away. Mally is a (very) busy mom, and she knows what it's like to have crazy days with next to no time for yourself. (She even recently started wearing what she calls a "mom sweater," something she swore she'd never do after seeing her friend's mom wear the same sweater "day after day" when she was a kid. Sound familiar?)

"When I was growing up in upstate New York, as the only non-white kid, they called me 'Fish Lips,'" says Roncal in one of her how-to videos. Perhaps that's one of the things that helped her develop her current philosophy: "What makes you different makes you beautiful."

And beautiful she is, as you can see here. But what I love most about Mally is her personality. She's a hoot. Check out her videos on Mallybeauty.com or QVC (you can buy her makeup line on both) and you'll see how she gets everyday women. She's the kind of pal you'd want to take to martinis-and-manicures night. (You can even wear your mom sweaters.)

Mally sent me some items from her collection to try, and I've been having a ball playing with everything. The makeup comes in gorgeous cases, and it's fun to experiment with it all. The colors are natural and pretty. And it's a kick to know that I'm using a lipgloss shade that — who knows! — Mally may be using on J-Lo next week.

Here's my interview with Mally for makinglifebetter.com: "Pretty in Pink." She also shared some great tips with me for "Make a Tired Face Look Better — Instantly!" Nothing here requires 20 minutes in front of a mirror in the morning. Who has time for that when the kids need to get to school?

Have fun checking out Mally's how-to videos on QVC and on her website (see above). You'll get great tips, and I'm sure you'll find her to be just as much fun as I did.

After all, it's a kick to play with makeup and to look girly now and then — even if you're heading out to a Little League game.

March 09, 2022

How Does This Social Media Stuff Work, Anyway?

Are you on Twitter? Facebook? Chances are, if your kids are hitting the teen years, they're there. Or they want to be.

What's the best way to know what they're up to? Get involved with social media yourself. It's not that difficult — and it's a lot of fun. More and more parents are sharing tips via social media. Many parenting magazines now have Facebook pages, and the parenting community is "tweeting" like mad these days!

I wrote an article, for the April issue of the American Society of Journalists and Authors newsletter, about how writers can use social media to advance their careers. But the article is really helpful for anyone who wants to get started with social media. Check it out here. You can download the PDF at no charge. The article is on page 10.

I'd love to hear how you're using Twitter, Facebook or other social media to connect with other parents. Please leave a comment!

P.S. Of course, when I'm sitting her tweeting away and chatting with my parent buddies on Facebook, I look JUST like this model! ;)

March 03, 2022

Identity Thieves: Are They Targeting Your Kids?

When my son was in elementary school, we used the Internet to look up facts on dinosaurs, earthquakes and Benjamin Franklin for school reports. But now, as a seventh grader, Matt is starting to dip his toe into the social aspects of the Internet, such as e-mail and instant messaging. I’m sure he’ll be wanting to check out Facebook or My Space before long. (Although I’m certainly not pushing it!)

Of course, we’ve had conversations about the importance not posting personal information on the Web, for safety’s sake. But now the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is urging kids to avoid posting personal information for another important reason: identify theft. The problem isn’t just for adults anymore, they say.


According to the FTC, identity theft from victims age 18 and younger increased from 6,512 in 2003 to 10,835 in 2006. (These figures are based on formal complaints only, so actual incidences of identity theft are higher.) In 2003, about 3 percent of identity-theft victims were younger than 18. By 2006, the figure had risen to 5 percent.

The “friends-of-friends” aspect of social-networking sites allows pre-teens and teens to provide information about themselves that can now travel far beyond the kids they know. And these sites can increase our kids’ exposure to people who have criminal intentions. The FTC and other online-safety experts (see below) suggest these tips for socializing safely on the Web:

°     Know the potential audience. Think about how different sites work before deciding to join a social-networking site. Some sites will allow only a particular community of users to access posted content. Others allow everybody and his brother to view postings.

°     Encourage your child to think about keeping control over the information she posts. She might consider restricting access to a select group of people, such as her buddies from school, a club, a team or a community group.

°    Keep critical information private.
Tell your child to never post his full name, Social Security number, address, phone number or bank and credit-card account numbers — and don’t post other people’s information, either.

°    Keep screen names vague. Make sure your child’s screen name doesn’t say too much about her. Kids shouldn’t use their name, age or hometown on social-networking sites.

°    Remind kids that posted material never disappears.  Once your child posts information online, he can’t take it back. Even if he deletes the information from a site, older versions exist on other people’s computers.


To learn more about avoiding identity theft online, check out the following organizations:

°    i-SAFE — Endorsed by the U.S. Congress, i-SAFE is a non-profit foundation dedicated to protecting young people on the Web. The site incorporates classroom curriculum with community outreach to empower students, teachers, parents and law enforcement to make the Internet a safer place.

°    National Cyber Security Alliance — This non-profit organization provides tools and resources to help keep kids (and adults) safe online. NCSA members include the Department of Homeland Security, the FTC and many private-sector corporations and organizations.

°    Staysafe — This educational site helps consumers manage online safety and security issues.

°    Wired Safety  This group is made up of volunteers around the world. Wired Safety provides education and assistance on all aspects of cybercrime and abuse, privacy, security and responsible technology use.

°    Federal Trade Commission — To file a complaint or to get information on consumer issues, visit the website or call toll-free 877-382-4357. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity-theft and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law-enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

°    GetNetWise is a public service sponsored by Internet-industry corporations and public-interest organizations to help ensure that Internet users are protected.

°    Internet Keep Safe Coalition. This site, the home of Faux Paw the Techno Cat, was created by a coalition of 49 governors, law-enforcement agencies, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and other associations dedicated to providing tools and guidelines to teach children to use technology safely.


Experts at Experian, one of the three major credit bureaus, note that child identity theft can go undetected for years because it often isn’t discovered until the victim applies for credit, tries to rent an apartment or tries to open a bank account. There are things you can do to protect your child against identity theft offline, too:

°    Don't let kids carry their Social Security cards in their wallets. These cards should always be stored in a safe place.

°    Keep your child’s magazine subscriptions under your name, not his. This helps prevent your child's name from appearing on mailing lists.

°    Pay attention if your child starts receiving junk mail. If your 12-year-old suddenly begins receiving credit-card invitations in her name, it may mean that her personal information has been compromised.

°    If someone insists he needs your child's Social Security number, verify that he really needs it. I have started questioning this practice at doctors’ offices, and have refused to give out my family’s Social Security numbers to be used as patient identification numbers. When I explain my reason for refusing, most staff members have been understanding. Some have even said “Gosh, I guess I shouldn’t give mine out at my doctor’s offices!”

March 02, 2022

Teens and Smoking: Why?

On the way back from dropping my son off at school this morning, I pulled up alongside an older Volvo at a stop light. I smiled when I saw two girls, about 17 years old, in the car, thinking that the driver's parents had probably made darned sure she was driving a safe car.

They were so young and beautiful. Smiling, chatting, downing their Starbucks coffee drinks. Then, almost in unison, they both stuck their hands out the car window and flicked ashes from a cigarette.

My heart sank.

My mother in law, Pat, died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) when my son, Matt, was just in first grade. A lifelong smoker, she tried many times to quit. But the habit, which she picked up in college, was too tough for her to give up. I remember her telling all this to Matt and then telling him to NEVER start smoking. To this day, he still talks about that conversation with his grandmother.

This morning, I wanted to get out of my car and go tell all of this to those girls. Those lovely, healthy young women with beautiful skin, bright eyes and (I hoped) still-healthy lungs and hearts.

I didn't, of course. The light turned green. We went our separate ways. And I don't expect those two girls to be seeking out a parenting blog... Until they are parents themselves, of course. When they're addicted to smoking and worried like hell that the second-hand smoke, and the example they're setting, might be hurting their kids. When they're looking up articles on Google about how to quit smoking or how to make sure their own kids never smoke.

How much easier it would be for today's teens to not pick up that first cigarette. Or to quit now, after a few months of smoking, rather than having to stare down that nicotine beast after a decade or more of damage.

If you're a parent who is smelling cigarette smoke on your kid's clothes when then come home, please show them this post. You may not be the parent of those two particular girls. But then again, there might be an older, gold-colored Volvo sitting in your driveway right now.

March 01, 2022

Experts Say Cell Phones Distract Preteen Pedestrians (Well, Duh.)

Thank goodness they did this study in a simulated pedestrian environment...

A new study has examined how cell-phone use distracts preteens while crossing the street. Researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham worked with children ages 10 and 11. 

Distraction was created by cell-phone conversation with a research assistant. When distracted, the kids were less attentive to traffic, left less time between themselves and the next oncoming vehicle and were involved in more collisions and near misses.

While cell phones offer convenience and safety to families, the study authors stress that pedestrians — especially children, who are likely to be more distracted than adults — should limit cell-phone use while crossing the street.

Seems like it might be time for yet another reminder to our kids about pedestrian safety. (Just don't call them on their cell phones to remind them...)

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