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November -December 2010




  • Kid’s Corner -

    Write Your Family’s Story

    Mom’s Corner -

  • Cook Something Pungent!

  • Dad’s Corner -


  • Planet Earth -

    Recognize the importance of caregivers

  • News -                                                                                                        

    Technology and loss of personal contact


    Welcome to the Doc Grubb newsletter for November-December 2010. Every year I write articles about Thanksgiving and Christmas but this year I thought I would discuss two important topics: the importance of “family stories” and how technology has changed the way people, especially young people, are losing the “art of conversation” and interacting with others.

Many families have lost connections with extended members and our unique family history. Just because times have changed, we don’t have to give up on our family stories. It is very important to keep extended family and friends vibrant and a part of our daily lives through the stories we tell and pass on to the next generation.

For children, and even for ourselves, it can be important to keep these stories alive and part of family discussions. Parents may have to tell stories that makes them feel uncomfortable such as divorces of parents or deaths, but your children won’t know how you dealt with traumas they may have to face without your telling them. One of the most positive aspects of telling family stories is that we include the good, the bad and the ugly - the entire whole of a family’s history can be represented to paint a complete picture of how the family has changed over the generations. 

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Do you know where your grandparents grew up? Do you know how your parents met and got together? Have you heard the funny and sad stories about family members who died many years ago? Family stories are vital in keeping the memory of people we have known and loved, or those we haven’t known alive. Thanks to the new websites for geneology it is much easier to create a family tree. But a family tree isn’t a history.

              A great project for the holidays is to interview one of the senior members of your family about their life.


The most important part of collecting family stories is to become a good listener. If you are a good listener people with tell you their story. When a speaker feels that the listener is interested they are inspired to tell you much more. Give full attention to the teller, don’t not interrupt and offer the teller encouragement with an interested facial expression and body stance. When a teller feels encouraged by an interested listener, there is joy in the telling.

Interviewing Elders

Don’t ask too many questions. Let the story tell itself. Family stories can be collected by interviewing a family elder. Make a written list of topics that might generate some questions to ask the elder.

Ask About:
People, places, events, objects, important changes that happened like school and marriage, work, or travel can be story starters. Although your seniors may not have a goo short-term memory of the recent past, they probably have an intact long-term memory. We need to help the teller journey back in time to retrieve these treasures.

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Cook something bold and pungent for Christmas.

              Most of the fast food in America is full of sugar, fat and added salt. Did you know that people won’t eat either pure fat or pure sugar, but when you mix them together in just the right proportion, they are delicious! What this has done is to make most of the children, and adults in America, forget what a broad range of flavors are available to us. Your goal this holiday season is to keep the lid on the sugar bowl and hide the salt shaker. Yes, salt is a basic taste for us that all people seek out, but the salty taste can overpower the true taste of your foods.

              Did you know that your mouth has FIVE different types of taste buds that can taste five distinct flavors? The five tastes are salty, sweet, bitter, sour, and umami or "savory."  Each taste is linked to a specific chemical in foods. In general, humans have evolved to find salty, sweet, and umami foods pleasant, and sour and bitter foods unpleasant. This is a protective factor because sour and bitter tastes may indicate rotten food or poison. On the other hand, high-calorie foods usually taste salty or sweet.

As the weather gets colder, most of us will be busy keeping ourselves warm and cozy inside our homes. Instead of going out to eat and risk getting a cold or the flu, why don’t you cook at home? Celebrate the cold weather by warming up your house with smells of foods, breads and cookies that will carry you through the cold weather ahead.  But even if you eat at home, don’t forget to let fresh air in to clear our lungs and move the stale air out of the house.

             Get the whole family together and devote this one day to cook, smell, and remember. Nothing beats cold weather, than some garlic inspired dishes to warm up your body and fire up your mouth! Start building family traditions today by writing down recipes in notebooks or on 3/5 cards so you can share them with others. Make this day not only for today, but for all your tomorrows as well! Who knows? You could be cultivating a future chef!


  • Use honey instead of sugar for baking. It will take less for the same amount of sweetness.
  • Use maple syrup on sweet potato dishes and in pies
  • Be adventurous and use spices you’ve never used before such as Nutmeg, Oil of orange; cinnamon; cloves; ginger, raisins
  • Use more citrus foods in pies. Have you ever had an apple pie which has orange peels in it? Delicious!

             Warning! All these pungent flavors can do serious damage to your breath! So, be prepared and keep some toothbrushes, toothpaste, and some basil, mint and parsley on hand! These herbs also go great on vegetables and in salads.

              My wife loves to cook by the seasons. She looks forward to what produce is coming into season and say a fond farewell to produce as it goes out of season! Many recipes are what I would call "comfort" food, but again love all types of regional recipes as they represent what is growing locally for our special climate in Maryland. This way we are educating the future generations about what types of food really grows near where we live and it’s so much better for the environment to eat foods that are locally grown and that are grown in the season so they are much fresher. How much do you think it costs to bring a banana from South America to Washington, D.C.?

              We always say “each locally and in season.”

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    Nobody likes to talk to someone who isn't listening to them—that goes for both kids and adults alike! So the first step in getting your kids to listen to you and take you seriously is to learn to be a better listener yourself. Kids who grow up knowing that their parents are actually hearing them out, without judging them, without yelling at them first, will grow up knowing that their parents respect them.

The most valuable gift you can give your child is to listen to the little and big things in his life. Begin early so that the lines of communication will be open during the teenage years.

Here's How:

  • Stop what you are doing.
  • Look at your child.
  • Pay attention to your child's non-verbal, body language.
  • Be silent. ALL parents TALK TOO MUCH.
  • Use simple acknowledgement responses that show you are listening. "I see. Oh. Uh-Huh. Hmmm."
  • Use phrases that encourage further talking. "Tell me more. Go on. How do you feel about that? I know what you mean. Then what?"
  • Listen for and name the feelings you think you hear from what your child is telling you. "That made you pretty mad, didn't it? You seem really happy about that!"
  • Use problem-solving phrases when needed. "What do you wish you could do? What do you want to happen? What do you think will happen if you do that?"


  • Don't feel that you must advise or help your child come up with a solution all the time. The value of listening is in the listening itself.
  • Listening helps parents and children avoid the power struggle cycle. Instead of arguing, listen. Show your understanding while maintaining your position.
  • Don't try to deny, discount, or distract the child from the feelings they are expressing.

Here are some additional tips to help you better listen to your children:

  • Get on their level. Even if you have to sit or kneel down, make sure you're eye to eye with your child. Eye contact is especially important.
  • Younger children have a hard time expressing themselves, which is what leads to tantrums. So whenever possible, complete their sentences or prompt them along. "You look really upset. Would you like to tell me why you're so upset?"
  • Repeat aloud what your child is saying. This shows them that you are trulylistening. It will also give you time to gather your thoughts to say the right thing. The most important two words you can say is "I understand."
  • Don't interrupt. Conversely, if you are talking, don't let your child interrupt. Simply say, "It's my turn to talk now. Please let me finish." Sometimes what helps young children learn to take turns talking is to introduce an object, like a you horse: Whoever has the horse is the one who is talking now.
  • Respond calmly. Speak in a low, calm voice. This tells your child that you are being serious without being upset. The fastest way to stop someone talking is to yell.

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                          November is National Family Caregiver Month.

              On New Years Day and the 4th of July, we are advised to check the batteries in our smoke detectors to make sure they’re still working.  During National Family Caregivers Month-- family caregivers should check their own batteries to make sure they still have the energy to continue with their arduous work.

            National Family Caregivers Month is also a good time for caregivers and other family members to take a step back from the onrush of chores and medical appointments in order to assess if the current caregiving plan is working.  If it isn’t—that is, if either the care-recipient or caregiver is faring poorly—then it is probably time to make some changes for the year ahead by finding new sources of energy and support or renegotiating the division of duties.  How do you conduct such as assessment?  Here are three ways:

            The most important one is by looking hard in the mirror and asking yourself some questions. 

--Is the person for whom I’m providing care managing with his illness as well as possible?  Is he getting the benefit of all the best medical and social services?  Is he feeling comforted by the care that I and others are offering?

            --Am I eating, sleeping, and exercising in adequate measures to ensure my health?  Am I going to a doctor for my own health check-ups and treatments?

            --Am I upbeat, or at least contented, more often than I’m sad and irritable?  Am I taking pleasure in activities that usually give me enjoyment?  Am I waking up each day with fair morale and a sense of hope?

            --Am I availing myself of all the support and services that are available?  Do I have the courage to directly ask others for additional help when I need it? 

            --Do I pat myself on the back for the job that I’m doing?  Do I have a sense of a greater purpose—spiritual, existential, emotional—that my caregiving is serving?

            “Yes” answers bode well; too many “no” answers suggests that you may need to devote more attention to taking care of yourself or altering the caregiving plan in order to effectively provide care for another year.

The full-time caregivers who take care of the chronically ill or elderly, to the exclusion of most everything else, are true angels. Many must leave their jobs and gamble with their own financial security. Depression and a sense of isolation are common to full-time caregivers. When speaking of health care reform, this is a large group of individuals who need to be recognized. We must do all we can to support these kind souls who sacrifice so much for the benefit of others. 

             Whether you have a 24/7 caregiver, or just someone who cares, make some time to take care of the caregiver. Ask them how they're doing. Listen without judgment and let them talk about their frustrations. Help them find answers to caregiving dilemmas, and to find the support they need. Never let yourself forget that they have responsibilities, as well as hopes and dreams, outside of their caregiving duties.

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           A 2009 study by a British research group found that teens spend an average of 31 hours per week online. Yes, that is over ONE DAY A WEEK spent online.

3.5 hours instant messaging their friends

2 hours on YouTube

3 hours looking for homework help

9 hours on social network sites

1 hour looking for weight loss or beauty tips

1 hour and 40 minutes viewing pornography

and 1 hour and 40 minutes downloading music

When the Internet went viral a decade ago, educational experts and social critics predicted it would make young people smarter, happier and more engaged with the world than ever before. But the actual evidence — the hard data about American teenagers' academic performance and social lives — as well as the anecdotal evidence from teachers and parents, paints a somewhat different picture.

Virtual realities

              The virtual worlds teens enter when they're texting is harming them as much as, if not more than, it's helping them. Teens' "totally connected life" is shortening their attention spans, narrowing their worldview, damaging their ability to communicate, and leading some down a very dangerous path. Not to mention loss of spelling skills and using our English language in its correct form.

Social media has locked teens into a world where peer contact and social life no longer ends at 6 p.m. when it's time to join the family for dinner. Instead, it goes on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week via blogs, social networking sites and, of course, texting.

Today's teens shut all that out. They're text messaging at the dinner table, then they spend the rest of the evening in front of the computer, posting on blogs or chatting with friends. Even when they're logged off, social life is still going on. Someone could be posting a comment on their blog or writing something about them online. There is no escaping their peers. That never-ending peer contact leaves little room for learning about politics or reading Jane Austen. It also leaves little room for adult voices, the voices that, in the past, have taught teens the art of conversation, modeled maturity for them, and ushered them into the adult world.

Adults teach you the difference between right and wrong. And with adult voices increasingly drowned out by the voices of their peers, many teens are navigating the digital world with those peers as their only guides. Which has something to do with why 42 percent of children ages 10 to 17 have already viewed pornography online. It also has something to do with the latest teen trend involving technology: "Sexting." "Sexting" is sending sexually explicit pictures of yourself to someone else via text message.  According to a study conducted by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, 22 percent of teenage girls — that's more than one in five — admit to "sexting" or posting pornographic pictures of themselves online.

Only in a world where the primary voices you hear are those of your peers, does anyone think it's a good idea to send naked pictures of themselves out into digital space. But that is the world many teens inhabit.

Losing personal touch?

All the texting teens are doing (an average of 2,272 texts per month), as well as Facebook posting and instant messaging, is changing the way they communicate and understand friendship. Teens communicate more frequently, but less personally and struggle to express what's important to them and to organize their thoughts because they've grown accustomed to having conversations one line at a time. Many teens prefer texting or instant messaging their friends to talking with them. Many parents strictly limits  computer use, (and encourages personal get-togethers and phone calls), but their efforts are normally met with frustration.

Instant gratification faith

Digital media's across-the-board impact on shortened attention spans. The blinking, flashing screens, brief amounts of text, and hyperlinked information in the digital world "conditions minds against quiet, concerted study, against imagination unassisted by visuals, against linear sequential analysis of text."

And because their social life hinges on their participation in that world, it's not easy for teens to walk away and work on developing the skills necessary to counteract those problems.  And they say anything and everything at any place and at any time it pops into their heads.

Limited access

What parents can do to limit technology's harmful effects on their children. Their suggestions include:

  • Banning computers from the bedroom: Computers should only be used in public areas and with a parent's express permission, which both limits the time that can be spent in front of them and prevents teens from going where they shouldn't in the virtual world.
  • Require full access: Parents' should only permit their children to have a Facebook or MySpace page (or blog or website) if they have full access to the site. They also need to use this access regularly to monitor content and activities.
  • Filter, filter, filter: Take advantage of different software programs that allow you to filter Internet content and/or monitor where each user of the family computer goes when they're online.
  • Limit screen time: Set a time limit for computer use (and television watching) during the evenings and on weekends.
  • Have a required reading hour: Make it a nightly event. One full hour with no interruptions (that means no sending or receiving text messages).
  • Limited calling plans: When purchasing a cell phone plan for a teenager, if possible, make it an "emergencies only plan" (i.e., "pay as you go"). At the very least, one's picture taking capabilities turned off and strictly limit the text messaging capabilities.
  • Family time, unplugged: Spend time together doing things that don't involve technology. Go for a drive or a hike, play games, talk about current events, work on projects around the house and in the yard, or volunteer together at a local charity.

Be an example: Limit your own time on the cell phone and computer, modeling for your children what the balanced use of technology looks like.

You are your child’s best teacher. Teach by example.

Have a safe and happy Holiday Season, from our family to yours

Wherever they may be

d supportive with their classmates who are struggling with poverty.

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Our free newsletter “The Worm’s Eye View” is uploaded to the computer each month. Each issue includes valuable information for all members of the family as well as the inclusion of the most up-to-date information concerning medical research and treatments.

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You should read my latest book, “Solving the Weight Loss Puzzle.” Please go to the order page and read part of the first chapter. You will learn a lot from this book why everyone has gained weight and the Three Secrets to normalize your weight.


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