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  • Kid’s Corner -

    Read A Great Book!

  • Mom’s Corner -

    Cook Something Pungent!

  • Dad’s Corner -

    How Do You Talk With Your Kids About Santa Claus?

  • Planet Earth -

    Shopping-Black Friday and Buy Nothing Day

  • News -                                                                                                        

    Shooting Incident at Fort Hood, Texas-The Therapeutic Relationship

          Welcome to the Doc Grubb newsletter for November-December 2009.

Every year I write articles about Thanksgiving and Christmas. This year I thought that I would do something a little different and to write about holidays which aren’t as famous.

November 1st  is Famous Author’s Day-a day to celebrate and read a classic book or short story. You can even look at the first chapter of my book on this webpage,, because I AM a famous author.

November 8th-cook something bold and pungent day. Use spices in foods instead of sugar and salt.

November 15th-America Recycles Day

Empower your common sense and use up what you have, don’t go shopping on Black Friday November 27th and Buy Nothing Day also on November 27th. “Use Less Stuff Day” is on November 19th.

Bill of Right’s Day and Forefather’s Day in December. Just think about the struggle our colonists went through in establishing the United States and to have a country where everyone has special rights and liberties. If you haven’t seen the musical “1776” the DVD is wonderful! It’s a great musical that shows how the Declaration of Independence was written and signed.

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         I’ve got a question for you. What’s the last book you’ve read? Did you enjoy it?

              Most of the young people I know today spend most of their time engaged in videogaming or on their cell phone texting their friends instead of reading a book. November 1st is National Authors Day and is one of my favorite holidays. The first official Authors Day was November 1, 1928 and is a day for well known authors as well as new comers in the field to be recognized and honored for the great work they have given us. Books are very special because they let us look into someone else’s imagination and if we are lucky, understand them as a person. Magazines are another wonderful item to read.

Writing and getting a book published is no small undertaking, but on Authors Day, publishing companies open their doors and welcome in first time writers to show them how their books get published. The writer may spend YEARS in writing a book (I know I did), but after the book is completed there is still a huge amount of work and time putting words on paper between two beautiful covers.

A great thing that some schools and libraries do is bring in local authors to do readings from the books that they have written. It is really a special occasion to hear someone read the words they have written and have a chance to ask them “where did you get that idea!” Every year at the White House Easter Egg Roll in Washington, D.C. they have a special tent set up where famous authors read from their books. How cool is that!

Another special week in November is goal setting week. Setting goals is the ONLY way you can plan for the future and KNOW you will reach what you are aiming for. We are talking about books, so if you want to be an author. WRITE DOWN YOUR GOAL! BE SPECIFIC! I do this myself and have my goals posted where I can see them every single day. When I wrote my first book I did an outline and then wrote specific dates when I would complete the book and have it published. It was a great motivator for me to complete the book.

                                              If I can do it…YOU CAN DO IT!

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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 loving all types of regional recipes as they represent their climate and what is growing locally. 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. How much do you think it costs to bring a banana from South America to Washington, D.C.?


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 Christmas is an exciting and busy time of year for many families. You might have family coming home for the first time in many years; there may be a new addition to the family, possibly a new baby or a new pet; you are trying to get all the Christmas shopping done and if you plan a big meal you try to get all the food and recipes together. THIS IS A FULL PLATE FOR ANYONE TO MANAGE!

Several of the families I work with have asked me “how do I talk to my children about whether or not Santa is real?” and “at what age should you bring this up?” For most parents this is really a hard topic to discuss as most young children believe in Santa Claus. Children, and adults, stop believing in Santa Claus at different times depending on their age, changes in the way they think and their school, community and home environments. Believing in Santa Claus also varies greatly from country to country and culture to culture. In the United States, most children believe that Santa is real; he comes to your home on Christmas night in a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer; he rewards good behavior, punishes bad behaviors and has a large number of elves that work at the North Pole building toys.

It’s really important to realize that children don’t think in the same way adults think. The best way to remember how young children, usually up to the age of five years, think is to remember one of your dreams. There is no sense of time, there are a lot of magical characters and trees and animals that can talk just like you! There is a change in the way children think at about five years of age but when they are about eight years old children really begin to think like adults and start to question the existence of Santa. They see presents in the closet before Christmas, or suddenly notice that all gifts “From Santa” are in Mom or Dad’s handwriting. Hummmm, what’s wrong with this picture? Children may also start to question whether Santa is real when they talk about Santa with other kids in school or at play who have already been told the “truth” by their parents. The United States is a “melting pot” of children from different cultures so it is very common for some kids not to believe in Santa Claus at all and this might start your children wondering about Santa. Finally, the shock of seeing three Santas on the same street corner may also cause children to start asking “is Santa real?” I think my older brother told me that Santa wasn’t real and I’m still recovering from the shock.

As a mother, you want to avoid causing your children unnecessary pain when they stop believing in Santa so how do you answer when your kids says, “mommy, is Santa Claus real?” The first thing to do is to ask why they are asking? Usually they will tell you that someone at school told them Santa Claus isn’t real. Next ask them what THEY think? Try to understand what they believe before you give them an answer. If you feel the time is right, tell the truth, saying something like “I didn’t want to talk about this until you asked me. I’m not sure whether Santa Claus is real or not, but when we hear the story of Santa Claus it makes all of us feel good and helps us to remember the true spirit of Christmas giving.”  Tell your child to keep the traditions of Santa and not to argue with anyone who believes that Santa exists because his spirit is real and enduring. I like to tell children that Santa Claus is more than just a person and it’s important that he lives in all of our hearts. Teach your children that Christmas is as much about giving as receiving, and that the most important thing is to spend time with the people we love. You might even help your children become one of Santa’s helpers. They can help pick out and hand out toys to children who are less fortunate and share with them the joy Christmas during the holidays and throughout the year.

This year maybe you and your family can watch “Miracle on 34th Street” again. That is probably my favorite movie (either the old or new version) that really answers the question “does Santa Claus really exist?”

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    Black Friday and Buy Nothing Day BOTH fall on the day after Thanksgiving.

The day after Thanksgiving is called “Black Friday” and traditionally marks the start of the Christmas shopping season. It’s called Black Friday because historically it was the start of the holiday season when most stores went into the “black” that is, they were no longer losing money, but instead were making money. “In the black.” You may have seen on television the crowds lining up shortly after Midnight so they can be “the first” to get inside the store to get those incredible bargains. Unfortunately, every year someone gets seriously injured or even killed in the mad stampede to get into a store.

 On Buy Nothing Day, the same day as Black Friday, not only should you avoid buying consumer goods and services, you should think about your spending habits and think about how much “stuff” everyone buys and its effect on the environment.  Remember- the gifts we all value and cherish the most are those that involve sharing your time with those you love. For example, baking with a couple of close friends, trimming the trees and making wreaths to hang on the door and windows. Passing along a favorite book to another reader; sharing a picnic lunch with an office mate to catch up on what’s been happening in their lives. Inviting a few of your children’s friends and their parents over to bake cookies or to watch a movie; thread popcorn on a string (no butter) to hang on a tree or outside for the birds and other wildlife. Cranberries are also a special treat for everyone.

Buy nothing day also gives us a chance to look at how much money we are spending and to think about ways to save money, especially as the banks and credit card companies are trying to take more and more each month from us. Every penny you don’t spend and put into the bank, credit union or stock market will have the chance to grow with the magic of compound interest and be available for you to use when you REALLY need it.

Sharing our time and friendship is what everyone remembers most about the holidays.

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              As I was writing this newsletter in early November 2009, the country was shocked by a mass shooting at Fort Hood Army Base in Texas. What made it worse was that the alleged gunman was a member of the military and a physician, specifically a psychiatrist, who had sworn an oath to protect his patients.

              The Government is still trying to put together the pieces of the puzzle as to why the gunman did what he did, but I would like to talk a little about the special relationship, a therapeutic relationship, between a psychiatrist and his patients, especially those in the military.  As you may know I spent almost 30 years in the military, both as an enlisted man in the Army and as an officer, first as a line officer in nuclear submarines and as a member of the medical corps, in the Navy. After retiring from the Navy I continued to work with the military, first within the Army Disability System and currently serve as a psychiatrist at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, MD working with all types of patients but especially those with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from their service in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It is estimated 50 to 80 per cent of the survivors of a major disaster suffer from PTSD. PTSD can first appear even years after the disaster. In the military, the vast majority of those who suffer from PTSD have experienced the ravages of the war first hand but PTSD is not only caused by war and can be the result of any extreme traumatic accident such as the shooting at Fort Hood, a car wreck or sexual assault. One of the main features of PTSD is re-experiencing the past trauma in nightmares or as flashbacks. Sufferers with PTSD may feel guilt, humiliation, rejection, or face acute anxiety or panic attacks, disturbed sleep and lack of concentration.

 As a psychiatrist I am privileged to listen to people talk about things in their lives that they would never share with anyone else. By meeting in this special relationship, and using medications if needed, there is a healing of the deep psychic wounds from PTSD. The scars from the bullets are easy to see, but the scars on the brain and emotions are invisible. In my talking with patients, my goal is to empower them with knowledge about PTSD and its symptoms so that I can help them recover from their illness. This therapeutic relationship and the trust between us enables the sharing of knowledge, which gives my patient a sense of control over their symptoms.  I must have a genuine desire to help if a therapeutic relationship is to ever develop. For me genuineness is based on my ability to be open with my patients. As a therapist I need to always strive to be warm and welcoming.

              Listening and paying full attention to my patients is probably the single most important skill that I have. Without listening and actually hearing what the client has to say, there is no way to build a therapeutic relationship.  I think that the following phrase says it best, “God gave you two ears and one mouth so you can listen twice as much as you talk”

              One the biggest hurdle people who suffer have to overcome is just coming to see me as a therapist. Despite all of our attempts, there is still a stigma about seeing a mental health provider. Many people are afraid that seeing a psychiatrist may adversely affect their career or that they may be perceived to be “weak” by their friends and family. Nothing could be further from the truth. I think that when you come forward to ask for help it shows an enormous amount of strength and a real desire to stop the pain of the PTSD.

              If you suffer from PTSD, please call me at (301) 434-2424 to see if you’d like to talk about how we can work together to ease your pain.

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

Wherever they may be



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