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South Florida parents share their stories and advice

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February 29, 2012

Teens' wisdom teeth: Must they be removed?

It's become almost standard for my friends to have their kids' wisdom teeth removed before they go to college. The talk is that the teeth are inevitably going to cause problems and it's too hard to schedule the removal after they are away at

So I wasn't surprised when my dentist recommended the same thing at our most recent visit for my 17-year-old. But I was not so quick to schedule an appointment.

Why should they be removed now if they are not causing any problems? Although extraction has become routine, there is little evidence to support removal to prevent potential future problems. One study found that only 12 percent of people who kept their impacted wisdom teeth into their 40s developed gum or bone damage.

I am definitely biased: I still have my wisdom teeth. My teeth are very close together and food gets stuck in unflattering places. But why have risky surgery when all you might need to do in the long term is take better care of your teeth?

Photo: Mark Randall/Sun Sentinel

POSTED IN: Lois Solomon (211)

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February 21, 2012

UF Honors College needs to welcome kids, not discourage them

We were thrilled when my daughter got invited to apply to the University of Florida's Honors College. Until I read the college's list of "tips" on how to write the application essays.honors.jpg

To get in, the kids have to list their awards and accomplishments and write two essays (Among the choices: "Are we alone?" and "Who was the better tree-climber: Napoleon or Attila the Hun?")

So we went to the on-line "tips" sheet to see how to approach these super-obscure topics. I found the advice quite off-putting, almost discouraging: "In the past many excellent students were not admitted to the Honors Program simply because they did not take the time to craft good essays. A lot of thought and time goes into choosing the essay prompts, and each applicant's essays are read by two people; we therefore want our effort to be worth it."

Also: "Please do not tell us that you are an AP Scholar with Distinction--at least 2/3 of our applicants can say that."

And "Please keep in mind that we receive approximately 2,000 applications each year for a class of 750, and so we would prefer to consider applicants who are truly interested in the Honors philosophy of engagement."

Sounds like they have gotten lots of applications from kids who qualified because of their test scores but were tired of writing college application essays and just threw something together. Still, a playful invitation might be more effective in getting quality kids than a so-called tips sheet with an uninviting and dispiriting tone.

Photo: Patti Parker Nielsen/Sun Sentinel

POSTED IN: Lois Solomon (211)

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February 15, 2012

Middle school start time: Time for a change


Our middle school principal robocalled all the school's families last week. She reminded us that there is no campus supervision for kids who arrive before 9 a.m. for the 9:30 school start. Kids who arrive at 8:30 a.m. have to go to the school courtyard or she said they may get a detention.

So clearly there is a problem with kids being dropped off early by their parents. The problem is obvious: Middle school starts ridiculously late, especially for working parents who start work at 8 or 8:30 a.m. and need to drop off their kids on the way.

School start times at all levels are screwed up in so many ways, but this is another example of why the whole system needs to be re-evaluated. So many studies have proven that the 7:30 a.m. high school start is too early for teenagers who need more sleep to properly function. And this problem at our middle school is likely going on throughout South Florida, where there is not enough staff to supervise an energetic group of pre-teens who are primed for the day.

How about it, administrators? Take a new look at school start times, for the benefit not only of kids but their whole families.

Photo: Shauna Bittle/Chicago Tribune

POSTED IN: Lois Solomon (211)

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February 8, 2012

Paper or plastic? Paper, if you can find it


Have you noticed a deficit of paper bags at your Publix store? My requests for paper bags in the checkout line over the past few months have resulted in employee sprints around the store to find the few that seem to remain.

The clerks tell me that customers were taking stacks of them to use as garbage bags, so the management began keeping fewer on hand in the checkout lines. I wondered if my store was the only one affected, so I visited a few others in Boca Raton and there seemed to be the same problem.

I asked Publix spokeswoman Kimberly Reynolds if there was a new Publix policy on paper bags. She said no. They do cost a little more than plastic, but the amount is negligible, she said.

"We see offering paper bags (and plastic for that matter) as a service to our customers and are glad to provide a choice that many customers still prefer," she said.

I try to bring a few green bags to the grocery store, but sometimes I forget and request paper, which do come in handy as garbage bags. I just hope my store makes them more easily available instead of making my request hold up the line.

Photo: Angel Valentin/SunSentinel

POSTED IN: Lois Solomon (211)

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February 1, 2012

The Prom: A tradition that needs to evolve

So much has changed since we were growing up. So why hasn't the prom?yourprom.jpg

The boy still has to ask the girl. She has to stress out until she gets asked and be depressed if she doesn't get asked. The girl still has to buy an expensive, long, tacky dress. She has to get her hair and make-up done. The couples have to pose in pictures (that they will regret 20 years from now) and attend before- and after-parties that require hours of planning, debate and negotiation.

It's sort of comforting that these traditions have been maintained through all the dramatic changes we adults have lived through. But it's also sad. Why should a girl have to wait for a boy to ask her in this day and age? I know some kids go in groups, and I applaud them. There are some traditions that we should keep and some that need to evolve.

Photo: PRNewsFoto/Your Prom

POSTED IN: Lois Solomon (211)

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About the authors
Gretchen Day-Bryant has a son in high school and a daughter in middle school. She’s lived to tell about the struggles of juggling little kids and work.
Joy Oglesby has a preschooler...
Cindy Kent Fort Lauderdale mother of three. Her kids span in ages from teenager to 20s.
Rafael Olmeda and his wife welcomed their first son in Feb. 2009, and he's helping raise two teenage stepdaughters.
Lois Solomonlives with her husband and three daughters.
Georgia East is the parent of a five-year-old girl, who came into the world weighing 1 pound, 13 ounces.
Brittany Wallman is the mother of Creed, 15, and Lily, 7, and is married to a journalist, Bob Norman. She covers Broward County government, which is filled with almost as much drama as the Norman household. Almost.
Chris Tiedje is the Social Media Coordinator and the father of a 7-year-old girl, and two boys ages 4 and 3.
Kyara Lomer Camarena has a 2-year-old son, Copelan, and a brand new baby.

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