Exploring the HEART of grandparenthood

I was grilled.

Grilled as in “intense questioning or interrogation.” And that’s not a bad thing , it was all in fun and I’m sharing it with you here.

Grandma’s Briefs

Lisa Carpenter writes a blog called Grandma’s Briefs where she

shares my snippets, er, briefs on the good, bad, humorous, and heartwarming of being a grandmother, baby boomer, parent to adult children, wife, and writer.

One of the features on her blog is Grilled Grandmas, where she interviews other women who are both bloggers and grandmothers. Her blog challenges the stereotype of rocking chair grandmothers way past their prime in life

a woman with her arms around 2 little girls on each side
Establishing a bond with grandparents is great for kids in many ways.
photo from Lightstock.com

Why talk about grandparenting?

Why would I talk about grandparenting on a medical blog? Health professionals consider the family a vital factor in health, both positive and negative. You probably know that family medical history contributes to physical health, but family interactions also play an important role in child development, learning, and emotional health.

Establishing a bond with grandparents is great for kids in many ways. Grandparents can be positive role models and influences, and they can provide a sense of cultural heritage and family history. Grandparents provide their grandkids with love, have their best interests at heart, and can make them feel safe.

Bonding With Grandparents

My grilling

A few weeks ago, Lisa sent me her interview questions,some of which challenged me to answer. Some answers I knew right away, others required some reflection . For example, this question

What is the most challenging part of being a grandma?

my answer-

Not having had a role model. Both of my grandmothers died before I was born, so I never experienced having a grandmother in my life.

This question was easy.

What is one thing (or more) you’re proud to say you do right as a grandma?

We offer advice and help when asked, but we don’t butt in, interfere, criticize, or make demands. We let the parents be the parents.

Lisa asked me to submit a few photos of me with my grandkids; perusing my photos to pick out a few sparked many happy memories.

Lisa’s final question was –

What one bit of advice would you give a new grandma?

Learn the answer at Lisa’s post which you will find at this link-

Grilled Grandma: Grandma Aletha

a man reading to two young girls, sitting in a woman's lap
Family interactions play an important role in child development, learning, and emotional health. photo from Lightstock.com

Taking Care of Your Grandchildren

This article gives grandparents a refresher course in caring for children. Whether they are with you for just a few hours, several days, or live with you, this gives practical tips on keeping them healthy and safe when they are in your care.


If you don’t already know CPR, consider taking a class or refresher course. CPR is done differently in children than adults. Infants and children are more likely to suffer respiratory arrest -quit breathing- than cardiac arrest-heart stopping. Common causes include choking, drowning, and trauma. Sources for training include

  • American Red Cross
  • American Heart Association
  • your local schools’ adult education programs
  • local hospitals and medical training programs

sharing the HEART of health

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn, links are on the left side bar here and the Home page. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha 

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cheesy-free faith-focused stock photos

The photos in this post are from Lightstock-quality photos and graphics site- get a free photo here. 

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How the Oklahoma City bombing changed 4 women’s lives

April 19, 2019 marked the 24th anniversary of the terrorist bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Oklahoma City is the capital of my home state and was my home for 7 years while I attended medical school and completed my residency in Family Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

From the bombing, 168 people died, hundreds were injured, and our state and our nation were changed forever. Never had there been such an act of horror and carnage on U.S. soil.

I’ve written here about the bombing and showed you pictures from the site which is now a memorial and museum. I’m doing that again but this time with news about 4 women who have turned the event into something positive.


a past survivor, now a future doctor

Twenty three year old Madison Naylor was among the infants being cared for at the YMCA daycare located next door to the federal building at the time the bomb exploded. The building was heavily damaged but she and the other children survived.

“I remember when I was very young, I had a feeling that I had been really close to death, …I hope I can be something good that came from something so horrific.”

Madison Naylor, bombing survivor
some of the memorials hung on the the fence that surrounded the bombing site have been left intact.

Madison grew up learning about the bombing and about medicine. Her father and aunt are both physicians, and now she is a first-year medical student at my alma mater, the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine.

“I know the bombing is still a part of people’s lives here. It’s humbling to be associated with such a tragic event. I hope that I can be a positive face going forward.”

Madison Naylor, medical student

I learned Madison’s story from OU Medicine magazine . You can read her story at this link.

Oklahoma City Bombing Survivor Begins Journey to Become Physician

The SURVIVOR TREE remained standing when everything around it was destroyed by the bomb. It survives to this day.

“I just want to be the kind of person who leaves the world a better place than I found it.”

Madison Naylor, MS1

Another story in the Fall/Winter issue of OU Magazine discusses

OKC Bombing Research Advances Disaster Mental Health Worldwide

The bombing changed not only Oklahoma City, but also our state, and our entire country. It was the worst terrorist event on U.S. soil until 9/11. All of us were touched in some way, but especially 3 women who worked in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

“None of us was thinking about studying disasters…But we kept studying …the Oklahoma City survivors over the years..Then started helping with disasters elsewhere.”

Betty Pfefferbaum, M.D., J.D. department chairman
This window in the museum overlooks the memorial.

Dr. Pfefferbaum, along with colleagues Phebe Tucker, M.D., and Sandra Allen, Ph.D. treated and studied trauma victims from the bombing and shared their findings with other doctors who use it to treat survivors around the world.

Lessons learned from the OKC disaster trauma

  • Disasters affect many different groups of people beyond those at the site-family, first responders, the community
  • Terrorism victims have higher than average rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression than people who never experienced it.
  • Some people develop a biological response to disaster causing a higher resting heart rate than those not affected.

Dr. Allen developed an intervention to help children of trauma process their thoughts and feelings. Sometimes children think they have to hide their feelings or act out when they hare hurting. This program helps them process those feelings and learn how to cope. You can read the details of this program at this link-

Listen to the Children

At a church across the street from the memorial

The work has rippled out into the world in ways that none of them could have imagined…

OU Medicine magazine
Words written on the wall of the former Journal Record Building which sat across from the federal building. These words, painted by a rescue team who searched for survivors that day,remain as a silent witness of the horrible event.

photos in this post taken by Dr. Aletha in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

sharing the HEART of health

Thanks to OU Magazine and KFOR for sharing these stories. Please follow the links above and read the entire articles. And share this post wherever you spend time online.

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn, links are on the left side bar here and the Home page. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha 

lemons into lemonade

I am delighted that Janice Wald, author and blogger at Mostly Bloggging, called this her “favorite post ” when I submitted it at her Inspire Me Monday Linky Party. Please visit Janice’s blog where you can learn about writing, blogging, productivity, marketing, and more.

It isn’t often that I see news-related posts left here and even rarer that, when I do, they are so inspirational. The post really exemplifies the expression, “Turn lemons into lemonade.”

Janice Wald, Mostly Blogging

Aching Joy- a book review

Jason Hague’s biography says he “writes and speaks about the intersection of faith, fatherhood, and autism”  which is the main reason I requested this book to review.

(In exchange for reviewing books for Tyndale House Publishers  I received a free copy. This post also contains affiliate links.) 

Aching Joy Book Promo 

I have read and reviewed other books about autism for both professional and personal reasons as I explained in my review of Uniquely Human

But in Aching Joy I did not find much discussion of autism as a disorder. Although Jason tells us about his autistic son Jack’s diagnosis, therapy, and progress, that is not the focus of this book.
(As Jason does in the book I will use the term “autistic” rather than “with autism”.)

Parents of autistic children often become focused on learning about autism, seeking treatments and services for the child, and celebrating any progress, victory, or achievement no matter how small.

Jason didn’t do that when first confronted with Jack’s diagnosis of autism. In denial of what the doctors said and other family members recognized, he grieved over what he saw as the death of the father- son relationship he had dreamed of. Perhaps worst of all, his faith in an all- powerful loving God was shaken as it had never been before. Considering that Jason is a pastor, that was a crisis. 

Aching Joy is the story of Jason, and how he found his way back through the Land of Unanswered Prayer as he calls it.

This is a book about the treasures I found in my darkness and the greatest of all was this: aching joy.  The Lord taught me how to sigh in pain,  how to weep in gladness,  and how to trust during days of hope deferred. It was not an easy road to walk.  It still isn’t easy and it isn’t safe. Rather it is a confounding country full of myths and mirages. us here faith resembles denial settled this looks like a surrender and hope is the scariest creature of all.

As Jason narrates his son’s cycles of regression, progress, then regression again,  we also see the same happen to him;  his faith in God and answered prayer likewise waxes and wanes based on these and other life circumstances. He totters through expectation to disappointment,  from hopefulness to resignation, from faith to fear. 

But finally he comes to terms with the roller coaster that autism can be, and decided to put his trust not in a program, professional, or process,  but in a Person

If there is an answer to the mysteries and tensions  in this unfinished life,  we will not find it in philosophy or poetry or self-help religion. Rather  we only find it in a Person. Aching Joy  would be impossible if we were self- sustaining adults but fortunately we are much smaller than that. We are children of an eternal King. Courage and healing are in his hands and he waits for you to call. He waits for you to tell him where it is you ache and to rest under the shelter of his touch. 

Jason Hague, author of Aching Joy 

Jason Hague is an associate pastor at Christ’s Center Church in western Oregon. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Christian Ministry from Ecclesia College in Arkansas. 

He served with YWAM (Youth with a Mission) for eight years, most of that time training international missionaries. He still occasionally travels to teach YWAM recruits. He blogs for the One Hope Network and for the foster care organization “Every Child of Lane County.” He is a featured speaker for Restoration Ministries’ flagship DVD and online course, “Rebuilding the Foundations of Life.” 

Jason has been married to Sara for seventeen years. They have five children.

Jason chronicles his family’s journey at his blog, where you can read the first two chapters of his book. 


Jason’s wife Sarah writes about the “fog of autism” that their son Jackson went into, and how they they are “finding him”. She hasn’t posted recently but you can read about their journey in her blog archives at 


Aching Joy is published by NavPress and distributed /marketed by Tyndale. 

Come read with me. My Reader Rewards.
My Reader Rewards Club 
As a member, you’ll have access to inspiring literature, Bibles, special promotional offers, and much more. Earning points is easy—you’ll receive 25 points just for signing up!

You can earn points when you:

  • Shop at Tyndale.com or NavPress.com
  • Refer a friend
  • Write reviews
  • Take surveys
  • Sign up for e-newsletters and e-devotionals
  • And more!

My Reader Rewards Club is a great way to earn free books and Bibles for yourself, friends, and family! Your journey to earning free faith-based products starts HERE.

(By your signing up through these links, I can earn free books that I may review for this blog.)

I would love to read your response to Aching Joy. If you have or do read it, let me know what your think. Contact me here

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn, links are on the left side bar here and the Home page. Thanks so much.

exploring the HEART of health through reading

                              Dr. Aletha 

Surprising myths and truths about dental care

I notice more  television commercials for dental care products and services, and most of them follow a theme. In the past most advertisements were for toothpaste for preventing cavities. Now they focus on whitening, stain removal, straightening, dentures and dental implants.

There is a series of ads for dental clinics that promise “not to rob you” featuring skits portraying people afraid that dentists will demand huge amounts of money for dental care.

woman dentist with a patient

Myths about dental care

I think these ads reflect  myths about dental care that many of us believe and unfortunately base our behavior  on. We need to dispel these myths with some truths about oral health, which includes our teeth and mouth.

These myths include

  • Care of our teeth is mainly a cosmetic concern, affecting our appearance only.
  • Dental care is a luxury, nice but optional, not a necessity, it can be ignored.
  • Dental care is expensive and out of reach without insurance or a high income.
  • Tooth disease and loss is inevitable, so we might as well just accept it.
  • Dental care is low priority, behind food, housing, and medical care in importance.
Surprising myths and truths abut

Truths about dental care  

But the truth, based on recommendations from experts in oral and dental health, tells us differently.

  • Care of our teeth is functional- we need a healthy mouth for eating, drinking, breathing, and talking. Our mouths also help us interact with other people emotionally- frowning, smiling, kissing, singing.
  • Oral care is a basic component of health care, vitally important to overall health. I’ll say more about this later.
  • Dental care can be affordable; it’s probably more costly if neglected.
  • Loss or disease of teeth and other mouth disorders are preventable and treatable.
  • Dental and oral care is vital to overall good health, and ultimately can be cost effective.
Family of 4 sitting at a dining table.
Our mouth- eating, talking, smiling-connects us with our family and friends.

Our teeth and oral cavity, the “window to general health”

The oral cavity, or simply called the mouth ,includes the teeth and gums, as well as the lips, the tongue, the palate (roof of the mouth), and the mucosa (sides of the mouth).

diagram of the mouth from the National Cancer Institute
The underside of the tongue and nearby structures (lip, tongue, salivary glands, and floor of the mouth) are identified. Alan Hoofring (Illustrator) public domain


Why  dental care improves our overall health.

Over 100 diseases and at least 500 medications can affect our teeth and mouths. Regular dental care can monitor for these effects and prevent them from progressing into tooth disease.

Our mouths contain over 500 species of bacteria and other organisms, some of which are protective and some destructive to our teeth. Good oral care can keep these in proper balance to prevent tooth and gum disease.

People with poor dental health have a higher incidence of heart attacks and stroke. Experts have not determined if this is direct cause and effect or coincidence, but believe it may be due to increased atherosclerosis (hardened arteries from cholesterol) due to the chronic inflammation of gingivitis.

Bacteria from the mouth can lead to  pneumonia in susceptible persons, like those with emphysema or those hospitalized with critical illnesses or injuries.

Diabetes, when the blood sugar is not controlled, negatively impacts periodontal health, and periodontitis makes glucose control more difficult. Periodontitis is inflammation and infection of the ligaments and bones that support the teeth.

Poor oral health during pregnancy increases the risk for miscarriage, low birth weight, preeclampsia, and stillbirth.


Resources for understanding different types of dental and oral disease.

Gum Disease-Also called: Periodontal disease

Tooth disorders

Oral Cancer from the American Dental Association

Paying for dental care

Dental care should not be a luxury, and can be within financial reach with some research into available options. These sites can help you discover what you may quality for.

When You Don’t Have Dental Insurance

Free/Low-Cost/Sliding Scale Dental Clinics



The importance of dental care for children

Health teeth in adults ideally starts with dental care in childhood. Jenny Silverstone, blogger at Mom Loves Best, has created this  infographic about caring for children’s teeth. I suggest you also read her in depth article about helping children have healthy teeth. 

How to care for your child's teeth



Don’t neglect adult dental care

Continuing good mouth and tooth care as an adult can help you avoid tooth loss, painful gums, or other problems. If you have any problems with your teeth or concerns about your mouth, see your doctor or dentist right away.

a doctor looking into a patient's mouth
Michael Munger, M.D., examines a patient at his medical office in Overland Park, Kan. courtesy American Academy of Family Physicians


Here are some helpful things you can do:

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste.
  • Floss your teeth at least once a day.
  • Don’t smoke or chew tobacco.
  • Ask your doctor if your medicines have side effects that might damage your teeth.
  • Look inside your mouth regularly for sores that don’t heal, irritated gums, or other changes.
  • See your dentist every 6 months for regular check-ups and cleanings. 

(source: familydoctor.org)

Using a power toothbrush may keep your teeth healthier, especially if you have any difficulty using a manual brush.I use an Oral-B Rechargeable Toothbrush by Braun.

(This is an affiliate link. )

Oral B Rechargeable Toothbrush

I appreciate your reading and sharing  this post on your social media pages.

And please follow Watercress Words for more information and inspiration to help you explore the HEART of HEALTH.

Thank you for  viewing  the advertisements and using the affiliate links  that fund this blog; with your  help, we can grow, reach more people, and support worthy causes that bring health and wholeness to people around the world.

Dr. Aletha  , sharing the HEART of health 

stethoscope with a heart