Tips for keeping the holidays safe, healthy and stress-free

shutterstock_115651108 (1)Stumped about what to give your child for Christmas this year? It’s easy to get lost in the whirlwind of toy store hype and holiday marketing. The Thriving staff checked in with caregivers from Boston Children’s Hospital to see what they had to say about how to make the most of the holiday season. It’s no surprise that safe and healthful options topped their holiday lists.

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A sneak peek behind the scenes of Boston Ballet’s “The Nutcracker”

“I’m trying to decide whether Drosselmeyer’s mustache is real or fake. It’s too neat to be real, but it doesn’t look fake,” says 10-year-old Ellie Pohlig, who earned a coveted spot as a page in Boston Ballet’s 2014 “The Nutcracker.”

A successful audition is an accomplishment for any dancer, but especially so for Ellie, who has high-frequency hearing loss. This type of partial deafness means Ellie has trouble hearing some consonants and sounds at higher octaves, like a woman’s voice.

“This was my third year trying out for The Nutcracker.” I was nervous at the auditions, but they went well,” says Ellie, who auditioned in a group of 50 dancers. Because Ellie is tall for a 10-year-old and Boston Ballet groups students according to height, there were fewer parts for which she could audition. “That was her main challenge,” confides Ellie’s mother, Bonnie.

Boston Ballet allowed Ellie to audition and rehearse using an FM system. “It helps me understand what the auditioner and teachers are saying. The FM makes it sound like my teacher is very close to me. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to hear her well or understand her words when she is far away.”

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Are you ready to have “the talk” with your children?

Meaghan_OKeeffe_1-193x300Do you ever have one of those days where things are going swimmingly? You’ve got the school routine down, no one has a cold and you’re silently congratulating yourself for your excellent parenting skills.

And then your child throws you a curve ball that you were completely unprepared for. Your 5-year-old daughter wants to know how babies are made.

This is how it happened to me:

Sophie: “Mommy, does every girl have a baby when she grows up?”

Me: “Well, they can if they want to, but some people don’t want to and that’s OK.”

Sophie: “Oh. Well, I want to grow a baby, so when I grow up, do I just believe, and then I’ll have a baby?”

I think I literally gulped.

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It’s MAGEC: new type of scoliosis surgery sparks a smile

scoliosis-patient-after-surgery2-225x300When the phone rang at 9 p.m. on March 6, 2014, one of the last voices Susan Bazarnick expected to hear was John Emans, MD.

Emans, director of Boston Children’s Hospital’s Spinal Surgery Division, had called to share a bit of good news. The Food and Drug Administration had approved MAGEC (MAGnetic Expansion Control system) rods for certain patients with scoliosis. Her son David, who has severe scoliosis from Marfan syndrome, was an ideal candidate.

“We were elated,” says the Mont Vernon, N.H., mom. The rods are a game changer for seven-year-old David and some other children with certain types of severe scoliosis.

Fewer surgeries for kids with scoliosis

Although many curves are successfully managed with braces or casts, children with congenital, neuromuscular or idiopathic scoliosis who develop spine deformity early in growth typically undergo multiple surgeries during childhood. This keeps the spine aligned while still allowing it to grow. An orthopedic surgeon implants rods to control the spine and lengthens the rods every six months, usually as an outpatient procedure. Children may undergo as many as 20 spinal surgeries during growth before a definitive spinal fusion can be done.

MAGEC can change that. The adjustable growing rod system uses magnetic technology and a remote control to lengthen the rods without surgery.

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