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In memory of Mr. Katt

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This is how I want to remember him. Regal, imperious. Caring not one bit that he might be in the way.

Mr. Katt had a gift for occupying the single most inconvenient place in the room. If I was trying to read the newspaper, he’d poke his head past my outstretched arm and worm his way onto my lap. When I tried to make a bed, he’d jump between the sheets, forcing me to shoo him away before I could finish my task. If I was trying to pay bills, he’d plop his significant girth smack dab in the middle of my pile of mail.

How dare I think that anything I was doing might be more important than his immediate comfort and pleasure?

Most of the time I was mildly annoyed with him. “You’re kidding me, right?” I would say as he occupied my favorite space on the couch. “Really?” I’d say as he flopped across my paperwork. Sometimes I had to gently shove him aside, he was that unwilling to yield his position.

Now I find myself hanging onto memories of the love/hate, give-and-take, mutually tolerant relationship we shared.  I would give anything to be annoyed at him right now.

Instead, I am sitting on the couch alone, typing without his head draped protectively over my right wrist. I am missing the deep rumble of his ready purr.

I was getting ready for work Friday morning when I heard our other (much younger) cat, Lucy, meowing plaintively. She often whines for no apparent reason, so I’ve learned to tune her out. But something in her tone sounded different this time.

I looked at her, then just past her, to the source of her distress.

Mr. Katt (his seemingly uninspired name is a long story) was lying on the floor behind the reclining chair he often fights my husband to occupy. Something was wrong.

He was flat on his back, all four legs flailing in the air. And he was panting. Not an “I’m tired from recent exertion” panting but a scary, gurgling, “I’m having trouble breathing” kind of panting.

I called our vet and was told that the office was really backed up. “I can’t wait,” I said. “Where can I take him?” They referred me to a nearby veterinary hospital.

I quickly pulled on my oldest, most comfortable blue jeans and a gray turtleneck sweater. My heart was pounding hard. Not today, I thought. I can’t deal with this today.

I grabbed an old Seattle Supersonics blanket that was draped over our leather sofa (it used to be part of a basketball-theme room my two young sons shared). If I didn’t already know something serious was wrong, my hunch was confirmed when our plump orange tabby failed to fight me as I wrapped him in the blanket, lifted him gently and carried him to the car.

He panted, gurgled and flailed in the front seat as I drove. I tried to comfort him, stroking him with my right hand as he thrashed about. At one point I must have touched something that hurt; he jerked his head and bit my wrist–hard.

When we reached the clinic, the staff quickly whisked him away for assessment. When a young veterinarian joined me in an exam room, her face was grim.

“It’s not good,” she said. Our 14-year-old cat, who had shown no signs or symptoms of distress until that morning, was suffering from congestive heart failure. But that wasn’t the worst of it.

“I’m more concerned about the fact that he can’t move his back legs,” the vet said. “His feet are cold, which tells me he’s not getting any blood circulating in his legs.” She was certain he’d thrown a blood clot that had traveled to his lower torso and was now creating the paralysis.

She had given him pain killers and diuretics in an effort to ease his breathing. Still, he was struggling, frightened and wild-eyed. His tongue was blue and hanging out the side of his mouth. A normally meticulous groomer, he was salivating profusely down his cheek and soaking the blanket.

“The congestive heart failure can be treated,” she said, tactfully adding that “I can do a full workup for you….” It was clear to me that we could pay a lot of money to restore his ability to breathe and perhaps prolong his life for a short amount of time. “What worries me more, however, is the legs,” she said. “We can’t really do anything about the clot. And if he’s thrown one, he’s likely to throw more.”

I took a deep breath. “It sounds like it might be time to put him down,” I said. It wasn’t really a question.

“It probably would be best,” she answered quietly.

“Can I call my family?” I asked. I didn’t want to make this decision alone.

“Of course,” she said. “Take whatever amount of time you need.”

So here I have a confession to make. I was freaking out as I drove the cat to the vet. I was afraid that exactly this type of news was looming, that I would be alone with a decision no loving pet owner wants to make. While stopped at an intersection, I did something I probably shouldn’t have. I used my iPhone to take several seconds of video showing our writhing, suffering cat. I emailed it to my husband and two grown sons. I told them where I was going and that I was scared. It felt like they needed to see what I was seeing, so they would know I didn’t really have a choice.

When the vet left the room, I immediately called David, our 25-year-old son, who lives in Chicago. Mr. Katt was really his cat, after all. He’d picked him out from among dozens of kittens that were available the day we visited the animal shelter.

mr-kattThat tiny, scrawny ball of fur originally was selected to heal a broken heart. A short time earlier, we had returned from our first family trip abroad to find one of our two cats missing. The pet sitter we hired failed to notify us when she couldn’t find the declawed, defenseless and always-housebound cat in our home. So Sparky was out in the elements alone, during the heat of a Phoenix summer, for nearly 12 days. We later found out one of our neighbors had found him near death and taken him to a shelter, where the staff promptly ended his suffering.

After David mourned his cat for a reasonable amount of time (even writing a heart-wrenching letter to the pathetic excuse for a pet sitter) we agreed to his request for a new pet. He picked an orange tabby because it was the spitting image of his lost pet. He even named the kitten Sparky, as though he could patch the wound and and move on without pain.

Within days, however, he changed his mind. “He’s not Sparky,” my then-11-year-old said sadly. “I don’t want to call him that anymore.” So we didn’t. And we all waited for an update from David, who certainly had earned the right to choose a better name.

Somehow, he just became “Cat.” Until I had to take him to the vet and they asked his name. “Um…’Cat,'” I said.

“Just C-A-T?”

“Um, no, actually…K-A-T-T,” I fudged, hoping to imply some sort of context that didn’t involve apathetic owners. “It’s a long story.” But Katt he stayed, until David added the “Mr.” and it seemed to suit him.

David had made the decision that gave this cat a good life and David had the right to decide if that good life was over. He’d seen the video I sent. “I’m sorry,” I said, as though I could have done something to prevent a blood clot. We cried together and quickly agreed we did not want our pet to endure any more suffering. I knew my husband and other son would agree.

The vet brought the paperwork and told me to take my time saying goodbye. I asked for five minutes. I told Mr. Katt that he’d been loved, that we were grateful for his place in our lives. His pupils were fully enlarged, turning his green eyes black. He looked like his spirit already had left him, that only his body was fighting to stay.

After less than a minute, I pounded on the door. “I can’t make him wait any more,” I said when the vet returned. She placed the syringe into the already-prepared port, which was wrapped in red medical tape. Nice, neat, tidy. She looked at me and I nodded. Yes. Now. I can’t stand to watch this any more.

She slowly squeezed the syringe. It only took seconds. He sighed, then was still. She pulled out her stethoscope, listened for a heart beat and then looked at me sympathetically. “He’s gone,” she said. She quietly left the room.

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Pensive pedaling (Loop 2)

Our son Andy was interviewed on CNN this morning. Part of his job as a reporter for Politico is to appear on occasional news interviews to comment on stories he’s written or what he’s hearing from his sources.

It’s totally amazing to his father and me that he is doing this stuff. Dan and I watched him as we ate our pancakes and then, fortified by carbohydrates and parental pride, we donned our biking gear and headed out to enjoy the glorious morning.

Given the pleasant (under 100 degrees) temperature, we decided to do one of our longer loops. So we started out toward the 32nd Street entrance to the paved, multi-use path that meanders through the Phoenix Mountain Preserve just south of Shea Boulevard in north Phoenix. The path connects with Dreamy Draw Park before running down a hill, up a ramp and across a bridge over the freeway to quiet neighborhood streets behind The Pointe Hilton Resort at Squaw Peak.

When Dan and I returned to Phoenix after three years in grad school in Cleveland, we rented a townhouse at The Pointe’s Tapatio Cliffs location off Seventh Street in North Phoenix. Andy was born a month later, at 3 a.m. on July 17, in the middle of a monsoon storm.

My first few weeks as a new mom became infinitely more enjoyable when I discovered a neighbor who had an infant daughter. We started taking walks together each morning, pushing our strollers around the hilly neighborhood, often ending up at her house or mine for a shared lunch. One morning, Dawn stopped by the house for some reason I can’t remember. Dan was getting ready for work. Andy was in a walker seat — safe, I thought, because he hadn’t fully mastered the skill of propelling it forward.

Suddenly I heard a sickening crash. The seat, and my baby, were at the bottom of a dramatic (but not-kid-friendly) fireplace pit in the living room. Dan came running out of the bedroom, furious.

How lucky I was that morning! Andy’s head hit a carpeted step — not the Saltillo-tiled fireplace. My son was scared, but unhurt. My husband was angry about my carelessness but he got over it. What a difference a  few inches makes. I could be coping with a brain-damaged young adult right now instead of beaming at the promising, articulate young man I watch on TV.

Near 16th Street and Northern we turn onto the canal path heading southeast. Crossing 18th Street, we pass a young couple out jogging, pushing a young child in a stroller. As we approach the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, I remember one of the defining moments in my decision to choose as my life partner this man who now pedals beside me.

We were young, single, working professionals — both employed as reporters for the Arizona Republic. But I didn’t really know Dan Barr until I happened (completely at random) to move into the same north Phoenix apartment complex in which he lived. We had the same odd schedule — Sundays and Mondays off — so we often bumped into each other at the laundry room or by the pool. Eventually we started hanging out together — going on bike rides, going for walks, hiking (what was then called) Squaw Peak. One day, we took the bike path past the Arizona Biltmore. It was a hot day, we’d ridden lots of miles and we were both sweaty, dehydrated and cranky.

Before I knew it, Dan had jumped off his bike and was pushing it along the sidewalk toward the resort’s spacious pool. Always a stickler for rules, I followed behind him, lecturing all the way. “What are you doing? We can’t go in there!” But he kept going, and so did I. We both ended up in the pool–fully clothed–laughing and splashing and daring the universe to deny us the moment.

You have to maneuver a bit to get past traffic at 40th Street but we were soon safely past it and heading into a breeze as the canal path continued on through Arcadia. Just past the Arizona Falls at 56nd Street and Indian School, I suggest a pit stop at the nearby park. I wash my hands and return to my bike to find Dan thumbing a response on his BlackBerry. I give him The Look. If you live with someone who has a BlackBerry, you know that look.

This is the place on our loop where I always get tired and Dan seems to find his second wind. As he charges ahead of me I settle into a slower, methodical pace. The wind always seems to kick up at this point along the path and the scenery is not interesting enough to be distracting. I never mind riding hills; I choose that challenge. But riding into the wind, which I don’t choose, makes me depressed and mad. It feels like a personal affront.

I pass a homeless man at the side of the path, his bike nearly covered by an avalanche of personal belongings rummaged during his travels. I stop feeling sorry for myself.

My brother Ron, who lives in Seattle, decided to ride his bike to Phoenix. He took more than a month off work and slogged an average of 75 miles a day, pitching a tent most nights and cooking his own dinner. I made him call me every couple of days so I could track his progress on the map and insisted that he call when he got close to the Phoenix city limits. When he finally did, my other brother Bob, my two sons and I grabbed the videocamera, piled into the car and drove north to find him. We followed him from Cave Creek Road eventually south on Tatum Boulevard — giggling, awed and taking lots of pictures as we tried to comprehend the distance he’d just traveled on the strength of his own two legs. When he got to our circular driveway, he rode past a finish line the boys and I had hastily thrown together, went into the house and promptly ate almost a whole pan of brownies.

My brother was sweaty, stained and terribly thin that day. His bike panniers were bulging with supplies and he had camping equipment and bicycle repair equipment carefully anchored to every available space. I wonder how many times, during the six weeks it took him to ride his bike to Phoenix, otherwise well-meaning people mistook him for a homeless guy.

We turn north with six miles to go to get home. I am flooded with memories and eager to write them down. My legs reflect the urgency and before I know it I’m well ahead of Dan. As I pull into our driveway and put my bike away, I see him pedal past our house. I know exactly what he is doing: putting in the extra few hundred yards he needs to round off the ride to an even 24 miles. I’m intensely competitive about stuff like that but today I let it go. The words are screaming in my head.


Read “Pensive pedaling (Loop 1)”

Oceanic breathing

I sit naked under a thin paper gown, my legs hanging over the end of the examining table. It is the day of my annual skin cancer check and I am waiting for my dermatologist. It has been six years since my melanoma diagnosis. I’m at the cautiously optimistic stage — what the nurse describes as a “graduate” when she confirms that I’m no longer required to show up for twice-a-year whole-body-checks.

A spot on my right leg is bothering me. It is unevenly shaped and the center is lighter than the outer edges. It reminds me of the one I finally paid attention to six years ago — the one on my right shoulder, where I now bear a half-inch scar. The one that nagged at me, forcing my gaze to its location, until I finally made an appointment to see my doctor. She agreed that it looked suspicious and immediately did a biopsy. I knew it wasn’t good when she personally called me at home the next day.

Today, as I sit waiting, I know my doctor thinks I’m needlessly worrying. But she’s honored my request to cut off this unusual mole and send it to the lab. “Better safe than sorry,” she told me.

The area is itchy and raised from the topical anesthetic. A circle has been drawn around the mole, which will soon be gone, no longer able to taunt me.

I remember to take a few yoga breaths — the deep, soothing ujjayi breaths that instructors always describe as “oceanic.” I started taking yoga classes eight years ago in an attempt to manage the crushing and competing pressures of running a business and raising a family. When I first learned this breathing technique, it immediately felt familiar. Lips softly pressed closed. Tongue pressed against the roof of my mouth. The breaths must almost fight the false obstruction but the effort forces the body to relax, to concentrate on that simply movement. Air in, air out. Slowly. Audibly. Like the waves of the ocean pushing purposefully toward the shore, then easing back to the depths.

Newly certified divers Jack Sigrah and Karen Davis. Photo by Ron Strong originally appeared in the Pacific Daily News on March 13, 1978.

Newly certified divers Jack Sigrah and Karen Davis. Photo by Ron Strong originally appeared in the Pacific Daily News on March 13, 1978.

The first time I felt myself breathe like this I had a regulator in my mouth. Then a student at the University of Guam, I had signed up for a scuba diving class with Jack Sigrah, a Palauan friend I met at school. (As the only blond non-Micronesian student in the dorms, I had no difficulty attracting curiosity, attention and eventually some wonderful friendships.)

I will never forget the first time I went underwater with an air tank on my back. It was at once frightening, exhiliarating and strangely calming. When your field of vision is limited by the mask on your face and your very life depends on good equipment, you quickly focus on living in the moment. Everything else drifts away. You may be diving with a team or just one buddy, but you are completely alone and at peace with the universe. Your body is weightless, free, rocking with the gentle drifts of the underlying tide. All you see is a kaleidoscopic display of colors and motion . All you hear is your own breathing.

When our diving instructors wrote a story about safe scuba diving for the Pacific Daily News, they asked Jack and me to pose for pictures. “Safe diving saves lives,” the headline read. As I sit on this medical boat on a sea of uncertainty, I hope regular check-ups do, too.

Ready for whatever the day's dive will bring.

Ready for whatever the day's dive will bring.

Pensive pedaling (Loop 1)

My husband and I got dressed and lathered up with sunscreen for a bike ride, but when he went to retrive his bicycle it had a flat. So he decided to run laps at the high school and I headed off on my own.

I took a familiar route, one of several Dan and I have frequented over the 17 years we’ve lived in our house, which is located near Tatum and Shea Boulevards. About three miles into the ride (which is about how far it takes me these days to warm up and stop feeling old), I reached the shady, tree-lined path running east on Doubletree Ranch Road. I passed Rotary Park and was slammed by an emotional response so powerful it took my breath away.

We gathered at the park for a goodbye party for my friend whose family was moving out of town. We ordered pizza and watched the kids play in the sand. Then we perched our laughing preschoolers — my two sons, her son and daughter–on the bench of a picnic table and snapped a photo. My friend’s son is now dead at the age of 24, the apparent victim of a drug overdose. The picnic ramada where we photographed our children is still standing. Why is is that her beloved child is not?

A right turn on the path took me past several man-made lakes and out onto McCormick-Stillman Parkway. There is a McDonald’s where the parkway intersects with Hayden.

My son David and I decided to ride our bikes to McDonald’s for breakfast. I had to drag him out of bed so we could leave before the day’s heat set in. It was the longest ride he’d ever attempted, this small child who had barely left his training wheels behind. But he made it. And never has an Egg McMuffin tasted better.

Heading south on Hayden, I pass a dad and his son riding together. We exchange smiles. I stop at the light at Indian Bend Road, noticing that the road to McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park has reopened after months of construction. The path south meanders through a public golf course before it dips under a bridge at McDonald. My dentist of nearly 20 years, Kathi Mansell, has an office just a block or so over.

The hygienist had finished cleaning my teeth when Kathi came in to do a quick check. When she was done, she asked about my in-laws, who became Kathi’s patients when they retired to the Valley. She was concerned about my father-in-law, whose health was deteriorating. When Tom died, I called her office to share the news — hoping to spare her staff, and my mother-in-law, the awkwardness of a phone-call reminder for an appointment no longer needed. The receptionist was genuinely troubled by the news. “We loved Tom!” she exclaimed.

“On your left!” I shouted as I approached a young couple walking ahead of me. “Thanks!” I sped past them, approaching the right turn at Jackrabbit. Just a few blocks later, I reached the canal, which forced me south to Chaparral, where I turned west.

Nancy Melvin had a condominium near here. She was a Ph.D.-level professor in the nursing school at ASU and somehow she found out about our magazine, which was not yet even a year old.  She called me one day to tell me about research she was doing on child temperament. It was amazing. She had developed tools to help parents understand why their child responded to particular situations based on inherent temperamental characteristics. Understanding the “why” helped her team develop strategies for supportive parenting, so parents would know, for example, how to help a slow-to-warm child who had trouble developing friendships. Lisa Sorg-Friedman wrote a fascinating three-part series for the magazine and for several years I maintained a friendship with Dr. Melvin, meeting her occasionally for breakfast or lunch. She was always deeply interested in the magazine’s progress. Eventually, we lost touch. And a few years ago, I heard that she had died. ASU endowed a professorship in her name called the Nancy Melvin Professorship in Pediatric Nursing. In reading more about her, I learned that she educated the first pediatric nurse practitioners in the Valley. I don’t remember if I knew that. What I do remember is that she loved working with children but never had any of her own.

My chain slipped as a crossed the busy intersection at Scottsdale Road. Embarrassed, I propelled the bike forward by pushing off with my left leg. Thankfully, the momentum righted the problem.

A talented architect lived near here. I met him while serving on a committee I dubbed H.I.K.E.R.S. (Hikers Intent on Keeping Everyone’s Rights Secure). The group formed in response to a neighborhood’s effort to prevent hikers from accessing the Cholla Trail up the back side of Camelback Mountain. For weeks, we attended city council meetings and passed out flyers at Mountain Preserve trailheads to educate the public ab0ut the situation, eventually winning a compromise on parking restrictions that pacified the homeowners. One of the key spokespersons for our effort was Phil Richards. His ex-wife, Frankie Mae, recently joined the sales staff at Raising Arizona Kids.

I wasn’t planning to ride any hills but found myself pulled toward the winding roads and distraction factor of mansions along the winding roads in the tony neighborhoods sandwiched between Camelback Mountain’s north side and McDonald Road. This decision forced a steep climb as a street called Starlight veers higher toward what was once John Gardiner’s Tennis Ranch and is now Sanctuary Camelback Resort & Spa. At the very top of the hill, where Starlight intersects with Dragoon, a modern-architecture home is tucked against the slope.

Dan’s parents had rented a beautiful house for more weeks than they could use it, so we started spending our weekends there. The house had a pool and splendid views and escaping to it was like taking a vacation. One night, as we pulled into the driveway, we thought we saw something jumping off the roof. A coyote? A cacomistle? When we got inside, we saw a pillowcase in the hallway, and a sickening realization dawned. We’d been robbed!

The original house, of course, is no longer there–this new, much larger, home stands in its place.

The whoosh and freedom of the downhill is worth every bit of sweat equity invested going up. I paused briefly at McDonald before heading west to 54th Place and north to Lincoln. Waiting for the light to change at the entrace to Camelback Inn, I remembered that it was my first choice for a wedding reception.

After various family members weighed in, the location was changed, but I always wondered what it would have been like to get married at sunset on the grass at the center of this glorious resort. Decades later, I found out, when our former babysitter married her longtime sweetheart in exactly the type of service on the lawn that I’d imagined for myself.

Older and wiser, I realize it is the marriage–not the wedding–that matters. And yet I wonder. Why I gave in. Why I gave up. I wouldn’t do it now.

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The events in our lives happen in a sequence in time, but in their significance to ourselves, they find their own order… — Eudora Welty

Inspiration from the inspired

Marion Wright Edelman

Marion Wright Edelman (left of podium) is introduced as commencement speaker at Whittier College in Whittier, Calif.

Marion Wright Edelman, founder of the Children’s Defense Fund and a leading advocate for children and the disadvantaged, gave the commencement address at my son David’s graduation from Whittier College last month.

This woman is a hero in the field of early childhood education. She is a visionary whose views have guided much of the current thinking about what children need to develop into healthy, productive adults. I found myself hanging on every word.

She told many stories from her childhood, which included just 14 short years with her father. He died en route to the hospital while insisting, in his last words to a young Marion, that she let nothing get in the way of her education.

Edelman made many admonishments to the Class of 2009. Perhaps my favorite was this: “Instead of spending your time and energy trying to find yourself, why not try to lose yourself — in service to others?”

She also had a great story for parents wondering how to keep their kids reading this summer. Wright Edelman came from a family that disdained idle hands and minds. She and her siblings were allowed a reprieve from chores “only if we were reading.” She paused, then added, “We did a lot of reading.”

Looking for a summer reading program? Check out our directory of programs in Maricopa County.

No black-and-white answers

It wasn’t at all what I expected.

Brittney Walker and I attended Monday’s “Safe Sleep Symposium” at Scottsdale Stadium. The educational event, organized by the Arizona Department of Health Services, pulled together professionals from many fields — medicine, social work, emergency response, child protective services and more. Their goal? To figure out what kind of educational outreach would be most effective in reducing the incidence of infant deaths from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and tragic, sleep-related accidents.

Remember the Back to Sleep campaign? That effort has been hugely successful in reducing the number of SIDS deaths from suffocation. Moms and dads were told that it’s safest to put babies to sleep on their backs, rather than their tummies. The overall rate of SIDS deaths has declined dramatically since 1994, when the Back to Sleep message was first promoted. But now another, just as devastating, statistic is rising: child deaths that occur in adult beds.

It goes by many names — co-sleeping, co-bedding, “the family bed.” And it’s practiced in many cultures around the world. Here, it’s practiced by parents who seek  convenience (for breastfeeding moms) or a strong, loving bond with their children.

It’s a very personal choice, and one that clearly comes with risks. An emergency responder who spoke at the conference described finding a child who’d been suffocated by the weight of an adult who rolled over onto him in the middle of the night. Children have suffocated from loose or heavy bedding in an adult bed — or from becoming wedged between the bed and the wall. So I was expecting the professionals at the Safe Sleep Symposium to be adamantly united in a message against co-sleeping.

But they weren’t.

Brittney (an admitted co-sleeper who began the practice out of desperation when she was pushed to her limit by a baby who would scream for five and six hours each night) was part of a panel of woman who’d made the same choice and were there to explain it. I was sitting in the back of the room during the discussion, waiting for my turn to talk during lunch about “Messaging for the Media.” I was astonished, as I listened and watched, to see many of the heads in front of me nodding in agreement as Brittney and the two other women defended their co-sleeping practice.

By the time the panel ended, I was completely dumbfounded. You expect the pros to be very black and white about rules. Especially when it comes to safety. But they weren’t. They acknowledged that there are many positives to co-sleeping, and sometimes many economic reasons why it’s the only choice. (Some families, obviously, can’t afford cribs and separate bedrooms for their children.)

So it’s a tricky message they have to craft: that co-sleeping can be dangerous but there are ways to make it less so. Like never bringing a child to your bed when you’ve been drinking alcohol or taking sleep-inducing drugs. Like making sure you have a firm mattress (no cushy pillow top!) and there are no fluffy pillows or heavy blankets anywhere near the baby. Like positioning the baby near your waist, not your face.

One nurse I spoke to before I left told me that she thinks of it the same way she does many other safety hazards. Take ATVs. “I’ve seen so many accident victims,” she said. “But what are you going to do? Tell people they shouldn’t have ATVs? Or that their children shouldn’t be allowed on them? At least they’re out there pursuing a family activity that they enjoy doing together.”

If we wanted to keep our children 100 percent safe, we wouldn’t let them ride their bikes or roller blade or skateboard or cross the street, for that matter. Instead, we teach them the safest methods for navigating their lives. We make them wear helmets and we teach them safety rules. We take precautions on their behalf and we follow the safety rules ourselves. And we hope for the best.

Download the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development brochure “Infant Sleep Position and SIDS.”

Bragging rights

I’ll happily acknowledge my six degrees of separation on this one but I’m going to brag anyway. Raising Arizona Kids has published the works of a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist.

Paul Giblin and sons in 2006.

Paul Giblin and sons in 2006.

Our June 2006 Father’s Day issue included several Q&A essays written by local dads. One of the essays was written by then Tribune News reporter Paul Giblin. 

Giblin and colleague Ryan Gabrielson were recently honored with the Pulitzer Prize — the granddaddy of all prizes to professional journalists — for a series of articles they wrote in 2008 criticizing Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.  The awards committee noted “their adroit use of limited resources to reveal, in print and online, how a popular sheriff’s focus on immigration enforcement endangered investigation of violent crime and other aspects of public safety.”

Ironically, as the New York Times reports in today’s business section, Giblin was one of many reporters laid off when the Tribune, owned by Freedom Communications, downsized in January. Giblin and a few colleagues now run The Arizona Guardian, a news website focusing on Arizona government and politics.

For our story, Giblin described the most difficult aspect of being a dad. He said it was “trying to set an example all the time” for his sons Casey and Tim. Reaching the pinnacle of one’s profession is setting a pretty good example of what can happen when you work hard, care a lot and give it everything you’ve got. So I’m sure the old man has made his sons proud. But I’m guessing it’s not just because he won a prestigious award. They saw him absorb a tough blow, pick himself up and — taking no time for self-pity —  move on. I can’t think of a better example than that.