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A Life Lesson

October 25, 2015 

By Janine Logan

When I saw Newsday's call for submissions about one's favorite reading item, I knew I had to share my love of the childhood story, "Mary Lou Liked Coconut," with readers. It comes from an obscure book housing a collection of short bedtime stories for young children, all written by Lillian Boyer Pennington.  

With yellowed and cracked pages, the book is still a priceless gem to me, mostly because it recalls serene childhood memories of my mom sitting on the edge of the bed, reading to me before I fell asleep each night.  Reading offers a special bond between child and mother.

The story's plot is quite simple, but its lesson profound. The little girl, Mary Lou, likes coconut in any form and with any other food. After dreamily wishing ..  


My Nutcracker Tradition Won't Die After All

 The Nutcracker Never Gets Old

With the holidays fast approaching, I am excited about my upcoming tradition of attending the Nutcracker ballet with my girls.  Read my essay featured in Newsday to find out why this ballet at holiday time is so special.

http://www.newsday.com/opinion/oped/my-nutcracker-tradition-won-t-die-after-all-1.11146415 Reprints

November 22, 2015 

By Janine Logan

"The Nutcracker" ballet never gets old, no matter how many times I see it or which company performs it.

Long Island offers some of the best performances of this holiday classic, a fairy tale set to the enchanting music of Tchaikovsky. 

"The Nutcracker" is the official start of the holiday season. I have seen versions at Hofstra University's Adams Playhouse, LIU Post's Tilles Center, Stony Brook University's Staller Center and Islip's Old Town Hall. There is no need to travel to New York's Lincoln Center when we have such talent right in our own backyard. This year, I'm getting ready to buy my tickets for the Ovations Dance Repertory Company, which performs with a full orchestra in mid-December at the Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts.

When the curtain rises and I hear the first notes of Tchaikovsky's overture, I am transfixed by the ballroom dancers and a glittering tree. In a later scene, the snowflakes gently fall onto the shoulders of the Snow Queen and her court. 

If the holidays are about magic, then dancing dolls, wooden soldiers and mischievous mice fill the bill nicely. The appearance of the Sugar Plum Fairy in the Land of Sweets in Act 2 is a scene that sparks a happy holiday, all-over-warm feeling.

When my two boys, Steven and Sean, now in their 20s, were young and I could drag them where I wanted, they attended "The Nutcracker." Their favorite part, of course, was the fight scene between the mice, Mouse King and Prince. By ages 7 or 8, they wanted no part of my holiday ballet tradition. I enlisted my husband, Keith, for a time, and he came reluctantly, once to New York City and sometimes on Long Island. He begged off once our two daughters reached about 5 years old. 

With two little girls, Sarah and Sophia, just 16 months apart in age, the ritual became even more sacred to me. I found myself anticipating the event several days ahead, and attending in style was a big part of it. I selected the frilliest party dresses I could find and afford for my the girls. One year they even wore faux fur coats and carried hand muffs out of respect for the classical elegance of the ballet. 

The girls are now 15 and 16. They still attend with me, although their enthusiasm has waned. Two years ago, I considered skipping the performance. No one in the family was lining up for tickets, and I did not want to go alone. But to my surprise, when I mentioned to my youngest daughter that perhaps we would skip "The Nutcracker," she turned to me aghast and said, "Mom, we can't miss it. It is our tradition." 

Looks like I will attend "The Nutcracker" for many years to come, and I could not be happier. My thanks to all those professional and amateur performers who allow this bit of holiday magic to live on in my heart, in my children's hearts, and on Long Island.
Janine Logan lives in Babylon. 

Back in the Day When Moms and Kids Skated on Frozen Ponds

January 23, 2015 

by Janine Logan

Check out this essay about the wonders of winter and snow that appeared in Newsday.


Predictions of snow make many Long Islanders grumble -- but they give me a thrill.  My love of wintry, cold weather puts me in the minority.  I rejoice when the winter solstice arrives Dec. 21 and lament when the summer solstice comes in late June. The "longest day of the year" signals the arrival of summer heat and discomfort.  

The winters of my adult life are nothing like the winters of my youth in Lindenhurst.  In the late 1960s and early 1970s, we could depend on ponds and canals freezing and staying that way for days and sometimes weeks. I recall an ice storm in the mid-1970s that transformed the grey winter landscape into a crystalline wonderland. The branches of the white birch on my front lawn arced gracefully from the weight of the ice. I was transfixed by the sparkle and beauty of nature. Sadly, the tree did not survive once it thawed.| 

Those days of bitter single-digit winters meant the ponds and canals were open for ice skating. Nothing warmed my heart more than heading down Venetian Boulevard in Lindenhurst to what we called "Little Beach," a small patch on the canal that opened to the Great South Bay."   Little Beach" was owned by a nearby resident, I am not even sure who, and it was a welcome gathering spot for all the neighborhood kids and moms and dads. The fun was free and informal.   An adult would poke a stick in the ice to assure its strength and off we would go -- perhaps not very scientific or safe by today's standards. 

Whip chains were the best, long strings of skaters joined in conga-like lines. The leaders skated faster and faster until those near the end whipped around ever more swiftly, and yes, dangerously. It was exhilarating.   When we needed a rest, we simply skated onto the beach and warmed ourselves by a roaring bonfire. The fresh air fun lasted for hours. Our cheeks stung from the cold, but we did not care.  Several decades have now elapsed. Year by year, the canal has frozen less and less. Whether due to global warming or subtle changes in terrain, the fact is such free-spirited skating fun is no more. I do skate at local rinks, but it's not the same.  We're just one month into winter, which means there is still a chance that a monster snowstorm and/or Arctic blast of cold weather could hit us.

 My fondness for winter is certainly not shared by most of my friends, family members and work colleagues. They think of the shoveling, inconvenience and even the danger of blizzard-like storms. I understand that, but I think of the crisp, cold air, the quiet that envelops our busy neighborhoods under a sound-absorbing blanket of snow. I like the exercise I get from shoveling. But most of all, I think of gliding in the open air on a canal, a pond, a lake -- whatever freezes hard enough to allow me a free and wholesome skate. Janine Logan lives in Babylon.  

Wheels in Moments - A Mother's Day Memory

 May 10, 2012

by Janine Logan

For the most part, my mom friends and I are typical Long Island suburbanites. Most of us grew up here and chose to remain here. Some of us are stay-at-home moms, but more of us are working outside the home. We are executives, nurses, hair stylists, physicians, teachers, cashiers and engineers. Our generation of multi-dimensional moms redefines the concept of time management -- literally and figuratively.  We enter the realm of motherhood not really knowing what to expect and emerge at the other end, having tackled the toughest job on Earth.

Whether it's sending the last of our brood to kindergarten or sending our oldest to college, we feel the sadness of separation and the haunting realization that time has elapsed, our children have matured, and we have indeed aged.

This awareness of time intensifies when you manage multiple children and their different stages of need and development. I think back to the spring of 2007. I can't remember if it was rainy or warm, but I can recall spending countless hours teaching my oldest son to drive a car and my 6-year-old daughter to ride a two-wheeler. At the time, the situation didn't strike me as particularly significant, because I was, like so many friends, caught up in the frenzy and fraught of daily mothering.

As I moved from passenger seat to bicycle seat, I was intent on assuring that my children achieved these milestones. It didn't matter that one would wait at the curb for the other's lesson to end, that I was exhausted, or that my running behind a bicycle was becoming increasingly difficult. I wanted them to succeed.

Five years have passed since this "riding" experience. Since then each child has encountered situations in which they have been humbled, humiliated and honored. My heart broke and rejoiced with them, and I offered my advice as best I could and my love in overabundance. We, and time with it, moved on.

So much happens in a day's time. Sometimes I find a minute to reflect on this phenomenon. That's when I vow to make more "mental memories" of as many moments with my children as possible. It's not easy. There is always so much to do and so little time.

Not long ago my second son took his road test. All I remember about his driver training is the day he bent a dead-end sign. It occurred while we were hurrying to get his younger sister to lacrosse practice. It's not my best memory, but I can say it is uniquely of him.

 This essay first appeared  in the online edition of Newsday the week of Mother's Day.  So,  enjoy all you frenzied moms out there who love your children more than you can count.    


Long Island's Top Health Concerns

NEWSDAY's Next LI - A Data Initiative

March 22, 2019 1:16 PM     Essay   

Janine Logan is the director of the Long Island Health Collaborative. The Long Island Health Collaborative and its partners support access to affordable and nutritious foods and encourage residents of all ages to walk.  

Cancer Concerns Plague Long Islanders

    Concerns about cancer run high among Long Island residents. That’s what a recent analysis of community health data collected by the Long Island Health Collaborative (LIHC) revealed.

    The Community Health Assessment Survey asks Long Islanders’ and Eastern Queens residents’ about their health concerns for themselves and their communities. The data is used by hospitals, county health departments, community-based organizations and other social and health services providers to offer programs that best meet the needs of local communities.

    When asked about the biggest health concerns for themselves and then separately about the biggest health concerns in the communities in which they live, respondents in all three regions listed cancer in the top three most selected choices for both of these questions.  Cancer also landed in the top three most selected for these two same questions in the January – June 2017 analysis. Many cancers are now considered  chronic conditions  by treatment specialists, requiring medical management over the course of years and even decades. This is due to advances in pharmaceutical and treatment interventions and greater screening rates among the general population. 

    The analysis also showed concerns about nutrition are at the forefront of the minds of Long Islanders. When asked what is most needed to improve the health of their communities, healthier food choices was the most selected response across the three regions. Food insecurity – the state of not being able to afford and/or find nutritious food in one’s community – has increasingly caught the attention of public health leaders, health providers, and even health insurers, as this factor is one of the social determinants that affects a person’s health outcomes, especially if they suffer from a chronic disease. 

    The Community Health Assessment Survey is just one data component that paints a picture of the health of residents of the region. It is a primary data source which delves into residents’ perceptions about their healthcare needs, barriers to accessing health care, insurance coverage, and more. It is part of the   Population Health Dashboard , a tool that displays data by state, county, and zip code.

    Patients play a key role in ensuring their own good health by adopting healthy behaviors and adhering to treatment plans. The dashboard is an excellent resource for healthcare providers and also for residents to get a sense of the burden of disease on their communities by looking at the dashboard.

    A healthier community leads to a more robust local economic infrastructure and prosperity. Health connects it all.

Healthy Eating is all in a Day's Choices

 The 2015 Dietary Guidelines promulgated by the United States Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services speak to healthcare practitioners, policymakers, and the American public in a novel way.  The guidelines provide for flexibility in food choices that allow for consideration of consumption of some foods that fall outside otherwise prescriptive parameters, while repetitively reminding us that such deviation is accepted as long as we remain under recommended calories and gram intake.  Such taboo substances, like sugar and even transfat, make the short list.  Throughout the guidelines, we are cleverly reminded to choose nutrient-dense, low-fat, high-fiber, low sugar foods that the experts know will lead to ...   (click link to keep reading) https://bu.digication.com/nutrition_and_the_media/Welcome/published 

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