Want a hamster? Plenty available, and many more possible SOUTHWEST--Sykesville * Eldersburg * Gamber

NEIGHBORS

January 26, 1993|By MAUREEN RICE

Last week we got two hamsters from a family whose daughter attends preschool with my daughter. They have seven hamsters left, so if you want one, don't hesitate to call.

You know the story. Nobody starts off planning to breed rodents, but theirs was the classic story -- a kid receives two female baby hamsters as a gift and a few weeks later they start proving their reproductive abilities, and soon there are a dozen or so hamsters.

Knowing this full well, we also took two females with the assurance that the sexes have been separated from birth.

This was before I remembered the amazing ability of hamsters, rabbits, gerbils and guinea pigs to change sexes. I have this dreadful feeling that one of our hamsters will do just that. In case they do, "Be Prepared" is my motto.

Does anyone want a hamster?

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Everybody feels that they're taken for granted sometimes. There are many ways of showing appreciation, and for an employer, an employee recognition day, complete with gifts for long-term employees, is a great way to raise morale.

Fully believing the value of this theory, the Sisters of Bon Secours ("Good Help") in Marriottsville are sponsoring just such a morale-boosting program Friday.

"The sisters do this every year in honor of all employees, and with special recognition for long-term service," said director Steve Hoesterey.

Sister Mary Regina Flatley, the Provincial of the Sisters of Bon Secours USA, will present five-year recognition pins to Kerry Mahaffey and Kathi Beard; 10-year pins to Noreen Grove and Ruth Lauer; and a 15-year pin to Ann Mabe.

The spiritual center, which specializes in a variety of programs including days of prayer and retreats open to all denominations, also is prepared to play host to conventions and other large meetings, complete with overnight accommodations.

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The American Red Cross is holding a blood drive Monday from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Sykesville-Freedom Fire Hall on Route 32. Your donation means a lot and takes only about one hour of your time.

Help support this worthy effort.

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"TV, radio, Nintendo, those types of things are very good baby sitters," says Caren Allen, guidance counselor for Piney Ridge Elementary School. "When you have two working parents, who are trying to do the laundry and cook dinner and get a few things done, if the child is willing to sit there quietly with something like this, well, the temptation is irresistible to use them."

As the mother of a 2-year-old, Ms. Allen has a lot of sympathy for harried parents and she acknowledges having probably one of the largest child video collections around.

At least the videos don't carry advertising messages to entice the youngster to buy beer and they don't contain undesirable anti-establishment messages.

How to deal with these messages effectively is the focus of a school involvement program offered in the Piney Ridge Elementary School media center on Feb. 4 at 7 p.m. Baby-sitting will be provided.

Ms. Allen and Dr. Peter Zerhusen, a school psychologist, put the program together.

"We're showing some videos, and Dr. Zerhusen is going to lecture," Ms. Allen said. "Dr. Zerhusen has a list of suggested strategies to help parents mitigate the influence the media has on children."

Ms. Allen said that children, starting in fourth or fifth grade, begin to see anything their parents reject as being good.

"A good strategy is to sit down as a family and pick only one show per night that you will all watch together, and after that the TV is turned off," said Ms. Allen. "And parents should help their children understand that these messages are being aimed at them."

To learn more about the problems of media influence on children and strategies to cope with them, go to the lecture. Even baby-sitting is provided -- no TV, of course.

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