Say What You Mean and Follow Through

Posted on Nov 24, 2014 by No Comments

At one baby shower I attended, the hostess asked each person to fill out a 3 x 5 card with the most important advice you’d give to a new mom on parenting. That’s a pretty tall order, and I didn’t have a lot of time to think about it. So I wrote the first thing that came to mind.

The hostess collected the cards and put them in a photo album and presented it as the last of the gifts. The mom-to-be sat there and read the cards out loud and it generated some good conversation.

My advice was to “Say what you mean and follow through.” We talked about how that means, no counting to three, or saying the same thing two or three times a little louder each time.

All that just turns mom into a nag and teaches kids that they don’t really have to do what you say until you reach “three” or they see you moving toward them.

The reason I even thought of it is that I had seen a mom struggling with a three-year-old in the grocery store because he didn’t listen. They happened to come out to the parking lot while I was loading groceries into my vehicle.

The little boy darted across the lot toward the street. His mom yelled, “Stop!” The child didn’t listen. He ran straight toward traffic zipping by like it was a game. The mom let go of her cart and sprinted in a panic to catch her boy just in the nick of time.

The mom meant it when she yelled “stop” but the child had not learned that the mother meant what she said when she said it. There was no time to count to three or threaten some punishment if he didn’t listen.

It’s important that we train our kids to do as they are told for their good. Not that we want to raise robots or expect kids to be perfect. It’s a process which takes a lot of work when the kids are little, but if we are consistent when our children are young, it makes for a lot less stress in the long run.

Photo credits: Lillian Zepeda

November Is Prematurity Awareness Month

Posted on Nov 19, 2014 by No Comments

I just learned November is Prematurity Awareness Month with November 17 being World Prematurity Awareness Day.

I’m not big on the idea of having months set aside for causes because there are so many worthy causes that usually what happens is that the message ends up being lost with so many vying for attention.

For instance, November is also “Adopt a Senior Pet Month,” “National Adoption Month,” “National Family Caregivers Month,” and that just a few from a long list of worthy causes that claim November as their month.

They are all important, but really prematurity is worth talking about whether it is November or not because it remains the number one cause of newborn mortality in the United States.

Since this month is suppose to be about awareness, it’s important to note that 1 in 8 babies in the U.S. are born too early. In some cases it’s not preventable, but moms can reduce their risk of preterm birth by making some changes to their behavior.

For instance, moms-to-be should stop smoking and avoid the use of alcohol or drugs.

While that might seem like a no-brainer, taking care of yourself in general can help make a difference. This includes getting regular prenatal care throughout your pregnancy, eating healthy, taking prenatal vitamins, and controlling diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure.

While these things all smack of common sense, in general staying healthy while pregnant can reduce the risk of a preterm birth. So that should be a mom-to-be’s goal

Prematurity Awareness Month is the brainchild of the March of Dimes. Their goal is to focus the nation’s attention on premature birth and to educate the public.

Be sure to visit their website to see how your state rates when it comes to premature births. They along with their partner organizations around the world are asking everyone to help spread the word on the serious problem of premature birth and what can be done to help prevent it.

Photo credits: wikimedia

Measles Making a Comeback in the U.S.

Posted on Nov 17, 2014 by 1 Comment

When I was growing up, I remember missing my cousin’s wedding because I had the measles. I grew up thinking of it as a childhood disease everyone eventually caught, and in this day of vaccinations, most of us don’t know how serious it can really be. I remember having the rash and not feeling well, but for me the overpowering memory is that I had to miss the wedding.

Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus. Back when I was a kid I didn’t realize it was a respiratory disease which spreads through coughing and sneezing. That’s because the thing that stood out to me was the rash.

The good news is that it is completely preventable with today’s vaccines. The bad news is that it’s making a comeback here in the U.S.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), from January 1 to October 31 this year there have been 603 documented cases of measles which were spread out over 22 states. This is the highest number since 1994.

So what do you think is the cause behind this? Some want to point to the people who have decided not to vaccinate their children, but they’ve been around since 1994 so that is not likely the cause.

The real problem is that measles are still a real problem in many other countries. According to a recent paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine, more than 20 million people still get measles each year, and of those 145,700 died in 2013. So Americans traveling should be sure to update their vaccinations.

Too bad we can’t do the same with the influx of undocumented people coming into the country. With them come measles and other painful and fatal diseases we’ve had under control for decades. With high vaccination rates and infection control procedures in place, this disease can be kept in check here in the U.S.

Symptoms of measles itself are inconvenient and uncomfortable and include fever, runny nose, red eyes, sore throat, and of course the rash. The real problem is that about three out of 10 people who get measles develop complications which can include pneumonia, ear infections, or diarrhea.

The worst side effect of measles can be encephalitis which can lead to deafness, cognitive delays, and lasting neurological problems. These complications are more common in adults than young kids, but why risk it if you can vaccinate against it?

Photo credits:

New Safe Sex Recommendations for Teens

Posted on Nov 14, 2014 by No Comments

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has new recommendations for the way teens practice safe sex.

It’s just kind of sad to me that pediatric experts have to have recommendations for safe sex, and leads to the question of what that term really means. I use to think it meant ways to prevent STDs, but in this case what they are talking about is birth control to more effectively prevent teen pregnancy.

The AAP previously recommended birth control pills and condoms, but now suggests the use of IUDs and other long-term contraceptive devices instead.

These recommendations line up with the current recommendations made by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the reason behind them is that oral contraceptives have shown to be the least effective option for adolescents because they tend to not be consistent in taking them.

The problem is the cost. Birth control pills can cost anywhere from $15 to $50 a month while an IUD, which can provide birth control for up to 12 years, can range in cost from $500 to $1,000.

The IUD is the least expensive, long-term birth control option that is reversible and could cut pregnancy rates by almost 80 percent for sexually active teens.

A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that educating teen girls about all forms of contraception and then providing them for free is the way to really curtail unwanted pregnancies.

I agree that would probably work, but it leads to the question of who will pay for free medical treatment. We already see how well that doesn’t work in our attempt to provide Affordable Care.

Statistics show that teen pregnancy has declined almost continuously for the last two decades with a 51 percent decline between 1990 and 2010. These numbers include live births as well as pregnancies terminated through abortion or miscarriage.

This improvement is attributed to an increased number of adolescents waiting to have sex as well as the increased use of contraceptives. That sounds like a sensible approach that’s working, doesn’t it?

Photo credits: wikimedia

“Dear Santa” Joke Backfires

Posted on Nov 13, 2014 by 1 Comment

Thanksgiving isn’t here, but the Christmas decorations are up in the stores. In one Florida Dillard’s store, a sign included in a Christmas display in the girls department has turned into a controversy. It was meant as a joke, but has turned into anything but.

The sign read, “Dear Santa, This year please give me a big fat bank account and a slim body. Please don’t mix those two up like you did last year. Thanks.”

One mom took a picture of the sign and posted it on Facebook. It was shared hundreds of times and quickly collected comments suggesting it sent the wrong message.

For me, all this fuss is making a mountain out of a mole hill. It reminds me of how cartoons used to have different levels of humor so they entertained adults on one level and kids on another, even though they were intended for adults.

But there were critics who didn’t like that either, and gradually, cartoons were dumbed down until most of them are just silly and not really funny.

Critics of the sign are asking, “What would a little girl want with a bank account?” I can think of a couple of ways to answer this.

We could go the direction of teaching our kids the importance of saving, but I don’t think kids would bother reading that sign, and if they did it would be like watching the cartoons and not getting the adult level of the humor.

And if they did read it and wondered what it meant, it would be a chance to explain that it is a grownup joke, and it would be dismissed.

I don’t have a thin body and I don’t have a big fat bank account, but I think the sign is funny. I’ve seen this saying shared on Facebook as a joke before now, so it’s not even an original idea.

It’s just a joke. I really don’t think it’s sending a wrong message. Instead, I think this over reaction sends a wrong message. It shows we’ve lost the ability to laugh at ourselves.

It used to be if you didn’t like something a store did, you’d let management know. If management chose to ignore your complaint, you stopped shopping there. Now with social media bullying, all that has changed. And it’s not a joke.

Photo credits: WPTV News

One in 68 Kids Diagnosed with Autism

Posted on Nov 11, 2014 by 1 Comment

What causes autism is a debated issue. Some think it’s an environmental issue involving exposure to pollution, some household chemicals, and other environmental factors. Many also think it is directly linked to vaccinations.

I have friends in both camps, and I’ve thought it could be both. However, at this time no one can point to a specific, provable cause of what is now commonly known as autism spectrum disorders. What we do know is that currently one in 68 8-year-old children in the U.S. have an autism spectrum disorder! Those numbers really shine a light on how many kids and families are dealing with this, and makes one wonder why we don’t have definite answers to the cause.

It turns out that one new study that looks directly at the brain might provide some answers but also more questions.

Researchers studied brain samples of autistic children who died young, and they found differences on the genetic level and in the physical structure of the brain. They concluded that autism starts with disrupted genes that somehow interfere with brain development. That means it happens in the womb.

“The changes look like patches of arrested development deep in the brain.” — Eric Courchesne of the University of California, San Diego’s Autism Center of Excellence

Eric Courchesne told NBC News that there are “too many cells” and that the cells have not developed properly. “Brain cells are there but they haven’t changed into the kind of cell they are supposed to be. It’s a failure of early formation.”

These findings support the theory that genetic changes leading to autism occur in the second and third trimester of pregnancy.

While this highlights the genetics of autism, it still doesn’t tell us why it happens. However, IF it starts during pregnancy, then it couldn’t be linked to vaccinations. That doesn’t jive with much of the uncorroborated experiences recorded by parents and others.

I’m afraid we are still left with a ton of questions and looking for help. Autism Speaks is currently funding a similar study in South Carolina.

Photo credits: wikipedia

Is Your Child Ready to Fly?

Posted on Nov 7, 2014 by 3 Comments

No one wants to get trapped on a plane with a screaming child including the parents of that child. Some people hate it enough that they’d like age restrictions placed on kids to limit such possibilities. However, age restrictions are not the answer. We don’t have cookie-cutter kids who act exactly the same at a given age.

With that in mind, it’s no surprise that some children can handle flying, including delays and schedule changes, and others can’t even make it without a fuss for a two hour flight. How can you know if your child is ready to fly or not?

It’s Not All About the Child

Climbing onto a plane will not change the kind of parent you are or the temperament of your child.

If you’re a parent of a young child who has a meltdown because you don’t let them touch something, or you’re serving the wrong kind of chicken nuggets, or who doesn’t want to sit on your lap and stay still, they probably won’t do well dealing within the confines and potential unknowns related to flying.

Parenting Toolkit

According to Yale Parenting Center Director Alan Kazdin, a Yale University psychology Professor and author of The Everyday Parenting Toolkit, it’s more than the child’s temperament. The parent’s temperament comes into play, too.

If you’re an organized, mellow parent who can roll with the flow and take changes in flight plans and food in stride, your child will be more likely to follow your example.

But if you’re easily frazzled and don’t deal well with jet lag or have taught your child it is okay to only like one kind of chicken nuggets, you and your child most likely won’t be ready to fly without drama. According to Kazdin, “that predisposition will be passed on to your child.”

Are You Creating Problems

Kazdin also talks about the fact that some parents “create” problems by doing things like scheduling a flight that requires us to wake our young children up at 4:00 a.m. to “see Grandma.” If your child doesn’t do well with a change in routine, try to make plans that work well with your child’s schedule.

Take time before your trip to teach your child airplane manners including talking in a quiet voice. Even if you think your child is ready to fly, it’s important to have a game plan to keep them entertained and in check.

Be equipped with iPad videos, coloring books, puzzles, and other items to hold their interest and distract them from the fact that they can’t get up and run around.

For toddlers, it helps to prepare them for travel related challenges like the fact that the iPad will have to be turned off during takeoff, and that “after the plane is in the air, the Captain will tell us when it is okay to turn it on.” That will give them a marker for what to expect and listen for.

Photo credits: Eduardo Merille, Amazon

Alyssa Milano Shares Intimate Breastfeeding Photo

Posted on Oct 31, 2014 by No Comments

Alyssa Milano is one of those celebrities who seems to hang on to her down-to-earth persona amid success. She shares little insights into her private life with her fans, without branding herself and everything she touches like a Kim K.

On Monday, October 27, she posted an intimate photo on Instagram of herself breastfeeding her two-month-old daughter, Elizabella.

These days you never know what to expect when it comes to the topic of breastfeeding. Who would have ever thought something so natural would be controversial, but people do tend to hold strong views about where and when it should be done.

But Milano posted the black-and-white breastfeeding snapshot anyway, and the response from fans as been overwhelmingly positive with almost 24,000 likes.

One fan, ainalani_aloha, said, “Love the breast is best picture, way to represent! Breast milk is the best first perfect food!” And another fan, apadilla2824, echoed similar thoughts with, “Beautiful! Thanks for sharing. Nursing is a beautiful thing! 9 months in and love the bond. You are a great example for others out there.”

At 41, Milano has totally embraced motherhood and addresses issues related to being a mom on social media. She believes it’s a great way to raise support between moms rather than judgement.

Recently, she has tweeted about the difficulty of working out after you’ve given birth on Twitter saying, ““First time working out since having the baby (4 weeks ago). Dear lord. Everything hurts.” Hearing things like this from a celebrity reminds us that they are human just like us, and have to work to get back into shape, just like us.

Milano is totally committed to her role as mom and announced at the end of September that she will be leaving her starring role in the popular TV show, Mistresses, because the filming location has been changed from L.A. to Canada.

“It’s with a heavy heart that I have decided that I can’t relocate,” she said. “I have two babies under 4. Being a mother and wife comes first and I just cannot uproot my children and separate the family by moving away.” – Alyssa Milano website

Photo credits: Instagram

Halloween Version of Elf on the Shelf

Posted on Oct 29, 2014 by 1 Comment

My kids were grown before the Elf on a Shelf craze started, but when my niece visited with her three children on the way to Disney last year, I was introduced to the rules of having one of these elves.

The children weren’t allowed to touch it or it would lose its magic, and while the elf wasn’t allowed to move or speak while people were around, it moved to a different location each night. Just what a mom of three (5 and under) needed to deal with on vacation, but I kept my lips zipped on that.

The Elf on the Shelf started as a storybook, and now it seems a new Halloween tradition has come on the scene in the same way with a book titled Switchcrafted.

Switchcrafted is a 20 page hardcover book with beautiful illustrations, an 8.5-inch witch doll, and a trick or treat bag.

The story introduces Switch Witches Ruby, Wanda, and Piper along with their helpers Sugar and Chewy and a new Halloween tradition of getting rid of all the sugary Halloween treats your children collect.

It encourages them to exchange their sweets for a healthier options – thus the title “Switchcraft.” I just learned about this, but I guess it goes on all October with the witch doll moving around to different places watching pre-Halloween activities much like the elf does before Christmas.

The Switchcrafted website offers ideas for ways to donate candy and provides ideas for healthy snack alternatives, along with games, activities and more. The idea behind the book is to help equip parents with a way to deal with the massive amounts of candy brought into the house following trick or treating.

While the idea might be fun, the practical side of me kicks in. As a parent we spend money on costumes and candy, let the kids go out and trick-or-treat, and then want them to give up their candy to the witches who need it for fuel. I’m not sure how that’s going to work.

Maybe if we want to limit their candy take, we could limit how many houses they visit on Halloween. I’d love to hear from parents out there to hear how this goes over with the kids. The giving up of their candy stash that is.

Photo credits: Amazon