Saturday, February 27, 2010

Books for Mothers to Be or Young Moms

There are many books on pregnancy and the growing years of your baby. Here are the books I found helpful for myself and recommend to other moms or moms-to-be.

The Pregnancy Countdown:Nine Months of Practical Tips, Useful Advice, and Uncensored Truths by Susna Magee. This is my second pregnancy and I'm enjoying just as much as I did the first time around. It's a small book with a couple of pages for each week of your pregnancy of practical tips, advice, and information about your baby, you and preparing for your baby. Here is an example of some humorous advice in week 26:
how to respond to comments at the gym..."are you sure you should be doing that in your condition?" or "Have you asked your doctor if that's safe?" Your response, "What condition?" and "I am a doctor." How to respond with raging hormones..."when are you do?" Your response, look at your watch, "any second now."... "Wow, you're huge!" Your response, "Yep, I'm pregnant, what's your excuse?"
Of course there are more serious comments as well describing your baby or the changes in your body.

New Moms
Being a Calm Mom.How to Manage Stress and Enjoy the First Year of Motherhood, by Deborah Roth Ledley. If you are having anxiety or depression or just plain nervous about being a new mom (like I was), this book was recommended me to and helped to alleviate some of my personal fears.

The Happiest Baby on the Block: The New Way to Calm Crying and Help Your Newborn Baby Sleep Longer by Harvey Karp. This book and DVD were recommended by my Pediatrician as well. Here is a short explanation of the book from Amazon.
Learn about swaddling, side/stomach position, shhh sounds, swinging and sucking. The book includes detailed advice on the proper way to swaddle a child, the difference between a gentle rocking versus shaking and more.
This book helped my husband and I out a lot when it came to calming our son on his bad nights. If you don't understand or believe his theories when you read the book, then watch the video. He shows his techniques on real patients. There are also links in the back of the book for finding his website or classes near to you that can also review the techniques with you and your baby. My husband and I attended the class and received the DVD as part of the class price.

The Happiest Toddler on the Block: How to Eliminate Tantrums and Raise a Patient, Respectful, and Cooperative One- to Four-Year-Old, by Harvey Karp. We haven't viewed the DVD yet, but Dr. Karp explanation of how the toddler's brain works and how to talk to them makes a lot of sense. Learning to speak "toddler-ese" takes practice, but has helped us with communicating with our 20 month old son and I feel it has alleviated many tantrums.

More Books to come...

Reading To Our Kids (Parenting,com)

I like the different ideas about encouraging your child to read. Especially the "make" idea.

"I promise to read/Each day and each night/I know it's the key to growing up right." That's the part of the oath the National Education Association (NEA) wants all kids to take this Read Across America Day.

Picks from the NEA's list of teachers' 100 books.

See the movie after reading the book. Talk about the differences to your child.

Cut out a 6 by 2 inch piece of construction paper and let your child decorate it with stickers, paint, and markers. For every book she reads, punch a hole in it. See how long it takes until the bookmark falls apart from so many punches.

Visit and the website for the reading show Between the Lions (Pbskids) for fun alphabet and phonic games.

Fun Fact: More than 1,000,000...the number of written words children are exposed to per year with just 15 minutes of out-of-school reading a day!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Vaccines and autism: Separating fact from fiction

Vaccines and autism From BabyCenter

I've heard that a preservative in some vaccines can cause autism — what's going on?

A controversy is raging over this right now, with government and mainstream scientists on one side, and several small but vocal advocacy groups on the other. And many parents have been left feeling confused and frightened about their children's health.

The advocacy groups say that thimerosal, a preservative used in vaccines, is responsible for an alarming rise in rates of autism among children in the United States and around the world. Most scientists say that's not so.

Over the last decade, a number of major medical institutions have reviewed the evidence from the United States and abroad, and all have concluded that there's no link between autism and exposure to thimerosal. But some health activists challenge the validity of the existing science and assert that the U.S. government has conspired with vaccine manufacturers to cover up the truth about thimerosal and autism.

We may learn more soon. Several health institutions are continuing to conduct research on the risks of exposure to thimerosal. What's more, now that the preservative has been removed from all childhood vaccines in the United States (manufacturers stopped using it in 1999), everyone will be watching what happens to autism rates in this country over the next few years. There's been no sign of a slowdown yet.
Why was thimerosal added to vaccines in the first place?

Thimerosal has been used for 70 years as a preservative to inhibit the growth of bacteria and fungi in vaccines. Many vaccines are stored most efficiently in large multi-dose vials from which health workers must draw individual doses, leaving the vaccine vulnerable to contamination every time the rubber top is punctured by a new syringe. Several deadly incidents of contaminated vaccines in the 1920s prompted vaccine manufacturers to begin adding preservatives to all multi-dose vials of vaccines.

Thimerosal used to be one of the most widely used preservatives. Now that most vaccines no longer contain thimerosal, they have to be stored in individual dose vials or pre-filled syringes — a system that's more expensive for vaccine manufacturers.
Is it true that thimerosal contains mercury?

Thimerosal contains a mercury compound known as ethyl mercury. This is not the same as methyl mercury, found in high amounts in some fish. Methyl mercury accumulates in human tissue and, at certain levels, can impair cognitive development in young children — which is why the FDA now says that toddlers shouldn't eat too much fish, for example.

Ethyl mercury, on the other hand, hasn't been as well studied, so not much is known about the health implications or long-term effects of being exposed to it. But research conducted by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has established that the body eliminates ethyl mercury much more quickly than it does methyl mercury, so ethyl mercury doesn't accumulate in human tissue.

NIAID is continuing to study ethyl mercury and its impact on human health. According to mainstream research to date, the only known side effects of exposure to thimerosal in vaccines are minor reactions such as redness and swelling at the injection site in some patients.
Is it true that children were exposed to unsafe levels of mercury from thimerosal?

From the mid-1980s until 1999, as shots were added to the list of routine childhood immunizations, children in the United States were exposed to more and more thimerosal. Some versions of the diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis and Hib vaccines, as well as the hepatitis B and flu shots, contained the preservative.

In 1997 the FDA reviewed food and drugs containing mercury and found that some children may have been exposed to a cumulative dose of 187.5 micrograms (mcg) of ethyl mercury from all sources during the first six months of life. This amount exceeded the Environmental Protection Agency guidelines for methyl mercury exposure. (There are no federal safety standards for ethyl mercury.)

As a precautionary measure, the Public Health Service agencies, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and vaccine manufacturers agreed in 1999 that thimerosal should be reduced or eliminated in all childhood vaccines. Today, childhood vaccines contain no more than trace amounts of thimerosal, and children are exposed to a cumulative dose of less than 3 mcg of mercury from vaccines by the time they're 6 months old.
What's the evidence that thimerosal is linked to autism?

Some advocacy groups point to a handful of studies done in the late 1990s that purported to show that thimerosal triggered autism. These studies were conducted by Mark Geier, M.D., and his son David. Mark Geier, a geneticist by training and a former researcher at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has served as a consultant and expert witness in support of claimants in a number of vaccine injury cases brought before the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, as well as civil cases.

According to the Geiers, children exposed to thimerosal in vaccines are six times as likely to have autism as unexposed children. They base their conclusions on their analysis of data obtained from the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), a U.S. government reporting system that compiles vaccine-related health complaints.

In a detailed critique of the Geiers' findings, the AAP explained the problem with relying on VAERS data — namely, that the system collects complaints but has no means of evaluating their legitimacy. "Health effects reported to VAERS as being associated with vaccines may represent true adverse events, coincidental occurrences, or mistakes in filing," the AAP said.

Experts at the AAP were also troubled by the Geiers methodology, arguing that the father and son didn't specify "how their data were generated, thus preventing accurate review of their methods and replication of their outcomes." The Institute of Medicine (IOM) found the Geiers' work to be full of methodological flaws and dismissed the results as "uninterpretable."

Other experts have questioned the Geiers' qualifications and disputed their findings. One court official, who presided over a vaccine injury case for which Mark Geier served as a professional witness, said his testimony was "not reliable or grounded in scientific methodology and procedure. His testimony is merely subjective belief and unsupported speculation." Geier has been similarly admonished in a number of other vaccine injury cases.
What's the evidence that thimerosal is not linked to autism?

Over the last decade, a number of major medical institutions have reviewed the evidence from the United States and abroad and concluded that there's no link between exposure to thimerosal and autism. Here are details from some of the most recent reports:

In 2003, researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control examined data from the Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD) Project, a database in which eight HMOs log their patients' vaccine records, including any adverse reactions. The authors analyzed the records of more than 120,000 children at two different HMOs and found no difference in autism rates among children exposed to various levels of thimerosal.

In 2004, the World Health Organization examined the records of more than 100,000 children in Great Britain and found no link between thimerosal exposure and increased risk for autism. In fact, the children who had been exposed to thimerosal had lower rates of developmental disorders than the children who hadn't.

Also in 2004, the IOM evaluated the latest research on the issue, including five major studies that examined the health records of hundreds of thousands of children in the United States, Britain, Denmark, and Sweden as well as the Geiers' studies. (The IOM is a division of the National Academy of Sciences, a prestigious independent body not affiliated with the U.S. government.) The IOM concluded: "The body of epidemiological evidence favors rejection of a causal relationship between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism."

Experts who have looked closely at the data also point out that the rise in autism rates does not, in fact, correspond to an increase in exposure to thimerosal. In Great Britain, for example, the incidence of autism has risen dramatically since the 1980s. But only one vaccine (the DTP) administered in Britain contains thimerosal. All the other vaccines given there are thimerosal-free, and always have been.

Thus, rates of autism have multiplied in Britain while exposure to thimerosal in vaccines has remained constant. And a 2003 study of children in Denmark found that autism rates continued to rise there at the same rate as they did worldwide, even after the country stopped using thimerosal in vaccines in 1992.
Wasn't there some link between the MMR vaccine and autism?

In 1998, the British medical journal The Lancet published a study connecting the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine with autism. Researchers noticed that eight of the 12 autistic children being studied had started showing symptoms of autism around the time they received their MMR shots, and hypothesized that the children were having a physical reaction to the vaccine.

It turned out to be just a coincidence, and the study has now been repudiated by several of the researchers and retracted by The Lancet. The study had nothing to do with thimerosal, which has never been used in the MMR vaccine, but people continue to confuse the two issues.
How can I tell if my child received vaccines that contained thimerosal?

If your child was vaccinated after the year 2001, it's unlikely that he was exposed to more than trace amounts of thimerosal. In 1999 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), along with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), asked vaccine manufacturers to reduce or eliminate the use of thimerosal in vaccines, and manufacturers took steps to comply.

Some doctors' offices continued to use existing stockpiles of vaccines containing thimerosal, but most experts believe they would have been used up by 2001 or 2002. Ask your child's doctor if you want to know for sure.
Isn't thimerosal still used in flu shots and some others?

Thimerosal is still used as a preservative in adult flu shots. Thimerosal-free formulations are available for infants, children, and pregnant women, but there's not always enough to meet demand, and doctors routinely run out of thimerosal-free supplies.

Also, some tetanus-diphtheria booster shots, which are given to children age 7 or older, contain thimerosal. Finally, thimerosal is still used in some childhood vaccinations in other countries, mostly in the developing world.
What are the risks of not immunizing my child?

The benefits of vaccinating your child far outweigh the risks — for your child and for your community as a whole. A certain percentage of children have adverse reactions to vaccines, but such incidents are rare, given the large number of children vaccinated each year.

Julia McMillan, a professor of pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Infectious Diseases, likes to remind parents about the number of serious diseases now controlled or eliminated by vaccinations.

"Many parents today are too young to remember the toll these diseases took before vaccines were developed," she says. "Polio has not been seen in the United States for decades. Measles, which still kills children in Africa every day, has been virtually eliminated in the United States. Mumps, which can result in deafness and sterility, is now rare in the United States. Within two years of the introduction of the Hib shot, there has been a 60 percent reduction in incidents of bacterial meningitis. Our vaccination program has been one of the most successful health campaigns — in terms of saving lives — in history. But it will only continue to be successful if people have their children vaccinated."

If enough people decided not to be vaccinated, these illnesses could easily spread to epidemic proportions again. We know this is true because it has happened: When measles vaccination rates in the United States dropped in the late 1980s, more than 100,000 people came down with the disease and 120 died from it. In 1998, when immunization rates were back up, only 89 people became sick from measles and no one died.

Other diseases, such as polio and diphtheria, are still only a plane ride away. And even if you and your family never leave the country, lots of people do travel and they can unknowingly bring these diseases back with them. The more people in your community don't get vaccinated, the more quickly disease can spread throughout the population.
Where can I get more information on thimerosal and vaccine safety?

This is a complex issue, and given the widespread rumors and contradictory reports, it's not surprising that parents are alarmed and confused. Start by talking to your child's doctor. And if you'd like to do some reading on your own, there's no shortage of information available on the Web.

Here are Web sites for major U.S. government health organizations that offer information on thimerosal:

• Centers for Disease Control

• Food and Drug Administration

• National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease

Homework is stupid

I think as teachers it's important to see the view of homework from some parents' perspectives. We need to make sure that homework that is assigned is necessary to review a concept or teach a skill, not as busywork or "be quiet" activity.

Homework is stupid

Especially homework for kindergartners. Actually, if I had it my way, kids K-6 would not have homework.

If the energy our family has wasted on homework could be converted into solar energy, I'm certain it could power our city for a year. Seriously, if I see another photocopied worksheet I might poke my eyeballs out.

Now, not all homework is created equal. I have no problem with flash cards or special creative projects. But I'm darn sick of reams of those "shut-up sheets."

You do know what a shut-up sheet is, right? It's a photocopied worksheet designed specifically to shut-up the kid and keep him busy.

My sons are convinced it's a form of torture. I happen to agree.

I mean, the last thing my kid wants to do after six hours of school is sit down and do another worksheet. And yet, as The Good Responsible Parent, I'm supposed to force him.

When my kids get home, I shoo them outside and let them run around. They're dying to release all that pent up energy and if I dare require them to SitDownBeQuietAndDoYourHomework, we'll have a full-blown mutiny.

I'm talking tears. Wailing. Gnashing of teeth.

Homework interferes with our life on almost every possible level. For one thing, homework time coincides with that wicked time of day known in my house as "The Witching Hour." This is when Mommy is already tired but still has to prepare dinner, mind her babies and help with homework.

Homework hangs over our head like a wrecking ball. It has the potential to destroy even the best of days.

By the time my husband gets home I'm so exhausted that I'm ready to take up permanent residence on a deserted island. Except, we still have baths and bedtime routines to manage.

Looking back over the last 12 years (cumulatively speaking) of grade-school homework, I can hardly see any educational benefit. At least, no benefit that outweighs the many tears, anguish, frustration and sometimes, sheer outrage.

Because here's the thing: not only do my kids have to complete the homework, but I've gotta check it and then sign the little assignment book. Every.Single.Day.

Dude, I don't even shower as often as I sign those infuriating assignment books.

And if I prayed as often as I've signed 'em, well, I'd be so holy that I'd be raptured by now; shot straight up to Heaven in a flaming chariot of fire.

By the time my twins hit kindergarten, I'm just gonna roll up to the classroom with a recycling trash-can and toss those stupid homework packets right in. If anyone asks, I'll simply reply: "Hey, I'm only removing the middle-man."

I dunno. I'm so fed up I'm seriously considering a Homework Strike.

Anyone wanna join me?

'Cuz me and my kids wanna know: IS THERE LIFE AFTER HOMEWORK???
[edited to add: it's important for me to clarify that I do not place blame at the feet of teachers. I see homework as a symptom of a larger problem in our public education system. My kids' teachers have been hardworking, dedicated and I've truly appreciated them. They love what they do but are often hamstrung by curriculum requirements and standardized testing which forces them to "teach to the test" for a significant portion of the school year. Despite this mess, I still find great inspiration in the teachers who daily strive to provide creative solutions to these challenges.

OC Family

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

First Kisses and What They Can Tell Us

What First Kisses Can Tell Us: My Change Nation Interview with Helen Fisher, Ph.D.

Kissing someone for the first time can tell you a lot more about a person than you might think. "In saliva is testosterone and also indications of what your immune system is like," explains Rutgers University anthropologist, Helen Fisher, Ph.D., author of four books, including Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love. "As you're kissing somebody, you're smelling them, and unconsciously, your brain is responding to their immune system."

According to Fisher, when you think someone is a bad kisser, it probably means that their immune system is wrong for you. "We're actually attracted to people with quite a different immune system than our own," she notes, offering the scientific explanation, "the closer your immune system is to the other person's…the more likely it is [that the female] might reject the fetus."

A first kiss can offer clues about other aspects of a person as well, including his or her sexuality, intentions, patience and health. Most importantly, it can tell you whether the relationship will continue. "Over 50% of both men and women have reported that they were, really, enormously attracted to somebody," says Fisher, "until they kissed them!"

© 2010 The First Thirty Days, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Master the Art of Step-Discipine (Step-parenting)

Here is article for step-families. I hope there is so useful info here.

Becoming an official stepparent is not an invitation to start doling out consequences and parenting advice. Dr. Carl Pickhardt, psychologist and author of Keys to Successful Stepfathering, offers these words of wisdom for new stepparents:

- Discipline should only come from the biological parent for at least the first six months to a year. While it may be tempting to establish a tone of authority early on, remember that the parent has a connection with the child that has developed over time. The stepparent, by contrast, should feel welcome to offer input. He or she has the ability to be objective in a way a parent does not.

If you have to discuss a disciplinary issue with your spouse, do so with tact and sensitivity. If a child misbehaves, resist the urge blurt out, "I can't believe you let her get away with that! I'd take away her phone privileges for a week." Instead, express your concerns in a calm, non-evaluative tone. "I disagree with the way she is behaving. This is why and this what I think could make a difference in the future. What do you think?"

Click here for more info

© 2010 The First Thirty Days, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The middle-of-the-night survival kit

The middle-of-the-night survival kit (By Laura Flynn McCarthy,

My husband and I make sure we have several stockpiles: one in our baby backpack, one set for each grandparents house since we visit them both often, and one set at home.

A little preparation can go a long way toward making those 2 A.M. sick calls easier. Some things to have on hand:

In the medicine chest...

* Pain and fever relievers. Stock both children's ibuprofen and children's acetaminophen (or the infant formulations for kids under 2) and jot down the correct dose for each approved by your doctor.
* A children's antihistamine and cortisone cream (with doctor-approved instructions)
* Saline nose drops or spray
* Nasal aspirator
* Medicine dropper
* Prescription pain-relief eardrops (if your child is prone to infections)
* Petroleum jelly
* Digital thermometer

The middle-of-the-night survival kit

Why Kids Get Sicker at

I found this article very enlightening as a parent. Read on...

It started around 1 A.M. My son, Liam, was 14 months old, and the noises coming from his room didn't seem completely human: There was a sort of honking bark followed by a whistle-y kind of breathing. I ran into his room, my heart racing with worry, and I found him sitting up in his crib, looking scared and tired. I picked him up, took his temperature -- no fever -- and called the doctor. "It sounds like croup," the doctor said. "Wrap him up in a warm blanket, sit outside with him, and call me back if his cough and breathing don't improve in ten minutes." Huh? This was early spring in New Hampshire. Sit outside?

It had to be worth a shot. I wrapped Liam up so that only his frightened little face was exposed, put on my winter coat, and stepped onto our screened-in porch. We sat on the rocking chair, moving back and forth, looking at the stars, and listening to the croaking tree frogs. Within 15 minutes his throat gradually, miraculously cleared. The coughing stopped, his breathing sounded normal, and believe it or not, he had fallen back to sleep.

In the meantime, my husband had set up a modern version of outdoor night air -- a cool-mist humidifier -- in Liam's room. I put him back in his crib, and he slept through the night. I, on the other hand, kept checking in on him every hour or so, but that's what mothers do.

Sickness never comes at a convenient time, but when your child awakens in the middle of the night with distressing symptoms, chaos often follows. Everyone is half asleep and not thinking clearly. The doctor's office is closed, and you don't know whether you should call and wake him or try to deal with the ailment yourself. Let's relieve some of the stress of that decision right now: Anytime you think your child's health may be in serious danger -- for instance, he has a high fever and is acting poorly, has trouble breathing, has a strange rash, or is having a seizure -- call your doctor (or 911) immediately. And almost any symptom in a baby under 4 months old merits an immediate call to the doctor, no matter the time.

So what are you supposed to do the other 97 percent of the time when your child wakes up at 2 A.M. worse off than when he went to bed? Symptoms of many children's illnesses routinely worsen at night, and though there's nothing life-threatening about them, they can make your child miserable. Fortunately, with a little planning and the help of our middle-of-the-night health guide, you'll have what you need to get your kid (and you!) feeling better by morning.

Asthma and allergies

why they're worse at night: If your child has asthma or certain allergies, you're probably all too familiar with the challenges of helping her through the wee hours. There are many factors at play: "The body's level of cortisol drops at night, and cortisol has some preventive effects on asthma," says Santiago Martinez, M.D., pediatric allergist and clinical assistant professor of medicine at Florida State University Medical School in Tallahassee. Plus, the levels of histamine rise, aggravating many allergy and asthma symptoms. And finally, some allergens, such as dust mites and pet dander, may be more prevalent in a child's room, increasing her exposure while she sleeps.

what to do: If your child has an allergy attack at night, an antihistamine should quell her symptoms (ask your doctor for the best one to have on hand for your child). Should you find that her attacks are frequent and occur year-round, you may want to consider immunotherapy shots, which introduce tiny amounts of the allergen into the body, slowly allowing immunity to build.

Got an asthmatic? You know what to stock: a bronchodilator, which immediately opens the airways; a peak flow meter to monitor your child's breathing; and preventive medications such as leukotriene inhibitors or inhaled steroid medications, which work to keep inflammation in check long-term.

"If your child is having more than two flare-ups of asthma a week -- whether it's just a chronic dry cough or wheezing -- or if she's not responding well to the bronchodilators, her condition is not well controlled and she should be reevaluated by a doctor," says Dr. Martinez. "Virtually everyone can get their asthma under control if it is diagnosed and treated early. In some cases, asthma and allergies may just be seasonal problems, and treatment can be stepped up or reduced, depending on the need."

Preventive steps to reduce the allergens can go a long way, too. That may mean keeping your child's windows closed, banning Fluffy and Fido from her room, and encasing her bedding in allergy-proof covers. You can also consider using HEPA filters in your vacuum and a HEPA air filter -- these are designed to trap the minuscule particles that can aggravate symptoms.


why it's worse at night: This barking-seal cough is usually the result of a viral infection that has settled in the upper airway and voice box, and typically strikes while the child has a cold. Because it causes swelling of the vocal cords, the cough also may be accompanied by noisy, rapid breathing. Croup is almost always at its worst at night, partly because blood flow to the respiratory tract changes when a child lies down. Plus, dry air can aggravate it.

what to do: "Begin by giving your child a dose of children's ibuprofen to reduce the severity of the swelling in his airways and relieve the discomfort," says Andrea Leeds, M.D., a pediatrician in Bellmore, New York, and a member of the committee on practice and ambulatory medicine for the American Academy of Pediatrics. (If your child is younger than 12 months, skip ibuprofen unless your doctor has already given you the okay to use it.) "Then strip him down to his diaper or underpants, turn on the shower full blast, and sit in the steamy bathroom with him for fifteen minutes." After that -- and this is the most important part, says Dr. Leeds -- dress him, wrap him up in a blanket, and take him outside in the cool night air (or, if it's summertime, hold him in front of the open freezer door or an air conditioner for at least five minutes). The steam relaxes the airways and vocal cords, while the cold air reduces the swelling; this combination often controls symptoms until the next day, when you can go to the doctor. (Like my doctor, yours may recommend one strategy or the other; if you notice a clear improvement, as we did with just the cold air, it's usually fine to stop there.)


why it's worse at night: Whether the infection is in the middle ear or in the ear canal (also called swimmer's ear), these puppies can hurt. Lying down increases the collection of fluid and puts extra pressure on the inflamed tissue.

what to do: Ibuprofen (for kids older than 12 months) or acetaminophen can help relieve the ache, but you can also try this remedy for severe pain from middle ear infections: "Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in the microwave so it's warm -- but not hot -- to your touch," says Dr. Leeds. "Put two to three drops of the warm oil in your child's affected ear. It relaxes the membranes and brings almost instant relief." Applying a warm, damp washcloth to your child's ear also can help. Either way, it's smart to check in with your doctor in the morning; your child may need an antibiotic to clear the infection if it's not improving on its own (as many do). If your child is prone to them, ask about getting prescription eardrops to numb the pain next time around.


why it's worse at night: Body temperature rises naturally in the evening, so a fever that was slight during the day can easily spike during sleep.

what to do: First, take your child's temperature (do it rectally if she's under 6 months old -- and, ideally, for as long as she'll allow this method). Any fever above 100.4°F in an infant under 3 months warrants an immediate call to the doctor. Same goes for an elevated temp in any child that's accompanied by lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, stiff neck, or an unusual rash.

Otherwise, try a dose of acetaminophen, wait half an hour, and check the temperature again, says Dr. Leeds. "If it hasn't begun to come down and she's older than a year, give your child some ibuprofen, too," she adds. "You can use these medications together, separated by half an hour. Just remember that acetaminophen can be given every four hours, and ibuprofen can be given every six to eight hours." (Write down the time of each dose to help you keep track.) In the meantime -- and if you're not too delirious -- you can give your child a room-temperature bath to help cool her down. And definitely help her stay hydrated by offering some water (or formula or breast milk if she's a baby) before she goes back to sleep. Call the doctor in the morning to check in; she may want you to bring your child in.

Itchy skin

why it's worse at night: When your child is lying still, it's a whole lot easier to focus on the itchiness, whether it's due to poison ivy, bug bites, eczema, or even sunburn. And if the itchy skin is rooted in some kind of allergy, you've got the higher nighttime levels of histamines to thank.

what to do: Take some advice from Tyler Bingham of Lynn Haven, Florida, whose 4-year-old daughter has eczema. "Katie's skin is always itchier at night," says Bingham. "So before she goes to bed, we use a moisturizing body wash, then I'll massage a dry-skin lotion, usually one from Aveeno, onto her legs, where her eczema is the worst. The massage calms her and the lotion soothes. If need be, I also run a cool-mist humidifier in her room to keep the air moist."

Dealing with an allergic rash or lots of bites? An antihistamine can bring relief. A topical cortisone cream can help as well, but again, avoid using this type of product before you have specific instructions from your ped.

Stuffy nose

why it's worse at night: Too bad kids can't sleep standing up like horses -- then their nasal passages wouldn't swell more when they sleep!

what to do: For immediate relief, use saline nose drops or spray. Both will moisten the membranes and loosen the secretions, making it easier for your child to blow out the mucus, or for you to remove it with a bulb syringe if you have a baby. "My nine-month-old, Hamza, hated the bulb syringe whenever I used it on him," says Diana Malikyar, who lives in Stone Mountain, Georgia. "But then I laid him down in front of the bathroom mirror so he could watch me doing it. Once it stopped taking him by surprise, he was very willing to let me use it."

You may be tempted to offer your child a decongestant, but they're no longer recommended for kids under 2, and many doctors advise against giving them to older kids. There's no evidence that they work, and some that they could cause harm. And unless you're positive the stuffiness is due to allergies, steer clear of antihistamines, too.


why it's worse at night: It's not that kids are necessarily more likely to throw up at night; it's more that it feels about ten times worse because you usually end up having to change bedsheets, clean up rugs, change and wash pajamas -- all when you're bone tired. Then you have to worry that it could happen again. (Oh, and it's pretty awful for your kid.)

what to do: First, make sure your child isn't throwing up anything green or bloody; if he is, call the doctor, as this could indicate a more serious condition. Same goes for vomiting accompanied by pain in the lower right side of the abdomen. If it's just run-of-the-mill vomiting, do your best to clean up and calm down your child. Comfort him with a cool, wet washcloth on his forehead and face, then let him go back to sleep, with a plastic bowl or other container by his bed in case he feels sick again. If he's still awake an hour later but hasn't vomited again, try giving him small sips of flat cola or ginger ale, if you have it. "You can also try opening up a can of pears or peaches and giving the child one tablespoon of the syrup inside every fifteen minutes," says Philip Itkin, M.D., clinical associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Nebraska Medical College in Omaha. "It really helps settle the stomach and keeps him hydrated." An ice pop is a good alternative, too.

Elisa Pollack Kandel is no stranger to middle-of-the-night vomit sessions. "My four-year-old daughter has a weak stomach, and one night she threw up a grand total of fourteen times, beginning at three A.M.," says Kandel, who lives in Merrick, New York. "Since then, I've learned to keep hand towels in her night-table drawer and a plastic wastepaper basket by her bed. Plus, the minute I hear her cough at night, I run in and pull back the top sheet and comforter. It really cuts down on the laundry! And whenever pillows go on sale, I buy a couple." Now that's what we call prepared.

Here is most of the article. Click on the link for full details.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Date Night for Parents

I like to post ideas I find from different people or websites. Below are list of ideas I've read about or seen on at

When you add the expense of hiring a babysitter to the cost of going out for a meal or catching a movie, date nights can be especially expensive for parents. However, there still are budget-friendly ways to spend time with your spouse without giving up date nights altogether. Here are a few:

On a nice evening, spending time outdoors can be particularly romantic. Pick a quiet park, a beach or a nature reserve. Bring a bottle of good, but inexpensive wine or champagne along with some nice meats, cheeses and breads. Even if you buy the gourmet or upscale varieties, you won’t spend as much as a night out at a restaurant. Sam’s Club®, Trader Joe’s® and most supermarket deli cases have more exotic cheeses and meats, so there’s no need to go to high-end stores to find them.

Coffee Shop
If you’ve given up your designer coffee habit to better manage your budget, splurging on coffee once in a while can feel like a luxury. Combine your java with something yummy from the pastry / dessert menu and you’ve got a hot date that doesn’t cost much. Bookstores that also sell coffee are great spots for this type of date. Even if you each decide to buy a book, you’ve typically spent less than you would have on dinner and drinks at a restaurant. Plus, you have something to take home with you!

Game Night
If you enjoy hanging out with other couples, consider organizing a game night. The couple that hosts the party is in charge of selecting the games and hiring a babysitter. Potlucks work great because they take the pressure off the hosts, financially and otherwise. Select a babysitter (or two) that is comfortable with the number of kids. Make sure the sitter is well prepared with activities and games for them. Have all the parents contribute to paying her and she’ll make a great wage. It’s a win-win for everyone!

Wine Tastings
Take a tour of a nearby vineyard or brewery and enjoy some free samples when the tour wraps up. Visit for a directory of tasting events and locations near you. If you’re not close to any wineries, organize your very own tasting event with friends. Instruct guests to spend no more than $10 on an interesting bottle of wine and pair it with some cheese. Conduct a blind taste test and have everyone vote on their favorite variety.

If kids are in the mix, it’s sometimes hard to find a babysitter. No worries! You can create a romantic (yet frugal) date at home. The trick is to feed the kids and put them to bed early so you can enjoy time alone. Set your dining room table as if you were heading to a fancy restaurant: tablecloths, cloth napkins, mood music, candlelight – the works. Crab legs or lobster tail are especially good on special nights like this because they’re easy to prepare and cost just a fraction of the restaurant price when purchased at the supermarket. You’ll feel like you’re living large without spending a lot of cash.

Some other ideas I've read about:
1. Wine and cheese tasting at home or on a picnic or with friends
2. Puzzle night
3. Go to Gameworks or Dave n Busters for a game night. You could do dinner there too.
4. Window shopping at a nice outdoor mall where you can stroll and talk.
5. Drive to the beach or mountains for a sunset. Bring some goodies with you like sparkling cider to add to the moment.
6. Hang out at a place like Downtown Disney where there's music, restaraunts, and many shops to stroll in. Fireworks at night.
7. Minor league baseball game can be cheaper than a movie depending on how much you spend on food. (Go to Costco for hot dogs before the game to minimize food spending).
8. Hangout at Border or Barnes n Nobles to check out some new books and enjoy some coffee.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Gift Ideas From the Heart

Make Life An "Event"

The greatest value in any relationship is not found in the things that you have to do, but in the extras that you choose to do. That's according to author and motivational speaker, Jay Forte, who encourages people to make the lives of those they care about an "event." It’s "not about elaborate trips or expensive dinners," he explains. "Rather, life becomes an 'event' when you pay attention to the little details that show…you care."

Forte suggests that life is an "event" when:

- You get a note in your lunch in addition to your favorite sandwich.
- You thought you needed gas in the car but it has been filled up.
- Candles are lit at mealtime, even at lunch.
- A book by your favorite author shows up on your nightstand.
- You tell a story you told before and are not interrupted.
- Your least favorite task (emptying the dishwasher) seems to happen by itself.
- A look, a smile or a wink means "it is you, it has always been you, it will always be you."

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