Archive | June, 2011

Nursing Beyond a Year

29 Jun

Nursing my third baby has posed several challenges I never faced while nursing the first two.  Within the first few weeks, he developed symptoms of colic, where he would cry for several hours straight, for days on end.  It was exhausting, until we discovered he was actually experiencing an aversion to dairy.  Once I cut it out of my diet completely, his symptoms disappeared.

He has not nursed for comfort as much as the girls did.  If he’s hungry or thirsty, he nurses, if he’s not, he won’t.

He has continuously bit, whereas the girls went through a phase when they started getting their first teeth, but it ended as quickly as it began.  With my third, I have to be vigilant about recognizing when he’s done.  If I let my guard down and don’t pull him off right when he’s decided he’s done, he can surprise me with a painful chomp down.

He went through the “typical” nursing strike at eight months, but then had another right around his first birthday.  I started to panic that maybe he was trying to wean himself.  I became painfully engorged, but fortunately it was short-lived.  (I’m so thankful I have learned the art of self- or hand- expression this time around, because my pump broke amid my most recent engorgement mini crisis!)

Despite these challenges, I continue to want to breastfeed my baby, who is quickly becoming a toddler.  I’ve heard all sorts of comments about women choosing to breastfeed beyond a year.  Some people think it’s “gross”, that once a child can “ask” for it the child is “too old,” and I have even heard people say they believe that after a year the milk has no further nutritional value, as though breast milk has a shelf life which expires at some arbitrary date.

La Leche League International recommends continuing the breastfeeding relationship for as long as is mutually satisfactory.  The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for the first two years.

I want to continue nursing beyond a year.  My first daughter weaned herself on her 2nd birthday.  I weaned my second daughter halfway through my third pregnancy (my daughter was about 28 months).  I know that breast milk is healthy.  I know that breastfeeding my children will help increase their IQ.  I know that breastfeeding creates a strong bond between a me and my children.  I know that breastfeeding will reduce my risk of getting several different types of cancer.  I know that breastfeeding will reduce the likelihood of my children developing allergies.  Breastfeeding doesn’t cost me a thing.  It’s convenient and my breast milk contains no added chemicals.  For these reasons and more, I am choosing to breastfeed beyond a year!

Have a [Safe] Blast! Fireworks Tips

28 Jun

One of my fondest childhood memories centers around older cousins chasing me through the fields of my grandparents’ farm with a lit sparkler.

It’s a wonder I survived!

As a TV reporter in Arkansas, I covered at least a half-dozen serious injuries to children as a result of fireworks use.  The most vivid: Halloween night, a tween boy blew off a hand launching a bottle rocket.

With Fourth of July festivities just days away, I thought I’d put on my über-Mommy knickers and bring you these tips from the Consumer Product Safety Commission:

  • Do not allow young children to play with fire-works under any circumstances.  Sparklers, considered by many to be the ideal “safe” firework for the young, burn at very high temperatures and can easily ignite clothing.  Children cannot understand the danger involved with fireworks and may not act appropriately in case of emergency.
  • Older children should be permitted to use fireworks only under close adult supervision.  Do not allow any running or horseplay.
  • Set off fireworks outdoors in a clear area, away from houses, dry leaves, or grass and other flammable materials.
  • Keep a bucket of water nearby for emergencies and for pouring on fireworks that fail to ignite or explode.
  • Do not try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks.  Soak them with water and throw them away.
  • Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks.
  • Never light fireworks in a container, especially a glass or metal container.
  • Keep unused fireworks away from firing areas.
  • Store fireworks in a cool, dry place.
  • Check instructions for special storage directions.
  • Observe local laws.
  • Never have any portion of your body directly over a firework while lighting.
  • Do not experiment with homemade fireworks.

According to CPSC estimates, last year some 8,600 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries associated with fireworks.  More than half of the injuries were burns, and most of the injuries involved the head (including face, eyes, and ears) hands, fingers, and legs.  Children and young adults under the age of 20 years old accounted for more than half of the estimated injuries.  Fireworks should be used only with extreme caution.  Older children should be closely supervised, and younger children should not be allowed to play with fireworks, including sparklers.

Oh, yeah, and have a very Happy Fourth of July!

52 FEATS – NUMBER 26 (Keeping a Journal)

27 Jun

For the original 52 FEATS blog entry, click here.

So last week, as I was playing, and playing, and playing some more (see FEAT 25 here), I quickly realized a few things:

1.  I would rather be doing just about anything than re-enacting the same 30-second story for Potatoheads a hundred times.

2.  A week of playing felt more like a week of saying yes – any time my kids asked me to do anything with them, I said yes and did it right then.

3.  Playing that stupid Potatohead game with my son paid off big time.  When my daughter woke up from her nap, the first thing my son said to her was, “Mom and I had so much fun while you were asleep!”  Wow.

4.  I should be writing this stuff down.

I no longer keep a personal journal, though sometimes I think about starting one again.  I’ve kept one at various points in my life, and for some reason, I always end up throwing them away.  Not empty pages, but full of writing.  For some reason, there’s something I don’t like about revisiting my past.

But my kids’ lives – that’s a totally different story.  They’re constantly doing and saying cute, hysterical, or completely crazy things.  That, coupled with the fact that I have a notoriously bad memory, means I need to do a better job of chronicling things.

I love the personal feeling of handwriting things, but I simply don’t have the time.  What I do have is a super-cool computer journaling program!  I update it from time to time, but what I’ve always wanted to do is start a daily report.  Even if it’s just a couple of sentences talking about what we did for the day.

So this is the week to do it!  Every evening I’ll set aside 10 minutes or so to write down how adorable/silly/maniacal my kids were that day, and all the fun things we did.  I’m sure in 20 years, it will be my favorite thing to read.

Roundtable Discussion – Boredom Busters

23 Jun

A couple weeks ago, Lori wrote a great blog about Boredom Busters (click here to read it).  I loved it – I always enjoy peeking inside another mom’s head to see what cool ideas they use to keep their kids entertained.

I wanted to expand on Lori’s list a little bit, and encourage everyone to throw in their two cents.  Summer is the time when all of us need a hand in filling the long days!

What are some creative, free OR inexpensive things you do with your kids?  Here’s my list.  I think I’m going to print it out and let my kids pick one every day until we’ve done them all!

  • Summer reading club at the library
  • Read It Again kits at from the library
  • Learn a new skill (for my 5-year-old, we’re going to work on tying shoes and cartwheels)
  • Spraygrounds
  • Arlington Museum of Art (it’s free, they only ask for donations)
  • Bowling (we signed up for kidsbowlfree.com – you just pay for shoes)
  • Roller skating (the Arlington Skatium on Cooper has a “cheap skate” night for $1.99)
  • Levitt Pavilion concerts
  • Summer movie series at Studio Movie Grill or Cinemark (cheap tickets)
  • YMCA (my kids love going there while I exercise, and we often swim there together)
  • Keep a summer journal
  • Make giant bubble wands
  • Angry Birds sidewalk chalk & water balloon game (found here)
  • Make lemonade
  • Start up correspondence with a pen pal
  • Go on a scavenger hunt (even in your own house!)
  • Have a picnic (even in your own house!)
  • Go outside, sit on the shade, and blow bubbles
  • Bake cookies
  • Make puzzle planks (found here)
  • Use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes in slices of watermelon
  • Have a family jam (everyone play a different instrument!)
  • Go fly a kite
  • Play follow the leader, freeze/melt, head, shoulder, knees, & toes, or I Spy
  • Fill up a box with objects around the house that all start with the same letter
  • Explore outside with a magnifying glass
  • Make a living room fort
  • Cut out pictures from old magazines and make a collage
  • Paint a picture outside
  • Play dress-up
  • Play with playdough
  • Do a puppet show
  • Trace your bodies on giant pieces of paper and draw in some clothes
  • Have a water balloon fight

Kid’s Improv Comedy Concert in North Richland Hills

23 Jun

An improv comedy concert is coming to Green Valley Park in North Richland Hills on Thursday, June 23, 2011 from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. This event is geared to youth ages 6-12.  Parents are welcome too.  KidProv will be performing improvisational comedy live on stage and it might require a lot of audience participation, so be prepared if you are sitting up front!  Improvisation, according to KidProv, is simply to use what you know and make up what you don’t!  Picnics are welcome and there will be $2 snow cones to help you beat the heat.  Lawn seating will be available, so please bring blankets and lawn chairs.  For more information, please call 817-427-6620 or click here.

Traveling with Kids

22 Jun

All summer long, parents will be traveling with their kids.  Automotive or air travel can bring a family closer together and be a really positive, fun experience with kids, or it can be a complete and total drag (we’ve all been trapped somewhere with a screaming kid at some point- NOT fun!)

Every year, our family takes a road trip to the coast, which entails being in a car upwards of twelve hours (with plenty of breaks along the way!)  On the trip this year, I turned around and flew with my youngest to Austin for a 24-hour period to watch my Godson complete his First Communion.  Overall, it was a very pleasant experience and I’ll tell you what worked for me.

Any travel takes planning.  The more I plan, the more I feel prepared.  This time around I made a ton of lists (I know, I know, I’ve already broken one of my resolutions for the new year, but I just didn’t see any way around it).  I made lists for what I needed to do to prepare for the trip as well as a running list of what I needed to pack as well and what would need to be purchased.

I organized the way the car was loaded.  I made sure the kids had snacks and drinks that were accessible to them at all times.  For the older two kids, I filled baskets with things to keep them busy on the long trip.  For my 5 year old, I packed activity books with markers, sticker books (Usborne makes some awesome ones), regular books for reading, her school work, an MP3 player with headphones, and a book of mazes.  For my three- year old, I packed tons of little trinkets she could play with (a mini lunch box filled with dinosaur figurines, mermaids, etc,), a mini etch a sketch, dry erase activity books, lift the flap books, and a TAG pen with books (and ear buds to attach).  For the baby, I loaded the seat back pocket nearest him with baby toys, a scarf, touch and feel books, etc.

When the going got tough and I needed some quiet time, I would pop in a DVD movie.  (In fact, a friend of mine very generously loaned me a complete system that attaches to the backs of the headrests).  It was a life saver on the way home!

I also purchased a few decks from Usborne books, one of which is called 50 Travel Games and Activities.  The kids enjoyed taking turns drawing from that deck and playing new games together as a family.

As far as traveling with my youngest (11 months), I had to get creative at times.  He had a blast for almost an hour playing with an empty water bottle!  When we were at the airport, I made sure he walked/crawled around as much as possible before we would get on the plane.  I packed a carry on with a small inflatable ball, which I blew up while waiting in the terminal, and we would literally play “fetch” with it.  I packed lots of clean healthy snacks (like dried fruit) in the no spill snack cups that he could reach in and help feed himself with.  I made sure he had a sippy cup with water in it (just in case), but he ended up nursing both times on take off and landing, so we did not end up having any trouble with his ears popping.

On the actual plane, I used the mystery box toy Jen had made.  It completely entertained him for an hour.  He would pull one toy out; discover it for a few minutes, then move on to something else.  There was a scarf inside, which was a big hit too, because we could play peek a boo and hide the other toys with it as well.  Because I had worn him out so well in the terminal, he slept the entire leg of one flight.

In the carry on I also had lift the flap & touch and feel books, as well as a travel pouch of tissues (I figured if I got really desperate, I would let him pull them out one by one and/or tear them to shreds), a glowing spinny toy we got at the circus, a Cheerios board book (it’s really cute- there are cut outs in the book where you put actual Cheerios and the baby can eat them while you read) and a few baby toys he hadn’t seen in a long time.  (I tried to think ahead and put away things he really liked for about a month before we traveled, so he’d be really excited to see them).

In the past, I have exchanged books and toys with friends of mine (meaning I would lend them things to take on their trip that would be “new” to their kids and they have done the same for me).  That’s nice because then you don’t have to go out and buy anything and typically other moms have a ton of things that your kids love to play with.  Jen also has a really cool Hang Man puzzle by Melissa and Doug whereby the letters and hangman pieces are tethered to the board with bands.  It would be great for road trips.  I’ll be looking for one in the near future!

Feel free to share what works for you!

I Made This!

22 Jun

My friend and fellow More than Mothers writer, Lori, recently took a plane ride with her son, who was less than a year old.  It was a short flight, but she was worried about keeping him occupied.  I thought about how much kids (of any age) love other people’s toys, and decided to provide her with something to entertain him.

For this same trip, Lori also asked me if she could borrow my kids’ snack dispenser – the kind that has the flaps over the opening.  Little fingers can easily reach in for a snack, and the flaps prevent major spills.  Simple and efficient.

While I was looking for the snack holder, BAM!  I had a brainstorm.  What if I could make a similar container for toys??  And just like that, off I went…

First, I cleaned out a canister of french fried onions.  Then I hit the dollar store, where I bought a package of several rolls of brightly colored electrical tape.  I made cute little stripes of different colors all the way up the can.  With a steak knife, I cut flaps in the lid.  I scoured my house for toys that were big enough not to be choking hazards for an infant, but small enough to fit through the flaps.  I ended up with a car, a shaker, a scarf, a plastic cookie, a ball, and a few other small toys.  I finished up by putting several cute stickers on the bottom.  And voila – my own prototype for a new toy!

While it was definitely the cutest baby toy ever, the real test would be whether the baby himself liked it.  The verdict?  He loved it, as did his 18-month-old buddy.  We’ve got a winner here!

Fun in the Sun? Not So Much…

21 Jun

Someone recently asked my biggest regret in life.

I didn’t have to ponder that one.

“Not using sunscreen until my mid-30s!” I said.

My pal laughed, like I was making a joke or trying to sound glib.  But it’s 100-percent true.  I wake up every morning to crow’s feet and “overgrown freckles,” which continue to expand into unsightly splotches.  Let’s not even talk about my wrinkles.  (Suffice it to say, I recently got bangs.)

I’ve had chemical peels, each hurting like a son-of-a-you-know-what as several layers of skin burns away.  I’ve considered Botox for my brow and Rejuvaderm for my “commas,” those ever-deepening gullies framing my mouth.  For now, I make due with slathering SPF 70 or more on my face and hands every morning.  I reapply if I’m spending any time outside.

Vanity plays a big role in my epidermal angst, but so does an underlying unease about skin cancer.  I’m the poster child for melanoma: blue eyes, fair skin, a childhood spent at the beach that yielded plenty of bad burns.  My husband (another blue-eyed albino) and I do monthly “mole checks,” during which we scan each other’s backs for those sinister growths.  Sexy?  Not at all.  Necessary?  Probably.

So do me a favor this summer: Slap on that sunblock even if your outdoor excursions consist of darting outside to fetch the mail!  The American Academy of Dermatology offers additional advice:

  • Generously apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or more to all exposed skin.  “Broad-spectrum” provides protection from both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays.  Reapply approximately every two hours, even on cloudy days, and after swimming or sweating.
  • Wear protective clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses, where possible.
  • Seek shade when appropriate.  Remember that the sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.  If your shadow appears to be shorter than you are, seek shade.
  • Use extra caution near water and sand because they reflect and intensify the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase your chances of sunburn.
  • Avoid tanning beds.  Ultraviolet light from the sun and tanning beds can cause skin cancer and wrinkling.  If you want to look tan, consider using a self-tanning product, but continue to use sunscreen with it.
  • Check your birthday suit on your birthday. If you notice anything changing, growing, or bleeding on your skin, see a dermatologist. Skin cancer is very treatable when caught early.

For more, visit www.aad.org.

52 FEATS – NUMBER 25 (Playing)

20 Jun

For the original 52 FEATS blog entry, click here.

A friend of mine told me a cute story recently, about playing Kung Fu Panda with her kids.  She wasn’t playing the movie, she was playing, pretending to be characters with her kids and acting out stories.  This is such simple thing, so important for kids to exercise their imaginations, and yet I admit, I do it very seldom.  That type of play just wears me out.  I’m much more the “let’s read a book!” variety when I sit down with my kids.

I often feel so overwhelmed with everything I have to do – entertain/educate the kids, cook, clean, do laundry, blog, work, and occasionally try to do something for myself, like reading a book with no pictures.  I find myself frequently saying no to my kids when they ask me to play with them, telling them I’ll do it later, when I finish the dishes, after I get some work done, once I’ve folded the laundry, etc.  Those are such valuable moments I’m wasting!

This is the week of playing.  It’s the week of getting down on the floor with my kids, acting out whatever they want, playing whatever game they want to play, even if we’ve done it a dozen times already or if the kitchen sink is overflowing with dirty dishes.  I stay at home with my kids for a reason, and it’s not just to keep them breathing.  I want to connect with them, and have fun in the process.

My son will be starting kindergarten in the fall.  If this last summer before school isn’t precious time, then I don’t know what is!  I don’t intend to waste a moment of it.

52 FEATS – NUMBER 24 (Eating Healthy)

19 Jun

For the original 52 FEATS blog entry, click here.

UPDATE – DAY 7 (Sunday):

This past week was one of the worst EVER for me.  No, it wasn’t because eating healthy made me totally miserable – it was because of medication I was taking for a blocked eustachian tube, which was not only painful but causing debilitating dizzy episodes.  The doctor said it was likely due to allergies (which is a new issue for me), and put me on steroids and told me to start taking Claritin-D.

A few days in, I thought I was losing my mind.  I couldn’t sleep; I was weak and so jittery I felt like ripping my hair out, and yet all I wanted to do was lay down and close my eyes.  I stopped the steroids, and for a day I started to feel better, but then I felt worse again.  Then I stopped taking the Claritin-D, too, because I just couldn’t handle feeling so crummy.

That was a couple days ago, and I’m happy to say that I finally feel like a normal person again.  My ear feels better – I guess I got enough meds in me to clear it up somewhat – but I don’t know what I’m going to do about the allergy issue long-term.  The doc wanted me on allergy meds every day but there’s no way I’m doing that.

AND – all of this coincided with my husband being out of town, so, like I said, worst week ever.  Because I felt so horrible, I didn’t do as well as I would have liked with this week’s Feat.  I started out strong but got off track a few times (Thursday night, I ate dinner at a buffet restaurant that shall remain nameless – eek).

Here’s what I was able to do:

  • I ate lots more raw fruits & veggies. When I made myself a sandwich, I sliced up an apple to go with it instead of chips.
  • I cut way back on caffeine and drank a lot more water (thanks, Lisa!).  I also drank milk occasionally.
  • I got out the juicer (dusted it off, as Lori said!) and made a rainbow juice with my kids –  strawberries, oranges, carrots, pineapple, spinach, blueberries, and grapes.  Oddly enough, my picky-eater son liked it more than my eats-anything daughter.  She would rather eat all of the ingredients in their natural state, which of course, is a good thing!
  • I made several smoothies, including an amazing mango & nectarine concoction.  I used plain greek yogurt in my smoothies for a protein boost, and only a little honey occasionally if I wanted any extra sweetness.
  • I took a multi-vitamin every day.
  • We always buy whole grain bread anyway, so that was already done.

Last night I found out that a very good friend of mine was diagnosed with early diabetes.  She’s going to have to eat better and exercise more if she wants to keep that at bay.  My mom has the same thing, and her mother was diabetic.  I could easily slip down that path if I’m not careful.  I’m 37; I can’t eat whatever I want with no consequences.  This week was not just an experiment, it was the beginning of a healthy way of life!

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