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Choose Thankfulness

I was stricken with sadness yesterday when I heard the news that a friend of mine had a son who passed away. It completely caught me off guard and left me at a loss for any type of comforting word or gesture. I followed this friend on Facebook and was utterly impressed and overwhelmed at her thankfulness for the community she had surrounding her. Her faith is strong and her friends are making sure she is being cared for.

My older sister underwent a double mastectomy yesterday to get rid of the cancer she has lurking in her left breast. When I asked her how she was doing prior to the surgery and post-op, she was extremely grateful for the surgeons who can help her heal and guide her on the road to success. She leaned HEAVILY on her faith, friends and family to get her through the tough times.

Tomorrow I get induced and will be delivering our 3rd baby girl into the world. I am extremely grateful for growing a healthy baby, the friends who have stepped up to help and encourage me along the way with meal trains and last minute errands, and family who have pulled together to take care of our other two daughters while we welcome the newest addition to our new family of 5! I am extremely grateful for the love and support I continue to receive.

In each of these scenarios/situations, we have a choice. We can allow our environment and the circumstances around us to dictate our feelings or we can make the choice to be grateful and see the good in every situation. Each situation above is difficult in its own way…but the choices we make are all similar. Losing a child is something unimaginable. I am not saying that we should “move on” and get over our feelings. I am saying that with each scenario that happens in our life, we have the choice to go down the dark black hole of sorrow or we can choose to help ourselves get through it with the help of professional help, friends and family.

Find gratitude and you find true freedom.

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The Days Before Delivering Your Little One

Stuck, Trapped, Inevitable, Worrisome, Excited, Nervous…

It seems that the days before giving birth to a new little addition to the family can cause some pretty intense feelings…and as you can see from my personal list, the feelings aren’t always positive. In fact, I feel like this subject isn’t talked about as much as it should be. I know when I was feeling this way with my first born before giving birth, I felt guilty admitting I felt this way.

What would others think of me?

Does this mean I am not excited to have a family?

Am I alone with these thoughts?

As a first time momma, I wish the “seasoned” mother would have given me the advice I needed…such as:

These feelings are “normal,” Others have felt the same thing, the feelings shall pass and if they don’t, then you can worry…

Having a baby, raging hormones, and the inevitable change to life as you have always known it can be a bit overwhelming. Knowing that there are support systems out there, other mommas ready to help, and just an overall feeling that your thoughts are “normal” can truly make it a much easier, healthier transition to motherhood. I have attached some websites that I feel are beneficial to coping mechanisms when struggling with a bit of “depression.” These are sites that I have sought out, taken advice from and feel confident you too can utilize them for your own benefit.

  1. http://www.ppdil.org/2015/04/postpartum-anxiety-or-normal-new-mom-fears/?gclid=Cj0KCQiA_5_QBRC9ARIsADVww17iq4Q2C-_uYQ4_-LQHgElI37o0D5-lg_-9oysQzaUR2RoEluw9pE8aAgvTEALw_wcB
  2. http://www.marieclaire.com/health-fitness/a4591/pregnant-depressed/
  3. http://www.postpartum.net/learn-more/anxiety-during-pregnancy-postpartum/
  4. https://www.focusonthefamily.com/family-q-and-a/parenting/depression-during-a-pregnancy?gclid=Cj0KCQiA_5_QBRC9ARIsADVww17vkPVypofzEnmB7LsO-9Em36LIuRgCqnrc2sNAQaRDkytA_UI_rt0aAglAEALw_wcB

 

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Fire Safety…It’s a Must!

Have you ever heard of “Safety City?” It is a week long summer camp many cities offer to teach kids road safety and fire safety. The program is detailed, aggressive with content and effective. My 5 year old daughter attended this past summer (it is a program for children entering kindergarten) and to this day still sings the songs and jingles they taught the kids.

Fire safety is one of those topics I can be pretty strict about. Checking your fire alarms consistently, practicing what to do in case of a fire in the house or if you yourself get caught on fire, and staying safe are all MUST conversations when having children in the household. Talking frequently about what to do in emergency situations only helps the child if something like that were ever to occur.

I have attached some pertinent information along with some tips and “talking points” with kids around fire safety. I would love to hear your feedback on the list and what you would add to it. Also check out the following site for additional resources. http://www.firefacts.org/

Fire Prevention

Of course, the best way to practice fire safety is to make sure a fire doesn’t break out in the first place. That means you should always be aware of potential hazards in your home.

Start by keeping these tips in mind:

Electrical Appliances, Cords, and Outlets

  • Are your electrical appliances in good condition, without loose or frayed cords or plugs?
  • Are your outlets overloaded with plugs from the TV, computer, printer, video game system, and stereo?
  • Are you overusing an extension cord?
  • Do the light fixtures in your home use bulbs that are the correct wattage?
  • Does your home contain GFCIs (ground fault circuit interrupters) and/or AFCIs (arc fault circuit interrupters), which prevent electrical shock and fire by shutting off faulty circuits?

Look around your house for potential problems. And unless you’re a trained electrician, be careful about do-it-yourself electrical projects. Studies have shown that many home fires are caused by improper installation of electrical devices.

Other tips:

  • Replace or professionally repair any appliances that spark, smell unusual, or overheat.
  • Don’t run electrical wires under rugs.
  • Make sure lamps and night-lights are not touching bedspreads, drapes, or other fabrics.
  • Use caution when using electric blankets.
  • Don’t let kids use kitchen appliances by themselves and supervise any art or science projects that involve electrical devices.
  • Cover any outlets that are not in use with plastic safety covers if you have toddlers or young children in your home.

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The End Days of Pregnancy

I am nearing the last  two weeks of pregnancy and the desire to have this baby sooner than later gets stronger and stronger with each passing moment. I find myself feeling trapped and at a loss of control when it comes to my own body. Some may call it a depression, I feel it is more of a fear of the unknown. When is this baby coming, will everything go as planned, will the baby be okay, will I be okay? It is a series of questions I feel most pregnant women go through as they near the end. One thing I have learned is that when it comes to pregnancy, anything is “normal.” By this I mean, feelings you have and experience have typically happened to other expectant mommas. Don’t get me wrong, if you are feeling like you could harm yourself and/or your unborn child, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. You should never feel like you are ready to put yourself or others in harms way. I am merely talking about the feelings pregnant women get just before the “big day.”

I know deep down that I will be fine and everything will go smoothly, I just don’t like the unknown…the possibility of doom. If you are feeling this way or have negative feelings about what you are going through, I encourage you to check out these sites where help is just a click away and advice is freely given.

  1. https://www.beststart.org/resources/ppmd/TakeCareMentalHealth_EN_rev.pdf
  2. http://www.parenting.com/article/trimester-by-trimester-guide-to-your-emotions
  3. http://www.postpartumprogress.com/the-difference-between-postpartum-depression-normal-new-mom-stress
  4. https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2012/jan/23/pregnancy-first-trimester-symptoms
  5. https://www.webmd.com/baby/pregnancy-depression

 

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Let’s Talk Dental Health

It was a SHOCK to me when I found out that my first born was late to the game of getting her teeth checked by the dentist. I thought for sure waiting until she was almost 4 years of age was “safe” and what every other parent did. What I didn’t realize is that all of my other mommy friends had been taking their littles to the dentist starting at a very young age…say…18 months. YIKES! This made me think and reevaluate when the right time to take my second born would be. I did some research and found some answers to many of my unanswered questions.  What better way than to compile all of my questions and sought out answers here to help someone else who may have those same questions.

  1. What is the difference between a pediatric dentist and a family dentist?

Pediatric dentists are the pediatricians of dentistry. A pediatric dentist has two to three years specialty training following dental school and limits his/her practice to treating children only. Pediatric dentists are primary and specialty oral care providers for infants and children through adolescence, including those with special health needs.

2.  When should I take my child to the dentist for the first check-up?

In order to prevent dental problems, your child should see a pediatric dentist when the first tooth appears, or no later than his/her first birthday.

3.  Are thumbsucking and pacifier habits harmful for a child’s teeth?

Thumb and pacifier sucking habits will generally only become a problem if they go on for a very long period of time. Most children stop these habits on their own, but if they are still sucking their thumbs or fingers past the age of three, a mouth appliance may be recommended by your pediatric dentist.

4.  Toothpaste: when should we begin using it and how much should we use?

The sooner the better! Starting at birth, clean your child’s gums with a soft infant toothbrush or cloth and water. Parents should use a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste to brush baby teeth twice daily as soon as they erupt and a soft, age-appropriate sized toothbrush. Once children are 3 to 6 years old, then the amount should be increased to a pea-size dollop and perform or assist your child’s toothbrushing. Remember that young children do not have the ability to brush their teeth effectively.  Children should spit out and not swallow excess toothpaste after brushing.

5. How safe are dental X-rays?

There is very little risk in dental X-rays. Pediatric dentists are especially careful to limit the amount of radiation to which children are exposed. Lead aprons and high-speed film are used to ensure safety and minimize the amount of radiation.

 

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Over-Scheduling Your Child

We have all done it. I know that with my youngest, between play dates and extra-curriculars, we were always on the go. I dealt with meltdowns, tantrums, etc. just to fulfill the daily activities I had planned. Don’t get me wrong, I love to stay busy, but when it came to my second daughter, I decided to change the schedule up a bit. We have played more at home, said “no” to more play dates than “yes,” gone to less scheduled activities and enjoyed being each others’ company. The conclusion I have come to is that tantrums are less frequent, meltdowns are non-existent, and the one-on-one time I am getting with my second born is priceless.

I’m not saying that my parenting technique is the best that is out there…I am merely stating what I have witnessed between the two extremely different approaches I have taken with my own two daughters. I encourage you to take a moment and think about your child’s life. If it’s hectic, sit down together and decide where you can cut back. If it’s overly structured, set aside time for blowing off some steam.

Things we enjoy: Riding a bike, taking a walk, playing a game, listening to music, or just doing nothing for a while. I have noticed that it gives my kids some much-needed downtime. And never forget how important it is for kids to simply get together to play. Kids need time to just be kids.

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Sensory for the Sensory Kid

I have written it before and if you have followed along with my family’s story, you know that we have a 3 year old daughter who struggles with a sensory processing disorder. We have spent HOURS figuring out her quirks, what works for her, how to best support her and what to do next to continue her “therapy” at home.

We have discovered that what makes her tick is sensory overload. She LOVES wrestling with her daddy, getting involved in an art project, reading books that have lift the flaps or touch pages, submerging herself into sensory bins, etc. It’s her thing…the thing that makes her tick. My point is that every child is different and their sensory needs may be different than another child’s. It is important to diagnose the issue at hand and best conquer it using the resources at your fingertips.

The amazing thing about sensory is that every kid has a sensory input and output “need” so even if  your child is “normal” (whatever that is…normal is a term that describes no one), they can benefit from sensory play.

Here is a list of things you can try with a child who suffers from SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder):

http://www.learning4kids.net/list-of-sensory-play-ideas/

 

 

 

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Intentional Nutrition with Kids

Family meals should feel more like bonding opportunities than chores or ordeals. But to make mealtime more positive, you have to serve foods that both meet your kids’ nutritional needs and are tasty enough for children to actually eat and enjoy.

Proper nutrition involves more than fruits and vegetables, says Dr. Scott Cohen, a pediatrician, father and author of “Eat, Sleep, Poop: A Common Sense Guide to Your Baby’s First Year.” He says DHA is another critical component. DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid beneficial to brain development and cognition.

“Eighty-five percent of brain growth happens in the first three years of life,” Cohen says. Infants receive vital nutrients through  breastfeeding and fortified formula, but their supply dwindles when children begin eating solid food.

In fact, toddlers only average 25 percent of the recommended daily DHA intake, which is 70 to 100 milligrams. It can be easy to reach the allowance, but DHA-rich foods aren’t popular items on toddler’s plates. Major sources include fish, such as tuna, salmon and trout.

To improve your child’s nutrition, Cohen recommends a five-item nutrition checklist:

1. Find a DHA source that works for your family

Increasing DHA in your child’s diet doesn’t have to be difficult. Cohen recommends trying DHA-friendly options, such as fish, or DHA-fortified foods such as pasta and milk. One size doesn’t fit all. Any way toddlers can get it is good.

2. Say cheese

Toddlers should consume two to three dairy sources each day for strong bones, muscles and teeth. Common child favorites include milk, yogurt and cheese, but fortified orange juice can also do the trick.

3. Concentrate on protein

A lot of kids don’t like typical protein sources. Look at protein alternatives instead of battling over eggs, fish or meat your picky eater won’t try. Soy products and beans are subtle substitutes.

4. Teach healthy habits

While each meal can be a step in the right nutritional direction, look at the big picture. It’s more important to teach healthy eating habits than to concentrate on volume. Proper routines set children up for a lifetime of nutrition success.

5. Mix it up

Introduce a variety of food to children beyond standard favorites. Offer three or four different options in the hope that they will eat one of them.  Don’t give up if children resist at first. It can take 10 to 12 tries before they develop preferences. They might like it next week. The bottom line is not to stress too much. Every healthy child grows, no matter what.

 

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The Importance of Kids Napping

My kids have always been great sleepers…I tend to say it’s because they both have hypotonia (low muscle tone) and that causes them to sleep well. Maybe that is the reason, or maybe it is because I take a “no excuses” approach to nap time and the importance of it. I carve out time in the day where my girls (ages 5.5 years and 3 years) must take a nap to rejuvenate themselves. Sometimes I think maybe I should let up a bit and then I am reminded that them resting for a length of time each day is of utmost importance for their growing and developing bodies and minds. This information, found from http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/naps.html, further proves my thoughts and theories on kids napping. I encourage you to read through the site and familiarize yourself with the importance of sleep in growing young children.

Sleep Needs by Age (Taken directly from kidshealth.org)

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer regarding how much daytime sleep kids need. It all depends on the age, the child, and the sleep total during a 24-hour period. For example, one toddler may sleep 13 hours at night with only some daytime catnapping, while another gets 9 hours at night but takes a solid 2-hour nap each afternoon.

Though sleep needs are highly individual, these age-by-age guidelines give an idea of average daily sleep requirements:

Birth to 6 months: Infants require about 14 to 18 total hours of sleep per day. Younger infants tend to sleep on and off around the clock, waking every 1 to 3 hours to eat. As they approach 4 months of age, sleep rhythms become more established. Most babies sleep 9 to 12 hours at night, usually with an interruption for feeding, and have 2 to 3 daytime naps lasting about 30 minutes to 2 hours each.

6 to 12 months: Babies this age usually sleep about 14 hours total for the day. This usually includes two naps a day, which may last 20 minutes for some babies, for others a few hours. At this age, infants may not need to wake at night to feed, but may begin to experience separation anxiety, which can contribute to sleep disturbances.

Toddlers (1 to 3 years): Toddlers generally require 12 to 14 hours of sleep, including an afternoon nap of 1 to 3 hours. Young toddlers might still be taking two naps, but naps should not occur too close to bedtime, as they may make it harder for toddlers to fall asleep at night.

Preschoolers (3 to 5 years): Preschoolers average about 11 to 12 hours at night, plus an afternoon nap. Most give up this nap by 5 years of age.

School-age (5 to 12 years): School-age kids need about 10 to 11 hours at night. Some 5-year-olds might still need a nap, and if a regular nap isn’t possible, they might need an earlier bedtime.

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The Importance of Reading to Your Kids

So our oldest daughter decided about a year ago that she no longer enjoyed reading. It was the “boring” thing to do, it took away from play time and getting her to  read on her own was, well, an impossible task. I found myself asking why other kids LOVED books and my daughter was turning up her nose at the thought of cracking one open.

Being a former teacher, books are OOBER IMPORTANT to me. For one, I know that statistics prove the more your read to your child and have them read to you, the more they learn. Reading is linked to vocabulary development, cognitive understanding, and overall growth in academics. So why is my oldest daughter displaying distaste toward reading?

I did some soul searching and came to the realization that I was to blame. I was pushing books on Annora and making her feel overwhelmed by them. You see, reading to your child is one of the most effective way to build the “language” neural connections in their growing brains as well as the strong base for their cognitive development. She sensed the “push” and decided to push right back…typical first born right?!?

A study was made in Rhode Island Hospital to compare two groups of eight months old – one group was read to often as babies, while the other was not. It was shown that those who were read to have their “receptive” vocabularies (number of words they understand) increased 40 per cent since babyhood, while the non-reading group increased by only 16 per cent.

So, I took some advice from friends, family, and resources and backed off our oldest daughter. I gave reading a rest and what happened next was beautiful! Her appreciation for literature grew on its own with the consistent read alouds and exposure my husband and I gave her.

Reading to your child does not only benefit his language development. It is only one among other very important benefits:

  • Reading to your kid makes you bond with him, and this gives your child a sense of intimacy and well-being.
  • The intimacy of reading to your kid is such a pleasurable experience to him that he will have a positive attitude towards reading as he grows up.
  • It calms your child, especially when he is fretful and restless.
  • It promotes increased communication between you and your child.
  • Preschool children who are exposed to language by hearing words that are read to him and in conversation tend to do well in school.
  • Many studies show that students who love learning and do well in school were exposed to reading before preschool.
  • Your baby learns early the basics of reading a book, that words represent sounds and concepts, words are read from left to write, and stories continue when you flip the page.
  • It promotes longer attention span, which is an important skill for your kid to be able to concentrate.
  • It builds listening skills and imagination.
  • Your young child learns about colors, shapes, numbers, and letters, while your older child discovers an expanding chain of knowledge.  His interest in cars, for example, will expand to his interest in trucks, and other transportation like planes and rockets, and soon he will be reading about outer space, science and technology, and so forth.
  • A study published in Perspectives on Psychological Science in January 2013 concluded that “reading to a child in an interactive style raises his or her IQ by over 6 points.”
  • Books teach your child thinking skills early. When you read to your child, he learns to understand cause and effect, he learns to exercise logic, as well as think in abstract terms. He learns the consequences of actions, and the basics of what is right and wrong.
  • Books teach your child about relationships, situations, personalities, and what is good and what is bad in the world he lives in.  Fantasy books provide material for his imagination and free play.  Fairy tales fascinate your kid, and help him distinguish between what is real and what is not.
  • When your child reaches a new stage in his growth, or experiences a new and unfamiliar situation, reading to your child about a story relevant to his new experience can relieve his anxiety and help him cope. For example, if your child is stressed about his first day in school, or about moving to a new location, you can read a book to him that shows that these should not be painful experiences.
  • According to a study published in Pediatrics, children who had been exposed to home reading showed significantly greater activation of a brain area that is “all about multisensory integration, integrating sound and then visual stimulation,” according to Dr. John S. Hutton, the lead author and a clinical research fellow at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. Reading to your child build brain networks that will serve him long-term when he transitions from verbal to reading.
  • Your child learns early that reading is fun and not a chore. When your child grows up, you will not be stressed about getting him to read, as reading has become, for him, a pleasurable habit.