Theme Parks: Parents’ Worst Nightmare?

As a mom, I wear multiple hats, each entailing different circumstances in your kids’ lives. Call me a caregiver, friend, nurse, and fan and you would be right. Every decision I make impacts their future so I make them with great thought. As they grow up, new situations demand more of my attention and I must be creative and resourceful. Let me tell you what is currently on my mind.

For example, when my children are outside playing in the front yard, I am super vigilant and mindful of dangers. Cars can come out of absolutely nowhere. I also worry when they are in a pool, our own or that of a neighbor. I am terrified of drowning. All my children know how to swim and they know not to do it alone. Kids are in peril everywhere they go, even in the supposed confines of a fenced-in school. What scares me now that they are older and want to go to a theme park on weekends, is what can happen either on the rides or when they are just walking around. Danger lurks in every corner no matter how good the park’s reputation may be.

Kids like to go in groups, a practice of which I approve. Most times there is an adult tagging along. They don’t go at night unless it is daylight saving’s time during the summer and they must be home before dark. This is an absolute rule. My other demand is that no child be allowed to wander off alone, even if he has to go to the bathroom or get some food. There is an unspoken rule that he or she must be accompanied. If a child doesn’t comply, he is not allowed to go again. This proviso works well in my family and I have encouraged my neighbors to do the same.

A theme park doesn’t have to be a parent’s worst nightmare if you take precautions. There are pickpockets and thugs to be sure, but if you are in a group, an aggressor isn’t likely to approach you. If you are concerned, there are ways to safeguard your family and protect yourself in a busy environment. It only has to happen once for you to be grateful that thought about self defense ahead of time. You can carry mace which is fast-acting and will immobilize anyone if it is sprayed at close range. If would give you time to get away even though it isn’t lethal. There are stun guns, brass knuckles (made of hard plastic), collapsible batons, and LED lights on a key chain. Body alarms are becoming more popular. I have taught my kids to scream and yell if they are grabbed, even when walking by my side.

I will close today’s blog with a reminder to everyone, with or without children, to learn about personal safety and what might happen even near your own home. I don’t want to be a fearmonger but a voice of caution and reason.


Choosing a Car Seat: Perhaps the Most Important Parental Decision You Will Ever Make

car seat belt

Riding in a car is just flat out scary.  Or…it should be.  Car accidents are one of the leading causes of child and infants deaths.  Properly buckling your child in a car seat is not only the law, it just makes good sense.  But what car seat is the best?

The information can be overwhelming.  First, you will want to know the laws about car seats for your particular state.  They are not all the same.  Many require your baby to face the rear of the car up until a certain age or weight.  As your child grows in height and in age, the regulations will change as well so be sure to keep up.

There are a number of places that you can go online to find out the safety ratings of car seats.  You can not only compare safety features and ratings, but cost and other details too.  Consumer report’s website is one such place you can find information.

You can actually get an all-in-one car seat that is designed to be the one and only one your child will ever need.  There are some pretty decent ones out there but I did not find one I felt was good enough in ALL areas, only those that were GOOD ENOUGH in all areas.  To me, there’s a big difference.

Keep in mind that different tests are performed and those tests are performed by different sources so what seat is the number one best of the best is a bit up in the air.  Some brands that offer great seats with great ratings are: Britax, Graco, Saftety 1rst and Recaro.  Costco has a good car seat that is priced right too.  Sunshine Kids is a less heard of one but a nice, safe, affordable one all the same.

My personal favorite is Britax and is the model I chose in the birth to two years of age version.  I picked it for the safety ratings and some other factors I liked.  Some of the disadvantages are that it is larger than ones that fit in the front of a grocery cart or on the upside-down high chair hook ups at restaurants.  But I chose it for safety in the car, not for other conveniences so I just deal with the drawbacks.

Just because one brands gets an “A” for infant rating does not necessarily mean the same is true when it comes to their toddler or booster seat versions.  Choosing a great, safe seat is among the most important things you will do as a parent so please, do your homework.  Check out more than one source for the ratings too because a particular company may be sponsoring the test or even the online page you are reading.

Life, these days, pretty much requires having or being in a vehicle.  That’s just how it is.  Your child will most likely spend a good amount of his or her childhood in the car which means, for the early years, in a car or booster seat.  Choose wisely, like your child’s life depends upon it because…you never know when it might.


Alternative Medical Options For Children and Infants: Are They Right For Your Child?

alt medicine

Alternative treatments are becoming more and more popular as a choice over traditional medicine, even for the care of children and even babies.  If you are considering holistic health practices or other alternatives, it’s good to be aware of the pros and the cons before doing so.  Here are some things that may help you as you weigh the options.

Many people, these days, are seeking alternative solutions to traditional medical resources because of their distrust in mainstream medicine as well as the hospitals and doctors of such.  Why?  Well, statistics show that every year, 250,000 deaths are actually due to errors made in the medical field.  Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States.  The figures are alarming and many mothers are taking steps which they hope to prevent such a thing from happening to their child.

Of the parents who are seeking alternative treatments, many are doing so strictly for more minor things such as tummy aches, teething and so forth.  A good number say that if there was a more serious ailment such as a broken bone, disease or cancer, they would at least consider traditional medical measures.  Still others feel a serious illness is when they certainly would not depend on traditional medicine.  When traditional is used along with alternative it is referred to as complementary medicine.

Herbal remedies, like teas and tonics, have been used for adults and children alike for centuries.  Peppermint is said to soothe an upset tummy.  Chamomile tea is used in a diluted form for sleeplessness, as an immune booster and even for colic in infants.

Essential oils are the hottest thing in the holistic realm.  Lilac and lavender are said to be soothing for young and old alike.  Eucalyptus helps to unstop stuffy noses.  Essential oils can be blotted on to a cotton ball or used with an infuser or diffuser.

Chiropractic care for youngsters is another big deal right now.  Just the thought may make you cringe but it’s not as dramatic as it sounds.  It is usually applied very lightly and of course, painlessly.  One reason chiropractic might be sought is for a dislocation.  Another is to adjust what trauma occurred during childbirth.  Some seek chiropractic care for issues such as ear aches and are firm believers that it works and does so without medicine.

Acupuncture and acupressure for children and babies are becoming more and more popular too.  Generally, acupressure is the choice over acupuncture because it uses pressure points rather than needles which, as you can imagine, may frighten young children.  Acupuncture and acupressure are used to treat food and environmental allergies, immune deficiencies and other issues too.  Sometimes kinesiology is used along with these methods in which case, a parent is often used as a surrogate for testing while holding the child.

Motherhood is full of difficult choices and whether to go the alternative, traditional or complementary route is indeed one of the toughest decisions you will need to make.  But if you fill your head with all the credible information you can and weigh it all out, you will no doubt be see your individual situation clearly and make wise choices accordingly.


Comforting Your Colicky Baby

I’st six o’clock in the evening and, like clockwork, your baby is screaming.  Her legs are pulled tightly to her chest and her cries are non-stop and very, very loud.  You know she is in pain.  You can hear it in her wailing and see it on her face.  It’s not a wet diaper and she’s certainly not hungry for she just nursed.  All of the blogs and infant care sites you are reading and even the pediatrician are saying it is that it is most likely a bad case of the colic.  You brace yourself for another hour or two of endless crying for both yourself and your poor little infant.

What is colic anyway and most importantly, what can be done to cure it?  Those are age old questions that date back as far as babies do.

The word colic is derived from the Greek word kolikos which is where the word kolonor colon stems from.  Colic is indeed an issue of the intestines.  It can range from simple indigestion to excruciating gastrointestinal pain.

Colic is often referred to as “Purple crying”.  Although it does seem a bit ironic, it is not called such because the baby cries so hard she turns purple.  It is actually an acronym that describes the symptoms, peak (age 2 weeks to 2 months as a rule), unexpected (going from content to screaming), resist (nothing can be done to soothe the baby), pain (the baby is in obvious severe discomfort, long (the bouts of crying seem to last forever) and evening (most colic takes place between six and eight o’clock in the evening).

Colic is often diagnosed from its lack of symptoms rather than the symptoms themselves.  If the baby is not hungry, not wet or soiled and has no apparent medical conditions, it is usually assumed that she has colic.

What causes colic?  Although sometimes a food or milk allergy can aggravate or even trigger it, colic is, unfortunately, just a natural malady that happens when little tiny tummies are adjusting.  It is thought that heredity may play a role too.  If you were a colicky baby, statistics show that you are more likely to have a colicky baby yourself.

Every mother of a baby with colic wants to know the same thing.  “What can be done to cure it?”  Generally speaking, there is no known medical cure.  There are some alternative measures some mothers swear by and some other remedies too that may help.

Gripe water has been used by mothers for years to combat colic, sometimes successfully and sometimes not.  Gripe water is a liquid that can be a combination of various ingredients.  Sodium bicarbonate is usually the main active ingredient and it may also contain ginger, dill, chamomile and dill.  Alcohol was a prime ingredient in the days of old but isn’t usually found in modern day forms.  Gripe water was invented in 1951 as a hopeful remedy not only for colic and teething for malaria as well.  Some gripe waters are not FDA approved and some contain such things as alcohol, sugar, glutens and other ingredients that you will want to avoid so if you decide to try it, please do your homework.

Herbal remedies and essential oils are the choice of some mothers’ for colicky infants.  Ginger, peppermint, dill, lemon oil and chamomile are among the most popular.  Fennel, caraway and aloe are often used as well.  Again, you will want to thoroughly research anything you give your baby and it’s a good idea to check with your pediatrician before- hand.

Paregoric was given to colicky babies throughout the ages too.  It is an opiate and although it was diluted, is certainly not a passive cure.  Even in the 1980’s, many doctors prescribed it but that is no longer a common practice.

If your baby has colic, you know how disheartening it can be.  You feel so helpless.  It is only natural to want to try everything you can in order to stop the pain.  In the long-run though, sometimes all you can do is to hold and comfort your little one and to know that, as my own mother used to assure me, “this too shall pass.”


Home Birthing: An Absolutely Awesome or Awful Experience?

The first I heard about the new wave of home birthing was from a friend of mine who opted to have her first baby at home.  All went so well that she had her next three babies at home as well.  In fact, all the joyous details can be read in her best- selling Christian book.

I too wanted to deliver my children in the warmth of my own home.  I began checking into it but somewhere along the way, I became so confident and comfortable with my obstetrician, when he discouraged home birthing, I decided to follow his advice and had my son in the hospital instead.  Good thing as after thirty-five hours of intense labor, I had an emergency Cesarean section.

Some years later, my niece became pregnant and set plans in motion for a home birth.  She was an athletic, extremely healthy, very head-strong girl so I had no doubt she would, as my friend had done, have a picture-perfect deliver in the comfort of her lovely home.  She saw the mid-wife throughout her pregnancy and they shared the save fondness for alternative solutions such as herbal remedies, acupuncture and chiropractic treatment.

During the last few weeks of my niece’s pregnancy, the mid-wife’s father was diagnosed with cancer.  She flew to be by his side, leaving my niece in the care of her associate.  Looking back, there were some red flags but excitement was in the air and they were easily overlooked.

Long story short, the home birthing experience was an absolute nightmare and a near fatal disaster for both mother and child.  Once she did finally go to the hospital, against the wishes of the attending mid-wife as well as the one who was away, the emergency staff could not believe the condition she was in.  Her blood pressure was over the roof, her urine protein levels confirmed she had had advanced preeclampsia (along with many other symptoms which should not have been missed).  Her water had broken four days prior which, of course, was extremely dangerous for the baby to still be in the womb.

Thankfully, the baby was born and although she had some issues that were cared for, it was a miracle she was even alive.  My niece had some issues as well but was stabilized too.  There were many errors that went on during end pregnancy as well as in labor.  With a new baby to care for, my niece filed minor complaints but did not take matters to the limit as she easily could have.  She just wanted to forget the ugly parts and get on with the beautiful life of motherhood.  Fortunately, she had that option.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am not against home birthing at all.  I think it would be an amazing event to deliver in the comfort of your own home.  I was so in love with the idea, I almost opted to do it myself.

If you, or someone you know, are considering home birthing, I sincerely hope that it is an incredible experience that adds a glorious milestone in your life just like the four times my friend delivered in her home.  Please, please, please do your research though and in your reading, include not only success stories but those that give accounts of when it has gone array.  The story of your birthing experience should be one that is written as a wonderful chapter in the book of your life, not one written to the medical board of complaints.


Baby Proofing 101

You get panicky with the first baby and scurry around trying to baby proof everything you can think of. Right? It’s actually a wise idea and really a necessity, but you don’t have to go crazy day one. You can start slowly at birth and by the time the frisky tot is crawling about and getting into trouble, you are more than ready. Checklists are readily available on line, but in a nutshell, you must take care of:

  • electrical outlets, especially near the floor
  • cabinets and cupboards
  • areas such as under the sink in the kitchen and bathroom containing dangerous chemicals as in cleaning products (a tip, go green now and stop worrying)
  • wires and cables from lamps, TVs, computers, etc.
  • anything chewable or small enough to put in a tiny mouth
  • the fireplace (it absolutely must have a protective screen)
  • the swimming pool and/or Jacuzzi (the law mandates a safety fence). Even a portable pool can be deadly
  • the garage: it is an accident waiting to happen
  • the yard: look for tools lying around, sharp objects like parts of fences, weed killer, etc.

Toddlers are adventurous and will explore their environment, and well beyond it, at a very young age. Put yourself in their shoes (or should I say bare feet). They love household items that wouldn’t attract an older child. You need to put the entire family on alert, especially the first time when everyone is unfamiliar with the whole child raising enterprise. You can even get the dog into the act. I know that the smarter ones can be trained to watch out for peril when it comes to babies. You don’t have to go that far, however, but it is a big plus.

So, go out and buy those electrical outlet covers, door latches and safety catches, put away the cleaning supplies, and get real about the power of tiny feet. They can propel a lightweight around the house in no time flat. You can’t be too safe. Better to overdo it when in doubt. Get down on the ground at their eye level. What do you see? Can anything fall on a wee head like a stack of books or a tottering ashtray? Is the vacuum cleaner easy to engage? It is all potential for mayhem. Use safety gates to prohibit entry into rooms you can’t de-clutter. Recycle the ones for the dog if you like. Forget about the nice winter blaze from a wood stove. If you are a real worrywart, get a carbon monoxide detector and a couple of smoke alarms. Actually, you should have them already, new baby or not. Never, but never, leave prescription drugs around on a low table, even in a purse. Kids love to explore and colorful little pills are real eye catchers.

Now you have the basic recipe for practical baby proofing. If you think you have passed baby proofing 101, you can relax and enjoy the new family member in the refurbished context of a safe home.


Third Time’s a Charm: The Hectic and Wonderful Life of a Mother of Three

Mother of 3 kids

I remember, oh so well, when my first child was born.  I had every baby gismo and gadget that had ever been made.  Everything was sterilized.  I even ironed his baby clothes and never took him out that he wasn’t dressed to the nines.

I was a cardholding member to every mommy club and blog site there was.  I attended La Leche League meetings, a gathering for nursing mothers.  I read countless books on motherhood and kept up with every new finding in the area of babies’ health and wellness in both traditional and alternative areas.  I also knew every recall and warning on every baby product and had my own list of products I thought they should check into.

I live in a rural town so to have portraits made professionally is a three hour trip and that is one way, providing there is no snow and you can usually count on snow for eight of the twelve months.  Still, my husband and I religiously took our firstborn to have his pictures made every three months.

Boy, how things change.  I gave birth to my second son three years later.  By then, I had discarded of half of the baby things I had.  I had learned what ones I liked and what ones just took up space.  The swing was a must.  The stroller had to go and a double Bob stroller was now in order.  As for the rest of the gadgets and gismos, if they babysat for me, fine…they stayed.  Anything that required too much of my time or too many batteries, went to the nearest Goodwill station.

We still kept up with portraits, somewhat.  Every three months turned in to every six but my husband and I prided ourselves on taking them at all.  Each time we embarked on the journey, inevitably one, if not both, boys would get car sick and throw up.  Good thing the portrait studio was inside a department store because we were forever buying new picture clothes for them once we finally got there.

Life was busy.  I remember how challenging it was to catch a quick shower while both boys were napping at the same time or when my husband was home and could keep an eye on them.  I once got one leg shaved only to hear my young son howling.  Of course I had to cut my shower short to see what the matter was.  It was a week later before I found time to shave my other leg.

I have recently had my third child…a girl!  Everything is pink and rosy.  Well, maybe not rosy…but everything is pink.  I have not yet had time to sterilize everything.  She will probably be in college by the time I get time to do that.

My daughter is six weeks old and we haven’t made it to get portraits yet.  We tried once but our middle son woke up sick that morning.  We opted to take our own the following week-end.  I am sure we will make it to town to get professional ones made.  I hope my daughter is not grown and married by the time we do.

Just the other day I laid her on the bed in the room I was cleaning.  I was thinking, “Thank goodness she can’t roll over yet.”  I had to laugh, remembering how ecstatic I was when my firstborn rolled over.  I was excited, yet not ecstatic when my second born did so and now, I was almost dreading the day my third born would.

My daughter has a ton of adorable little outfits.  I have yet to iron any of them though.  As for shaving both legs at the same time, I figure I will get the waxed when I have time.  I do good just to get a shower these days.

The boys are very excited to have a little sister and though life with three children is a challenge, to say the least, I would not give for a minute of it.Each pregnancy was different as is my motherhood experience with each child but one thing will always be the same and that is the way in which I love them with all of my heart…legs shaved or not.