What does a fertile faith look like in the midst of infertility??? Part 1

I don’t touch on “religious” topics too often. It’s not that I’m ashamed of my faith or trying to shy away from it. On the contrary, my faith centers my life. It gives me hope. It keeps me sane. Call me weak…and I’d probably agree with you. Without my faith, I never would have found the strength to endure the road to becoming a physician, infertility, pregnancy loss, severe preeclampsia, having a premature baby, and dealing with the rest of life’s trials along the way.Woman hiker on a top of a mountain

Don’t get me wrong, many people have suffered greater losses, heartaches, and pains than I can dare imagine. Living in the United States makes most of my problems “First World” inconveniences. But, here and there my heartaches have been and still are significant. I’m often asked how I’ve found the strength to make it through 9 complicated IVF cycles with only one baby to show for it. How do I keep going?  Were does my strength come from? How do I find the endurance? What’s the key to making it through?  As I’ve opened up about my infertility journey these questions have continued to ping my inbox. What’s the secret?Closeup On Hands Of Stressed Young Woman

I’ve decided that it isn’t a secret at all. And, while some won’t like my answer, it is still my answer. Feel free to disagree. That’s the beauty of living in a country with freedom of speech and religion. If you don’t have a faith base and find this annoying, that’s fine too. I’m not offended by you, and it’s not my intention to offend you. I’m simply sharing from my own world in life view what I’ve found to be most helpful. Here goes…

Stay tuned for Part 2

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One Easy Way to Prevent Childhood Obesity in your Family

child drink the fruit juice

With childhood obesity numbers soaring off the charts, many parents are more in tune with what their children are eating and drinking. French fries are being replaced with sweet potato fries and fruit cups, chicken tenders are getting the boot from their healthier grilled self, and sodas are being upgraded to real fruit juice. But, is this upgrade to juice really an upgrade at all?

Even though juice comes from fruit, it is still loaded with sugar and extra calories. Unfortunately, many parents think that this is a healthy option for their kids because of all of the vitamins and minerals juices offer. What they don’t take into consideration is that a single serving of fruit juice has far more calories from sugar than eating a piece of fruit (more than double, actually). And, while chewing an apple actually burns calories, swallowing a calorie-laden beverage like juice doesn’t give your mouth a workout.

Juice is absorbed quickly, and because it is full of liquid sugars, it creates a spike in insulin levels. If consumed in larger amounts regularly, it has the potential to cause childhood obesity and diabetes. Additionally, it lacks the filling fiber that a piece of fruit offers. So even after having consumed 180 calories of juice, your child will probably be hungry again fairly quickly.

Although the American Academy of Pediatrics currently allows for a limited amount of juice (4-6 ounces per day for infants >6 months and 6 ounces twice daily for children) in a child’s daily diet, the recommendation to cut it out altogether may be on the horizon. So while skipping the daily candy bar and soda is a must, limiting the amount of juice your child drinks may be equally important in ensuring their health and preventing childhood obesity.

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Print them…frame them…give your memorable moments a place!!

We’ve all done it…had precious pictures taken and then left them captive on a flash drive or CD. Almost three years after my daughter’s newborn session (better late than never), and I’m finally willing myself to pick frames, prints, and yes, a full-blown wall gallery!!!!!!DSC_2709

Check out this milk coma. THE BEST! And, her wardrobe…styling was a little easier back then when naked was all the rage…for her of course!!! DSC_2655
The cheese cloth swaddles come in every color. This purple is perfection…plus it’s now her favorite color. Using our kitchen hutch for some of the shots, our living room, and our master bedroom ensured that these photos would fit in with our overall decor and design sense. I highly recommend doing newborn sessions in your home instead of the studio! DSC_2631

 

DSC_2637DSC_2676DSC_2682This is just a friendly reminder to print them…enjoy them…remember those moments every day! DSC_2688 DSC_2698DSC_2727DSC_2737

 

Photography by Amy at Portraiture Studio

 

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Deflate your Child’s Water Wings: Water Safety Update!

He rushed back into the bathroom only to see my tiny body face down in the tub. In the moment that he had stepped out of the bathroom, I had climbed back in. My little white nightgown acted as a stopper, trapping the remaining water and holding my small frame hostage. A moment of time…an inch of water…had my father arrived one minute later I may not be sharing these safety tips with you today.

Water safety is always an important topic. During the summer months when temperatures soar, baby pools become permanent yard fixtures, and playdates are centered at the neighborhood pool; it’s imperative that we refresh our memories so that are kids safely stay afloat.

1. What Flotation Devices To Trust:

I wore them. You probably wore them, and we are both here today, but don’t trust your child’s water wings to keep them from drowning. Not only can they easily deflate, they can easily slip off. They don’t keep your little one’s head above water, and they are not Coast Guard approved as a true safety flotation device. While no flotation device (inflatable toys, noodles, etc) should replace proper adult supervision in or around the water, making sure that your child has a Coast Guard approved flotation device is of paramount importance.

2. Backyard Water No No’s :

Although it may sound impossible, young children can drown in as little as an inch of water. Tragically, it happens. So while leaving a baby pool in the back yard may sound like a great idea…DON’T DO IT! When you are done with it, put it away immediately. Even if you dump it out and leave it in the yard, summer rain storms are sure to add an inch here or there. While your little one may not wander into it, a neighboring child may. The only way to ensure that your baby pool won’t lead to an unintentional injury is to supervise appropriately when you are using it, dump all of the water out when you are done with it, and safely store it on its side or flipped upside down in your garage or another place where only an adult can get it down.

In addition to baby pools, standing buckets of water and splash tables that hold water can also be dangerous. dump these out as well and store them properly.

If you have a backyard pool or are visiting someone who does, make sure that you are always supervising. Kids are fast! One minute they are at your side and the next they are in the water. It only takes a moment for a child to drown. It’s okay for you to be paranoid when your kids are around water. That’s your job! It’s also a good idea to make sure that you take a CPR class. Heaven forbid that you will ever need to use it, but in the event that something happens, knowing CPR could make the difference in your child’s life. Every moment counts.

3. Teach them to Swim:

The American Academy of Pediatrics is now recommending that young children be introduced to swimming at a young age. Starting as early as the toddler years is a great idea! Research now shows that formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning in children ages 1-4 years old. Even if your child knows how to swim, you should always supervise! Also, advise your kids to stay away from pool drains. These have been known to have a suction power that can pull children down preventing them from being able to get back to the surface.

For more detailed information check out the CDC’s recommendations as well as those from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Have fun in the water this summer…but don’t forget to stay safe. Sun protection is also important! Check out this blog post: Sunscreen safety tips for Kids

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4 MUST KNOW Safety Tips for Choosing and Applying Your Child’s Sunscreen

Sunscreen is a MUST for our kids! And, although most of us use it on them routinely, is the type that we are using really safe for kids? I recently had to make a sunscreen switch for my own daughter after reviewing the American Academy of Pediatrics and the FDA’s updated guidelines and recommendations. Since I was in the dark on this topic, I thought I would share 4 important points that every mom should know.

1. Ditch the Oxybenzone

When a friend asked me my opinion about oxybenzone in children’s sunscreen, I gave her a blank stare. I hadn’t really heard all that much about it, and I assumed that the concerns were simply social media hype. Trying not to be too skeptical, I told her that I would look into it. To my surprise, there does seem to be some legitimate concern regarding oxybenzone, although some organizations such as the American Academy of Dermatology do still think that it is safe to use in children. (The CDC and the Environmental Working Group). This product which is found in many infant and children sunscreens can act like a hormone, potentially influencing our developing children’s endocrine systems. Although long-term studies have not yet been done to determine the extent of the harm, the American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending that parents avoid this ingredient when purchasing sunscreen. In a society where precocious puberty (puberty at a young age) is becoming a more common issue, I decided it was probably a good idea to not take a chance. I’ve opted for a oxybenzone free sunscreen. On a side note, if you are going to be out in the sun and your only option for sunscreen contains oxybenzone, go ahead and use it. Infrequent use is probably not going to have an effect on your child’s hormone levels, but we do know that sunburns in childhood definitely predispose them to skin cancer later in life.

2.  Aerosolized Children’s Sunscreen May be a “No, No”

Many of the large sunscreen companies have made our lives as moms much easier! They have created an aerosolized sunscreen revolution. It’s fast, it’s much less messy, and it goes on more easily. Bad news is…we aren’t exactly sure what it might be doing in our children’s lungs. The whole point of an aerosolized sunscreen is that it sprays through the air onto the skin. Our children are inevitably breathing in some of this spray. Because the aerosolized sunscreens contain nano particles (incredibly tiny particles), when breathed in they are able to travel much further into the lungs. There is concern in the medical community that these nano particles might cause local irritation in the lung tissue or result in increased absorption with unknown longterm effects. If you have to use an aerosolized spray, first spray it onto your hand (away from your child) and then apply it to your child’s skin directly.Hand heart

3. Broad Coverage Update

The FDA has changed its regulations on how companies are allowed to promote their sunscreens. They can only advertise “Broad Coverage” if they provide both UVA (ultraviolet ray A) and UVB (ultraviolet ray B) protection. You want to make sure that you are choosing a sunscreen that has both of these. This is the only way to prevent not only sunburns, but also longterm risk for skin cancers. In addition to broad coverage, make sure that you look for an SPF of at least 15 to 30 (50 would be great if you have the option). Anything higher than 50 doesn’t really have any additional protection as far as we can tell. So, if it says SPF 70 but no broad coverage, don’t buy it!

4. Put it on Before You Hit the Beach and then Keep Reapplying!!

Sunscreen needs a little time (15-30 minutes) to absorb in order to be effective. Don’t wait until you are already in the sun to put it on your kids. Apply it before you leave the house so that they will be protected from the harmful UV rays the entire time they are in the sun. Remember to keep reapplying it as well. Once and done is not going to work. Most sunscreens need to be Little girl with bottle of sun cream sitting at tropical beachreapplied after two hours. However, if your child is swimming or sweating, you should reapply it sooner.

Check out the AAP Sun Safety Guideline Information Sheet for Parents for more information on sun protection. Remember…protecting your child’s skin from burns today will protect him/her from skin cancer later in life. It really is that important!

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How to make sure that your child’s sunscreen is helping and not hurting!

Sunscreen is a MUST for our kids! And, although most of us use it on them routinely, is the type that we are using really safe for kids? I recently had to make a sunscreen switch for my own daughter after reviewing the American Academy of Pediatrics and the FDA’s updated guidelines and recommendations. Since I was in the dark on this topic, I thought I would share 4 important points that every mom should know.

1. Ditch the Oxybenzone

When a friend asked me my opinion about oxybenzone in children’s sunscreen, I gave her a blank stare. I hadn’t really heard all that much about it, and I assumed that the concerns were simply social media hype. Trying not to be too skeptical, I told her that I would look into it. To my surprise, there does seem to be some legitimate concern regarding oxybenzone, although some organizations such as the American Academy of Dermatology do still think that it is safe to use in children. (The CDC and the Environmental Working Group). This product which is found in many infant and children sunscreens can act like a hormone, potentially influencing our developing children’s endocrine systems. Although long-term studies have not yet been done to determine the extent of the harm, the American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending that parents avoid this ingredient when purchasing sunscreen. In a society where precocious puberty (puberty at a young age) is becoming a more common issue, I decided it was probably a good idea to not take a chance. I’ve opted for a oxybenzone free sunscreen. On a side note, if you are going to be out in the sun and your only option for sunscreen contains oxybenzone, go ahead and use it. Infrequent use is probably not going to have an effect on your child’s hormone levels, but we do know that sunburns in childhood definitely predispose them to skin cancer later in life.

2.  Aerosolized Children’s Sunscreen May be a “No, No”

Many of the large sunscreen companies have made our lives as moms much easier! They have created an aerosolized sunscreen revolution. It’s fast, it’s much less messy, and it goes on more easily. Bad news is…we aren’t exactly sure what it might be doing in our children’s lungs. The whole point of an aerosolized sunscreen is that it sprays through the air onto the skin. Our children are inevitably breathing in some of this spray. Because the aerosolized sunscreens contain nano particles (incredibly tiny particles), when breathed in they are able to travel much further into the lungs. There is concern in the medical community that these nano particles might cause local irritation in the lung tissue or result in increased absorption with unknown longterm effects. If you have to use an aerosolized spray, first spray it onto your hand (away from your child) and then apply it to your child’s skin directly.Hand heart

3. Broad Coverage Update

The FDA has changed its regulations on how companies are allowed to promote their sunscreens. They can only advertise “Broad Coverage” if they provide both UVA (ultraviolet ray A) and UVB (ultraviolet ray B) protection. You want to make sure that you are choosing a sunscreen that has both of these. This is the only way to prevent not only sunburns, but also longterm risk for skin cancers. In addition to broad coverage, make sure that you look for an SPF of at least 15 to 30 (50 would be great if you have the option). Anything higher than 50 doesn’t really have any additional protection as far as we can tell. So, if it says SPF 70 but no broad coverage, don’t buy it!

4. Put it on Before You Hit the Beach and then Keep Reapplying!!

Sunscreen needs a little time (15-30 minutes) to absorb in order to be effective. Don’t wait until you are already in the sun to put it on your kids. Apply it before you leave the house so that they will be protected from the harmful UV rays the entire time they are in the sun. Remember to keep reapplying it as well. Once and done is not going to work. Most sunscreens need to be Little girl with bottle of sun cream sitting at tropical beachreapplied after two hours. However, if your child is swimming or sweating, you should reapply it sooner.

Check out the AAP Sun Safety Guideline Information Sheet for Parents for more information on sun protection. Remember…protecting your child’s skin from burns today will protect him/her from skin cancer later in life. It really is that important!

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Poison Prevention… 9 life saving safety tips for your innocent child

It only takes a moment…a fraction of a moment…a turned back…an unlocked cabinet…a detergent pod left on the counter…a bottle of nail polish remover sitting next to the sink…or a Tylenol bottle left open in the bottom of a purse…only a moment for the unthinkable to happen. Every day, according to the CDC over 300 children are treated in emergency rooms across the United States due to poisonings. Every day 2 of these children die. And, while you might say that this could never happen in your home…9 out of 10 poisonings do occur at home.

Just last week I realized that my daughter wasn’t her usual noisy self. I had left her coloring at the kitchen table while I started on dinner, but in the two seconds that my back was turned she had snuck into the pantry. I found her crouched on the floor with something in her mouth! I began to panic. What had she found? Thankfully, it was only a girl scout cookie, but she had somehow managed to sneak it from a shelf far beyond her reach. On that same shelf (that I assumed to be baby proof distance) I had my vitamins, over the counter pain killers, and cold medications neatly stacked…all with child proof lids, but still! Heartworm pills for the dog in non-baby proofed punch out aluminum covered tabs were only one shelf higher. Could she possibly reach them too? Wake up call for this mama!Child patient receiving artificial ventilation

Baby proofing a house is hard work. While latches on cupboards are incredibly important here are a few additional tips to make sure that your little one doesn’t get his or her hands and mouth on something harmful. Medications, cleaning supplies, and even makeup can be toxic to your toddler or infant.

TIPS TO PREVENT POISONING:

1. KNOW WHAT CAN HARM

While some items stand out as obviously harmful, some aren’t quite as glaring. Everyone knows to keep medications and cleaning supplies away from children, but laundry pods? Yes, these small packets used in the dishwasher and now even the washing machine have introduced a new vehicle for poisoning. They are small enough for a little hand to hold, and they look delicious. Makeup can be equally alarming. Eye makeup remover and many other beauty products can also be harmful if ingested. Even certain plants can be poisonous. Art supplies often contain harmful chemicals if ingested. Keep all of these out of reach and locked away.

2. LOCK THEM AWAY

This is referring to harmful substance…NOT YOUR CHILDREN! Make sure that all cleaning supplies, medications, and anything potentially toxic is out of reach, out of sight, and locked away from your children. Kids are little Houdini’s. Putting something harmful one shelf level above their reach is not going to cut it! They grow! You forget! And, then one day soon they can reach it or climb to it. Use safety features to lock low kitchen and bathroom cupboards that house cleaning supplies. Make sure that your laundry detergent is on a high shelf that is impossible for your toddler to access. Also be sure to keep all medications, cleaning supplies, and any other potentially poisonous chemicals in their original containers or bottles. This prevents confusion and mistaken ingestion.

3. CALL IT WHAT IT IS!

Don’t call your medication “CANDY.” It is not candy! Medicine is medicine. It is made to heal, but it can be deadly if taken by the wrong person or in incorrect doses. Calling poison candy is a recipe for disaster and injury!Child Takes Pack Of Pills. Dangerous Situation.

4. EDUCATE Grandparents and babysitters (pill boxes are not baby proof!)

Most likely you are not the only person watching your child 24/7. If your child is going to another home, make sure that the same principles for safety are established in that home as well. If your baby sitter is coming to your home, let her know where you keep potentially harmful substances and make sure that she uses the baby proofing latches appropriately. Grandparents are often on several medications. Make sure that these medicines are not loosely stored in plastic bags, on the counter top, or even pill boxes in their purse. Toddlers love playing with things that open and close. Pill boxes are a perfect little toy. Also, make sure that anyone watching your child has the number for poison control programmed into their phone or in a very visible place.

5. Have the POISON CONTROL (1-800-222-1222) number programmed in your phone and in a visible place

Yes, I am repeating myself! Make sure that you, anyone watching your child, and grandparents all have the number for Poison Control programmed into your phones. Leave the number in a visible place where you (or anyone in your home) can always find it (such as the refrigerator door) or on the door to the garage.

WHAT TO DO IF THE UNTHINKABLE (Poisoning) HAPPENS:

1. Don’t take time to freak out…instead grab your phone!

CALL 911 first if the child is not responding, has collapsed, or is not breathing. You want to make sure that help is on the way as quickly as possible. If the child is awake and responding first CALL POISON CONTROL (1-800-222-1222). Do not call your pediatrician or family physician first. They will simply connect you with poison control or they will have you hang up and call 911. Poison control is trained to tell you exactly what to do depending on what your child has ingested.

2. Have This Information Ready if Possible

    • the child’s age and weight
    • the container or bottle of the poison if it is available
    • the approximate time when the poisoning occurred (your best guess is fine)
    • the address where the poisoning occurred

3. Don’t Hang Up

While you may be tempted to hang up the phone if you are panicking or if your child isn’t doing well…DON’T HANG UP! Listen to the instructions from either the Emergency Room or Poison Control. Their advice is incredibly important and lifesaving. Do what they tell you to do! Every minute counts.

4. Do Not Use Syrup of Ipecac

While many grandparents would tell you that this is the “cure-all” for poisoning, this is not the case. In the past, syrup of ipecac was recommended after a harmful ingestion. This medication causes vomiting. While this may bring the poison out, it may also be harmful in the process. Vomiting up a toxic chemical may lead to severe chemical burns in the throat. It can also lead to choking on the toxic chemical, allowing some of the chemical to move into the lungs and smaller airways.Little girl giving kiss to her mom while working from home

While no parent, grandparent, or caregiver ever wants to think that a child could be poisoned on their watch…it unfortunately does happen. Children are naturally curious, and little ones love to put things in their mouths. Take the steps above to help protect your child. For more information on safety and poison prevention click on the highlighted links above.

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10 Easy Ways to Fit Exercise into Your Busy Life

Finding time for daily exercise is easier said than done. As women, our days are not just full, they are jam-packed and overflowing with things to accomplish. Often times, exercise falls to the bottom of our To Do List and then eventually off of the list all together. Our jobs, our kids, volunteering, our social lives all demand more than 100% of our attention and energy. Do we have the sweat equity it takes to fit in not just 30 minutes 3 days a week, but now more than 30 minutes five times a week??? (Yep, the recommendations have changed…making it even harder to live up to our body’s healthy lifestyle needs). If the answer is, “NO,” then what consequences might we face? And, what benefits might we be missing? Is it worth making some changes to ensure that exercise always gets a check on our To Do List? Woman Stretching

BENEFITS TO EXERCISE: 

Exercise has been scientifically proven to reduce stress and tension, thanks to the amazing little endorphins that our bodies release with exercise. Running, Pilates, yoga…all amazing ways to let off steam after a stressful day at work, an equally stressful day at home dealing with a challenging toddler, or a day filled with the stress and uncertainty of infertility. Exercise also helps control our weight, decreasing our risk for an ever-expanding waist line…aka muffin top. So, if you want to stay in your skinny jeans, routine exercise is the easiest way to prevent the bulge. If those aren’t reason enough, exercise is a tried and true way to improve heart health. The number one killer of women in the United States is heart disease according to the National Institute of Health. While a lot of that is due to genetics, a lot of it is also due to lifestyle. Poor diet and a lack of exercise are a perfect set up for an unhealthy heart. Routine exercise is what the doctor ordered! Speaking of that…Beautiful Woman Doing Breath Exercises With An Autumn Background

NEW EXERCISE RECOMMENDATIONS: 

The recommendations have changed. For years we heard 30 minutes 3 days a week. Now we know that at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate cardio (for example brisk walking) per week, plus full body strength training with weights, Pilates, TRX etc. at least 2 days a week are needed to stay healthy. If you are an intense exerciser (for example a runner) then you may be able to get away with only 75 minutes a week of intense cardio along with 2 days of strength training. If intervals are more your thing, mixing moderate and intense cardio along with strength training, you can get away with 2 days a week. Check out the updated CDC guidelines for more details.

The good news is that instead of needing a 30 minute stretch to make cardio count, the CDC is now pushing for a good 10 minute workout. It’s okay to break things up into small time chunks during the day as long as you are making them count with moderate to intense activity. Run the stairs. Take a brisk walk around your office or through the mall. Dance in the kitchen with your little one. It all adds up!

10 WAYS TO MAKE EXERCISE FIT INTO OUR BUSY LIVES: 

1. Make it #1 on your to do list

If you don’t put it at the top…it isn’t going to happen. Making exercise one of your top daily priorities automatically increases the likelihood that you are going to fit it into your day. When you create your “TO DO LIST” always give exercise first place.

2. Book it and keep the date-make it about you

Make a date with yourself and the gym! If you don’t value exercise, you won’t exercise. Think of exercise as a well deserved reward for your overworked mind and body instead of seeing it as an annoyance. Think of it as YOU TIME! It is a time when you can clear your mind, listen to music, meet other people, glisten with sweat and be proud of it, feel healthier, wear tight clothes and get away with it, and even get away from the kids! Mark your weekly schedule with your exercise time. It is an appointment. You don’t get to cancel. You don’t get to move it. You work around it just like you would other important events on the calendar.Woman Boxing At The Gym

3. Let yourself have a preference.

It’s okay to dislike some forms of exercise. I am the first to admit that I hate running! I don’t just dislike it. I actually hate it. I’ve tried to change my opinion…but, I still hate running. Do I hate exercise? Absolutely not. A brisk walk, Zumba, circuits, Pilates, and TRX are all my thing. It’s okay to have a preference. If I set a running date each week, it’s the first thing I’m gonna cancel. If I book a Pilates class, I’m much more likely not just to keep the appointment, I’m going to look forward to it. Try new things out and see what you enjoy. Liking what you are doing is half the battle.

4. Make it count

With our busy lives, we don’t have time to waste. We need our workouts to be efficient. One of the best ways to get our bang for our buck is to find full body workouts. Interval training is a great way to incorporate both cardio and strength training. Running is a great way to get intense cardio, decreasing the amount of time that we need to exercise each week. Pilates is a full body strength training option that efficiently tones muscles even when done in short segments. Give your full attention to whatever exercise you choose. 10 intense Pilates style push ups done slowly and correctly are always going to be more effective and efficient than 100 sloppy ones.Young woman practicing yoga in a urban background

5. Be competitive

It’s okay to let your competitive side out. Collaboration is a great thing, but when it comes to exercise, competing against yourself and others can push you to the next level. Joining a team sport may be a fun way to feed your competitive side while getting fit. While I’m not one for comparisons, eyeing the super fit lady next to you on the treadmill may keep you on there for an extra 5 minutes. Every minute counts!

6. Make it Social

Making exercise part of your social life is a great way to fit your workout in and look forward to it! Meet up with a friend for an afternoon walk or join a fitness class together. You can chat while you down dog, squat or stroll. If you have a little one, you can take them along if you have to. Secure them in the stroller with some music to keep them occupied while you and your friend catch up on the week. Walking play dates are a great way to get out of the house! Consider joining a gym that offers classes for you and child care or programs for your kids. Find one that a friend already goes to so that you can meet up during the day or after work.

7. Make it intentional…no excuses allowed

If you don’t decide that exercise deserves a #1 on your priority list…you are going to find every excuse in the book to get out of it. Instead, make intentional decisions that won’t set you up for failure. Keep a pair of gym shoes, work out clothes, and a towel in your car at all times as a back up. Having this stash will keep you on track if you “forget” your stuff one day and decide to head straight home instead of stopping at the gym. Set alerts on your phone to remind you of your exercise appointment. Mark it out on the family calendar as a mandatory responsibility. If you absolutely need to cancel your workout, figure out a way to fit it in on another day. The solution may be as simple as parking at the back of the parking lot or taking the stairs. Be willing to pay for a babysitter if you have to. It is money well spent.

Beautiful young woman making Yoga exercises on the beach

8. Make it recreational

You don’t have to go to the gym to get fit and you don’t have to walk on a home treadmill either! You can exercise without even feeling like you are exercising! For example, schedule a date with your partner to go ice skating. Take the kids to the pool with another adult and tread water while they play. Pick a fun event like, The Color Run, and sign up as a family or with a group of friends. Grab a bike and pedal along the shoreline (wishful thinking as I look out my snowy window!) Exercise is really just activity! Creating an active lifestyle is a much easier way to stay fit and healthy than trying to fit exercise into your life. Not only can it be fun, it instills the value of physical activity in your kids when they see you moving.

9. Make it easy

Don’t make it hard on yourself! If you can’t get to the gym, run the stairs in your house or apartment building. If it is freezing outside, don’t try to go for a run if you are totally out of shape! Head to the mall and do some brisk laps while window speed shopping. If you can’t get a baby sitter, put the baby in a stroller or carrier and go for a walk. If you spend half of your day standing in lines, take the time to do calf raises and butt squeezes. You don’t have to spend a fortune to get fit. You just have to get smart with the little opportunities that you do have. Stairs are free. Sidewalks are free. Mall Entry is free of charge. If you feel like exercise takes away from quality time with your kids…get active with them. Pull out a soccer ball or basketball and play a game with them. Grab your bikes and plan one evening each week as family bike riding time. Even if your little one is a toddler you can get a seat or pull behind option for them. You don’t have to get up a 4 am to fit exercise into your day. That will only leave you feeling irritable instead of recharged. Instead, use 10 minute windows to get your heart rate up. New recommendations show that even these short bursts of time are incredibly heart healthy!

10. Keep tabs on yourself

Everyone needs accountability to succeed. Sometimes all you have is self-accountability…and that’s okay. Check in with yourself each week. Make an intentional effort to write down your exercise activities and the amount of time that you spent doing them. Add it all up and see if you met your heart and lifestyle healthy goal. If not, try again the next week…just a little harder. Don’t beat yourself up. Change takes time. Lifestyle change takes a consistent 30 days to make it stick. If you can find a friend to keep you accountable as well, that’s even better!

While your daily life demands everything from you…your body also has some requirements. By exercising, eating healthy, drinking enough water, and getting enough sleep you will be better equipped to keep up with your crazy schedule. Give your body and your health the attention that it needs. An active lifestyle is a great first step!

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9 Ways To Deal With Your Toddler’s Tantrums…Without Losing Your Cool

We have arrived. The “terrible two’s”, which I have endearingly renamed the “CHALLENGING Two’s” are here in full effect. Full-body, flailing meltdowns smack dab in the middle of the kitchen floor (or even better…the grocery store); screams so loud that the neighbors can hear; and surprise smack attacks by precious little hands. My sweet little girl is still sweet…most of the time…but some days our schedule feels like we are simply making it from one melt down to another. Is this normal? Do I have an overly emotional bully on my hands?

Thankfully, I know enough to know that my two-year old’s tantrums are simply because she’s a toddler. Her language skills are limited (which can be incredibly frustrating for her), her coping skills and understanding of patience are even more limited, and her needs are great. I remind myself that this is just a season of time that were passing through (I will survive), but how I respond is of paramount importance for her understanding of discipline, boundaries, and healthy ways to express her emotions.

My mantra…”Baby may be losing it, but momma has to keep it together.” This may seem like a no-brainer, but in the middle of a toddler tantrum, I often feel my own emotions spiraling out of control. What am I to do with this tiny maniac and my rising frustration??? Here are a few tips proven to work by countless mothers before us. Try one. Try five. Try them all!

1. Keep Your Cool

Having your own melt-down is only going to make matters worse. Your little one is either tired, hungry, frustrated, not getting their way, in need of attention, or just having a tantrum for the sake of it. Yelling, screaming, and dealing with your child in a physically forceful way will only escalate the situation. It will also reinforce for your child that outbursts are an appropriate way to deal with anger and frustration. “If mommy does it then it’s okay that I’m doing it too.” NO! You need to set the standard for appropriate behavior. Your toddler is learning how to deal with his/her emotions. By demonstrating healthy ways to deal with frustration you set the standard and lay a great foundation. Take several deep breaths and let the frustration roll off of your shoulders. Keep your voice soothing and calm. You can still be firm but loving at the same time. If you feel like you are going to lose it and your child is in a safe place, remove yourself from the situation for a few moments until your emotions are under control. It’s also okay to ask for help. If you’re having a more than challenging day with your toddler, give yourself a reprieve. Go to the gym, and let your toddler play in the gym daycare; ask your partner to give you a break while you take a bath, get a pedicure, or simply sit in a quiet room for five minutes; phone a mommy friend and see if she would be willing to give you a 30 minute break.Happy Toddler Boy Eating Strawberries

2. Smile at Your Audience

Why do tantrums always seem to happen in public? So embarrassing for every parent! The funny thing is, anyone watching who has kids isn’t judging you or your crazy child. Nope, they’re empathizing and remembering their own challenging toddler years, and they’re watching to see how you’re going to react. If you forcefully grab your child, yank her from the floor or start screaming yourself…well, then yes, you are going to be judged. If you keep your cool, maintain a calm voice, and handle the situation like an adult (assuming we all have the same standard of appropriate adult behavior) even if your child is still screaming your audience is going to think you’ve got it handled. Mom of the year award coming your way! You can flash them an, “I’m not liking this challenging situation, but I can handle it” smile and wait for an empathetic smile back at ya.

3. Ignore the Tantrum

Sometimes ignoring a tantrum is the best and quickest way to get it to stop. It’s fine to acknowledge that your child is upset and to affirm their feelings, but clearly their screams and kicks are not an appropriate way to show their frustration. Instead of giving their fit more attention that it needs, simply ignore it. If your child isn’t getting the desired reaction (and extra negative attention) from you they are more likely to stop the fit sooner.Ladder into sky

4. Change the Scenery

Leaving the house, exiting the grocery store, or even taking a parking lot break during dinner at a restaurant may be necessary if your little one has a tantrum that just won’t stop. A change of scenery can often diffuse a tantrum and it lets your little one know that if they can’t behave they are going to be removed from the party. Although it’s not convenient to leave the grocery store without any groceries, sometimes it may be necessary. If you say you’re going to leave…FOLLOW THROUGH. Be consistent and let your toddler know that when you say something you mean it.

5. Distract

While this method doesn’t work for all children, it does wonders in my household. My two-year old’s emotions are easily redirected when I start to make a goofy face, sing a silly song, pull out a crazy toy that she hasn’t seen in forever, or start to tell her an AMAZING story. Yep, this momma pulls out all the bells and whistles. All of my elementary school acting classes were worth while after all. BE ANIMATED. ENTERTAIN. BE SILLY. MAKE YOUR LITTLE ONE LAUGH SO HARD THAT HE FORGETS ALL ABOUT THE TANTRUM. Toddler attention spans are short. Use it to your benefit! Food can also be a great distraction. Don’t bribe with candy, but offer your toddler a delicious, healthy snack. Everyone always feels happier with a full tummy.Portrait of a crying child on the mother's hands

6. Affirm with words and physical affection (POSITIVE CONSEQUENCES)

Some toddlers act out because they want the extra attention. When your child is upset sometimes giving them a hug will do the trick. Tell them how much you love them and praise them for their great behavior that day. Do this even when your little one isn’t having a melt-down. Providing consistent positive reinforcement will improve their sense of security, confidence, and understanding of what behavior will get them the most attention…GOOD BEHAVIOR! Praise your little ones. Encourage them. Let them know when they have been kind and gentle. Reward them…don’t just punish them. The majority of the attention that you give your child should be positive. If you are only pointing out when they are “bad” they will continue to be “bad” just for the attention. I’m not saying to let naughty behavior slide! We are all about discipline around here, but make sure your discipline is done in love rather than anger and that you aren’t forgetting to reward your little one’s positive efforts. FYI: Some children detest physical contact during a tantrum. They may lash out even more. If that’s the case with your child…skip on the hug and try a different method. Many children aren’t in the mood for logical reasoning during a tantrum either. Don’t try to explain to them why they shouldn’t be having a tantrum…this method never helps. Instead try one of the other methods such as distraction.Happy Mother And Baby Laying On Meadow

7. Meet the Need but Don’t Cave In

Often times tantrums occur because children are hungry, thirsty, tired, or frustrated. If you are in the middle of the grocery store at 12 noon and your toddler hasn’t had lunch yet, you better believe they are going to want everything in sight! Of course they want the cookies. Don’t you? Instead of quickly diffusing the tantrum by giving into the cookies, hold your ground. If you said, “No,” to cookies. Then your “NO,” needs to stay “NO.” Giving in during or after a tantrum will only reinforce for your toddler that tantrums are an effective method to get their way. ABSOLUTELY NOT! If your child is starting to melt-down over cookies, give him a reasonable alternative that will curb his hunger.  A piece of fruit or an organic fruit and veggie squeeze pack are much better options. Get him involved in a positive way by letting him choose which of these healthy choices he would like.

8. Prevent it before it happens-expectations and bribery

Anticipating your child’s needs is a great way to prevent tantrums before they even start. If you know you are going to be out during snack time…take a snack with you! If you know you are going to be cutting into nap time prepare yourself for a cranky child. Don’t expect your 2-year-old to behave perfectly when you are changing their routine or jipping them on sleep and food. Try to stick to their schedule as much as possible. This will save you many a melt-down. If circumstances don’t allow you to follow your little one’s schedule, let them know ahead of time what your expectations are and what’s in it for them. For example, if your family is coming into town for a special anniversary dinner (way past your little one’s bedtime), let your little one know that they will get a special prize if they behave well at dinner. Remind them of this when they start to act up at the table. This form of bribery is really just a form of positive reinforcement for good behavior. Since you are doing it ahead of time and not in the moment it isn’t a harmful trick. I recently told my daughter that if she had gentle hands at preschool she would get to pick several extra books to read at bedtime. On several occasions the teacher had to remind her, but this prevented hair pulling and shoving like a charm. Even though we had a few incidents later in the day while at home, I didn’t take her extra books away from her (I gave her different consequences instead) because she had earned them with good behavior.cute toddler with finger in mouth

9. Use Reasonable Punishments

Use reasonable punishments. Your child is a toddler after-all. She is learning limits. Never hit/smack/bite your child back! This only reinforces for her that these behaviors are acceptable. It’s a good idea to give her some warning before you flat-out punish her. This gives her time to change her behavior and obey. Let her know that if you count to three and she isn’t listening then she will have a consequence. If she is doing something to physically harm another child then deal with the situation immediately! Don’t wait for a three count!

Use time-outs to your advantage. Giving yourself a 2 minute breather may be what you need too to effectively deal with your little one. Remember not to make time-outs too long. Rule of thumb is one minute for every year of age. Example: a 2-year-old should only have a 2 minute time out.

Taking away privileges is one of my favorite methods to nip a tantrum. If my daughter refuses to get into the car seat and starts flailing I simply tell her that she won’t get to play with her favorite toy when we get home if she doesn’t sit nicely by the time that I count to three. This doesn’t always work, but often times the threat alone is enough to get her seated. Often times she doesn’t end up losing the privilege because she quickly realizes I mean business and she doesn’t want to lose her doll!

Try these tips and let me know what works for you! If you have additional suggestions I would love to hear them. Parenting is a learning curve for all of us. We can all use all the help we can get! Remember…the toddler years are just as season. They don’t last forever!

For more helpful insight check out the links below:

Positive Parenting 

Essential Tips for Parenting Toddlers and Preschoolers 

The Mayo Clinic on Toddler Tantrums

Healthy Kid Tips on Dealing with Tantrums

 

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7 Tips About Car Seat Safety That NO PARENT can RISK missing!

I picked up the phone expecting to hear my father’s cheery voice. Instead, I felt the wind being knocked out of my chest with each word he spoke. There had been a car accident. He hadn’t made it. He had suffered severe head trauma; and even with the best neurosurgeons fighting for his life, they had been unable to perform the miraculous. Who else was in the car? Who else was hurt? My mind was racing. Her tiny toddler frame had suffered several fractures, but she was going to be fine. My mind buzzed. He wasn’t even 10 years old. How could life be so fragile?

Some moms have called me crazy for my car seat paranoia. “What are the odds of getting in a severe car accident in the first place? What are the odds of something bad actually happening to your child?” Unfortunately, the odds are greater than you might think. In fact, motor vehicle injuries are the leading cause of death for children living in the United States according to the CDC. I know first hand what it is like to lose someone you love in a car accident. In fact, three funerals for three different children from three different families have solidified my paranoia that car accidents CAN hit close to home. Standing over countless bodies in the trauma bay, bloodied and disfigured from motor vehicle accidents has only further cemented this scary and gruesome fact in my mind.Melancholy And Sad Young  Woman  At The Window In The Rain

Car accidents DO HAPPEN. And, while preventing all of them in the first place would be ideal, the reality is that even with concerted efforts to eliminate texting, drunk driving, distracted driving, reckless driving, and poor judgement calls (all of which are paramount efforts); 100% prevention is impossible. So if we can’t prevent all motor vehicle accidents, apart from doing our best to drive safely, what can we do?

We can do our best to protect the little ones that we love by making sure that their car seats, booster seats, and seat belts are doing their jobs. Again, 100% protection is not a guarantee, but by paying attention to the safety resources and recommendations that we do have, we can significantly decrease the risk of injury and even death. According to the CDC, properly using a car seat reduces the risk of infant death by 71% and toddler death by 54%; and, the appropriate use of booster seats reduces the risk of serious injury for children aged 4-8 by 45% compared to just using a seatbelt. These numbers alone prove the importance of child passenger safety efforts.Toy Cars Crashed

Here are 7 Tips You NEED TO KNOW to make sure that your child has the maximum protection while in the car:

1. Choose a Safe Car Seat

-Make sure that your car seat has a label that says that it has been rated by the NHTSA. These all meet federal safety standards and strict crash test ratings.

-Make sure that it has the label with the Model number and the Manufacturer date

-Make sure that you register your car seat in case of recalls (which do happen!). Simply click on the highlighted link to register.

-If Choosing a USED Car Seat:

If you are choosing a used car seat you MUST know the HISTORY of that seat. Do not use a car seat that has been in a previous moderate to severe crash. If it doesn’t come with instructions, do not use it. If it lacks a safety label, model number, or manufacture date, do not use it. Contact the manufacturer and check to make sure that its specific make and model have not had any recalls issued before you use. Make sure that there is not obvious damage or missing parts-this could make it structurally unsound. Make sure that it is not more than 6 years old or expired. If you are missing even one piece of the history…move on and find another car seat.woman choosing child car seat for newborn baby in shop supermark

2. Choose Your Car Seat Based on Age, Height and Weight: 

Make sure that your child is buckled in an age and size appropriate car seat or booster. You can double-check the age, weight, and height restrictions of your seat in the owner’s manual and sometimes it is even labeled on the seat itself. You can find a more detailed chart from the CDC and from Healthy Children detailing appropriate seats based on age, height, and weight at the highlighted links here. Or, use this helpful calculator to determine the appropriate seat for your child. The general rules are as follows:

Infant to 2 years: Rear Facing Car Seat (this recommendation has recently changed. Previously parents were advised that if their child met the weight and height regulations they could be turned around after only a year of age. The recommendation now is to keep your child rear facing until at least 2 years or until they meet the maximum height and weight restrictions for their rear facing seat. This is the safest position to prevent and limit severe injury.

2 Years to At Least 5 Years of age (or they outgrow the weight and height restrictions)-Forward Facing Car Seat

Age 5 Up Until a Seat Belt Fits Properly: Booster Seat

3. Use Your Manual to Install Your Seat and Get Your Install Double Checked

Make sure that you take the time to review your car seat owner’s manual and even your car owner’s manual. Car seats are not all the same, and all cars are not the same. Simply clicking and tightening doesn’t ensure a safe installation. The location, the angle, and the latches are just a few things to consider. Click HERE for some helpful install tips and then follow your owner’s manual installation instructions step by step. When you have finished installing, make sure to have someone double-check your work. You may consider yourself an expert, but studies show that 90% of car seats are not used correctly! Yes, that was 90% according to Johns Hopkins. Many hospitals have staff that will double-check your car seat before you head home with your newborn, but it is always best to get your install double checked by a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician several months before your baby is expected to be born just in case your little one decides to come early and your hospital doesn’t offer this inspection service. If you are able to get it checked in advance or if you are simply changing car seats, most fire stations or public health departments will also offer install inspections free of charge or at a minimal cost. To locate a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician in your area, click HERE.Portrait Of A Cute Toddler Boy

4. Choose the Safest Spot in the Car!

Car Seats should ALWAYS be placed in the back seat of the vehicle. If for some reason this is not possible (your car consists of only one front row of seats), and you do not have another transportation option, then you must make sure that the air bags are turned OFF in the front seat especially if you are using a rear facing car seat. If your child is in a car seat in the front and an airbag deploys, it could cause severe brain damage or even kill your child. So in general, the rule stands…PUT YOUR CHILD IN THE BACK SEAT OF THE CAR. Again, all vehicles are not set up with safety latches in the same locations, nor do all cars have the option for a middle seat (in the case of vans with bucket seats), and if you’re installing more than one car seat then the middle will not be an option either. But, if you are able to safely install your seat in the rear MIDDLE or CENTER SEAT, it is the safest spot in the car for your child according to current research. While placement of a car seat in any rear seat position does provide excellent protection if installed correctly (decreasing the risk of injury by 62% compared to front seats), the center rear position has been shown to reduce the risk of injury for children an additional 43% compared to the rear side seats, according to evidence published in the Journal of Pediatrics.

5. Rear Face Your Car Seat As Long As Safely Possible.

As I mentioned above, the safety recommendations on how long to rear face a car seat has changed. The longer that you are safely able to keep your child rear facing the better! Previously the recommendations had allowed for turning the car seat around (for convertible seats) or switching to a forward facing car seat at 1 year of age as long as the minimum weight and height requirements were met. Today, the American Academy of Pediatrics urges parents to keep their child rear facing until they are AT LEAST two years of age unless they have outgrown the height and weight recommendations for their rear facing seat (some small children can stay in a rear facing seat well past the age of 2 years). We now know that the rear facing position is the safest for protecting the head, neck and spine in infants and toddlers.In Troubles - Unhappy Woman In Car

6. Secure the straps properly

Double check your car seat straps each time that you put your infant or child into the seat. Often times they will have loosened when you take your child out of the seat. The straps should be snug and leave no room for slack! If you can pinch the strap, then it is too loose. Grab the strap at shoulder level. Try to pinch the harness from top to bottom. If you can pinch a fold then the harness is too loose. It should fit snuggly like a hug. You want it snug not overly tight…you do want your child to be able to breathe! The shoulder straps and the lap belt should all be securely fastened. All 5 points of the restraint system should be used every time! The chest clip should be secured at the mid-chest level. Double check that it has not slid down lower (which often happens when previously removing your child from the seat). If your child is old enough to buckle himself in, make sure that YOU still double-check the security of the latches and the tightness. For more on safely securing boosters and seat belts check out this link.

7. Avoid Puffy Coats, Snow Suits, or Extra Padding or Positioners

Winter is a tricky time for car seats. As parents we often bundle our little ones up before we trek through the cold out to the car. The problem with this scenario is that bulky coats, snow suits and layered or bulky clothing could actually be putting our children in danger and limiting the protection of our car seats and safety restraints. Bulky clothing does not allow for safety restraints to be tightened appropriately. As parents we may have a false sense of security that they straps are tight enough, when in fact they may not be secure. In the case of a motor vehicle collision, bulky clothing often compresses leaving extra slack in the harness which could allow an infant or child to be ejected from the car seat, or it could allow for more severe neck or head injury. Instead of using bulky winter wear, simply put your child in a thin winter coat and hat, warm up the car ahead of time, or drape your child with a winter coat or a small blanket over their lap.

Additionally, extra positioners for the head and neck (or any extra positioners that do not come with the car seat) are not recommended. These positioners have not been safety tested with all car seats and could interfere with the safety features of your car seat.

This list is not meant to be an all-inclusive safety lesson on car seats, nor is it meant to substitute for following your owner’s manual or your pediatrician or family physician’s recommendations. For more resources check out the highlighted links throughout the article. As parents we want to protect our children. Knowing that motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death from injury for young children should motivate all of us to take extra precautions each time we put our child in the car. We can never be too safe or double-check too many times!

As always, I love to hear from YOU! Please leave a comment with your questions, experiences, or concerns.

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