Archive for the ‘Safety/Health Awareness’ Category

Peanuts…to ban or not to ban?

January 26th, 2010 1:44pm

To ban, or not to ban...that is the question. But what is the answer?

According to the “School Nutrition Operations Report: The State of School Nutrition 2009” released in September by the School Nutrition Association, only about 34.7% of schools have banned any foods due to food allergies. The most commonly banned food item is peanuts. The report also tells us that as a direct result of food allergies and sensitivities, more than 20% of districts now offer gluten-free food options. While many parents of allergy affected children have sought a complete ban on peanuts at schools, there are mixed emotions as to whether or not this would actually solve any problems.

Elizabeth Cowles who works with the non-profit School Nutrition Association, expalins “one common concern we’ve heard many school foodservice professionals cite is the false safety that a complete ban can create.” She continues,”they ultimately have to rely on compliance from all parents and students to make a food ban effective.”

Elizabeth’s concerns are echoed by Corinne Gregory, founder and President of SocialSmarts (a nationally-recognized schools-based program that teaches good social skills, positive character and values). Bans and isolating a student with allergies can further alienate a child who already feels “different”. Corinne has encountered increasing occurrences of bullying in the form of “tainting” foods or even trying to force-feed a child the very ingredient they are deathly allergic to. She adds “kids have beven been known to contaminate personal items or work surfaces with the allergen”. Such bullying tactics are absolutely horrific to imagine actually taking place but Corrine stresses “it’s vital that parents, teachers, and the public know about this nasty practice as they strive to keep kids safe.”

So if bans and isolation are not the answer, then what can we do to help these children? Enter Lori Aronsky, owner of Food Allergy Ally. She volunteered some wonderful strategies that are already being successfully practiced at many schools. First, education. Fellow classmates, teachers, parents and other faculty must be aware of the severity and risks involved. She recommended some wonderful books for kindergarten and first graders to help them understand and hopefully sympathize with the difficulties of living with a food allergy:

On the subject of classroom etiquette, Lori ads that “when a child brings nut products to school it is by choice. When a child comes to school with nut allergies, it is not by choice.” She points out that if you create a “nut table” and a “safe table”, the “safe table” will invariably be the larger of the two, further isolating and alienating the allergic child. Kids like to sit with their friends. She ads “my experience has been that most kids will decide to bring safe food to school, so they can sit with their friends with nut allergies…even remind[ing] their parents not to send nut products” so they can sit with their allergic friends. She recommends having a contraband table where those who bring nut products must sit. This keeps the allergic child from being isolated and encourages kids to bring safe snacks so they can sit with their friends.

Several others spoke up with great methods for addressing the cafeteria concerns. Gina Lincicum describes the arrangement at her cafeteria as ideal for helping her son who deals with a severe peanut allergy feel more accepted. The lunchroom is arranged so that the kids with allergies can sit with their own class rather than a separate table off in a corner. At the end of each table, there’s a section marked off with tape and pcitures that clearly read “No Peanut Zone”. Adult monitors help younger children sit in the right section. Anyone with PB&J is moved to the father end of the table. Those with n-PB lunches can sit in the middle or even in the No Peanut Zone. Her son is even allowed to participate in cafeteria cleanup with the rest of his class, usually being assigned sweeping instead of table washing). “it is very integrated and comfortable”, Gina adds.

Tatia Prieto, a K-12 consultant, primarily in the operational areas (a.k.a. school lunch) explains her cafeteria’s similar arrangement. They  generally eat lunch by classroom. A card is attached to the end of each table with a color coded dot for the various types of medical emergencies the staff needs to be aware of at that table. Confidentiality is maintained by faculty having a binder near the cash register that includes student names and even pictures that correlate to the dots on the table cards.

Join us again tomorrow for tips on how to help a child self manage their allergies at school, suggestions on classroom safety and more “safe” snack and lunch suggestions. Share your ideas, suggestions, and concerns in our forum.

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Peanut Allergies and your kids in school

January 25th, 2010 1:53am

Food allergies are thankfully not something I have had to deal with directly with my children. But I have been frightened enough for several kids that play with my own children and have peanut allergies that I have felt compelled to learn more about them. What I have discovered is a world of wonderful parents and specialists that have an immense amount of experience and knowledge and were willing to share it with me. I would like to take the time this week to share some of this insightful wisdom with all of you in hopes that it will help enlighten us all as to ways we can keep all of our kids safe and positive at school.

I’d like to start off this series by clarifying some of the different peanut related allergies out there. Most nut-related allergies seem to fall into two major categories…Peanuts and Tree Nuts, with the peanut allergy usually being the most volatile and sever. As with all food allergies, label reading is a necessity. According to the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network, all FDA-regulated manufactured food products that contain peanut as an ingredient are required by U.S. law to list the word “peanut” on the product label. If they contain a tree nut as an ingredient, they are also required by U.S. law to list the specific tree nut on the product label.

In addition to any foods with warning labels that reference “may contain nuts” or “may be manufactured in a plant that processes nuts”, here are some foods that should be avoided in a child with a “peanut” allergy:

  • African, Asian (especially chinese, Indian, Indonesian, Thai, and Vietnamese), and Mexican dishes
  • baked goods (e.g., pastries, cookies)
  • candy (including chocolate candy)
  • chili
  • egg rolls
  • enchilada sauce
  • marzipan
  • mole sauce
  • nougat

If you are dealing with a tree nut allergy, here are a few of the ingredients you should avoid:

  • artificial nuts
  • beechnut
  • Brazil nuts
  • butternut
  • cashews
  • chestnuts
  • coconut
  • filberts/hazelnuts
  • ginkgo nut
  • hickory nuts
  • macadamia nuts
  • marzipan/almond paste
  • natural nut extract (e.g., almond, walnut)
  • nut butters (e.g., cashew butter)
  • nutmeat
  • pecans
  • pesto
  • pine nuts (also referred to as pinyon nuts)
  • pistachios
  • praline
  • shea nut
  • walnuts

As an extra warning, Wal Mart brand “great value” has now started processing everything with nuts even down to their ice cream and whale crackers. So avoid these foods altogether.

For those of you who are like me who don’t have a child with allergies but want to know some “safe” snacks you can send to school with your child that will not harm one of his friends that have a peanut allergy, here are some suggestions from a fellow mom who deals with this allergy in her own son. She offers these suggestions with the warning that manufacturer packaging and processing continually changes so please READ LABELS of any snacks you choose and watch for any of the following: peanuts/nuts, peanut/nut butter, peanut/nut oil, peanut/nut flour, peanut/nut meal, or any of the statements “May contain traces of peanut/nuts” or “Manufactrued in a facility that also processes peanuts (and/or other nuts)”…

  • Crackers: Pepperidge Farm Cheddar Goldfish (plain, pretzel or cheddar), Cheez-Its, Cheese Nips, Keepbler Twon House Crackers, Ritz Crackers (plain), Triscuits (original), What Thins (original), Chicken in a Bisket Crackers (original), Kraft Handi-Snacks Crackers with Cheese Dip
  • Potato Chips: Pringles, Lays (plain), Cheetors, Tostitos, Fritos
  • Pretzels: Rold Gold
  • Cookies: Original Oreos or Double Stuff, Teddy Grahams (not the trail mix), Barnum Animal Crackers, Rice Krispy Treats (plain), Nabisco Vanilla Wafers, Honey Maid Graham Crackers (plain or cinnamon), Fig Newtons, Chips-A-Hoy (NOT MINIS), Hostess Ho-Ho’s & Twinkies, Pepperidge Farm Milano/Chessmen/Shortbread/Sugar Cookes
  • Candy: Smarties, Starburst, Swedish Fish, Tootsie Rolls, Tootsie Pops, Skittles, Bubble Gum, lollipops, Sweet-Tarts, Air Heads, Lifesavers, Hershey Kisses (plain, not with almonds & not Hugs), Jet Puff Marshmallows
  • Gummy Snaks: (NOT Brachs or Jelly Belly) Only Betty Crocker or Nabisco Fruit Snacks including Fruit by the Foot, Fruit Roll-Ups, and Gushers.
  • Doughnuts: Krispy Kreme “Original Glazed” (only from the store – with or without sprinkles. Not pre-packaged from a grocery store).

Join us in our forum all week as we discuss the topic of peanut allergies and how to deal with them in schools. Coming up this week…Suggestions for helping your child self-manage their allergy, Bullying and ways to avoid it, Lunch room techniques and Guidelines for safety in the classroom.

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I have a child that has been diagnosed with “Reactive  Airway Disease” which is a fancy way of saying “asthma”. He was placed on the medication Singulair when he was 5 yrs old, among others, which seemed to help his symptoms a great deal. It has been several years and we have found that we have been able to take him off of all the asthma medications now but one…Singulair. While this medication has noticeably reduced his asthmatic tendencies, we found there was one unusual side affect. We noticed that we were beginning to have frequent bed wetting issues again. This sincerely upset my little one because it was not something that he consciously did. He would wake up very sad that it had happened. We were surprised since it had been nearly 3 years since we had had to deal with this. It seemed odd that it’s recurrence coincided with the use of the Singulair. This was not a connection that I made on my own but linked the two after talking to several parents that surprisingly were having similar issues. Interestingly enough, we had all been giving the Singulair to our children in the evening. Once we changed the dosage to the morning, the bed wetting stopped!

As I began to research this phenomenon, I discovered that I was far from alone in these observations.  While there is no conclusive evidence available to support the link between bed wetting and Singulair usage, there are many parents out there that have observed these same effects. If your child has to be on the drug Singulair and is having issues with bed wetting, I would encourage parents to experiment with giving it at a different time of day. For us, dosing in the morning rather than the evening made all the difference. I hope this discovery can help other young children dealing with this difficult issue.

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Too young for chores?

December 17th, 2009 6:37pm
Cleaning can be a fun and productive game for your toddler to play!

Cleaning can be a fun and productive game for your toddler to play!

I have asked myself this question time and time again as my four children have grown each year. As a new mom with my first, I always assumed that 4 yrs old was just too young to be able to help mommy with the chores. With my second, I thought maybe they could help at 4. With my third I noticed that the desire to clean was motivated by the thrill of learning something new and they really seemed to enjoy contributing to the chores. And now, as I watch my fourth, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that children not only have a desire to help as early as 2 yrs old, but they also think it’s fun! And surprisingly enough, they can do a pretty darn good job!

If you are looking to encourage your child to begin contributing to the household chores, here are a few guidelines:

  • The most important thing to remember is to keep it simple, keep it age appropriate and praise, praise, PRAISE!
  • It is also a good idea to remember that the younger the child, the shorter spurts you should work in.
  • Tackle one job at a time. Don’t throw three “to do” items at them at once or they will be easily discouraged and overwhelemed.
  • A chore chart will give your little one an extra sense of accomplishment and a way to have everyone in the family recognize their effort and accomplishment.

Here are some ideas to get you started at the different ages…

Age 2:

  • Wet wipes: It’s pretty simple, give them a wet wipe and point them in the right direction! At this age, kids love the magic of the wet wipe. It’s truly amazing…you find a mess, run the wet wipe over it, and presto! No more mess! Let kids have fun with this one. There really is very little damage they can to with a wet wipe in hand!
  • Organize: This is a great opportunity to teach sorting skills to your toddler. Get several storage boxes and label them with a picture (i.e. car box, people/animal box, craft box, music box, etc.). Get them started by putting a few items in each box. They will get the hang of this quickly and hone a valuable skill in the process!
  • Laundry: Sorting laundry can be a fun learning activity too. Let your toddler help you sort the laundry by color. Have three bins (light, dark, and whites). Put a few items in each bin to start with. You can teach your toddler colors while they help you with your chores!

Age 4-5

  • Laundry: Let your kids help you with the laundry by taking their bed sheets off of their beds and bringing them to you, putting them in the correct color bin. Kids at this age are also very capable and excited to both fold and put their clothes away on their own too. Remember that not all will be as perfect as you might like but don’t nitpick (it’s the quickest way to discourage a child from even trying). Positive encouragement and lots of praise will take them a long way to improvement!
  • Dishes: Yes, though it may sound crazy to give a 4 year old a breakable object and let them walk across tile floor for any length of time, they are very capable of carrying out this task. Our 4/5 year old has become a very skilled “dish put-er away-er” at our house and knows better than my 8 year old where things go!
  • Gardening: This is a fun one for kids. Put them in charge of watering your plants each day. They will love filling the water pot themselves and watching how their plants grow! Pulling weeds, cleaning leaves, and sweeping floors can all be easy activities for these guys.

Age 6-8

  • Definitely ready for some heavy duty work! These little ones can handle any window job you can dish out. Dusting is a definite fun past time (turn them loose in the house with a duster and watch the dedication!).
  • Organizing: This is a no brainer for these guys, especially if you started at age 2.
  • Laundry: Show them the ropes of your washer and put them in charge of a load or two. They can also dry dishes with the best of ’em!
  • Vacuuming: Depending on the size of your vacuum and size of your child, this can be a lot of fun.
  • Mopping: Cleaning my kitchen floor is one of my 8 year olds favorite activities!
  • Gardening: With adult supervision and a little help, even lawn mowing and trimming the bushes can be a fun challenge for these guys!

I am not a huge fan of letting kids handle any kind of heavy duty chemical while cleaning…especially if you are not planning to supervise the entire process. A suggestion, most things can be well cleaned and disinfected with a homemade solution of vinegar and water. It’s very gentle and you don’t have to worry about your kids around harsh chemicals. That being said, always supervise your young children, even if the only chemical they walk around with is a wet wipe. The best way to teach your little ones is by example and as they are cleaning alongside you, it will make it more fun and safe for them, less stressful for you and you’ll get a lot accomplished in the process!

Remember, good habits start young. The earlier kids learn to contribute to the household maintenance, the easier it will be for you to maintain their involvement as they get older. Don’t get discouraged and remember that praise goes a lot farther than criticism!

What jobs do your young children do around your home? Share your ideas, what works, what didn’t and everything in between in our forum discussion!

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Recall on Maclaren strollers

November 10th, 2009 1:46am
Nearly a million Maclaren strollers have been recalled as of Monday because of numerous reports of fingertips being amputated by a hinge mechanism.

Nearly a million Maclaren strollers have been recalled as of Monday because of numerous reports of fingertips being amputated by a hinge mechanism.

If you purchased a Maclaren stroller, stop using it immediately. Reports of over 12 children having their fingertips amputated by a hinge mechanism has prompted the manufacturer to recall all nine models of single and double umbrella Maclaren strollers sold around the country since 1999. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced the recall after an investigation.

The company is offering free hinge covers which the company advises should not be removed unless the stroller is being cleaned. The list of stroller models includes: Volo, Triumph, Quest Sport, Quest Mod, Techno XT, TechnoXLR, Twin Triumph, Twin Techno and Easy Traveller.

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When did Noah prepare for the flood? ...BEFORE the rain!

When did Noah prepare for the flood? ...BEFORE the rain!

Have you ever given much thought to disaster preparedness? If you are living in areas prone to natural disasters, the answer to that question would probably be an eye roll, followed by a resounding “of course!!!”. But if you’re like me and  you live in an area that is seldom affected by natural disasters, then the realities of that question might be a little tougher to put into perspective. The problem is that we never know when disaster might strike (or in what form it might take) and the time to prepare is BEFORE it hits…there’s rarely an opportunity in the aftermath.

If your neighborhood were faced with a fire, a riot, flood, tornado, hurricane or earthquake, the most critical need for help after the disaster is during the first 72 hours. But, as some of the more recent catastrophes have demonstrated, community and government assistance will probably not be available during this critical time period. So it would seem a wise idea to have a 72 hour kit prepared for each member of your family that could be grabbed quickly as you run out the door that would sustain your family for this critical time period. I’ve got a few suggestions that were handed down to me through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Provident Living resources. Remember that this is meant to be a “survival kit” and while you will want to be comfortable, there will not be room to be extravagant…

Each person should have the following items packed away in a lightweight backpack…

  • Plastic bowl, spoon (old cool whip containers work great)
  • Food for that individual
  • Flashlight (store batteries separately)
  • Roll of toilet paper and plastic grocery bags for sanitation
  • Pancho or large garbage bag
  • entertainment (crayons, coloring books, puzzles, etc.)
  • small blanket or space blanket
  • change of clothing stored in plastic bag

Some sample menus are as follows (remember, each persons food items should be easily stored in a large plastic ziploc bag or other lightweight container that can be sealed closed)…

Day One:

  • Breakfast: Cereal, powdered milk, fruit cup, box of OJ
  • Lunch: Cup of soup, saltine crackers, box of apple juice, pudding cup
  • Dinner: Corned beef hash, applesauce, box of grape juice, granola bar

Day Two

  • Breakfast: Instant Oatmeal, fruit roll, box of apple juice, hot cocoa/ice tea
  • Lunch: beef jerky, peanuts, applesauce cup, box of grape juice
  • Dinner: chili with beans, saltine crackers, box of OJ, tapioca pudding cup

Day 3:

  • Breakfast: 2 granola bars, box of grapefruit juice, hot cocoa/ice tea
  • Lunch: box of OJ, cheese and crackers, fruit cup, granola bar
  • Dinner: beef stew, bread sticks, box of OJ, fruit cup

Some other items that might need to be distributed into the packs of the older children or parents:

  • Sterno
  • latex gloes
  • family records and valuables
  • feminie hygiene needs
  • siposable diapers
  • medications for three days (include tylenol, tums, etc.)
  • first aid kit, hand towel, radio
  • can opener, pot, and pot holder
  • utility/pocket knife
  • small ax, heavy gloves, tarp, and matches

Don’t forget to include enough bottled water for each person for three days. In these unpredictable and difficult times, it is important that we be as prepared as possible for the safety and well-being of our families. When asked why you are preparing for disaster when you live in a “disaster-free” zone, you can answer with a smile, “when did Noah prepare for the flood?…BEFORE the rain!”

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What kind of gaming personality are you and your kids? Do you know? What you discover should guide your choice of what games and how  much gaming you do.

What kind of gaming personality are you and your kids? Do you know? What you discover should guide your choice of what games and how much gaming you do.

I recently read an article that sought to showcase the benefits of cyberspace gaming for kids. It definitely makes a great case for the benefits that gaming can offer our kids. Things like “enhanced logical thinking and problem solving skills…improved alertness, math skills, spelling and vision…develop communication skills.” And while I do not doubt the truth of these benefits, I question the mode of operation.

For instance, what happens when the lines between reality and fantasy start to blur? At what age are our kids able to tell the difference and separate themselves from that fantasy? Is there an age where this ever becomes easy? I don’t think so. In this new cyberspace world, there is no safe zone for kids or adults but especially for kids.
Common and frequent exposure to violence and aggression dulls our sensitivity to it. These games, while possibly educational and beneficial for things like reflexes, problem solving and deeper understanding of societal groups, may also influence other areas in our psyche like reasoning, justification, and a sense of moral abiguity. Forgivenes, understanding, compassion and a sense of eternal consequence are painfully absent from most games…even those considered “educational”. When we achieve knowledge without consequence, it is rarely wisdom. My question to parents would be this…what qualities are your kids developing while in their gaming fog and do you care enough to be forcefully involved in the process?

Before I go further, I must say that I am absolutely and totally against censorship of literature, games, music, art, etc. but I do believe that parents, have a responsibility to know their children well enough to understand the things that will help them and the things that will hurt them. Some kids have a very easy time separating fantasy from reality and can step outside the games without taking everything with them. But there are others that are not so grounded and must have help to overcome this potentially addicting medium.

There was a very insightful article written by John Timmer that cites a study published in Psychology, Crime and Law. It talks about how video games and literature, while not in and of themselves repsonsible for violent or aggressive behavior, do influence personalities with a predisposition to these aggressive tendencies. They can incite certain personalities to violent acts. Pay attention to the state of mind of your child when they sit down to enter their gaming world. Are they angry? Frustrated? Calm? The study found that angry gamers will often relax during gameplay while calm gamers were typically  more agitated the longer they played. The study separated gamers into two groups…”stable personalities and those with emotional states thatare susceptible to being influenced by game play.” As parents, you must know to which group your child belongs and be vigilant.

Need more info?… Read a previous article on technology and your kids, understand the 7 Learning Styles or navigate through out site for ideas on fun family activities, parenting/teaching tips, and educational resources for small children. So much depends on the habits our kids develop at an early age. Make them good habits.

Share your thoughts on this topic in our forum.

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The better question might be “how do I train a dog to be good with my kids?”.  But I’ll address both questions in this post.

A family pet can offer love, compassion and unconditional friendship to your kids. But it takes effort to make this truly wonderful relationship flourish.

A family pet can offer love, compassion and unconditional friendship to your kids. But it takes effort to make this truly wonderful relationship flourish.

We were adopted by our first pet after we moved into our first house and about a year before I became pregnant with our first child. We found him in the middle of the summer, looking extremely overheated, dehydrated, hungry and thoroughly wiped out from sitting on a curb outside a brand new PetsMart. He was laid out in the lap of a 10 year old boy holding a sign that read “My Uncle bought me this dog but we live in an apartment an dmy mom says I can’t keep him. Please give him a good home.” Having made a deal with my “not so pet loving” husband that once we moved into a house, I would get a dog, I decided that rescuing this poor little pup was as good a choice as any. And so we called him “Chance” since we were definitely taking a chance on this little pup being a good family dog.
I tell you that story to endorse the idea of pet adoption verses purchasing a pet through a typical pet store or breeder. There are so many wonderful pets out there that are in need of homes and would have no chance at all without those of us willing to take a gamble on them. In my case, it paid off. We have probably the best “kid-friendly” 70lb dog I’ve ever owned (and I’ve already been the proud owner of 1 pure bred dog, two “pet store” dogs, and two birds). He has commonly been caught patiently sitting with many of my toddlers while they played with his tongue, used his sleeping body as a stepping stool to get onto the couch, stole his toy and even sampled his dog food (see my other article about strange toddler tendendies)!
Now I have to ad a caveat to this story. Pets do not come “kid friendly” even though some breeds have a better temperment for it than others. For instance, be aware that most large breed dogs are much more inclined to be patient with your kids than smaller breeds. It may make you nervous to have such a large dog in the company of your small toddler but trust me, larger dogs are much less likely to take a snap at your kids than smaller dogs. A great place to find pets in Arizona in need of rescuing is at Circle L Ranch Animal Rescue and Sanctuary. These are animals that are in desperate need of a second chance and as in the case of my dog, these “second chance” animals make the most devoted and thankful pets.
There are a couple of tips for helping your pet become more friendly towards your kids. Dogs, while domesticated, still think like pack animals. Dominant pack members run the show. Your job is to help your dog understand that your children are part of the dominant force in the “pack” family. When your pet recognizes that their livlihood also comes from these small pack members, they learn quickly to respect that pecking order. Here are a few tips…

  1. Let your children play a role in feeding your pet. Your dog will learn quickly that these little pack members are a source of their livlihood and will be more likely to assign them respect. On the same note, never let your kids feed your dog from the table…this will encourage your dog to be ever more aggressive at mealtime.
  2. Never let your kids walk you pet if they are not strong enough to control them. Once a dog learns that they can easily overpower these “pack” members, they are much more likely to start asserting their dominance. Instead, allow your kids to issue commands to the pet (like sit, lay down, etc.) and reward them with treats. It will help your children understand how to speak with strength to your pets and help your pets understand that they are rewarded for treating these small pack members with respect.
  3. Lots of love! Try very hard not to neglect your pets need for love and attention. They are just as much in need of it as your children are. If you are taking on the responsibility of introducing an animal into your family, then this is a crucial component of making that work. You and your children must make time to play, walk, and stroke your pet so they know they are not competing with your kids for love and attention. Allowing your children to interact this way with your pet as often as possible helps both your children and your pet begin to understand this wonderful loving relationship.
  4. Early Training. The more you pet, stroke and interact with your dog as a puppy, the easier it will be for them to accept the oftentimes intrusive attentions of your toddlers. Touch their paws, stroke their ears, and most especially pet them while they eat. They are less likely to interpret these attentions as a threat when they are already accustomed to them.

For more info: Check out some wonderful articles on pet safety and care at You can also build a custom chore chart for your kids to help them remember their pet responsibilities right here on our charts page. Do you have an experience or advice you’d like to share on this topic? Join our forum discussion!

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Can’t get your ears to pop?…

July 11th, 2009 1:25pm

If you’ve tried the traditional methods of making your ears pop (namely, plugging your nose, taking a deep breath  and then blowing as if through your nose while it’s plugged), then you might have the same problem I did…ear wax buildup. Your ears always have  a certain amount of wax in them that helps protect and keep them clean. But sometimes that build up can become problematic when it blocks the ear canal. Symptoms include ear pressure that won’t release, loss of sound (kind of like being in a wind tunnel) and even pain resulting from the unreleased pressure.

After visiting my doctor, I was shown a great way to clear these blockages at home. First, fill a bowl with equal parts warm water, rubbing alchohol and hydrogen peroxide. Take a bulb syringe and squirt out the ear with the solution. Make sure you don’t put the bulb syringe into the ear canal…you need to have room for the fluid and wax to wash out of the ear while you’re flushing it. It may take several tries (even 15 or 20 tries!), but the solution will soften and eventually loosen the wax buildup and clear it out of your ears. You’ll know when that happens because you will be able to hear clearly again and the pressure build up will be gone!

Incidentally, a few drops of rubbing alchohol in each ear after swimming can help prevent swimmers ear.

Have some tips and tricks of your own? Share them in our forum!

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Enjoy these travel tips and tricks for heading off into the sunset this holiday weekend!

Enjoy these travel tips and tricks for heading off into the sunset this holiday weekend!

Are you heading out this holiday weekend for some well-earned family fun? Traveling with the family can be a fun activity with everything you need at your fingertips…or a horrendous nightmare as you realize halfway across the state that you left everyones shoes at home (yes, sadly, this has happened to me…thank goodness for Kmart!). I have a couple of ideas that I’ve earned and learned over the last 8 years as my husband and I have traveled with our four little ones on various trips across the US. I hope they can be of some value to you as well!

  • Make a List! I am somewhat compulsive about this because with 6 people to pack for, there is NO way I will ever remember everyone’s stuff without it. I am a believer in packing as light as possible. Lists help me see the crossovers in everyone’s necessities and realize what should or should not be duplicated. I usually start with the bathroom and itemize everything that everybody absolutely “needs” from this area. Keep in mind that some hotels include some of these items so it helps if you can call ahead and find out what they will be offering with your room. Then I move onto each person’s room. I also keep a separate list for electronics (camera, video, ipod, charging equipment, videos, etc.) since it can really put a damper on a trip when you forget the charger for the camera (no memories this trip!).
  • Keep it Simple! I usually let each of my kids pick one animal, one blanket, one activity and one book to take with them. I always bring a “surprise” activity for them to receive after the trip has gotten underway and after they have exhausted their own entertainment. This can be a lifesaver on long car rides!
  • Be Safe! If you are taking a long car ride across the arizona desert, be prepared! Keep at least enough water and snacks in your car to sustain your family for half of the day. If you should break down,  your foresight in this area may be the difference between life or death in the desert heat. Keep a pair of jumper cables, flares and a flashlight in your car at all times.
  • Packing Tips. If you want to really simplify your packing and condense your load, consider using Space Bags to pack your clothing. I discovered these as I was preparing my family for a 7 day cruise where we would be in small rooms with little or no extra space for storage. I needed everything to be compact and easily accessible. These Space Bags were a wonder! I was able to get seven days worth of clothing for four kids and two adults into 3 duffle bags with room to spare! Plus, everyone had their own Space Bag which is transparent so I could easily sort through and find what I needed for everyone throughout the trip without having to unpack everything.

I hope this helps you with your packing stategies so that you can have a wonderful, relaxing vacation without having to worry about those shoes you forgot at home! 🙂 We would love to hear your ideas and suggestions for helping to make family travel smoother. Please join us in our forum and share some of your thoughts!

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