You are currently browsing the monthly archive for October 2009.

As cold and flu season approaches, the question on everyone’s mind is “how do I keep my child as healthy as possible?”  There is no 100% guarantee that the measures we take will prevent our children from becoming ill but they can reduce their chances by a great deal. 

Teaching children proper hygiene at an early age is the number one defense against germs.  Adopting healthy habits for kids can have concrete benefits.  Even if the benefits aren’t immediate, teaching healthy habits will ultimately pay off.  If children start learning healthy hygiene when they are young, they may not get sick as much when they are older.  It’s important that the habits you teach your child are age appropriate.  For example it’s pretty much impossible to teach a preschooler to stay away from a friend who is coughing.  So, start off with simple things that a young child will be able to remember.

Pediatricians stress that getting children into routines is the best way to get them to retain information.  Focus on what’s important with young children.  If you make the healthy practice part of their daily routine, it becomes so much easier.  When it comes to healthy practices for young children, hand washing is the most important.  Again to make it work it must be built in to their daily routine.  The most important times to wash hands are, before eating, after pottying or diapering, as soon as they come in the house from playing or school and before bed.  The key is consistency and teaching them the proper way to wash their hands.  Make sure that they are putting them under running warm water first then applying soap, lathering in between their fingers then rinsing off.  Hand washing should take at least 15 seconds.  A great way to ensure that your child is spending enough time washing their hands it to teach  them a simple song.  Many people sing “Happy Birthday” twice which is about 15-20 seconds.  Another important hygiene tip is teaching young kids to cough into their arm.  This minimizes the spread of germs that come out when coughing.  Remind children to use tissues as often as possible.  Again, this will help minimize the spread of germs.  Most importantly, teach by example.  Kids love to mimic their parents and older siblings.  So following healthy hygiene is important for everyone. 

The above steps will help all members of your family stay as healthy as possible.

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4kidsinbubble

These kids got to be inside a huge bubble made by Ana Yang.

I took two of my kids down to the city to see Gazillions of Bubbles. It was about a 15 minute walk from Grand Central Station to New World Stages. We had seats in the third row from the stage so we saw everything up close and personal. Our bubble hostess for this show was Ana Yang. The stuff she can do with bubbles is amazing. We saw her make square bubbles, bubbles inside other bubbles, bubbles filled with smoke, big ones, little ones and, of course, gazillions of bubbles. She put four kids from our audience into a giant bubble. The littlest one was too cute, she kept popping the bubble as soon as it came around them. Ana handled it  with grace and just did it 3 or 4 times. She actually holds a Guiness world record for putting 26 people into a bubble. She made it “snow” bubbles which was lots of fun. She and an audience participant made “snow balls” out of the bubbles. When it “snowed” the bubbles, we all got to play with them as it filled the auditorium. She later took us on an “underwater” experience that had lasers and tons of bubbles coming into the audience. We all had a great time and it is truly a great family fun thing to do. I recommend it to anyone of any age.

snowingbubbles

This was very cool. Ana made it "snow" bubbles.

If you want to go:
New World Stages
340 West 50th Street
New York, NY 10019

To order tickets:
Online: Telecharge.com
Phone: (212) 239-6200
Or 1-800-432-7250 (outside metro NY)

Or visit website http://www.gazillionbubbleshow.com/tickets.html

To learn more about this show visit http://www.gazillionbubbleshow.com/index.html

Approximately four years ago, while I was on a school trip with my daughter, I received a phone call from my mother who was watching my other two children. It wasn’t a simple boo-boo. Something was seriously wrong. My son, then 11 years old, was having a problem walking.

He had come home from a friend’s house and could barely make it up the stairs. His legs were in spasms. He was screaming in pain. He hadn’t fallen. He didn’t get hit and we couldn’t figure out why this came on so suddenly. He kept telling me his back hurt and you could watch his legs when they spasmed. It would start at his thighs and go down his legs and last for minutes, then release and start all over again.

I was on a bus on my way home, so I couldn’t get there any faster. I was thinking about what it could be and I thought about everything from ‘he probably didn’t tell me he was goofing off and got hurt’ to ‘lyme disease’ and even to the big boys — muscular dystrophy. Who knew what I was facing when I got home. My mom rushed him to the emergency room where they completed an MRI which showed nothing. No answers yet.

For the next TWO WEEKS, my son camped out on the couch writhing in pain. We went back and forth to Westchester Medical Center meeting with neurologists — the ride down to the Center was horrific for both of us as he cried all the way down — trying to figure out what was going on. He was put on a muscle relaxer just to try and ease his pain, but no explanation as to what was causing it.

I slept holding on to him and when he wasn’t looking I cried wondering if he had some sort of paralyzing condition that would soon render him helpless. He already couldn’t walk. Every step he took started the spasms again. He wasn’t eating very well and you could see he was losing weight. I seriously thought that I was going to lose him to something, but what???

I Googled, I talked to anyone who would listen and the pediatrician and I were on the phone every day. There were X-rays, more MRIs and a lot of waiting.

Then, one day, when I was helping him to the bathroom, he screamed that he didn’t want to ‘push’. Aha! At the risk of embarrassing my son, every child has moments when they can’t go to the bathroom. Could this be it? No way I thought…okay, so maybe he’s constipated, but could it REALLY be causing this? Nah…stupid thought.

As I put him on the toilet, he was in so much pain he was begging to get off and I could see his legs spasm in all different directions, but I forced him to sit down and stay there for just a few minutes. I knew he hadn’t gone in a bit and I thought maybe it would just make him feel a little better. He screamed more than I ever heard him scream and I almost took him off, but something inside of me said NO. I knew I needed to leave him there and make him go.

Thirty seconds later, my son walked off that toilet. Sound funny? My jaw dropped. Every kid gets slightly constipated, but what happened to my son was different and beyond the normal digestive issues. For some odd reason, and even the neurologists were baffled, his condition pressed on a nerve in his back and it locked and it sent him into a muscular shutdown. The pediatrician and the neurologist said they’ve never seen anything like it and one day they said they’d write him up for the medical journals.

He walked off that toilet! It was like something I’d never seen before in my life. It was over. Just like that. I cried for 20 minutes at least and was thankful that he was okay. He went and played video games. If I hadn’t listened to my instincts to keep him there, who knows how much worse the situation would’ve gotten. Listen to your instincts. They are truly real.

Look for our article on ‘Trusting your Gut Instinct’ in the  November issue of Hudson Valley Parent and for more examples of Hudson Valley moms who listened to their gut instinct. Do you have a story like this? Share it with us!

beamz_02_300My kids are into music. My son, 15, knows how to read music and plays several instruments. My daughter, 12, just started taking violin lessons and enjoys them. My oldest, 16, doesn’t know how to read music, but music is a huge part of her life (she is surgically attached to her Ipod). With The Beamz, anyone at any music level can play music.

The concept is simple. Plug it in, put the USB port into your computer — although it limits you from moving the toy from room to room — and download the software. Pick a song. The music will start to play. Then just wave your hand through where the laser beams will be and you’ll be making sounds. Go back and forth between the beams and you’ll start to make music. You can play with or without background music.

beamz (5)[1]My 12 year old enjoyed it because she really didn’t know how to read music and it gave her a way of being creative and making songs. My more advanced musician thought it was fun, but he wished there was more to it…ways to write and save your own pieces or change or add what was there. If there were ways to do that, we haven’t figured it out. He thought he might tire of it after awhile.

It’s a great way to kickstart some interest in music with any young child, but it comes with a $199 pricetag so this isn’t a product that should be considered a disposable toy. Honestly, it might be good for a special needs child who may not have the dexterity or the ability to play a traditional instrument. All they need to be able to do is wave their hand.

For more information, check out their website where you can download a starter demo.

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            As editor of Hudson Valley Parent and Hudson Valley Life, I receive many products to test. Some are fun – a movie screener to watch, a video game to test, a toy to try out. Others, not so much. I don’t think we’ll be trying many organic foods soon since most have tasted like someone tried to flavor cardboard.

            Since I’m a kid at heart, and I have three kids who are always looking for something silly to do, the Marshmallow Fun Company’s shooter sounded like goofy fun and we were willing to give it a whirl.

            The idea is to load up your marshmallows into the shooter and send them 30 feet into the air! It doesn’t hurt when you’re shot and the game can be played inside on a rainy day.

            Okay first things first – parents you WILL be finding rock hard marshmallows shot into many crevices into your home weeks later after you thought they were all cleaned up. Also, if you have younger kids who are enjoying the toy outside, make sure they are cautioned against eating the marshmallows that have landed in a pile of dirt.

            The shooter is goofy fun, but in all seriousness I was very taken back by its color and look. The version I received, the Executive Marshmallow Blower, is black and silver. The directions used actual gun terminologies. Although there is an orange knob at the top of the shooter and a see-through tunnel to put the marshmallows on top, the gun resembled true gun colors. It’s not something I could let my children play with outside. From a distance it can be mistaken for a weapon, especially to those unfamiliar with what a real gun looks like or those who understand what it’s like to go through lock down at schools when a funny looking item is carried throughout the building. I doubt anyone walking through the school halls, or a train station, with this would get far without being questioned.

            The shooters do come in other neon colors, but this one was sent to me. When I called the company, I spoke with a higher-up, who I won’t name here. When he told me, “oh but you have the executive model,” I asked him if that meant it wasn’t targeted to children. He responded by telling me ‘oh no, this toy is good for ages 9 to 99.’ I just don’t see it that way. I wouldn’t let my children play with this outside. Maybe I’m just overprotective, but I heard one-too many stories of a child getting shot because he or she carried a water gun that looked like the real thing.

            I get the idea and I encourage the fun…I just don’t understand why one of the versions has to look like this. What do you think?

Heading outdoors is a great way to soak up this colorful season before the cold weather sets in.  A walk around your neighborhood, the park or the woods gives kids the opportunity to witness the changing landscape up close.  It’s also a great way to spend some quality family time together after a busy week of work and school.  There are also tons of learning experiences waiting for you outdoors.   Best of all, you don’t need to spend  money on outdoor fun.

Grab some jackets, water and snacks and head out the door.  You may also want to grab some bags to put all of the treasures you might find on your nature walk.  Once home, kids can use their finds as craft materials.  They can string acorns and sees pods and make necklaces.  They can also make leaf rubbings with all the leaves they collected.  All you have to do is put the leaf under a piece of paper and your child can rub the crayon over the top and like magic a leaf print will emerge.  They can also classify the leaves by shape, size and color.  Another fun project to make with all of their findings is an autumn place mat.  Just get a piece of construction paper have your child glue their favorite nature finds and cover it with contact paper.

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