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When I worked in a kindergarten-first grade school before becoming editor, I got to see first hand how many young kids were asthmatics and allergy sufferers. Plastic bags of their inhalers and other medication would be stored in the nurse’s office, and every field trip meant that we had to make sure we had each child’s specific bag of meds. To me it seemed like an almost epidemic. When the book, “Beating Asthma” came into the office, I was very curious about any new findings on the issue.
The subtitle of the book, “Seven Simple Principles” caught my eye, and reminded me that sometimes the most perplexing problem can sometimes have common sense remedies.
Dr. Stephen Apaliski called me from his home state of Texas during a break from radio interviews. He’s got a lot to say and has been waiting years to say it.
“The medical community has learned a lot about asthma,” he says, “but it’s time to quit educating the physicians, but educate the parents.” The first question I asked is “why so much asthma?”
Dr. Apaliski faults the air quality for one thing, though while it’s cleaner than it was ten years ago, you still have poor air quality in the Hudson Valley (because we’re in a valley) and urban or industrial areas. But also, he says, there is a “hygiene hypothesis,” which says that the more cleaner the environment, the less resistant our bodies have become to contaminants. An example, Dr. Apaliski cited, had to do with some research done that says kids raised in environments with dirt, so to speak, and allergens have a higher tolerance for all kinds of air quality. “Kids on a farm,” Dr. Apaliski notes, “tend to do better.”
In his book, Dr. Apaliski lists seven principles of asthma that parents, either for themselves or for their kids, should be aware of. He refers to these as the “Seven P Principles.”
1. Understanding the Problem: Don’t view asthma as an episodic illness, which can give the patient the idea that they’re powerless to control it. View it as a chronic problem with ways to manage it.
2. Prevention (by avoidance): Get to recognize the triggers of asthma, i.e., perfume, days with high ozone alerts, and avoid them. Parents should have their kids play indoors when the air quality for that day is poor.
3. Pulmonary Function Test: Having these test performed can greatly educate parents and their kids on the true state of lungs. “Ironically, a person with asthma may report feeling well when in fact their lungs may not be doing well at all,” Dr. Apaliski writes. Treatment plans may have to be adjusted, even when the patient feels well.
4. Pharmaceuticals: Find the right amount of medicine needed to control the asthma, nothing less and nothing more. It’s a balancing act for the physician and patient, but good communication can get this to work.
5. Plan: Develop a plan with the physician so that parents know when to take action. Relying on a “crises-driven” plan when only taking action when the asthma gets severe is not the way to go, but a daily monitoring of the patient feels. If a cold is coming on, for instance, there should be steps taking right away to avoid a full-blown attack, requiring an ER visit.
6. Patient-Physician Relationship: Engage in collaborative relationship with a physician, one built on mutual respect and open dialogue; find a physician who will listen and values your input.
7. Positive Mindset: While there is no research that asthma can be “beaten,” we know that having a positive mindset is key to its control. A positive mindset includes optimism, ownership and something known as “grit,” or the persistence necessary to overcome denial, and maintain the positive actions needed keep asthma in check.
When I asked Dr. Apaliski about why he wrote this book, he told me about Sarah (name changed.) “A typical pre-teenager…energetic, bright, and full of life. But, beaten by asthma, she died on Father’s Day.”
To this day, Dr. Apaliski feels the loss, that her death left a “never-healing mark that is still there to this day.”
We concluded our conversation with this statistic: “Seventy-one percent [of those with asthma] could be described as poorly controlled….Patients are settling for less wellness than they deserve.”
Dr. Stephen Apaliski is Board Certified in Pediatrics as well as Allergy and Immunology. He’s a Fellow of the American College of Allergy and Immunology and a Board Member of the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America-Texas Chapter.
I have always prided myself on being a fabulous multitasker. I could read a book, talk on the phone, plan this week’s dinner menu and make a mental grocery list, all while running on the treadmill. Backwards, in heels. Of course, that was all in the BC (before children) era. These days I’m lucky if I can pour bowl of cereal, and remember to breathe at the same time.
Wishin’ for three arms
I’m sure that every mom since the beginning of time, has wished she had three more arms, two more eyes (for the back of her head, of course) and a brain that hasn’t been taken over by the theme song to “Yo Gabba Gabba.” Feeding the dog, while pouring (and spilling) chocolate milk, sweeping the kitchen floor for the third time in an hour, and trying to say more than 5 words to my husband in a row without hearing “MAAAAAAAAMMMMAAAA” is pretty much impossible. No matter what I do, no matter how many lists I make and how organized I think I am, it all goes out the window most days. Most nights, I am still loading the dishwasher and wiping the crumbs from dinner off the kitchen table at 9:30 pm.
It’s not just my Cinderella chores that keep me twitching and pacing 24/7…the wonderful world of technology has added a whole new chapter to my To Do list. Many days, my iPhone might has well be duct-taped to my hand. Many hours are spent texting sarcastic remarks and observations to my mommy partner-in-crime, updating my Facebook status with the latest hysterical quotes that came out of my little monkeys’ mouths, and rocking the highest score in Scramble with Friends.
I had thought I was doing a pretty good job juggling everything- kids, work, chores, hubby, texting, swimsuit modeling, until last week. I was steam mopping the living room, and gabbing on the phone, while my little bambinos were sitting on the couch, enjoying everyone’s favorite oval headed super cool exploradora. My little man kept saying “Mama, come sit. Mama, come sit” to which I kept replying “In a minute, buddy!”
Wisdom from a child
There I was, multitasking my ever-expanding hiney off, when my wise little three year old, walked over to me, grabbed my mop and my arm and said, “Mama, stop and come sit with me now.” My first impulse was to shake him off and repeat my favorite phrase in Dora’s native tongue (uno momento, por favor!)and then it hit me. My little man was telling me to slow down, sit down and stop mopping/chatting/planning my days away. So I did. I have to admit, after about 30 seconds of sitting, I heard my phone go off, and I used a whole week’s worth of self-control not to check it. I remembered that I hadn’t made a list of ingredients I needed for the bake sale at my daughter’s school, but I fought the urge not to run to the kitchen for paper and a pen.
I realized that my children watching me constantly running around like the Energizer Bunny on crack isn’t good parenting. All work and no play makes ANY mama a cranky, cranky gal. Quieting my mind and body, and just vegging out with my babies on the couch doesn’t sound like a tough task, but I know you will all agree that it is way harder than it sounds. Then again, nothing worth having comes easy…and it was worth each and every snugglicious moment.
Here’s to a relaxing Spring…well, a girl can dream, right? Cheers!
I was feeling the JetBlues yesterday. It just so happens that my family has plans to fly JetBlue, and have you heard the news? A two-year-old had such a fit on one of their flights right before takeoff, the plane’s pilot removed her and her family from the plane.
My two-year-old often has mini tantrums and the occasional full-blown booger-spewing tear tornado too. If one of these seismic events occurs on the flight, will we have to land prematurely on a grassfield in Kentucky? Chances are all will be spared. Nonetheless, life is a mixed bag these days, and, now, it is possible we will alter a plane’s trajectory and be kicked off a flight.
So, is this all my fault?
Yes, according to Kimberly – 2068293 on the discussion board following an MSN-video about the incident . She writes, “This is nothing more than a lazy parent who has no better sense. And a child that’s use(d) to getting their way through the practice of tantrums,” and let’s not forget how “Parents are so permissive with their children that they do not listen and do not know how to behave in public. I understand that a two-year-old is very young, but even at two the child should have been taught how to behave and to listen to her parents,” writes JS in SD in the same discussion.
In fact, seventy-one percent of people side with JetBlue for its decision to remove the parents from the plane, according to a poll on MSN.
Personally, I liked DrainBramages comment:
If you have a two-year-old that can actually process your demands to calm down and oblige – you should either be extremely rich from selling/teaching your methods – or just got damn lucky.
But really, the story has shaken me up, presenting me with a worst-case scenario for our upcoming flight and the realization that people really are judging me when my child is having a tantrum.
I’ve been asking questions like “Why won’t he listen to me? Do I need to set firmer limits and am I too soft on him? I know underneath it all, he is supersweet, so what am I doing wrong?” I have asked all of these questions before, but, hey, why not ask them again?
Who am I angry at? JetBlue? The 71%? Myself? How angry can I really be at people who just want to sit quietly on an airplane? I happen to be one of those people too! Truly, mostly I am angry at my two-year-old for having tantrums. I wish I were a better, more loving parent, but he is just so demanding sometimes. Will anything be different from now on? I will try to be firmer in the coming weeks before our upcoming flight, but he can be tough, and I don’t know if it will work…
I spend a lot of time with two-year-olds these days. We frequent sandboxes, jumping emporiums, and playspaces, and I have witnessed pretty much every two-year-old in our circle crash and burn at some point. The fury of toddlers varies but every one I know well has been unreasonable and completely self-centered at some point.
For our flight, we will bring the requisite toys, snacks, distractions, etc, but there still remains the superslight-hopefully infinitesimal chance that he will go ballistic. If he does, we will do our best to calm him down, hope we are not escorted off the plane, and have to chalk it off to one of those moments he is supposed to be having. I wish we wouldn’t have them, but when you have a two-year-old, life will sometimes throw you a tantrum.
I spent most of today cleaning out sections of the garage that store all the games we’ve been playing for the past twenty years, and some even further back than that. Twister, Stratego, Clue, Life, Monopoly. And not just one version, but whatever the big hit movie of the day was, like the Life game with Monsters Inc. characters, or the Harry Potter version of Clue. These became popular because, let’s face it, these games were classics, and the only way to involve the kids was if they saw their favorite Disney character on the box. So, the Disney Trivial Pursuit was a bit hit for the kids, and the adults were able to still enjoy a bit of competition. And, oh the joy on the faces of my daughters, and nieces, when they knew the name of the Prince in whatever movie, or one of the characters in Little Mermaid. All their cartoon and movie-watching time was not in vain!
So, I was talking about the games. It’s a real melancholy task, cleaning out childhood games. Some folks hoard them, thinking they can never part with them, no matter how old their kids get. Others try to keep them in pristine condition so they can resold on eBay, while I am happy to bring whatever still has all the pieces, and the instructions, and a box that hasn’t disintegrated yet to my local second hand thrift shop. I am all in favor of passing the torch, letting the next generation know the fun of “sinking the battleship.”
The games continue!
But, don’t get me wrong. The game playing still continues in my family, and I’m sure it will for a very long time. Just the other night we collected in Queens to play a few rounds of board games, mostly ones that don’t involve many pieces, or pages and pages of rules. In fact, we tend not to even unpack all the pieces, nor unfold the playing board, but rather do an abbreviated version to keep the fun moving, and enjoy just the sense of play.
One game, a new one in the field, caught my attention here at the office and I offered to bring it to our game night and give it a try. It’s called Goggle Eyes, (no, not Google Eyes for your SEO fans), but goggle, like in the glasses. It’s as if you were playing Pictionary with blurred vision (and for you partiers out there, I guess you already had a go-around with this). But it’s a very cool concept when playing with the adults whose vision is already questionable.
The idea is to roll the die, and the colored dot (red, blue, green or yellow) indicates the level of blurriness the team member will have as they try and draw the object, or thing, or whatever the category is. But, the best part are the goggles, more like big clown glasses with removable lenses, hence the ability to change the level of clear vision. The hardest lenses to see through resemble what it’s like to look through those blurry glass blocks you see in office buildings. You can barely see the pad of paper and tip of the pencil, let alone try to draw the Eiffel Tower, as I had to do on my turn.
We all took a turn, as we had more games to play, but I will say that for a group of all ages, it’s a winner. I think it’s brand new and will probably be on the shelves for the holiday season, so if you are looking for an easy to learn game, that really does “draw” laughs (especially from all the ones in the group that wear tri-focals), it’s worth a go.
Another game of choice, one especially good when it’s getting late, but you still got “game” is Bunco. This game has so few rules, it probably should have it’s own category. You roll the dice and count how many 1’s you get, then once someone gets 21 – 1’s, you move on to 2’s. When that lucky someone gets 21, someone rings the bell (like the bellhop kind of bell), and the crowd laughs and cheers. I think in many instances, wine is involved. Hence the ease of the rules.
Get in the game
If you haven’t had a family game night, it’s time, and if you haven’t ever had one, just pick up one of the games mentioned and give it a go. It’s a real easy way to spend quality time together, and with somewhat of a purpose. And, there is nothing like hearing that bell go off, as someone hollers, “bunco!”
Kale is one of those vegetables, similar to collard greens, that I always intend to incorporate into our meals but can never find palatable ways to do so. Other than slipping it into soups (and I can’t get my family to eat soup as a main course too often) I’m at a loss. I always hear that kale chips are a great way to transform kale into something delightful, but my last attempt was more like disappointing. They came out terribly bitter, and my husband swears they made us sick afterwards. I held off on trying again, but they were on sale last week, so I took it as a sign. I decided to do some thorough research and give it another go.
Basically, what I learned is there are two essential steps to getting kale chips just right, and I unfortunately did neither the first time I made them. Cutting the leaves off the stems (which are the source of bitterness) is essential, as is thoroughly drying the leaves before baking, so that they get crispy rather than soggy. This time I was diligent, and they were perfect. I took step by step photos as I went along so the process would be easy to replicate. The methodology I followed came from Real Food Digest.
Making Kale Chips
First, put the entire bunch of kale in a strainer and wash well, paying attention to dirt that can get trapped between the stem and leaves. Even though you’ll next do some trimming, it is easier to wash the leaves as whole pieces.
Next, trim the leaves off the stems, staying as close to the stem as possible. Then rip the pieces into chip-sized bites. I wasn’t quite sure how to get a photo of myself in action, but my four-year-old took this photo for me, budding photographer and chef that she is.
When you’re done trimming, your stems should look like this. We tossed them in the compost.
Next (this is a really important step), spread them out on racks (like the kind you use to cool baked goods), and pat them very, very dry. Then let them air dry for as long as possible. I did this a few hours before I was going to bake them, and left the nearby window open.
Once they’re dry, put them into a bowl, and season and massage them. Yes, massage them. My kids thought it was hysterical. The concept comes from KB/Superhero, and it was the funniest thing I came across online while researching kale chips. KB said, “Now it’s time to give the kale an intense massage. Pretend your a Swiss masseuse and you’re taking out your frustrations on a Wall Street jackass. Really let him have it. Massage that dressing into the kale.” (In this case, I massaged in one tablespoon of olive oil, then I sprinkled them with one teaspoon of kosher salt once they were on the baking sheet. They can be made them sweet, savory, or however you like them).
Next, spread them onto however many baking sheets you need to not have leaves overlapping (I needed two large baking sheets). How you bake them seems to be another key component. Some websites recommended quick, high temps to crisp them, whereas others recommended longer, lower temps to dry them out. I went with the latter, and baked them at 250 for 35-40 mins, rotating the trays halfway through. Keep close to the oven and check them after 30 mins, so you can monitor when they get crisp but before they burn. Taste one and you’ll know if it’s done.
Done, they’ll look crisp and dry, and are crunchy.
Finally, serve alongside a casual meal. We had ours with tomato/turkey bacon/grilled cheese sandwiches, and oranges. After dinner, I brought my daughter to dance class and my husband stayed home to handle clean-up. I was sad, although not surprised, to find out the kale chips were completely gone when I returned. I’ll consider that a good thing.
Bishop Dunn School hosted the Christain rock group Full Armor. From the singing and clapping that was going on kids from 6 years old to us older adults enjoyed the evening. I suggest that if you feel strongly about the Christain message of love and faith, you should be on the lookout for an upcoming Bishop Dunn concert. Mr. DelViscio, the school principal, said that the group was such a success at their school, that they will invite Full Armor back again.
Rocking with your kids
When my kids were younger, I insisted that I go with them to their first concert. I myself was not much of a concert goer, but you are never to old to appreciate new music. That was the days when YES performed at Madison Square Garden. Loved the music. Love the theater of it all. Hated seeing bongs and other drug paraphernalia.
Then the kids invited me to see the Doobie Brothers. (Little did I know they invited me because they couldn’t find someone to drive them to the Nassau Memorial Coliseum.) We were on the folding chairs in the center of the area and everyone was precariously standing on the seats. The Doobies were great. To show you what a newbie I was in this concert arena, I asked my son, “How do you know the song with the first one or two sounds?”
I still love the Doobie Brothers. In fact, many of their songs are great to exercise to. And my all time favorite was their lead singer Michael McDonald.
Sing, dance and share music
My two kids still love music, although they developed very separate tastes… my youngest is a Frank Sanatra fan while my oldest likes rock. Whatever they play we all dance and sing to our heart’s content.
Now it’s my grandkids chance to pick up the ball. My granddaughter, who is six, will dance to anything, anywhere. And my 9 year old grandson follow suit. And it really comes in handy when they are in the car and bickering. I just put on an album we all know and the singing begins.
Let music be the great soother of tired souls. Let music uplift us all to be all we can be.
It’s nice to have a simple, versatile side dish to accompany a family meal. Kids (and many adults!) can be picky about vegetables, so having a few options in your repertoire can’t hurt. I’ve recently discovered Pinterest, and was delighted to find a plethora of new recipes to try. This recipe was one of my Pinterest finds, although it originally comes from allrecipes.
A verstile side dish: Zucchini and Potato Bake
This recipe, Zucchini and Potato Bake, is pretty self-explanatory, and for once, I didn’t make any changes. (Wait, have I ever said those words before? Probably not). I did use gluten-free breadcrumbs I’d made; tailor that to your dietary needs. Although I often use glass baking dishes, I used a cast-iron enamel pan (which happens to have been passed down from my grandmother- she said she got it as a wedding gift) and it crisped up the potatoes nicely. Try this one out, and feel free to spruce it up (I considered adding some fresh herbs or spices, but decided not to since it was the first time I was making it). My kids did like it, although one daughter picked out all of the zucchini, and the other picked out half of the zucchini and red peppers. Continual exposure can’t hurt, though, and you pick your battles. If your family has preferences for one kind of vegetable over another, substitutions are worth trying as well. For us, this dish went well with turkey burgers, carrots, and fruit.
Marshmallows: Great for hot chocolate, s’mores, and, if you are one of the baby birds living in the Colucci nest, dinner. Wish I could insert a cute little ‘lol’ here, but sadly I speaketh the truth. Before you call CPS on my malnutritional mothering skills, lemme explain.
While I was pregnant with Bells, I read every How to be the most perfect mother book that Amazon sells. I was SURE that I would be making my own baby food (from organic fruits and vegetables, of course). My precious little kumquat was going to get three well-balanced meals a day, and I was DEFINITELY not going to give her juice, chocolate milk, or anything that contained that sneaky little four-letter enemy, HFCS (high fructose corn syrup).
A little background information
Growing up, dinnertime was a war zone in our house, and looking back, I’m 100% certain that my mother should be awarded a Purple Heart. She cooked dinner every night for the six of us, only to hear, “EWWWWW!!!! I’m not eating that!!” or “Mommmmm, why don’t you ever make anything I like???” This poor woman, a SAHM (stay-at-home-Mom), made a nutritious meal each night, only to be pelted with whines and demands. Then someone would spill their drink. Then my dad would yell…and about 5 minutes later, someone else would spill their drink. Don’t get me wrong, I had the most AH-MAAAZ-ING childhood, and I probably have a slightly skewed memory of dinner, since I was the one doing most of the whining and demanding. I pretty much hated everything my mom could’ve possibly cooked, with the exception of pizza and pancakes.
Knowing what a royal pain-in-da-tush I was as a child, I was determined to raise ‘good eaters.’ Forget peanut butter and jelly, my little culinary geniuses were going to be eating roasted butternut squash ravioli with a sage brown butter sauce, made with free range, organic, hormone-free squash.
I will say, I started off strong. I nursed both of my kiddies for one year (Luca, a total boobaholic, a tad bit longer). That’s pretty much where my career as a child nutrition expert hit a brick wall. When my fussy 9-month-old wouldn’t eat his peas, I sprinkled just a teeny-weeny bit of sugar on them. When my 2-year old-curly girl wouldn’t eat anything….ANYTHING…we would clap and cheer when she would finally eat a handful of M&M’s and half a slice of cheese. And so, the bad habits were born.
The whole “feed your child what you’re eating” idea went straight into the garbage, along with my sanity and my super sexy nursing bras. My personal chef/husband would grill up a delicious steak, cut it up in those tiny, safe little pieces- only to have it smushed all over the high chair tray and then thrown to the landsharks, aka our Boston Terrors. (No, there’s no typo there, our terriers are terrors!) Panicked, we started what is now known as the Mac and Cheese Era. I’m no financial genius, but I’m pretty sure that we should have invested our life’s savings in several shares of Kraft stock. What’s better than powdered cheese? According to my little monsters, apparently nothing.
Things are improving
These days, we’ve made some small strides. We’ve graduated from the orange Kraft crack to actual, real live pasta. We’ve had glimmers of hope. Over the summer, Bella ate a hot dog. You would’ve thought someone granted my husband a starting position on the Jets. She has Cocoa Pebbles most mornings for breakfast (Don’t judge; they’re made with whole grain.) Luca is our champion eater who will actually eat what we are eating most nights for which we are very, very grateful. But on those nights when the dinner table is starting to resemble the Peloponnesian War, a few deep breaths and a handful of marshmallows can work a small miracle.