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One of the most daunting tasks as a parent can be mastery of the car seat. I remember when I was pregnant with Biz -eBaby1 that I would have horrible nightmares about my child being flung from a car because I (the dumb new mom) didn’t choose the correct car seat for my baby shower registry. It was a lot of pressure!
Finally, just when I thought I had life’s infant car seat mysteries figured out, then that pesky child of child mine outgrew it. I was then faced with a set of new decisions such as when the child should be forward-facing, height requirements and more. Don’t even get me started on booster seats! It never ends.
Thankfully, my friends at Dayton Children’s showed me a nifty little car seat app to alleviate the guess work and research required to make sure your little ones are transported
Kohl’s Cares ® and The Children’s Medical Center of Dayton, through their Kohl’s A Minute for Kids program, want to help you keep your children safe. They have created a car seat a “Safety On the Go” Car Seat App to help parents make the correct decisions on how to properly choose and use car seats. This application is downloadable to smart phones and highlights information including:
- Choosing the right car seat
- Browsing all car seat types
- Surprising car seat facts
- Installation help
While I joke about the various considerations needed for car seat shopping and use, it really is one of the most important ways to keep your child safe. So make life easy on yourself and put technology to use. Download the application by visiting: http://kohlssafetyonthego.com/.
With only ten days in to the new year, I’d say things are off to a pretty good start.
Resolutions aren’t my thing. Sure, I could drop a couple of L.B.’s. Yes, I need to double my running time if I am going to make through the Kentucky Derby Festival half-marathon this April. And, it’s true that I could stand to do some de-cluttering around the house.
But, what could be cooler than being featured on www.momspot.com to start the year off right? “I’m a Dayton Mom” is a column featuring notable women, and I was flattered to be asked if I could be interviewed.
The piece ran this week and I hope you will check it out. Who knows? You may even know of your own fabulous mom to nominate.
It’s officially 2013. For many of us, the new year brought snow. However, there are dangers parents should be aware of when it comes to being outside and allowing children to enjoy the fluffy stuff. Sledding and snow-related injuries are on the rise according to Dayton Children’s Medical Center.
While for some, freshly fallen snow simply means a huge hill, a group of friends and a swift sled, the Children’s Medical Center of Dayton’s emergency department has already seen a number of snow and sledding related injuries this winter. Before sending kids out into the cold, parents and caregivers should think about planning for winter fun activities to help children stay safe while enjoying the snow.
“Many children are into extreme sledding. Extreme sledding can cause several different types of injuries, especially to the head,” says Lisa Schwing, trauma program manager at The Children’s Medical Center of Dayton. Winter slope activities have moved from the traditional sled to snowboards and short skis. Unlike a sled, equipment like snowboards and skis take additional time to learn proper maneuver and control skills to be safe.
“Don’t just jump on a snowboard and think you are a pro,” Schwing says. “Doing that can lead to serious injuries.”
According to the National Safety Council, more than 30,000 children are treated for sledding and tobogganing accidents each year, with most accidents involving head related injuries. Last winter we didn’t see much snow in Dayton but in 2010 between the months of December and February, The Soin Pediatric Trauma and Emergency Center in Dayton Children’s treated nearly 50 children for sledding-related injuries.
When children race out the door to sled down their favorite hill, Schwing recommends these tips to keep them safe on the slopes:
- Never sled alone.
- Choose hills with gentle slopes that have a long run off area at the end.
- Avoid hills that end at roads, railways, rivers, fences or parking lots.
- Do not sled around frozen lakes or ponds.
- Children younger than 12 years old always should have adult supervision.
- Only sled in daylight or well-lit areas.
- Choose hills that are free from trees, rocks, holes, fences and signs and avoid hills that have icy spots and grassy or dirt areas exposed.
Many times head injuries are caused by thrill-seeking children who sled head first or with four or more people on the same sled. According to Schwing, children never should sled headfirst. Instead, they should position themselves sitting up or kneeling. Helmets are strongly recommended for children younger than 12 years old to protect their heads.
Safety usually is the last thing on a child’s mind when looking for a sled. Children will use anything from a commercially made sled to cardboard boxes and garbage can lids. When buying a sled, parents should put safety first. While purchasing a sled, parents should look at the age of the child sledding because different age groups may require different types of sleds. For example, a 12 year old should not be on a sled for an 8 year old. Steering mechanisms also are important so children can have control while sledding.
Chilly weather calls for warm clothing. When it comes to dressing children for a day of sledding, children should dress as warmly as possible, with hats, gloves and scarves. Every day’s weather is different, and parents should follow the weather as a clothing guideline while sledding.
Children can be susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia when spending a long time outside. Frostbite is characterized by numb fingers, ears and noses and eventually can lead to redness and pain. Hypothermia is a decrease in body temperature, which can affect brain and muscle functions. One of the first signs of hypothermia can be a mental status change. If unable to get to warm surroundings, severe hypothermia can result in death. While sledding, hypothermia can occur quickly because exercise causes rapid heat loss. A child should never sled alone. Dressing warmly and appropriately can prevent hypothermia and frostbite.
So get out there and enjoy the winter weather this 2013, but do so smartly.
Today begins the process of laying the children and adults slain in the Sandy Hook massacre to rest. The world mourns with all of you in Newtown, CT.
If you would like to help…
Here are three places to donate to the families in Newtown, Connecticut and to the responders trying to help them. And here are three useful articles on how to talk with your own families about what happened on Friday.
United Way of Western Connecticut, along with Newtown Savings Bank, has created the Sandy Hook School Support Fund. The fund will help provide support services to the affected families as well as the greater community.
Newtown Youth & Family Services, Inc., a nonprofit mental health clinic, is providing emergency counseling for families, community members and staff involved in the shooting. Donations will benefit those affected.
The Newtown Memorial Fund is a Facebook page set up to take donations and recruit volunteers for Newtown families and the greater community.
Mother Jones offers simple advice on helping children cope with the tragedy: limit their exposure to media coverage.
PBS has a good article on talking to children about tragedy. The main takeaway: let your children’s knowledge of and questions about the situation lead the conversation.
MediaBistro has gathered a list of books designed to help parents talk to children about tragedy and violence.
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I’m proud to share with you that my children’s book, Kangaroo’s Shoes, is an award-winning finalist in the ‘Children’s Picture Book: Softcover Fiction’ category of The 2012 USA Best Book Awards, sponsored by USA Book News.
USABookNews.com, the premier online magazine and review website for mainstream and independent publishing houses, announced the winners and finalists of THE 2012 USA BEST BOOK AWARDS on November 16, 2012.
Over 400 winners and finalists were announced in over 100 categories covering print, e-books and audio books. Awards were presented for titles published in 2011 and 2012.
This is a great honor and I am excited to know that the “book world” enjoys the book as much as my family and I do.
Thank you to everyone who has supported the Biz e-Mom’s Blog and Kangaroo’s Shoes. I am very grateful.
This morning I hurried to get the kids to school and myself to work. I longed for the days when we only had to throw on tank tops, shorts and flip flops. The deep temperature drop of late has added not only a few layers to my children’s daily dress routine but also a few extra minutes. And, how is it that I can never adjust the car seat straps to go over the baby’s puffy coat?!
In all seriousness, the chilly temperatures do require that parents make sure they are not rushing through the process before getting little ones out the door. Their saftey depends on it.
As a member of the Dayton Children’s Mommy Blogger Advisory panel, I wanted to share some helpful winter car seat tips from their blog. In fact, I found out that you should NOT put the bulky coats on underneath the car seats straps! (I can admit when I am wrong.) Here’s what you should do…
1. Fleece jackets, such as polar fleece or performance fleece, are incredibly warm, soft, comfortable, and don’t had a lot of bulk.
2. Thermal/long underwear which can be worn under clothing.
3. Warm ponchos. Your child can keep a warm shawl/poncho on, and when you put them in their seat, you flip the back up over the top of the seat and strap them in under it, so there is no bulk between them in their seat – which is ultimately what we are trying to avoid.
4. Blankets. Keep an extra blanket in the car to warm up those kiddos. Always good to have one in the car for emergencies as well!
5. Put the coat on backwards. This solution can really be as simple as taking off the coat, buckling your child in, then putting the coat back on them backward.
Finally, remember gloves and a hat! These protect the parts of the body that get cold quickly yet don’t interfere with a car seat harness.
Of course, some of winter readiness is common sense. As a general rule, dress your children as you would dress yourself and if you are going on a longer car journey, prepare for a change in temperature and pack a couple of extra changes of clothing.
When the rain and snow start to fall, I also recommend keeping a few extra plastic grocery bags in the car to keep wet, or muddy shoes and clothes in.
Happy and safe winter travels!
If you are concerned about taking your little ones out for trick or treat night in your city, there are other activities that still get kids in the spirit of the season, while giving parents some peace of mind.
Try one of these four alternatives and your children are guaranteed a ghoulishly good time!
1. Neighbored Halloween Party You don’t need to be part of a neighborhood association to organize a successful Halloween event. Just grab some of your closest friends or go door-to-door and speak to other parents who may be interested in helping you to plan a safe but spooky gathering for family and friends who live nearby.
Consider creating–along with a select group of neighbors–your own “haunted house hop,” where children can go from house to house completing a “task to win a prize. For example, grab a blind fold, a large bowl and peeled grapes. As children-with eyes covered–dunk their hands in the bowl, tell them they have to reach into a pot of “eyeballs” to get the prize. (The host can dress in costume and play scary music for added effect.) Cold pasta, can feels like “brains,” or some 7-up with green food coloring can be “witches brew.” Cover doorways with cotton stretched thinly like cob webs to make the experience uber-yucky. The haunted house hop, then becomes a fun and active competition loaded with giggles, goodies and gifts!
2. School or Neighborhood Costume Parade One of the most exciting aspects of Halloween (other than the candy) is the fact that children can dress up as their favorite character or hero. Let them get some use out of that costume, by holding a “costume parade” either in your school’s gymnasium or in your neighborhood. Award prizes for the “goofiest,” the “scariest,” the most creative and so on. After the parade, put on the Monster Mash and let the children have a mini sock hop!
3. Trunk or Treat Try converting your school or church parking lot into a mini Halloween tailgating party. All the participants can decorate the trunks of their cars and then all the kids go “trick or treating” around to all the trunks. For added excitement, give prizes for the best decorated trunks, carve pumpkins, have apple cider and hot chocolate. It will be a blast!
4. Craft and Cookie Party Combine creativity with confections and you have a recipe for fun! Invite your child’s closest friends or neighbors to a get together where the children can get creative with Crayolas, finger paints, paper and glue – and let them really make a mess. If you prefer something more structured, choose from one or two crafts that each child can choose to make. Try a witch’s broom, made out of cinnamon sticks, or a homemade Halloween mask out of paper mache.
While the crafts are drying, take a break from the creations and give the children cookie cutters shaped like various Halloween characters, Like black cats, pumpkins and so on. Make some homemade icing in several different colors using food coloring, and have a ball decorating the cookies in your own personal style. Save the best part for last-eating the sweets!
There are many magazines and websites which give unique and helpful tips around the holidays for making your own decorations and sweets. You don’t have to be Julia Childs to throw a fantastically freaky Halloween for your kids. And, you will rest assured that they are being supervised by people you trust. Why not make one of these Halloween alternatives a yearly tradition in your home?
One of my personal favorite festive recipes, which is very simple make, is roasted pumpkin seeds:
Recipe for Roasted Pumpkin Seeds After carving the pumpkin, simply roast the pumpkin seeds for an interesting fall snack. 1 cup pumpkin seeds, cleaned 1 tablespoon LAND O LAKES® Butter, melted 1/4 teaspoon salt 1. Heat oven to 350°F. Combine pumpkin seeds, butter and salt in medium bowl. 2. Place mixture onto ungreased 15x10x1-inch jelly-roll pan. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until seeds are dry and begin to brown. Makes 4 (1/4-cup) servings. VARIATION: Garlic Roasted Pumpkin Seeds: Omit salt. Prepare as directed above except use 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt. Bake as directed above.
The following also provide helpful information for creative cooking and crafts during the holiday season:
Good Housekeeping Magazine Country Living Magazine http://mycraftbook.com www.recipelink.com
Part III – Continued from yesterday’s post
Everything had to be ruled out before they could give us an answer. There just weren’t any clues as to what was going on. We were told that we could kiss her goodbye before she went to have her CT Scan. I bent down and brushed her bangs on her forehead. As I did, I noticed this red bump. It was sort of like a “goose egg” the size of a nickel.
“What’s that?” I asked my husband.
He didn’t know. I called my mom. She didn’t know either.
“Oh well…,” she interrupted, “she stumbled today in the kitchen. But it was like everyday that she stumbles. It wasn’t a big deal. She cried and then got up. It was over in five minutes. She even landed on her stuffed puppy.”
Was this a clue? I shared the information with the medical staff despite the fact it didn’t seem significant.
My husband and I got more snacks and coffee. We waited. Where I stood gave view into the area where the CT Scan was being done. I saw a Caucasian man hold up two pieces of film side by side and clip them to a brightly lit board. Then an Indian man walked in the room. He seemed to be of authority. It had to be the Neurologist. I looked at what he was looking at and, with no medical training at all, I clearly saw a brain. This brain picture was noticeably asymmetrical. The left side was long and thin. The right side was more round and full. That couldn’t be good to have an asymmetrical brain I though. And, I hoped it wasn’t my kid’s brain image. But it was.
We finally were admitted and moved upstairs from the ER to Intensive Care. Our daughter was showing signs of waking after about twenty minutes or so. Her lips were dry and cracked. Her long eyelashes were still and closed peacefully brushing her cheeks. She looked so little on that bed.
I got excited when her head turned and her hand moved positions. I had faith she would be OK but we really didn’t have any answers. Already about five hours had passed. The same doctor whom I had seen through the glass reviewing brain images entered our room. Sh*t, that was her brain, I thought.
He explained to my husband and I that there were currently three possibilities they were considering as a possible cause for our daughter’s condition: Viral or Bacterial (like Meningitis,) Seizure or Reaction to the Flu Vaccine (a condition called Guillain- Barre [GEE-ON- Baray].) she’d had earlier but that was least likely. He was soft-spoken and polite when he added that they still needed to do further testing, including have her under an EEG and MRI tomorrow.
“Tonight, in a few moments, she’ll need a spinal tap.”
I didn’t know what to think! Spinal tap was a band as far as I knew but it sounded dangerous and painful. I thought we were DONE with poking and prodding my kid. Little did I know our journey had just begun. He left the room and said he’d return with a resident soon.
By this time my daughter was awake and confused. She was also agitated with the oxygen tubes in her nose, IV in her arm and monitors hooked to her chest. You can’t easily explain to a two-year-old not to rip those things off. We did our best.
Spinal tap time was the worst part—hands down—of the hospitalization. Our daughter had to turn on her side, while my husband and I restrained her. Her back was numbed with something but she knew damn well this wasn’t going to be a pleasant experience. Her thrashing about made it difficult for the resident to hit the mark in her spine that they needed. I swear he must have stuck her unsuccessfully 4-5 times, as I tried my best to sing lullabies and keep her calm my husband and I both had to hold her down because she was resisting. It didn’t feel right doing that.
I was getting upset. The neurologist finally suggested that, while not ideal, they were going to have to put her under again. This time, it was a strong but quick form of anesthesia where she’d only be out for a couple of minutes. They had to get it right before she woke up. Thank God they did. I watched silently as the spinal fluid dripped out of my daughter’s back into a small tube. I had been praying for clear fluid. Cloudy fluid would’ve meant something bad.
We slept on a pull out couch in our clothes that night. The MRI was scheduled for 7 a.m. the next morning.
My daughter was thirsty and hungry by this time. Toddlers don’t understand why they can’t eat before an MRI. I couldn’t wait for the MRI to be done so we could just feed her and make her feel somewhat normal. At 5 a.m. we were already watching cartoons because she couldn’t sleep. Around 6:30 a.m. we were told the MRI machine was not working properly. They were trying to fix it but we had to wait.
At 11 a.m. my daughter had her EEG scheduled. Aside from pasting the electrode patches all over her scalp, it went as planned.
My daughter was hungry. She was given ice.
12:30 –ish p.m. We got an update. The MRI machine could not be fixed. They were either going to wait to see if the outside repair company could come within the hour or, if not, planned to transport us to another location via ambulance to get to the nearest machine. I couldn’t bear the thought of another ambulance.
I am skipping over lots of crying, videos, coffee, and stress here.
3:00 p.m. The MRI was ready. She went in.
Fast forward two days because this story is really long, we remained in the hospital. We waited for lab results to come back with more information. My daughter slept a lot and I watched a lot of Lifetime TV. I lost 5 pounds from my constant intake of coffee and eating my child’s Jell-O and cracker leftovers. My husband had returned to work so I was there alone.
In the late hours of the night, the children’s hospital was scariest. I didn’t leave my daughter often but to grab something from the kitchen. When I did, I could tell that some children clearly had more serious medical and physical conditions to contend with than we did. The beds in the hospital resembled cages for some of the rooms. I could tell as I glanced through the thin pane of glass on the doors or saw more clearly when the doors were left propped open.
One child, diagonal from us, was probably about eight or nine. He was in a large bed that resembled a back yard trampoline. It had high bars around it and they were padded with bumpers so he couldn’t harm himself. That child had a blank stare and empty expression every time I walked by—even when I smiled at him.
Another creepy room contained an infant. The infant crib was raised to the height of an adult so that the nurses, presumably, could reach in and get the child more easily. Inside that high-standing crib was a tiny swing. The baby looked like it was a bird in a bird cage swinging back and forth. I felt like I was in a horror flick. Unfortunately, it was my reality.
At the end of those two days, we had had a visit from our pastor and family members. For that, we were lucky.
We also met with multiple nurses, two neurologists and a neurosurgeon who concluded this: Our child had an arachnoid cyst in the left temporal lobe of her brain. She was born with it. Her brain was asymmetrical and her EEG abnormal. Some people have these cysts and never know it. They could live perfectly normal lives. Some people may have seizures. Our child had had a seizure.
Everything else that she tested for came back negative from HIV to Meningitis to the Flu. It could not be determined if the “stumble” she took that morning was enough to lower her threshold and trigger the seizure. We may never know. We were told only time would tell if our child would need to be medicated for epilepsy. We were given the option of medicating and temporarily passed on it (but had an emergency dose of anti-seizure medication if the event were ever to happen again.)
We checked out of the hospital on October 25, 2009 and took our daughter home with stickers in hand.
It was surreal. The unfortunate thing is that we are not special. There were hundreds of families in that hospital on that day going through some pretty bad things just like us. That says something.
So, that was a pretty accurate description of what my October 23-25 felt like last year. Unfortunately, it is only a snippet out of the story that has become our child’s ongoing medical diary. As we approach a year’s worth of medical visits, I thought it was time for me to reflect.
Writing this has been therapeutic in a way. I started to remember details of those days that I had almost forgotten. I hope that preserving this story will give our family perspective some day on how much we’ve overcome. One day, I think my daughter will want to know the story. She may be surprised to know how close we came to losing her.
I’m so glad we didn’t.
(Current situation update: For about 45 days after this incident, our daughter had similar mild atonic seizures and was hospitalized twice. However, the symptoms completely stopped in December 2009 and she has not been on medication. Follow-up exams show her condition is stable though what may have triggered the wave of seizures remains a mystery.
She still has asymmetry in the brain and she still has an arachnoid cyst. Yet, how that will affect her life in the future remains to be seen. For now, we are thankful and hopeful. To show our appreciation, our family walked to support epilepsy awareness in April 2010 and raised more than $1,000 for the Western Ohio Epilepsy Foundation.)