Friday, November 21, 2008
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
But the whole concept of time hit me even harder after seeing the movie "The Bucket List." And no, not because I am afraid of my own mortality, but more because of the time factor. There are so many things I want to do and see with my children before they go start lives of their own. There are grand natural places that I want to watch their eyes when they see them for the first time. There are amazing historical stories I want to see how their little ears and hearts absorb and the impact it has on their little persona's. And to be fair there are just some flat out fun stuff I want to do with them.
So recently my husband and I sat down and made out our "The Empty Nest List" and here it is in no particular order:
1) Cross Country Road Trip with camper, including several National Park stops
2) Tour and Multisport through Australia & New Zealand
3) Learn & go scuba diving together
4) Do a stay on a Dude Ranch
5) Learn & surf Hawaii
6) Raft the Grand Canyon
7) Tour America's Founding Roots - Ellis Island, Washington DC, Boston
8) Attend an Olympics in a foreign country
9) Ski Europe
10) Tour and Multisport through Alaska
We are so serious about this when recently meeting with our financial advisor we told him to budget in a major family vacation every other year into our analysis. We have given ourselves the lee-way to adjust our list and locations as finances and new thoughts dictate, but it is a start. And we have placed it in a location that is viewable every day in our house and next step is to start putting some approximate years on the activities to even further ensure this is not simply an exercise, but an actionable list with delivery dates.
So today you are going to hear that phrase from me..."Enjoy them it goes by so fast." And don't just let the days pass by in a pace of normalcy lost in loads of laundry, doing dishes, carpool duties, etc.. So start your list today. There is a world beyond the home and school walls where lessons can be learned by visiting and interacting with the location, environment, culture, people, etc. that can shape and prepare them for the people they will be when it is their turn to be an Adult "On The Go."
Please take a moment and leave a comment with a location or activity you would definitely put on your Empty Nest List.
And if you would like to see a family who has taken this concept to an incredible level visit: http://www.soultravelers3.com/
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
<- Oh if only it could be this simple...
My kids are pros at airpline travel. Part of this is our love to "go" and part is due to the fact we are transplants, all be it 12+ years now, from the Midwest to the West Coast. Which means numerous trips to the birthplace a year as all of our family remains there. They each have 3 frequent flyer accounts a piece and have flown 7 major airlines at least. So we can breeze through security almost as fast as the every day business traveler and fly so quietly the seat next to me appears empty versus there is a little person in it.
But all of this changed on our return flight from Phoenix on the morning of October 22. We stirred the kids at ~5:30AM to make our 7:25AM flight. Only just over an hour before their normal wake-up time. And our journey continued as peacful as normal...kids watching movies and behaving so well the steward slipped us extra beverages ($2 a pop on this airline) and the 1st class steward brought them cookies. We also were workng our way through our backpacks of pleasure.
We have backpacks for the kids specifically for air travel. They stay packed between trips and I merely restock them just prior to another take-off. Here's a list of items we keep inside to help us survive the flight:
> Washable Crayons & Coloring Books
> Static Stickers to let them decorate their window
> Miniature Etch-a-Sketch
> iPod Nano or Laptop w/ Favorite Movies, +1 new surprise from Netflix
> Tupperware of their favorite snacks (as long as it is not liquid these can go through security)
> Activity/Sticker Books for the Preschool set
> Seatbelt for non-car seat child
> Lovey...that special stuffed animal or blanket
> 1 ziplock of small toys (Thomas trains, Matchbox Cars, etc)
> ...and then I always hit the dollar store, etc and put in a couple of surprise new items
> Please leave a comment with your child's must have air travel survival item.
My 2yr old son tends to occupy the seat next to his father and then my 4yrold daughter and I sit in front of them, so if he does decide to kick the seat in front of him he is kicking one of us (which btw removing their shoes softens that blow a lot). It started as low grunts of displeasure. I heard my husband talking low and quiet to him. They slowly grew and as they did so did my husband's pace working his way through the pack of pleasure trying to find something to appease him. We could hear lots of "No!" from our ear shot, so my daughter and I started working our way through her pack and sharing things. He was now screaming and crying. He would take breaks for gasps of breath to refuel his lungs and would also suck on his thumb (so we knew it was not his ears). And then he would let it rip again.
Our family's pace continued for the next 20minutes. My husband and I both trying to remember all the psych articles we have ever read. We were recognizing his feelings..."we know something hurts or is bothering you..." But this kid was having none of it. We both said loud enough so our fellow passengers could hear us...."we know you had an early morning...." We threw our travel mates lots of "I am sorry glances" as well as mouthes apologies across the aisles. I personally used a little mental game on myself telling me if I survived and kept my cool I was rewarding myself with a Grande Skinny Vanilla Late when we hit the concourse or if got much worse a glass of Louis M. Martini Cab when I got home. My daughter finally won the challenge playing peek-a-boo over the seat with a stuffed animal and his shrieks of discomfort became ones of delight with 10minutes left in the flight.
As we disembarked most passengers were quite congenial, but a few threw us the evil eye. And then the one directly across my aisle made me very nervous as she leaned across. She had moved out of our row at the on-set...I am assuming to escape such a display of emotions. As I opened my mouth to apologize yet again she interrupted me quickly and said...."There are many days I am having a bad one for some reason or another and how I wish I was a child again and could just let it all out and everyone around me would chalk it up to my being a child."
So when all else fails...just let them let it all out.
Monday, November 3, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
It was gorgeous...even my daughter one night while enjoying sunset on one of the house's balconies remarked about all the pretty shades of pink and red. We are super-excited about returning here in a couple of years when the kids are a bit older and the $50+ per child 2.5hr jeep ride make more sense.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
So for this week's column I am going to defer to a wonderful friend, reader, and now contributor who lives in the beautiful high dessert of New Mexico. Located at the southern end of the Rockies their backyard provides them with lots of hiking, biking, lakes, winter sports, and an untold number of other outdoor activities. They have made this their home and are raising a nearly 3 year old boy there. Other than family they were of course drawn to the area as they are very active parents...she a runner, hiker, personal trainer. I used to be envious of her confidant spirit pre-children as she and her dogs, no hubby, would go out hiking to a cabin in some wilderness and stay for the weekend. Dad's career has him outdoors on a daily basis and he loves spending his free-time there too. So when their little boy' teething started to put a major cramp in their active style....the parents endured trials and tribulations of various soothing methods...medicinal and otherwise to allow their lifestyle to endure. Mom, Ness, has written an incredibly informative piece here below to help other parents who may be embarking on the not-so-wonderful world of teething.
Our Child-On-The Go was born into a family who does not merely recreate outside, but lives in the outdoors. We are rookie parents to a very decent 2 ½ year old boy, living on five acres at 7000’ in the Southern Rocky Mountains. Our backyard and our town are both surrounded by the National Forest. So, between working on our land and enjoying our mountain hikes, walks and jogs, we are outside all year around. Not to mention, I am an exercise nut, and have jogged or backpacked with him since he was one month old. All of this sounds like a fairy tale, until you understand how he our son has suffered and how we have learned and adapted to this repeated teething process. Alas, if you are one of those parents who never even knew their children’s teeth were arriving, don’t bother reading ahead. However, if you have either directly or indirectly experienced a teething toddler on the “Go”, the following little snippet may be helpful.
Since the arrival of his first teeth, we knew we had been blessed with a great little guy who would struggle with each tooth. All the signs arrived at once, like a four alarm fire in his first year of life. His cheeks would get red as apples, he would become irritable, eat very little, and always run a low-grade (99-100… degree) fever. At first, we stayed home and adjusted our plans. (Remember, I said we are/were rookies.) Then, we evolved and realized this was going to be a reoccurring process until all his teeth were in at roughly 3 years of age. Life had to go on; on occasion the kid had to be mobile even when feeling crummy. So, I read, I chatted, I called our Pediatrician, every Grandma, Mema, Nurse and Mom I knew and alas, I filled my knowledge cup with more than anyone would care to know about teething in children. The teething symptoms and challenges evolved as he grew and as the teeth became bigger (molars) or elected to arrive in multiples (four at a time). Poor kid, I am so glad he will likely not remember any of it. However, our family and friends will as we watch him persevere and come back around to his sweet, kind and silly self.
Here is what I know about being an active parent with a teething infant and now toddler under my wing. (Remember, I am not a Doctor, so check with your own for a “real” opinion should you desire.)
o Make sure you know it is the child’s teeth and not something more serious. You will become acquainted with the signs if you pay attention.
o When possible, plan your activities in the morning when your child’s endorphins are high and he/she is able to have better pain management. Endorphins crash in the afternoon which is when most parents see their kids really struggling. (See me pulling out my hair at naptime or during dinner preparations.)
o Teething generates more acid in the saliva and that ends up in the digestive tract, i.e. (really foul smelling poop.) Thus, try to give them easily digestible foods with low acidic value: mine gobbles any kind of yogurt…bananas, saltines, etc. I avoid milk for 1-2 days and use diluted juice, diluted Gatorade and plenty of H2O. Pack food when you can. (Airplanes, car, friends house, picnics etc.)
For pain management you will need to decide upon an escalation plan. Here is ours.
o If at home with no plans, we give him homeopathic teething pellets and gels. There are many options at health food stores so try a few until you find something that works for your kiddo: we like Humphrey’s, Boiron chamomilla 30, and Boiron Ferrum Phosphoriccum and Little Teether’s Gel. 2) If he continues to be in pain, we do the above and ice cubes crushed inside a small (kiddo size) wet washcloth with a rubber band around it. (Popsicles help but they don’t allow the chewing and knowing sensation to be met.) Both will reduce gum inflammation. 3) If pain is severe and/or fever is over 100.5 we give him Tylenol or Motrin in combination with the remedies mentioned above. On very rare occasion, we have had to administer all/most of these remedies to get him through and allow us to “go.” Under our Doc’s authority, we have alternated between Tylenol and Motrin. Motrin, if he has food in his stomach, Tylenol when he doesn’t. Honestly, Motrin is much better: it lasts twice as long, (thus you give it less often) and it is an anti-inflammatory that reduces inflammation in the gum, sinuses and ears.
o Give them some teething gel or pellets before dinner time. Otherwise, you have a teething toddler who is also running on an empty tank.
o Warm bath with a few drops of Lavender (calming not spiking) in the bath.
o Always travel with a few of these pain and swelling remedies. Always. I keep them in my truck and in our travel bag.
o Regardless of whether you are using a homeopathic remedy or over the counter product you need to be sure you understand the drugs/herbal interactions.
o Educate your caregivers and Grandparents on these remedies so they can help your child, safely, in your absence. (If you ever want a date night again!)
o Take a deep breathe. The process usually only lasts a few days and then passes.
o My kiddo often gets an ear infection when teething his molars. So, if when he doesn’t come around in 5-7 days, we go to the Pediatrician to determine if the ears are infected. Sinuses are directly tied to the process, so this is not an uncommon occurrence, but it is unfortunate.
Monday, October 6, 2008
So as the sliding season is quickly approaching and with it ski shop openings and ski club swaps it's time to decide what your munchkin needs for the season. The info below is based on past shopping for our kids as well as our previous experience as ski instructors....my husband 7+ years and myself 5 years. I broke this down by age/ability. Enjoy!
AGE = Not or Barely Walking: Just add snow and fun. At this age it is all about getting them used to the snow and making sure they love it. Take them for a ride on a sled or in a pack while you snowshoe.
AGE = 2nd year+ Walkers: Continue the activities from the "Not or Barely Walking" but now put on those klunky snowboots and let them tromp and stomp around the house during the summer months. Then once they have gotten used to the heavy boots let them check out some plastic skis...first just by touching them then let them walk around the house with them (WATCH YOUR SHINS). This helps them get used to maneuvering the extra inches added to their feet and even though not snow will will start getting them used to turning all that extra length without crossing them. As soon as any child is placed on the snow...with plastic skis or the real deal they should have a helmet and eye protection
Boots: Should be something with traction. And preferably one with a drawstring/gator top. This will keep snow from coming in through the top with they're treading through the freshies. Good source: http://www.outdoorkids.com/
Plastic Skis: There is pretty much one pair on the market...KID-SKI Happy Ski Good source: http://www.kidski.com/
Helmet: Kids should helmet for protection from their own accidents as well as those caused by others. Added benefit 80 percent of heat-loss is through the head. Good source: http://www.lidsonkids.org/home.asp
Eye Protection: Kids should have sunglasses and goggles with them. Skiing and riding is a lot more fun when you can see
AGE = Ready to slide on the real deal When you are ready either rental-wise or purchase-wise get your kids on the real deal take them to get measured at a ski shop. And when you get them measured and more than likely trying out a pair of boots ensure to do so with a pair of ski socks. Now you are the only one who knows your ski practices and what would be the best deal financially, but here's some options:
Rent: If you are only going to go a few times a year this may be your best option. Most resorts offer packages for lessons and rentals that are worth looking in to. If you are going on a vacation for a few days you probably want to check into a ski shop in your destination town. Good source: http://www.breezeski.com/index.cfm
Swaps: These are huge flea market type atmospheres where people bring their old gear and put it up for sale and the organizers take a piece of the sale to cover expenses or donate to some charity. Watch your local papers they generally happen well before the snow flies in October or November. You can generally find some good deals, but you need to be very careful to check the gear for proper working condition. You need to be positive about fit or ensure bindings allow for some adjustment to ensure they fit the boot. In fact it is best to have the boot with you if already purchased.
Ski Shops: People generally see dollars melting like snowflakes when they think about buying children's skis from a shop. Not necessarily so. Many shops offer future trade-in deals on their new and used equipment. Meaning if you trade it in after 1 years use you recoup 50% of it's value towards your child's next purchase...2 years 25%. So if your child is going to be going going a lot this is definitely one you should look in to.
Do not get your beginning child poles! Kind of think about the old adage...don't run with a pencil. Enough said, but seriously they are not needed. In fact one could argue a lot of adults could use a back to basics course and have their poles taken away. Kids are flexible and can easily get up without them. Kids are already struggling with coordination as it is...poles will only create more issues.
Definitely feel free to leave a comment and tell others a local ski shop or a swap upcoming in your area where someone might find good deals on equipment for a child to go sliding on the cheap.
Monday, September 29, 2008
Sunday, September 21, 2008
· Preparation... with the weekend festival, there was a very helpful website that was full of good information to have: parking (or lack thereof in this case), schedule, and most importantly, what’s allowed in and what is not.
> Location consideration 1: Noise… we opted not to go with earplugs for our daughter and chose our spots well enough away from the stage to be away from the crowded area and at a reasonable noise level. We did see kids with a variety of different ear plugs in (I think our curious George would have ripped all of them right out) and I’ve also read that getting hunting earphones/protectors is a good way to go.
> Location consideration 2 – surrounding parties… by the end of the day, we were sitting close to several families with kids (when we go again, we will look for this). This was great for two reasons. First, there’s less of a chance your kid will have to inhale smoke or hear words and phrases you may not utter around them normally and second, entertainment value. We ended up being the “base” for few kids that were interested in the crayons, ball, etc, which we were more than happy to share, as it gave our daughter even more entertainment and allowed other parents to enjoy the music as we were. We had fun chatting with the other parents too.
All in all, it was a great day for everyone and we are certainly going to try something similar again.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Friday, September 12, 2008
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Saturday, August 30, 2008
But before the fun we really need to talk safety....according to the CDC in 2005 over 3500 people died of unintentional drownings. Of those one in four are children under the age of 14. In 2005 of all children between the ages of 1 and 4 that died 30% were from drowning. Rates have slowly been dropping, but drowning still is the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death in children under the age of 14. OK, if that didn't scare you enough...read on at the CDC's webpage Seriously pools and water can be really fun, but they can also be very dangerous, so we as parents who do everything from even before birth to protect our tiny loved ones from prenatal vitamins, washing all those new clothes, sheets, stocking their room with hypoallergenic everything, and then once they are here washing our hands, making baby food, buying organic, using monitors just need to be educated like we were with What to Expect When...or whatever book was your choosing....about water safety.
- Never leave your children alone in or near the pool, even for a moment. An adult who knows CPR should actively supervise children at all times.
- Practice touch supervision with children younger than 5 years. This means that the adult is within an arm's length of the child at all times.
- You must put up a fence to separate your house from the pool. Most young children who drown in pools wander out of the house and fall into the pool. Install a fence at least 4 feet high around all 4 sides of the pool. This fence will completely separate the pool from the house and play area of the yard. Use gates that self-close and self-latch, with latches higher than your children's reach.
- Keep rescue equipment (such as a shepherd's hook or life preserver) and a telephone by the pool.
- Do not use air-filled "swimming aids" as a substitute for approved life vests.
Remove all toys from the pool after use so children aren't tempted to reach for them.
- After the children are done swimming, secure the pool so they can't get back into it.
A note regarding bullet #1 and CPR training. Living in NorCal where we just finished several triple digit days there are many of us that have pools and small children. So last year I organized a CPR course here at my home for several families. I did an on-line search or you can easily contact your local Red Cross chapter to get course information. We hired an instructor who's fee was per pupil and we also hired a babysitter for all the kids. It was definitely a morning well-spent. We got 6 local families, ~12 parents, all with pools at their home and all with children under the age of 8 CPR certified. We all agreed even though it was a gigantic pain to coordinate all of our schedules...it was so worth it.
Regarding bullet #3...if you build your own pool or even use a pool company you/they will be required to go through inspections with your county planning commission. One of the things they will review is your fence height as well as gates. They will check the swing time on your gate to ensure it is closing in a quick fashion. These do loosen up over time and tend to swig slower so ensure your builder or installer shows you how to tighten them back.
You can find even more info regarding pool safety at the American Red Cross & ABC Pool Safety or a multitude of other sites of your choosing. I am not really sure why I felt I needed to spout or relay all this info before writing the fun piece (which I promise will follow shortly)....I guess as my husband would say...."it's the Mom in you."