Halloween Candy Management.

Halloween is approaching, and I don’t know about you but I’m VERY excited.  Beyond the awesomeness of picking out a really fun Halloween costume, and playing “Monster Mash” while your child dances around with excitement at the prospect of joining their friends singing the chant “Trick or Treat” as they go from home to home–there is also the awesomeness of having to deal with the aftermath of it all. You know–the butt-load of candy that your child has in their candy bag? The fact that by eating such an amount of candy the child is more susceptible to a bellyache, a sugar rush, a choking hazard, and a cavity.  So what are some ways to make the “candy binge” more manageable? Look below at some really nice tips I’ve gotten from the LA Times:

Go easy on the stomach. To avoid digestive upset, agree in advance on how many treats your child can eat on Halloween night. Let him pick out those two or three favorite pieces of candy and immediately put the rest aside.

Don’t eat during trick-or-treating. Make sure kids come home with their loot so you can inspect it before they dig in. Feed them a healthy dinner before they go out so they’re not as tempted to snack.

Beware of choking hazards. Very young children shouldn’t have small, hard items such as chewing gum, peanuts or hard candies. Older children should be sitting down when they eat, not running around or wrestling with each other.

Spare the braces. Sticky, chewy or hard candy can bend or break wires in a child’s mouth. Kids with braces should stay away from treats such as jawbreakers, caramel candies, nut-filled chocolates, taffy, licorice, gummies and chewing gum.

Throw out unwrapped treats. Also avoid anything with loose or torn wrappers or small holes in the packaging; when in doubt, throw it out. And stay away from homemade treats unless you know the person who made it well.

Control leftovers. Limit kids to about two pieces a day from their stash of goodies, or have them trade in their candy for a toy, book or family outing. You can save the candy for a special occasion – a birthday party pinata, for example – or put it out in a bowl at work. Many dentists also offer buy-back programs.


Young kids watching too much television

I found an article on MSNBC.com, about preschoolers watching far too much television than what they should be, look at the article below, and tell me what you think:

“Young kids are watching too much television, some averaging more than five hours a day, a new study suggests.

The findings include screen time at home and in different child care settings.

And nearly 70 percent of the preschool-age children exceeded recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) for limiting screen exposure (including TV, DVDs, computers and video games) to one to two daily hours. The recommendation is based on research linking screen time with adverse effects, including language lags, obesity, possibly aggressive behaviors and decreased academic performance, according to study researcher Dr. Pooja Tandon of the Seattle Children’s Research Institute and the University of Washington.

“A majority of children under the age of 5 years in the United States spend almost 40 hours a week with caregivers other than their parents, and it’s important to understand what kind of screen-time exposure children are getting with these other caregivers,” Tandon said.

Tandon and her colleagues will detail their findings in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Pediatrics.

TV tallies
The team looked at data collected from nearly 9,000 preschool-age children (4 to 5 years old) along with their parents and caregivers who took part in the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort (ECLS-B). The ECLS-B has followed a nationally representative sample of 10,700 children born in 2001. The sample is meant to represent about 4 million children of the same ages and demographics.

Results were grouped by child care setting: home-based care (in the child’s home or a relative/non-relative’s home), commercial day care centers, Head Start programs and no child care arrangement (parents only).


Overall, children stared at TV screens 4.1 hours a day, including 3.6 hours at home and the rest in child care. Kids in home-based care showed the highest screen time, about 5.5 hours a day, with 1.5 of those hours in front of screens during child care. TV time for kids in commercial day cares was the lowest, at 3.2 daily hours. Kids cared for by parents only were exposed to 4.4 daily hours, and Head Start kids got 4.2 daily hours of screen time.

Tandon said the results aren’t that surprising. “When children are at home, whether with parents or another caregiver, it’s easier to turn the television on,” Tandon told LiveScience. “Many of those settings are not regulated or licensed; many tend to be less structured.”

As for the overall abundance of TV-watching among the tots, parents’ hectic lives may be partly to blame. From her own experience as a parent as well as anecdotal evidence from friends, Tandon said, “there are times when the television is used as a babysitter in a sense.”

Part of the problem is that parents aren’t as comfortable sending their children outside to play on their own. And with so much media available, kids are spending more and more time indoors, she added.

TV tips
Since TV and other media are here to stay, Tandon recommends screening quality shows. “For children over 2, I think programs that teach things like numbers, letters, different languages, [those] that have positive messages like sharing and respecting diversity,” Tandon said, adding that programs such as “Dora the Explorer,” “Blue’s Clues” [s1]and “Sesame Street” would be considered positive shows.

Tandon offers tips for limiting screen time :

  • Use DVDs or on-demand television, because when the show is over, it’s over. “The problem with television is it keeps going,” Tandon said. These media also eliminate advertisements, which tend to promote unhealthy foods, she added.
  • Set rules for screen time early in children’s lives.
  • Turn off the TV during meal times.
  • Take TVs out of bedrooms. (Tandon mentioned research suggesting a certain percentage of preschoolers have TVs in their rooms.)
  • Watch television with kids, and discuss the shows and the messages put forth.

And the take-home message from the study, Tandon said, is for parents to loop caregivers in — let them know what the recommendations are for TV time. If parents are in the know about how much screen time they soaked up during the day, television at home that day or week can be tailored to keep it at a dull roar.”


Smart Parents, Happy Kids

I found a really good article on Time Magazine online, thought it was a bit inspirational and cute as well. The article is below:

“There is a great moment in the movie Parenthood in which Keanu Reeves’ character says something to the effect of “You need a license to catch a fish, but anyone can become a parent.”

That is absolutely true. In this issue we explore some of the many illnesses and chronic conditions with which children can struggle, along with the progress that’s been made in diagnoses and treatments. Yet while science has made spectacular strides to the benefit of countless children, a definitive manual for a human being’s ultimate responsibility — bearing and rearing our young — remains elusive. Ironically, when we look to the educational, medical and social-work establishments, there is more guidance and reference material about children with challenges and problems than those without. As it pertains to the “average” child, there is less emphasis on how to keep healthy kids well and detect problems as they arise.

My wife Lisa and I have four children. We had our first when we were in our early 20s. Through the challenges of raising them, we’ve learned a lot — mostly from our own parents and children but also by observing the parents of our children’s friends. Never underestimate what you can absorb by watching and conversing. My training as a physician tempted me to look at every situation as a medical riddle. It took my wife’s gentle guidance to show me that children don’t often present those kinds of problems (except when they might need stitches).

Over time we realized that smart parenting is like guiding your child on the boat ride of life down a long, unpredictable river. You help control the canoe’s direction and speed, while your youngsters sit back and take in everything around them so they can learn to steer on their own. Your goal is to teach your passengers enough about the river so that you can eventually pass them the paddle. This includes explaining everything you see and telling them what they need to know about the boat itself — their bodies, their genetics, their family history. You also need to fill them with enough self-esteem and awareness of their strengths and weaknesses so that they will navigate wisely and well.

These insights became the foundation of our new book with Dr. Michael Roizen, You: Raising Your Child. To tackle many of the debates on parenting, we surveyed some top child-development specialists and pediatricians who happen to be parents. Here are some of our practical insights on how to be a smart parent:

You can be the greatest parent in the world by not being the greatest parent in the world. While it’s no surprise that an absentee parent isn’t healthy for kids, the 180-degree turn is also bad. An adult who overparents can actually hinder development. It’s better to be somewhere in the middle, giving children enough attention but also knowing that exploration and independence are crucial to their learning. Let them run the canoe close to the embankment periodically or they won’t learn how to recover from failure.

Pretend you’re a 3-D-movie maker. A child’s brain is like a sponge, so parents need to make the biggest mess they can. Spill everything: words, sounds, tastes, colors, shapes and smells! This will help nudge your child in the directions in which they 1) have the most interest and 2) have the most potential for success.

Kids are copycats. Parents need to be strong role models. Children will treat themselves much the way you treat yourself, and that should give us all pause. If you are overweight, your child has a 40% chance of being obese. If both parents are heavy, the odds rise to 80%. Taking care of yourself helps them learn the same skills.

Playtime teaches life lessons. “Play with your kids” is my favorite bit of advice. In our home, we hold frequent Oz Olympics — a mix of challenging physical and mental games — with all the kids to see how they respond to stress. I also adore telling bedtime stories, because the children are getting tired and so are more willing to listen. Within the stories, I embed allegories of life lessons. Stories and playtime are teachable moments. Never underestimate their value. They are the language our children speak.

For my fellow parents: You are better at this than you think. For future parents: You will be better at it than you expect and enjoy it more than you’d ever guess.”

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2026672_2026707_2026709,00.html#ixzz131icp4eM

What’s wrong with Hand-Me-Downs?

I’m a godparent to two of my best friend’s children. They are 2 and 3. As much as I love my friend, there is one thing we disagree with: clothing.  For some reason she and her husband are really into dressing their children in expensive name brand clothing. This wouldn’t be much of an issue(even if I disagree with spending that much money on children that grow very quickly) if she had the money to invest in this sort of clothing. But she doesn’t. For all intent and purposes she is considered “poor”.  She is still in college and works part time, her husband is unemployed. They barely make ends meet for there three children, and themselves–especially in expensive Chicago. But when they do get any sort of income(whether it be taxes, student loan money, or money from parents and friends) they often spend it on their children and buy a ton of name brand outfits.

When I was growing up, my parents weren’t nearly as poor as my friend is and yet my mom had no problem taking her hard earned cash to a second-hand shop and buying us nice “hand-me-downs”.  In her mind there was no point in spending a ton of money on our clothing, especially when you consider the fact that most children grow tremendously from the time they are born until they are 6 or 7.  Buying a ton of name brand clothing that will only last for 6 months just didn’t make sense. Yes every now and then she may go on a splurge and buy one or two outfits that were outside of the budget, but for the most part there wasn’t an emphasis placed on “name brand clothing” in our home.

And up until my best friend got married, she didn’t really wear name-brand clothing either. Yes she WANTED to but could not afford name brand clothing and her parents weren’t willing to buy it for her either(even when we were in high school). So where this mindset comes from–I’m still not sure, but I can only think that it’s a result of the man she married who places a large level of importance on his kids ONLY being dressed in name brand clothing. Which is a shame since they can barely afford to put food on the table half the time.

Nonetheless as a Godparent I love to spend a little cash on my Godchildren and with their birthdays coming up I’ve decided to buy them winter coats since my friend has stated that they really need coats at this time. When I asked her how much I should budget for, she told me $80-100 should be fine. When she told me that I nearly reeled in surprise. And of course she made a point of telling me the store where she would prefer I buy the coats from (a store notorious for name brand clothing). I was baffled that she was asking me to spend that amount of these coats when clearly she wasn’t able to spend that much herself. But anyway I’ve pretty much decided that I’ll be going to Target, TJ Maxx, Walmart or a second hand store(all of these places offer coats for $20-25 per kid and will last the kids through the winter and through next winter).  My budget is  between $45-55 for the GRAND TOTAL of both coats. When I told her this she was offended and a bit put off. She also didn’t appreciate me telling her that she should consider second-hand stores for clothing since she is broke. This really made me wonder: what is wrong with hand-me-downs if that is what you can afford?????

Maybe I’m too frugal when it comes to kid clothing, but I’ve always wondered why there is such a negative stigma to buying inexpensive “used” children’s clothing.

5 ways to get your child to eat Veggies

If your a mommy that has a hard time getting your child to eat veggies then read the article below to gather tips on how to get your child to WANT to eat veggies! The article was found on the San-fransico Chronicle.


“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report last month indicating that American adults were eating fewer vegetables in 2009 than they were in 2000.

The study didn’t specifically look at children but we can only guess that if the parents aren’t eating green stuff then their children aren’t either. And so it seems like an appropriate time to bring in an expert who can offer up some fresh ways for parents to prepare veggies for their kids.

Enter Catherine McCord, Los Angeles mother of two whose wildly popular Weelicious website is dedicated to feeding kids healthy, yummy foods. With inventive recipes, fabulous photography, and fun instructional videos, McCord encourages parents to get their kids eating green beans, carrots, corn, salad, even beets, kale, onions, and okra.

McCord says that parents often offer their kids a veggie only once or twice. If the children spit out the food and say they don’t like it, then the parents say, “Well, I guess that my kid is just a picky eater.”

“Studies show that it takes up to 10 tries before a person starts enjoying a certain vegetable,” McCord says. “We also have a habit of not offering our kids foods that we don’t enjoy. I try to offer my kids a variety of foods and let them decide on their own if they enjoy them without saying a word either way. We have a tiny garden, go to the farmers market to try the fruit and vegetable samples and try to include the kids in the cooking process as often as possible. The more you can empower your kids in the kitchen, the more excited they will be about trying new foods.”

We asked McCord to offer up 5 fun ways to prepare vegetables for kids.

1) Sweet Beet Cookies

Catherine McCord

McCord says: “Not only are these cookies gorgeous, perfectly sweet and super crunchy, they’re also packed with folates and vitamin C. They’re the kind of treats that make everyone happy. Beet that!”

Sweet Beet Cookies recipe

2) Kale Chips

McCord says: “When you’re trying to inspire kids to eat healthy, my experience has been if whatever you are making for them is in the form of a chip, muffin, pancake or on-a-stick, it’s usually a hit! We’ve been making these kale chips a lot recently and I can’t tell you how fast they disappear! I truly can’t believe how tasty they are — I know that’s a huge statement, but I think I like them even more then potato chips (and that’s saying a lot)!”

Kale Chips recipe

3) Cheddar Cauliflower

McCord says: “When I was a kid, my mother would take an entire head of cauliflower, bake it, cover it with tons of grated cheddar cheese and then put it back into the oven to continue baking until it looked like a great big orange basketball. I loved the taste, but felt if I recreated it, it may look a bit overwhelming to a little kid. I think smaller pieces of roasted cauliflower with just a light sprinkling of melted cheddar has more eye appeal for little ones.”

Cheddar Cauliflower recipe

4) Baked Zucchini Coins

McCord says: “Zucchini has a very delicate flavor, so I focused on a simple preparation. These zucchini coins are baked, which makes them crunchy on the outside and soft and tender inside — a real textural treat for kids. Add a little tomato sauce on the side and they’re the perfect side dish for your family to enjoy with any meal.”

Baked Zucchini Coins recipe

5) Maple Roast Veggies

McCord says: “This roast veggies dish is a holiday favorite in my house and is great no matter if you are having twenty people over or just two. I first started making this simple dish for Thanksgiving years ago, but it’s so delicious and easy to make that I started making it all the time. Roasting is one of the best techniques for getting the maximum amount of flavor out of vegetables. They become super tender, sweet on the inside and a bit caramelized on the outside. For anyone who has a child who is prone to say, ‘I hate vegetables,’ just try making this dish and tell me if those words ever come out of their sweet little mouths again!”

Maple Roast Veggies recipe
More kid-friendly recipes at Weelicious.com.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/sfmoms/detail?entry_id=74943#ixzz12vgYNjZy

Catelynn and Tyler

So I finally had the opportunity to watch the season finale of Teen Mom. Out of all of the dynamics that happened in the show I found myself feeling very emotional about Catelynn and Tyler. The moment I saw baby Carly(who looked like Tyler with blonde hair) I felt so happy for the couple(who’ve struggled with their decision to give up their daughter). Baby Carly is by far one of the cutest babies on Teen Mom (though Bentley is super cute as well). I loved watching Catelynn and Carly interact with each other, and during those precious moments when they were interacting, I felt as though Carly knew that Catelynn was her mommy. When she hugged Catelynn and laid her head in Catelynn’s hand. When Tyler was holding her and she was feeling his face and hugging him. Carly knew they were her parents. But what made me the most emotional was the “recorded” book that they made for Carly(anyone else get tears during that scene?)

Part of the reason this was such an emotional episode for me, is because I just can’t fathom giving my child to someone else to raise.  I don’t necessarily look down on adoption rather I know that for myself adoption wouldn’t be an option, simply because I wouldn’t be strong enough to go through with it. The fact that at such a young age, these two were able to go through with such a huge decision, and do so in a way that is both mature and responsibile–well I just am very intriguied by these two!  They certainly have had tough lives, and it makes perfect sense why these two wanted more for their daughter.  Up until the season finale, I always felt as though these two didn’t make the right decision when they chose to give up Carly. I felt that if they really wanted to it was very possible for these two to beat the odds and raise their daughter. My mom did it. Several other women and men from bad backgrounds(if not worse than Catelynn’s) have done it. I can admit that this has been my thought during these last two seasons of Teen mom.

But when I saw the finale last night I changed my mind. Carly seems to be extremely healthy, and it’s obvious that Brandon and Theresa are doing a great job with her!  All in all, as difficult as the decision seemed to be, it looks as though it was for the best. More importantly  I get the feeling that Catelynn and Tyler look up to Brandon and Theresa and as result they’ve refocused their lives (focusing on their education, then getting married, getting a house, and finally having a child) so that when they do have a child, they raise the child in the same healthy environment.

Anyway I just wanted to briefly talk about how much I admire their decision, and loved the way the season finale went for these two!

But a question that is still being thrown around–seeing how healthy baby Carly is–did Catelynn and Tyler make the right decision when they chose to put Carly up for adoption?

Stayed tuned for Dr. Drew’s portion of the show tonight! 🙂

Working Moms Kids Turn Out Just Fine

I found the following article in Time’s Magazine:

Another day, another study on whether women who work are jeopardizing their children’s well-being. According to a review of 50 years of research on the subject, kids whose moms went back to work before the kids were 3 years old had no worse academic or behavioral problems than kids whose moms stayed home. In fact, in some instances they did better. The research, which appears in the Psychological Bulletin, a peer-reviewed publication of the American Psychological Association, looked at 69 studies between 1960, when research on the issue started, and 2010. The researchers looked specifically at academic and behavioral outcomes. “We really wanted to try to resolve some of the controversy and inconsistent findings around the issue of maternal employment,” says lead author Rachel Lucas Thompson, an assistant professor of psychology at Macalester College in Minnesota.

The researchers found little evidence to suggest that mothers who work part-time or full-time have children with problems in later life. But the researchers did find two positive associations between working motherhood and well-adjusted children: kids whose mothers worked when they were younger than 3 were later rated as higher-achieving by teachers and had fewer problems with depression and anxiety.

The only small caveat was that children whose mothers worked in the very first year of their lives tended to have slightly lower formal academic scores than those whose moms didn’t. However children whose mothers were employed when the child was 1 or 2 years old had higher academic scores than kids with full-time moms. Over the three years, the effects evened out.

The debate about working moms is often conducted as if the only group affected were guilt-ridden high-income college-educated women. But most working mothers have little choice but to hold down a paying job, especially in single-parent families. The children of single moms who work tend to do better than those who don’t. “These findings suggest in single-parent families there should be no guilt about employment,” says Lucas-Thompson. “They can also alleviate some concerns among the wealthy,” although among children of higher-income families whose moms were working before they were 3, there was a slightly higher incidence of aggressive behavior.

It’s not just the extra money the working mothers bring in that helps the kids, although that’s a huge part of it. Other research has suggested that an employed mother provides children with a positive role model about the value of working hard, and lessens other, non-economic stresses on the family.

Recent studies have shown that wives and mothers are taking on an increasing share of the burden of providing for the household, partly because of the decline in jobs for men with only a high school education. Many experts are concerned that child care and flexible work options have not nearly kept apace with this change.”