Friday, September 29, 2006

Waiting For Children

Liza Kollman
My cousin just had her third baby. In fact, all of my cousins are having babies. I'm the fourth oldest cousin on my mom's side, all three above me have kids. Four of them that are younger than me have kids as well. I'm only 26, but I feel like I'm in my forties, and my clock is defiantly ticking. I have never thought of it that way, but it's true!

When I was younger, it was always a fear. What if I got pregnant before I wanted? What If I hadn't finished school, or found a good job, what if I wasn't with the right person and I got pregnant by accident? It was scary, like it always is! But lately, now, things have been completely different.

All of us girl cousins grew up together. Our ages aren't very far apart, my oldest cousin is about 30 and the youngest one to have a child is 20. There are about 10 of us squeezed into those 10 years, and I am almost the last to have a baby. Growing up, we always talked about when we all had kids, even if they were only second cousins, we'd still all get together and have them play together, and it would be wonderful.

But my cousins all had different ideas of "when we all had kids" than I did.

The first of my cousins to have kids had her first when she was 16. Okay, yes. That was scary! I felt sorry for her! I didn't want to ever be in that situation, I thought that I would never want to have a child at that age, and I didn't envy her a little bit. I felt like she had made a mistake, and I worried for her. The rest of my cousins probably felt the same, but they kind of took this as a sign, and just started to have children. I was in high school, and I had boyfriends, but when I graduated I didn't want to get married and have kids like all of my cousins were doing. Sure, they were starting families and raising babies, but I felt way too young. I wanted to go off to college. So I did.

I graduated from high school, and went off to college. I dated a few different guys, a couple long term, and probably even thought about settling down with one or two of them. Right around that time, more of my cousins started to get married and have kids of their own. When it happened while I was in college, I still felt sorry for them. I thought that they were making a mistake. Even though it was in the back of my mind, I didn't feel ready. I wanted to finish school, have a job, and THEN have children.

After I graduated from college, I got together with the man I am now going to marry. We didn't date for very long before we knew that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. We decided that we'd wait a couple of years and then get married, and I decided that was the best idea I had ever heard.

So we've been having this debate since we met. Actually, I have been having this debate with my fiance since I first met him. When do we have kids? Did my cousins start having kids because they wanted them, or because they finally knew it was right? Should he and I bother waiting for years and years to have kids if we both want them and we know we want them with each other?

Well, we are waiting until we have gotten married in order to have kids, and that was the decision that we came to. Neither one of us really has a job, and neither one is done with school for good, so when we started this whole "talking about having a family" fiasco, we said that we wanted to be married for awhile before we started a family. It seemed very smart of us. He used to tell me to give it a few years – even AFTER we married, before I even though of having kids. We thought that we would settle down together, get some money straight, and really be prepared. We got engaged a year ago, and our wedding is next June. So I have been trying to put off wanting a baby, because I know that he wants to wait. But it's so hard!

We ended up getting dogs. This was our first step in holding off on having children. We thought that dogs would help! Puppies, actually. That did help a bit, you know. I was able to cuddle them and take care of them and love them, and they follow me around the house like, well, like good little puppy dogs. I call myself Mommy and I take good care of my dogs, and for awhile they really worked to fill that void in our hearts where children belong. At least, for the meantime.

We still talked about waiting for children. My fiance was perfectly pleased with the dogs, and he thought that they were all we needed. We even started a small dog breeding business, because we thought that we'd be waiting for quite awhile yet before we have children.

But then, something changed.

Lately, my fiance has started to say that he wants kids soon as well. All along it was me saying that I wanted to have babies, and him saying he wanted to wait. I guess that being engaged for so long is finally getting the best of him. He's been dreaming about it, as I have. Now he wants to get started right after the wedding, and I think it's going to be hard to convince him to wait! I am just hoping that both of us have the willpower in order to not get pregnant until after the wedding is over! I've got my dress already, and I really don't feel like being a pregnant bride!

But we walk past strollers with children in them and we both grin and get that giddy feeling. We want a stroller to put our children in, we want to have a crib in the other room and we want to fill our house with the sound of children laughing and playing. It suddenly doesn't seem important that our careers take off first, or that we have tons of money laying around. We want to be able to provide for our kids, sure, but we used to think we wanted to wait until we could put college funds aside for them and give them everything they ever wanted. Now we think that maybe they don't need much except for us to be their parents. We can give children good lives. We can feed them and keep them in clothing and take them on trips and buy them the things that children need. And we can raise them. We know that. We just have to wait until we are married to begin!

It is so hard to wait, though. That whole notion of the biological clock, well it's true. We've both been feeling it lately, and it is crazy to me that I am only 26 and have been feeling this way.

It isn't that I'm too old to NOT have kids, I'm not even 30 years old, and people are having babies well into their 40s. It is just that there is something missing from our lives, and babies are that something. We have names picked out, we have ideas about parenting skills and have discussed how we plan to raise our children. We have talked about what religion to raise them with, morals and values set to use, and the two of us have even spent hours playing "what if" scenarios for each other, what if the child says this, how do we react? What if our teenager does this, or our toddler asks this, or this happens? What would we do? How would we behave and how would we parent? We have run through these things over and over again on our heads, and both of us feel really ready to have kids. It's insane.

I always figured I'd just have kids. That I wouldn't really feel like it was the perfect time, but kids would just happen when they are supposed to. I guess that this feeling is nature's way of telling me that there might not BE a perfect time, it might just all happen when it is supposed to, no matter what we have to say about it. Maybe all of my cousins just had an earlier perfect time than I do.

Maybe that is how you know it is the right time. I have no idea. I used to think I'd get married, have children, and that was it. I never dreamed there would be this need, this WANT to have babies, and that it would be something I would have to WAIT for, on the edge of my seat, like Christmas morning. But that is the way it has been. We have been waiting. And we are waiting.

At least until after the wedding!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Introducing Pets to the New Baby

Bringing a new baby into your home requires a huge adjustment for every member of the household. Both Mom and Dad, as well as the other children in the house, will have to go through a lot of preparation time in order to be ready to welcome this new little life into their homes and routines. But in all of this adjustment and preparation, it's easy to forget that the family pets are also going through some huge changes, and may need some extra attention and training in order to deal with this lifestyle change.

Most of us consider our pets to be well-established members of our families, and it's incredibly important to make sure that cats and dogs are ready to handle the new little baby well in advance of his or her actual arrival. Preparing your cat or dog, teaching them how to behave, and being ready to deal with the situation when it actually occurs is the key to making this process a little smoother for everyone involved.

Pets and babies can get along!
A very good friend of mine recently had her first baby. She and her husband have been the proud owners of two beagles for the past several years, and they spent a great deal of time while they were still expecting in training the dogs and getting them used to the idea of the baby. One day, she called me on the phone sounding very upset, and told me that her mother-in-law had called to ask when she and her husband would be getting rid of their dogs in anticipation of the baby's arrival. The idea that when baby comes in, the pets must go out is a surprisingly common misapprehension among many people. The fact is that as long as your pet is well trained and the baby does not have any allergies to it, there's absolutely no reason why you can't have both in your household.

Pre-adjustment time is key
The number one thing you'll need to do in order to prepare your pets for the baby is to make sure that your cat or dog gets used to the idea of the baby well before he or she arrives. This will keep them from feeling as though their home has been threatened or invaded by the new little stranger, and thus will prevent any possible aggressive behavior that may result if they feel as though they are being usurped. Before the baby arrives, allow your pet to explore the nursery and the feeding and changing areas, so that they can become accustomed to the smell of the baby's clothing and blankets as well as to any changes you've made to the room. Make sure not to let the pets climb on any of the nursery furniture if they will not be allowed to do so once the baby arrives.

If your pet acts aggressively in the baby's room or carries away blankets or toys, train them that these behaviors and items are off-limits with a firm "No." Once they've accepted the baby's territory as something that is off-limits, it will be much easier to establish boundaries with them once the baby arrives.

During the weeks while you're preparing for the baby to come, try to establish a schedule with your pet that you'll be able to stick to once the child comes home. If any changes need to be made in the animal's feeding or walking schedule, now is the time to do it, so that they do not associate the arrival of the baby with any major shifts in their own day. Such things can cause resentment and worry in your pet. Keeping them on a schedule for a few weeks, and then continuing that schedule seamlessly once the baby comes home, will help ease the transition time considerably for everyone involved.

When the baby arrives
Upon your arrival home, someone else should hold the baby while you greet your pet for the first time. Your pet has not seen you in several days and will not appreciate your arms and attention being taken up by the new infant. Greet your pet properly and then introduce them to the infant while the other person is still holding it. You should control and monitor the pet while it smells the baby for the first time.

Once your baby comes home to stay, you'll need to make sure that the first few visits between the child and your pet are closely monitored. Do not leave the animal alone with the baby until you are entirely sure of their relationship, which could take several months depending on the temperament of your pet.

Continue to monitor your pet at all times with the new baby, keeping them leashed until you are entirely sure of their behavior. A pet may act aggressively when you are not expecting it, so it's best that at least two people be in the room at all times during those early months. Remember that the pet should not sleep in bed with the baby, as they may inadvertently hurt or smother them with their body weight.

As your child gets older, teach him or her to treat the pet gently and to consider the pet a friend. With a little time and training, your pet will regard your child the same way, and the bond that will develop between them will be well worth the effort you put in.
-by bjp

Sleep Stages - Before and After Baby

The toughest time for a woman to get enough sleep is during the last weeks of pregnancy and when baby first comes home. But we all know what lack of sleep can do to a person and how it messes up our whole system.

Pregnant women have definite problems getting and staying comfortable when pregnant and trying to get the optimum rest that they so badly need. This is because of the hormones and your body working overtime to produce a healthy baby.

Sleep is necessary not only for mom but for the baby as well, but unfortunately sleep can be a fleeting thing when you are in the last trimester of pregnancy. Some will argue this is to help prepare you for after the baby is born, but usually this discomfort is because of a) the size of the mother and b) the movement of the baby. Also, further complications can further interrupt sleep such as Restless Leg Syndrome or thoughts that keep you awake.

These last few weeks of pregnancy is when you need to rest the most. Your best advice is to talk to your doctor, but there are a couple of things you can do at home.

-Try and sleep on your left side. During the last couple of weeks of both my pregnancies, I slept on the couch. While fairly comfy but not a lot of support, I was able to lay on my side and used the back of the couch as support for my back.

-Put a pillow between your knees. There are a variety of pillows that you can purchase that you can use between your knees or for your back pain. Sometimes there are offered far sale at big box maternity clothing stores or other stores where you find baby items.

Take care of your child by taking care of you!

Getting sleep after the baby is born is definitely a challenge! You will need to get plenty of rest in the first few weeks after baby is born so you should enlist the help of other trusted family members. See if someone can help you do your daily tasks around the house after the baby comes home. Also do not try to be a hero, let some stuff go for awhile. If things do not get done, do not worry about them. Your health is much more important than, well, you get the picture.

Try and establish waking and sleeping times for your baby. Give the baby their bathe in the evening, this will help the baby stay up longer and sleep while you are sleeping. If you set up a bedtime routine as soon as possible, eventually the baby will understand that after the routine, it is time for sleeping.

Here are a few ideas that you can use before and after the baby is born to ensure you get the optimum sleep that you need and so richly deserve.

- Eat to sleep. This means do not eat anything heavy before bedding down for the night. If you are hungry, eat a small snack such as crackers and cheese or some fruit. And on the other hand, eat for energy. Eat foods that are high in protein, not carbs.

-Try to keep stress at a minimum. If you work outside of the office, leave your work at work. Try and learn some relaxation skills, this will also help you become more restful and will come in handy as your baby grows up!

-Create a sleep friendly atmosphere. From the bed to the room, there are many things that can interrupt our sleep. Make sure your mattress is not saggy, that your bedroom is the right temperature and that it is dark or light enough to ensure a good nights sleep.

-Relax your body and mind for sleep. Have a massage or a hot bath, write down things that you need to remember,

-If you get sleepy, go lay down. This can be the case even after the baby is born. If the baby is sleeping, go rest, do not try and get stuff done around the house. You might consider changing your bedtimes and wake times if at all possible to enable you to get some extra sleep.

-Enlist help before and after the baby, especially if you have other children. Have them take them out for a morning a week or so or have your spouse take your child to school; anything to give you some extra resting time.

-Do not forget to exercise. Talk to your doctor about what kinds of exercises you should and should not do.

Sleep seems to be a distant memory near the end of a pregnancy or when the new baby comes home, but this too shall pass, thankfully!

Nightmares Explained

By Brandi M. Seals

As a child I was constantly afraid. I had nightmares nearly every night for a year or two. Therefore I tend to be very sympathetic towards kids that have nightmares. Parents can do a lot to easy a child's fears. Safe guard them from scary movies or anything that may frighten them. Listen when they tell you about the dreams, but realize often times there is little that you can do.

Nightmares are distressing dreams which tends to wake up the sleeper or at least partially wakes him or her. Those having a nightmare may feel angry, guilty, sad, or be depressed. However, dreams tent to feel fear and anxiety during a nightmare. Nightmares can be very different from person to person or may change with time. One of those most common nightmares involves being chased. Children tend to see animals of make believe figures chasing them and adults tend to see an unknown male chasing them.

Probably everyone has had a nightmare at some point. Nightmares are extremely common in children aged 3 to 4 and those aged 7 to 8. These nightmares seem to be a part of normal development. They generally do not signal a problem. Some adults still have nightmares, though they are much less common in adults. Some adults have nightmares as often as at least once a month. But these frequent nightmares affect less than 10% of adults.

Nightmares may come about for a number of reasons. Some are caused by certain medications or drugs. Nightmares can pop up when a person is rapidly withdrawing from these medications or they may be the result of some illness or fever. None medical related causes of nightmares seem to be traumatic events. It is trauma related nightmares that are usually reoccurring. The trauma does not have to be big. It may be as simple as the death of a pet or surgery. Assaults and accidents are also at the root of some nightmares.

Some people and children have nightmares due to stress in their everyday lives. Perhaps they are moving, starting school, pregnant, or have financial troubles. If there is something new going on in your child's life, do not be surprised if he starts having nightmares. However, most childhood nightmares usually result as children learn to deal with normal childhood fears or problems.

The first step in preventing nightmares is to find the source of the problem. Unless your child is taking some kind of medication, you can generally rule out medicine or drugs. You may wish to talk with a doctor to rule out illness. Have your child talk about the nightmares. It may help them to talk about what is scaring them at least in dreamland. Do not dismiss their nightmares, it will only make your child clam up and keep the fears to himself.

You can also utilize some techniques to ease the distress your child feels. They include writing down what happened in the dream, drawing or painting what happened. Even imagining a happier ending may help.

If you suspect that a traumatic event has triggered the nightmares, keep an eye on the situation. Usually they will become less frequent and less intense. If they do not, you may want to take your child to see a therapist.

Your child may also be experiencing something known as night terrors. Whereas nightmares tend to occur after a child has been asleep for several hours and rarely includes thrashing movements or screaming, night terrors are very different. Night terrors occur within the first couple of hours of sleep. The child may start screaming or thrashing around yet is fully asleep. The child is usually hard to awaken and does not remember much. Those that sleep walk may be more prone to night terrors. Night terrors generally clear up by puberty but may reappear in adults under stress. Night terrors and nightmares seem to differ due to the stage of sleep the individual is in.

Try to be understanding when your child is frightened by a nightmare. A nightlight might help him to go back to sleep after a disturbing dream. Many children prefer to seek protection in their parents' bed. That may be okay from time to time, but do not let it become a habit.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Caring for Babies Step by Step

From the very moment of their birth, the inherent inquisitiveness of babies to learn and develop starts working naturally. However, much of the inspiration to use this faculty comes from constantly searching for things and situations that are provided by the parent/guardian. With this need in view, experts in baby care have designed astep-by-step range of
developmental tools like toys, and fun pastimes that at once entertain and stimulate the child along each developmental stage of his or her life.

Working Principle of Step by Step Toys

Step-by-step toys are based around the child's key skills at each stage of his/her growth. This means that if, for example, a child has learnt smiling as a first skill, playing with the step-by-step toys encourage more smiles in him/her. Similarly, if the child has grown six months old of age and is showing interest in picking up and grabbing objects, playing with the step-by-step toys will help in the development of the child's hand to eye coordination. The result is added skill-building growth for the baby. Since the key learning skills of a baby vary with progress in age, the step-by-step toys too are designed differently by considering seven age periods of baby growth. These stages range from birth to over three years of the baby's age and the befitting package of toys can be easily chosen (each package being marked with the specific age category). Each package highlights how it can help develop the key skills of the child. It matters then that the caring parent/guardian be aware of the seven basic categories of skill development.

Key Skills at Each Step

Following are the seven key skills categories that a child grows through the course of his or her formative years.

Stage 1: From Birth up to Three Months

Infants in this stage are just starting to respond to sounds and make their own noise. Later in this stage, they start tracking moving objects, and also they learn smiling in response to certain stimuli.
Stage 2: From Three Months up to Six Months

The baby now starts rolling from front to back, sitting with hand support, and responding to his or her name.

Stage 3: From Six Months up to One Year

During this stage the child starts sitting up without any aide, developing hand to eye coordination, and starting with simple communication with the care giver(s).

Stage 4: From One Year up to Eighteen Months

This stage marks the initiation of real physical activity for the kid. Crawling, starting to walk, building and exploring-all skills are developing here. Also, this stage is very important in that the child starts using language. He or she develops early vocabulary.

Stage 5: From Eighteen Months up to Two Years

Now you can see a normal kid climbing easy heights (beds, chairs etc.), dancing, early pedaling, scribbling, possibly looking at books (or magazines, games etc.) alone, speaking out short sentences, and recognizing his or her reflection in a mirror.

Stage 6: From Two Years up to Three Years

Now the kid is turning into a freak. You can see him or her walking independently, running, jumping, and balancing on one leg (though many normal kids may not be able to do so this early). The mental development at this stage is marked by longer periods of concentration, increased hand to eye coordination, larger vocabulary, the ability to draw with a fair degree of
precision, and the development of longer term memory through play.

Stage 7: Over Three Years

Signs of independence arrive as the child shows self-care skills along with balancing safely on each foot, hopping, skipping, constructing sentences, drawing a circle, understanding more complex commands, developing imaginative games and activities, and becoming skilled with numbers and letters.

Play Ideas for Developing Babies

Babies love to learn and respond through play. Some common play ideas for developing babies follow for caring parents/guardians.

For babies in the first skills category, simple games like peek-a-boo and this little piggy are great fun.

Just when the child starts showing interest in looking at books, magazines etc., take time to look at books together. Point to and describe the pictures, and tell simple stories of a few sentences.

Point to your body parts and those of the child, saying what they are e.g. 'this is my hand, this is your hand.'

Demonstrate to the baby simple cause and effect things like banging a spoon on a pan to show how sound is produced.

Animals are special attraction to most babies. Imitate animal sounds and let the baby practice them. This works especially well through reading certain baby poems like the Old McDonald's Farm.

To keep the child's budding physical activity growing, roll a ball between you and him/her. Allow the child to run after it and throw it about with force.

Be a Healthy Mommy!- A Common Sense Health Approach to Eating and Exercise

Is good health your way of life or not? Mothers need to take good care of themselves in order for their children to learn the proper healthy way to live in regards to healthy eating and exercise. If your eating habits could use a boost then don't despair, it is never too late to make modifications in the way you live. Make a promise to yourself and your children (or future children) to take exceptional care of yourself and incorporate the following healthy habits into your lifestyle repertoire.

Start your day with the most nourishing breakfast possible.
Studies have proven that people who eat breakfast are less likely to overeat later in the day and are less inclined to pack on the pounds. As well children who eat breakfast have the tendency to perform better in school, and adults, better at work. Your brain needs fuel to start the day. It is not called "break the fast" for anything.

Drink H2O in plentiful supply.
Drink lots of water throughout the day, the more the better. A good amount to aim for is at least four to six 8-ounce glasses per day. In fact drinking a glass of water when you first get out of bed in the morning is an excellent way to get a jumpstart on your day. The body loses water constantly by way of sweating and urinating and therefore needs to be replenished. This is even more important during the hot, humid summer months and also when you have fallen ill.

Variety is the spice of life (or so they say).
It is so true, believe it. Get into a habit of eating a variety of different foods with your meals, just make sure that at least five servings are fruits and vegetables. This is not always easy to do but it is possible. And remember, your body is not picky about the kinds of fruits and veggies you eat- it will gladly accept the nutrients and vitamins from whichever ones you choose to feed it! Aim for plenty of green, leafy vegetables such as broccoli and kale. Colorful vegetables tend to be high in nutrients and minerals. Whatever you do eat your veggies at meals and enjoy fruit whenever you can. Be creative about your meals. Mix up a zany salad and add fruit to yogurt, your cereal or porridge in the morning, etc. Use your imagination mother!

Keep fit and active by getting your body in gear.
Incorporate exercise into your daily routine, however you can. What type of exercise you do is not as important as the fact that you get off your couch and get your legs and feet it. Walk, swim, bike, play a sport, dance, jog, skip, take an aerobics class, whatever it is that suits you, do it and find enjoyment in getting, and staying, fit. Aim for 20 minutes to 30 minutes a day, the more the better. No exercise is ever worthless or in vain. Vary your types of exercise in order to not get bored. You might want to find a walking buddy or jogging buddy to keep your morale up. If you walk alone bring a Discman along for company. Music makes walking more pleasant and it takes the emphasis off of the energy you are exerting.

Eat your share of fish, lean meats and whole grains.
Include plenty of lean, high protein foods in your daily diet such as lean meat, fish, chicken and beans. Stay away from salted and processed meats. Avoid fatty, fried and salted foods at all costs as they serve to clog arteries and increase the chance that you will develop heart attacks and strokes. Also eat grains, whether they be in the form of wholegrain cereal, breads etc. Grains provide the body with fiber, iron and B vitamins and are therefore a necessity for everyone.

Get your milk moustache.
Milk is more than just a delicious tasting beverage, it is nourishing to the body as well. Just remember to choose low fat (one percent) or fat free (skim) milk. A cup of skim milk contains only eighty calories but also contains a good dosage of protein and calcium. How much milk you need and what kind depends on your age as well. For example homogenized contains the most fat and young children require this kind and expectant mothers do as well. If you do not like the taste of milk, consider trying soy milk or at least try to get your share of milk products such as cheese, yogurt and sherbet. For weight conscious individuals, cottage cheese has the lowest milk to fat content of all the different types of cheese. When there is a choice between regular cottage cheese and low fat, always choose low fat.

Be aware that limitations are food boundaries you should not fall victim to.
Some foods, such as potatoes and cheese often get a bad rap as being extremely fattening. Perhaps it is a reputation they do not deserve because "everything in moderation" is a good rule of thumb to live by. Don't get into a habit of eliminating any one entire food group from your diet, as this is not a healthy route to take. You are likely to miss out on important nutrients the body needs such as calcium and magnesium when you choose to limit your food choices. Allow yourself the freedom to enjoy eating just do not overindulge on anything that is not good for you. Many people who are on diets choose to cut out a whole food group such as meat or milk and dairy products. This could lead to a food deficiency, which could then lead to a serious health problem.

Do not overload on caffeine.
Caffeine can be found in coffee, soft drinks and chocolate. Too much of any one of these things can cause dehydration. Soft drinks also contain a great deal of sugar. An average can of soda pop has 150 calories of sugar and does not contain any nutrients whatsoever. Do not overload your system with caffeine in any one way. Be aware that some kinds of tea contain a certain level of caffeine as well.

Dieting can be hazardous to your health.
There are healthy ways to drop pounds and they don't include taking diet pills. Diet pills work to suppress the appetite but can cause a tremendous amount of problems to a person's health. Avoid them, avoid them and avoid them some more. Fad or crash diets are not wise either, and studies have shown that their effectiveness rates are not high. They may provide speedy results but once you go back to your regular eating patterns, you will gain the pounds back unfortunately. Instead of dieting attempt to adopt a healthier way of living and strive to make dietary changes that you can maintain well after the weight is gone.

The vegetarian or vegan life just might be for you.
If you make the decision to embrace the vegetarian or vegan lifestyle speak to your doctor or health care provider first to learn about the specific dietary needs of this type of lifestyle. Vegetarians, and vegans even more so, need to supplement their diets with vitamins to replace what they no longer receive from specific kinds of foods. They also need to make sure they take in enough protein on a consistent basis. Your energy level can be zapped if you do not get the required amount of nutrients

Take vitamins on a regular basis.
Vitamins are no longer just for those who don't eat properly. Everyone, no matter what their day-to-day diet is can benefit from taking vitamins to supplement their daily intake of food. Consider a multivitamin that will provide you with everything you require. Centrum is an excellent choice of a multivitamin and Centrum Forte is even better as it can provide you with all of the essential minerals you need mothers to keep you in the best of health possible.

Caring for Upper Respiratory Infections

By Heather Pohlabel

Your baby is coughing and has runny nose. She may also have a low fever, a sore throat, be sneezing, or seem lethargic. You are probably looking at the start of an upper respiratory infection. Children on average suffer five to ten upper respiratory infections every year, and for children who are around other children more often, such as in day cares or schools, the rate goes up.

The first thing to do if you suspect your child has an upper respiratory infection is to see your pediatrician. While upper respiratory infections (URIs) are usually treated with over the counter medications, you want to make sure that the infection is not something else and that it is not severe. There are steroid and antibiotic treatments for more severe cases of URIs. Either way, be sure to consult a physician before you begin any round of treatment for any disease, including URIs.

It is important to keep your child hydrated. If your child is over a year old and drinking milk, cut back on the milk, as it is heavier and can contribute to congestion. Water and juices are best, especially orange juice with its healing Vitamin C! Keeping hydrated will help your child flush out the bad stuff and will keep the lining of her throat wet to help soothe coughing and itchy throat. Chicken noodle soup and broth are old school remedies that really do work. A warm bowl of chicken soup is calming and healthy at the same time.

Keep a humidifier running to keep nasal and throat passages moisturized. If you have several humidifiers, keep them running where your child is normally playing so that she can receive the benefit of the misty air. Keeping one on close to the bed is a good idea during the night as your baby is getting what she needs most for the treatment of any ailment - rest!

Stay out of dusty areas, avoid dusting or cleaning products, and kick back and relax with your baby! Rest is won't cure your baby's URI, but it will help you both to deal with it, and you will have some prime bonding time. Your baby may be very fussy throughout the course of a URI and the only way to get relief from her symptoms may be to sleep.

Each symptom of a URI is treatable:

For runny nose, use an antihistamine like Benadryl. For babies, you can use a nasal aspirator to remove drainage. Children will get sore noses with continued tissue use, so use a warm wash rag to clean under their noses and the sides of their noses instead of a tissue. You may also want to apply a little petroleum jelly so there is no "caking" of the drainage and to protect the skin. There is a brand of tissues with Aloe and lotion in them, and while these are more gentle on the nose, they can still make baby's nose sore, so take care when cleaning in that area.

For a stuffy nose, you can use a saline solution to rinse the nose out - these are sold over the counter. Use a warm air humidifier to loosen the dry drainage or a steam shower could help unclog the nasal passages as well. This will also loosen up phlegm in the throat, so your baby may have a hard time breathing for awhile after one of these treatments.

For a fever, use an acetaminophen like Tylenol. Motrin works well too. These also help to relieve any joint pain or discomfort felt from the URI. Many babies will sleep for extended periods of time if given Tylenol or Motrin, so be sure to ask your doctor how much to administer to avoid over medicating.

Keep your child away from other young children to prevent the spread of the URI. Children can pass the viruses back and forth.

To prevent URIs, practice good hygiene, especially hand washing. Drink plenty of fluids all the time, especially orange juice. Cover your mouth when you sneeze and cough, and wash your hands immediately. Always wash your hands before eating and after using the restroom. Clean your house often, making sure to disinfect bathrooms and kitchens well, and disinfect doorknobs and light switches as well. Keep Lysol or some other disinfectant spray handy to kill airborne germs.

How to Keep the Toys in Check

By Brandi M. Seals

It seems that every child I know has more toys than he or she knows what to do with. They start accumulating from an early age. People give them as gifts, grandma and grandpa just cannot resist the temptation to give something new, and often parents also overload kids with toys.

The over abundance of toys inevitably slowly spills out from the child's room into the living room or family room. I have seen it time and again. But there are a few things that can be done to prevent losing your home to toys and baby supplies.

Start by keeping the toys in check. Go through them. Remove anything that your child has not shown interest in for a couple of months. Also remove anything that they have outgrown. If you plan on having more children, you do not want to throw these toys away or donate. Instead, pack them up and store them somewhere else. Store the toys in a garage, basement, attic, or even a closet. Just get them up and out of the way.

If this is your last child it is time to organize a garage sale. First go through the toys and throw out anything that is broken or damaged. Pick a Saturday morning and set up shop. Give each toy a price or group them in bins labeled 2 for $5 or whatever price point you would like. Check with your local government. Some places require a permit for a small fee in order to have a garage sale.

After the garage sale, you will want to bag up whatever did not sale and donate the toys. Everything else can be given away to friends with kids or donate them to a charity. Good Will is a great place to donate the toys. As is a children's shelter. Look in your phonebook for places to donate or ask some friends. Someone will have a few ideas.

Have your kids help out with this process as soon as they are old enough to do it. Let them know that they do not need to keep everything and that other people would love to have what they have.

If the toys you kept are still taking up too much room you will need to stop buying them. Or, for every new toy brought into the home, one of the old ones must go. Try to keep things in moderation. Next time you see something that Junior's just got to have, ask yourself if it is really necessary or will it just fall to the wayside in a couple of weeks.

Talk to grandparents if their giving is getting to be a problem. You do not want to seem ungrateful, so suggest that they start keeping some of the toys they buy at their home. That way, your son or daughter will have something different to play with while visiting the grandparents.

Sometimes the problem is not having too many toys but rather a lack of organization. Everything should have a home. Children will be much more likely to pick up if they know where to put their stuff and if their parents require them to pick up after themselves. Of course this would depend on the age of your child, but most kids can start helping out around the age of two. They may not put things up as quickly as you could, but they are learning a very valuable lesson by putting everything away.

If the toys do not have somewhere to go, you need to create somewhere. Purchase crates, pins, boxes, or whatever works for you. Divide the toys up into categories. Perhaps cars go in one bin, balls and other small toys go in another, and dolls go into a third bin. It may help to label the bins if your kids are old enough to read, otherwise color coding them is a good idea.

For books, get your kids a small book shelf or another bin. Give everything they own a home. As long as it has somewhere to go, your child will know where to put it. If you have been lax with them about putting things away you will find some resistance, but do not give up. This is not a fight you want to give up on.

How to Stay in Touch with Friends after the Baby Comes

By Brandi M. Seals

As we grow and get older we add more responsibilities to our plates. Often times these additions, particularly the birth of a child, seriously impact our ability to keep in contact with friends. There just does not seem to be enough time in the day to do everything, let alone time to kick back and reminisce.

During the first couple weeks of the birth, your friends will probably stop by to see the new member of your family. Soon after that, they disappear. They may call a few times afterwards, but when they are constantly met with the sound of a baby crying and a distracted friend, they are apt to let you take the lead from then on.

Show your friends that they are still an important part of your life by taking a little time just for them. You probably will not be able to afford enough time away from your family to give all of your friends individual one on one time. Instead, organize a girl's night out.

Leave the baby at home with your husband, family or a babysitter. If this will be your first time out since giving birth, make the outing something short. Trust me, you probably will not think anything besides "how is my baby" but it is good to get accustomed to leaving him or her with others for a short while. By keeping the outing short you will meet your friend's needs and not be away for too long.

Invite everyone out to dinner, a movie, or to a bar. Anything you used to do will make for a great outing. Once your child gets a little older and is not as needy, you can have the girls over to your house from time to time. Just be sure to have them over in the evening after the baby has been put down for the night.

Or, if your friends have children you could always set up a play date. Each person can take turns having everyone over. It will give the kids a chance to socialize and keep you and your friends in contact with other adults. Sometimes that can be hard to do.

If you do not live near your family and friends you can still keep in touch. It just requires a little more creativity. You can call friends when the baby is sleeping, but chances are you will be too pooped, catching up on other tasks, or the baby will wake up. Phoning when the baby is crying is a bad idea. It just makes the conversation very trying for the person on the other end of the line. Perhaps you can call when someone else is around to keep an eye on the child.

Sometimes things do not work out so nicely, so you can always turn to email. Email is a little less personal, but it can get the job done until your child is a bit older. There are a few cardinal rules to email though - do not just forward on amusing little pieces that you receive. Not everyone likes forwards. They are impersonal and several times they really are not funny. Send actual emails that you write. Write about what is going on with you and your baby. Plus, you can attach photos. Just try to keep the talk about baby to less then half the email. Sometimes it can be overwhelming for those reading the piece. It can seem like all you are doing is bragging or even complaining about having a baby.

Another good idea is to use a website to stay in contact. You could create your own blog and give out the address to friends in relatives. There are also websites like Myspace ( and Bebo ( in which users can put up a profile. They can update the profiles to reflect what is currently going on in their life, post pictures, and post comments on their friends' profile. Members are also able to connect to the schools they attended and view anyone else who lists the school in their profile.

Find whatever works for you, your schedule and your friends. The most important part is just maintaining that effort. Chances are you will not be in touch as much as you were before the baby, but you can still have friends.

Time Saving Tips

By Heather Pohlabel

Feeling frustrated and overwhelmed by housework, family, and a new baby? You can't very well do anything about the family or the baby, but you can minimize your housework by planning ahead, being organized, keeping clutter to a minimum, and multi-tasking throughout the day.

Plan ahead. You can cut down your workload by planning several things in advance. Meals can be planned on Sunday when the paper comes with advertisements and money saving coupons. This will not only help you save money on your food items, but it will help you plan your menu for the week as well, especially if you are on a budget! Always, always, always make a list before you go to the store and try not to stray from it. Remember, you're trying to save time by being prepared for the week.

When you get your groceries home and start to put them away, group items together that you will need for certain recipes. You should separate and freeze your meats at this time also. You can even cook up certain meats and refrigerate or freeze them if you will be using them soon. This will save a step during the week during meal preparation.

Pack lunches the night before if you have time. This helps cut stress in the morning!

Stay organized. Find a system of organization that works for you. What works for some people will be more confusing and time consuming for you. So find something that you can stick to. Even if you have to leave Post-it notes all over the place to remind you or to help you find things, you will be better off than leaving it all to chance.

A filing cabinet with marked folders is a wonderful way to keep papers filed away for easy retrieval later. Assigning certain drawers for specific purposes also works well - one drawer for bills, one for office supplies, one for pictures, etc.

Some people organize things alphabetically - no matter what it is - everything from bills to dishes. Others go by size or priority. Again, the choice is yours, but have some sort of organizational scheme, and if you can, cue your husband in on it in case you need to have him find something.

Keep it clean. Clutter is a killer. It is what will make your house look messy and make you feel stressed. Some Eastern philosophies preach " a cluttered home is indicative of a cluttered life". I don't know how true that is, but it certainly helps to make you feel better and makes your home appear nicer if you don't have clutter.

Throw away junk mail immediately. File all other mail. Don't let it pile up.

If you recycle, make sure you have a good clean system somewhere. Don't leave newspapers lying around. Store them as soon as they are read. Unread newspapers a week old should be in the recycle bin, not on your dining room table!

If you don't have a dishwasher and don't like to have dishes sitting around, but run low on time on certain days, use paper products. While this is not the most environmentally friendly advice, it will save your sanity if you like a clean kitchen. There won't be a huge pile of cups, plates, bowls, forks, knives, spoons to clean!

Keep spare trash liners in trash cans, especially the small ones in the bathroom that get changed frequently. You won't have to walk around the house to get another liner or forget that you need one! It will be right there.

Multi-task. Mothers are excellent multi-taskers! You know that you can drive, serve dinner, clear up an issue, and entertain all at once! We've all done it!

At home, multi-tasking will ensure that everything gets done eventually and that you have some time to get it done! For example, you need to do both dishes and laundry. Soak the dishes and then start your laundry. You can come back and finish the presoaked dishes. While the next set is presoaking, run the sweeper. Come back to the dishes. Wash that set and presoak another. Take out the trash!

I like to do food prep in the kitchen in between dish cycles. Water is already handy, and there is a lot of hand washing to be done, so it is convenient.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Breast Feeding Beneficial for both Mum and Baby

Mothers always tend to provide the best for their children in all aspects of their lives. The relationship between mother and child is something special and unique. It all starts from the time she conceives the child in her womb and until the time of delivery when finally the baby is placed in her loving embrace.

Babies are vulnerable as they are not immune to all the diseases that are present in the environment and that is why breast feeding is important. The world has developed rapidly and woman nowadays are just not homemakers but play a significant role in the community. They have more responsibilities to fulfill not just as a mother but also as a career woman and this has lead to a decline of breast feeding among mothers.

Although breast feeding is considered to be troublesome by some as they might have to breast feed in public, maintain a healthy diet and avoid foods that are not suitable for the baby, quit smoking, dress appropriately to ensure it is easy to breast feed but as a whole breast feeding is not just beneficial for the baby but also for the mother.

Breast fed babies are healthier than bottle fed babies as the breast milk contains the right amount of fatty acids, lactose, water and amino acids that is easy for the baby to digest for brain development and growth. There is a lower rate of hospital admission for allergies, diarrhea, ear infections, rashes and other illness in breast fed babies. This enables the new mother to be free from stress of caring for an unhealthy baby and she will be able to recuperate faster.

The breast milk is specially designed for human babies compared to infant formulas that is made of cow's milk which is suitable for calves. The mother's antibodies will be transferred into the milk thus the baby will have a stronger immune system. Almost 80 percent of the cells in breast milk is macrophages that can kill bacteria, fungi and viruses.

Breast milk contains the right amount of nutrients that the baby needs compared to infant formulas. There is no need to feed the baby with sugar water or other supplements as there is enough water in the milk itself. The baby obtains the milk straight from the mother's breast thus it is sterile and there can be no contamination avoiding diarrhea or vomiting. Breast fed babies also have Lactobacillus Bifidus in their digestive system that prevents growth of harmful organisms allowing easy digestion.

All this allows the mother to have a hassle free life as there is no need to sterile milk bottle or measure and mix the infant formula. The mother can also nurse during the night or in the wee hours of the morning in the comfort of her own bed. She can also take a dose with the baby suckling at her breast. The milk is available for the baby upon request thus there is no need for the baby to cry and this avoids wind from entering the baby's stomach preventing colic.

The mother doesn't even have to use an artificial nipple or pacifier as the baby can obtain comfort by sucking the nipple and dosing off with the mother. The pacifier can also be a source of bacteria when it is dropped down to the floor and once the baby gets used to it the mother has to ensure she brings the pacifier wherever she goes. It also has a bad effect on the growth of the baby's teeth and should be avoided at all costs.

The baby has to suck at the breast for the milk and this promotes good jaw development for the baby and enables the growth of strong healthy teeth. The baby can also control the flow of milk by sucking and stopping compared to bottle feeding where the baby has to keep on sucking on the artificial nipple that has been placed into the mouth. There is also a close bond formed between the baby and the mother as the baby will not be able to see clearly and relies on touch and obtains comfort by cuddling close to the mother.

Mothers can lose her extra pounds as nursing a baby uses up the extra calories. Lactating also stimulates the uterus to contract back to its normal size. Nursing a baby can also be considered to be a form of contraceptive method as it suppresses ovulation making it unlikely that there will be menstruation or ovulation that can lead to pregnancy but it is not a reliable or safe method.

Despite all the benefits breast feeding has to offer there will be some problems that mothers have to face such as sore and cracked nipples, infections, engorgement and so on but the joy of nursing a baby and the fact that the baby is getting the best milk surpasses all discomfort that the mother experiences. It is important that mothers view breast feeding as a two way relationship that is beneficial to both themselves and their babies to promote breast feeding in the future.

Monday, September 25, 2006

What to do with Down Time

By Heather Pohlabel

You have finally gotten your baby down for a restful nap. You have anywhere from a half hour to two hours, depending on the age and temperament of your baby. What can you do that will be most useful and productive during your hands free, baby free time?

Rest/relax. No matter how long baby is going to nap, whether a half hour or two hours, take at least twenty minutes to unwind and relax. Put your feet up and shut your eyes. Put on some soothing music or read, but lie down and put your feet up. The better you feel, the better you can care for your baby.

If you are a brand new mother, for the first few weeks, you should sleep every time the baby sleeps, which isn't very often quite honestly. It may seem like all your baby does is eat and sleep, but it takes a good forty five minutes to feed, burp, change, and soothe a newborn back to sleep. So every two hours when your baby is ready to eat again, you will actually only be looking at about an hour between "feedings". At this stage, it is very hard to put baby down and rest, but do your best. Lie with your baby if can or if you would like, but get rest. Period. Everything else can wait.

As your baby gets older, she will sleep for longer intervals at some points, and you will be less tired, but still get some rest and relaxation in every day to keep yourself refreshed and happy. Most babies don't sleep all the way through the night because their stomachs are very small and they need to eat more often. You definitely are not sleeping like you used to, so form a new habit and rest before you do anything else. If you wait to rest until after chores are done, you run the risk of baby waking up, and you being tired at that point and longing for some rest, so do both of you a favor and rest first! As soon as your baby lies down, you lie down also!

Catch Up. Whatever you have been putting off all day, do now. Make that phone call, do the dishes, sterilize the bottles, mix the formula, throw dinner in the crock pot, fold the laundry, run the sweeper, etc. All of these chores still need to be done even after the baby arrives! There are actually now more dishes and laundry to do, but don't let it make you feel overwhelmed. It will all get done!

After you have rested for at least twenty minutes, you can begin to play catch up at home. Do what is MOST needed first. If you are running low on bottles, be sure to wash and sterilize them at least. If you can't get the formula made, that can wait until baby's feeding time. If you're running low on clothes, put some laundry in. I do a load every day. If you are feeling overwhelmed, call someone to help you. They can watch the baby or feed her for you while you catch up or they could even do your housework for you. People can be very helpful when it comes to new mothers.

Pamper yourself. In addition to being rested and having your chores caught up, taking care of yourself will make you feel good and will improve your attitude and outlook on just about anything. Lack of sleep and the stresses of a new baby along with the added weight from pregnancy can make anyone appear to be not at their best. Taking time while baby is resting to do your nails or apply lotion or even makeup will make you feel better. While your baby won't notice, your husband, family, and friends sure will!

Another quick pick me up is a new hair color or a touch up from a previous color. When your hair looks healthy and shiny, you just feel better about yourself overall. Maybe a friend could come over and help you with some highlights!

Your husband really does understand and see what you're going through. Don't be afraid to ask him to give you a massage or rub lotion on your feet. He can even do this when you're sleeping; "killing two birds with one stone" so to speak.

If you are so lucky as to have enough time for a quick workout or yoga session, try to take advantage of this also. In addition to making you look better, these down time activities will also boost your energy for the rest of the day and keep you in better shape for handling your growing and soon to be very active baby!

Making a Co-Op Work

By Heather Pohlabel

With the average babysitting rate at $5.00 per hour, many parents are trying to find better ways to do what they have to do without spending all of their hard earned money on someone to watch the baby! A co-op is a wonderful idea and a great experience if done correctly. There are a few things you should be prepared to do when entering into a co-op or when looking to start one. With the right people and a little care, the co-op will be beneficial to all involved, both parents and adults.

To start a co-op or to find a workable cooperative situation, be on the lookout for the right people. The right people are essential to making anything work, and a co-op is no exception. By "right" people, I mean people that you trust, can get along well with, and who are reliable.

It is important to have a respectful relationship with the people who will be spending time with your children. Always take their needs and personality into consideration when making the decision to include them. Are they drug and alcohol free? Do they smoke? Do they have adequate housing or reliable transportation? Do they live in a clean and safe environment? What is their personality like? Do they speak well or curse a lot? Have you observed them with their own children? Would you trust them with yours?

Spend some time outside of the home with your potential co-opers and see how they handle their children in public or in a stressful situation. Make several home visits and invite them to your home as well. It is important to have some sort of friendship or level of comfort and trust before leaving your children in their care or caring for their children. You need to know what they expect and they need to know the same. Figuring out elements of both the parents and the children's personality before entering into the co=op will make the experience much easier; there will be fewer surprises.

Trust and reliability are paramount when considering a co-op situation. Don't get left stuck, and don't stick anyone else. You should fully trust someone to be with your children before you leave them there and you should also earn the trust of other parents and prove to them time and time again that you have their children's best interest at heart.

Scheduling is a main priority with co-oping once you get your group going. Everyone's schedules need to be understood very clearly and stuck to. If something changes, everyone needs to notified immediately. If there is a slight variation in schedule, give as much advanced notice as possible. If there is a possibility of running late or being early, inform the other involved parties so that no one is inconvenienced and left wondering what happened to you! Be sure to provide enough emergency contacts so that if something actually does happen, they are able to contact someone to come and get your children.

If you can work out a cooperative situation with someone whom you have known for a long time, that is wonderful. You can pretty much skip the initiation process and be frank with each other about payment, favors, discipline, and all other issues related to co-oping with children.

I have had the fortune to work closely with someone who I have known for about ten years. We had watched each other's children on and off for years. With the birth of my third child, both of us happened to be home full time. We decided to use each other as back up babysitters for our parents that we babysat for and to help give a break to each other when needed. She watches my children when I have something to do and I do the same for her. Sometimes we pay each other; sometimes it's for babysitting time.

You can find all types of co-op situations. Maybe a hairdresser will cut your family's hair every six weeks if you watch her kids once a month so she can go out for an evening. The lady across the street could take the kids to school every morning if you could pick them up. A friend could gather information for you at the PTO meeting that you're going to miss and catch you up over coffee that you buy the next morning.

Co-oping can be very fun and a great social time and wonderful experience for all involved if done correctly.

Benefits of a Co-Op

By Heather Pohlabel

Raising your baby is a very wonderful yet time consuming endeavor. Regardless of whether you choose to stay home or go to work, you need to have a support system to help you. The old cliche "it takes a village to raise a child" is not too far from the truth. You may think you can do it all, and you are perfectly capable, but why wear yourself out when you can enroll the help of like minded moms and dads to make not only each other's lives easier, but the lives of your children as well.

There are numerous benefits of a cooperative parenting / child care situation. Not all co-ops are created equally, however. You should choose one that you are most comfortable with or start your own amongst a group of friends. If you don't have any friends in your area or know anyone with children, put an ad in the paper or on-line, or post flyers at places like churches, supermarkets, or laundromats. There are probably many mothers in your area who would love to stat a group to help each other out and just don't realize that the need is there, or, they, like you, do not know anyone either.

Co-ops are great for stay at home moms or dads. Many people think that stay at home parents do just that - stay at home. The fact of the matter is, stay at home parents still have lives! They still have appointments to keep. They still go to the doctor and the dentist; they still like to go out to lunch or have coffee with friends. They might like to go to the gym to work out, especially moms with infants and young children, as we all know that their bodies take the brunt of childbirth!

Co-ops provide that limited freedom that parents need to get things done. When I had our third child, our second child was already 9 years old and had grown accustomed to certain things that I always did for her like volunteering in her school. While I can't be there nearly as much as I did in the past, I can still attend field trips and volunteer once a week in her classroom for a few hours because I have another mom to do back up babysitting and relief babysitting for me! I get a break from my baby and the other baby that I babysit for, and I get to be around my daughter during her school day and help out her teachers and her peers. It means a lot to her that I am there, and I would really miss that time with her if I were not able to find someone to help me out! I have the advantage of frequent communication with her teachers and the ability to meet her friends and gain their trust.

Co-ops make sure the children always have a provider and that parents can always go to work. If you choose to enroll your child in daycare, chances are very slim that it will ever be closed (this does happen from time to time when diseases, lice, or flu shows up in an overwhelming population of the children or providers in the day care, or if there is something wrong with the facility, but more often than not, a day care is open and reliable). Babysitters, on the other hand, don't have substitutes if they get sick or need to go to an appointment. That is why having another parent or two on back up is a wonderful idea. This saves the parent having to find multiple sitters (some of whom will quit due to lack of work or income). Babysitters working together can watch each other's broods for short periods of time or for unexpected illnesses or emergencies. Parents can stay at work, and the children are safe, much like in a day care, but with all of the benefits that having a private babysitter affords!

Co-ops also allow the children a break from their regular surroundings and care givers. We as adults know that we sometimes need a break; it is not much different for children. A new face or a new toy from time to time will help the children adjust to change and will expand their peer group. New playmates can be fun and exciting!

Forming or joining in a co-op will provide you with a much needed support system as you raise your children. I am from a very small town, and it is reassuring to me that wherever my children go, someone will likely know them, and if anything should ever happen to them, someone will contact me. I also have many people I can call to car pool kids to school or to back up babysit or to catch a ride with to a PTO meeting. If I'm short on cash, it's very likely that one of my other parent friends will be able to spare whatever I need to get by until I'm back on track.

A great advantage to a co-op is having like minded parents to talk to. If you are having issues with your children and aren't sure what to do, advice from other parents can sometimes be helpful. Often times, if you are "out of the loop" on current events or goings on in your community, your co-op can catch you up so you don't miss anything. Sometimes, too, it's just nice to have someone to vent to when you need it.

A co-op doesn't have to be fancy or extensive. A few reliable, friendly parents will do. There is so much benefit to joining or forming a co-op to help you with your responsibilities as a parent!

Tracking the Pregnancy

By Brandi M. Seals

Being pregnant is a rare for most of us. Women typically have one or two pregnancies. With all the attention given to the upcoming birth, it can be easy to not even capture the pregnancy in photos, scrapbooks or other ways of documenting the experience. But more and more, women are taking the opportunity to photograph them to add to the timeline of their child.

A pregnant belly was something to hide or keep covered in the past. Maternity clothes were not as easy to find or as attractive. Maybe that is why pregnant women have long seemed to avoid the camera. I have seen hundreds of photos of my mom but none are of her pregnant with me or my sister. I know there are several people out there like me who have never seen a photo of their mom pregnant. We know the moms had to be pregnant at some point, but it is like it was kept hidden for some reason. It almost seems as if the pregnancy never occurred, the babies were merely dropped off.

Now it seems that pregnancy is being embraced. There is more maternity wear available then ever before. Women are not hiding; they are showing off the baby bump. In conjunction with that movement, more women are opting to get the belly photographed. Some go to professional photographers, others are merely looking to document the changes their bodies are going through each month.

For years women have been documenting the development of their children. They fill out baby books that detail when teeth were lost, when the child first learned to smile. Anything and everything you would want to know about a child’s development is logged into these books. Those that do not use baby books still typically keep track of their child through photographs. I know women that have their baby photographed every month during the 1st year of life. I know others that do not do any of this, but they do have a stockpile of photos of their child. Many plan to create photo albums or scrapbooks.

As a twist to this plan, why not start documenting the first month you know you are pregnant. Track the pregnancy. Did you have lots of morning sickness? Did you crave crazy foods? Your child will get a kick out of it when you are able to remember that you loved super spicy hot wings while pregnant with him, especially if you cannot stand them now.

Keep a journal. Detail anything you notice that changes during the pregnancy. Are you suddenly hot at night but cold during the day? Do you have a new affinity for peanut butter and celery? Whatever it is, note it.

When your child is older, you could pass along the journal or do something a bit more creative. Use it to make a scrapbook of the pregnancy and the early months after the birth. In it, include photos and notes. Try to line up the notes with the correct pregnancy photo. For example, if you were always feeling tired in the 6th month of pregnancy; note that on the same page as the photo of you being 6 months along. It is a great visual that your child will always appreciate.

The length of the scrapbook will depend largely on how many photos and memories you have. When making it, be sure to include a few pages on the arrival of the baby. I am sure you will have photos of that along with several memories.

Be sure to continue documenting your child's life. After a certain age, it seems as if kids fall of the documenting radar. Sure they still get their photo taken for school, but all other photos seem to stop or become far less frequent. Several of my friends and I have no pictures during a few years of our childhood. Sometime around age 10 the photos pretty much stop. There is one here and their but they do not become regular again until I turned 16.

Try not to cut out large chunks like this. Everyone enjoys looking back on themselves to see how they have changed or what they used to look like. So keep the camera out and do not be afraid to snap too many shots. In fact, there are often not enough.

Hosting a Birthday Party

By Brandi M. Seals

It is nice to throw a birthday party for your child and his friends every couple of years. At a young age it gives children a reason to get together outside of school or preschool. It also gives him an opportunity to cut loose and have a little fun.

The key to throwing a birthday party, especially for little ones, is to be very prepared. You do not want to leave anything to the last minute unless you will have someone else also watching over the kids. They can go from quaint angels to super hyper in a matter of seconds, so it is good to always have someone watching over the group.

Start the planning by picking a day (you may want to have the party on a weekend if your child's birthday falls during the week). Next, the easiest thing to do is to pick a theme. The theme will give you guidance and will also seem ultra exciting to kids. For example, I had a Pound Puppy party as a child. You could do anything though. Go to your local party store and see what they have on hand. You might be able to work out a Dora the Explorer party or a Power Ranger get-together. Try to keep the theme simple and make sure your kid loves it first.

Once the theme has been selected, shop for your needed supplies. You will need invitations, plates, napkins, cups, and plastic silverware. Try to get as much of that within the theme as you can. If you see Power Ranger plates and napkins, grab them. They will not only be helpful for cake service, but also decorate your table without having to splurge on anything else. Also, it is nice to give away some sort of goody bag or prize at the party. Try to also find something that goes with the party to give away.

Next you will want to order a cake. Again, if you can, get something within your theme. Most bakeries (even those within a grocery store) often have several designs that they can do. Look through them to find something within your theme or a coordinating piece. When ordering, be sure to have the bakery write Happy Birthday (your kids name here). It is amazing how easy it is to forget about the writing once you are concentrating on cake and frosting flavors.

The next big decision is what to serve. There are so many routes you can take with this, it is best to ask what your child would like. You could do hamburgers and hotdogs or a pizza party. You could also avoid a large meal and just do finger foods. Put out little sample sized foods like cheese cubes, pigs-in-a-blanket, or grapes.

Now that the majority of the planning for the food is taken care of, you need to concentrate on activities. Depending on the age of your child you will either need to be very hands on in this decision making process or let your child come up with a few of her own ideas. I like to pick something that keeps the kids active. It will not only keep them healthy, but help wear them out. Activates can range from swimming if your child has a summer birthday, ice skating for winter birthday, or even providing some sort of entertainment. You could hire a clown, magician, or other entertainer to keep the tots amused.

If you will be having the party at your home, try to avoid activities that take the kids elsewhere. For example, you could have a party at home after shuttling them over to the roller arena for skating. But, all of that can be very trying. First you have to round up all the kids, shuttle them to the activity, keep an eye on them, then shuttle them back. In that time you have probably experienced more stress then you needed (especially if it is a large party). Avoid all that by coming up with something for the kids to do at home. Or, alternatively have the party at the destination. Many places have party areas that you can rent out.

Finally, once everything has been picked up, it is time to decorate. You do not have to be Martha Stewart to impress children. Some streamers and balloons go over nicely. For the table, simply set out your theme plates and other utensils. In the center, sit the birthday cake. No fuse, no muse table decorating.

Create a Video Diary of your Pregnancy

By Christina VanGinkel

While creating a lasting video memory of your pregnancy, especially during the early months when hugging a toilet seat might be the highlight of your day, might not seem like a great idea, as your pregnancy progresses, it can have several positives to it, both current and far-reaching. If you have considered creating such a memory, but was not sure why you would, or if you could, then read on for some basic information that just might help you decide if such a project is right for you at this most special time of your life.

First of all, being able to look back at each stage, and both see and hear how you felt, how your attitude might have changed as your body expanded, and how others felt, especially daddy to be, you would be building a legacy that not all do. A video diary might end up tucked away and not looked at after its making for a long time, but then again, if you experience another pregnancy, you might find yourself pulling it out and referring to it just to compare. While no two pregnancies are ever alike, reminding yourself that yes, it was hard to see your toes, can actually be a big boost to your self-confidence the next time around.

If your baby to be has siblings already, including them in the video footage can make the video diary fun to create, and view, as they both or all grow older. I know my youngest son loves to hear that his older sister only allowed us to keep him, as he was not a girl. She had insisted early on, that at eight years old, having a baby brother would be ok, but there was no room for another girl in the family! What attitude that video shows is often the highlight of many family gatherings. That if he might have turned out a she, the reaction might not have so loved years later, but that it still would have been a very interesting perspective overall is often discussed after listening to the story yet one more time!

If being in front of a video camera is not something, you think you would be comfortable at, or you are fearful that you might be at a loss of what to say once the video is running, but you would still like to create one, simplify it. Have a planned sequence each time you videotape. Give the date, or hold up a calendar with the current date circled. Provide a side view so you can look back later to see how baby expanded your waistline from week to week.

Include a bit about how your week went, if there were any doctor appointments or tests, and what their outcome was. If your doctor or midwife is willing, bring along the camera to a visit or two and catch them on film. When baby is grown, they will enjoy seeing who it was that first cared for them as they were preparing entry into this thing we call life!

Be sure to capture the house or apartment you live in, and ff you work outside of the home, include a bit of video on where you work, if you take a subway, etc. Perspectives such as these are all interesting parts of your pregnancy that are often forgotten, especially if you switch doctors, change jobs, or move.

If there are any details specific to the pregnancy that you feel you would like to remember, provide some quick detail. For example, if you can no longer drink coffee because all of a sudden you have a strong aversion to the smell, tell the audience this. On the other hand, if you cannot believe you have eaten, as much watermelon as you have, that it has never tasted so good, even if it does send you running to the bathroom constantly, then be sure to capture these facts too by relaying the information.

If there are important people, who might not live close by but who come to visit you during the pregnancy, be sure to capture them on camera too. With families often spread out across the country, grandma, or grandpa to be might live too far away to be with you physically each day, so capture them during their visit.

Finish off the video diary with baby's birth and homecoming. Once the video is complete what you do with it will be totally up to you. Tuck it away to give baby when they are older, share it during family affairs, make a copy on DVD and store it in your regular scrapbook.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Need a Boost Mommy? Try a New Hair Color!

A new hair color is a fantastic way to breath new life into a look that has, well, gone south. This is especially the case for new mothers who are not feeling their most confident in the hair department. If you want to get back to looking your most delectable and you want to be a yummy mommy then consider trying a new and decidedly exciting hair color change. It can give your locks a lift not to mention your spirits. A good color can add pizzazz, drama and flair to your hair. It may be a start but a new hair color can also make you feel sexy again. And what new mother doesn’t want that?! But are there things you should know before you get started? Absolutely! Choosing the proper hair color can be a confusing and tricky process so let’s look at some important pointers before you begin:

Natural Looking Hair

Hair color should look as natural as possible, not brassy or artificial but just right. The most important thing to do before coloring is to ensure that your hair is in the best condition possible. If not, the coloring process could damage it further. For the best results, it is wise to stay within two shades of your natural hair color.

The Key to Finding an Appropriate Color

The key to finding a color that’s appropriate for you means choosing between warm and cool shades. Differentiating between colors can be confusing especially with the variety that is out there to choose from. The best way to make the right choices is to decide on what your natural coloring is in regard to hair, eye and skin tones. Do you fall into the warm or cool category? Get a friend or relative to help you answer these questions before going any further.

What color are your eyes?
Green, green blue or turquoise (Warm)
Golden brown (Warm)
Hazel with white, gray or blue flecks (Cool)
Hazel with gold or brown flecks (Warm)
Deep brown or black-brown (Cool)
Gray blue or dark blue (Cool)

What color is your skin tone?
Medium with no color in cheeks (Cool)
Medium with faint pink cheeks (Cool)
Medium with golden undertones (Cool)
Pale with pink undertones (Cool)
Pale with no color in cheeks (Cool)
Brown with pink undertone (Warm)
Very dark brown (Cool)
True olive (most Asians and Latinos) (Cool)
Pale with peach or gold undertones (Warm)
Freckled (Warm)
Ruddy (Warm)
Brown or bronze (during tanning season) (Cool)
Golden brown (during tanning season) (Warm)

What color is your hair?
Golden blond (Cool)
Strawberry blond (Warm)
Dishwater blond (Cool)
Red (Warm)
Medium golden brown (Cool)
Deep brown with gold or red highlights (Warm)
Medium ash brown (Cool)
Deepest coffee brown (Cool)
Blue black (Cool)
White (Cool)
Gray with a yellow cast (Warm)
Salt and pepper (Cool)

The verdict

So what did you discover? Were most of your answers “cools”? If so then your natural tones fall into the cool spectrum. The opposite is true if most of your “yes” answers were warm.

The best shades for people in the cool spectrum are shiny raven-wing blacks, cool ash browns, cool blondes in shades ranging from mink to platinum and icy white. Naturally cool women should avoid yellow, red, gold and bronze tones, which have a tendency to make an individual look sallow and drawn.

Shades of deep chocolate, rich golden browns and auburn, warm gold and red highlights and golden blond shades enhance those who fall into the warm category. Weaving and highlighting are a terrific way to add warm tones to your hair. Naturally warm people should avoid violet, blue, white and jet black hair, which will appear to “wash out” your natural hair color.

A few things to keep in mind to achieve the color you want:

If you can’t decide between two shades, go for the lighter one. It’s easier to darken hair than to lighten it.

If you’re new to dark hair color, opt for a rich brown and work your way up to a black tone. Also black hair looks best on women with lighter skin tones.

If you have darker hair, choose a color that is two shades lighter than your desired result.

Red has the highest amount of pigment, which is why it is the most difficult color to maintain. Warmer reds are more natural looking than blue-based reds.

For gray coverage, choose a shade that has neutral or natural in its name.

Use a clarifying shampoo before coloring to help keep hair in excellent condition.

When in doubt, ask. coloring companies that have toll-free telephone numbers and websites to offer comprehensive coloring advice. Don’t be shy when it comes to finding out the facts. Your hair is your crowning glory after all so you want to get the coloring process right the first time around! Cosmeticians at your local drugstores and department stores are also a wealth of information so seeking one out to help you choose the right shade might be the best first step for you to take.

So now you are ready to mix and color and revel in the exciting results. Best of luck mommies!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Ways to Remember

By Heather Pohlabel

I am by far the most paranoid of all of my friends with children. Not only am I paranoid that something will happen to them, I worry that something will happen to me. I often come up with little ways to make sure that is something were to happen to me that I would no longer be around to raise my children, that they would know how much I loved them and that I would be able to pass on some sage advise and wishes for them. Here are a few of the things I've come up with:

Jotting notes. You would be surprised at what kids keep. Sometimes slipping them a little note or card will not only make their day when they receive it, they will probably hold on to it and will have it even long after you are gone. They will always remember where or why they got the surprise and how it made them feel. My daughter still keeps a napkin I put in her lunchbox the first day of first grade. She still reminds me that I used to do that and how nice it was to open up her lunch box and see a note from me! This is something she will remember forever and will probably do with her own children.

I also write down cute things that my children have said. All kids say amazingly humorous things, but we don't really remember verbatim what they say and how old they were when they said it! Included in my "list of things you've said" are:

"These Little Mermaid underwear are the bomb"
"Running around in your underwear just isn't natural"
"Mommy, you left the windmills on the car" (windshield wipers)
"Jesus killed himself on the cross"
"Mom, Uncle Brett is sleeping; he's passed out with the diseases!"

They will not believe the things that they have said, and in time, will laugh at them as much as you did when you first heard them! They, too may record their children's funny sayings for future remembrances.

I also write full length letters to my children. I have done it since before they were born. I keep them in a folder that they will find one day when they are looking through all of my things. They will inevitably cry, but they will also see how much I loved them from the time before they were even born!

Scrapbooking. Everyone seems to be scrapbooking these days, and you can scrapbook for any reason. A lot of us do it just to put our pictures somewhere, but others do it for special occasions, gifts, to help remember, and as a legacy. Your children will treasure and hold on to these scrapbooks for years to come and will see how much love you had for them that you would take the time to put together such a miriad of memories for them to enjoy.

Videos. Some people, and I have yet to do this, I admit (because it seems so final to me), make videos for their children of themselves. They talk to them and show them things such as how to put on makeup or do their hair. They pass on sage advice and show their true emotions on film. This is something that people who find out that they have a terminal disease sometimes do for their children. I'm not sure how the children handle it, but it seems like a good idea. As I said, I haven't done this because it just seems so final, but it is a lovely idea.

Books. There are several books on the market that you can fill with pictures, memories, and advice. These are like more mature versions of baby books, really, and are an excellent idea. I have several that I have started and complete slowly over time. I haven't learned it all yet, so not everything I can advise on, and I hope that my daughters don't think that they know it all at my age either and that they pause before giving ill advice. So if I go, and those pages aren't filled out, they'll have to find out on their own or hear it from someone else, but it's better than getting bad advice from mommy dearest!

There are many ways to let your children know how much you love them and to pass advice on to them in case something should happen to you. Being a good parent in the first place is all you really need to do, but it is nice to have memorabilia of loved ones, so be sure that you have something you can leave for your children if you have to go!

Dispelling Common Pregnancy Myths

By Brandi M. Seals

We have all heard pregnancy myths before. They seem to get past down one generation after another. Many deal with determining the sex of the baby, though in light of ultrasounds they have died out and given way to myths that women should not move too much, eat too much of this or that and various other things.

Myth: Standing on your head after sex can increase your chances of becoming pregnant.

Truth: Standing on your head has not been proven to help conception in any way. Some experts do however recommend lying down for 20 to 30 minutes after sex because it helps keep the sperm inside.

Myth: How the baby is carried or the rate of its heart can indicate the baby's sex.

Truth: The belief that boys are carried low and they have lower heartbeats and that girls are carried high and have higher heart rates simply are not true. The shape of the belly is determined by muscle and uterine tone along with the baby's position. The closer you are to delivery, the lower you will carry. If you want to know the sex of your child, have an ultrasound.

Myth: If you have heartburn during pregnancy, your baby will be born with lots of hair.

Truth: Heartburn is common during pregnancy. It is in no way connected to how much hair your child has.

Myth: Spicy food brings on labor.

Truth: Spicy food has not been proven to bring on labor. If you want to give it a try because you are overdue, go for it. It has not been linked to miscarriage or pre-term labor.

Myth: If a pregnant woman raises her hands above her head, she will choke her baby.

Truth: Raising your hands over your head does not cause the umbilical cord to choke the baby. About 25 percent of all babies are born with the cord around the neck, and several have the cord wrapped around other body parts. There is nothing a mother can do to cause this. Tangles are caused by the movement of the fetus early on.

The only benefit to this myth is that a pregnant woman may not have to do unwanted lifting, cleaning or working.

Myth: If you have bad morning sickness, it is a girl; mild or none means it is a boy.

Truth: Again, there is no way to tell whether you are having a boy or a girl without an ultrasound.

Myth: Do not wear your seat belt if it is uncomfortable.

Truth: Nothing could be more unsafe than riding in a car without the seat belt. Seat belts protect you and your baby during an accident. However, air bags may be bad news for expectant mothers. Avoid them by sitting in the back seat.

Myth: If your mom or sister had --------, you will too. Or, if ------ happened during your first pregnancy, it will happen again.

Truth: Some things in life are hereditary; however labor and delivery are not one of them. If your mom had you after only 2 hours of labor, do not assume you will have a short labor. You could be there for over 24 hours. Something goes if your first delivery was quick and easy, the second one might be more painful. Do not rely on your past experiences (or those of relatives) to tell you what your experience will be like.

Myth: Pregnant women cannot exercise.

Truth: This myth is totally untrue unless you have been otherwise directed by a doctor. The exercises you used to do may need to be altered to accommodate the pregnancy, but exercise is always beneficial.

Myth: Sleeping on your back can hurt the baby.

Truth: Many women believe that blood flow will be reduced through the placenta if they lie on their backs. Truth is that it is generally untrue. One's blood flow can be compromised by sleeping on one's back. The mother in this situation would most likely have a high risk pregnancy and feel dizzy or uncomfortable in this position. This would naturally make her shift positions.

The origin of this myth dates to the 1960s and 1970s when research showed that blood flow can be compromised if women are made to labor on their backs. In this position, the vena cave may become compressed. That is why women are encouraged to be on their sides, sit up or walk while they are in labor.

Diaper Bag Essentials

By Heather Pohlabel

Diaper bags are more fashionable than ever. Many mothers are not even buying a traditional diaper bag, but instead, buying larger purses to carry baby's needs with them. No matter what diaper bag or extra large purse you choose, here a few essential items that you must remember to pack so as to not be caught unprepared.

Extra clothing. Depending on the season or where you live, this will vary as to what you need. A typical Ohio mother knows that the weather changes hour by hour, so a variety of layer able clothes is necessary for everyone, including baby. She might pack a onesie (every mom should have one or two of these in her diaper bag), a long sleeved outfit, a short sleeved outfit, a sleeper, a pair of socks, and a jacket. It sounds like a lot, but babies have accidents that ruin their clothing, and even in the most warm climate, they need clothing on their bodies to protect them from the sun.

Diapering needs. They don't call it a diaper bag for nothing! Don't you dare forget the diapers! When your baby starts stinking up the room, people will be relieved that you have remembered to bring something to change her into! You will need wipes to clean her bottom (these come in travel sizes as well, which is very convenient for not only diaper bags, but different rooms of the house and your vehicle - baby wipes have far more uses than cleaning baby bottoms; they are one of the best all purpose cleaners around!). A nice bonus to the diaper bag is a box of disposable diaper bags. These are small plastic bags that you can place your baby's dirty diaper in to help contain odor. They are usually powder scented to help mask the odor. You will probably also want to have a small tube of diaper rash cream in case your baby has a rash and you forget to grab it at home. Diaper rashes are very painful for babies, so making sure that you have some relief on hand is best. Keep one tube at home and one in your bag. Some mothers like to carry a changing pad or cloth; others don't feel it's necessary.

Food. Depending on your baby's age, what you should keep in your diaper bag in case your baby gets hungry while you are out will vary. Babies who are not eating solids still have needs. Formula quickly goes bad, so taking prepared formula is not a great idea unless you know that your baby will be drinking it right away or you have a freezer bottle cooler with you. If you take prepared, chilled formula, you will also want to keep a bottle warmer with you.

Powdered formula or ready to drink is best for diaper bag. Keeping an empty bottle and a serving or two of these formulas in your bag will keep you prepared. Also keep a bottle of water to mix the powder with, or for you. You need to keep hydrated as well! For older babies, you should keep two jars of food, a spoon, a bottle of juice (unopened baby bottle sized - single serving), and a baggie of puffs, cereal, or crackers. For all babies, remember a bib and a burp rag!

The extra essentials. You're far from done! In addition to clothing, diapering needs, and food for your baby, you will want to bring a long a few more items to keep yourself prepared. With babies, anything can happen, and is much better to be prepared. If your baby takes a pacifier, keep an extra one in your diaper bag. These get lost frequently or dropped in very dirty areas (usually when your baby wants one the most), so having a spare will be a comfort to both of you! A receiving blanket or larger thin blanket will help protect baby if it's windy out or comfort her if she needs a nap while you are out. Always carry an extra blanket. Keeping a toy in your diaper bag is also a good idea. Sometimes your baby would like to be entertained, and whether it is you playing with the toy for her to entertain her, or she is playing with it by herself, you will be happy that you had a distraction packed!

There really isn't any "traveling light" when you want to be prepared to best help meet the needs of your baby when you are out of the house, so be sure to pack your oversized purse or diaper bag with all of the essentials to ensure a better trip, no matter where you go.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Vaccine: a father's view...

One of the biggest ways in which society is trying to influence us is by telling us how to raise our children. Be it in magazines, on the news, or some kind of internet spam from sites we never even consider viewing, people, "experts" if you will, are invading our private abodes to tell us what is best for our kids. The last thing I need is just one more voice in my head that I have to ignore.

Now, the scientific community is raising controversy, though unintentionally, about what kind of morals our children need to get by in these dark ages.

My wife, while she was with child, began frequenting a message board with mothers expecting at the same time that she was due. After the birth of our boy, she went away from that board, and somewhat recently returned to this site again. Now, my wife never posts much. She has her views, yes, but chooses to withhold them, most of the time. Real recently, the same unintentional controversy, as mentioned before, has finally appeared on her board.

The topic at hand was the passing of a new vaccine. This vaccine is the first of its kind, promising to actually prevent a form of cancer from even forming. The mothers are on board with me, I am sure, but let me bring the dads up to speed. I am talking of the vaccine Gardisil. On June 8th, 2006, the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of the vaccine as a preventative measure against two strains of the human papilloma virus, or HPV, which is responsible for, at least, 70 percent of cervical cancer cases. For those who have not seen the stats, cervical cancer infects six-point-two million women, and kills 240-thousand more, each year.

Needless to say, this is a significant discovery, and it is even awe-inspiring to those of us praying for cure to cancer. Sounds great, right? Well, yeah, sure it does! As a new dad, hopefully one day of a girl, this is a huge find. But, where is the controversy?

Oh, it is not in the vaccine itself. That is simply great. When we began, I noted the way some areas of society want to sway our parenthood techniques. Therein lays the controversy.

Now that this vaccine is popularizing, some states are looking into making it mandatory for young girls to have the shots. Since the strands of HPV are passed during sexual activity, a.k.a. intercourse, some are worried that Gardisil is promoting promiscuity. One side says the vaccine okays the sexually active lifestyle for a person not of age (18 years old) and/or with multiple partners. The other side says kids are unpredictable, so to give them the chance to prevent something bad with a shot is a smart idea.

Want to know what I think? Obviously, you do, otherwise, you would have stopped reading by now. They are both right.
I have a series belief system that is based on faith. Faith in God, His Word, and His Son, and this faith is crucial to all parts of my life: public, private, personal, spiritual, marital, and, parental. Now, I understand that some reading here now do not have the same beliefs that I do. I understand that in this day and age this does not seem possible, but it IS possible to teach a child to abstain. A child can amaze you when you tell them that they do not have to fall into "the crowd" by doing the smoking, or booze, or drugs, or sex. Everyone who I talk to who saved themselves for marriage has never regretted it one iota, and some love to hear stories of others doing the same, because in our world, it is so rare.
Still, with this out in the blue sky, I firmly believe that people should take their daughters to have the shots. We are living in a very dark age. The government is stripping us of hard-earned money for taxes, while studies conflict us about what is okay to eat, and not okay. Then public schools do not give a balanced lesson anymore, abstinence is not allowed to be spoken of in schools, and then they weep over young adults getting sexually transmitted diseases, AIDS, and start having babies.

Folks, society is against us. No matter what kind of example I can be, my son may, in fact, infect someone, and my future daughter may be infected. No matter what my wife says to her in "the talk" it may not be enough to stop her from doing whatever she desires. My daughter will get that shot because I want her to be safe from something in a world that is out to get her, to drag her in.

Dads, teach your sons the proper way to behave. In a like manner, show your daughters the type of man she should want for a husband, when the time comes. Please, above all else, tell them it is okay to wait to give something so precious, so special, that only their God-given spouse will ever receive it: yourself, clean as a whistle, inside and out.