From Saturday morning cooking shows, I learned to make a perfectly-browned pan seared chicken breast, zucchini noodles and spaghetti squash, and the correct balance of butter and flour for a roux (the base for many soups and sauces.) But for many years I refused to try to make risotto.

Risotto is too sophisticated for my skill level, I thought. Risotto is only made by cooking school students and those TV chefs. I am satisfied with boiling rice and adding butter and salt.

But like many new experiences, once I tried making risotto, I discovered the result was easier and better than I ever expected.

Risotto is surprisingly easy to create, uses few ingredients, and can be adapted to many different tastes. Saying “I made risotto” makes me feel more sophisticated and accomplished than saying “I boiled rice,” and the basic technique makes a versatile, delicious dish.

Start with Arborio rice and olive oil. Drizzle some oil in the pan. Add 1 ½ cups of rice and stir it around over medium heat until the rice just begins to turn golden.

Pour in half a cup of chicken stock. Stir until the rice has soaked up the stock and starts to look dry. Add another half cup of stock and stir.

Keep repeating that process: pour, stir, pour, stir. . . until you’ve gradually added about 4 cups (32 ounces) of chicken stock.

Taste the rice. It should be soft and tender.

Then add 2 Tablespoons of butter and a cup of grated parmesan cheese.

The basic recipe is simple and smooth, creamy comfort food. Once you’ve mastered the process, any combination of ingredients and flavors can be added. My favorite is cooked and crumbled bacon with thawed frozen corn.

You could try fresh peas and parsley, or mushrooms and asparagus, or any other combination you can imagine.

Check here, here, and here for risotto recipes and preparation ideas.

And though I am eager to explore new flavor ideas and try new risotto recipes, I can still appreciate the simple comfort in a bowl of basic boiled rice.

What do you enjoy preparing in your kitchen? What have you always wanted to try?

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“This is what my client needs to feel comfortable,” Mandee explained to staff when she presented them with Jenna’s prepared birth plan. “How can we make this a good experience for her?”

Jenna experienced PTSD related to a past hospital stay, so the idea of having her baby in a hospital caused anxiety she wasn’t prepared to face alone. But with Mandee as her doula, Jenna could begin to prepare herself for the birth of her new baby.

Mandee accompanied Jenna on three tours of the hospital, walked with her through the hallways, introduced her to nurses and other staff, and helped her explore the delivery rooms. She explained Jenna’s PTSD to the nursing staff and asked them to work together to make Jenna feel more comfortable in the hospital environment. Jenna’s birth plan requested that few people be present in the room at any time, that staff ask for consent before touching Jenna, even during routine procedures like checking monitors and IVs, and that a specific nurse with a particularly mellow personality be assigned to Jenna during her delivery.

It is a doula’s job to tactfully advocate for her client mom throughout her pregnancy and the birth of her child. Mandee spends time discussing options with her client moms and lets them make their own decisions about their birth experiences. Then Mandee helps communicate her clients’ wishes and expectations to medical staff.

Mandee often approaches the hospital staff to help negotiate during a mom’s labor and delivery. “What would it take to get Mom off the monitors for half an hour and take a walk?” Mandee suggests when walking may help speed up a mom’s slow labor. “What would it take to wait another hour before starting Pitocin?” But Mandee encourages each mom to express her own needs and expectations to staff so she feels she is the one in control of the situation.

“You are the client paying the health care provider for a service. It is your birth,” Mandee reminds her clients. “You have options. You can walk out anytime and go somewhere else. You can request a different doctor. You can transfer to a different hospital. You can refuse or accept any treatment.”

“If you went to a restaurant and didn’t like the food, you would ask for a manager or go to a different restaurant. You can switch to a different medical provider if you don’t feel confident in your level of care.”

Mandee approaches such conflicts in a graceful and tactful way during a time that can be scary and intimidating for a mom in labor.

This ability to resolve problems gracefully is an important trait for moms to identify when hiring a doula to help in the delivery room. Mandee describes several characteristics moms can look for when shopping for the right doula.

  1. The right doula will be tactful when handling conflicts and making suggestions.
  2. She will be able to offer solutions and ideas for any possible problems before they arise.
  3. A doula will listen to Mom’s preferences and not try to force her own agenda.
  4. She will work to maintain a pleasant, calming atmosphere.
  5. And a great doula will have a good reputation with hospital staff.

Mandee suggests several actions moms can take when interviewing and hiring a prospective doula.

  1. Ask for references, and call the doula’s former clients.
  2. Ask those former clients: “How was your birth experience with this doula?” “How did she interact with medical staff?”
  3. Take a prebirth tour of the hospital. Ask staff about their interactions with the prospective doula.
  4. Make a list of questions to ask the doula. Some questions to ask may be: “What relaxation techniques do you use during labor?” “How can you support me?” “How can I feel empowered throughout this process?”
  5. Ask about concerns specific to your situation. A doula should have the resources to work through problems and find possible solutions before arriving in the delivery room.

A doula is hired by the client mom, not the hospital, so payment for services is made directly to the doula. “A doula shouldn’t ask for the balance paid at the first meeting,” Mandee advises. Mandee meets with the mom for a free consultation, then asks that a deposit be paid when she and the mom agree to work together. She allows moms to make payments to her throughout the pregnancy, with the balance paid off by 36 weeks.

Doula services are generally covered by health savings accounts and by insurance programs in some states. Mandee requires that payment is made to her directly, then she provides paperwork for the mom to file a reimbursement claim with her insurance company.

newborn-1571624_1920Moms like Jenna can take many steps to relieve any worry and tension before labor and delivery. Talking with a doula, building a positive relationship, exploring hospital hallways, and connecting with hospital staff all contribute to making childbirth a more comfortable and positive experience.

“If you don’t know your options, you don’t have any,” Mandee explains. “Educate yourself. If you don’t know what you can change, you can’t change anything, so know your options and decide what’s right for you.”

Several online resources help moms make informed decisions and find the right doula for their childbirth experience. Check out: Doulamatch.net, Findadoula.com, and The International Childbirth Education Association.

What questions could you ask before hiring a doula? How will hiring a doula make a difference to your birth experience?

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  1. Select an age-appropriate book.
  2. Curl up together on the couch, bed, or another comfy spot.
  3. Open the book and read.

I will be honest and admit that I don't remember reading to my daughter much when she was small. I was busy. I worked all day, and I came home tired. By bedtime, I just wanted to be quiet and go to sleep; so if I read a book at all, it was one quick bedtime story and then lights-out and good-night.

But as I pursued my degree in Elementary Education, I learned there are many good reasons to spend time reading books to our children. If I had those years to do over, I would make more time to read to my daughter, and I would make more effort to enjoy and appreciate reading to her when she was young.baby-316214_1280

Why we should read to children:

  1. Children learn language by hearing language. Small children who are read to develop greater vocabularies, learn to read more easily, and generally do better in school. Children who are read to develop an appreciation for reading and are more likely to enjoy reading later in life. Children learn how books and words work by turning pages and following text. They learn to process ideas, explore, ask questions, and find the answers to their questions by thinking about the words they hear.
  2. Children learn about relationships by spending time with adults. Reading together can be a special, cozy time of sitting close and being the center of another's attention. Spending time with adults makes children feel safe and secure and helps maintain those close relationships for the future. Reading together is a time to appreciate being a family and being present with each other. It is time to have fun, laugh, talk, ask questions and share ideas.
  3. Children learn about the world through books. Television channels and computer screens don't teach children to think critically, form opinions, ask questions, or consider possibilities. Reading encourages children to use their own imaginations and question information. Children learn how to talk with adults through active conversations, and they learn about the world from adults who share their experiences.

Moms can make a few preparations to help make reading together part of the regular routine.

Build a library. Children's books are inexpensive at thrift stores, yard sales, and library book sales. Buy as many as your house will hold.

Use the public library for greater variety. Help children get their own library cards and select their own books from the children's section.

Don't stop when they're too big to sit on your lap. Older children can enjoy reading chapter books with their parents, too. Continue spending reading time together and talk about the stories you read.

img_0705When I ask my daughter now, she remembers reading Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. In this classic, Max learns that exploring the world alone is not much fun, and he is happy to be home where he is loved and dinner is waiting on the table.

 

I have also learned to appreciate the home and love that are waiting for me at the end of a busy day.

Other favorite books include:img_0707

 

 

 

 

 

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How do you enjoy reading with your children? What are your favorite books to read together?

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The stroller felt heavier with every turn. I paused at the curb, hauled the stroller around in a U-turn, and headed back toward the fence and the trees. Four toddlers in coats and stocking caps looked where I pointed and listened to my constant chatter.

"Look at the pretty trees. The leaves are turning orange and red."

"Watch the rabbit run under the fence. Rabbits run fast."

"Wow, this stroller is heavy, and the world is so big."

Back and forth, push and pull, I propelled the stroller up and down the sidewalk because my training in early childhood education had taught me that all children learn from experiences like this. The four toddlers were learning language from hearing my voice describe the trees, rabbits, and the great, wide world. They learned about the sensations of the cool breeze and the sound of cars passing on the street. As an early childhood teacher, I wanted the kids in my care to be always learning.

parents-sons-966044_1920Choosing a daycare provider for your child is an important decision. Every mom wants to know her baby is safe, learning, and loved. Look for childcare center teachers and in-home care providers who:

 

  1. Answer all your questions, understand your concerns, and encourage parents to visit the home or facility at unplanned and various times throughout the day.
  2. Maintain good communication with daily reports about how children ate, slept, and played.
  3. Do not confine infants and toddlers to cribs or bouncy seats; but instead allow infants and toddlers space to move freely, play on the floor, and explore the environment. baby-84552_1920
  4. Provide outdoor play spaces and scheduled play times so toddlers and older children can run, jump, swing, and climb in safe and supervised areas.
  5. Do not stand around gossiping or checking their cell phones; but instead understand that children learn from being actively engaged with adults and their peers.
  6. Plan rewarding learning opportunities: read stories, sing songs, lead art and craft projects, and encourage children to question and explore.
  7. Take infants outdoors in strollers or wagons to describe the scenery and enjoy the blue sky. child-953703_1920

Most importantly, always trust your instincts when selecting a childcare provider. Choose the center or provider that feels the most loving and interested in your child. Look for teachers and providers who enjoy spending time with children, seem happy to see your child every morning, and express a willingness to work with parents as part of a childcare team.

Check out these websites for more suggestions on choosing a quality childcare provider: Parents.com, and Healthychildren.org.

I remember those years I spent pushing that stroller as a time of learning for me, too. I learned that children hear and remember much more than we realize. I learned that fall trees look beautiful in the early morning sun, sidewalks are wide and uneven, the world is enormous and awesome, and I am never too old to feel small.

What do you look for when choosing a childcare provider? How did you know when you found the right one?

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My teenage daughter told me the dentist numbed her mouth, then left her sitting in the chair alone for nearly an hour. When the dental assistant finally returned to the room, she told my daughter the office was double booked for the day, and they would have to reschedule her filling.

"I took the day off school to do this," my daughter mumbled through her numbed mouth. "I can't reschedule for another day."

The dentist and his assistant came back to the room and filled my daughter's tooth -- without speaking to her. Actually, she said they sat on opposite sides of the chair and argued with each other the entire time they worked.

"I don't want to go back to that dentist again," she told me when she got home.

"Don't worry. We won't," I answered.

For many people, few events cause as much worry as a visit to the dentist's office. Fortunately, introducing your child to a good dentist early can help avoid much of the anxiety associated with the dentist's chair.

"First tooth, first visit," advises Shannon, a dental hygienist. She explains that parents should take their children to the dentist as soon as the first baby tooth is on display.

At a first dental visit, the dentist will likely sit knee-to-knee with the parent with the baby lying across both adults' laps. The goal of the first visit is to help the child be comfortable with the bright lights and unfamiliar environment of the dentist's office. This time also allows the dentist to look for any developmental habits, like pacifier or thumb-sucking, that may affect tooth formation in the future and to advise parents on future dental care.

As children grow and teeth develop, Shannon recommends scheduling regular dental visits every six months. She also advises taking children to a family dentist, instead of one who specializes in pediatric dentistry, as soon as the child has all permanent teeth.

Your dentist may suggest several treatments to protect teeth as the child grows. Sealants are applied to 6 year molars and 12 year molars. These protective covers seal out bacteria and prevent decay from growing in the grooves of teeth. Fluoride treatments are brushed onto chewing surfaces of teeth once a year to protect teeth from decay.

pixabay teethIf a cavity is diagnosed, it is best to get the decay taken care of while it is small and does not affect the pulp or healthy part of the tooth. Once decay goes into the dentin, the second layer of the tooth, the cavity will grow and possibly spread to surrounding teeth as well. If that happens, a child may need general anesthesia to allow the dentist to repair and fill several cavities at once. Extensive dental repairs are painful and can make children afraid to return to the dentist in the future.

However, many families don't have dental insurance. I had selected the angry dentist who argued across his dental chair because he was one who advertised "No insurance necessary" services.

"Call your dentist and ask the cost of services like cleaning and exams," suggests Shannon. "Then set money aside every month for the dental expenses of the family. It is more expensive in the long run to skip dental check-ups and have to pay for fillings later." As another alternative, Shannon recommends visiting dental hygienist schools and training programs for low-cost preventative care. Colleges that train dental assistants offer cleanings, X-rays, and sealants at reasonable prices.

The Healthy Smiles Project and the Healthy Teeth website offer games, activities, and coloring pages that help teach children to care for their own smiles. Verywell.com posts articles on dental care and other health issues for young children.

Shannon suggests that parents ask around when searching for the right dentist. "The experiences and word of mouth referrals of other people make great recommendations."

boy-676122_960_720[1]After  my daughter's experience with the angry dentist, I refuse to go to any dentist who doesn't make me feel cared for and comfortable. I reserved money from each year's tax refund to pay for our cleanings and checkups. I found a dentist who told jokes across his dental chair and made his patients smile.

How have you helped your children feel more comfortable about going to the dentist?

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pixabay smile

I kept my daughter's baby shoes, receiving blankets with spit-up stains, and books with her name written in the cover. I preserved her handprints and coloring book pages. In a box at the bottom of my closet, are all her baby teeth, carefully sealed in individual envelopes and labeled for the Tooth Fairy: "MY TOOF."

"People don't think they have to take care of their kids' baby teeth, because they get new ones anyway," begins Shannon, a dental hygienist, "but baby teeth are important because they hold space for the adult teeth. The roots of baby teeth guide the permanent teeth into place. Good baby teeth are necessary to maintain face shape and smiling, and for chewing and eating."

Shannon offers parents numerous ideas on how to care for our children's teeth and preserve the health and beauty of their smiles. She says dental care has to begin with the smallest children, long before they have a mouthful of pearly whites.

Beware of Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

When liquids, including breast milk, pool in a child's mouth at night, the sugars in the milk or food combine with bacteria, and the decay process begins on teeth. It is important to wipe out the child's mouth before bedtime, and never put a baby to bed with a bottle, unless it contains only water.

Don't Share Spoons

Adults can experience Gingivitis, gum disease, or Periodontitis, which destroys the bones under teeth. The bacteria from an adult's teeth can be transferred to a child on shared spoons or utensils. Once that decay starts, the bacteria spread from tooth, to tooth, to tooth.

pixabay brushingBrush Your Child's Teeth

Good dental habits start early, so parents should start brushing even the smallest child's gums and erupting teeth. An infant finger toothbrush is a small plastic or cloth brush that looks like a finger-puppet and removes excess liquid from the baby's mouth. As children get older, parents should teach them how to brush their own teeth, but don't use fluoride toothpaste, and watch that children don't swallow toothpaste. Ingesting too much fluoride can cause fluorisis, which discolors teeth.

The Healthy Smiles Project and the Healthy Teeth website offer games, activities, and coloring pages that help teach children to care for their own smiles. In Saving Smiles, Part Two, Shannon will share how to introduce your child to the dentist's office and how to prevent costly and painful problems in the future.

Children grow fast. Baby teeth don't last. They end up under pillows or in envelopes labeled "MY TOOF." Children need to learn proper dental care and maintenance. The memories of their smiles will last forever.

How have you helped your children learn to take care of their teeth?

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The dumpster lid creaked when I hefted it over my head. I started to throw in my plastic bag of garbage, but then I stopped. Under the dumpster lid, the cardboard box from a 24-can soda pack perched on a mound of bagged garbage. I snagged the cardboard from the dumpster and ripped the UPC bar code from the corner before tossing the box back into the dumpster and adding my garbage bag to the pile.

All that summer I saved soda-case UPC's. I bought boxes and boxes of soda cans and carefully clipped off the bar code squares. By the twisted logic of marketing campaigns, I was eager to spend money on soda just to collect the UPC codes and trade them for a free duffle bag bearing the soda company logo. It made sense at the time.

It also made sense to save calories by drinking the diet soda version, sweetened with the chemical aspartame.  After drinking one can of diet soda, I usually had a headache. After drinking two cans, I experienced a buzzing dizziness and blurry vision. I kept drinking, rationalizing that I was enjoying calorie-free soda and earning a free duffle bag.

"Be aware of how food makes you feel," advises Meg, Health Coach for the Dr. Sears' LEAN Nutrition and Wellness Institute. "Explain to your children, 'I ate too much ice cream, and now I have a stomachache.' When we set an example of wanting to feel good, kids will learn that what they eat affects the way they feel."

Meg identifies three food additives we should avoid when making food choices.

IMG_0391High Fructose Corn Syrup is used to sweeten hundreds of foods we find in the grocery store. Corn syrup does not trigger the hormone leptin, which controls appetite; so when we eat foods containing corn syrup, we still feel hungry and will overeat. I found corn syrup lurking in several of the foods in my pantry, including "healthy" cereal, crackers, salad dressing, and even soup.

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Hydrogenated Oils have a long shelf life, so are used in many processed and fast foods. Hydrogenated oils make our cell membranes rigid so our calls cannot grow and function properly. They can cause heart disease, diabetes, and cancers. Hydrogenated oils are often disguised on food labels as "trans fats" or "shortening."

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Food Additives and Colors, like aspartame, MSG, food colorings and preservatives, are called "excitotoxins" because they alter brain chemistry. Ingesting chemical additives can lead to behavior and learning disorders and long-term neurological diseases. Chemical additives are common in prepared, boxed foods and my habitual diet soda.

The best way to avoid food additives is to avoid eating prepared, boxed foods. Choose foods with only a few, natural ingredients. Buy fresh fruits and vegetables, meats and dairy. Learn to cook from scratch and prepare your own homemade snacks and baked goods.

"The better you feel, the easier it is to make the financial sacrifice and buy real, natural foods," Meg advises. "You will see the benefits."

The Dr. Sears website features tips for smart grocery shopping and guidelines for avoiding food additives and chemicals.

My diet soda habit ended when I got tired of the headaches and weird side effects. The free duffle bag didn't last much longer, but ended up in the pile of another apartment dumpster.

How do you avoid foods with added ingredients and chemicals? How do you teach your children to eat healthful, nutritious meals?

 

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The doors sighed open, sounding as tired as I felt. We passed the checkout lane where the cashier leaned against her conveyor belt and yawned. We passed the cooler where the eggs and yogurt displayed the bright colors of their packaging.

I pursued a single purpose, the only goal that could lure me out of bed to dress and drive to the grocery store this early on a Sunday morning: donuts.donuts-268250_960_720[1]

I craved golden, glazed donuts with the flaky white icing that disintegrates when bitten. I let my daughter choose the most attractive package from the bakery shelf while I selected bottled orange juice and instant coffee. Then my daughter and I moved to the cash register where the cashier drowsily pushed buttons and squashed our donuts into a bag.

"It's not realistic to eliminate all sugar," says Meg, Health Coach for the Dr. Sears LEAN lifestyle and nutrition program. "Telling children that sugar is off-limits does them a disservice, because it's impossible to avoid sugar entirely. It's our job as parents to teach balance, to help children learn to use tools and make good choices."

sign-256533_960_720[1]Meg recommends Dr. Sears' "Traffic Light Eating" as one tool to teach our children. Dr. Sears describes food as falling into three colorful categories that help children make good choices.

"Green Light Foods" are "Go Foods" that provide energy and promote growth. Greed Foods can be eaten as much as we like and include: fruits and vegetables, eggs and yogurt, milk and cheese, nuts and seeds, lean meat and fish.

"Yellow Light Foods" are "Slow Down Foods" that can be enjoyed in limited qualities. Yellow Foods include: fatty meats, pasta and white bread, homemade baked goods.

"Red Light Foods" are the "Stop and Think Foods" that demand caution and a careful approach. Red Foods are the prepackaged, store-bought foods, desserts, sugared drinks, and foods with artificial sweeteners and hydrogenated oils.

Red Light Foods are all right once in a while, Meg explained, but we don't want to begin the habit of eating them regularly.

My Sunday morning donuts fall into the Red Light category, all right for an occasional treat, but I had acquired the regular donut habit, and my low energy levels showed it.

Meg references the Sears Wellness Institute for meal ideas and recipes that incorporate more Green Light Foods. The site teaches healthy eating habits and encourages healthy choices. Meg also recommends this site for meal ideas and recipes that use real foods in budget-friendly menus.

Sometimes I miss the delicate melting of glazed donut icing. Sometimes I still prowl the bakery shelves for cinnamon rolls and sugar cookies. More often now, I stop at the coolers of eggs and yogurt. I choose fruit, cottage cheese, and whole grain bread for making crunchy toast.

But the cashier still yawns over the conveyor belt and squashes my bread in the bag.

How have your eating habits changed? What strategies do you use to help your family make healthy choices?

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baby-655365_960_720[1]Somehow I always got the cart with the squealing wheel. I wrestled it through the twists and turns of the grocery store, throwing in rattling boxes of macaroni and cheese, rubbery hot dogs, chicken nuggets, whole milk, white bread, peanut butter, giant slabs of frozen pizza, and pastel-colored breakfast cereal in enormous plastic bags.

At the last aisle of the store, I stopped and turned around. The final aisle was the forbidden zone, a foreign and mysterious territory, a place I thought was off-limits to poor moms like me.

fruits-25266_960_720[1]The produce aisle.

We can't afford it, I told myself. We won't eat it, and it will all go bad anyway. Fresh produce is for people with money. I maneuvered the cart toward the checkout lane.

Looking back, I know my daughter and I were very blessed. We never went hungry. Though we lived for many years on one minimum-wage income, we always had enough to eat, and for that I am very grateful.

But I have wondered what I could have done differently to feed my daughter more nutritiously on the resources we had.

"It's not all or nothing," says Meg, a Health Coach for the Dr. Sears L.E.A.N. lifestyle and nutrition program. Meg encourages moms to make small changes, small shifts in thinking about the way we feed our families.

"You can't change the way you eat all at once, or it won't be sustainable," Meg explains. She says small changes are less shocking to a family's habits and finances.

Meg offers a few small steps moms can take to provide more nutritious food for their families.

  • Add one fruit or vegetable serving a day.
  • Scrub fresh fruits and vegetables, or wash them with vinegar. We don't need to buy organic produce.
  • Watch for sales and buy less expensive varieties. Apples are still apples.
  • Have fun. Try new things, and let your children see you enjoying healthy changes.
  • Experiment with small amounts of new, unfamiliar foods. Buy one star fruit and sample it with your children.

"Do what works for your family," Meg continues. "Realize this season of life is not forever, and do the best you can with what you have. Your family will benefit."

The Dr. Sears Wellness Institute offers lifestyle, exercise, and nutrition information and support. The website provides a blog about health and nutrition, pages of recipes and shopping tips, and the opportunity to become a certified Health Coach like Meg. In future posts Meg will share an explanation of Dr. Sears' Traffic Light Foods and guidance on how to read nutrition labels.

My family and financial situation have changed since the days I avoided the produce aisle. More importantly, my old attitude of "We can't afford it" has changed to: We can afford it. We deserve it, and I want to be healthy.

Now the produce aisle is my first stop in the grocery store. I buy bags of apples, oranges, and little baby carrots. I choose Romaine lettuce with sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, and raspberry vinaigrette dressing. We like cauliflower roasted in olive oil and sweet potatoes baked with real butter.

girl-253574_960_720[1]But somehow I still get the cart with the screeching wheel.

What has been your experience in the grocery store? How do you find nutritious alternatives for your family?

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The child's shrieks sounded down the narrow hallway. Amanda, the eye care technician, crept quietly toward Exam Room 2. She slowly opened the door and cautioned a peek inside the room where an angry woman straddled a kicking, screaming, squirming 5-year-old and another eye tech wrestled to control the child's tossing, turning head.

Amanda stepped backwards and silently shut the door. She immediately knew the source of the chaos in Exam Room 2.

Eye drops.

Eye drops are the cause of fear and trauma for many young patients in the eye doctor's office. Pink eye is common in children in adults, and everyone sooner or later will probably have to face the dreaded bottle of medicated drops. Moms can take a few simple steps to help alleviate the drama of pink eye for their children.

Pink eye, or "conjunctivitis," is a general term that refers to any irritated or inflamed eyes. Pink eye can be caused by bacteria, viruses, allergies, or irritants like chlorine and other chemicals. Pink eye is identified by red, watery eyes, and that crusty, gunky stuff that sticks the eyelids together and looks nasty.

To help prevent pink eye:

Teach children to wash their hands often and to use soap.

Don't share towels or wash cloths.

Wash sheets, pillow cases, and towels frequently and in hot water.

When a child does show symptoms of pink eye, visit a doctor right away. Some forms of pink eye will go away on their own, but if left untreated, some pink eye could progress to serious and sight-threatening infections. Follow the doctor's orders and use all the drops or other medications he or she recommends.

Since most children will eventually get a case of pink eye and need medicated drops, a mom can prepare her child for the experience and avoid the drama of prying open the eyelids of a squirming, crying child.

One couple brought their 1-year-old to Amanda's office and showed how they had made their daughter accustomed to eye drops and unafraid of the eye doctor experience.

IMG_0218They bought a bottle of unmedicated, artificial tears for a couple of dollars, like this one from Walmart.

When the baby was only a few months old, Mom and Dad started practicing with using the artificial tears.

"Look. Watch Daddy." Dad dropped a few drops of the artificial tears in his own eye, then dropped a few pain-free drops in the baby's eyes.

The baby blinked and looked surprised, but she did not cry. She didn't squirm, scream, or feel afraid. And Amanda didn't have to help hold a kicking, fighting child.

What suggestions do you have for helping your child use eye drops or medications? What have you done to prepare your child for a visit to the doctor's office?

 

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