Tag Archives: children

If the Twos are Terrible then What the Heck are the Threes?

For years I have been hearing about the terrible twos.  And, yes, with little ones finding their independence the twos can be and were most challenging.  Now though that I am experiencing the threes, I am wondering why the twos got so much hype.  Why isn’t anyone talking about the threes?

Today must have set some sort of record.  The day started off with what was supposed to be a lovely short trip to the store which quickly reminded me why I prefer to shop solo. Bobby wanted to hold the box of kosher salt, then he wanted to throw it on the floor, then he wanted to grab something else, then he screamed for no reason.  All within a ten minute period.  I won’t go into what happened after the grocery store, but let’s just say more of the same thing.

Wanting some guidance, I did a little research to help me understand what this behavior is all about.   Some articles on websites like BabyCenter explain that tantrums are about the child gaining independence and that children will tantrum as a result of being unable to express how they feel.  These articles were totally unhelpful to the parent of the child who knows how he feels but just seems determined to pitch a fit.  After digging some more, I came across an article on WebMD that was informative.  Children between the age of 3 and 4 have a hard time knowing the consequences of bad behavior.  Allegedly after awhile a tantruming 3 year old will learn that the behavior results in a some sort of consequence and as a result they’ll tantrum less.

What should the consequence be?  Some experts suggest time outs, others just a lack of attention.  Apparently ignoring the tantrum can work well.  And for me, it has worked.  But what do you do when they’re tantruming in public.  One expert advocated for the parents to remain calm and detached.  After reading that, I started to wonder if they had kids.  It’s so hard to stay calm when your child is sprawled out on the ground somewhere with a group of onlookers.

Lucky for me, I got to try to stay calm. On the way to the park, Bobby had a meltdown. At first it was about a green dinosaur – he wanted it, then he didn’t want it, then he wanted something else, and went back to wanting the dinosaur.  Usually, I try to talk him down from his tantrum.  This time it was clear that my usual approach wasn’t going to work. So, I tried something new.  I ignored him.  I tried to keep my cool and counted to ten.  By the time I got to ten, he simmered down and was looking out the window.  So, maybe there is something to ignoring the tantrum.

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Dining With An Eight Month Old

While it is easy to enjoy a nice meal with a sleeping baby, once that sleeping baby awakens things change.  Months later the previously sleeping baby turns into an active monkey who can enjoy real food.  The challenge becomes being able to feed the happy active baby while also eating something yourself.

For the longest time, my husband, Tony and I would take turns appeasing CJ. Then, we appeased hungry monkey by putting him on the table in a Bumbo.  It worked for about two months.  Now he can bust out of the Bumbo, but he still wants to be part of the action.

The quandary became how to entertain CJ while also enjoying a meal.  After loads of trial and error, pulled tablecloths, spilled glasses, and plates tossed on the floor, I finally figured it out.  I followed his cue – and stopped feeding CJ off of a plate.  I discovered something heavy and bulky to put in its stead.  A cutting board!  After all, a wooden cutting board is too heavy for him to toss on the floor or otherwise mess with.  It goes right on the tablecloth and acts like an anchor for his food.  CJ feels like a part of the family dinner (and eats more too).

Now, we can literally dine together without worrying about dishes being dropped on the floor or tablecloths being pulled from their place.  At least not CJ doing that, my 3 year old is another story.

Raising Awareness – Pinatas, Peanuts & Epi Pens

With eight percent of children having some sort of food allergy, raising awareness is important. After all, you don’t want to be the one innocently giving a child something that could trigger a life threatening reaction.

It seems that food allergies are here to stay. A 2008 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed an 18% increase in food allergy between 1997 and 2007. Peanut allergy also tripled during that time.

Some kids can react to an allergen being in the air or a handprint on a play structure, others need to ingest it. For those who have more tactile allergy triggers, the world can be a dangerous place. I’ve heard of moms leaving playgrounds when they see kids eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Imagine peanut butter getting on one child’s hands and then transferring it or traces of it to the playstructure. Such a result could present a serious danger to some children.

A small number of foods are responsible for 80% of all allergies (milk, wheat, soy, eggs, fish and nuts). The most common childhood allergies are to milk, wheat, soy, eggs. These allergies are likely to resolve during childhood. Other allergies, like to nuts and fish are said to be more long term.

With food being such a part of our culture, a restricted diet presents challenges especially for young kids who are too young to regulate their own food intake. From birthday parties to playgrounds, the snacks offered can pose serious risks. For kids with egg allergies, innocent foods like French toast, mayonnaise, quiche, custards and meringues, are problematic.

Being the mom of a child with food allergies is a nerve wracking anxiety provoking experience. Bobby first showed sign of being allergic with a light rash on his face. As he got older his reaction intensified – vomiting, tongue swelling and trouble breathing. So, as his mom, I’ve learned to watch him like a hawk. You could say I am a helicopter parent on steroids.

When a piñata breaks at a birthday party, I have been filled with a sense of dread as I look to make sure I am able to monitor what candy my child eats. Of course he goes for the candy in shiny packages. Explaining why some kids are able to eat peanut butter cups or why the Easter Bunny would leave candy that can’t be consumed has been a bit of a challenge. The good news is that as he get older, he will be better able to understand the result of his allergies and self regulate his intake.

Not knowing when a new food allergy will show itself is a challenge and downright scary. Such has been my experience lately, requiring the inaugural use of the Epi Pen and resulting in Bobby’s first (and hopefully last) ride in an ambulance. Holding Bobby as he struggled to breathe was my worst nightmare. For seconds, I contemplated whether to subject him to one of the things he hates most – a shot. As much as I hated him having him the shot, I knew he needed it. I held him, my brave husband gave it. Within seconds, that shot somehow helped him breathe. After being able to breathe, he thought it was so “cool” an ambulance and a fire truck came to his house. I thought it was so “cool” that they arrived so quickly. But – Bobby, yes, this was an impromptu party.

For parents of kids with allergies, there are things we can do to. We can educate others about our children’s’ allergies. In fact, I hesitated to write this article as I want so much for Bobby to be treated just the same as the other kids on the playground. The reality is that he can be treated that way, but that the adults caring for him need to know how to use the Epi Pen should the need arise. On that note, Bobby’s school actually invited me in to talk to the teachers. They even practiced using the Epi Pen. Here in Sonoma, two schools are at least partially nut free – Valley of the Moon (entirely nut free) and Sunshine School. Old Adobe Preschool is also attentive to children with allergies.

There are little things we can all do to make the world a more allergy friendly place.

  1. Before giving a child a snack, ask their parents if it’s ok.
  2. Have kids wash their hands with soap and water or wipes after eating. There is research to suggest that hand sanitizer won’t get rid of trace amounts of food.
  3. When hosting a party, make sure food is on countertops out of the reach of young kids.
  4. When your child is done eating, make sure uneaten remnants make it into a trash can.
  5. Be supportive of parents whose kids have food allergies. If you think they are overreacting or being overprotective, then check out a video on youtube of a child having an anaphylactic reaction or just ask me what it’s like. I’m happy to tell you.
  6. Remain positive. Stress the strengths of kids with allergies.

So where’s the silver lining? Current scientific studies may hold promise for the future. For example, there are studies currently as to introducing trace amounts of foods to develop a tolerance. Also, kids with food allergies learn to be tough. Heck, I’ve heard of an Army Ranger who has a peanut allergy. So with the right support, our kids can have the option of being rangers too.

For more information about food allergies – check out FAAN (www.foodallergy.org), the Food Allergy Initiative (www.foodallergyinitiative.org) and the Food Allergy Project (www.foodallergyproject.org).

A 6 Month Old Foodie – Feeding Baby Sonoma Style

Raising kids in Sonoma has tons of benefits, beautiful weather, picturesque pastures and amazing local produce.  The food part of this joyous trinity seemed to disappear when I started feeding my 6 month old premade babyfood.

Have you ever tasted store bought babyfood?  The other day, I opened a jar of garden veggie dinner of the organic variety.  I gave some to CJ, my 6 month old.  He spit it out!  So, I had to wonder why his protest?  I tasted it.   It was absolutely dreadful.  I spit it out too!  It made me wonder about the long term effect of serving my child bland disgusting mush.  So, in a very dramatic style, I tossed the jar in the trash and threw some of my dinner into a blender (the magic bullet – best 20$ investment ever).   Shallot and lavender chicken, sautéed Romano beans and panko crusted mac n’cheese.  Interestingly enough, CJ gobbled down the blended mush.

It turns out that folks have written all about this phenomena – check out Hungry Monkey by Matthew Amster-Burton and Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman.

It has turned into a bit of an experiment for me.  As I fed my first son completely differently than how I am feeding CJ.  With Bobby, I followed the traditional approach.  First he had rice cereal.  Then I slowly introduced each food individually for about a 5 day period looking for allergies.  For awhile Bobby had very plain tastes that have taken awhile to undo.  That’s not to say I disagree with the idea of slowly introducing foods as to look for allergies.  But as a mom with a child with food allergies, I can tell you that in my experience the reaction a child may have to food can be really pronounced  (rash, wheezing, swelling, vomit).

It is quite possible that I stunted Bobby’s culinary tastes by feeding him such plain food for so long.  Having come to this realization, I have completely changed what and how I feed CJ.  Now for breakfast, he gets whatever we’re having.  Today it was bits of sweet potato banana scones (see recipe in my blog post).  For lunch, he gets blended fruits and veggies.  He snacks on fresh produce from the farmers market. He loves cucumbers, peaches and plums all fed through a mesh feeder.  For dinner, he gets a mashed version of whatever we’re having.  Over the weekend, he tasted and loved ribeye steak, basa fillets, and lavender chicken.   All were hits as he didn’t spit it out and wanted more.

Don’t get me wrong – sometimes he gets jarred food too as it is so convenient.   It is the rare instance that I don’t add some sort of flavoring to it.

So, if you want to start feeding your baby Sonoma foodie style – pick up a small blender like the Magic Bullet and a few mesh feeders.  Get creative and you won’t be disappointed.

Toddler Treasure Chest Treats – Sweet Potato Banana Scones

Within the last few months Bobby’s imagination has bloomed!  The other day we made these treats for breakfast and he decided to call to call them treasure chests.  When he bit into them, he found a special surprise.  If you’ve been reading my blog, you’ll probably guess what that ingredient is – chocolate.   You might think I’m nuts to give my tot chocolate for breakfast, and maybe I am, but when the chocolate is surrounded by sweet potatoes, whole wheat and bananas, it seems a bit healthier.

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¾ stick unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup milk (half and half or cream works too)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 super ripe banana
  • 1 medium sized sweet potato
  • ½ cup to 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Set your oven on 400.  Prepare your cookie sheets.  I just line mine with parchment paper.

While the oven preheats, make your dough.  You can make these scones in either a food processor, stand mixer or by hand.  Peel and cook your sweet potato.  I cooked it in the microwave for 4 minutes.  Then, blend the sweet potato and banana in a food processor.  Add the butter.  Blend well.  Then add the liquids, milk, egg and vanilla.  Add the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder.   Blend.  Add the chocolate chips.

This dough is super sticky.  So, using two tablespoons just drop bits of dough on the sheet.   Brush the dough balls with milk and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for 17 minutes or until you insert a toothpick and it comes out clean.  Let your little one marvel at the chocolate chip treasures that await within the baked goodness!

Keeping Kids Happy and Cool

Summer is here and so too is the heat. If you are like me, you are probably wondering where to take your little one to escape the heat of the day.  My local town, Sonoma offers many fun and educational options.  Your town probably offers similar options.

Local libraries are the way to go. Books area always a good idea, and on certain days the library offers special activities for kids, such as story time.   In Sonoma, the 10:30 a.m. time slot is designated for toddlers and 11:30 a.m. is for preschoolers. If they’re not into the reading mood, remind them the library rents movies as well.

Another idea is to pay a visit to one of the local children stores.   Here in Sonoma, the Toy Shop and Pet Store are located in the Marketplace shopping center (201 W. Napa St.), and the Corner Store is on Napa Street near First Street East. Grab a shovel or new toy for your next visit to the park, or stop by the Pet Store to see some house friendly pets. I highly recommend the fish – very low maintenance.

Art galleries and museums are another tantalizing treat for young eyes.  Sonoma also has many small art galleries or the larger museum. The Sonoma Valley Museum of Art provides another chance to do something educational. Enjoy the air conditioning and coffee while the rugrats get cultured. Tickets are only $5 per adult, and kids are free. Everyone is free on Wednesdays.

Child-based discovery centers are another source of cool fun.  For Sonomans wanting to get out of town, then the discovery center in Napa, Scientopia Learning Center, is a great option.  Scientopia offers science, math and art based activities for little ones. Most importantly, Scientopia is also air conditioned.

I hope you found some of these ideas helpful. Feel free to weigh in and mention your favorite summer activities in the comment section. In the meantime, good luck staying cool and be sure to check back for more ideas on staying cool during summertime.

 

Based off of article published on SonomaNews.com http://www.sonomanews.com/News-2011/Keeping-kids-happy-and-cool/