Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Here comes 2009! Resolutions checklist

As we welcome 2009, I have a few goals for the new year.

Listen to my children more – I try to appreciate how wonderful my children are, but I always feel like I could be doing more to really listen to them and know the marvelous individuals they are becoming. This is an ongoing resolution, but one that I’m looking forward to.

Make some Dough -- By the end of the year, I would really like to be able to bake bread consistently and well (with no bread machine.) I know it’s something that takes practice – I just haven’t been willing to endure the failure it will take to finally get it right. This is the year I will do it.

Get Moving – Everyone always starts their resolutions with diet and exercise. I am afraid I have been falling down on the job, or more accurately sitting down at the computer screen. The problem is, I really truly enjoy getting daily exercise. It makes me feel better about myself in too many ways to count. I just haven’t been real good at fitting it into my routine. I have to find a way to change that reality.

Go West – We have a family goal of getting out West this year. We love camping and the mountains, but we haven’t taken our children very far west of the “Mighty Mississip”. This is the year we will change that.

Work on my Sisterhood – On Midwest Moms, I have talked about the amazing support network I feel whenever I turn to other Moms for help or advice. “The Sisterhood of Moms” has been such a blessing to me. But one thing I have to work on is regularly including my own sisters in my friend network. We live in different parts of the country, and it can be difficult to keep in touch. This year I don’t want distance to be an excuse.

That’s it for this year. I hope by next December, I will be able to say that I listened to my beautiful children while baking perfect rolls for Christmas after taking a three-mile walk in Utah with my sisters. (You never know… It could happen.)

I hope you and yours have a very Happy New Year!

- Midwest Mom

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Realities and Realizations from 2008

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas filled with times to remember. Ours was far richer than I could have imagined. We had our moments, of course, and a few meltdowns along the way... but that is a post for another day.

This year held some fairly important epiphanies for yours truly. It was the year I started blogging, for one, and I found that I really do love it.

But I made some other important discoveries along the way. I thought now would be the time to share.

I realized some quirky things about my family:
  • Logic does not apply to three-year-old-girls. My daughter will not eat the outer crust of a slice of bread, under any circumstances. She will, however, eat the entire heel of the bread (which, of course, is all crust.) She now says it's her favorite part.
  • My five year old changes his socks (three times a day) more often than he brushes his teeth (twice a day.) Apparently avoiding funky breath is less important than avoiding funky feet.
  • My oldest son is incapable of letting someone else win – at anything – even rock/scissors/paper or eenie meenie miney moe. He is, however, generous to a fault. Yesterday, he saved his brother five french fries from Wendy's by stuffing them into his jacket pocket and producing them when we got home. (They were, in fact, gratefully consumed by the brother in question.)
  • My husband will help someone else finish a home improvement project from start to finish but sometimes gets stuck in ‘start’ mode when it’s a project in our own home. When he does get a job done here on the homestead, it is better than anything I could have imagined.

And now for me… realizations from the year 2008 are as follows:

  • When my house is dirty, I cannot function properly. Once it’s clean, my happy times are happier and my rest is more restful.
  • I have far more patience with my own children than other people’s children. So, my suspicions about whether I would be unhappy as a schoolteacher have been confirmed. I absolutely would.
  • Change is tough for me, especially in parenting. When my children grow into some new behavior, I am slow to adapt. It takes about two weeks of friction before I even figure out what is going on.
  • I am so tired of making pie for special occasions. I’m ready for a new challenge. (Is 2009 the year of soufflĂ©? Sounds good to me!)
  • Reading is more relaxing than watching television in the evening. I’m actually happier without TV.
  • I am relieved that the presidential election is over and am happy with the result, but I am now officially burnt out on politics.
  • Becoming just like my mother isn’t as bad of a thing as I once thought it was. She’s really quite talented and smart, you know.
  • I want to be fit, but you’re more likely to find me typing at this computer screen than in an aerobics class.
  • Finally, I’ve realized that 2008 has been great, but 2009 has the potential to be even greater. I can’t wait to see what’s around the bend.

- Midwest Mom

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Gifts for some Fabulous Bloggers

I usually don't give out awards on this blog, but since it's the gifting season, I thought, "If not now, when?"

My good friend Abby at my sweet baboo has given Midwest Moms a lovely award that looks shockingly just like me! (Who knew I could be so Audrey Hepburn? ... wait til' my husband finds out!)

I just love being fabulous!

So, I'll pass this along as a little present to a few other fabulous bloggers I know.

Me-Me of The Screaming Me-Me is down-home hilarious. If I lived closer to Arizona, you bet I'd want to be friends with this woman... that is, as long as she managed to control the live turkeys running around her house and kept the carrot sticks well off the Christmas buffet. Me-Me, your blog is fabulous!

Kevin at Always at Home and Uncool knows what it means to be Jack Bauer -- really! (And why do I have the feeling his daughter won't mind this lovely award?) Speaking of his beautiful daughter, Kevin and his wife are raising awareness and, more importantly, money for Cure Juvenile dermatomyositis, a condition which his daughter has been battling for six years. He has recently written a (hilarious) guest-post about how to keep your figure at the holidays to raise money for the cause, and he and his wife have their own Cure JM fundraising page where all funds donated go to researching a cure for this potentially fatal condition. Please, if you can, click on over to Kevin's blog and drop a little holiday coin. He is a work-at-home-dad who totally deserves your readership -- oh, and this award, too.

Michele at Rocky Mountain Retreat (Photos) has a beautiful photo blog that I visit as often as possible. Michele lives in British Columbia, Canada and takes gorgeous photos of sky, water, the mountains... even weeds and wildflowers! My husband and I honeymooned in Banff and Jasper in Alberta and briefly traveled into British Columbia during our stay. We truly feel like it is God's country. Michele's blog helps me keep my eyes open to a beautiful time in my life every day.

Laurie at the Playground Observer is one of my favorite bloggers from "Back East". Laurie writes about life in Worcester, MA with her hubby and son. Having recently survived a visit to Santa and a wicked huge ice storm, Laurie continues her warmly funny chronicles of motherhood. I really love reading her blog. (Merry Christmas, Laurie!)

And, finally, my most fabulous, shoe-buying friend from Texas, Kellan at On the Upside shares her life raising her four terrific children. She writes about holiday stress, strange gift requests, but my all-time favorite has to be Sarah Palin's last interview. Priceless writing! Hers is a fabulous blog not to be missed.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone! (Hope my present fits... )

- Midwest Mom

p.s. I'm off for a while, but am sure to be back writing after Christmas. I hope you all have a peaceful, joyous holiday season. where is that tray of Christmas treats...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Our Favorite Books: Christmas Shopping Guide

Instead of another Great Toy, I thought I would take the time to write about one of our other favorite gifts for our kids.

We are a family of avid readers, from board books to illustrated stories to fairy tales, classics, and chapter books. We love them all. Anytime friends ask me what to get the children for Christmas, I always suggest books.

We have several favorites, especially in the wintertime.

For little ones, there are few books as good as The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. When my friends have become Moms, I have often bought The Snowy Day as a first book for them to share with their children. It was one of the first full-color picture books for children and was awarded the Caldecott Medal in 1963. The Snowy Day is a treat for us to read because we can sit and imagine all the fun we will have exploring in the snow, just like the little boy in the book. My children love it.

Another favorite is a newer title called All You Need for a Snowman, written by Alice Schertle and illustrated by Barbara Lavallee. The artwork in this cumulative story is wonderful, and my children have fun thinking about all the different things they will put on their own snowmen in the yard. I love it when authors and illustrators are able to tap into the fun of the season in such a fanciful way. This is a book we read and re-read.

As a family, we read a lot of Christmas books. I especially like the ones that are based on carols, and we sing the words together as we read. We have so many carol-books; reading them is a great way to teach our favorite Christmas songs and pass something special on to our children. I keep them stored with my holiday decorations and pull them out just for the season.

The most accessible telling of the Nativity I have found was a gift from my brother a few years ago. It is a board book called The Story of Christmas, written by Vivian French and illustrated by Jane Chapman. In it, the story of Christ's birth is told in simple language, from the time Gabriel appeared to Mary through Christmas and the visit of the Wise Men. My favorite part of The Story of Christmas is the depiction of the angels singing to the shepherds. They are rejoicing in gowns made from the stars in the sky. To me, that is a joyful, beautiful image.

Another touching look at the Nativity (with amazing illustrations!) is a book called Room for a Little One by Martin Waddell and Jason Cockcroft. It is a cumulative story of kindness and invitation. Room for a Little One emphasizes the peace of the season while welcoming all to experience the warmth and love present in the stable that first Christmas night. I like books that possess tremendous beauty in both their illustrations and their message. This one fits the bill perfectly.

Poetry books can be tricky to give as gifts. Although you could argue that Shel Silverstein or Dr. Seuss qualify as great poetry, I actually prefer to broaden my children's minds with a little bit less mad-cap silliness. (What a drag, I know.) Poems don't need to rhyme for me; I just love authors who find unique ways to use language.

My favorite poetry gift is a book called Silver Seeds by Paul Paolilli and Dan Brewer with paintings by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher. Silver Seeds is a collection of acrostic nature poetry that follows a day from morning to night. It is another book with gorgeous illustrations. We enjoy the way the children in the book think about their surroundings in terms of familiar items. Fog becomes spun sugar, the moon becomes a slice of melon, the stars -- silver seeds. After we read this book, I find it easier to be tuned in to my children's own inner poetry.

Since we're such readers, this list could go on forever (honestly!) I won't do that to you. Who has time for that?!? There are a few general hints I will give, though, on purchasing books for kids.
  • First, before you buy it, read it. I know that sounds like a no-brainer, but really. Read it. If it can't hold your attention beyond the third page, it won't hold my children's attention past the first page.

  • Second, look for books with layers of experience. I like Graeme Base books (like The Water Hole and Sign of the Seahorse) or Richard Scarry books (our favorite is What Do People Do All Day?) where you can read the text but the pictures are telling their own story. Sometimes my crew will sit around a Richard Scarry book and giggle like crazy at all the funny things Lowly the Worm gets into (I think it's a riot that he wears a shoe.)

  • And lastly, if you are giving a book to a child, it will mean so much more to him or her if you can sit down to read it together. My children really associate books with people. My seven year old reminds us all the time that our beat-up copy of The Big Red Barn was given to him by Grandma on his first Christmas. She inscribes all of her gift books to remind us about the when and why of each gift. (It's genius, come to think of it.)

I hope this list gives you some shopping inspiration for the emerging bookworms on your list. Have fun finding new stories to share, and don't forget to tell me about your favorites in the comments. (I have a trip to the bookstore of my own planned for this weekend!)

- Midwest Mom

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tough Holidays for Loved Ones: How to Help

I posted an article at Blogher today about helping friends when the Holiday season is less-than-joyous.

There are difficult times in all our lives, and often illness, hurt, or loss can change the way that friends or family members approach this time of year. This week, I talked to friends and family members for whom December is a particularly difficult month. They shared insights into simple things friends can do to make the holidays more peaceful and loving.

I did my best to pass them along.

If you are having a tough Holiday Season, I wish you peace and comfort. To the extent that healing is possible, I wish you that as well. And I hope the New Year brings unexpected joys for you and your family.

- Midwest Mom

Monday, December 15, 2008

Cookie Bake Feast at Grandma's

Every year, we have a cookie bake at Grandma's house. She has nine grandchildren under the age of 10.

Needless to say, it's pandemonium.

This year, she tried to have supper and then cookie decorating.

But have you ever tried to seat nine children at a table filled with cookies and frosting and sprinkles and asked them to eat a bowl of chicken and noodles? I don't care if it is the best tasting chicken and noodles on the planet Earth, it's not gonna happen.

So... after the kids were done ignoring their chicken and noodles, the "decorating" began. It was so fun to see this little crowd of wee people smearing on as much frosting and sprinkles as their sugar cookies could hold. I think the frosting-to-cookie ratio was about 1000 to 1. Ditto the sprinkles.

In the center of the large table where they sat decorating, there was a beautiful silver platter. What was it for? Decorated cookies, presumably.

Here we discover another process error.

What parent (or grandparent) does not know that a decorated cookie must pass directly from the hands of the decorator into the mouth of the decorator? The lovely tray remained lovely -- and empty. Actually, to be truthful, it had about a dozen cookies on it by the end of the night, placed there long after multiple children were heard muttering, "My tummy is hurting."

As we cleaned up and the children went crazy chasing each other around and around through the rooms of the house (like they were high on sugar or something -- go figure) we noticed there was a shocking amount of white and yellow frosting left over. It looked as though it hadn't even been used.

One look at our children was all it took to discover yet another truth about Grandma's cookie bake. The best kind of frosting for decorating eating is whatever kind will turn your mouth, teeth, and tongue the brightest color. We had one blue child, one green, and one red. I had to actually use a toothbrush on my five-year-old's lips to keep him from looking cyanotic before we went to church on Sunday.

But, after the fun was over and the sugar-high was passed and the mess was cleaned up, we and all of my husband's brothers and sisters had a couple of cookies and warm feelings of family love to bring home. Cookie "Bake" at Grandma's is a great tradition.

Honestly, it was the sweetest part of the weekend.
- Midwest Mom

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Spotlight on Healthy Moms

I am happy to announce that Midwest Moms is the spotlight blog on Healthy Moms Blog!

 Healthy Moms

If you get a chance, be sure to head on over. Cascia, who writes Healthy Moms does a great job giving tips on raising healthy kids and helping parents keep ourselves sane and feeling great. She has news for parents, product reviews, and links to parenting blogs from all over.

Thanks, Cascia!

- Midwest Mom

Friday, December 12, 2008

Our Christmas Elf

(shhh... don't tell anyone!)

I’ll let you in on a little secret.

We have a Christmas elf who lives at our house.

He usually arrives right around the beginning of December. He sits in our family room, watching and listening to the way we treat one another. (And, amazingly, we usually are a little kinder when he’s spying.) Last year he decorated our tree with tinsel one night when we were all asleep. One year, he delivered brand new jammies to each of my children’s pillows on Christmas Eve.

Every morning after my children are dressed, there is a dash downstairs to check and see where our elf will be. He chooses a different vantage point every day.

(My dad thinks that’s a little creepy… I think he’s worried about being on the naughty list.)

Sometimes he’s on the mantle or above the television. Sometimes he’s peeking out of a stocking. Yesterday, he was seated among the figures in our Fischer Price manger scene. (He gave us the opportunity to talk about Baby Jesus, that clever little elf.) This morning, he was nestled in the branches of the Christmas tree.

In a week or so, we’ll give our little elf some letters to bring to the North Pole. He must travel there with elf magic, because he manages to deliver our letters and be back in the morning when we wake up.

My boys are wary, though. They have noticed that our plate of Christmas treats is always a little more empty in the morning time than it was last night before bed. They suspect that the elf is getting a little snackeroo while we snooze. (But those darned striped pants are so slimming… it’s hard to tell if he’s putting on weight.)

We can’t really say where our Christmas elf came from. We have seen him at Grandma’s house when we’re visiting. He likes to sit on her cookie jar and smile at us as if he knows we just thought of removing the lid when no one was looking. Our neighbor claims she gave us the elf when we first moved in, but her recollection is foggy at best. It won’t stand up to serious scrutiny. (Maybe we need to put Pat Fitzgerald on this one… or Perry Mason – he might be a little less busy.) At any rate, the origins of the elf have passed out of our family memory.

What is certain, though, is that his presence in our lives is only temporary. Christmas Eve is the last we see of our little friend. Before bed, the children are certain to say goodbye (and yes, there has been a tear or two shed from time to time.) But when Christmas comes, we are celebrating the birth of Baby Jesus. I have a feeling the elf doesn’t like being upstaged.

Having our friend here in our home is a singular honor, and my children know that it is a secret for us to keep. I’m letting it slip, though, just this once, in the hope that you might catch a glimpse of your own little elf friend. You never know when he’ll show up, or for how long. If you do see him, though, you may find it’s a little easier to show some Christmas cheer. There is, after all, a little someone watching.

That’s all for now, though. I’m off to get me some of those striped pants. …darned Christmas treats.

- Midwest Mom

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Getting in the Christmas Spirit... Finally!

Have yourself a merry little Christmas, let your heart be light.
From now on, our troubles will be out of sight.

- Hugh Martin

Last year, I had such a tough time getting in the holiday spirit. There were dozens of things tugging at me constantly, keeping me so busy that I felt like I was playing catch-up throughout the month of December.

I called my sister in New Hampshire. (She is my lifeguard whenever I get swamped by motherhood.)

I confessed that I was having trouble really "feeling" the Christmas spirit for the first time I could remember. She understood, to say the least.

My sister's son, my beautiful nephew, passed away almost three years ago. So, for her, the holidays have become a time for reflection and tenderness and quiet with her family rather than a blaring extravaganza of Christmas trappings.

With characteristic selflessness and practicality, she gave me some insight.

"What is getting in the way for you?"

Feeling ashamed at burdening her with my problem, I talked about how stressed I felt and started to list all the things I needed to do -- the baking, the cards, the events, the obligations. She gently informed me that those things had nothing to do with Christmas.

"Don't do them," I heard her say. "What?" I replied.

Don't do them.

Sometimes as a mom, I feel like I'm at my most successful when I'm busy. I justify staying home by having that conversation with my husband that starts with him asking, "so what did you do today?" I always want to have something big to say in response. It's usually a litany.

But, last year, in that small conversation, my sister pointed out so clearly that the business of the season, the thousands of tiny things I felt I needed to do to make my family's Christmas happen, were actually taking me farther and farther away from understanding what Christmas itself is all about.

I have tried to take her words to heart. I have simplified this year. It hasn't been easy.

But is has made a difference.

This year, my husband and I have done more together, with less rush than before. We are doing less shopping for gifts but more giving -- especially to those who really need it. We are spending more time talking about the true meaning of Christmas. We are laughing more, playing more with the children, singing more, saying more thank-yous, praying more. We are able to be more gentle to each other and more flexible with the schedule.

I am so grateful for the change.

So, this year, Christmas has become more than the decorations and goodies and wrapped boxes. Something has opened my eyes and heart to the joy of the season in a different way.

And so I need to say 'Thank you' to my beautiful, thoughtful sister who was kind enough to share her hard-fought wisdom with me when I really needed it.

I don't know how to show you how grateful I am, or how much I love you.

So, maybe I'll just say that I am so glad that God gave you to me to be my sister. It was undoubtedly one of the best presents I've ever been given.

- Midwest Mom

Friday, December 5, 2008

Great Toy #4: Christmas Shopping Guide

Today's great toy might not actually be considered a toy...

If you're wondering what to get your children for Christmas, why not try getting something real for them?

By "something real" I mean the tools to purse an interest or hobby they have or a piece of equipment that will help you pass your own special knowledge on to your child.

That could mean:

  • a fishing pole and tackle box, with the promise of fishing lessons from Mom or Dad,

  • real hand tools in a tool box -- most hardware stores have small tool sets designed for use in the kitchen that make great "first" tool kits for kids,

  • art supplies that aren't made by crayola -- pastels, brushes and acrylic paints, artists watercolors and technique "How to" books are great gifts for artists. So are an easel and high quality paper.

  • small-scale power tools -- My father gave my five-year-old a Black & Decker Mouse power sander when they were working on a woodworking project together this fall. My son nearly burst with pride at the idea that he could operate (after proper safety instruction) his own power tool. It was like crossing the threshold into becoming 'one of the big dogs'.

  • a real sewing box with needles, thread, and small sewing scissors -- small boxes are available at many craft stores, as are the supplies to fill them. This is another gift that is enhanced greatly by the promise to start a first sewing project together. What a great way to pass cold winter days without getting bored.

  • a small sewing machine -- with accompanying lessons on how to use it. A great gift for an elementary school age child.

  • model planes or cars -- Okay, this may not seem like something real at first. But the glue and the paints are absolutely real. So is the time you spend helping your child put it together correctly.

  • a model rocket -- rockets fall into an entirely different category because they involve the ultimate Dad-Son bonding moment... the launch. They also involve some dangerously explosive stuff to make them launch, so parental supervision is part of the deal.

  • a telescope -- put a guide to the stars with this gift to make your child's interest in astronomy really take off.

  • science tools -- By this I do not mean a "make your own slime kit" or some other toy company's idea of kid-based fun. I mean a used microscope (call your local school or community college or check Craigslist for one), a book or kit for studying bugs, the supplies to build circuits (batteries, wires, small lights or a fan). If you have the know-how to use these tools yourself, teaching your child more of what you know can open their eyes to your innate coolness (or geeky-ness... your choice.)

  • cookbook, apron, and cooking utensils -- My oldest is a fantastic cook at age 7. He has gone from cooking macaroni and cheese to baking lemon meringue pie during the past year. When he has friends over, he always says, "can the kids cook lunch today?" And I almost always agree. Tools are the first step to spark that interest.

  • a calculator -- One of the most prized possessions of my oldest child at the moment is his calculator. Want to see your child have some real fun? Give her an adding machine with a fresh roll of paper on it. She'll have a ball.

These are just a few real ideas for Christmas to open your kids eyes to new interests or enhance the way they experience interests they already have. A key part of each gift, though, is the time you will spend together to teach a skill or to learn with your child. I think that makes this type of gift one your son or daughter will really remember.

(Remember to smile at strangers while you're Christmas shopping this weekend. Cheerfulness is contagious.)

- Midwest Mom

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Children with Nausea: How to Help

Now that the windows and doors are shut for the season, it's time for the children and the germs to start bouncing off the walls.

My whole crew is home from school today because of a mystery stomach ailment. It began with nausea and vomiting and ended with, well, where all digestive tract illnesses eventually end -- The (rear) End.

As a mom, it falls upon me to deal with all of life's curve balls, especially those involving unsavory bodily fluids. So, I thought this was as good a time as any to share some tips on how to deal with nauseous children.

Step One: Believe your Children
Often, your children will let you know when they are feeling sick, either by refusing food altogether, or by turning it into a plaything. Be wary when favorite foods are refused or when a child who is normally a hearty eater claims that he "feels full" after just a few bites. When I first became a mom, I would sometimes dig in my heels at this first sign of nausea, saying, "You will eat your supper, young man!" I was cured of that pretty darn quick when my oldest threw up a belly-full of broccoli at eighteen months. Not Pretty. So when your child (who normally loves broccoli) says she's just not hungry tonight, your best move might be to believe her.

Step Two: Trust Your Instincts
Being Dr. Mom starts with being sensitive to problems in the first place. If you are noticing something that tells you something is not right with your child, believe yourself. You are the expert on your child. So pay attention to the signals he is giving you. (It may even help to write down symptoms you notice -- tiredness, irritability, reluctance to eat.) Especially when your child does not yet have the words to tell you what is wrong, your observations and attentiveness may provide the key to figuring out the problem before it gets worse. So, if the warning sounds at the back of your mind, trust your instincts.

Step Three: Involve the Experts
If your house is like mine, there are parenting books laying about in more than one room. One particular book that I refer to repeatedly when my children are ill or injured is Smart Medicine for a Healthier Child by Janet Zand, Robert Rountree and Rachel Walton. It gives information on nutritional guidelines, conventional treatments, medications, and herbal/alternative therapies for a wide variety of children's illnesses. It is my most-used book and I would highly recommend it.

If you're not a book-worm, though, you have highly-trained experts on the other end of your telephone. Call your pediatrician for guidance, especially if your child is under one year old. If you do not have a pediatrician, many local hospitals and clinics have a toll-free ask-a-nurse service. They can give you guidance, even in the middle of the night.

The final expert you have in your arsenal is... of course, the Sisterhood of Moms. Your own mother, aunt, sister, or friend can give you helpful tips on how to keep your children comfortable and entertained. They can help with a supply run to the store if you need it. They can support you as you nurse your child back to health. All you need to do is ask.

And now, for the practical advice...

Don't be Afraid to Keep that Tummy Empty - One of the things that amazed me about becoming a mother was how much of my own well-being was invested in whether my child was doing things "normally". Sleeping, eating, and -ahem- eliminating were processes I was highly aware of and judging all the time. It is distressing when a child won't eat, but when nausea is involved, it is actually important. There is nothing wrong with a child having an empty tummy for a while -- even as long as a day, depending on the age of the child. So after your child has vomited, don't rush to comfort them with food. It may cause even more stomach upset.

Watch for Dehydration - One of the biggest dangers for nauseated children and/or children with diarrhea is dehydration. If you notice your child's mouth is not producing saliva or that her eyes seem sunken, if your child is not urinating or his urine is dark and infrequent, you may be noticing the signs of dehydration. I use an over-the-counter electrolyte when my children are vomiting to ensure that their bodies remain hydrated. Find what your children like best(electrolyte drinks usually don't taste very good.) Mine prefer Gerber Liqui-lytes, which are available in a powder or pre-mixed. I give them one teaspoon per hour with a medicine dropper. Once their stomachs are on the mend, I mix it into baby cereal as their first "test food". Once they can tolerate that, I move on to diluted clear juice. Be sure to avoid milk products, sugary sodas, and high-acid juices like orange juice. They can be too much for sensitive stomachs.

First Try 'First Foods' - One of the trickiest parts of doctoring a sensitive stomach is to re-introduce foods to your child. A great way to think about what you should feed a child recovering from nausea (once they are past the vomiting stage) is to think back to your baby's first foods. Mild foods like soft breads, mashed potatoes, rice cereal, applesauce, and bananas, in small servings, can help your child's stomach ease back into normal eating. A first dairy food to try is a small amount of plain yogurt, mixed into something else. To make first foods more palatable (for children older than 24 months), try mixing in a teaspoon of honey. It is a natural nausea remedy and is much easier for them to handle than anything sugary. I usually try to avoid feeding my children any kind of meat, nuts, eggs, fruits or vegetables until a full 24 hours has passed since their last bout of vomiting. Even then, I wait until I am sure their bodies will tolerate first foods with ease.

If Vomiting or Nausea Continues - Absolutely get your child to the doctor. In my experience, the worst stages of "stomach flu" or gastro-enteritis (as the doctor calls it) usually last only about 24 hours, even if the recovery may take longer. If your child has persistent vomiting or diarrhea, it could be a sign of something worse than a virus. As a mom, don't be afraid to err on the side of caution. Call your doctor with a detailed description of what is going on and how long it has been happening. Your child's health is more important than anyone's inconvenience. Don't worry that you will "bother" the doctors or nurses with your child's illness -- that's why they're there! What matters is getting your child feeling better, and no one should be a better ally in that process than your child's doctor.

Try a Little Tenderness - Whenever my children are sick, I always take extra time with them, hold them, read to them, and give them the kind of medicine only a mom can provide -- love. Never forget that you are often the glue that holds your child's world together, especially when they are young. This is the time to sit down and watch a favorite move or watch the rain or snow come down out the window. Take the opportunity to connect with your child and give them a chance to rest comfortably. In our family, we put a waterproof mattress pad and crib sheet on the cushions of our loveseat to be the "sickie bed". We drape towels over the arms and backrest and bring a large bowl right to the bed (in case of emergency) so that my son doesn't have to worry that he won't make it to the bathroom. I bring him a few favorite (washable) toys and his own pillow so that he is comfortable and happy. Sometimes, it seems like that's the best medicine of all.

Which reminds me -- I really must get back downstairs. He'll be waking up from a little nap soon, and I want to read him a story.

I hope this helps you when your own children are feeling sick. 'Tis the season, as they say.

- Midwest Mom

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Did YOU Make The List?

I am the keeper of The List.

Not the Bucket List or the Naughty/Nice list (although I admit I’m a helper on that one)…

The Christmas Card list.

Today, as I do every year, I sat down with it to try to “whittle” it down.

First, I searched my memory for all the vital family members we must send cards to.

Next, I listed our local friends and neighbors.

Then, I listed childhood friends, college friends, and the families of our children’s best friends, friends of our parents, church friends, school friends, teachers, the mail carrier, the kids’ bus driver, my husband’s work associates, my husband’s work friends (not the same thing!), my girlfriends (although, let’s be honest… I listed them in the ‘family’ column because they are like family to me!)

And the final tally is…


My list grew by seventeen.

I guess I am finding it impossible to channel my inner Heidi Klum...
You are out! Aufwiedersehen!

That’s okay… somehow, I have the feeling my Naughty/Nice list will go the same way.

- Midwest Mom