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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Family Historian...

You may know that I love being a mom (well, most of the time).  And I even enjoy most of the work that goes along with it.  I like making plans, arranging playdates, picking out clothes, and taking pictures of the happy fruits of my labor.  In fact, just like most moms, I document everything with my camera(s) trying to capture every moment so I won't forget even the minutia.  So, I have appointed myself to this job of FAMILY HISTORIAN.

There are some perks to the job.  I am in control of the camera and I know that I won't miss any important moments.  I am constantly working to improve my photography skills and my 2 adorable muses make that job easy.  I am not in many of the pictures which is both good and bad, however, at least I can make sure I look relatively beautiful (ha!) in all those photos released to the press (aka family and friends).

But there are 2 major drawbacks.

1.  I worry (because I worry about everything) that I spend too much time "behind the lens".  Am I too focused on documenting the moment that I miss "living in the moment?"  I think this plagues many moms with constant access to technology.  I don't question if I should record something but how.  Should I do video or snapshots?  Iphone, flip or HD movie camera?  Small digital camera or SLR? Ahh...the perils of the digital world.

2.  And this is the big one...I LOVE taking the pictures.  I HATE figuring out what to do with them.  Here's my most current itemized list of what needs to be done with pictures...you may begin to see why this is the most stressful part of my mommy job.

  1. Take the pictures.  Good, done.  Got that one covered.
  2. Upload pictures to my computer.
  3. Go through said pictures eliminating blurry photos, editing and cropping others.
  4. Add photo titles to attempt to make some sense of the place and time and get rid of the IMG_8798920 in every picture.
  5. Organize on the computer into albums.
  6. Upload to photo website so I can actually attempt to get the photos at some point.
  7. Edit albums so my friends and family don't complain that I sent 100 of the same pictures of my kids tushies.
  8. Share albums.
  9. Consider cherry picking the BEST images for facebook and post (sometimes I may skip this step), email individual photos to grandparents, other moms, husband, self so photos will be on their computer, phone or ipad if needed.
  10. Add the album to the other 10+ albums in my inbox that I need to do something about.
  11. Keep albums in the inbox until they reach critical mass and I start losing sleep at night about not documenting my kid's childhoods and worrying that they will have no pictures for their wedding videos.
  12. Wake up in the middle of one of those nights and order ALL pictures from ALL albums (because that is easier) and figure out how to find a coupon to pay for my order of almost 800 pictures.
  13. Pray the order doesn't come soon because I still haven't put the last 800 pictures in albums.
  14. Receive pictures.  Stash in basement.  Lose sleep again.  Stress about albums.  Buy more albums because I don't have enough space.  Continue to stress about putting pictures in albums.....

...It never stops.  Eventually I will put them away.  I know it.  But there has to be a better way.

I am faced with so many options now that I am ready to throw in the towel.  Please help.  Send me your stories.  Tell me your system.  Am I the only one who is tormented by this?  There must be a support group for me....

Friday, June 25, 2010

Summer is here!

Summer is officially here so let the fun begin!  So, lets start our summer safety review and discuss...

SUNSCREEN

The dangers of sun exposure are well known to us now (sunburn, skin cancer) and protecting your children from sunburn should be a summer priority.  The good thing is that most kids are so used to applying sunscreen and if you start early enough, they will not usually protest (ha!).  So, what should you look for in a sunscreen?

Use some of the following tips to pick your favorite for the season...

1.  BROAD SPECTRUM. Make sure it covers both UVA and UVB rays.

2.  SPF.  SPF is the amount of UV radiation required to cause sunburn on skin with the sunscreen on, relative to the amount required without the sunscreen. So, wearing a sunscreen with SPF 30, your skin will not burn until it has been exposed to 30 times the amount of sun that would normally cause it to burn.

So is a higher number better?  And what number should I buy?

For kids, buy a sunscreen that has AT LEAST an SPF of 30.  If you buy higher, that is fine, but don't pay more for it because it probably will protect the same as 30, which blocks about 97% of UVB rays.

3.  APPLICATION.  Turns out that the way you apply sunscreen is probably more important that the brand you buy or the type (gel, lotion, spray etc.). So, buy whatever type you find to be the easiest to put on. It is probably best to stock the cupboard with a spray and a lotion for different circumstances, and go with a stick or a lotion for the face.

DON'T FORGET!: IT TAKES TIME FOR THE SUNSCREEN TO WORK! Apply about 30 minutes before sun exposure. Try not to apply and then let your child run outside because it will leave them unprotected.

HOW MUCH?

A good rule of thumb is a HANDFUL…the size of their hand. And as they get bigger their hands will grow too!

HOW OFTEN?

In general, you need to reapply every 2 hours, possibly sooner depending on the type of sunscreen and activity. If you buy a waterproof type, it may stay on longer and rub off in the water, but 2 hours is the MAX.

Remember, you are applying sunscreen NOT sunblock, so watch carefully and reapply early and often. Also keep in mind that the strongest sun is from 10 am to 4 pm, so add extra protection at these times.

What is in my cupboard this season?

So far, this is my spray of choice for the kids. The kids variety goes on oily and makes a mess, but this one is dry and easy to apply. LOVE IT!

 

This is my lotion of choice, but it is hard to find this year. It is a lotion but goes on without much need to rub in, kind of like a thin gel. If you can find it, BUY IT…oh, and send me some!

(PS…I wish I had a financial stake in Banana Boat, but unfortunately, I do not, so these are my unbiased recs.)

Friday, June 11, 2010

It takes a Village...

So, my last posting obviously stirred up some emotions for many people, including myself.  After much soul searching I have realized that I stand behind what I say.  Those were my true feelings put out there and I own them.  Can't be taken back.  Indelable ink.  However, I have been thinking about this concept of "having it all" and here's what I came up with.

I can have it all.  I just can't expect or be expected to do it all, MYSELF.  The reason I can "have it all" (a career, a family, personal space, a blog) is because I am constantly supported by an amazing family and a strong network of friends.  I can have it all because I am not alone.  I share my parenting responsiblities very fairly with a great husband and an amazing father.  He is always putting our girls first and we make a great team.

But we can't even do it on our own.  We have someone who will do anything for us.  Well, for the girls.  She will drive them anywhere.  She will pick them up. She will bathe them (too much).  She will feed them (too much).  She will get them toys that they don't need.  She will be sure they are never short on chocolate milk or milkshakes.  And she doesn't even care if they spill M & M's in the car.  She will rock them to sleep or pat their backs if they need it.  Even if it takes 2 hours for them to fall asleep and it is 10 o'clock at night.  She puts them first.  All day, every day.

And she doesn't even ask for a penny in return.  Well, she does ask for kisses; many of them.  And she gets something that means much more.  She gets ear to ear smiles every day at the school pick up.  She has the entire preschool class wrapped around her finger and wanting her for a grandmother.   She has the admiration of 2 little girls that NEED her.  And she is forever woven into the fabric of their childhood and lives.

Her name is Zeese.  And no one else has her name because no one can fill her shoes.

So, it is not that I was trying to insult a family that does so much for me.  I just had a momentary lapse of recognition of just how lucky I am.

Monday, June 7, 2010

You can't have it all...

Last night with my husband's family we got into a discussion about baby #3.  In retrospect, addressing when or if we are going to have baby #3 in front of others was probably a REALLY bad idea to begin with.  But it happened.  (posting about it may be an even worse idea, but I digress...)

So, those that know me know that I have baby on the brain.  My partner, husband and father to my children says that he is exhausted.  Just doesn't have it in him.  No way.  We'll see.

Anyway, his 93 (she must have read this) year old grandmother was at the table.  She asked me if I intended to stay home if I had another baby.  I promptly answered 'NO'.   I would take a maternity leave and then go back part time.  She then let me know that "I can't have it all".  Oh really?! ?  REALLY?

Obviously I was mad.  I am mad.  I am banging on my keys mad right now.  I want to scream this:  "YOU couldn't have it all.  YOU had to stay home and raise YOUR family while your husband worked.  YOU had to cook dinner every night and greet him with a smile and a clean house.  And YOU were supposed to love every stinking minute of it."

But I have choices.  I can work.  I can stay at home.  I can work sometimes and stay at home sometimes.  I can take time for myself.  I can make a good living and ask my husband to share some of the parenting responsiblities.  I can be a good mother AND a good doctor.  And these things are not just affirmations, they are the truth.  MY truth.

So, don't tell me I can't have it all.  Because I may just have to prove you wrong.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Learning can be fun... (for me, at least) Part Deux...

          So, to continue...This is part 2, click here to read PART 1

          6.  My baby won't stop coughing! For you mommies out there, this is for you.  As you know, many cough medications for children have recently been labeled as unsafe for young children.  What is a sleepy mommy to do when their child is up coughing all night?

          Turns out that HONEY was actually MORE EFFECTIVE than dextromethorphan (DM, the active ingredient in most cough syrups) in clinical studies. Honey soothes the throat and actually has anti-microbial properties.

          [You may have heard not to give honey to kids under 1 year due to concern about botulism, this is probably not a worry today but just to be safe, do not use honey in kids <1 year of age] .

          7.  Strong bones are a good thing.  Bones get weaker over time and calcium & vitamin D will help you keep your bones strong as you age.  Vitamin D is a hot topic because we are in an epidemic of deficiency.   So, have your vitamin D level checked.  The goal level is 35-40.  Most adults who are not deficient should be taking 800-1000 IU of vitamin D per day.  You may need more to get your level up to normal first.  So start now.  And as with anything else, don't go crazy and start taking mega-doses of vitamin D.  That's not good either.

          8.  Pooping is important.  And we all need fiber.  How should you get it?  There are a million brands of fiber, so which is best?  Turns out the stuff on the store shelves as you may have guessed is not as good as getting fiber through foods.  You should be trying to get about 20-30 grams of SOLUBLE fiber per day.  Metamucil, fibercon etc. is INSOLUBLE fiber and one dose contains about 3 grams of fiber.  So, try taking that 10x per day.  OR, you can eat about 1/3 cup of ALL BRAN per day to get 20 grams of fiber and improve your stools, your weight, your cholesterol, your blood pressure etc.  I'm going with the latter.

          9.  Fish oil, all the rage.

          Should you take it?  Answer...Maybe.  Just like anything else in medicine, it depends on who you are and your risk factors.  Fish oil has many beneficial cardiovascular effects and can even help with back pain or muscle pain.  But, it can cause GI issues and thin the blood. So if that is a problem for you, try to avoid supplementing.

          What kind?  Turns out Costco brand is just as good as the more expensive varieties.  Love that place.

          How much?  Again, depends.  If you are healthy, try getting it naturally in fish about 2x/week.  If you have heart disease or high triglycerides, you may want to try higher doses if that is safe for you (2-4 grams/day, check with your doctor).

          10.  Don't miss the forest through the trees.  The last and most important lesson. Focus on what is important.  Evaluate your cardiovascular risk factors and modify them if you want to live longer and be healthier.  Don't worry about how much or what type of vitamin E is best if your cholesterol is out of whack and if you are 100 pounds overweight.  The only vitamin E that will cure that is EXERCISE.

          If you do the following 10 things you will have a 70% chance of living to age 85 without mental and physical disability.

          • DON'T smoke
          • Lower your LDL cholesterol to <100
          • Normalize your blood pressure and your blood sugar
          • Have a normal waist circumfrence and minimize belly fat
          • Lower your stress and normalize your mental health
          • Eat 1 serving of fruit/veggies per day
          • Drink MODERATE amounts of alcohol
          • Exercise on average 30 minutes per day
          • Eat a diet high in fish oils and fiber and low in salt

           

          Can you do this?  Less than 3% of Americans do....I challenge you to try!  Become familar with the REYNOLDS RISK SCORE.  It is a calculation of your risk of heart disease or stroke.  WIth a little help and some numbers from your doctor, you can calculate this risk for yourself.  And then, if needed you can work on modifying your risk factors.

          So here's to 100!  Sounds exhausting...

          Friday, June 4, 2010

          Learning can be fun... (for me, at least)...Part 1



          Today I went to a Women's Health Conference and heard an amazing speaker.  His name was Dr. Mark Moyad and he works in the field of Alternative Medicine at The University of Michigan. He addressed MANY different questions about diets, dietary supplement and alternative therapies.  His talk was funny, informative, and frankly, he was one of the best speakers I have ever heard.  I was so excited about what I learned that I couldn't wait to share it with all of you.  So below are some of the highlights, a top 10 if you will.  Divided by 2 so you are not overwhelmed.  His ideas, interpreted by me.  So here goes starting with the first 5, check back tommorow for part deux.

          1.  LESS IS MORE.  Supplements can lead to toxicites and just like anything else, too much of a good thing is bad.  So, look at your diet.  Look at your vitamins.  Figure out what you are eating and what you are missing before you beging supplementing.  Talk to your doctor before starting a vitamin with more than 100% of any of the ingredients. Too much may lead to toxicities which have real consequences (ie. too much selenium can cause diabetes, too much vitamin E can thin your blood).

          Of interest, Dr. Moyad's vitamin of choice for himself?  A children's multi-vitamin.  Because it does not exceed the RDA of any one ingredient.

          2. This industry is a business.   A BIG business.  Americans spend 22 BILLION (with a B) on dietary supplements yearly and another 13 Billon on other alternative therapies.  So if you don't think that they are trying to sell you something...think again.

          3.  Where is the oversight? Alternative therapies, supplements etc. are not subject to the same scrutiny under the FDA as our pharmaceuticals. They can, and do, make claims that are unsubstantiated.  The best way to evaluate ANY drug is to test it against a placebo (or sugar pill).  WHY?  Because there IS a mind body connection that does crazy things and some of their results may be merely a placebo effect.  Some examples he sited...

          • 25% of patients with Erectile Dysfunction will improve with sugar pill
          • Sugar pill results in a net weight loss of 6 pounds in clinical studies
          • 42% of patients with hair loss, yes, hair loss, respond to placebo

           

          So, buyer beware!  You may benefit from these products, but you may also benefit just by believing that they are actually working.

          4.  Its all about the heart.  Cardiovascular disease has been the #1 killer of men and women for the last 108 out of 109 years (only outmatched one year by the INFLUENZA EPIDEMIC).  So, we NEED to focus on cardiovascular health.  And luckily, what is heart healthy tends to make brains healthy, joints healthy, skin healthy, breasts healthy...etc.  So if you want to pick one "diet", think about a heart healthy one like the DASH diet.

          And, as it turns out, all supplements and drugs for that matter also need to be either heart healthy or "heart neutral" to be beneficial.  If they are not, you will hear about it.  Every night on the news.  This is our number one killer and if a supplement or drug messes with the heart, it will increase deaths and will then have black box warnings or be pulled from the market.  Case in point, Vioxx.

          5.  A MIRACLE DRUG? Would you be willing to take the following PILL if it were free and had NO side effects?  Here's what it does...

          • Reduces premature death by 30-50%
          • Reduces heart disease and osteoporosis by 40-50%
          • Reduces stroke, type 2 diabetes and colon cancer by 30-50%
          • Reduces breast cancer by 20-30%
          • Reduces depression by 50%, better than ANY anti-depressant...

           

          So, would you take it?  I'm in....

            Oh, by the way, this is available TODAY.  Its just not a pill.  It's EXERCISE! So go for it!

            That is part one of two.  Stay tuned for part 2 to learn more about living healthy.  Will this be you?