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Your Child

Putting the Thanks in Thanksgiving


Thanksgiving is traditionally a time when family and friends gather to share good food, stories and memories together. Many folks enjoy a game of touch football and the always-pleasant Macy’s day parade as well. Most of all, it’s a day of giving thanks for all the blessings and challenges we each face throughout the year- knowing we face them side-by-side.

For kids, the message of Thanksgiving may not have quite sunk in yet, but there are several ways you can help teach your children how Thanksgiving and gratitude go hand-in-hand.

Several experts offer these tips for putting the thanks in Thanksgiving:

Playing the gratitude game!   Kids love games and this is one that can make them think about the things they are thankful for and have fun at the same time. Lennay Chapman, author of "Secrets to a Rockin Life”, has created "The Gratitude Game."  It’s pretty simple and will keep the kids on their toes! The game needs ideally three or more players and one person to serve as a timekeeper. Have everyone sit in a circle with one person starting off saying, "I am grateful for [fill in the blank]." That person has five seconds to come up with something for which they are thankful, whether it be their favorite stuffed animal, food or activity. As soon as the first person finishes, the person to the left goes. "The key is to say what you are grateful for without repeating, and without pausing for more than five seconds," says Chapman.

Create a Thankfulness jar! Robert Nickell, a well known syndicated columnist for national newspapers, parenting magazines and family oriented websites as well as creator of Daddy & Company, suggests creating a “Thankfulness Jar” for the family.

Have the children decorate a jar or basket, placing a notepad and pen next to it. Leave the jar out the week before Thanksgiving and have family members and caregivers write down things for which they are thankful. They can be big things, or small little gestures. This gives people time to think about it and write heartfelt answers. During the Thanksgiving meal, have the children pull them out and read them during dinner.

“Thankful Turkey” decorations! Another creative idea Nickell shares are "Thankful Turkeys." "Draw the old-fashioned hand turkey or be more elaborate, but have children write something they are thankful for on each of the turkey's feathers," he suggests. They can be used as place cards or decorations on Thanksgiving Day.

Thankful Writing! Have each child write thank you notes to every family member who comes to share the meal with your family. In those thank you notes, have the children specifically focus on what it is about that family member that makes them so special.

It’s show time! What better day than Thanksgiving (with a captive audience) to put on a play or read poems? Encourage children to collaborate and put together a Thanksgiving show or write a Thanksgiving poem about thankfulness. Have them perform the show or read their poems after dinner.

Be an example! Another great way to teach children gratitude is to model thankfulness. Volunteer with your children at places where, not only can they help others, but see how fortunate they are.

Create a family, “giving fund” so that everyone chips in, and then uses the money to donate to a charity.

Children are often grateful, they just don’t have a name for the feeling they are experiencing.

These simple tips are fun ways to give gratitude a name and expression.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

Story source: Alaina Sullivan,

Your Teen

What do Energy Drinks Actually Do to the Body?


There’s been a lot of discussion over whether caffeine-spiked “Energy Drinks” are really safe for consumption, particularly for kids and young adults.  Although many manufacturers add the advisory statement “not recommended for children, pregnant or nursing women and persons sensitive to caffeine” on their label, it often goes ignored.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports that as these drinks have become more popular, the incidences of caffeine related overdoses and deaths have increased.

In one heartbreaking example, 14-year-old Anais Fournier died from cardiac arrest due to caffeine toxicity after consuming two 24- ounce cans of Monster energy drink a day apart.

While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been investigating whether there is causal link to the drinks and health problems, Mayo Clinic researcher Anna Svatikova and her colleagues wanted more information about exactly what happens in your body after you consume one of the drinks.

She and her team recruited 25 volunteers. All were young adults age 18 or older, nonsmokers, free of known disease, and not taking medications. They were asked to drink a 16-ounce can of a Rockstar energy drink and a placebo -- with the same taste, texture, color and nutritional contents but without the caffeine and other stimulants -- within five minutes on two separate days.

The energy drink had the following stimulants: 240 mg of caffeine, 2,000 mg of taurine and extracts of guarana seed, ginseng root and milk thistle. All typical ingredients associated with energy drinks.

Researchers took numerous measurements first before they drank and 30 minutes after. With the placebo, there was very little change. With the energy drink, however, many of the changes were marked:

•       Systolic blood pressure (the top number) - 6.2 percent increase

•       Diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) - 6.8 percent increase

•       Average blood pressure - 6.4 percent increase

•       Heart rate - none

•       Caffeine in blood - increase from undetectable to 3.4 micrograms/mL

•       Norepinephrine level (the stress hormone, which can give you the shakes when you have too much caffeine) in blood - increase from 150 pg/mL to 250 pg/ML

Writing in JAMA, the researchers said that these changes may predispose those who drink a single drink to increased cardiovascular risk.

This may explain why a number of those who died after consuming energy drinks appeared to have had heart attacks.

They also exposed the volunteers to two-minute physical, mental, and cold stressors after consuming the energy drinks to see how that might affect blood pressure and other body functions.

The physical stressor involved asking participants to squeeze on a handgrip; the mental one to complete a series of mathematical tasks as fast as possible; and the cold one immersing their one hand into ice water. Interestingly, there was no further change.

Another thing that is typically overlooked when people choose one of these drinks is the serving size. A 16-ounce can is two servings. A 24-ounce can has three servings. Caffeine and sugar content is often listed per serving. But honestly, how many people drink a third or half a can at a time? Besides caffeine, other stimulants are often added to energy drinks such as Ginseng and Guarana. Most people have no idea what they are, what they do and if they negatively interact with medications.

The American Beverage Association defends the drinks and said in a statement  that "there is nothing unique about the caffeine in mainstream energy drinks, which is about half that of a similar sized cup of coffeehouse coffee" and that drinking coffee would have produced similar effects.

“The safety of energy drinks has been established by scientific research as well as regulatory agencies around the globe. Just this year the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) confirmed the safety of energy drinks and their ingredients after an extensive review," the organization said.

It’s up to parents to decide whether these drinks are beneficial to their family or if they should re-think purchasing one for themselves or their child. A family discussion about the pros and cons of energy drinks with pre-teens and teenagers could give the kids the information they need to make a good choice.

Source: Ariana Eunjung Cha,


Recall! 7 Brands of Self-Balancing Scooters and Hoverboards


More recalls and an advisory have been issued for self-balancing scooters and hoverboards. Many of these products have caused fires, injuries and accidents.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (UPSC) issued an urgent advisory to consumers to stop using LayZ Board hoverboards after the boards were involved in yet another house-destroying fire in Manchester Township, Pennsylvania.

This follows a house fire in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where two young girls died.  A Harrisburg firefighter also died when his car crashed on the way to the fire.

Along with the “stay-away” LayZ Board UPSC advisory, 7 other brands have been recalled.

The problem with the recalled hoverboards, as stated in each recall notice is: “The lithium-ion battery packs in the self-balancing scooters/hoverboards can overheat, posing a risk of the products smoking, catching fire and/or exploding.”

The 7 brands of recalled self-balancing scooters/ hoverboards are listed below. Consumers should immediately stop using these recalled scooters/hoverboards.

·      Smart Balance Wheel Self-Balancing Scooters/ Hoverboards by Salvage World due to explosion and fire hazards. Consumers can contact: Salvage World toll-free at 888-726-9603 from 10 a.m. 6 p.m. CT Monday through Friday or online at and click on Recall Notice for more information.

·      Drone Nerds Self-Balancing Scooters/ Hoverboardsdue to explosion and fire hazards. Consumers can contact: Drone Nerds toll-free at 888-785-7543 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, email at or online at and click on “Recall Notice” for more information.

·      Go Wheels Self-Balancing Scooters/ Hoverboards by Four Star Imports due to fire and explosion hazards; sold exclusively at Village Mart. Consumers can contact Four Star Imports at 800-780-5231 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. CT or online at and click on Recall Notice.

·      .iHoverspeed Self-Balancing Scooters/ Hoverboards by Simplified Wireless due to fire hazard. Simplified Wireless toll-free at 833-220-1212 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or email at

·      iLive Self-Balancing Scooters/ Hoverboards by Digital Products due to fire hazard. Contact DPI at 800-311-9263 Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT or online at and click on “Recall Notice” for more information.

·      Tech Drift Recalls Self-Balancing Scooters/Hoverboards due to fire and explosion hazards. Tech Drift at 800-491-0264 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT Monday through Friday or email for more information.

·      Sonic Smart Wheels Self-Balancing Scooters/Hoverboards by Dollar Mania due to explosion and fire hazards. Dollar Mania toll-free at 844-333-4457 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. CT Monday through Friday or online on the Dollar Mania Facebook page for more information. 

For more information and images of all the recalled products, go to:


Daily Dose

Don't Let Your Child Become an Obesity Statistic

Healthy eating begins with the first foods that you feed your infant.An alarming statistic was released today which shows that one in five 4-year-old children are obese and these numbers are even higher in minority children. This study was just published in The Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, and followed over 8,000 children looking at height and weight. The findings were quite concerning, showing a trend toward obesity at an age younger than predicted, and numerous long term health problems associated with obesity, such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and bone and joint problems.

This is a national health issue and a call to action for all families to teach and model healthy eating. One of the problems is that many of the government sponsored food programs provide foods high in carbohydrates, and low in fresh fruits and vegetables, and this promotes obesity. School lunches have also been found to be high in fat and carbohydrate and continue to promote poor food choices. With the bad economy and recession, families have cut back on groceries and may be eating more fast foods, breads and pastas, again providing more carbohydrate than protein. Healthy eating begins with the first foods that you feed your infant. A well balanced diet with grains, fruits, vegetables and meats begins in the high chair and should continue at the family dinner table. The meals may be simple and healthy. Being a short order cook, or providing your child's favorite pizza and fried food on a daily basis, even in a young toddler will have deleterious effects for the rest of their life. Don't let your child become a statistic heading toward lifelong health issues secondary to childhood obesity. Change your own eating habits, improve your children's and remain committed to family meals. We, as parents, cannot afford to raise a generation where obesity is the norm: the change must begin now. That's your daily dose, we'll chat again tomorrow. More Information: 1 in 5 Preschoolers Obese

Daily Dose

Family Dinners

1:30 to read

Do you ever have dinner time food struggles?  I guess the most important part of this statement is “dinner time”, as some families tell me they never “have time” to sit down for a family dinner. But, for those that do gather for family meals, (which have been shown to improve your child’s academic success, mood and lessens their chance for obesity…just to name a few benefits), the picky eater struggles may sometimes make mealtime stressful.


It there is one thing I had to eventually figure out as a mother of 3,  family dinner time is analogous to being invited to a dinner party, where the cook is the host/hostess and the children are the guests.  Dinner time is the 20 - 30 minute period each evening when your children are “invited” to come sit down and enjoy the family while being served a meal. This includes learning manners:  where to put your napkin, how to pass the serving dishes, how to chew with your mouth closed, how to not speak with food in your mouth, how to clear your plate after being excused and lastly, how to help clean up the kitchen.  If you never sit down as a family how do you learn these things?


The other lesson your children learn is that the meal being served is what they have to eat.  Remember your child is a “guest” at the meal. While they may not “like” asparagus, they do not have to eat it.  They may not like the way the chicken is prepared, but they don’t tell/nag the host (Mom), they just either eat a bite or two or decide they will skip the chicken….but they don’t get substitutions. There are usually several choices on the table (meat, veggie, fruit etc) from which to choose. Mother or Father is NOT a short order cook.  We parents prepare the food and the children will  decide if they want to eat… assured, if they are hungry enough they will eat. But, the hard part about this is convincing my parent/patients that no one will starve. 


The other fact is that most children get to choose breakfast and lunch and the only meal that is “presented” to them is the family dinner. As the children got older we also let each child “request” a dinner one night a week…and that also included my husband.  So, there were some nights everyone liked dinner and others where they were like “no thanks” I will eat my fruit….but over the years they did eventually learn to broaden their palates, and surprisingly everyone likes asparagus!


So…if you are struggling about meal time try this new approach and relax! 


Memorial Day Safety Tips


Memorial Day is often referred to as the “unofficial” start of summer and is one of the busiest days for family get-togethers.

It’s a wonderful day to share memories and do all the fun things that warmer weather and longer daylight hours offer.

The American College of Emergency has a list of safety tips to help make sure your Memorial Day isn’t interrupted by a trip to the ER.

“Fun in the sun, by the pool, on a boat or at a barbecue can quickly send you to the emergency department if you don’t plan ahead or use common safety sense,” said Dr. David Seaberg with the American College of Emergency Physicians. “You can have fun while at the same time take reasonable precautions to help keep you safe and most importantly, keep you alive.” 

Food Safety — Judging by what I’ve seen recently in the grocery checkout lanes, food is going to play a big role in family get-togethers this Memorial day!

Refrigerate all perishable food within 2 hours, 1 hour if the temperature outside is above 90 degrees. To guard against cross-contamination of bacteria, keep uncooked meats away from other foods. 
To avoid food poisoning, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture recommends cooking fresh poultry to 165 degrees, hamburgers to 160 degrees and beef to at least 145 degrees.

Grill Safety — A lot of that food will be cooked on a grill. Emergency physicians see firsthand the dangers associated with an outdoor grill. Before cranking up the grill, make sure it is thoroughly cleaned of any grease or dust. Check the tubes leading into the burner for any blockages from insects or food grease that can cause an uncontrolled fire. Replace any connectors that can lead to a gas leak and keep lighted cigarettes, matches or open flames away from a any grill. Do not use a grill in a garage, breezeway, carport or porch or near any surface that can catch fire. Also, always follow the manufacturer's instructions that come with the grill. If using lighter fluid to start a fire, do not over-saturate the coals or wood., and stand back from the grill to light it.

Water Safety — Many families and friends will be at the pool, lake or beach this holiday, participating in water activities. To prevent drowning, avoid alcohol when swimming or boating. Wear a lifejacket whenever you are on a boat. Make sure young children are supervised at all times when near the beach, on a boat, or by a pool or hot tub. Don't swim alone or in bad weather. Learn to swim and teach your children to swim. We also recommend that you learn CPR in case of an emergency. 

Sun Safety — Protect against sunburn and heat stroke. Wear sunscreen with at least an SPF of 30 or higher and apply it generously throughout the day. Wear a hat outdoors and a good pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes. Drink plenty of water, especially when in the sun or if you are sweating heavily. If you feel faint or nauseous, get into a cool place immediately. 

Travel Safety – Memorial Day is one of the busiest holiday travel days by car. One of the most obvious safety tips is never drink and drive or travel with anyone who has been drinking. Take along a traveler first aid kit to help you be prepared for common emergencies. Wear your seatbelt and make sure your children are buckled up or in their car seats at all times. Make sure your vehicle has been properly serviced and is in good working shape before a long road trip. Familiarize yourself with your surroundings if you are in an unfamiliar place and know where the nearest emergency room is. Also, avoid talking or texting on a cell phone while driving. You can always text or return calls after you get where you are going or pull off the road and park, if you need to reply immediately.

Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend and be sure to take a few minutes to think about the true meaning of the holiday. A day to honor those that have given their lives in service to our country.

Story source:




Daily Dose

Fit Foods for a Healthy Lifestyle

1:15 to read

Wherever you are on your healthy lifestyle journey, you are not alone.  I tell my patients that the key to being healthy is being disciplined in eating the right foods, staying active and getting enough sleep...and that’s for both you and your kids.

Committing to your overall health and wellness should start early on.  When you’re pregnant, it doesn’t always mean you’re eating for two. A growing baby needs nourishment from their mother’s diet throughout the day but experts say nutrition during pregnancy should be about adding extra nutrients and not extra meals. Moms to be need to be eating foods that are good for them and their baby.  You just need to choose the right ones.

Avocados are a power food loaded with critical vitamins and minerals pregnant moms need to pass along to their unborn baby.  Nutrients like folate which helps prevent birth defects of your baby’s brain and spinal cord. Avocados contain powerful antioxidants like lutein an ingredient found in breast milk which is known to protect important cells in a baby’s eye. 

It’s so important for pregnant moms to consume a host vitamins and minerals and avocados are a great resource.  You might say avocados are a very similar to a prenatal vitamin!  And avocados may even help reduce morning sickness!

And the health benefits of avocados don’t stop once your baby is born.  If you’re breastfeeding…avocados are high in monounsaturated fats which are good fats and are important for a baby’s weight gain, growth and brain development. 

Avocados are the perfect first food for your baby.   Between 4 and 6 months you can introduce avocados into your child’s diet.  They work perfectly because they are easily mashed and slightly sweet.  This is a good time to introduce new food textures as well.

What’s the foolproof way to know that your family’s favorite fruit is ripe?  Push lightly near the neck and feel for a gentle yield.  If you’re still not sure it’s ready to eat? Pop the stem button.  If the stem button pops off easily, then the fruit is ready to eat.

Moms and dads…we always put our children first…so don’t forget about yourselves.  Avocados are a fit food fruit.  Studies show avocados may reduce total cholesterol levels while they lower bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol.

Avocados are also loaded with dietary fiber which may help you lose weight and reduce blood sugar spikes.

The next time you’re grocery shopping, make sure you add a few avocados to your cart.  They’re nutritious, heart healthy and taste delicious.  They’re good for you and everyone in your family! What more could you ask for in a fruit?

For more information, visit









Daily Dose

Start a ‘Thanksgiving Box’ For Your Family

If you have young children start a Thanksgiving blessing box, what a wonderful way to make family memories.I was walking with my "five women walking group", a ritual that occurs most weekdays at 5:30 am. I am telling you we could solve many world problems! But I am digressing. We share many stories of our families, as our children have grown up together despite going to various schools. One most recent one was about "the blessing box". This was a 3x5 index card box that her family had. Every year she and her husband and their two daughters would write down a Thanksgiving blessing (with a little coaxing by Mom) something that they were each thankful for.

Every year the cards were read at Thanksgiving dinner and put away in the box until the following year. This tradition continued and the mother, in anticipation of Thanksgiving and her girls returning home from college, had just pulled out the blessing box. She recounted this to us this week during our walk. She also had us laughing out loud (LOL, as her girls would text) at some of the blessings that had been written over the years. We also laughed as she told us to guess which daughter had written which quotation (one wrote, " I am thankful for my cat" while the other wrote, "I am thankful for pink fingernail polish"). Of course, we knew who wrote what. The point of this story is if you have young children start the Thanksgiving blessing box, what a wonderful way to make family memories. I only wish someone had told me about this tradition 20 years ago rather than last week! That's your daily dose, we'll chat again tomorrow.


Tips for a Fun and Safe Easter!


Easter is right around the corner and many parents and grandparents will be hosting or attending the traditional egg hunt. Little ones will scramble to fill their baskets and sacks with chocolate bunnies, marshmallow chicks and decorated Easter eggs.

If you’re one of the lucky hosts, here are 7 tips to help create not only make great memories, but also a safer and healthier day!

1. Egg Safety: Always cook eggs thoroughly and refrigerate them before and after dying. If you’re blowing out the raw eggs and dying the shells, use a straw or choose pasteurized eggs to avoid salmonella exposure. Wait to hide your eggs until just before the hunt is scheduled to start: you should consume boiled eggs within two hours of removing them from the refrigerator. If you’re worried about using hard-boiled eggs, consider replacing them with plastic eggs and hiding toys and treats inside instead.

One tip to avoid cracked egg shells while cooking comes from L.A. Times Test Kitchen and Food Editor, Russ Parson. "Place the eggs in a pan just big enough to hold them in a single layer," Parsons said. "Cover them with cold water and bring them to a rolling boil. Cook for one minute, and then remove them from the heat. When the water has cooled enough that you can put your hand in (about 20 minutes), the eggs will be perfectly cooked."

2. Coloring Easter Eggs: A favorite Easter tradition is creating unique egg designs. To dye Easter eggs safely, make sure everyone washes their hands before and after handling the eggs. Eggs that have cracked during cooking are an easy target for bacteria, so avoid coloring or eating those. Use only food-grade dyes, or make your own from grape juice, tea, beets, blueberries, turmeric, or other natural products.

Instructions for making naturally dyed Easter eggs can be found here.

3. Avoid Choking Hazards: Many families hide plastic Easter eggs, typically filled with a small toy.  For toddlers and crawlers (who will put everything in their mouths), it’s best to use larger plastic eggs that have nothing in them. Small toys are easy for little throats to choke on. If you’re giving your toddler candy, avoid jellybeans and hard candies. Hotdogs are the number one choking hazard for children!

4. Food Allergies: Ask parents if any kids with food allergies will be attending your Easter egg hunt. If so, it’s easier than ever to accommodate them. Peanut-, dairy-, and gluten-free candies are readily available

5. Outdoor Dangers: Take a walk through your lawn or pasture to make sure that all tools and chemicals are removed. Check to see that poison ivy or oak is not present. And don’t forget about anthills – these stinging pests can pop up overnight, particularly after a rain. Any pets that can get over-excited by running and yelling children should be kept inside or in a pen.

6. Speaking of Pets: If your four-legged friends are allowed to join in on the fun, be sure to keep chocolate, Easter grass, and plastic off the ground and out of their reach. Remind the kids (and parents!) not to feed any candy to the dog.

Baby bunnies and chicks are often given to kids at Easter. Many experts agree that these pets do not do well in the hands of small children. They also require consistent care and the proper environment to thrive. Stuffed animals are a much better choice for most children. 

7. Easter Hunt Alternatives: If you’re concerned about certain Easter hunt safety issues; consider an alternative plan. Games can be a huge hit with kids as well as a petting zoo or children’s entertainer. Some Easter game suggestions are: Guessing the number of jelly beans in jar, playing hide and seek, competing in an Easter egg spoon race, playing pin the tail on the Easter Bunny, or you may even want to make up your own games!

Easter celebrations are a favorite family event. Make this Easter a memorable and safe one for your family!

Story sources: Alyssa Baker,

Maria Vultaggio,





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