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Parenting

December Holiday Celebrations!

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For kids and adults, the most popular December holiday in the U.S. has to be Christmas! But did you know that there are other religious and secular holidays celebrated this time of year as well?

Teaching your children about other traditions can broaden their understanding about additional cultures and beliefs during the most celebrated month of the year!

While the day may change, the date never does for Christmas. It always falls on December 25th. Christmas is the Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. No one knows the exact date of Christ's birth but in the 4th Century, Pope Julius I, chose December 25th as the day of celebration. For Christians, Jesus is the Son of God and the Savior of the world. It's a holiday that's celebrated in a variety of ways not inly in the United States but around the planet. While many lament the commercialism of the Christmas holiday, its’ true meaning continues to inspire people, young and old.

Hanukkah, which is the Hebrew word for dedication, honors the victory of the Jews over the Greek Syrians in 165 BC. The Greek Syrians denied them the right to freely practice Judaism and had demanded that the Jews instead pray to Greek gods. After their victory, the Maccabees, sons of the family that led the revolt, entered the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and dedicated it to the service of their God. When the Maccabees entered the temple, they found only enough lamp oil to last one night, but the oil somehow managed to burn for the whole eight days it took to go in search for more oil. Therefore, Hanukkah is observed over eight days.

Kwanzaa is celebrated from December 26th to January 1st. Although some people believe this holiday is a substitute for Christmas, it is not a religious holiday. It is celebrated every year on December 26th. Kwanzaa, which means "first fruit of the harvest" in Swahili, is a time to focus on the traditional African values of family. The colors of Kwanzaa are black, red and green. Black represents the color of the people, Green represents the fertile land of Africa and Red represents blood shed in the struggle for freedom. Kwanzaa was started in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga to celebrate and honor African culture and to also inspire African-Americans.

The Winter Solstice is the beginning of winter. It is also the day with the shortest amount of daylight. Because of the earth's tilt, the Northern Hemisphere is as far away from the sun as it can be. Winter Solstice has been celebrated in cultures around the world over for thousands of years.

Did you know there is a holiday called Boxing Day? It’s celebrated on December 26th and it’s not about stepping into the ring and duking it out. The first Boxing Day is believed to have started in the Middle Ages, This is just a guess because the exact date isn't known. How Boxing Day started is a question as well. Some say it started with the giving of Christmas boxes, while others think it was named after the tradition of opening charity boxes placed in churches during the Christmas season. Boxing Day is typically celebrated in Canada and some European countries.

New Year’s Eve is the oldest known of all celebrated holidays. It was first observed in Ancient Babylon about 4,000 years ago. In the years around 2000 BC, Babylonians celebrated the beginning of a new year on what is now March 23rd, although they had no written calendar. It wasn't until 153 BC that the Roman senate declared January 1st to be the beginning of the New Year.

No matter which holiday you celebrate, we hope it’s a wonderful time filled with love, family and friends!

Story source: http://www.kidzworld.com/article/2837-december-holidays

 

Parenting

“10 Worst Toys” List for 2017

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Since 1973, an annual list of the top 10 most dangerous toys has been issued by the Boston based non-profit organization, World Against Toys Causing Harm, Inc. (W.A.T.C.H.)

This year’s list includes such favorites as fidget spinners, a Wonder Woman Battle-Action Sword and a Spider-Man Drone.

Strings, small parts, rigid surfaces, projectile pieces and toys that emit toxic substances are all potentially unsafe when it comes to toys, warned WATCH President Joan Siff and Director James Swartz at a press conference.

"It's alarming that there are so many toys out there that are unsafe," Siff told USA TODAY. "These are not the only ones." Since December, there have been 15 toy recalls in the U.S., according to Siff. 

The Toy Association, an industry group, says the lists are unnecessary and only create panic among consumers.

Both sides agree that parents should examine toys before giving them to children to look for any potential hazard.

Here’s this year’s WATCH list:

1.     Itty bittys baby plush stacking toy by Hallmark. The Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a recall on the product on Aug. 31 because of the small fabric hats and bows that were detachable and posed a choking hazard. But WATCH said they purchased the toy online after the recall was announced.

2.     Pull Along Pony by Tolo Toys Limited. WATCH said the product violates a federal law that requires that strings on playpen and crib toys be less than 12 inches long. The Tolo toy’s cord is 19 inches long. But the Toy Association said pull-along toys are an exception to this rule because the purpose is to teach motor skills.

3.     Wonder Woman Battle-Action Sword by Mattel. The nonprofit warns consumers that the stiff plastic sword can cause facial damage or other injuries to children.

4.     Hand Fidgetz Spinners by Kipp Brothers. Fidget spinners are meant for antsy kids, but WATCH said many come with small parts that can easily become loose or pulled off.

5.     Spider-Man Spider-Drone Official Movie Edition by Marvel and Skyrocket Toys. The drone comes with rapidly moving blades to help propel it into the air. The toy comes with a warning to keep moving parts away from fingers, hair, eyes and other body parts. WATCH said this is dangerous for children, which the drone is marketed toward.

6.     Nerf Zombie Strike Dreadbolt Crossbow by Hasbro and Nerf.com. The crossbow toy can cause eye and facial injuries. WATCH said the crossbow is inappropriate for small children.

7.     Slackers Slackline Classic Kit by Brand 44.This outdoor tightrope is marketed as an activity for all ages but comes with a warning of “severe injury,” including a chance for “strangulation hazard, especially with children.”

8.     The Oval Xylophone by Plan Toys Inc. and Plan Creations. The wooden instrument can be found online and is marketed to children as young as 12 months old. WATCH said that the toy does not come with a warning regarding the 9-and-a-half-inch-long stick, which could be placed in the child’s mouth and obstruct the child’s airway.

9.     Jetts Heel Wheels by Razor USA. The mini-roller skate-like devices are meant to be attached to the back of a child’s shoes to create the effect of a rear-wheel roller skate. The product comes with sparklers on the back that spark while moving. The manufacturer warns users to “keep sparks away from eyes, hair, exposed skin and clothing. Sparks can burn.”

10. Brianna Babydoll by Melissa & Doug. The dolls are marketed to children as young as 18 months, but have removable clothes and ponytail holders, which WATCH said could be a choking hazard.

Some parents may find the list helpful and others may think it’s nothing to get worked up about. The best advice seems to be to consider your child’s playing habits and age. Some kids are harder on toys than others. Infants and toddlers like to pull things apart and put things in their mouths – look for choking hazards. Inspect the toys with safety in mind and don’t assume that a well-known brand’s toys are always safe. Keep abreast of product safety recalls by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission at https://www.cpsc.gov

Story source: Kellie Ell, https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/retail/2017/11/14/10-worst-toys-of-2017-list/862445001/

 

 

Your Child

Kids and Holiday Stress

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Adults know that the holidays are most likely going to include several stressors such as never enough time to get everything done, family gatherings, money woes, traffic and gift shopping.

Kids feel stress too during the holiday frenzy, but sometimes they don’t have enough life experiences to know how to handle it or what to call some of the overwhelming feelings they may have.

During the holidays, there are lots of fun activities and events going on, both at home and at school. And while that can be a good thing, the reality is that all that hustle and bustle means schedules are often out of whack, bedtimes get pushed back, and routines are disrupted.

As a result, it’s inevitable that kids may feel some degree of holiday stress.

There are ways you can help your child glide through the holidays with less stress. Number one is to be an example of what you want to child to be. So, being calm is not only going to benefit you, but your child as well. This requires mindfulness about what is actually going on around you, what expectations you have and what you are projecting. As with so many situations, the way parents handle an issue can set the tone for how their kids will behave. If you let holiday stress get to you, your kids will definitely pick up on it, and child anxiety is more likely to be a problem in your house. To minimize anxiety in children during the holidays, take steps to handle your own stress and anxiety.

Overstimulation, tiredness and hunger can cause children to stress-out. It’s hard even for grown-ups to deal with noise and lots of stimulation when they’re not feeling their best; kids get hungry more often and become tired more easily, and may understandably have a tough time being on their best behavior. They are more likely to experience holiday stress when they’re exhausted or hungry. Take healthy snacks with you and schedule breaks to sit, relax and re-group when visiting malls or holiday celebrations.

Children like routine. The holidays can disrupt routines that are comforting and reliable, causing kids to feel anxious. To minimize holiday stress in your kids, try to get routines back on track once an event or party is over. For instance, if a school holiday concert or a church gathering goes past your child’s bedtime, try to stick to quiet, calm activities the next day and get your child to bed on time the next night.

Let’s face it; we all overindulge during the holidays. Too much sugar and simple carbohydrates can play havoc with our moods and weight. Kids are particularly sensitive to these food interruptions. Whenever possible, offer healthy snacks, such as air-popped popcorn or apple slices with cheese and crackers and limit cookies and candy to after-snack treats.

One way for kids to beat stress is to get moving. Fresh air and exercise are essential for boosting mood and re-setting the spirit, which can alleviate holiday stress and anxiety in children. Make sure you schedule some time to get your child outside to run around and play.

If your child is old enough, ask him or her to join in with decorating and holiday tasks. If you have to shop, ask your child to help you look for an item at the store (fun stocking stuffers for cousins, for example). Giving your child a task will not only boost his or her self-esteem, it’ll help by offering a beneficial distraction.

Creating a little quiet time during the holidays is helpful to parents and kids alike. Find a quiet corner and read a book with your child or create holiday pictures for grandma and grandpa. Take a walk outside in nature, away from noise and crowds and obligations.

A great antidote for holiday stress and the bloated commercialism of the season is helping others, whether it’s by shoveling a neighbor’s sidewalk, volunteering or by wrapping presents for needy kids at your local church. The season of giving takes on more meaning when the giving is your time and love.

Story source: Katherine Lee, https://www.verywell.com/holiday-stress-and-anxiety-in-children-620516

Your Child

“Holiday Asthma” and Children

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Mix together a Christmas tree, decorations pulled out of dusty storage; perhaps a new kitten or puppy, plus dry heat in the house from cold temperatures and you’ve got a recipe for “Holiday Asthma.” Those are just a few of the things that can trigger a child’s asthma attack.

“Each individual‘s asthma triggers differ,” says Kristy Miller, a spokesperson for the Environment Protection Agency. "However, from an indoor environmental perspective, the primary asthma triggers include secondhand smoke, pet dander, mold, dust mites, and pest droppings. During the winter months, many people spend more time indoors, so steps should be taken to reduce or eliminate exposures to these environmental asthma triggers."

How you can you help your child avoid these common holiday triggers? We found helpful information when WebMD turned to an expert for advice.

One dangerous trigger is respiratory infection. Respiratory infections are rampant during the winter months, particularly during the holidays, when families travel around the country, with millions of other sneezing and coughing merry-makers.

“Asthma flair-ups are frequently due to infections,” says Richard Honsinger, MD, of the Los Alamos Medical Care Clinic. “And during the holidays, we see an increased number of respiratory infections with all the traveling and with people sharing their bugs that cause asthma symptoms to worsen.”

How can you avoid these harmful infections? One solution is to avoid traveling during one of the most contagious times of the year. The other is to make sure that your child and other family members properly wash their hands. That may sound too simple, but a good scrubbing with warm water and soap for at least 15 seconds--can reduce the number of germs your kids pick up over the course of the day, which in turn helps lowers the risk of catching a cold and triggering asthma.

Many families have switched from using real trees to artificial Christmas trees for convenience and to avoid allergies. However, the actual culprit may be the decorations.

“People get all their ornaments out of their basements and closets and they’re covered in dust,” Honsinger says.

The Christmas tree all lit up with warm lights and decorated with old bulbs is a perfect recipe for asthma trouble in kids, so wipe it down with a damp cloth before you set it up in the middle of your living room to remove outdoor allergens. Before you drag your holiday storage containers out of the basement, give them a good dusting so they’re free of mites, pest droppings and other unpleasant holiday treats, and wash decorations before you put them on the tree.

Roaring fireplaces not only provide a traditional backdrop for the holidays, but also come in handy for warming the house. Unfortunately, fireplaces can trigger asthma.

“Fireplaces and stoves and things that leak smoke are things that increase the asthma response,” says Honsinger. “It’s not a true allergy--you can’t test for smoke allergies on the skin--but we know that particulate matter or burning material in the air causes an increase in asthma symptoms.”

Particulate matter can also mean exhaust and cigarette smoke, explains Honsinger. So before you set off to visit family members or friends that smoke, remember to pack your child’s medicine – and be prepared to head home early if asthma symptoms flare up.

Then there is the new kitty or puppy issue. Giving your child a puppy or kitten for Christmas sounds like an enchanting idea, but don’t forget that that adorable little bundle is covered in dander--a common asthma trigger.

“Parents get their kids a new dog for Christmas, when they don’t know if the kids are allergic or not,” says Honsinger, who is a professor of clinical medicine at the University of New Mexico. “It’s a time of year when its cold, so pets are indoors more often than not, so their dander is inside as well and we see an influx of pet allergies and asthma symptoms.”

If your child has asthma, eczema or other allergies, it’s probably a good idea to have him or her skin tested for animal allergies -before you start picking out a puppy or kitten name.

During the winter months, cold air is something most people aren’t going to be to able to avoid unless you live in a warm region of the world and even then- surprises happen.

“We know that breathing cold, dry air will increase asthma symptoms,” says Honsinger. “It excites the receptors in the lung causing asthma to come on quickly.”

Cold air dries the lungs out, and makes the chest tighten, explains Honsinger. Warm, moist air, however, is just what a kid with asthma needs.

“During cold weather have your child wear a scarf when he’s outside,” says Honsinger. ”They breath through the cloth and it catches moisture. Then they breath back in through it and it warms the air and makes the air moist. Then they’re less likely to get that feeling of tightness.”

To be on the safe side, if your child is playing outside, monitor her peak flow every hour or so. 

“Use a peak flow meter so you can see how fast your child’s air is coming out,” says Honsinger. “Use a set of guidelines that you set up with your physician, so if the peak flow drops below a certain level, use medicine. If it drops further, you better seek help. It’s something to watch.”

Because pharmacies and pediatricians may have irregular hours during the holidays, be prepared in advance. “If your child has asthma, have your medicine supply intact over the holidays when everything closes down,” says Honsinger. “If your child uses an inhaler or a nebulizer, make sure you have these on hand, so if asthma symptoms flare up in the middle of Christmas, you have something at home to start treatment right away.”

If your child doesn’t respond to available treatment, take him or her to the emergency room. Asthma isn’t something you want to let get the upper hand.

By applying some of these tips, your child may be able to escape “Holiday asthma!”

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from the Kids Doctor!

Story source: Heather Hatfield, https://www.webmd.com/asthma/features/holiday-asthma-triggers-for-kids#1

Daily Dose

July 4th Food Safety Tips

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Whether it’s spending the day at the lake, by the pool or in the backyard, Americans love a good July 4th celebration. And you can bet there will be plenty of food shared by families and friends!

It’s never a bad idea to review food safety tips especially if you’re going to be cooking and serving food outside.

A little planning and the right tools should will help make sure no one ends up with a bellyache or worse, food poisoning.

Here are the basics in a nutshell:

Keep everything clean. That includes your hands, knives, cutting boards, eating utensils and preparing and cooking surfaces.

Soap and water is the best method of cleaning but may not be convenient. Use prepackaged sanitizing towels or make up a small bucket of diluted bleach solution (2 oz. bleach to 1 gallon water) to use when wiping up spills or cleaning surfaces.

Make sure your hands are clean.  Use soap and water to scrub hands for at least 20 seconds. If washing your hands often isn’t practical, keep hand sanitizer close by and use it each time you handle raw meat, poultry or fish.

Avoid cross contamination. Separate meat, poultry and fish. Package raw items in plastic bags or sealed containers so that spilled juices don’t contaminate other foods.

Never put cooked meat back on the same soiled plate used to transport it while it was raw. Use a clean serving dish for food taken from the grill.

Use separate cutting boards and knives to steer clear of cross contamination. Pork and beef may be cut on the same surface, another for chicken and one more for fish. Using pre-sliced breads, cheese or vegetables to eliminate the need for additional knives and boards.

Make sure foods are thawed correctly. The best method to fend off bacteria is to thaw food in the refrigerator. Make certain that juices from thawing food do not drip into other items. Some food may be defrosted in the microwave or under running cold water. Never thaw food at room temperature, except breads or desserts that are recommended to defrost at room temperature.

Use a thermometer. Make sure your food is cooked thoroughly to kill bacteria that can make someone sick. Use a probe thermometer to check the internal temperature of grilled meat or chicken for doneness. Beef, lamb or veal should be no less than 145º F for medium rare. Chicken or turkey pieces are done at 170ºF and 180ºF for duck. Most prepared foods should reach 165ºF to be safe. Cook in small batches and serve immediately.

Food that is ready to eat needs to be kept hot or cold, as appropriate for each dish. Hold cold food at less than 40ºF and hot food above 140ºF. Any temperature between 40ºF and 140ºF is in the danger zone, ideal for bacteria growth.

If in doubt – don’t eat it. Condiments such as ketchup, mustard and pickles do not require careful temperature monitoring during use but should be refrigerated to extend the product life. Bread, rolls and cakes usually are okay at room temperature at any time. If something doesn’t smell or look right to you or you think it may have been sitting out too long – toss it. It’s much better to be safe than sorry.

These food tips are applicable any day of the year, but it’s easy to get in a rush when there are lots of people ready to chow down. Take your time, plan ahead and remember to have a wonderful and safe July 4th!

Source: http://voices.yahoo.com/food-safety-outdoor-dining-363419.html?cat=6

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