When We Know Better, We Do Better…

Posted July 30th, 2009 by Jill Addeo | No Comments »

I can’t believe that since I started my blog some months ago, I have yet to share with you all my love…no my OBSESSION, with the big “O.”  Yes, that’s right, Oprah,  and I’m not afraid to admit it. From among her countless pearls of wisdom, it is near impossible to single out my most favorite but there are those that I have continued to refer back to over the years in my own daily life. Oprah says…”When we know better, we do better.”  This can be applied to so many things in our lives, but in the case of Oprah she often talks about this as it pertains to parenting mistakes and understanding and forgiving certain things that were “done” to us in our childhood because if the adults in our lives knew better, they could have done better. Well, as is often the case with me, I have applied this notion to food and eating,one of my most favorite topics!

We have been bombarded over the last several years with the grim statistics on childhood obesity but this recent New York Times article by Tara Parker-Pope indicates that the tide may be slowly shifting. I was an extremely overweight child, and later, an obese young adult until my early 20’s when I was finally able to get a handle on my weight. So this is a subject that I am very aware of with my own children.  According to a market research survey, “The eating habits of American children appear to be shifting. And for a change, the news is good.” It appears that as burgers, fries and chicken nuggets remain popular with children under 13, consumption of these foods at fast food chains is declining. Foods like yogurt, fruit, grilled chicken and chocolate milk are increasing. Many of the most popular chains are now required to list calories on their menus, and I know from experience that when I can show my children the differences in nutritional value of certain foods, it is easier for them to make  better choices.  When we know better, we do better.

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Posted in Children's Health, Parenting Tips

Summertime Lessons

Posted July 28th, 2009 by Jill Addeo | No Comments »

As it is summer and our kids are out of school, many of us are challenged with trying to keep our little angels well fed and well hydrated during  what is normally lots of sun and outdoor physical activity.  My son and daughter head off to camp for most of the day so besides wanting to make sure they eat a good breakfast before they get on the bus, I worry about them drinking enough throughout the hot, sunny day and I also worry about what they eat for lunch. Even though the camp offers the basic kid favorites like hot dogs and hamburgers, I try and encourage them not to fill up on lots of heavy foods before running back out into the heat for hours. Their camp always has a salad bar available as well as lighter options like turkey sandwiches on wheat bread but as we all know, our kids will grab what looks like the tastiest option at the moment and never consider the consequences or weigh the options. When their day at camp is over , all the kids are offered an ice pop or an ice cream bar before they board the bus. In my never ending efforts to steer them to the lighter fare, I have explained why the ice pop is the more thirst quenching , and more hydrating option but as I meet them at the bus each afternoon, I can see by the frequent occurrence of chocolate around their mouths that they have chosen to throw caution to the wind.  And then there’s dinner…

Why, you may ask, am I boring you with all of this personal information?  My kids are already at  a stage where they need to be making smart food choices given their family history (generations of “chubsters”). So many of their friends can eat whatever, whenever with no apparent downside but as we all experience as we get older, that ability to eat “whatever, whenever” catches up eventually. So I say, lets equip our kids with as much info about nutrition as we can now,  so they have it at the ready whenever they need to put it to use.

As with everything else these days, our kids seem to absorb information most easily when it comes from the TV or better yet, a computer game. I came across a web site (http://www.nutritionexplorations.org/kids/main.asp) that is not only filled with important facts but it is also all about fun. There are activities, games, contests, kid friendly recipes and even a kids’ panel. The whole site is designed to educate and entertain and I promise it will hold your child’s interest and hopefully elevate their nutritional IQ’s without their even knowing it!

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Posted in Children's Health, Parenting Tips

Tips on Ticks From a City Girl

Posted July 23rd, 2009 by Jill Addeo | No Comments »

Having grown up and lived in Manhattan my whole life, my encounters with nature have been limited. Yes, my parents shipped me off to sleep away camp in the deep woods of Maine, with no electricity for 8 weeks at the age of 8 but that is a story for a future post on traumatic life experiences.

When my son came home from his second day of day camp a few weeks ago, he was sitting on my husband’s and my bed in his pajamas after showering, chatting about his day and just hanging out. As he was talking, his shirt raised up on one side and I noticed a tiny brown speck on his skin. He noticed me stop to look and his hand immediately went to the spot and said, “I think this is a small scab.” As my husband and I moved in for a closer look, I opened my mouth to ask if it could possibly be a tick but it was too late…my husband had reached over and just picked the tiny speck off with his finger. At that moment, we realized that it was most likely a tick and we looked at it under a magnifying glass only to confirm our worst fear…it had legs! I was horrified and sensed that my son was starting to panic at the mention of a tick…he went immediately to his “go-to” question….”will I need shots?”  In an effort to not stress him out, we assured him that the whole tick had been removed and that there was no cause for concern. We told him that because his camp surroundings are wooded, there are lots of deers and that ticks are a very common occurrence. We explained that we would do a tick-check on him and on his sister every night before they showered just to be safe and off to bed he went. Ahhh, now I was alone so I could flip out in the privacy of my bedroom. As Woody Allen so beautifully put it, “I am two with nature” and any form of wildlife embedded in my child’s flesh is an invitation to panic. Like so many other life experiences, if I were more familiar with this stuff, I could shrug it off more easily. Case in point, I have never been stung by a bee and thus I am terrified of all bee-like creatures that dare to invade my air space. I get furious at my husnabd when he tells me to just stay still and the bee will fly away…yeah right!

Anyway, the bottom line is that my son is fine and no symptoms of Lyme disease have presented themselves but it was a great opportunity to hop online and check out the dos and don’ts on ticks and tick removal for dummies (or city chicks).

Here’s what I found: http://tickfacts.com/tick-removal.html

I also discovered a great product that everyone should keep on hand in summer or when traveling in case you discover one of these critters. It’s called the Tick it Away and it was developed by a pediatrician. www.TickitAway.com His website also contains very cool animated demonstrations of proper removal techniques. For those of you who have been removing ticks stress-free since childhood, I apologize for arriving late to the party but better late than never!

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Posted in Children's Health, Parenting Tips

Where Do Picky Eaters Come From?

Posted July 21st, 2009 by Jill Addeo | No Comments »

I have always been fascinated by the fact that you can have several children raised in the same household, served the same food prepared by the same person and yet one eats fruits and vegetables and tries new things and the other eats only chicken tenders and fries. Perhaps this is evidence that I need to get a hobby but I am truly curious as to what makes a picky eater picky. By the way, the above is a description is of my son versus my daughter.

From what I have read, it’s pretty simple really. Many children start out as picky eaters and are sensitive to tastes, smells and textures from birth. Some children find it difficult to chew the food and thus become picky eaters. And some just don’t like the color or the taste of certain foods. The secret is to nurture a child’s developing palate in the same way we nurture their physical, mental and emotional development. As one pediatrician put it, “We don’t move a baby from the crib to the top of a bunk bed overnight. And we don’t give a preschooler a ten-speed when he’s just learning how to ride a bike.”

Babies are born with a taste for sweet, but it can take years for children to develop a taste for sour and bitter foods like vegetables. Developing a taste for these foods is a growth experience, as is learning to walk or learning to read and it is our job as parents to help our children navigate these growth experiences.

Tips for Broadening Your Picky Eaters’ Palates (from Kids Cooking  at About.com)

1.  Put broccoli on the table every night for a month.

2.  Don’t force him to eat. Don’t even suggest that he eat it. And whatever you do, don’t  judge his reaction when he tastes it or spits it out.

3.  Just have it there. Let him see you eating it and enjoying it. If you don’t enjoy it, choose a vegetable you do like. You can’t fake it.

4.  And finally, make sure the atmosphere at the dinner table is pleasant, lighthearted and calm. (Yikes, the pleasant and calm part might be harder than the broccoli problem!)

Don’t expect your five year old (or even your 15 year old) to eat all that broccoli the first night. But over time, if you keep offering it, avoid forcing him to eat it, and enjoy some vegetable yourself, he will come to accept it…maybe even like it.

Did I mention that my daughter, who just turned 9, tries a microscopic piece of a carrot maybe 2 times a year and starts gagging and heaving?  She has always been one for high drama, but the vegetables will continue to appear on her plate nonetheless. And don’t stress out about the waste, as with everything else left on my children’s plates…I eat that , too.

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Posted in Children's Health, Parenting Tips

Cold or Flu? Some Tips on How to Tell the Difference

Posted July 16th, 2009 by Jill Addeo | No Comments »

How do you know when it is necessary to call your pediatrician? Lots of moms worry that they call too often, and let’s face it, none of us wants to get a reputation with our pediatrician as the resident hysterical pest. However, if your child does have the flu, it is important to talk to your pediatrician. The question is, how do you know if what your child has is actually the flu or just a common cold? Throw in the prevalence of seasonal allergy symptoms and it can be really hard to tell exactly what is going on with your child.

Both the cold and the flu are respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. Typically, the cold is milder than the flu and generally doesn’t result in serious health problems. It may be difficult to tell the difference between the two, but according to the National Institutes of Health there are some obvious differences in symptoms.

Symptoms the cold and flu may have in common:

General aches & Pains - Colds sometimes have these, but they are common and often severe with the flu.

Fatigue & weakness – colds are sometimes associated with this, but it usually occurs with the flu and can last up to 2-3 weeks.

Stuffy nose & sneezing – common with colds and sometimes occurs with the flu.

Sore throat – common with colds and sometimes occurs with the flu.

Chest discomfort & cough – mild to moderate with a hack for colds, but can be more severe with the flu.

Symptoms that are not shared by colds and flus:

Fevers - rare in colds, while usually occur with flu (100 F – 102 F, occasionally higher in younger children)

Headache – rare in colds, but common with the flu.

Extreme Exhaustion – never occurs with colds, but it usually occurs with the flu, especially at the beginning of the illness.

Complications of the cold vs. the flu:

The Cold – sinus congestion, middle ear infection, and asthma.

The Flu – Bronchitis, pneumonia, and can be life threatening.

And of course, you know I can’t let you go without offering my personal fail-safe advice…trust your instincts and if you have that “something isn’t right” feeling, make the call!

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Posted in Children's Health, Parenting Tips

Hooray for Handwashing!

Posted July 14th, 2009 by Jill Addeo | No Comments »

Once your child is already in need of some kind of medication, KidKupz are sure to soften the blow, but if you can possibly prevent the occasional cold or flu…good news for the whole family.

Soap and water are one of the most effective ways to ward off colds and other illnesses. I realize this isn’t news to any of you, but I know that with my own children, no amount of reminding is too much.  It’s important to wash your hands before preparing food or eating, before cleaning an injury or applying a band-aid, after handling pets or garbage, after using the bathroom or changing diapers, and after coughing or blowing your nose. Despite the prevalence of hand sanitizers, old-fashioned soap and warm water are still the best choice. If you need a fun, interactive way to keep your child scrubbing, sing a favorite song or have them learn about hand washing from Henry the Hand, Champion Handwasher, at www.henrythehand.com.

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Posted in Children's Health

A Speech That Changed the Way I “Mommy”

Posted July 9th, 2009 by Jill Addeo | No Comments »

I am one of those riddled-with-guilt moms who thinks that no matter what parenting route I choose, I could be doing better or should be doing differently. My tendency is always to over-protect because, after all, you can never keep your kids too safe…or can you?

The headmistress at my children’s school gave a talk to the parent body recently. She spoke about how the parents of the 21st century express love for their children in a way that is different from how our parents expressed love and parented us. We love our children so much that our primary goal is to protect them from any and all pain, harm or suffering. This sounds ideal, but is it? If children don’t get a chance to experience some of the disappointments and challenges in life, how will they ever learn to cope when we are no longer there to protect them? This includes even the little things in life such as using the toaster or crossing the street. I woke up one day recently and realized that my 10 year old son couldn’t toast a bagel himself…not because he is incapable, but because I forbid him to ever use the toaster for fear of his getting burned.  Ironically, a metaphor for much weightier situations.

In her address, the headmistress referenced a speech given by Gever Tulley, founder of the Tinkering School. Tulley spells out “5 Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Kids Do. “  A provocative title, yes, but it’s really all about teaching our children how to safely navigate their environments and be in control. I urge you to watch the video, but here are his Top 5:

  • Play with fire
  • Own a pocketknife
  • Throw a spear
  • Deconstruct appliances
  • Break international copyright laws/Drive a car

From the moment I heard this list, something clicked for me as a mom and it has guided many of my parenting choices since. When I told my husband that I wanted to give our son a pocketknife for his birthday, he was surprised. I explained to him the thought behind it, the fact that it is the ultimate universal tool and that it can empower a child provided you teach them the proper way to use it, and even that a child can tap into his or her creativity and confidence. The truth is that my husband had had different pocketknives throughout his own childhood and yet it had never even occurred to him to give one to our son. It is one of the many simple things that has just drifted out of our social consciousness.

So, take a look at the video when you have a chance. In the meantime, tonight’s seminar at my house will be, “Avoiding Steam-burns When Making Mircowave Popcorn.”

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Posted in Events, Parenting Tips, Uncategorized

We Want Your Feedback!

Posted July 7th, 2009 by Jill Addeo | No Comments »

Since we launched KidKupz, many of you have placed orders from our Web store and we can’t wait to hear from you!

What do you think and most importantly, what do your kids think? What are their favorite flavors? My daughter loves the Sour Cherry and my son is a Blue Raspberry fan…I think he feels he should like the most “manly” color.  My daughter is now 8 and my son is 10, so they have become more and more able to take medication without the hysteria we used to experience but the process is much less stressful with the help of KidKupz.

Anyway, we really want to hear your stories and your experiences so please keep in touch!

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Posted in KidKupz News

Eyes Wide Open

Posted July 2nd, 2009 by Jill Addeo | No Comments »

Recently, a parent at my children’s school told me about an episode of the series Frontline on PBS. The episode is entitled “Growing Up Online – Just how radically is the internet transforming the experience of childhood.”   This parent insisted that it was something every parent should see. My first reaction was that it was premature given that my children are only 10 and 9. They do spend some time on a computer but one that is in a common room in our house, not unattended in their bedrooms. We have all sorts of parental controls installed and only my 10 year old is allowed email and only to a very limited number of addresses. The truth is, he’s not even that interested in anything on line other than looking up sports trivia or some online sports games. I know that their desire for rabid emailing and text messaging awaits me but I just didn’t think it was something to worry about just yet.

A few months later, I came across the PBS website while doing some research on another subject and there I found video links to the Frontline episodes and took a look. I consider myself to be pretty aware of what’s going on in the world and very in touch with what my children are up to and still, I was shocked. I urge you all to watch it when you have a chance, not for the shock value, but because I’m a believer that it’s always best to have your eyes wide open.

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Posted in In the Media, Parenting Tips