Friday, October 23, 2015

trying to make my son grow up

some decisions are hard. when you are a twelve year old, caught in the middle of childhood and the teen years, every decision seems hard. this month, my son has been faced with what to him seems the impossible choice. there is a church camp scheduled for the last weekend of october, a church camp with archery, laser tag, games, sports, friends...all amazing things. on the other hand, if he goes to the church retreat, he will miss halloween, dressing up, trick-or-treating with friends, and all the fun that includes. when i explained that the camp was over halloween weekend, my sons's entire countenance fell. "why would they do that? it is probably one of my last chances to ever dress up for halloween and get to trick or treat. why would they take that away from me?" it's a good question.

i can already hear the comments from people. "why is that a big deal?" "isn't he kind of big to be dressing up for halloween anyway?" "i think it's a no-brainer." "i know what i would do." and all of that is wonderful. sitting from an adult perspective and looking back, i know what i would do too. looking at it from the point of a 12 year old, i can understand the angst. everywhere my son goes, he is being told to grow up, be responsible, take control of his own school work, earn his own money, prepare for the future. he is being told to grow up, give up childish things, be as adult as possible. all the while, he is 12. twelve. years. old.

do you remember what it was like when we were twelve?  i realize we live in a different era but when i was 12, i was still playing tether ball. i didn't have pierced ears, or shave my legs or wear makeup. i still ran around outside and played hide-and-seek or wall ball or kick ball. i was still allowed to be a kid. now everywhere i turn, well meaning people are trying to get my child to act older, be older, grow up.

it seems the majority of those urging my son to grow up fall in two different categories. so, for those with babies not yet big enough to walk away or for those with grown kids already gone, let me just remind you of what it is like.

one day your sweet baby will walk into kindergarten orientation. they will let go of your hand they were holding and will look up full of bravery declaring, "you don't need to hold my hand anymore, mommy. i'm a big boy..." and you will struggle to breathe for the next several hours. one day that sweet infant that you hold in your arms will learn to walk and run. with that new found independence you will learn that they can walk away from you. that first realization is a sign of many moments of leaving to come. one day that sweet child you dress up as a princess or a dinosaur will look at costumes and declare themselves too old for halloween. you will see the sadness in their eyes with the realization and their own longing to still participate in the activities of childhood. one day that child that comes bounding off the bus with a huge smile and an even bigger hug for you will embarrassedly glance your way if he sees you in front of his friends. one day that sweet child who jumps up and down when you chaperone their field trips will ask you, politely, if you could not chaperone anymore. one day slobbery wet kisses on the lips will turn to forced pecks on the cheek. one day they will pile their belongings into a college dorm room and you will realize you won't see them everyday or live under the same roof ever again. one day they will be grown up and stay that way...and i for one am in no hurry to rush that.

so for today, i'm going to let my son be twelve. i'm going to encourage him to ride his bike or skateboard, to play tag and basketball. i'm going to encourage the watching of silly movies and the reading of adventure books. i'll laugh at his silly jokes and make time for fun and play every chance i get. i'm going to squeeze out hugs and kisses and giggles. i'm going to let him be twelve and enjoy the last years of childhood for my oldest. and i'd like to ask you to do the same. he will be grown up soon enough and will never be able to go back to childhood again. how about we all let him enjoy it?

Monday, October 19, 2015

ear infection? 5 tips from a pro.

we have received promotional consideration from kinsa, inc. as always, the opinions are our own. 

we are no strangers to fevers in our home. my eldest battled with severe ear infections and ended up with two sets of ear tubes (best thing we ever did) in addition to his adenoids being removed. ear infections combined with febrile seizures means i have had more battles with 104+ temps than i can count in my years as a mama. 

when up against middle of the night fevers, the following have been life savers for my family:

the hardest part of the entire process was having the mental capacity to track temperatures to log for visits to the the doctors or emergency room. if i had had a kinsa smart thermometer at the time, life would have been so much easier! 

the kinsa smart thermometers work seamlessly with your smart phone to give an accurate read out and automatically saves a record of the temps taken, times and symptoms so that you can easily show the doctor in your sleepless haze. in addition to their current model thermometer for oral, underarm and rectal temperature taking, kinsa has just released an ear thermometer to offer another alternative to temperature taking. it's honestly a genius product that both of us here at the third boob are *obsessed* with using for our own families. 

give it a try---you truly won't be sorry, no matter what the ages of your children. 

2.  a frozen washcloth

a frozen washcloth can be a great thing to help bring down fevers. my littles found it soothing and it really helped reduce fevers as well. (frozen washcloths also are great for teething). 

here are a few simple steps to freezing a washcloth:

step 1
saturate three-quarters of a clean washcloth with water.
step 2
wring the water out of the washcloth so it's not dripping wet. 
step 3
fold the washcloth into thirds and fourths and slip it inside a ziploc plastic bag. to keep the washcloth clean and prevent it from sticking to the shelves of your freezer.

step 4
place the washcloth in your freezer and leave it for an hour or two, or until needed.
step 5
remove the frozen washcloth from the plastic bag and use when needed. :-) 

a humidifier can really help with congestion. essential oils can work great in these as well. if you know someone who uses oils, have a talk with them about what the right combination can be to help. 

saline nose drops  can also help a lot with congestion and have worked wonders with my littles when colds and inevitable ear infections strike. 

5. pain relievers 

of course, consult your doctor for the correct amount of dosage and timing, but figuring out that i could alternate the usage of both tylenol and motrin and even use them at the same time was mind-blowing and drastically changed my fever battling odds for the better.

all of this being said, i am not a doctor. these are the things that worked best for us, but please consult with your doctor first, as we did ours. 

wishing your little one(s) feel better soon!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

is this the flu?

this is a sponsored post by the lovely people at minute clinic. as always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

cold and flu season is upon us. i'm still in my summertime denial of any and all germs and am firmly believing that my kids will be healthy throughout the season. still, i live with five children, all in school with other children and i'm very aware that at this time of year, my house resembles a petri dish of infestations.

i've already had my one sweet girl out for the count this weekend. she was all set to go away to camp for the weekend and came home night one with a 102 degree temperature. lots of rest and some good medication and she was good to go by monday but i know that isn't always the case and we are not always so fortunate. she only had a bad cold this weekend and we were thankful there were no flu symptoms to make things worse.

pets make everyone feel better.

that got me thinking. what is the difference between the cold and the flu and how can we best prevent a flu outbreak in our own homes. here are some tips.

what is the flu?

the flu is a respiratory infection caused by a virus. it can develop very quickly and with the flu, you almost always have a fever. other common symptoms include headache, sore throat, dry cough, stuffy or runny nose and muscle aches. sounds awesome, doesn't it?

certain people are at a greater rise for complications with the flu. seniors, pregnant women, young children and those with health complications like asthma or diabetes are at a high risk for the flu. if you think you might have the flu, check with your doctor or a minute clinic practitioner to have a flu test done.

outbreaks of the flu can start as early as october and usually peak around january. the flu can spread before someone even realizes they are sick since most healthy adults can infect others one day before and up to five-seven days after becoming sick. for children and those with weakened immune systems, that period can be even longer. 

the flu vaccine

one key way to prevent the flu is with a flu vaccine. some of my kids got vaccinated at their yearly check up with their pediatrician and others had their flu shot at our local cvs minute clinic. most insurance covers the flu shot completely and ours were free at both locations. the bonus of getting a flu shot at minute clinic is that we got a 20% off shopping pass when we got our flu shot  there (disclaimer: not available in MA, RI, PA and NY). 

there is some key information to know about the flu shot. 

  • you need to get a flu vaccine every year. a new vaccine is developed yearly to fight the strains that are most likely to be prevalent for the season. 
  • the cold weather has little to do with when flu season starts. outbreaks can happen as early as september and october. it takes two weeks for your body to develop the antibodies from the shot to provide protection. it's never too early to get the vaccine but you want to make sure you have it two weeks before flu breaks out.
  • the vaccine is made from a dead virus so it cannot give you the flu. if you get flu-like symptoms after getting the flu shot, it is likely you were exposed to the flu after getting the vaccine but before the vaccine took effect. 
  • the only real side effect of the flu vaccine might be soreness or redness at the injection site.

cold vs. flu

to first determine if you have a cold or the flu, check the symptoms:

symptom: fever

cold:fevers are rare
flu: fevers are usually present

symptom: chills

cold: uncommon
flu: fairly common

symptom: tiredness

cold: mild
flu: moderate to severe

symptom: onset of symptoms

cold: appear gradually
flu: can appear within 3-6 hours

symptom: coughing

cold: common
flu: common

symptom: sneezing

cold: common
flu: uncommon

symptom: stuffy nose

cold: common
flu: uncommon

symptom: runny nose

cold: sometimes
flu: common

symptom: sore throat

cold: common
flu: uncommon

symptom: general aches/pains

cold: slight
flu: common, often severe

symptom: chest discomfort

cold: mild to moderate
flu: often severe

symptom: headache

cold: mild
flu: common

what can we do to prevent the flu?

vaccination is the first line of defense from the flu. again, we love the cvs minute clinic because it is close, convenient, takes our insurance and i can get in the same day. it's also great as it is connected to an in store pharmacy so any medication i need can be purchased quickly and painlessly. with five kids, you know that is a plus in my book! just sign in at the kiosk and wait for the nurse practitioner to see you. easy and painless!

beyond the vaccine, making sure you and your family are eating right, exercising regularly, washing your hands and getting enough sleep each night can also help. the cdc recommends the following: 

  • wash your hands with soap and water often, especially after you cough or sneeze. scrub your wet, soapy hands for at least 20 seconds. 
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough and sneeze and discard of the tissue in the trash. sneeze into your sleeve if a tissue is not available.
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, as germs can spread easily that way.
  • avoid contact with those who are sick. flu is believed to be mainly spread from person-to-person contact (coughing and sneezing doesn't help).
  • if you are sick, stay home from work or school to keep others from getting infected.
  • disinfect surfaces: use a product that kills household germs and be sure to thoroughly wipe down handles, faucets, and all surfaces you touch often. don't forget your workspace and car. if you use public transportation, be sure to wash your hands as soon as you get to your destination.
  • if you think you might be sick, don't wait and see. get help right away. early flu treatment (within the first 72 hours of exposure to the virus) has been proven to reduce the length and severity of the illness. if you think you might have the flu or have been exposed to someone with the flu, see a health care professional right away.
i'm certainly hoping that with all our precautions, some help of some on guard essential oils, and a lot of germ killing we are going to bypass the flu completely this season. here's to hoping we all do the same!

Monday, October 12, 2015

legos: where to find the best deals, how to store them and awesome tables to build on

with two boys that are lego obsessed, i have become a mama lego ninja at finding the best deals, great lego tables, storage solutions and even how to build your own lego table on a budget. today, i pass on my research to all of you. with the holidays around the corner, these make *awesome* gifts. enjoy! xo 

if your kiddos are anything like mine, the *love* legos. lego storage has been a constant battle. they end up everywhere and hurt so dang much to step on! 

this storage chest was the perfect solution for us. the drawers are removable and i simply labeled each drawer with color names and then have a discard bin to sort through and put legos back into the chest at the end of the day. it took quite a bit of time to get them all sorted, but i am so happy i spent the time to do it! 

here are some other solutions and awesome ideas i found while researching that i had to pass along:

build your own lego or duplo lego table easily and on a budget:

i have found that you can find some great deals on lego pieces, if you are willing to shop in bulk instead of the sets. check out these great, huge lego education sets i found for a fraction of the cost of normal sets that are not even this large:

 lego duplo: