mask-157574_640By the time you read this, I will be in Costa Rica on an exciting vacation with the hubby and our two cheeky monkeys…or possibly rocking back and forth while curled in a ball alternating between laughter and tears, having just traveled several hours on a plane with the aforementioned cheeky monkeys. This, of course, is an exaggeration (as you may have noticed, I am sometimes prone to exaggeration). The monkeys, though still only in elementary school, have become quite the seasoned travelers, having already traipsed all over the United States many times, and even to Ireland once. This, however, is their first trip where English is not the primary language, and I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit to being a bit nervous.

Though the hubby and I have been doing a lot to get our ducks in a row (everything from organizing travel documents, to making sure that there will be things our one very picky eater will eat, to arranging accommodations, to making sure we’ve purchased1 some reading material to distract the kids en route), we know and accept that, inevitably, something unplanned for will come up. Parenting is definitely not an exact science, and all the preparation in the world is still sometimes not enough.

This is RidiculousThat seems to be at the heart of a delightful little book I recently came across at HCLS: This Is Ridiculous This Is Amazing: Parenthood in 71 Lists by Jason Good. Full of lists with titles such as “How to Defend Yourself Against a Toddler Attack,” “What We’ve Googled,” “Signs That You’re a Bad Parent,” and, one of my personal favorites, “Reasons Your Toddler May be Freaking Out,” this book reminded me of some of the very frustrating and very funny early days of parenting. Even now that my kids are a bit older, there’s still plenty of humor, but the frustration factor has definitely gone down as we’ve learned to just roll with it.2

The book is mainly made up of these light-hearted lists, with the occasional mini-lesson, such as “The Arithmetic of Parenting”–apparently there are formulas for parenting that include variables such as “LI” (likelihood of injury) and CSC (current state of comfort), and “How to Threaten Your Child Effectively”–self explanatory. Remembering to laugh along the way is sometimes, I feel, the best way to get though the trickier times of family life.

Jason Good’s little book certainly brought plenty of smiles and a much-needed reminder that I’m not the only parent out there that thinks less than motherly thoughts on occasion. If you need such a reminder, a sanity check, or just a good laugh, you may also want to check out Someone Could Get Hurt: A Memoir of Twenty-First Century Parenting, Naptime Is the New Happy Hour: And Other Ways Toddlers Turn Your Life Upside Down, The Three-Martini Playdate: A Practical Guide to Happy Parenting, The Sweet Potato Queens’ Guide to Raising Children for Fun and Profit, and I Heart My Little A-Holes: A Bunch of Holy-Crap Moments No One Ever Told You about Parenting.

1 As a dedicated employee of HCLS and a member of a family that consumes books pretty rapidly, I am a firm believer in getting most of our reading materials from the library. However, I am not foolish enough to think that books will not get misplaced, damaged, or completely obliterated during world travel with children. We make the purchase to help mitigate another one of those unforeseen, unplanned for events that seems to come with parenthood.

2 Many of our friends with older kids have warned us that the frustration factor will come back into play in the teen years–let’s hope the humor also increases during these years.

Joanne Sobieck-Lingg is glad to blog about her many, disparate interests (though expert in none, except maybe parenthetical asides). In past lives, she was a writer, proofreader, editor, project manager, teacher, and even co-coordinator of a certain health blog. She has been happily ensconced among the fiction and teen books at the Central Branch of HCLS since 2003.

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breastfeeding tips

Dr. Natalia Colón Guzmán is an OB/GYN on staff at Howard County General Hospital. Also a mother of two, she shares her struggles with breastfeeding and the reasons she persisted until breastfeeding became a success. (Dr. Colón Guzmán with husband Eduardo Guzmán and daughters Susana and Ana Lucía.)

Breastfeeding may require some hard work, but it’s worth the effort says this OB/GYN and breastfeeding mom

In addition to being a mom of two, I am an obstetrician. So, I know how beneficial breastfeeding is to both mother and baby. When I had my firstborn, I was determined to breastfeed. Although it was more difficult than I expected, with assistance, I was able to be successful. If I can do it, anyone can.

Breastfeeding has long proven to be quite beneficial for both mother and infant. There is good evidence that it can influence many aspects of an infant’s life, including overall health, risk of infections, risk of obesity in the future and many others. Breast milk helps strengthen infants’ immune systems, which is why infants who are exclusively breastfed have fewer visits to doctors and hospitals for illnesses. Some studies even suggest that the longer a baby is breastfeed, the higher the child’s IQ could be later in life.

There are also many benefits to the mother, including helping to achieve a quicker recovery from delivery and reducing her levels of stress. It can enhance weight loss for many mothers and can be a method of birth control, although not quite perfect. Breastfeeding can reduce the risks of maternal ovarian and breast cancer and it is also good for the household economy as it is free (it is estimated it can save $1,000 in one year).

While it has many benefits, breastfeeding can, unfortunately, be challenging for many mothers. Sometimes the infant has issues, such as a tongue tie or congenital deformities, and sometimes the mother can have problems, such as flat nipples and low milk supply. Some women have to work very hard to achieve their breastfeeding goals.

When I had my first child, my milk came in a bit later than expected and the baby was not gaining as much weight as the pediatrician wanted. It was very hard work for me; I had to pump and supplement feedings with my own milk, but perseverance is one of my personality traits and I sought support and was able to pull through. Now I am breastfeeding my second child, and it is so natural to me that it feels as if I have been doing it my whole life.

In order to be successful at breastfeeding, I think it is important to take care of yourself. Eat well, stay hydrated by drinking lots of fluids/water, take your vitamins, and rest as much as you can. It is important to be persistent, even if the breastfeeding is not going as planned. In my practice, I find many women give up easily. I know how they feel…I almost gave up myself. But, a good lactation consultant, pediatrician and/or a lactation support group, will help women pull through and allow them many months of successful breastfeeding.

Howard County General Hospital hosts a Breastfeeding Support Group every Wednesday, 12:30-2:30 p.m. in our Wellness Center. No appointment is needed.

Natalia Colón Guzmán, M.D., FACOG, is an OB/GYN on staff at Howard County General Hospital. She and her husband, Eduardo Guzmán, are the proud parents of two little girls, Susana and Ana Lucía.

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pool safety tipsFor many, summer means pool time! Though splashing around with family and friends is a highlight of the summer, it is important to keep pool safety and caution in mind. With drownings and pool injuries a valid concern, make water safety your first priority.

Follow these simple guidelines to keep pool time safe and fun for everyone:

  1. Never allow children near or in the water unattended, even if lifeguards are present
  2. Make it a rule for your kids to never go in or near the water without an adult nearby
  3. Teach your child to swim or sign them up for swimming lessons
  4. Designate a water watcher. Choose a responsible person to keep an eye on the water every time children are in or near the water
  5. Make sure your child knows basic water safety skills
  6. Stay in arm’s reach of young children
  7. Have young children who are inexperienced in swimming wear a life jacket near the pool
  8. Learn CPR!
  9. Make your child wait at least 30 minutes after eating to swim
  10. Establish safe pool rules and enforce them such as: no running near the pool, always swim with a buddy and no diving
  11. Make sure children know that drains and suction fittings in the pool or hot tub are always off limits
  12. If you have a pool in your back yard, make sure there is proper fencing and/or barriers around it
  13. Always wear sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30

By following these simple safety guidelines, you are sure to have a summer full of fun at the pool and create great memories!

 


Resources: Poolsafety.gov and the American Red Cross


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road trip snacks

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9 Healthy Snack Tips for Your Summer Road Trip

Summertime means road trip time! Here are some great ideas to fight off those snack attacks, and keep your energy up, too!  Plan your snack pack before you hit the highway to avoid unhealthy fast food stops and remember that a small insulated cooler is a must have.

  1. It’s A Wrap! Sandwiches can add protein and hearty grains to your diet. Keep wraps made with meat and cheese or hummus or veggies in a cooler.  Other options, like peanut butter and jelly on whole grain, can be kept at room temperature.
  2. Keeping It Cool: Yogurt. Whether it’s in a tube, made into a low-fat smoothie or mixed with fruit or granola, keep these road trip snacks in the cooler. It’s great snack for kids and adults.
  3. Hot On The Trail. Make trail mix at home that keeps well in a storage container with a lid.  Combine granola, raw nuts, seeds and dried fruits. Add a few dark chocolate chips for sweetness or wasabi peas for spice!
  4. Healthy Can Be Gouda, Too: low fat cheese, string cheese, single serve cottage cheese or cheese cubes. There are many low-fat cheeses, or soy or nut-based cheeses for those who are lactose intolerant. Prep cheese slices at home before and toss in the cooler. Pair with your favorite crackers you portion ahead of time, making it “snack-friendly” for the car.
  5. Dip It! Veggie Style. Fresh veggies can be sliced and stored in an insulated cooler. Road trip choices include cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, broccoli florets, cucumbers, celery and snap peas.  Add peanut butter or hummus as a dip to add good fats and protein, too.
  6. Energy Bars….Sweet! Replace those candy bars with an energy or granola bar. Protein and fiber, now that’s a healthier choice.
  7. Fruits, For Sure. Trip-friendly fruits that have been washed and sliced at home are a quick go-to from the cooler. Grapes and berries are finger-sized already. Others can be cubed and stored in containers, or eaten whole.
  8. Thirst Quenchers. Healthy beverages kept on ice are really nice on the road. Water, seltzer, 100 percent vegetable and fruit juices are the way to go.
  9. Go nuts! Craving crunchy? Pistachios, almonds, walnuts, whatever your favorite nut may be. Or go for sunflower or pumpkin seeds, air popped popcorn or rice cakes.
Karen Sterner is special events coordinator at Howard County General Hospital. She is an experienced traveler, having taken many road trips with her family.

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10662095145_08f4655cb6_zI’m ready for summer. Are you? My youngest son is the only one in my family still in school, so I feel a bit guilty each morning when I have to wake him up. His last day of school isn’t until June 19! The other night, though, it was my daughter who woke me up because she was not feeling well. I felt her head, and sure enough her forehead felt warm. Then came the tough part—finding a thermometer, or should I say, a working thermometer. I was able to find two thermometers, but the batteries were dead. Luckily (or so I thought), I remembered that I had sent each of my oldest kids off to college with a first aid bin that included a thermometer. I asked my daughter and my oldest son to find the bin that had their first aid stuff in it. Both of them answered simultaneously, “ I don’t know where that is. I never used any of that stuff. Are you sure you gave it me?” Finally, in the back of the cupboard in the bathroom I found a temporal artery thermometer, which I had a vague recollection of buying. We were not sure if this thermometer was working, but my daughter’s temperature registered almost four degrees higher than mine, so I felt it was safe to say she had a fever. She was also complaining that her neck was bothering her. I started Googling her symptoms and discovered a plethora of possible illnesses, most very unlikely.

I called my sister, who is a nurse, and she said, “It’s probably important to make sure you get a thermometer that you can count on.” As my kids would say “Thanks, Captain Obvious!” In my defense, I thought I had a working thermometer. My sister also reminded me of the risks of trying to diagnose an illness based on information I found on the internet. She told me to call my daughter’s doctor for a professional opinion.

The doctor thinks my daughter’s infection may have been caused by a bite she had gotten on her foot earlier that day in the grassy area at the pool. Anytime you are outside, you are at risk for infection. Most of us spend more time outside in the summer months than we do during the rest of the year. There are things we can do to keep safe and healthy. After all, we survived a long, cold winter– we deserve to enjoy the warmer weather.

Biting and stinging insects come out in force in the summer months. Most bites are harmless and cause only minor discomfort, but some bites can carry disease. One of the things we can do when we are going to be outdoors is to wear insect repellent. It’s prudent to keep your legs and arms covered as much as possible if you are going to be near wooded areas and grasslands or if you are going to be outside at dawn or dusk, when insects are most active. It’s also smart to remove insect breeding grounds, such as standing water, from around your home and to keep your garbage tightly covered. Everyone should get in the habit of carefully checking for ticks after being outdoors. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Lyme Disease is the most commonly reported tick-born disease in the United States. You can find more information on bites and stings here. You can also check the library for books on Lyme Disease. If you develop a fever or skin rash, please call your doctor.

If you do get bitten it’s a good idea to have some items in your first aid kit to treat any bites, stings, or skin inflammation. Some of the things to include in your kit are: a flat edged object to remove stingers, tweezers, an instant cold compress, antiseptic wipes, calamine lotion, antihistamine cream, an assortment of bandages, aloe vera gel, and of course, a working thermometer! Make sure you have one kit at home and one kit in the car or to pack in your suitcase. Now is a good time to check your first aid kit(s) and replace any used or expired items. A more comprehensive list of essentials to have in your first aid kit(s) can be found here.

Hopefully, the only temperature above 98.6 degrees that will need to go down this summer is the temperature outside. Have a safe, healthy, fun-filled summer everyone!

Editor’s Note: Please consult your family physician when experiencing symptoms of illness or discomfort. In case of emergency please call 911.

Nancy Targett is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Miller Branch. She lives in Columbia and is the proud mom of three boys and a girl and a Siamese cat.

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sports injuriesJohns Hopkins pediatricians present the free seminar, “Caring for the Young Athlete,” Wednesday, April 8 from 6-8:30 p.m. (dinner included) in the Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center

Super Bowl Sunday has long since come and gone and, with it, the intense media frenzy on sports-related injuries and NFL players who have suffered brain injuries as a result of multiple concussions playing the game.

If you have children who play sports in school or in your community, you know that professional football players are not the only athletes affected by the growing number of sports-related injuries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), concussions and related injuries increased by 60 percent in the past 10 years and hospital emergency departments across the U.S. treat approximately 173,285 children and adolescents every year for traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), including concussions. In school settings alone, nearly 715,000 sports and recreation injuries occur each year.

In recognition of National Youth Sports Safety Month in April, Johns Hopkins pediatricians will present a seminar on “Caring for the Young Athlete” on April 8 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. (a complementary dinner is at 6 p.m.) in the Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center, to provide education on the prevention, evaluation and rehabilitation of sports-related injuries. Physicians who specialize in orthopaedics, sports medicine, neurosurgery, surgery and physical therapy will discuss signs and symptoms of more serious conditions and when you should seek medical help.

Register for the “Caring for the Young Athlete” seminar. Visit the Stop Sports Injuries website for tips on how you can help prevent sports injuries in your children and in their schools.

 

 


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