Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Protect Your Family During Flu Season

Achoo!  Last week, I began writing an article about how to protect your family from the flu.  Ironically, that very day before I finished writing, I began experiencing flu-like symptoms.  How could that be?  I wash my hands so frequently the skin is cracked in several places. 

Hand-washing, isn’t the only way to protect your family against the flu, but it is one of the most important.  Below are tips that can help protect your family against this season’s flu outbreak, which is now well underway.

Avoid touching your mouth, nose, and eyes.  Touching an infected person or item and then putting your hands on these areas is a sure fire way to spread the infection.

Cover up!  The flu virus can be easily spread by infected persons who cough and sneeze without covering up, so protect yourself.  Turn your head, cover your mouth and nose, and wash your hands, if possible, when someone near you sneezes or coughs.  Better safe than sick!

Get the flu shot.  Although it’s late January, it is still not too late to get the flu vaccine.  It is also now easier than ever with most pharmacies offering them at low cost and with no appointment necessary.

Limit close contact with those infected.  I know this is easier said than done, since infected persons may not exhibit symptoms the first day or so.  It’s even more difficult to stay away when someone in your household is infected and relying on you for care.  Wearing latex gloves and using disinfectant wipes can help prevent the spread of flu between your sick loved ones and their caretakers.

So you’ve done everything you could to protect yourself and you still end up with the flu.  Now what?

Drink plenty of broth and tea.  These are great ways to get extra fluids and lower your body’s temperature.  While drinking something hot may not seem logical when your temperature is already high, it does help to promote healing.  The heat from these hot drinks causes perspiration, which works to lower your temperature and soothe your sore throat.  Herbal and decaf teas work best, so stay away from caffeinated drinks and they dehydrate the body.

Drink plenty of electrolyte-rich fluids.  If you’re having bouts of vomiting and diarrhea, replenish lost electrolytes with drinks such as Powerade and Gatorade.

Use steam baths to aide in decongestion.  These can be purchased at most grocers and pharmacies for under $20.  You can also achieve the steam bath effect by turning your shower water to the highest temperature, closing the bathroom door, and inhaling and exhaling deeply to clear the lungs.  Be careful to limit your time in the steam to no more than 10 minutes to avoid exhaustion.

Get lots of rest.  Remember that it takes at least two weeks to fully recover from the flu, but your recovery may take longer if you do not get enough rest when the symptoms first hit.

Let’s chat and share your home remedies.

Love to all!

CC

6 Tips for Photo Shoot Success

Guest blogger Heather Steward of Heather Steward Photography captures memories and the essence of the subjects that she photographs by choosing perfect settings for each occasion. 

You can help achieve the perfect look for your photo session by following these 6 tips that Heather recommends. 

1.) If children will be in your photo shoot, make sure they are well-rested and fed before your photo session.  It’s also a great idea to bring toys, food, drinks, etc. to keep the babies happy.  (If your child gets sick before your session, it’s better to call the photographer to reschedule than to tote your sickly baby or child to this kind of activity.)

2.) Have clothes, hairstyles etc. planned before the day.  If you plan to have more than one person in the photographs, coordinate color choices and styles.  Also, select clothing that will complement the intended setting and mood.

3.) Be on time.  Often photographers will book more than one photo shoot per day – only leaving a 15-30 min gap between.  Arriving on time will help to ensure that you don’t lose your time slot.

4.) Wear solid colors, they are the easiest to capture. Black and white looks good with blue jeans.  Also, children look best in vibrant multi-colors.

5.) If you have time, research and know what poses you want or like. Most photographers would be more than happy to accept print-offs so they can try to re-create the photo you bring.

6.) If bringing pets, have an extra person come along to help. Sometimes they can be a handful!

Visit the Heather Steward Photography website  and Facebook page for more information.

How Do You Prepare for Snow Days?

As the Midwest plans for another snowstorm, children and adults take the prediction of frozen precipitation differently.  The younger crowd looks forward to a day off from school, while the older bunch tends to wonder about how or if they’ll commute to work in a treacherous, wintry mess. 

The night before a storm, children all over town use at least one of the following rituals to brew up a day off from readin’, writin’, and ‘rithmetic:

  • Sleeping at the foot of the bed, with pajamas inside out and backwards 
  • Flushing ice cubes down a toilet
  • Sleeping with spoons under their pillows (see inside out PJ’s FB page if you want to “Like” this)
  • Freezing white crayons then placing it under tbeir pillow before going to bed for the night
  • Doing snow dances

All of these traditions are supposed to lead to a day of sledding, building snowmen and forts, making snow angels, and lobbing snowballs at both willing and unwilling targets.  For those who aren’t into winter sports, there is video-gaming, movie-watching, or sleeping on the agenda.

Mom and dad’s snow day plans probably aren’t as carefree.  While kids are thinking of fun, mom and dad may be stocking up on grocery items, rounding up shovels and salt, restocking firewood, and filling up their gas tanks before what is not-so-affectionately now known as “white death”.  I admit that I did these things, but now that I’m done, bring onthe snow!

Oh, I don’t have a sled yet!  Gotta go!

Let’s chat!  How do you prepare for and spend snow days?

Love to all!

CC

Family Dinner

How many times per week does your family have dinner together?  With busy work and activity schedules, it can be difficult to sit face-to-face with everyone each night of the week.  However, having dinner with your family creates memories that can last a lifetime. 

I’m the super silly one in my house, so antics like kicking my husband (gently) under the table, making funny faces, and saying long prayers while everyone eagerly waits to dive into dinner lightens the mood for an event that could sometimes seem too formal for children.

I love having dinner with my family, because it allows us to spend undivided time together to discuss what’s on our minds, and pray together.  Speaking of praying, one tradition that we established is for one person at the table to give thanks, offer praises, and pray for the needs of our family as well as those of others.  We work our way around the table until we begin the rotation again six days later (we’re a family of six).  Another tradition that we tried was to for each person present to compliment someone else at the table.  Initially, we tried to do that for every person every night.  Needless to say with six people having to compliment five other people each night, dinner was cold by the time we were done.

How to Make Meals Enjoyable

  • Ask about each other’s day
  • Get input from each member of the family for meal plans
  • Ignore the telephone and turn off the television
  • Keep your meals simple and save the multi-course meals for the holidays
  • Save serious topics of discussion for family meetings
  • Set mood music; in our house, it’s Christian music

Family meals are believed to positively impact your children’s grades, bring about lower levels of stress, instill better table manners, and encouraghealthy eating habits.  So why not begin the tradition of family meals in your household today?

Let’s chat!

Love to all!

CC

Do Your Children Have Chores?

I often hear parents grumble about the abundance of chores around the house, but am astounded at how many families don’t require children to do chores. 

Now, I didn’t have children, so that I could have little maids and chefs running around.  I had them, because my maternal instinct told me that it was my primary purpose in life.  Nothing else I accomplish will ever rate higher than being a mom.  That said, children a part of a family unit and where I’m from, each family member chips in to keep the household running.

The children’s television show Barney made cleaning up popular for the young crowd with the annoying, yet highly effective, Clean Up song.  This song inspired the preschool and elementary crowd to “do your share” of cleaning up after themselves. 

Teaching children to clean up after themselves shouldn’t be considered punishment.  It’s simply instilling responsibility and providing skills that will follow them for a lifetime.

When I was in grade school, teachers rewarded students who had clean workspaces.  The same held true for summer camp where we earned “golden nuggets” (spray painted rocks) for working with our fellow campers to ensure that our cabins were clean.  In college, we had weekly room inspections.  Failure to regularly pass room inspection was punishable by eviction from the dorms.  Ouch!  In places of employment, clean workspaces help keep us organized and productive.

Helpful strategies for achieving chore success:

  • Post a chore chart in the heart of the house (family room, kitchen, etc.) and meet with your chidren often to discuss their roles in completing household chores.  Put your chores on the schedule as well, so that they can see that you, too, play a vital role in keeping the house clean. 
  • Do not complete your child’s chores if they decide to throw a tantrum.  Doing so will send the wrong message.  Instead, remind them that their help benefits the entire family; remember to praise them along the way and immediately after.
  • Give your children age-appropriate chores.  Don’t expect a 5 year-old to make a perfect and neat bed.  Instead, praise them for doing their best.  In time, they will perfect the art of making a bed to your liking.  Maybe.

Need help determining age-appropriate chores?  Annie Stewart of WebMD suggests the following:

Chores for children ages 2 to 3

  • Put toys away.
  • Put clothes in hamper.

Chores for children ages 4 to 5

Any of the above chores, plus:

  • Make own bed.
  • Fix bowl of cereal.

Chores for children ages 6 to 7

Any of the above chores, plus:

  • Sort laundry.
  • Help make and pack lunch.
  • Keep bedroom tidy.
  • Pour own drinks.

Chores for children ages 8 to 9

Any of the above chores, plus:

  • Put away groceries.
  • Vacuum.
  • Make own snacks.
  • Wash table after meals.
  • Put away own laundry.
  • Make own breakfast.
  • Cook simple foods, such as toast.

Chores for children ages 10 and older.

Any of the above chores, plus:

  • Unload dishwasher.
  • Fold laundry.
  • Clean bathroom.
  • Wash windows.
  • Cook simple meal with supervision.
  • Iron clothes.
  • Do laundry.
  • Mow lawn.
  • Change bed.

Remember to balance the amount and difficulty of chores with other obligations, such as homework, extracurricular activities, work (for teens), social needs, and family activities.  Revisit the chore schedule periodically to determine whether or not it is effective.  Talk to your children to get their input, tweak the schedule, when necessary, and be sure to announce any changes during your family meeting. 

Do your children have chores?  If so, are tantrums, tears, and headaches part of the routine?  How do you overcome those challenges?

Let’s chat! 

Love to all!

CC

Positive News Reports

“If it bleeds it leads.”  I get it, some people thrive on death, drama, and crime, but not all of us.  I’d love to be able to watch news reports without having to switch to another channel, because one of my children walks into the room.  Besides, I want to hear good news…a lot of good news!

So, I hunted for web sites that deliver just what I crave – good news.  The people behind Happy News find good news stories, from their own sources as well as others, and put them into one convenient place.  One of yesterday’s headlines was “School Finds 340-Year Old Bible“.  Credit to CNN for this story; now if only they could seek more feel-good news and report it, report it, report it.  Enough of the Nancy Grace doom and gloom!

How about another great story where University of Pennsylvania students distributed coats to needy children?  Operation Warm is an organization that reaches out to children in 26 states in conjunction with a wide range of organizations that have the ability to reach deep into some of the country’s neediest communities.  Good news stories aren’t just for entertainment purposes, they serve to inform.  Maybe this story will help if you have (or know of) a child in need of a warm coat.  Or, maybe it will incite you to make good on your promise to do more for your neighbors.

It’s true, good news happens around the globe every day.  Unfortunately, most news outlets don’t report it often and at length.  If I were to sponsor a news broadcast, I don’t think I’d want my product advertisement to follow a report of the lastest bloodbath.  Imagine it: “This gory, bloody message was brought to you by Best Books Network!”.  I don’t think so…

Maybe the lack of good and wholesome programming is the reason why I watch a ton of home improvement shows.  The content is great, the commercials are relevant, and the programming is kid-friendly without being Nick Jr News-ish.

If Happy News begins televising their reports, I am SO there!

Chime in with your thoughts.

Love to all!

CC

Are Day Jobs a Thing of the Past?

So much for working 9-5 each day.  Advances in technology make it easier than ever to work outside of the office.  But is that a good thing?

My corporate job comes with many great perks, such as the ability to work from home.  However, along with the perk of being able to work at home comes the expectation that I am available to work days, evenings, weekends, vacations, and holidays.  Sadly, I don’t feel singled out, because these same expectations hold true for those who commute to the office each day.

Since when is it OK for companies to expect  workers to be available around the clock 365 days of the year?  Sure, my company offers paid time off (PTO), holidays, and other kinds of paid leave, but what about their policy regarding allowing employees to take uninterrupted time off work to refresh our minds, souls, and bodies?  Not much relaxation and rejuvination can happen when someone shoots off an email at an ungodly hour and expects an expedient response.

What about “leave” is so hard to understand?  Children get the concept, but unfortunately for them, that trend is going away, thus their definition of time off will inevitably evolve.  Christmas and spring breaks bring about required reading and packets of seemingly endless homework.  In addition, school districts are begining to allow teachers to conduct class remotely when schools are closed.  So much for good ol’ snow days filled with enjoying movies and cocoa, shoveling, sledding, snowball fights, making snow angels and snowmen.  Children are learning that time off for relaxation and rejuvination is a bad thing, a lazy thing.  And that, to me, is a bad idea.

How’s your job?  Is there an expectation that you’ll to respond to messages late at night, thumb through text messages on your cell phone, and type reports as soon as you get home from your office while juggling kids homework and making dinner?

Is work-life balance even possible?  Susan Davis, author of five books, about health, well-being, education, and business doesn’t believe it is.  In her article, The Myth of Work-Life Balance, she writes, “researchers have found, American workers are spending more and more time on work, and less and less time on life — to an understandably detrimental effect”. 

Susan offers the following “Takeaway Tips” that help her strive for balance.

Figure out the foundation: In order to be inspired and productive in my work life, as well as clear and kind with my family, I need good exercise, deep sleep, and time for reflection. Other people might need massages, time with friends, six meals a day, protein drinks, regular knitting sessions, weekly poker games, or afternoon naps. What do you need to feel balanced, energized and productive?

Fine-tune the details: On some days I can’t get off first base without hearing Bill Withers’ version of Use Me. (Not a healthy emotional theme, I know, but the rhythm moves me.) Other days I can’t hit my stride unless I spend a few minutes outside, watching the clouds and listening to the hens. And there’s many a day when I can’t gather my thoughts without a cup of very strong, very hot coffee—in a the grey earthenware mug that was made by a potter in my hometown. The point? Identify what you need in the moment and try to provide it for yourself.

Go for what you need: I know some of you are reading this and thinking, “I have no time.” I have no time either — unless I understand that taking care of myself (that’s my body, my mind, and my spirit, by the way) allows me to work better, live better, and feel better. In other words, self care doesn’t take away from our work and life; it enhances it.

Do you have any self-care routines that help you survive the nearly seamless divide between work and life?  Let’s talk!

Love to all!

CC