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Making the Skies Kid-Friendly: How to stay grounded while flying with your kids

July 13, 2018 by  
Filed under Uncategorized


by Michele Fisher

Let’s face it: With TSA regulations, delays, and cramped conditions, air travel these days can be challenging even under the best of circumstances. But when you add children—and especially babies—to the mix, it can be downright daunting. If your family’s summer vacation plans include travel by plane, read on to make the skies a little more kid-friendly.

  • Book your flight for as early in the day as possible. That’s your best chance to avoid delays at takeoff and landing.
  • The temperature in airports and on planes can vary significantly, so dress yourself and your kids in layers. Also, if you have more than one child, consider dressing them in the same clothes, or at least the same color. This makes it so much easier to keep track of them.
  • Have your kids wear shoes with Velcro, not laces.
  • Make your diaper bag your carry-on. In addition to diapers, pack it with baby wipes, tissues, pacifiers, sippy cups, a change of clothes (for baby and you!), plastic bags (for diapers and dirty clothes), headphones, small toys and surprises (more on these later!), extra batteries or power packs, and a tablet/DVD player. If there’s still room, squeeze in a small pillow.
  • Seat your kids in the window seat or middle—away from the aisle. This means there’s less of a chance that their little hands and feet will get pinched by aisle traffic and beverage carts—and less chance that they’ll escape should you actually get a chance to nap.
  • For older kids, bring a lollipop or some gum. They help kids’ ears adjust to the pressure change during takeoff and landing.
  • At regular intervals during the flight (or when your kids start to show signs of an impending meltdown), pass out small toys and surprises you’ve hidden in your carry-on. These don’t need to be expensive or elaborate; it’s the novelty that’s appealing to kids. Options include fidget spinners and other small toys, crayons and coloring books, activity and word search books, stickers, and small Lego sets.
  • Food can keep kids occupied for an amazingly long time, so pack plenty of snacks in individual resealable plastic bags. To avoid spills, ask the flight attendant to pour whatever beverage your children will be having directly into their empty sippy cups.
  • When the plane finally lands, take your time disembarking. No doubt most passengers will jump up, grab their bags, and start crowding the aisle. Why join the chaos? Sit back, let everyone rush around you, and when the aisle finally starts to clear, slowly and calmly gather up your bags and your children and head for the exit ready to start your vacation with your sanity intact!

 

About the Author

Michele Fisher is the author of the Come Travel with Me book series, including Come Travel with Me: Philadelphia and Come Travel with Me: Chicago which she was inspired to create by her daughter’s interest in travel and willingness to be adventurous and try new things. Michele is from Chester County, Pennsylvania, where she resides with her husband, son, and daughter. She has worked in financial services for 25 years and travels frequently for her job. Michele loves traveling to new places with her family.

Family Fun and the City

July 4, 2018 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

Michele Fisher

Planning a family vacation this summer? Just because you’re traveling with kids doesn’t mean that your destination has to be a theme park. For a vacation that everyone in the family can enjoy (and that just might be educational, too!), consider a trip to one of our country’s amazing cities.

Cities offer a huge variety of activities for every member of the family, so chances are your biggest problem won’t be finding something to do, but figuring out how to fit in everything you want to do in the time you have. Here are some things to consider:

History. If you’re traveling to Philadelphia, for example, you’ll want to explore the city’s colonial history and role in the American Revolution. Check out Independence Hall, where America’s Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence. And don’t forget a visit to see the Liberty Bell or a stop at Betsy Ross’s home. Each American city has a unique history and story to tell, and most museums these days offer interactive, kid-friendly exhibits that will keep your children engaged and excited.

Hands-on fun. Just because you’re surrounded by sidewalks doesn’t mean your family can’t get outside for some fun combined with fitness. Many cities offer guided bike tours that will introduce you to sites you might have otherwise missed. Or, if you’re in Chicago, for example, you can rent Segways for your family and take a unique spin around the city. And speaking of Chicago, you can combine exercise and sightseeing by rollerblading—or walking or jogging—on the Lakefront Trail, which offers amazing views of Lake Michigan. Most cities have similar trail and park systems.

Food! If you really want to discover the “flavor” of a city, try its most famous cuisine. In Philly? You gotta have a soft pretzel and a cheesesteak. Chicago? It’s deep dish pizza time! Visiting Cincinnati? Try their own style of chili (served over spaghetti). Dallas? Hit the BBQ and queso. Boston? Try some of their iconic clam chowder and lobster. Okay, you get the picture. And I’m getting hungry.…

Tourist destinations. Sure, they’ll be crowded. And yes, they might be expensive. But they’re called destinations for a reason: Some city attractions offer such a unique experience that the memories your kids will take away from them are worth the hassle and expense. If you’re in Chicago, your trip won’t be complete without a spin on the Centennial Wheel and a visit to the Sky Deck of the Willis Tower. Going to NYC? Of course you need to see the Statue of Liberty and maybe take in a show on Broadway (depending on your kids’ ages). In LA? Get your pictures taken on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Rodeo Drive, or stroll along Santa Monica Pier. In Seattle? Time to visit the Space Needle and Pike Place Market.

Sports. If your family loves sports, take some time to support the local team. Some stadiums, such as Wrigley Field in Chicago, offer behind-the-scenes daily tours. Then relax and unwind spending an evening taking in a baseball game or soccer match as the sun sets.

About the Author

Michele Fisher is the author of the Come Travel with Me book series, including Come Travel with Me: Philadelphia and Come Travel with Me: Chicago which she was inspired to create by her daughter’s interest in travel and willingness to be adventurous and try new things. Michele is from Chester County, Pennsylvania, where she resides with her husband, son, and daughter. She has worked in financial services for 25 years and travels frequently for her job. Michele loves traveling to new places with her family.

The Rise of Spring Allergies: Fact or Fiction?

June 1, 2018 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

Several factors determine the severity of allergy season

 By Sonal R. Patel, M.D., M.S.

 

The spring 2018 allergy season could be the worst yet, or at least that’s what you might hear. Every year is coined as being the worst for allergy sufferers, but are spring allergies really on the rise?

 

There are many events that can help predict how bothersome the spring allergy season will be.  While it’s true that allergies are on the rise and affecting more Americans than ever, each spring isn’t necessarily worse than the last.

 

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI), 23.6 million Americans were diagnosed with hay fever in the last year. The prevalence of allergies is surging upward, with as many as 30 percent of adults and up to 40 percent of children having at least one allergy.

 

Following are factors that influence the severity of allergy season, along with some explanations about why more Americans are being diagnosed with allergies.

 

  • Climate Change: Recent studies have shown that pollen levels have been gradually increasing every year. Part of the reason for this is due to the changing climate. The warmer temperatures and mild winters cause plants to begin producing and releasing pollen earlier, making the spring allergy season longer. Rain can promote plant and pollen growth, while wind accompanying rainfall can stir pollen and mold into the air, heightening symptoms. The climate is not only responsible for making the allergy season longer and symptoms more bothersome, but it may also be partially to blame for the rise in allergy sufferers.

 

  • Priming Effect: A mild winter can trigger an early release of pollen from trees. Once allergy sufferers are exposed to this early pollen, their immune systems are primed to react to the allergens, meaning there will be little relief even if temperatures cool down before spring is in full bloom. This “priming effect” can mean heightened symptoms and a longer sneezing season for sufferers.

 

  • Hygiene Hypothesis: This theory suggests that exposure to bacterial by-products from farm animals, and even dogs, in the first few months of life reduces or delays the onset of allergies and asthma. Scientists theorize that because of the modern emphasis on cleanliness, children’s environments may be “too clean,” which might not allow their immune systems to be challenged and to develop properly. This may, in part, explain the increasing incidence of allergies worldwide in developed countries.

 

  • Allergy: The New Kleenex: Ever hear someone ask for a Kleenex instead of a tissue? Much like some people relate all tissues to Kleenex, many also blame runny noses, sneezing, and itchy eyes on allergies, even if they haven’t been accurately diagnosed. Increased awareness and public education about allergies can make it seem like nearly everyone has an allergy or is getting diagnosed with allergies, but it could be more of a public perception issue than you think.

 

While many allergy sufferers reach for over-the-counter medications to find relief, it’s best to visit a board-certified allergist if you believe you might have an allergy. An allergist can perform proper testing to accurately diagnose and treat your condition so the spring sneezing season doesn’t have to be bothersome.

 

Over-the-counter medications may work for those with mild symptoms, but they can cause a variety of unwanted side effects. For sufferers with persistent symptoms, treatment may include allergy shots, which not only provide symptom relief, but also modify and prevent disease progression.

 

If you think you might be one of the more than 50 million Americans who suffer from allergy and asthma, you can track your symptoms with the free online tool MyNasalAllergyJournal.org.

 

About the Author

Dr. Patel is a mom of twin daughters and a physician who specializes in pediatric/adult allergy and immunology with Adventist Health Physicians Network. She is also coauthor of the forthcoming Mommy MD Guide to Twins, Triplets, and More.

 

 

 

 

Double-Duty Spring Cleaning: Keep Healthy and Tidy

May 25, 2018 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

 

Seasonal ritual can also help ward off allergy and asthma symptoms

 

By Sonal R. Patel, M.D., M.S.

Spring cleaning can be more than a daunting chore for those with allergies and asthma. Dust, pet hair, and cleaning supplies can leave you reaching for the tissues instead of the broom. But according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI), spring cleaning can also help you avoid allergy symptoms.

When pollen counts are high outdoors, you may be inclined to stay indoors to try to avoid allergy symptoms. But seasonal allergy symptoms can last all year round for those allergic to indoor allergens.

Relief can sometimes be as simple as knowing how to remove allergens from your home. Here are some useful tips for banishing allergens in your home, and ways to avoid accidentally letting more in.

Remember that a fresh breeze won’t please. At the first sign of balmy temperatures, you might get the urge to open up your windows to bring in fresh scents. But this can also lead to unwanted pollen particles entering your home and making you sneeze long after your spring cleaning is complete. Before you reach for the air fresheners and candles, be aware that chemicals found in these items can spur asthma attacks. Your best choice is to opt for natural aromas from the oven or to try an organic air freshener.

Rub a dub, scrub. Bathrooms, basements, and areas that are tiled can be especially prone to mold. The key to reducing mold is moisture control. Be sure to use bathroom fans and clean up any standing water immediately. Scrub any visible mold from surfaces with detergent and water, and completely dry. You can also help ward off mold by keeping your home’s humidity level below 60 percent and cleaning the gutters regularly.

Love your pets, not their dander. After your family pets have spent many days indoors over the winter, chances are the levels of fur, saliva, and dander might be elevated throughout your home. Remove pet allergens by vacuuming frequently and washing upholstery, including your pet’s bed. Also be sure to keep your pets out of the bedroom at all times to ensure you can sleep symptom-free.

Do a whole-house deep cleaning—in stages, if necessary. Cleaning the entire house from top to bottom may take days. But you can get a head start by changing your air filters every three months and using filters with a MERV rating of 11 or 12. Also be sure to vacuum regularly to get rid of dust mites. Use a cyclonic vacuum, which spins dust and dirt away from the floor, or a vacuum with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter. Wash bedding and stuffed animals weekly.

Don’t neglect the great outdoors. As the grass turns green and flowers bud, it’s hard to stay indoors and focus on your spring cleaning routine. Still, it’s best to avoid being outdoors when pollen counts are highest (midday and afternoon hours). When mowing and gardening, be sure to wear gloves and an N95 particulate pollen mask (as rated by the CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, or NIOSH), and take your medication before you go outside. Avoid touching your eyes, and be sure to wash your hands, hair, and clothing when you go back indoors.

Even when you reduce the number of allergens in your home, allergy symptoms can still be bothersome. Those with seasonal and perennial allergies should be under the care of a board-certified allergist, who can identify the source of the suffering and develop a treatment plan to eliminate symptoms.

For more information about seasonal allergies and to locate an allergist, visit Dr. Patel’s Allergy Busters or AllergyAndAsthmaRelief.org.

 

About the Author
Dr. Patel is a mom of twin daughters and a physician who specializes in pediatric/adult allergy and immunology with Adventist Health Physicians Network. She is also coauthor of the forthcoming Mommy MD Guide to Twins, Triplets, and More.

Make Room for Dad

June 13, 2014 by  
Filed under Julie Davidson

by Mommy MD Guides blogger Julie Davidson

Do you ever feel like you need to be all things to everyone in your family? Even if it means doing something outside your comfort zone? Although I said yes to his request, I knew that playing football with my youngest son was a stretch. Literally. I’m pretty sure your arm shouldn’t feel like it’s out of the socket each time you release the ball.

Moms get a lot of credit. Maybe it’s the whole growing a baby inside our body thing. But it does seem a little lopsided in moms’ favor though. Think about it. We get the baby showers. The new wardrobe. And when the baby cries, mom is the preferred comforter.

Moms even dominate commercials. It seems like ads for Mother’s Day began at Easter. Have you even noticed any for Father’s Day yet? Exactly! And look at TV shows and movies. Moms are typically portrayed as in control and able to multi-task. Dads? Silly, too relaxed, and disorganized.

Undoubtedly, there are some aloof, rarely serious, not-so-organized dads out there. But don’t you think there are more than a few over the edge, oh my gosh you’ll shoot your eyes out with that BB gun, and make sure to wear a coat if the temperature drops below 60 degrees, and put on sunscreen every 10 minutes kind of moms as well? Touché.

It’s about trying to keep things balanced. So yeah—the one who leaves the lasagna-crusted casserole pan in the sink cannot get upset with the one who washes the dishes within 60 seconds after they’ve been used. Not that most men would sign up to have girl parts, (the tampon, PMS medicine, and 15-hour bra commercials kinda ruined it), but maybe things are tilted a little more in moms’ way when it comes to parental recognition. But men can’t bear children. Well, except for that guy on Oprah a few years ago who thoroughly confused my kids by actually having a baby. But all the other guys? They don’t get to do that.

But seriously, let dad shine. It’s not a competition, although I’ll be the first to admit, I wanted my son to think I was this amazing football-throwing mom. But just between us—my shoulder hasn’t been the same since.

What Is Happening in There?

April 8, 2013 by  
Filed under Julie Davidson

by Mommy MD Guides blogger Julie Davidson

There could be moments during pregnancy when you want some alone time. Not necessarily because you need time to yourself. More like you want time to let your body do its things without others having to witness such awkward moments.

Did you ever get a pain in your chest? Just above your lungs? Part burn, part pressure. Like maybe after eating a double cheeseburger with the works? I can count on that pain after a shot (or two) of Tequila. Or eating while pregnant. Hello, heartburn.

Of course I know that bacon, egg, and cheese biscuits and chili cheese dogs do not appear in any list of top 10 healthy foods. But while I was pregnant, they kicked off episodes of heartburn strong enough to make me believe that my child was setting my insides on fire. I mean, who does that to their mother?

But at some point, that heartburn subsides. But not before disguising itself as gas so bad you’ll put your husband and your dog to shame. The point where you realize you don’t have control over major bodily functions starts there.

And be prepared for the possibility that it all just stops. Bowel movements, that is. Yep. You’re eating for two and pooping for none. And now you have this enormous discomfort in your lower half. Which, of course, is complicated by the fact that you also have a baby constantly perched in the same area, putting more pressure on the area that’s backed up. I hate to pile on, but I wonder if this is a good place to mention that this horrible game of dominos could be further complicated with hemorrhoids?

All that might be a bit more tolerable if sleep were on the horizon. My biggest obstacle with sleeping was me. There was just too much of me. By the seventh month, I couldn’t get comfortable. Many nights were spent flopping from one side to the other. I was grateful not to have a water bed because I was certain the liquid-filled mattress would smack me back in the face. Someone suggested I use a body pillow, one that runs almost the length of your body. Bingo. I would wrap my legs around it, and I was golden. Never mind that it must have looked like my overstretched body was humping five feet of stuffed fabric.

Eh, so what. Walk around rubbing your chest and scratching your bottom. Straddle a pillow. It may guarantee that alone time you wished for.

Brotherly Advice

April 4, 2013 by  
Filed under Julie Davidson

by Mommy MD Guides blogger Julie Davidson

I have five siblings, all older. And long before I had children, they had 10 children among them. Seemed like every year, someone was popping out a kid. I fondly recall the late-night or early-morning calls to the house, my mother squealing with excitement that another child had been born into the family. People squealing just because you were born? What a sweet gig!

Then came the visits. My mom would get so excited to see them. I would get so excited to see them. Cute, cuddly babies coming to our house! Way better than my dolls. These babies were breathing, giggling, waddling little beings. Real skin, real food. And that real brand-new baby smell.

And I would swell with joy at the thought of being able to babysit for them. I was the trusted younger sister (for once) who got to entertain a miniperson not even two years old. I couldn’t resist being around them. There’s an automatic lure to someone who is one-sixteenth the size of a full-grown human. Babies are like the model airplanes of the human species. It’s hard not to stare and ooohh and ahhhh over them.

Watching my brothers- and sisters-in-law raising their own young kids solidified that I too was going to have kids. The parent-child connection was amazing (remember I’m talking babies not teenagers here). When a baby’s cries lingered too long, I’d hand him or her back to the parents, and almost instantly, the crying would stop. If the baby was feeling sick or got hurt, they had the cure. It’s as if they were a mobile triage unit!

At a young age, I knew that motherhood was in my future. Until at some point, it was explained exactly where babies came from. Exactly where. And for several years, I believe that explanation may have been the cheapest, best form of birth control. That and what I recall one of my brothers saying about a baby’s head at birth—that it wasn’t much bigger than a coffee pot. After that, I saw babies’ heads in a totally different light. Coffee pots too.

Try This Way

April 2, 2013 by  
Filed under Julie Davidson

by Mommy MD Guides blogger Julie Davidson

I’m not a prude. But I kinda think that unless invited, people should stay out of your bedroom: figuratively and literally.

But who listens to that, especially when people find out you’re trying to get pregnant. Sure it makes sense to start eating healthy and to quit smoking..

I don’t know where these people come from, but there will not be a shortage of advice-givers suggesting what to wear. During baby-making sessions. Seriously? If you’re trying to get knocked up, you don’t need to wear anything. I was on a mission and didn’t need things like hooks, zippers, and ties getting in the way. That sexy lingerie was at the bottom of the drawer, collecting dust near the socks with the holes in them.

Oh, the other end of the spectrum? The buttinskis who want to talk the mechanics of sex. C’mon people. I took health class in high school, read plenty of smutty romance novels, and had the premium cable movie channels.

Okay, it makes total sense that timing goes into getting pregnant. The whole ovulation thing pretty much demands that. But then people chime in about positions. No, not positions like in baseball or soccer. You know, the sexual kind. If you try this, you’ll increase your chances of having a boy. Or, you’ll be more likely to have a girl if you do it this way.

Okay, so let me get this straight. The egg and sperm are divided into groups that get called up based on the position their host body is in? Very interesting. I was told that if a woman is on top, that makes it more likely to create a girl. Hmm. So what if positions change at the very last second? Do the sperm quickly stop where they were headed and call for backup? Like changing your breakfast order 10 minutes after your server has put it through to the kitchen.

And somewhere along the line, I was told that getting my legs up in the air would be a good way to secure the sperm in place. Hey, why not just have a sandwich bag taped over my lady part afterward? Of course, after my husband and I exhaust half the positions in the Kama Sutra. I mean one of those positions has gotta be a guarantee for a genius. Or an alien baby, right?

Was It Something I Ate?

March 26, 2013 by  
Filed under Julie Davidson

by Mommy MD Guides blogger Julie Davidson

Did you ever have too much to drink? The kind of overdoing it that has you huddled over a toilet bowl, hanging on for dear life? That brings the phrase “gut wrenching” to a whole new level. It also brings out promises to yourself to never drink like that again. Ever. Even if your friends swear what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

Or maybe you were just plain unlucky and ate a quick lunch at one of those street vendors parked along the curbside. The ones that are in a truck so small they likely don’t have refrigeration, or a sink, or more than one cook. The one you ordered from the same day you had stomach pain so bad you left work two hours early.

Remember the last time you had the stomach flu? With an empty ice cream pail at your side, you vowed not to eat a thing for at least a week.

Those situations are uncomfortable, but at least you know that they will be short-lived. Within a few days or so, you’ll feel human again, and that discomfort will fade in your memory. With morning sickness, you can’t be sure. Well, yes, you’ll still be human, but just how long it will last and how you’ll get through it can vary.

Fergie, the lead singer for the Black Eyed Peas, said in an interview on Good Morning America that it was her intent to take a natural approach during pregnancy. She found that acupuncture and Chinese herbs helped with morning sickness. I found that McDonald’s bacon egg and cheese biscuits helped.

I never had the oh my goodness I’m going to be sick the rest of my life kind of morning sickness. But many women do have morning sickness that is intense and sometimes lasts beyond the first trimester.

Pregnancy is more uncomfortable when you feel ill for long periods of time. You could start to feel like your whole nine months of carrying your baby is overshadowed by being what might feel like a permanent state of nausea. It could start to feel believable that your body is being possessed by demons. But it will go away. Just like after the girls weekend in Vegas. And takeout from the food truck guy. And last year’s stomach bug. Plus, this time you’ll have a lot more to show for it. Instead of pictures of you face-to-face with a porcelain fixture, you’ll be face-to-face with a beautiful, chubby-cheeked baby.

The Blame Game

March 14, 2013 by  
Filed under Julie Davidson

by Mommy MD Guides blogger Julie Davidson

Do you ever blame someone or something because you don’t want to take the fall or because there is no logical explanation? All this time, I thought I had done something horrible to make my left foot bigger! Maybe I chewed more on my left side. Or was it because I was right-footed and my left foot never got an adequate workout? Was it some left-brain/right-brain thing?

The truth is that both feet were wide and squishy (pretty much like the rest of me during pregnancy), and it wasn’t until well after having kids that I noticed the left foot was noticeably larger than the right. I kept thinking it was the shoes I was wearing. As if, ironically, every shoe was tighter on the left side. Shoe shopping is as dreaded as trying to find a two-piece bathing suit. One size never fits both parts, and something is always hanging out.

But alas, there is something to pin the blame on: pregnancy. A study was done that confirms that something happens to your arch during pregnancy and a woman’s feet may get bigger. Okay, so the study was more scientific, with anatomical terms and stuff. But who cares about all the jargon? It’s not our fault!

So yeah. Let’s see what else pregnancy can take credit (or blame) for. Welcome stretch marks. Okay, a moment of truth. I had a few (who’s counting) stretch marks before pregnancy. Somehow, between my carefree I-can-eat-anything years of my twenties and the oh-my-goodness, I-have-muffin-tops reality of my thirties, I lost and gained a few pounds, thus resulting in the appearance of stretch marks. But (besides you), no one knows that. So, blame away!

It wouldn’t be fair to leave the legs out of this game. Some of us have things down the backs of our legs. No. Not tattoos. Varicose veins. Mine got to the point where they looked like Google maps. Like you were looking at an aerial view of a mountain range. That extra weight is bound to have an effect on the very things that have to carry you.

Say hello to your hormones. They will be responsible for your forgetting simple things. Like people’s names. And your social security number. And something else, but you can’t remember what it was! And when you aren’t feeling anxious, you can thank your hormones for your feeling as if you had just watched an hour of back-to-back Hallmark commercials. Tissue, please.

That last trimester is when things move and settle. Like on your bladder. Ever heard of “sneeze pee”? You know, when people sneeze and a little bit of pee comes out. Well, at around seven months, it’s more than sneeze pee. It’s more like a walk pee, a talk pee, and a breathe pee.

So blame away while you can! No need to rush into taking the fall for everything. There’ll be plenty of time for that.

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The information on MommyMDGuides.com is not intended to replace the diagnosis, treatment, and services of a physician. Always consult your physician or child care expert if you have any questions concerning your family's health. For severe or life-threatening conditions, seek immediate medical attention.