Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Calorie Counting For Dummies (like me!)

Whenever I hear the words "counting calories" my eyes usually glaze over. This task sounds so incredibly daunting. But after talking to my sister-in-law I decided I needed to try it out for myself.

It is amazing. I've only been doing it a couple of days now, but I can already see a difference in what I choose to eat. I am understanding better which calories will give me energy, and which calories are just a big waste.

And to make the daunting task as easy as can be - check out sparkpeople.com - it is user friendly and best of all - free! And if you're pregnant, or trying to lose the post baby weight - you can check out their sister site - babyfit.com.

Love these sites! Are any of you calorie counters?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Concrete Lightbulb for Father's Day

Present giving at our house is easy - we usually just get each other what we ask for. But a surprise once in awhile is nice too. So taking into account the my aerospace/mechanical engineer husband loves anything that screams "boy" and the fact that he also has two desks right now - one at work, one at the university...I found this little gem for him...

A Concrete Lightbulb! Love it. It'll look so great on his desk(s). Cheap to make - so I was still able to get him that other thing he wanted, and this will be his surprise. I'm making two - one for each desk. You can find the instructions here.

Since I don't want Little Miss dabbling in concrete - she will be using fabric paint to decorate a bbq apron for him that says - "My Kid Walks All Over Me", and of course, I'll paint the bottom of her feet and have her walk all over it too.

What fun things are you giving the man in your life this year?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Summertime Safety: Bug Spray & Sunblock for Sensitive Skin

This isn't your typical - "you should use this" post. My Little Miss has hypersensitive skin and breaks out with most chemical base products we've applied to her skin. Even the more sensitive 'baby' versions of sunblock leave her with a rash. So this summer I'm getting creative...so whether your child has sensitive skin, you want to save money, or just go green - this post is for you...

First. Mosquito Repellent...

I really hate putting all the chemicals on Little Miss's skin. We go camping a lot - so I have to figure something out. When she was a baby and put everything in her mouth it made me extra nervous that she would ingest all those chemicals. Here are some natural alternatives I've found and will be trying...

In Our Yard
  • Marigolds & Thai Lemon Grass are natural bug deterrents - so I'm going to be planting some to have on our porch and close to our door.
  • A bit of sage or rosemary thrown on the coals during a barbeque will keep the bugs at bay, and smell great!
  • 1/2 oz citronella oil, 1/4 oz lavendar oil, 1/8 oz pennyroyal oil, 1/8 oz tea tree oil, 1/8 oz jojoba oil - mix well. Add 16 oz almond oil and blend thoroughly. Add 16 oz vodka, pour into spray bottle and shake before using.
To Use on Skin
  • Mix one part garlic juice with 5 parts water in a small spray bottle. Shake well before using. Spray lightly on exposed body parts for an effective repellent lasting up to 5 - 6 hours. Strips of cotton cloth can also be dipped in this mixture and hung in areas, such as patios, as a localized deterrent.
  • Thai Lemon Grass - break off a stalk, peel off the outer leaves, bend the stem between your fingers, loosening it, then rub vigorously between your palms until it's a juicy, pulpy mess. Then rub this over all exposed skin.
  • 1/2 oz citronella oil, 1/4 oz lavendar oil, 1/8 oz pennyroyal oil, 1/8 oz tea tree oil, 1/8 oz jojoba oil - mix well. Add 16 oz almond oil and blend thoroughly.
  • The CDC reports studies have found that Lemon Eucalyptus works just a good as DEET in repelling mosquito's - I'll definitely be trying this one out.
And Sunscreen...

The only problem I have with the homemade sunscreens is the inability to tell me how much protection it provides against UVA/UVB rays. But you can use the below recipes as a barrier layer of protection for sensitive skin and then put a thin layer of commercial sunblock on top. We'll be trying it and hopefully Little Miss won't break out into a rash...

Homemade Zinc Oxide Sunscreen

Note: This recipe will leave a white nose “lifeguard style.”

1 Tbs zinc oxide
1 1/2 tsp light sesame oil
1 Tbs rosewater

Mix together the zinc oxide and sesame oil. Heat the mixture gently, using a double boiler, and stir well to mix. Remove from heat and slowly add the rosewater, as you continue stirring. Allow to cool completely, and store in a clean container with a tight lid, in the fridge. Yield: 2 oz. Keeps: Up to 10 days in the fridge.

And one more...
  • 5 oz grapeseed oil (feel free to infuse with herbs like Calendula or Plantain)
  • 1 tablespoon shea butter
  • 1/2 oz beeswax
  • 4 0z lavender hydrosol (or any other hydrosol you like)
  • 2 tbls zinc oxide powder
Mix the oil, shea butter and beeswax in a 2 cup pyrex measuring cup, put in a pot partially filled with water (to act as a double boiler), melt over medium-high heat. Add the zinc powder. Allow to cool until a crust starts to form around the edges. Using a hand blender, begin to slowly pour the hydrosol into the oil. Keep mixing until all the hydrosol is fully incorporated and the cream is smooth. Put into a clean, sterilized jar. Store in the refridgerator.

I scoop some into a tin to take on the go, and refill when needed. I can’t give you the spf factor, but I have used it on myself and all my kids (4 of them ranging from 16 months to 10 years) and after a day at the beach, and 2 hour hikes, no one has gotten any burns or redness. I also like to use it as a barrier cream.

There are other sunblock recipes I found - but most of them require 10-12 expensive ingredients...I don't want to go expensive. I just want something to work!

Do you have any good natural ways to get rid of bugs and avoid sun rays?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Circumcision: In Favor of the Snip

Now to balance out the scale. I found some solid research based information backing the decision to get your child circumcised. Here are the basics:

Research Based Benefits:

  • elimination or reduction in physical problems such as phimosis (the inability for the foreskin to retract)
  • decrease in susceptibility to balanitis (inflamation of the foreskin & penis)
  • lower rate of urinary tract infections
  • prevention of problems with erections at puberty
  • decrease in susceptibility to certain sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV
  • in older men, elimation of penile cancer and a decrease in urinary problems and infections
If you want to read up on more, please check out the following links:
Other posts in this series:

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Circumcision: Referrals Against the Snip

I received so many emails after that last post with tons of information! You readers amaze me. So, as promised I am passing on the info...with a small disclaimer.

First, most of the emails I received were from people who are against circumcision. Which leads me to two conclusions...Kind of like the comment cards at a fast food place, you only really fill them out if you have a complaint, you have to feel passionate, and the people who feel most passionate about this topic are the ones against it. Which is fine. Just know that all the info I have to pass on is why not to have it done, so it's very biased.

Or - the people who do have their boys circumcised and are reading this (besides the ones who have commented) really don't know why they did it and don't have a strong opinion.

Second - be smart when looking into any topic, find out where the source is from. Is it just someone's opinion? Or is it an actual scientific study? Any statistics that are presented to you, be wary - if they're not cited, don't state where they got their info, then it's probably not an accurate number. Statistics are a tricky thing. Also, be wary of scare tactics on either side of this argument.

Okay, so that wasn't such a *small* disclaimer. Here are the links...
  • International Coalition for Genital Integrity - "...a wealth of information for expectant parents about circumcision. I recommend watching the videos at this page, especially the one showing an actual infant circumcision and "The Prepuce," which describes the anatomy and functions of the foreskin. All of the articles are excellent." - P.F.

  • An informative tri-fold handout - "My tri-fold hand out, “CIRCUMCISION FACTS”, contains all the facts any one needs to know. It includes footnotes & references to papers, all, except one, of which can be viewed on the internet. Please let me know if it is helpful. It was very well received by nurses and therapists during my 90 day rehab from 2 strokes..." - J.M., director of the National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers

  • Genital Integrity Policy Statement & Non-therapeutic circumcision of male minors "You seem like an intelligent mom who really wants to understand circumcision and genital integrity. I am attaching a PDF file with the Doctors Opposing Circumcision Genital Integrity Policy Statement. This is a 64 page document that will tell you about all there is to know. Our organization strongly supports genital integrity to provide the highest level of health and well-being. I am also attaching a statement from the Royal Dutch Medical Society that was published on May 27, 2010. I can provide more information if you wish it." - G.H., Vice-President for Bioethics and Medical Science, Doctors Opposing Circumcision
Thanks to all of you for sharing your personal experiences in the comments section and passing on info via email. I really appreciate all of the input!

Other posts in this series:

Monday, June 7, 2010

Circumcision: To Snip or Not To Snip

Okay - I am way in over my head here. A reader who's about to have her first little boy asked me to delve into this topic. I thought - sure, no problem! It seems to be pretty cut and dry...how naive was I? First - you know I only have a little girl. Little boys...I just have no idea about stuff like this.

I started doing research and there are so many differing opinions on this topic and to be quite frank - actual scientific research based studies are lacking in this area. It's mostly opinion. So here are the basics of what I found...

If it's not a matter of religion to you, then it's mostly a matter of cleanliness and cosmetics.
  • Some people say it's easier to keep a little boy clean once he is circumcised and that there are fewer cases of urinary tract infections. Other people say it's easier to keep him clean with the foreskin intact.

  • Some people argue - "like father, like son - I don't want my child to be made fun of in the locker room since every other boy is circumcised". Other people argue the current rate of circumcision is only 57% (not sure how accurate this # is), so he won't be made fun of in the locker room.

  • Some say the procedure is easier and less painful in infancy. Others say it's painful and takes away the child's rights.

  • Some say having it done or not having it done increases/decreases sexual functioning and the trasmission of STI's (sexually transmitted infections).
I just don't even know. So...now it's your turn! I need you, the readers, to speak up and teach the rest of us.

Those of you who have little boys circumcised or uncircumcised - what do you know to be true? Why did/didn't you have it done to your son?

Feeling exceptionally passionate about the subject and want to be a guest blogger on the topic - email me at barb.themomblog(at)gmail(dot)com

*Update 6/8/10 - the response to this post has been amazing!! I've received tons of e-mails with info I'll be sharing over the next week or two. Keep it coming!!

Other posts in this series:

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Summertime Safety: At the Park

Little Miss and I had quite the adventure today at the park. It started out great. Then the sun got hot and the park got overrun with unruly children. But my favorite part - finding out that the sandbox was really a kitty litter box...yikes.

So on our way to wash our hands I found the mom of the little 18 month old who was playing in the sand alone and warned her of the poo I'd just found. When we came back from the restroom the mom was still sitting on the opposite side of the park talking with her friend and her daughter was still happily sifting through the poo box. What!?

About 20 minutes later that same little girl did a face plant on the not-so-friendly ground and was bleeding...I rudely interrupted her mother's important gab session to let her know her daughter was dripping on things as she walked around dazed.

Maybe my park angst goes back to my days as a playground duty - one of the best jobs I ever had. But really. There are just some things I don't think are okay at parks.

Climbing up slides (sorry to my sister Melly and the rest of you who let your kids do this). I just don't think it's cool. My sis-in-law broke her arm doing this, kids chip teeth, I've seen lots of kids get hurt. I especially hate it when kids climb up the tube slides - you can't see who's coming down.

This probably won't bother me as much when Little Miss isn't so little and susceptible to injuries from the big kids...I take that back. It will still bother me.

Second most hated park thing - not watching your children. The park and the other responsible parents are not a good babysitter. You don't have to be right behind them, they need independence - but have an eye on them please. They could be endangering themselves, or other kids, or getting kidnapped (thanks mom for indoctrinating me with worst-case-scenario fear when I was little).

Playing at the park with your children is a great time to teach make-believe, taking turns, patience, and appropriate behavior.

The CDC reports that 200,000 children visit the ER every year due to playground injuries - most of which could've been prevented with supervision...
  • About 45% of playground-related injuries are severe–fractures, internal injuries, concussions, dislocations, and amputations (Tinsworth 2001).
  • About 75% of nonfatal injuries related to playground equipment occur on public playgrounds (Tinsworth 2001). Most occur at schools and daycare centers (Phelan 2001).
  • Between 1990 and 2000, 147 children ages 14 and younger died from playground-related injuries. Of them, 82 (56%) died from strangulation and 31 (20%) died from falls to the playground surface. Most of these deaths (70%) occurred on home playgrounds (Tinsworth 2001).
Little Big Kids - a book (free printable pdf) for kids age 3-5 on playground safety.

How do you keep your kids (and other kids) safe at the park? What is okay? What isn't?

Other posts in this series:

Summertime Safety: Swimming
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