Winter is the greatest ally to one of our least favorite respiratory diseases: The flu.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents help youngsters defend themselves against this nasty airborne illness with an annual flu vaccine. The vaccine is encouraged for kids between 6 months and 5 years old.
“There’s not a vaccine that’s recommended for kiddos younger than 6 months,” says Dr. Ryan Moultray, an osteopath with Selah Family Medicine.
However, he adds, the flu vaccine — offered as a shot or, for kids over 2, a nasal spray — is suggested for older children with chronic illnesses, including asthma and diabetes.
“Over age 5, in a healthy kid, it’s optional,” he says. “You can get it, but it’s not formally recommended.”
The vaccines are designed to target the most common and most vicious strains of influenza, a viral infection with symptoms including severe cough, muscle aches, headache, fever, shortness of breath and sore throat. It’s definitely not a “stomach bug.”
For more information about whether a flu vaccine is right for your child, or to find out where you can get the vaccine, call your child’s doctor.
— Sara Bristol
The FDA last year issued a report warning parents against giving over-the-counter cold medicine to young children, particularly infants and tots under age 2. So, what’s a parent to do?
“There are some simple steps you can take to alleviate your child’s discomfort,” says Dr. Duane Teerink, a father and osteopathic physician at Pacific Crest Family Medicine.
- Use a humidifier.
- Get rid of postnasal drip with a bulb syringe.
- Never give medicine intended for adults to a child.
- Do not use antihistamine products to make a child sleepy.
Dr. Teerink says cough medicine should not be given to a child under 4 years old without your doctor’s specific recommendation.
“Coughs can be hard to treat sometimes,” he says. “If simple measures don’t alleviate the cough, call your family doctor or pediatrician.”
— Debra Yergen
By Aimee Lybbert
OK, I admit it. I’m a blogging geek. From what I hear, admitting your problem is the first step: I stay up late at night after my kids are asleep, documenting my thoughts and the goings-on of my family online.
The main reason I blog is to attempt to maintain my sanity. As a mom of two toddlers who still don’t sleep through the night, I realize it is impossible to regain my former career-woman brain, but I will settle for the brain of a stay-at-home mom who is so desperate for adult conversation that she will gladly converse with phone solicitors.
Originally, I tried the usual outlets: play groups, calling friends on the phone and chatting with neighbors while I take the kids on walks. But I found I was slowly losing my sanity despite what I thought.
As I was leaving my neighbor Jill’s house because the kids and her energetic black lab Jake had reached their time limit for getting along, she shouted an apology for never really having a completely coherent conversation with me. She said she felt that she couldn’t ever fully finish a sentence between the dog and the kids.
This confession completely astonished me. I thought I was doing well, but come to think of it, all of my conversations went something like this:
Jill: “So are you looking forward to the weekend?”
Aimee: “Yes. We’re planning to… Izzie! Don’t feed that to the dog!”
Jill: “Jake put that down!”
Aimee, grabbing the toy: “That was not a good choice, kids. Jake could get sick if he ate that. Say sorry to Jake. He is our friend.”
Izzie: “No. Bad Jake.”
Aimee: “Izabella Lybbert, do you want to go home right now?”
Izzie, mumbling: “Sorry Jake.”
Aimee: “Thank you. Uh Jill, what were we talking about?”
It became obvious that I needed some serious, uninterrupted adult conversation. It seemed like the only time I had free was at night after my kids were in bed. But who wants to get a phone call that possibly could wake up your kids at night? So I turned to the Internet.
The wonderful bonus that blogging affords you, I learned, is that it allows you to stay in touch with all your friends and family.
My husband and I have been married four and a half years and we have moved 11 times. I know we’re absolutely nuts, but I can tell you we are packing pros. We also have friends scattered here and there all up and down the I-5 corridor.
At first I e-mailed my friends about what was going on, but who likes to receive mass e-mails that drag on and on with boring text in blasé fonts and multiple attachments of slow downloading pictures?
The solution: Blogger from Google. It allows you to pick your own color scheme and background and you can post not only pictures, but also video clips. The beauty of it is that you can post all you want and your friends can read it whenever it’s convenient for them — and there is a spot after each blog entry for them to leave a comment if they so desire. You can also put a link on the side of your page to your friends’ blogs that shows how recently they updated their blog.
So often, I will just get online at night and check out what is going on with all of my friends who are now scattered all over the western United States. Even though I haven’t met all of their kids, I feel like I know them after I read all about them and see their little video clips. It completely beats a once-a-year Christmas newsletter.
My parents and my husband’s parents love being able to check up on their grand-babies and love that they can pull up pics and video clips of them to brag to their friends anywhere that has Internet access.
I completely stink at scrapbooking and journaling, so I print out my blog entries and I think that makes a good enough record of our crazy life story. There are services like blurb.com that even will convert your blog into a hard-bound book that you can share with your posterity (that is, if you don’t kill your kids first).
I know I will never be truly sane again, but I take comfort knowing that most of my friends who blog all tell similar stories about their lives. So if you feel your sanity slowly slipping, join up with all the other moms online and reclaim your adult conversation time.
— Aimee Lybbert is Mom to Izabella, 3, and Spencer, 18 months. Keep up with the Lybbert family, “where every day is an adventure,” at lybberts.blogspot.com.
For me, Leavenworth was love at first sight.
Half-timbered store fronts, horse-drawn carriages, quaint little bakeries, bratwurst, beer. And a whole store filled with Christmas, every season of the year.
In fact, each season offers something new to love about Leavenworth. But Washington’s little Bavarian-themed village is particularly delicious at Christmas.
Someday, my husband and I would love to take our kids to the real Christmas markets in Germany. But the kids are still young and plane tickets aren’t cheap, so those plans are on a semi-permanent pause.
However, the kids have been going to Leavenworth since they were breastfeeding (discretely, in a dimly lit booth at the restaurant mentioned a few paragraphs further down). We tend to skip most of the tchotchke shops but always find enough fun in Leavenworth to fill at least half a day. (Hint: Leave the stroller at home.) Here are some highlights:
First, check the city’s festival schedule to see what’s going on the weekend you’d like to visit. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the town lights up first for the Christkindlemarkt (the closest thing this side of the Atlantic to the previously noted Christmas markets) and, later, literally illuminates during the Christmas Lighting Festival. Both events would appeal to families.
Throughout the year, you can find holiday cheer at Kris Kringl, a two-story ornament shop at the east end of downtown. This one can be a little dicey if your kids are touchy-touchy, but the miniature villages are fun to peek at if you’re able to keep little fingers under control.
For that very reason, we avoided for several years the little sign further up the street that pointed towards a nutcracker museum upstairs. Museums and kids don’t mix, right? Wrong!
The Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum is fabulous for kids. Open weekends in the winter, the museum offers scavenger hunts for kids to search through the 5,000-piece nutcracker collection for kiddy favorites from Mickey Mouse to Darth Vader. Those who complete their task receive a prize.
On the same block, The Hat Shop and adjoining Wood Shop toy shop are perennial favorites. For Mama and Papa, however, the trip wouldn’t be complete without popping into The Cheesemonger’s Shop, where the monger is always eager to hand out a few tasty samples.
For dinner, we like to head down the nearby stairs to Andreas Keller, where the jägerschnitzel’s good and the atmosphere even better. Through the end of the year, they’ll have live accordion music every night. The rumpus is great for dining with kids, who couldn’t possibly cause a stir amidst the dining room’s healthy clamor.
Be sure to pick up some fudge for the road before you say auf wiedersehen. Then it’s time to head back home, thankfully some 4,700 miles this side of Germany.
— Sara Bristol
Leavenworth is about a 90-minute drive, north of Yakima. Take I-82 north and merge onto I-90 west to Ellensburg. Just past Ellensburg, take Exit 106 and follow U.S. Highway 97 toward Wenatchee. The highway will make a few turns, so follow the signs toward Wenatchee until you reach Highway 2. There, turn left and continue 5 miles to Leavenworth.
WHERE TO GO
Andreas Keller Restaurant, 829 Front St., lower level; 509-548-6000. Dinner menu starts at $10.99. Children’s specials are $5.99 to $6.99.
The Cheesemonger’s Shop, 819 Front St.; 509-548-0778.
Hat Shop/Wood Shop, 719 Front St.; 509-548-4442.
Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce, 940 Highway 2; 509-548-5807.
Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum, 735 Front St.; 509-548-4573. Admission is $2.50 for adults, $1 for students and free for children 5 and younger.
Kris Kringl, 907 Front St.; 509-548-6867.
November 19, 2008 by Robin Beckett
A simple photograph is the best tool to help authorities find a missing child — and yet 40 percent of parents cannot provide a current usable photo, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
A third of the parents of missing child do not know their child’s correct weight, eye color or height, the center reports. The center’s Web site, MissingKids.com, has several recommendations to help parents gather this vital information:
- Keep a recent, head-and-shoulders color photo, such as a school portrait, for each child.
- Update the photograph at least every six months for children under 6 years, then yearly or when the child’s appearance changes.
- Photos should be an accurate depiction of the child, not overly posed or glamorized; should not include other people, animals, distracting backgrounds or objects; should not be taken outside, out of focus, torn, damaged, or very small.
- All copies of the child’s photograph and information should be kept in an easily accessible, secure space by the parents or guardian. The photograph and data should not be stored in a public database, and should be kept in a digital format when possible.
Several software programs are available to help parents store their child’s photo and descriptive information, and prompt for scheduled updates. If a child needs to be reported missing, the data can be sent electronically to police and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
The m.i.l.k. Digital ID, named for the classic milk box campaign, is one such program. It’s part of the free Home Organizer software, available from Farmers Insurance agents.
Agent Wayne Leavitt assures us you do not need to request a quote or purchase insurance to get the software; call him at 966-7739.
Parents should also know that more than 2,000 children are reported missing every day, according to the center. About 115 of those child are kidnapped by strangers; the rest — nearly 95 percent — are believed to be runaways or are abducted by family members.
— Sara Bristol
Little ones will have lots of fun at this special picnic with their beary best friends. Whether planning a party or just looking for an excuse to head outdoors, you can make this theme as simple or elaborate as you like.
All that’s needed to start the fun is a blanket on the lawn (or living room floor). Invite the children to bring their fuzzy friends to lunch.
With just a little extra effort, a teddy bear picnic becomes a sweet birthday party for tots. Just remember to keep it simple: Young children are easily overwhelmed by crowds and strict schedules. The classic rule of thumb is to invite only as many guests as your child’s age — or their age plus one. (Bring as many bears as you like.)
Set up a backdrop for photos, which can be tucked inside thank you cards for your guests. Fill a picnic basket with bears and tie on a few balloons to set the scene.
For the girls’ hats, we used a hot glue gun to dress up simple sun hats with artificial flowers and berries. For boys, use fishing hats and lures. Older children might enjoy designing their own. We bought our hats and flowers at the Dollar Tree. Cost: $2.50 each.
BEARY GOOD TREATS
To create a fun Bear Party Mix, we combined Teddy Grahams, Honey Maid Bees and mini marshmallows. Raisins and other dried fruit would be tasty, too.
Use a bear-shaped cookie cutter to make peanut butter and honey sandwiches. For a breakfast party, pour teddy bear pancakes.
A picnic is more fun with games to play. Don’t overdo it, but try these activities if the kids need a little direction:
- Toss the Bees into the Honey Pots: Decorate small flower pots or buckets to look like honey pots. Have kids toss bean bags into the pots to win a prize.
- Teddy Bear Hot Potato: Play some music (perhaps “Teddy Bear’s Picnic” — download a version on iTunes that suits your style). Have children sit in a circle and pass around a bear. When the music stops, the child left holding the bear is out but gets a small prize.
- Read a bear story. There are lots of classics like “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” or the Berenstain Bears and Paddington Bear.
- Cut fun bear shapes with cookie cutters and dough.
Story and ideas by Sara Bristol. Photos by Destiny Williams.