Tuesday, October 30, 2012

No Power During Hurricane Sandy

We just got our power back!  Hurricane Sandy hit us yesterday and we lost power for about 24 hours.  I actually spent all afternoon cooking up perishables and trying to come up with a food plan since we were anticipating power loss.  We lost power during Irene, too, but we were definitely more prepared this time.  However, if this hurricane thing is going to become a common occurrence, we better get ourselves a generator!  Actually, I was mostly just worried about the food in our refrigerator and freezer spoiling.  For it was actually nice to be without any electricity, to spend some good family time bonding without tv and computers!

So how did the kids do?  

Well, the power went out last night after we had already eaten dinner, bathed, and brushed everyone's teeth.  So the transition was not too bad.  Little E was already fast asleep when it went out.  My two girls wondered why it seemed darker than usual and my older one is used to sleeping with some music playing.  However, since she didn't nap earlier, she was pretty tired and went to sleep without too much drama (she is our drama queen).

The rain had pretty much stopped by the morning but there were still some pretty heavy gusts of wind throughout the day today.  I actually really enjoyed the day because everyone was home with no where we needed to be.  So the morning was filled with some music time, writing time, finger painting...  We even attempted to play a game of Candy Land... this lasted about 5 minutes with my almost 3 year old.  The almost 5 year old probably could have played to completion but the 3 year old grabbed all the pieces and started running around giggling and daring her sister to catch her.  Maybe we'll try again during Christmas break.

We bathed everyone early (before naps) because I was worried we'd run out of hot water and we'd all have to take cold baths.  Who knew how long we'd be out of power!  Bath time was actually a blast because we stuck all three kids in the tub with some washable bathtub paint / soap.  Idea is you make a mess with it and then just wash in it then wash everything off.

I needed a nap so I took one during my kids' nap time this afternoon.  This is a luxury I don't usually get especially in the middle of the workday because of work.  Even on weekends, there are usually too many activities to consistently be able to take a nap.  I probably could have slept longer but I wanted to get dinner figured out before it got too dark... so my husband had our camping stoves fired up in the garage so he can help boil water.  We basically used a large pot of boiling water to heat up leftovers by steaming!  We all ate pretty early at around 5ish but it was already getting dark so we had several candles as well as flashlights pulled out.  My girls enjoyed eating under candlelight.  I liked it, too... maybe we should do this even if when we do have lights!

So just as I was snuggling with my two girls under a blanket to read a bedtime story by flashlight, all our lights came back on!  We read the story by flashlight anyway and then tucked them in for the night.  It has been an adventurous kind of day!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Cruising with Little Kids

Many may agree that vacationing with little kids is not really that "relaxing" and can be more "work" than just the normal weekly routine at home.  When you are in a different environment, sleep schedules can get thrown off which can add a layer of fussiness.  Plus, being around the little ones 24/7 may take some adapting to especially if one or both parents are usually at work during the day.  It can lead to some stressful moments where parenting styles may differ or issues not dealt with before may arise.

I think cruising is an awesome option for parents with little kids who are planning a family vacation.  These are some of my reasons why:

When we add up the rooming costs as well as food and entertainment, cruising can be a very economical way to take a week long vacation.  Of course, it depends on what you are comparing to (camping will probably be less expensive)... but especially if you get a great cruise deal (like sometimes Disney has a 'kids cruise free' deals), it can totally be worth it.

Avoid Airport Hassle
At least for us, there are several drivable cruise ports (NYC, NJ, and MD)  It is such a pain with little ones to go through the whole airport check-in fiasco with carseats, toddler bottles etc. and if still nursing the whole nursing bag etc.  Cruising is a great way to get to a far place (like a remote island in the middle of winter) and not have to fly there!

Break from the kids
Yes, we do want to spend time with our kids when we are on vacation.  However, it is *huge* to have a few hours here or there where you can leave them with kid friendly crew for kiddie activities while you spend some quality time with just your spouse.  Even just a few hours away gives me a refreshed spirit and extra patience to deal with the physical needs of my little ones.  Plus, the kids have a blast (at least they did on Disney... but I'm sure they would on other cruise lines as well).

Mealtime convenience
I love how we do not have to figure out what we are going to eat every night... or breakfast or lunch for that matter!  Sometimes figuring out food is the most stressful part of vacation.  Plus, if you travel in a large group it is not always easy to get everyone to agree on cuisine and it can easily become very costly if you eat out every night.  On a ship there are a multiple options.  You can sit down and be served every night (which is nice when you have little kids) or you can choose to do a buffet or just grab fast food or even stay in and get room service!  There are plenty of options for picky toddler eaters and the staff is usually very accommodating and can even puree food for babies.  On the Disney Cruise lines, there is the option to leave the kids in the Oceanear Club where they get fed dinner while the parents enjoy mealtime alone.  I believe this option may be available in other cruise lines but you may have to pay for it.

Options for entertainment
If you pick the right ship, there are a multitude of activities for adults only, kids only, and both.  We usually like Royal Caribbean because they have more physical outdoorsy and sportsy activities (like rock climbing walls and ice skating rinks).  Recently, we went on a Disney Cruise which was awesome for the kids but didn't have as many choices for activities for my husband and I.  However, we are pretty active and prefer more sporty type of activities.  I'm sure they have plenty of entertainment on board for other adult folks since there were many adults on the ship... even adults without kids!  But regardless of cruise line, it is nice that there always seems to be a movie theater on board as well as plenty of lounges and places to hang out.  So once the kids are asleep (which is usually pretty early if they are young) you can either take turns going out or travel with grandparents who are more than happy to watch the kids sleep while you slip out together for some late night movie or something.  Some cruises will even have in-cabin babysitting for a nominal fee.  It is much harder to arrange this type of night life when you are in a hotel or house somewhere.  Plus, you'd have to drive somewhere rather than just take the elevator up or down a few floors to get to your entertainment.

So those are just a few of the reasons that I can think of why I like to cruise.  Things to consider when choosing a cruise include:

Destination and Ports of Call
You save a lot of hassle and money if you pick a departure port that you don't have to fly to.  The other issue has to do with seasickness.  Usually, the ship is big enough that you do not really feel the rocking.  However, the rocking also depends on time of year and where the ship is going.  So for those who get seasick, it would be worth it to do more research and go to ports during times of year where there is minimal ship "rockiness".  

Length of Cruise and Type of Ship
The larger the ship, the more activities and options there are.  Usually the larger ships are reserved for longer cruise nights.  So it is possible that if we cruised with a larger Disney ship there may have been more that my husband and I would find fun to do.  7 nights is probably a pretty average time frame where you get the larger boats.  We had chosen a 5 night trip which seemed plenty because our third child was only 14 months and we weren't sure how the kids would do sleeping all together in the same room.  Given the extra cost of cruising with Disney versus other cruise lines... we are probably leaning on just sticking with Royal Caribbean in the future.  Carnival is supposed to be very good for kid friendly activities in addition to being the most economical.  We just have not tried it yet because of previous bad reputation for food.  However, I believe the new lines have really improved in this area.

Well... I'm already looking into and planning our next cruise trip.  In another blog I'll spell out the differences between going to Disney with little kids versus cruising with Disney on a ship!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Dropping Naps

I love nap time!  Best is when all three kids fall asleep around the same time and stay asleep for at least 2 hours.  However, in our household…this does not happen often.

So when do kids start dropping naps?  Sleep and the amount of sleep needed per child may vary slightly but in general toddlers require around 12 to 14 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period.  They require less as they get older, thus will eventually drop their nap.

So the pattern of sleep goes something like this...

They sleep most of the time, waking up mostly to eat every 2-3 hours, after which ideally they should be awake and "play" a little before falling back asleep so to not associate eating with sleeping.

They fall into a nap pattern where they sleep about 3 times during the day… usually about an hour in the morning and early afternoon then a shorter 30 min nap in the late afternoon before going down for the night (ideally 12 hours).  They may then drop the late afternoon nap and sleep consistently maybe a little longer once in the mid morning and once in the afternoon and again about twelve hours at night.

By around 18 months, they will likely lose their morning nap and only nap in the afternoon.  Sometimes when this happens, the afternoon nap gets longer which can be nice.  However, the transition from 1 to 2 naps is sometimes tricky and not always smooth.  Kiddo #3 is around this stage… and I still can’t remember exactly how we did it with the other two.

Eventually, they lose the afternoon nap and no longer take daytime naps.  When this happens can vary from child to child.  About 70% of children will be done with naps by kindergarten.  However, this is probably more due to their schedule and what their body becomes used to and may not necessarily mean they wouldn’t benefit from that nap.

Both my girls (ages almost 3 and almost 5) are still taking afternoon naps.  Well, let me rephrase to say that we still put them down consistently every afternoon for a time of “rest” and usually they will both fall asleep.  There were many occasions after my oldest hit 3 when we thought she was “losing her nap”. However, as we kept “quiet time or nap time” consistent she still will nap for us more times than not.

Sometimes you can really tell a huge difference in behavior with kids who are not fully tanked up on sleep.  This was especially true with our oldest.  She would totally melt down and become an emotional wreck if she skips her nap.  Plus, she would have terrible night terrors at around 11pm on those nights.  We do not notice our second child being this way.

I actually just read a very interesting article describing a recent study that suggests daytime naps reduce risk of mood-related problems later in life.  Click here to read.

So this is what I do: 
  • Try to keep nap time (or quiet time) regular and consistent  
  • Try to keep their sleep environment not too stimulating and not too bright  
  • Even if the child skips his or her nap for several days in a row, I would keep trying for a while because it may be a phase and they may nap again 
  • Even some quiet time in the afternoon is better than nothing

I want my kids to nap so I can have some peace and quiet and sanity in the afternoon… but good to know that it may help their emotional health!

Friday, October 12, 2012


It has been a busy week with hubby being away on business trips.  I was trying to get to bed before midnight this week so did not get a chance to blog.  However, I've been wanting to talk about meningitis since it has been in the news lately.

I'm sure you have all heard about the crazy outbreak of fungal meningitis that has been linked to tainted steroid injections.  You can read about it all over the internet (most recent story I found is here).  Main things:

  • cases linked to tainted steroid injections manufactured by NECC in Massachusetts
  • most patients involved received this steroid injection in their spine for back pain
  • so far 170 cases with 14 deaths
  • very slow growing so more cases will probably arise
  • this is not contagious and only those who received the steroid injection are at risk
So what is meningitis?
Meningitis is inflammation of the membrane that covers the brain and spinal cord

What type of meningitis are there?
  • Viral
    • caused by viruses like enteroviruses or herpes simplex virus
    • this is the most common type
    • symptoms are far less serious and often it mimics the common flu
  • Bacterial
    • caused by bacteria like Neisseria meningitidis and Streptococcus pneumonia
    • rare but can be life threatening if not treated
    • we have vaccines to prevent some forms so talk to your doctor and get vaccinated
  • Fungal
    • caused by fungus like Cryptococcus and Histoplasma
    • even more rare and more challenging to treat
    • usually patients with certain medical conditions are higher risk of getting this
  • Parasitic
    • caused by parasites in contaminated food, water, or soil
    • less common in developed countries
  • Noninfectious
    • caused by things like cancer, lupus, head injury, drugs, or surgery
What are the symptoms of meningitis?  
(here are a few common symptoms...)
  • fever / chills
  • severe headache
  • stiff neck
  • nausea / vomiting
  • confusion
  • seizures
  • difficulty waking up
  • sensitivity to light
How is it treated?
It really depends on the type of meningitis.  Antibiotics are given for bacterial meningitis and antifungals for fungal meningitis.  Most cases of viral meningitis are treated with fluids and supportive care.  Sometimes, hospitalization is required if the symptoms are severe.  Call your doctor if you have any of the symptoms above.  Since meningitis can be serious leading to even death, it is a good idea to vaccinate for the types that can be prevented.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Medifast Weight Loss Program

I'm doing it!  Just last week, I decided to offer the Medifast Diet Plan to my patients.  Thank you, Dr Lee, for telling me about this!

You can read more about it on my medifast website here, but in a nutshell it is a very low calorie, no brainer method of weight loss.  I like it for several reasons...

  • No brainer - so good for the patients who don't want to count calories
  • Meals are designed to be very low in calories yet satisfying...
  • I will be the health coach walking alongside and helping my patients stick to the plan
  • After weight loss is achieved, there is a transition period and then maintenance
  • Cost to the patient is only for the meal replacement foods they are eating and comes out to about $10/day... and you should really only need to do this weight loss phase for 1-3 months before transitioning back to "real life" food and then maintenance
Initial weight loss is fairly simple and most people can achieve this if they follow any diet plan.  However, the trick is to keep it off and with the coaching that goes along with Medifast Diet Plan, I'm excited that I can offer something to my patients that can be lasting.  The goal is to develop healthy eating habits and to achieve optimal health.  Haha.. I sound like an ad on tv but I truly am excited about this and want to see my patients get off of their blood pressure, diabetes, or  cholesterol meds!  Will keep you posted...