Who Is Jake Roth And Why Is He Ruining My Fantasies?

LG: “Mom, Jake Roth said Winnie the Pooh 3 is coming out.  Jake Roth said that you can eat in the castle at Disney World.  Oh, Jake Roth said that camels have water in their humps.”

Me: “Well, Winnie the Pooh is coming out, but I don’t think it is number 3 and camels have humps, but I don’t think they are filled with water.  We can look it up when we get home.  And yes, you can eat in the castle at Disney World.  Would you like to do that?  There are lots of princesses, but I think Prince Charming is there.  Would you like to meet a real prince?”

LG: “Jake Roth says everyone at Disney is just a regular person in a costume.”

Me: (dropping everything) “WHAT?!?!?!?!?!”

Who is Jake Roth and why is he ruining my fantasies?  Does this Jake person know about Santa Claus?  If Jake Roth tells LG about Santa and LG tells Super about Santa, then Mr. Jake Roth is gonna have some explaining to do.

Seriously, my baby is growing up.  It isn’t going to be long before the magic and wonder vanish and the too cool boy emerges.  I realize I have spent a lot of time over the last 4 ½ years wishing LG would “act like a big boy.”  After all, big boys sleep in their own beds, big boys don’t cry at the park when they get a scratch, big boys eat their vegetables, and big boys go peeps and poops in the potty.  But really big boys don’t need their moms so much either.

LG has a new way to tease me.  I’ve been telling him he is so big he can do everything for himself, so he says “I still need you to drive me places.”  HA! And he will say “I still need you to cook my food.”  Laughing of course because if he wasn’t he’d get a good talking to.  We laugh about this little tease because I know that he knows we both need each other for a lot more than everyday chores.

I told LG the other day that he was getting so heavy that soon I wouldn’t be able to pick him up.  He giggled and hugged me.  Then he said “Mom, even when I’m big I’ll still be your baby, right?” I looked at him with tears in my eyes.  He had them too.  Maybe I’ve read I’ll Love You Forever one too many times, but that was the most precious thing I think I’ve ever heard.  I guess knowing there are Jake Roths in the world made those tears bittersweet.  Does anyone have Jake’s parents’ phone number because I’m pretty sure he needs a time out to think about what he’s done.

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Fruit of the Giving Tree

We have a mango tree in our backyard. That isn’t so unique. I can’t imagine how many noncommercial fruit trees there are in the yards of Florida. Growing up, I had a fig tree. My grandmother had a satsuma tree. The playground in my elementary school even had a huge pecan tree.  There’s nothing extraordinary about having fruit or nuts in your backyard in Florida (or your family for that matter but that’s another post).

our mango tree

Recently, I was talking to my four year-old, LG, about the tons of mangoes on our lone tree out back. I asked him what we should do with all the mangoes. He replied with a few very interesting recipes. And then he said something special. He said, “maybe we could sell the mangoes and give the money to someone who needs it.” Brilliant! Why not? Sure, I’d be happy to give mangoes to my friends and my hubs would be thrilled to eat a bucket load, but even then there would be plenty left over. Seriously, do all mango trees make so much fruit?

For the past few weeks we’ve been talking about selling the mangoes, making signs and generally getting excited.  This past weekend it finally happened.  We set up a mango stand (think lemonade) at the beach while visiting the boys’ cousins who also got in on the act.  Turns out, LG is a born salesman.  No sooner did we have the signs up than he started yelling “Mangoes! Mangoes!” I don’t even know where he came up with that. Ha!

ready for their first customers

After a short while, the boys wanted to hit the waves.  So, we left the unsold mangoes, brown bags, knives, and fliers in the shade with our little donation bag sitting next to them.  When LG looked up from the beach and saw a group of people crowded around the stand he got very excited and started shouting, “Mom! We have customers! Look!”

on the honor system

By the end of our day, there were only a few mangoes left.  As we packed the car with all the gear that comes with taking two small boys to the beach (boogie boards, blankets, umbrellas, floaties, towels, changes of clothes, coolers, buckets, shovels, nets, etc.) a church group ran up to the car yelling for us to wait.  They wanted mangoes and hadn’t had a chance to grab them yet.  They cleaned us out in the parking lot! LG proudly stood there with his donation bag and a giant grin on his face.  Super G helped, too.

parking lot sales

In the end, we made $50 for charity.  The boys helped me count the money.  We talked about dollars and coins and what each is worth.  We talked about the responsibility of keeping up with the money.  We talked about being polite and saying “thank you” to our customers.  Sounds basic, but all good lessons for a 4 and (almost) 3 year old.  Fifty bucks isn’t much really, but I’m sure any charity would be glad to have it.

cousins - feeling good about doing good

I’m so proud that my Little Guy thought of something so amazing all on his own. I can’t wait to see the look on his face when he turns that money over.  Being charitable at any age is noble.  Being charitable at age four? Now that is extraordinary!

We’d love you to have your own Fruit of the Giving Tree stand! If you do, please take some pictures and post them to our Facebook page (and “like” the page too): https://www.facebook.com/pages/Fruit-of-the-Giving-Tree/227333387278591?sk=wall

To find out more about the charity we are supporting, please visit Two Sisters Trust at www.twosisters.org.za and www.active.com/donate/runf​orafrica2012 where you can donate to the cause.

my sister-in-law is running a DOUBLE marathon to raise money for an orphanage in desperate need

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Lucco Takes Kids (and Adults) To Far Off Places

I love to travel.  I should say I loved to travel. Since LG was born 4 1/2 years ago we haven’t gone far or often. Even though I’m a little out of practice, I’ve got the itch. So this summer, we’re doing it. We’re packing up our suitcases and the kids and heading out of town.  Yay us!

My husband and I wonder whether trekking off with the little ones is worth it. He keeps asking if they’ll remember. I think the experience will be good for them, even if they forget the details.

To make the most of it, I want to prep the boys a little for what they’ll see and do. I thought we’d look at some pictures, maybe watch a YouTube video or two, and read a book if I can find a good one (let me know if you know of one).

We’re going to Boston this year. Maybe next year we’ll get a little more adventurous and hop across the pond. If we do, I just found the perfect books for the occasion. The Bella and Harry series written by Lisa Manzione and illustrated by Kristine Lucco are just the thing! Bella and Harry are adorable Chihuahua siblings who travel through Europe with their owners. The stories follow the dogs on one jam-packed vacation day and are filled with the sights, smells, sounds, and tastes of the cities in which they are set. So far, there are only three books series with visits to Venice, Paris, and London.

My favorite thing about the books was the beautiful illustrations. In Let’s Visit Paris the Eiffel Tower soars above the tiny puppies and the two walk right through a Monet!  Lucco even had the great challenge of illustrating the Mona Lisa (or the “Melissa” as Super shouted when we looked at the “snapshots” at the end of the book).

I was lucky enough to catch up with Kristine Lucco as she painted a new restaurant in a town near mine, SEA in Lauderdale-By-the-Sea.  It was fascinating.  My friend and I sat quietly watching her paint.  We had things to do and places to go, but we sat, staring at her as she effortlessly and in the blink of an eye painted a series of orange jellyfish floating up the wall and across the ceiling. She quickly transformed what was once an Italian cafe into an undersea experience.

As we offered suggestions for her next creation, she joked, “What am I a marine anatomy expert?”  She scoffed and then painted exactly what we requested, an octopus “with lots of suckers.”  She may not be a marine anatomy expert (though you’d never know), but it appears she is an expert at telling a visual story.

See Kristine’s beautiful work in the Bella and Harry series and, if you are near SEA go see her work up close.  Oh, and if you know of a good children’s book about Boston, let me know.  I should’ve asked Kristine to whip one up for me with her magic paintbrush.

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History for Our Future

With No Child Left Behind up for renewal, the debate over the decline of social studies instruction has been heating up.  There is really no question that students are performing poorly in history and civics these days with only 12% of students scoring at a “proficient” level in 2010’s National Assessment of Educational Progress.  A few lives ago I was a history teacher, so maybe I’m biased, but I think that this is a crying shame.

“A primary object…should be the education of our youth in the science of government. In a republic, what species of knowledge can be equally important? And what duty more pressing…than…communicating it to those who are to be the future guardians of the liberties of the country.” – George Washington

Besides being beneficial, kids love learning about things that happened long ago and people who live in different lands. Think about it, castles, princesses (the poofy-dressed kind), knights, pirates, cowboys, and Victorian tea parties are things of days gone by. Not to mention that far off places are the settings for wild animal adventures and mountain climbing expeditions. This is exciting stuff!

While fighting the battle in the legislature is worthwhile, the implementation of any change will take time.  In the meantime, there are some fantastic resources you can use with your kids at home.  So, I’m going to share all I can about how you can increase your child’s understanding of history, civics, and geography.  (I’m going to love writing these posts. I love OLD stuff!)

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Boom Boom Pow! Not Now.

I love July 4th. I’m a history nerd and emotionally patriotic. I record lots of Revolutionary War shows around this time of year and I usually get misty when I hear Lee Greenwood.  

For years, on July 4 my hubby and I would to go the beach and watch fireworks with friends after a day of cool drinks in the hot sun. We would bar-b-que and relax. Good times.

In the days leading up to and following July 4, we never even noticed the popping of firecrackers or the whistling of fireworks. If we saw a premature or delayed firework, we’d probably smile and watch without much thought.

My mother-in-law has hated fireworks for years.  She’s taken the phrase “dog person” to a whole new level. She’d be so mad that her lab was scared and hiding in the closet that she would walk around the house mumbling curses.  I would shrug it off. Kill joy.

Then, I had kids.  I loved watching fireworks with them.  Their wonder and excitement was contagious. They “Wow!”ed and “Look! Look!”ed with every burst. It was so precious!

But, heaven forbid some rabble rouser shoot even a bottle rocket off a day early or late. And if some upstart shot one off earlier or later than that I felt fire in my veins. I had sleeping kids! Didn’t these people have any respect for a 7:30 bedtime?  I channelled my mother-in-law and cursed under my breath.

My kids are old enough now that it doesn’t matter.  I think back on that time in my life and wonder why I didn’t just let it go.  One night of lost sleep wasn’t going to hurt them or me, right?  But then I remember that to a new mom, bed time is sacred and sleeping kids are something not to be messed with.  How quickly we forget the struggles of having a tiny one.

So, if you are a new mom and find yourself clinching your fists at July 5th fireworks, know that you are not alone.  There are plenty of moms of babies and dogs who are doing the same thing.  And take comfort in knowing that, like mine, your baby will grow out of the stage where the pops and whistles will keep him up and where an hour of lost sleep will ruin your tomorrow.  But if your dog has been in the closet for the past week, next year you might just wanna take a trip to Canada where they still love the Queen.

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Childhood Memories? Maybe Not.

A recent study received quite a bit of media attention when it showed that the n-back method actually improves children’s memories.  If you aren’t familiar with it, n-back is an activity in which a child is asked to remember a sequence of objects or placements of objects.  While the results of the study sounded intriguing to me, realistically I knew that there was no way I was going to get my two boys to sit through even one day of this sort of activity.  It got me thinking though, a little recall would be good brain exercise for them.  Plus, I remembered (miracle!) reading something a while back about the benefits of asking kids to recall their experiences.  Maybe I could make our car rides to and from school a little more beneficial by encouraging recall.  So, I gave it a go.

My oldest is four and a half years old, let’s call him “Little Guy” or “LG” for short. He never forgets anything. He recalls even the smallest detail.  It’s a little scary really.  I knew he’d love talking about all of his adventures. I started asking him more recall questions and he gushed about things he’d seen, done, or eaten.  This was going to be fun, easy, and productive.  Mommy success.  I love mommy success.

Clip art licensed from the Clip Art Gallery on DiscoverySchool.com

Then, I started asking my baby who is almost three, let’s call him “Super Little Guy” or “Super” for short, and I got the same detailed, enthusiastic answers. The only problem was that the answers were coming from LG! Super couldn’t get a word in. When I asked LG not to answer for his brother, he sulked and Super would shrug his shoulders, say “I don’t know,” and look at LG.  As if to illustrate the causes of differing personality traits based on sequence of birth, my kids were displaying one of the reasons that the last born is often be babied to the point of helplessness.  Now that is a problem.

Me: Super, what did you eat for lunch?

Super: I don’t know.

Me: Well, who did you play with at school?

Super: I don’t know.

Me: Did you play with Michael (impossible since there is no Michael in his class).

Super: (with enthusiasm) YES! MICHAEL!

Me: No you didn’t. Who did you play with?

Super: I’m not talking to you.

Me: Perfect. (sigh)

Clip art licensed from the Clip Art Gallery on DiscoverySchool.com

Clip art licensed from the Clip Art Gallery on DiscoverySchool.com

While this all started innocently enough, what it did is make me realize how much Super relies on LG.  Now, I have a new and seemingly more difficult task on my hands, encourage Super to be independent and not rely on his brother for everything, all the while not stifling LG’s enthusiasm for helping.  I’m up for this small challenge and I’m glad I recognized this issue while they are still so young, but if I don’t do something soon, Super is not going to remember a thing (much like his mommy).

Have you noticed something similar in your kids? Do you have any tips?

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Tale of the Masked Baby (or Why I Hate Albuterol)

The day started as too many others had.  My baby (age 2 at the time) had that dreaded cough.  I jumped on it.  I knew exactly what that cough was, asthma.  I hated that sound.  It sent me into the worst mood.  I knew what was coming.  My little one was going to have to sit through nebulizer treatments, aka “the smoke,” every few hours.  There would be no school for him so that he could be near his nebulizer mask and could tell me when his chest hurt by saying “Mommy, I need a treatment.” It broke my heart.  Not to mention I knew I would need to set my alarm to wake up at least twice during the night to blow that mist in his face.  No one was happy when the baby had an attack.

So, we started Albuterol and Budesonide treatments.  It seemed that the first round did its job and, like always, I thought to myself “I did it!”  I thought I had I caught it early enough and that he wouldn’t have a bad attack.  And, like always, a few hours later he needed another treatment.  Seemed to me like maybe he needed it a little more than he did the first time, but I kept hoping.

Murphy’s law would have it that just as the pediatrician’s office closed, the baby was having a nasty attack.  It was time for a doctor and this time it would have to be urgent care.  I put both boys in the car, called my husband to meet me, and hurried off with a coughing, but not yet wheezing baby.

When we arrived, the nurse rushed us back to a giant tank of Albuterol and began a treatment telling us she would do this every 15 minutes or so to get the attack under control.  Fifteen minutes after the first treatment, he definitely needed another.  After the next dose, he was wheezing badly and gasping for air.  When the doctor suggested another dose before I “left for the emergency room,” I screamed, “STOP!”

It doesn’t take a medical degree, or a high school diploma for that matter, to see that he was getting much worse with each treatment.  I said to the doctor, “Look at him. He wasn’t this bad when we got here.  Do something!”  The doctor said he was going to try something that wasn’t usually done.  He gave my little one Epinephrine.  It worked!  The doctor explained that this is the sort of treatment kids got in the 80s, but it wasn’t preferred anymore.  Then he said something really interesting, “Some kids just don’t do well on Albuterol.  They seem to get worse.”  Thanks for the news flash.  That was clear.  My question was, if some kids get worse on a drug why did he seem so perplexed by my baby’s reaction?  And why would doctors give the drug without question?  And was there a better alternative?

This sent me straight to Google for some investigative work.  Turns out, many experts say Albuterol is pro-constrictory, pro-inflammatory, and accumulates in the lungs.  I said “pro” that means in kids who are in the middle of an asthma attack, whose lungs are inflamed and closed off are taking a drug that will increase the inflammation and constriction from which they are suffering.  To say I was livid was an understatement.

Each time he had gotten sick I had hoped for the best.  Each time I had done what a professional told me to do.  And each time he got worse.  I thought it was the asthma’s fault.  Turns out it was mine.

I told my doctor who seemed to dismiss my research and my description of what had happened at urgent care.  Regardless, he gave me a prescription for Xopenex ((R)-albuterol/levalbuterol).  According the studies I read, Xopenex costs more but doesn’t increase inflammation or constriction and doesn’t accumulate in the lungs like Albuterol.  Seems my doctor isn’t alone in dismissing my observations.  The internet is full of doctors and pharmacists that say Albuterol is just as safe and effective as Xopenex.  I disagree, at least as far as my baby goes, and I’m not alone.

What a difference! He responded, his condition didn’t deteriorate with each dose, and he could sleep through the night without coughing.  He doesn’t need either drug anymore, and I’ll tell you why in a different post, but if your child has asthma, research this yourself and, if you are having similar issues, considering talking with your doctor about switching from Albuterol to Xopenex.  Hopefully, you and your child will sleep and breathe a little easier.

*Please note that I am not a doctor, I am a lawyer (thus the disclaimer), and nothing I stated in this post is intended to be medical advice or used in the diagnosis or treatment of any individual.  Talk to your child’s doctor before administering any medication and do not withhold any medication mentioned in this blog without first speaking to your child’s doctor.

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