Motherhood, Marriage and Other Wild Rides

Health, Happiness and the Pursuit of Mommyhood

#8 Fun Things to do with Your Family this Weekend August 29, 2008

Become a “Junior Chef” Star!

The revolution has begun! Kids are in the kitchen preparing delicious and healthy meals all by themselves. Junior Chefs of America is the first kids’ web-based cooking program hosted by real kids who love to cook. The website teaches parents and kids how to create fresh, home-cooked meals, inspiring a new generation of smart eaters!
 
The creator and producer of the online show, Michelle Green, is a mother of ten-year-old twin boys, Alex and Jake, who love to cook. Michelle invites kids across America to create their own webisodes and upload them to the site–YOU could be the next Junior Chef star!
Here are some tips for producing a winning webisode! 
  • Maintain eye-contact with the camera, the same way you would if you were speaking with a friend. Make sure your recipe is delicious, nutritious, and easy to prepare
  • As you make your favorite recipe on camera, be sure to wash your hands first, and explain EVERY step. Explain it thoroughly, but keep it fast-paced and high-energy. Include a tip or two on safety in the kitchen–handling tools, storing food properly, cleaning up, etc
  • Have mom or dad follow you closely and steadily with the camera. Ensure adequate lighting
  • Download this release form, complete it, and send it with your webisode
  • A good sense of humor gets an A+

Upload your webisode (and completed release form) at www.jrchefsofamerica.com

Apple Whiz

Any recipe with the word “whiz” in the title obviously predates the Food Network. My mom scribbled this recipe when she was yet a stay-at-home-mom—decades before anyone coined the acronym SAHM—and it’s a tried and true, family-friendly winner.
According to September’s issue of Real Simple magazine, legendary 19th century nurseryman Johnny Appleseed (John Chapman) is said to have planted apple orchards over 75,000 square miles across the US Midwest. The Johnny Appleseed Society reports at least one of those trees, in Ashland County, Ohio, is still bearing fruit. (Good baking apples can be found nearly year-round. Visit my other blog, UnassumingFoodie.com for apple variety suggestions.)

Future Environmentalists Club

By raising our children with a strong sense of respect and reverence for Earth, we help ensure that there will be adults to step into ecological leadership positions.”–Helen Coronato, author of  Eco-Friendly Families,

Gratitude in our homes helps us feel connected. Encourage your kids to show their gratitude for family mealtimes by creating a centerpiece for the dinner table.

  • Recycle a used aluminum pie plate by affixing candles to it by melting the candle into the plate and pushing the candles into it. (Note: Little ones should make a centerpiece without candles.)
  • Surround the candles with natural treasures, such as rocks, leaves or pinecones, in lieu of store-bought items.
  • Each evening, light the gratitude candles (or place a small card inscribed with the words “thank you” among the treasures). Each person then takes a turn thanking someone in their life: a friend, grand-parent, co-worker, school bus driver, mail carrier, store clerk… whoever helps make life run more smoothly.

Family Deals and Contests

Win a copy of Rebeca Seitz’s newest book Coming Unglued , a fabulous follow-up to the well-received Sisters Ink (Scrapbooker’s Series #1) , simply by giving your “momtourage” a shout out! Visit the Momtourage Contest here for more info!

Still need school supplies? Click here for information about great Back-to-School deals online!

If you like what you read here and would like to support me in a small but meaningful way, please visit my Amazon store, Motherhood Must-Haves.

I also invite you to submit your family’s fun weekend activities—The best ones will be featured here!
Looking for more weekend ideas? Click here for Fun Things To Do archived entries

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My Potty Baby – Update August 28, 2008

We are very excited about appearing on The Doctors, on CBS, in September. The show premieres nationwide Monday. September 8, 2008 (Check local listings for station and time). I’m still not sure when our episode will appear, but I’ll keep you posted!

People keep asking me how Noah’s potty training is coming along. Since I published this post about Noah being 60% trained using the Baby Signs Potty Training Kit at 14 months, we are now at 16 months and the training is chugging along. The 60% mark was both a milestone and an obstacle. Getting there was a breeze! Getting past it has been the true challenge, and I’ll tell you why: Noah became obsessed with walking and talking. I URGE mommies who are interested in early potty training to begin (ideally) at 9 months, because your baby is stable enough to sit, can most likely crawl to the potty, and the “pop-up” made famous by new walkers is far enough away that you can make impressive potty progress. 

We have had to be very diligent about keeping Noah’s interest on signing and potty use while celebrating his ability to walk and talk. The good news is that, for the most part, he takes his potty for granted–it’s just part of his daily routine, and while he does appreciate a round of applause for a “job” well done, he does his business quite routinely without prompting, and finishes without remark, moving on to the next activity. I never thought I’d say this, much less publicly, but it’s a special sort of treat to notice the potty’s been used without our help. It means he felt the need, got on it himself, and got off without a mess, just like a big boy. Parents of preschoolers handing out reward after reward take note.

Noah’s ability to talk has been nothing short of amazing. I understand that sign language can be useful for encouraging language skills in babies, but I am just as surprised as anyone to hear Noah identifying letters of the alphabet correctly, making their sounds, and repeating them in order. He reads the letters in words and signs all day long, and can identify at least a dozen animals by the sound they make. (He calls ducks “quack-quack”, dogs are “woof-woof”, owls are “hoot-hoot”, etc.) What I find particularly interesting is that he uses the sound twice for most animals–that takes a lot of control! Cats are only “meow”, cows say “moooo” and mice go “squeek”, so he does limit the sounds for some animals. Strangely, he makes the most life-like noise for a pig (especially for someone who has never met a real pig!) We simply must record it. This may seem like an exhaustive list, but I want to remember the details of these spectacular baby days.

So, why not, I’ll continue. Noah is beginning to identify his colors, especially green, and he is beginning to name everything, such as flowers, stars and butterflies. It really is exciting for us as parents. My husband loves the fact that when a tissue is placed in front of his nose, he’ll actually blow. (We have yet to impart this concept to our 3-year-old.) Speaking of noses, everything: eyes, ears, mouth and nose, are called “eyes” by him. Hey, we’re working on it!

The toughest achievement, for me, has been his ability to climb. No longer am I able to play along with my preschooler at the park–his baby brother takes off in the opposite direction at full speed, climbs whatever ladder or steps are available (even the ones marked for 5 to 12-year-olds) ascending swiftly, and maneuvers himself to the very highest point of the play structure, where he’ll throw himself down the tallest slide he can find, grinning the whole way down. I write this with a wee bit of pride in my heart, but the entire experience of visiting the park has become altogether daunting. Watching him, my heart races, I begin to sweat with fear for his safety, and I’ve left the park in tears and rattled nerves from worry about my child tumbling from 2 stories. All the while, I feel compassion for my preschooler Joseph who needs my attention also, and just wants me to chase and play with him. Visiting the playground has become a 2-person job. I’ll need to schedule additional Mommy-and-Joseph time alone—He’s a fun and fascinating little person with a tremendous capacity for love, and I remember as well as he does our life together before Baby #2.

 

Coping as a New Mommy August 26, 2008

This previously published article is now available for FREE reprint! Simply include my name and byline. (Please note: all names have been changed for the electronic version.)

 

The night before Anna Caldwell was released from the hospital, the realization of her new role as mommy threatened to overwhelm her. In the weeks leading up to delivery, she’d grown increasingly more confident, preparing the nursery, making plans to breast-feed and perusing current parenting literature. However, that night, “I had my emotional ‘moment’ when anxiety hit and I couldn’t control it. I didn’t want to take anything because I was attempting to breast-feed. My husband was going home to sleep because he has back problems (rods, pins and fused areas of his spine) and wasn’t doing well sleeping in the hospital’s chair,” Anna recalls. “But when he saw how upset I was, he ended up staying the night and we shared the hospital bed together and it was the best moment ever and I will never forget it.”  

 

As mommies-to-be, nothing can truly prepare us for the transition from pushing to parenthood. We eagerly await our baby’s arrival, reading books about birth, labor and baby-care, taking classes and talking with friends, yet each woman’s response to motherhood is as individual and unique as her little newborn.

 

A new mom’s first line of defense is a solid network of trustworthy helpers. Know now that the laundry and house-cleaning will pile up quickly. Other areas for concern are meal preparation and care of siblings and pets. Stock your freezer with at least two weeks’ worth of meals, and prepare a pre-delivery gameplan by assigning household tasks to reliable helpers. Aide can come in the form of grandmothers, sisters, cousins, neighbors, friends and church connections. When choosing your network of support people, think quality–not quantity. You don’t want a houseful of houseguests, just a few empathetic, unobtrusive helpmates who understand that ironing and folding laundry or mopping the floor are possibly the most caring gifts they can give.

 

These tasks, however, often fall to the new daddy. “Rob was awesome. He worked ten hours a day but still took care of the dishes, the laundry and walking our dog. We decided to hire a monthly cleaning service to take care of deep cleaning but Rob really took on many of the duties I know he hates,” shares Abbey Nguyen. If at all possible, do find an alternative person to handle the more practical chores. Your partner will be eager to be with you and the baby.

 

More importantly, a significant other can help an unsuspecting new mommy blindsided by emotions ranging in depth and variety that could prove overpowering. While there is much documentation and help available for women suffering from post-partum depression, what is surprising to many new mothers is the experience of loving her new baby. “I never knew I could love this hard,” confesses Rosa Gerardo. “I just stare at my son and cry. I just love him so much it almost hurts.” When Mandy and Jared Alexander brought baby Leta home from the hospital, nothing could have prepared them for Mandy’s acute response to Leta’s every coo and gurgle. A bewildering mixture of hormones, oxytocin released when breast-feeding and the climax of the arrival of the newest member of the family can virtually paralyze an overjoyed new mother anxious to do everything right. A loving and supportive partner and the help of other women who have “been there” can assist a new mommy to embrace her role and garner confidence.

 

Every new mother asked, “what did you need help with most?” reported similarly that breast-feeding posed the biggest hurdle. Julianna Carver explains, “I was determined to breast-feed Madeline before she was even born, but I had no idea how difficult and hard it would be for us. The nurses in the hospital were not much help and because she was born on a Saturday, the lactation nurse was unavailable. I tried and tried but felt like such a failure.” While she was fortunate enough to have help with her recovery, Julianna continued to struggle with nursing. “I had my mom there to cook, clean and help me with anything I needed. My husband took two weeks off to help and bond with Madeline, but, the one thing they couldn’t help me with was nursing. We had a doula at our birth and she came over to help. She introduced me to Soothies and a nipple shield. I also went to the Mother and Baby Wellness Center associated with my hospital and the La Leche League and got one-on-one assistance. After many days without success, the nurse at the Wellness Center finally discovered that Madeline had an underdeveloped sucking mechanism. She taught me how to help Madeline develop a proper sucking method.”

 

Nguyen empathizes, adding, ”I never expected that breastfeeding would be so difficult. I figured: put the breast out and let her suck away. There were times when I thought I wasn’t producing enough milk or that Isabella wasn’t getting enough because she’d constantly fall asleep while nursing. Also, being on call to nurse every two to three hours was grueling. I never left Isabella’s side for the first two months.”

 

As a new mommy looking forward to the (eventually!) very rewarding bonding experience and many health benefits of breast-feeding, begin planning now. Make arrangements to enjoy full advantage of lactation professionals at your hospital, enlist the help of a doula, or visit a local support organization. Also, put aside any embarrassment and simply ask a mother who’s done it before. It’s likely she’ll be all too willing to share advice from the trenches. Gerardo discovered a natural camaraderie among women taking a break to nurse in the spacious restrooms of better department stores, a surprisingly excellent place to meet up with other new moms nursing and changing newborns in the ladies’ rest area.

 

The best advice for a new mother? Accept the unknown. “Because I had a C-section, no one knew the extent of my recovery,” shares Nguyen. “Between Rob, my mom and sister, there was someone with me around the clock for the first week. After that, my mom went back to work but spent the night so that I would have help with night feedings and such. I think I just appreciated the fact that my husband never questioned when I’d get back to normal. He just let me recover in my own time and allowed me to relax. Of course, having my mom and sister around to help him wasn’t so bad. Had we been alone, things might have been a bit more chaotic.”

 

Julianna agrees. Her husband was her number one ally; “Ethan was so supportive. Madeline had colic so we would take turns rocking her, patting her bottom and walking around the house. He was a big help in that aspect.” 

 

With the same care and attention you put into your baby registry, begin rallying the troops to help with your recovery. While details including length of time you’ll recover and any obstacles you may face remain unknown, highlight the knowns. First on the list should be meals. You may need assistance simply to use the toilet­–don’t expect to be able to cook. Also, your partner will be very busy attending to you and the baby; Find others to help with the cooking, cleaning, pet care and errands. Remember, however, to space out visits from your helpers. Your new family will all need plenty of undisturbed rest and are unlikely to have the energy to entertain. Keep in mind that, historically, women around the world have always had the immediate, unwavering support of family, in-laws, neighbors and members of the family’s religious community on hand after delivery. Never before have women been expected to recover so quickly with so little help. If family or friends are unavailable, seek the help of a post-partum doula, who will gladly do light housekeeping, help with other children and provide babycare instruction She will also contribute breast-feeding support and watch the baby while mommy rests.

 

Post-partum doulas can be especially valuable to those with multiple births, and can teach parents organizational tricks to make the first few months a little easier.

 

The bottomline: don’t be afraid to reach out. And, if help is offered, please accept it.

 

What to Expect, and Watching for the Unexpected

Awareness of the following “red flags” and common recovery concerns can help you recognize when and how to get assistance.

 

Symptoms of Post-Partum Depression

  • Sadness, hopelessness                             
  • poor concentration, confusion
  • uncontrollable crying, irritability                   
  • feelings of guilt, inadequacy
  • lack of interest in the baby                           
  • fear of harming the baby or yourself
  • fear of losing control or “going crazy”

If you are experiencing any or several of these symptoms, alert your partner and get in touch with your healthcare professional and/or seek out help from one of the services listed in the resource box. If you are extremely troubled by these symptoms, go to the emergency room of the nearest hospital.

           

Tips for Recovery

What to expect: Downtime–get your rest!                                               

How to handle it: Have your babycare books, phone and a camera in bed with you and the baby. Keep food supplies within reach: water, energy bars, cheese, dried and fresh fruit, etc.

What to expect: Enlarged uterus, approx. grapefruit size 

How to handle it: Massage your uterus several times a day until it feels quite firm. By the end of the first week, you shouldn’t feel it anymore.

What to expect: Vaginal flow (lochia)

How to handle it: Until the placental site is healed, you will have a bright red flow similar to your period. Do not over-exert yourself. Rest. Use an incontinence product such as Depend. Do not use tampons.

What to expect: Pain from hemorrhoids or sutures

How to handle it: Avoid sitting. Try sitz baths 2-3 times daily for 15 minutes to promote healing. Sprays such as Americaine reduce pain.

What to expect: Sore, tender breasts.

How to handle it: Use a good-quality, supportive nursing bra without underwire.

Try Soothies and Lansinoh, and experiment with hot and cold packs.

 

Recovering from  a C-section?

Be realistic. Remember that you are recovering from childbirth, recovering from

major surgery, and dealing with the challenges of a new baby. Take it easy; you

should be able to resume activities by 6-8 weeks after surgery.

Get regular. Pain medications like codeine can be constipating. As soon as

possible, switch to a non-steroidal, like ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil).

 

If you like what you read here and would like to support me in a small but meaningful way,

please visit my Amazon store, Motherhood Must-Haves.

·                          

 

Nebraska law allows abandonment of teens August 25, 2008

You may have read MSN’s article today headlined Nebraska law allows abandonment of teens, regarding “safe-havens” potentially permitting parents to drop off kids as old as 19 years.

While Nebraska is the last state to adopt the safe-haven practice (a program typically involving a hospital accepting newborns from verified parents, no questions asked), the program has its opponents, but has also resulted in joy-filled adoptions and curbed potential infanticide.

I can’t imagine there is a parent in the world who has not suffered (immeasurably!) from the torments of a surly, contemptuous, possibly foul-mouthed teenage rebel. (Sorry, mom and dad. I know I gave you your share!) And I have no idea what parents of disabled children must go through, but I do know that children are not disposable. Abandoning a child must remain a crime everywhere.

I understand supporters of this law purport that it will help abused children, but I stand firm. It would be far better for a preteen or teen to choose to run away from abuse then to have his or her parents (or guardian–Nebraska does not require the abandoners be the parents!) drop the kid off. I’m not a proponent of running away, nor am I suggesting it be a solution for abused kids; I’m looking at it as damage-control. How many children in divorced families have you encountered who long for, who ache for a parent who has distanced him or herself from the children? I don’t care if mommy has a new family now or daddy is an alcoholic, children absolutely desire their parent’s love and attention. And if horrible reality TV shows such as Wife Swap can teach us anything, it’s that no matter how screwed up your parents are, they are the ones you love and want.

Perhaps I should bring up the fact that I was adopted. Taken in at only 3 months of age, my adopted parents are the only ones I know. Certainly, I put them through torment after torment as a teenager, but then rounded the corner to adulthood (and a family of my own) and throughout my adult life, we could all agree we are close and loving. However, I’ve always believed two parents are enough, thank you very much, and I’ve never sought to find my birth parents. Had my birth-mom chosen to give me up at age 10, for instance, I would feel entirely different. I’ve been told by women who’ve chosen to place their children up for adoption that their fear is their child will grow up with a sense of being unwanted. Maslow’s Heirarchy of Needs supports the theory that we all must have a sense of belonging in order to thrive, and I can think of no crueler means of destroying this in a child then, after raising a child for 8, 10, 12, 14 (however many years),  dropping them off, cutting them from your family and life irrevocably. This sounds like torture, the ultimate rejection. Who could recover from this? And where will these children go? Who will raise them?

My son Joseph, who is 3 and is showered with love daily, struggles with the worry that his place in our hearts may be shaken when he makes a mistake or breaks a rule. I have recently begun a ritual at bedtime when I snuggle him close and whisper to him, “Mommy always loves Joseph,” so that he will internalize that, no matter what, he is loved and accepted—always.

When parents bring a child into this world, they are responsible for them. If the parent cannot raise the child sufficiently, there are already laws in place to protect children from neglect and abuse. Children need protection; Parents should not be permitted to abandon them.

 

#7 Fun Things to do with Your Family this Weekend August 24, 2008

Does your family Recycle? Great! Now, let’s Renew and Reuse! 
Before you take the recycling bin down to the curb, let’s reuse items to create useful paper or host a Renewable Project Runway competition for tweens!

Make Your Own Paper!

Make Your Own Home-Made Paper by recycling your unwanted bills and junkmail into custom-made personal stationery! The average American household receives over 100 pounds of unwanted junkmail every year—give it a noble use! This easy craft is courtesy of the fine people at Craft magazine.

  • Little artists in your house will love having home-made paper for coloring and drawing, wrapping birthday presents or making greeting cards. 
  • Try using cookie cutters to incorporate designs into your paper 
  • Once you’ve created the tools to make paper, reusing junkmail for custom paper can become a regular family activity—and potentially a science fair project!

 Classic Cream Pie

This classic recipe deserves a “Best Use of Graham Crackers” award! (Actually, the last time I made it, I substituted Annie’s organic baby crackers.)
Did you know graham crackers were named for Presbyterian minister Reverend Sylvester Graham, who touted the merits of a high-fiber, vegetarian diet and promoted the use of homemade, unsifted wheat flour instead of refined white flour? 
Enjoy this heirloom recipe (passed down from my Grandmother to you!) while you gather with the kids and grandparents to watch old Charlie Chaplin and Three Stooges classic “pie-in-the-face” movies. 
(For more family-friendly recipes, visit my other blog, UnassumingFoodie.com.)

Future Environmentalists Club

Make it work, people. Here is a fun challenge for fashion-crazed tweens. Host your own “Renewable Project Runway” competition, using only items from the recycling bin (newspapers, rinsed cans and bottles, lids, cardboard cereal boxes, etc.), masking tape, scissors and whole lot of imagination.
Each competitor designs and models his or her own creation (or have teams of two work together!)—the sky is the limit for this earth-friendly challenge.

Designate moms and dads to assume the roles of Heidi Klum, Tim Gunn, Michael Kors and Nina Garcia—and a few celebrity judges, of course, dahlings! Award prizes for Most Chic, Cutest, Most Outrageous, Funniest—and a say Auf Wiedersehen to those who just can’t make it work!

Family Deals and Contests

WIN a copy of Rebeca Seitz’s newest book Coming Unglued , a fabulous follow-up to the well-received Sisters Ink (Scrapbooker’s Series #1) , simply by giving your “momtourage” a shout out! Visit the Momtourage Contest here for more info!

Still need school supplies? Click here for information about great Back-to-School deals online!

If you like what you read here and would like to support me in a small but meaningful way, please visit my Amazon store, Motherhood Must-Haves. I also invite you to submit your family’s fun weekend activities—The best ones will be featured here!
Looking for more weekend ideas? Click here for Fun Things To Do archived entries.

 

Finding the Rainbow: When Kids are Colorblind August 17, 2008

This previously published story is now available for FREE reprint.
Simply include my byline and drop me a note indicating when and where it will appear.
 

Madison was always the first to volunteer to read aloud, however today she sits frowning at the page in her book and glances tentatively at her teacher. The story in the reader is printed in purple with a blue background, and she doesn’t see any words at all.

Ethan understands the instructions to draw lines to the red balls. Unfortunately, all the balls look green to him. He guesses and gets many of them wrong. In later grades, the youngsters’ frustrations compound when asked to color maps in specific colors or interpret a litmus paper reaction.

Colorblindness or color deficiencies affect 1 in 12 boys and 1 in 200 girls. Because colorblindness can affect social interaction and educational performance, parents and teachers should be especially aware of kids with the deficiency. “Colors are used as tools of communication to teach reading and math,” says Scott Steidl, M.D., director of the vitreoretinal service at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “Books and worksheets come in a rainbow of colors. Counting beads, chalk, maps and other activities all include color. There’s no way that kids who can’t see the material will be able to learn it. Children who are colorblind are easily misdiagnosed with learning disabilities, inattentiveness or laziness in school.”

Understanding Colorblindness

To understand what causes colorblindness, first we must address how color is perceived. “The dazzling experience of color begins when light strikes a canvas of tightly-packed nerve cells in the back of the eye,” explains Alan Greene, MD FAAP. “These rods and cones, as they are commonly called, fire a storm of nerve impulses in response to the light, which then travel down the optic nerve to the visual centers of the brain.” These cones are cells on the retina, an area the size of a postage stamp.

The retina has red, blue, and green cones, which are sensitive to those colors and combinations of them. We need all three types to see colors properly. When our cones don’t work properly, or we don’t have the right combination, the brain doesn’t get the right message about which colors we’re seeing. To someone who’s colorblind, green grass may look tan or gray.

Those who see every color of the rainbow can distinguish between more than 100 hues (“hue” is just another word for “color”). Dr. Greene points out, “we humans are all born colorblind! The cones don’t begin functioning until a baby is about four months old. At that time, the baby undergoes a gradual transformation that is as remarkable as the scene in the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy leaves the black-and-white world of Kansas for the brilliant colors of Oz.” However, colorblind kids see only a handful of colors, and some see less than that.

Red Light, Green Light?

Many people think anyone diagnosed as “colorblind” sees only black and white, like Dorothy’s Kansas. This is a big misconception. Monochromasy, the complete absence of any color sensation, is extremely rare. There are many different types and degrees of colorblindness (more correctly called color deficiencies). By far the most common is red-green colorblindness.

Red-green blindness: Trouble distinguishing between shades of red and green. These children either do not have red cones (protanopia) or green cones (deuteranopia). They are unable to distinguish between green and red, but with their remaining two types of cones are able to see all the other colors.

Blue-yellow blindness: Difficulty telling the difference between shades of blue and green. The absence of blue cones is extremely rare.

Let’s go deeper. Protanomaly is known as “red-weakness”, meaning red, orange, yellow and yellow-green appear more or less like green. The redness component that a normal observer sees in a violet or lavender color is so weakened for the protanomalous observer that he or she may fail to detect it. Therefore, a purple flower simply looks blue.

Deuteranomaly is known as “green weakness”, which causes difficulty discriminating small differences in hues in the red, orange, yellow and green region of the spectrum.

Recognizing Colorblindness in Your Child

Diane Griffith of HealthAtoZ.com, reports that a child with a color vision problem may do any of the following:

  • Refer to colors, especially primary shades, by the wrong name.
  • Draw pictures differently than others (e.g., a tree trunk may be black or the grass brown.)
  • Refer to a light pink or light green object as white.
  • See reddish and greenish colors as similar (e.g., confusing peach and light green, or dark green and cranberry.)

Typically, an assessment for colorblindness occurs at your child’s four-year physical. The doctor will ask your child to identify a red and a green line on the eye chart. If any question remains, more precise visual testing can determine the exact nature of the problem.

In the Journal American Academy of Optometry, Dr. Terrace L. Waggoner’s new color vision theory–Color Vision Testing Made Easy–was found to be much more effective at assessing colorblindness in children than standard Ishihara and Dvorine plate tests. Waggoner’s test consists of displays made up of different colored dots with numbers or simple objects that young kids recognize like circles, stars and squares, hidden in the dots. A colorblind child will not be able to see the numbers or objects hidden inside the dots. If your child is aged 3-6 years, this color vision test has good validity, is inexpensive, allows rapid assessment and is commercially available.

Helping Young Children with Colorblindness

Remember, most color-deficient children can identify pure primary colors. In general, just different shades or tints present a problem. If your child is struggling to learn certain colors, let him or her know you understand some colors look the same to them, offering plenty of reassurance.

You can help your child by:

  • Telling your child’s teacher about the condition.
  • Labeling coloring utensils (crayons, colored pencils and pens) with the name of the color.
  • Describing an object without mentioning color. Ask for the fuzzy pillow or the striped shirt.
  • Gently suggesting clothing choices when something doesn’t match. Or, smiling and sending them out the door.
  • Talking about the future and explaining that certain professions (e.g.: pilot, police officer, firefighter) require good color vision.
  • Teaching the color of common objects, such as green for grass, blue for sky, etc.
  • Accepting that some foods look downright unappealing to those who can’t distinguish certain colors. For instance, to your colorblind child, spinach may look like a brownish cow patty.

Dr. Greene suggests that while “there is no known way to restore color vision in those who have hereditary colorblindness, by being aware of their condition, we can help our children learn other ways to distinguish between red and green–the position of traffic lights, for instance.” And we can decorate their rooms and dress them in clothes in the millions of nuances of color that are still available to them.

The Genetic Link

According to Dr. Alan Greene, MD FAAP, colorblindness is almost always a hereditary condition. Red-green colorblindness is a recessive condition passed on the X chromosome. Only one healthy color vision gene is necessary to provide color vision. Since boys have only one X chromosome, it is much easier for them to be colorblind. If their mothers are carriers (having one normal X chromosome and one colorblind X chromosome), the sons have a 50% chance of having the condition.

Approximately 10 million American men are colorblind. All girls whose fathers are colorblind will at least carry the gene for colorblindness. In order for a girl to actually be red-green colorblind, she must have a mother who is a carrier and a father who is colorblind. This happens in only about 0.64 percent of American girls.

 

Easing the Transition to Daycare or Preschool August 15, 2008

Filed under: health,product reviews,school — rjlacko @ 10:00 pm
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The people at SesameStreet.org recently asked me to feature their site—I was surprised it hadn’t occurred to me before, so I checked it out! There are plenty of games, videos and parenting advice; This article piqued my interest. Written by Meri Wallace, a child and family therapist, and the author of Birth Order Blues (Henry Holt), it provides an age-by-age guide to let you know what you can expect when you return to work, and your little one enters a new care environment. Here are a few of my own tips:

  • Be honest. Tell your child what you will be doing when you leave (going to work, but still thinking of him or her), and what they might look forward to during their own day: painting, using the slide, playing with blocks with a friend, etc.
  • Listen and empathize. Allow your child his or her emotions, and give yourself a break too. Make plans for a special outing after work or on the weekend, and remind your child about this plan.
  • Take a special interest in the caregiver(s) and other children. Demonstrate your trust and your happiness to see them and your child will follow your cue.