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How to get your kids to eat fish oil?

May 12th, 2009

Well…seriously I don’t really want to subject any kid to eat/drink fish oil. The interesting aspect of fish oil is the omega 3 acids it contains. The brain is made up of 60 percent fat and the omega-3 fatty acids (also called EPA+DHA) are the kind of fat that helps the brain develop and grow.  According to several studies, omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to the following benefits:

  • Helps with mood disorders, including ADD & ADHD
  • Improves focus thus helping kids suffering from learning difficulties, such as dyslexia
  • Protects the heart and reduce the pain of arthritis.
  • Help adults with conditions as schizophrenia and depression

While these benefits are wonderful the reality is that there is a big lack of omega-3 in Western diets.  This miracle food can be found in fish, Flaxseeds, Walnuts and Soybeans. As you can imagine those are not really part of the common American lunch or dinner. Fish has been slowly been pushed out of the average American meals for decades and the trend does not seem to be slowing down. To make matters worse concerns about high doses of heavy metals found in fish make it even less likely that fish consumption is going to pick up.

So does your kid, or yourself for that matter, receive enough omega 3 – fatty acids?

A traditional approach is to take cod liver oil as a natural supplement. However, as most parents know, children don’t like it and the oil is not particularly rich in EPA and DHA. Talk about a bad deal!

Fortunately there are some good news.  Several manufacturers offer nutritional supplements, in the form of a pill or candy, that allow you to get the right amount of EPA and DHA.  Those products actually taste good…well good might be pushing it. Let’s say they taste OK which is a hundred times better than what liver oil does. They do not have any of the risks associated with the heavy metal found in some fishes either.

The only issue with the nutritional supplements is to find the ones that give you enough of what you need (EPA+DHA). Typically the daily recommended dose of both elements combined is around 500-600mg (250-300mg of each). If you have to take several supplements to get the right amount you have to be careful that you are not getting other nutriments. For example vitamins A or D can be bad for  you if you get too much of them.

As usual consult your doctor before taking any action.

Ignorant or what?

March 10th, 2009

Today I was at the park with my 3 1/2 year old and my 19 months old. We were playing around having a good time. My oldest daughter, 5 1/2 year old, was taking French lessons and therefore, my middle daughter was caring the role of protector of the little one. She helped her down the slide and pushed her away when she thought she needed a turn, a very normal day in our lives.

After a little while 2 small children come over to join us (we were in a small playground that was fenced in) and I didn’t see their mother around. I asked the older girl where her mother was and she points over to a group of people playing volleyball about 150 feet away. Then I ask how old she and her sister are and she says ’6 years old’ and ’14 months’. I am a little puzzled, since I would never let my almost 6 year old go 150 feet away from me in a park with my almost 2 year old, especially not when I would be playing ball in a public park and not be able to keep an eye on my kids.

Anyway, I didn’t see it as my concern, but decided to keep an eye on these small girls, just to make sure they were okay. My youngest daughter then goes under the playground structure with the other little girl and suddenly I hear my daughter scream… the little girl, 14 months old, is pinching my daughter’s cheek so hard and do not want to let go!! I immediately tell her to let go and my daughter escapes with a red cheek. A few minutes later, my little one is standing looking over the fence and this little ‘monster’ comes over again and starts pinching her AGAIN!! For no apparent reason!! Once again I tell her off and take my daughter away. She is by now having a hard time calming down.

While calming down my little one, my older one goes over to the girl and tells her not to hurt her sister. It is very loving to see her defend her, since she normally think it is okay to take toys away from her or slap her around a little bit for some amusement of her own.

Then I take both my daughters over to the swings, so they are not close to the little girl anymore but she comes over again… immediately my little ones starts crying, so I pick up her and walk away.

Children are children. But why aren’t their parents around to teach them how to behave? Are they so ignorant that they think that a 6 year old can deal with a 14 months old? Or do they not care about disciplining their children? I am very surprised by some people’s behavior.

Spend more time with the kids and stay fit.

February 19th, 2009

Most of us parents know that feeling guilty is part of the job of being a parent.  I am not so sure this goes as much for men as for women, because my husband doesn’t have the guilt-gene very often, but I guess that is a good thing. Because it is horrible always having to feel guilty…. am I spending enough time with the kids? Do I/we teach them the right things? Should I spend less money on clothes and more on toys? And the guilt goes on and on….Have fun with your kids

Well, while hitting the gym the other day, I thought about it all. Why was I here and isn’t there be a better way of staying fit and still be with my kids? I see my 5 year old jumping around like a maniac for the better part of the day and she has stomach muscles as hard as a piece of metal. Why am I walking around with this big lump of fat around the middle? (Of course, I should maybe mention that I have had 3 kids all 2 years apart). But then I started thinking. What if I would start doing a lot of the things that my daughters are doing, wouldn’t I be in a much better shape? It would also give me the opportunity to spend more time with my kids.

It is so easy to say ‘Ohh pumpkin, mommy is tired, why don’t you jump and I will sit here and watch you’ or something like that. But actually, if you have tried it, you already know that working out and staying active gives you more energy and actually is much better for your brain. It is a win – win situation. Your kid will have much more fun if you are jumping around with them AND you will be fit. And, of course, there is the added benefit of saving the gym membership fees that can run quite high!

Many of the mothers that I know do not like to work out, but they like spending time with their kids. Having fun with them, while being active is just perfect. If you have a kid that would prefer sitting in front of TV… try to convince them coming out of a walk to the mail box (no, not your own, but the one down the road or 10 blocks down). At least it gives them a goal and it will give you and your kid time together.

Check back in a while and I will report on the progress…

Making sure our kids are safe

February 2nd, 2009

Everybody who has kids knows how important it is to keep them safe. I am the mother of 3 and the youngest is 18 months old and puts everything in her mouth. So, of course, I was extremely concerned when I heard about the lead and phthalates problem in certain children toys.

All parents talked about how awful it was and that it is amazing that this could happen in today’s world. So the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) decided to do something about it and the CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act) was passed.

Basically, the Commission has decided to request that all manufacturer / retailers get all their products, intended primarily for children 12 years and younger, to be tested. No product is allowed to contain more than 600 ppm of lead (as of February 10, 2009), 300 ppm of lead (as of August 14, 2009); 100 ppm after three years (as of August 14, 2011), unless the Commission determines that it is not technologically feasible to have this lower limit.” All testing has to be performed by a laboratory accepted by the Commission. For more details, please click here

Of course, this is causing a big commotion, since thousands of small and medium-sized businesses may go out of business because they can’t afford (it can cost up to $ 4,000 per toy) getting all their products tested to the CPSIA standards.

However, when this act was made the CPSC included all children-product manufacturer, even businesses who offer clothing, jewelry and other gifts for children. In short, the entire children’s industry is affected.

They simply forgot to exclude the class of toys that have earned and kept the public’s trust and unless the law is not modified, handmade children’s products will no longer be legal in the US.

Thousands of citizens and business are standing together to fight the pending demise of handmade children’s products. A “Help Save Handmade Toys from the CPSIA” has already more than 15,000 members, and is gaining members every day.

Who doesn’t want their child to be safe? But is it really realistic to implement such a law on such short notice? And shouldn’t all business, small and large, be considered?

My oldest is 5 ½ years old and I remember already hearing about phthalates back then and I remember looking at all products before buying them to make sure they didn’t contain phthalates. Did I get annoyed when most products didn’t even seem to care about writing whether or not they contained phthalates? Yes, because being a first-time mom you just want the best for your baby. But I don’t believe in pushing this law through so fast that many businesses will have to close their doors, ESPECIALLY since the current economy situation is already doing hurting small companies really badly. There has to be a better way of doing this.

UPDATE: The CPSC has granted a 1 year stay of testing and certification requirements.

Teaching our kids to save.

January 27th, 2009

I don’t know about you but in these times of financial crisis I can’t help but to think that our educational system did not teach us enough about the economy.  Of course, growing up we learned about logic, math, reasoning, etc. However, the emphasis was never placed on things that directly affect our everyday life.

Questions like: What is credit? How do loans work? How much savings should we have? In fact, why should we save? are never addressed in school. The unfortunate thing is that our entire life is based on those.

Think about it. The house you (will) buy, your kids education and so many other things in life are all linked to your understanding of these basic questions. Still our kids are not taught any of it in school and a big majority of adult Americans do not really understand them.

Granted, my kids are very still very young (the oldest is 5) but I decided it is never too early to start teaching. So I started with savings. The concept is simple: “put aside part of what you ‘earn’ and use it later to buy something that you really want”.

Personalized Ceramic Piggy Bank

Personalized Ceramic Piggy Bank

Simple concept indeed…but for a young child things need to be fun. Picking one item she wanted was relatively easy and fun (we still had to eliminate ten’s of other choices that were on her which list). Where it became a little bit more difficult was to keep her engaged day after day.

Very quickly she lost interest. The final gift was replaced by other things in her mind and the money did not catch her interest (duh…what was I expecting).

After talking with my husband we came up with a plan. Make it personal. The idea was to find something that would motivate her and would remind her of her goal. After some research we found a site that sold personalized piggy banks.

That was perfect. She loves animals, we can personalize the piggy bank with her name (which she loves to spell and write everywhere) and “saving” became feeding the piggy.

So far it has been working pretty well. When she receives ‘pocket money’ she happily runs to her pig and feeds him. In fact she became quite attached to the animal. She plays with it and talks with him.

It worked so well that Sophie (our 3 year old daughter) told us she “wanted to start to save”.

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