Thursday, October 2, 2014

Living to Be One Hundred Years Old

More and more people, women in particular, are living to be one hundred years old and older. Studies are being done to determine why some people do and others do not.>p> Through studies done on centarians, it is believed that those who do live the longest are largely those who are independent, outgoing and curious about the world around them. They are generally not the grudge holders of our world. Many continue to live on their own or at least without requiring daily care for nursing. They remain active and continue to have many friends that they spend time with. They are open-minded and go with the flow. And they are optimistic. Their glass is always half full. There is no half empty glass sitting on their table. They don't obsess over small set-backs that they have no control over. Most centarians also seem to have preserved their cognitive abilities.

Many tend to have a diet high in vegetables and fruit with some fish but little meat. Most also have remained active with at least moderate exercise even if it just going for regular daily walks.

Genetics can play a part, i.e.: having parents or other family members who have had heart problems, high blood pressure, cholesterol, a history of cancer, diabetes or other health issues. But you do control your diet, how much exercise you get and how socially active you are. Do you allow yourself to become isolated? Do you get out with other people, see family, keep in touch with grandchildren, keep yourself aware of worldly events and learn new things? Do you try to keep your brain active by reading, doing crossword puzzles or discussing local and world politics?

Cities generally have more centarians because there are better doctors, hospitals, opportunities to socially network, more resources, better transportation, more facilities for mental stimulation and more cultural experiences available. And generally those with a higher education tend to live longer. United States has approximately 53,364 centarians with Japan having 51,376, both leading the way world-wide.

The following are also things that might indicate your longevity: if your mother had you when she was under 25 years old; if you have made a habit of drinking tea, without milk, but especially green tea; that you walk approximately thirty minutes per day; that you have made it a habit to avoid drinking sodas; have kept a healthy weight and done regular exercises; eaten purple foods, particularly blueberries; avoided red meat and deli processed meats; have not smoked; have close friends not just acquaintances; been self-disciplined and organized; set personal goals; have a positive outlook on life and a sense of purpose. It is also important to do exercises that increase your lower body strength. Also, studies indicate that if you were overweight at fourteen years old, you have a higher chance of developing type 2 diabetes in adulthood.

There are approximately 450,000 centarians world-wide. Currently the oldest person alive at 114 years lives in Japan. According to studies, there is an indication that longevity seems to run in families.

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Older Child and the New Baby

It's important that the older child doesn't feel pushed out when the new baby arrives. Babies automatically get a lot of attention for many reasons. These should be explained to the older child.

A two-year old child will have more difficulty adjusting than older children will because their needs are still great. And trying to make a two-year old understand how much care a baby requires will also be difficult for them to grasp. This is particularly true if they have been called 'baby', are still in a crib and possibly may even continue to be having a bottle.

Children should be prepared well before the birth of a new baby. They should be told early, be put into a big boy/girl bed well before the baby is born if they are still in a crib, be weaned from the bottle if they still have one and be reminded what a big boy/girl they are. They can be encouraged to be a big helper when the new baby arrives and the benefits of being an older brother or sister could be pointed out to them.

It will be important for them to have been included in the preparations for the arrival of the new baby. Perhaps they could help prepare the room for the new baby in ways they are capable of, even if it is just helping to place a book or toy. They may wish to 'lend' their new baby brother or sister one of their stuffies until he/she gets toys of their own. They may also want to sing or talk to their new baby brother or sister before they are born. This will help them feel more connected to the baby.

They can be part of the process in preparing for the new baby. Ways that this can be done is they can help choose the clothes the baby will wear home from the hospital, and what clothes they will wear to meet their new brother or sister. Getting a gift that they can give to the new baby will be a good idea as will getting a gift that the new baby can 'give' to the older child. When my second child was born, I gave my daughter a doll so she'd have a baby of her own to fuss over. As each of the other children were born, I gave appropriate gifts to all of the older children.

Reading books with the older child, or children, or watching videos about the arrival of a new baby or about being a big brother or sister also helps. Of course a child's personality will have a lot to do with how they will adjust and react to the new baby. Also, the age of the child when a new baby arrives on the scene will make a difference too.

Be aware of the older child's feelings. Does he/she feel that mommy or daddy love the new baby more. If this is the case, extra time should be spent with the older child so they don't feel like they've been replaced by the new addition.

It is very important that the older child accepts and welcomes the new baby. If not this could cause problems between the two siblings in the future. If they feel that the new baby usurped their position in the family, they will feel resentment. However, if they feel just as important as they always did, they will happily welcome the new addition.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Joys and Concerns of Motherhood

No matter how old your children are, you will always be a mother and you will always worry. When they are grown, you will love them as much as when they were babies and although your role changes, your love does not.

When our children are very young, we worry about their safety, colds, flu, measles, falls and about how they're getting along in school. We are concerned about who their friends are, the kind of marks they're getting, are they happy, do they seem too quiet, are they getting enough exercise and are they eating well? Are we able to give them what we didn't have and are we spending enough time with them? Our worries are endless while raising our children hoping we're being the best parents possible but knowing that we're doing the best we can.

When our children become adults, we still worry about them. Are they happy in their relationships, are they working too hard, do they like their jobs? But as mothers of adult children, our role has changed. We don't have the same involvement except to let them know we are always there for them, to be a listening ear and to be supportive when necessary.

I raised five children on my own from when the youngest was five years old. During those early years I suffered many doubts about the job I was doing while they were growing up. I worried that I didn't have enough money to get them the clothes and shoes some of their friends had. It bothered me that they didn't get to go on trips like some of their friends experienced. It troubled me that in some ways I felt they were deprived even though we always had a house, food and all the necessities. And my children always knew they were well loved. There was always an abundance of that in our house.

My children are grown now and although as teens they complained about not having everything their friends had, I look around at my family who are all there for every family celebration, who each call me several times a week, whose children I see almost every week and I can feel the love they have for me. So although I felt guilty while they were growing up that I wasn't able to give them everything they would've liked, and probably didn't spend as much time with them as they wanted, they haven't held it against me.

Being a mother is not an easy job as we carry a heavy load of guilt, doubt and worry on our shoulders. But at the same time it can come with an awful lot of perks in that we have these wonderful children to enjoy and love.

As a mother, I think it is the best thing in the world to be. When they're little and you feel them snuggle into your arms, see their faces light up when they see you at the end of a day, hear their giggles, see their smiles and enjoy the simplicity of a child and how little things set their world right, i.e.: to read them a book, sing them a song, play with them at their level and to be able to enjoy lots of hugs and kisses. When they're older, there is the enjoyment of having discussions with them, enjoying their friendship and marveling at the person they've become.

I'd never trade motherhood for any amount of money or power. My children are my wealth and they give me the power to feel blessed.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Early Development in Young Children

There are many things that can enhance early development in young children. As parents it is important that we know what they are in order to increase our children's chances for a successful life.

To begin with, breastfeeding is good for baby's brains and for their health. It will help prevent childhood obesity, help to ensure they have better teeth, improve their jaw alignment, lower their risk of heart disease, juvenile diabetes, multiple sclerosis, asthma and allergies, and help to prevent diseases such as Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis and some childhood cancers. It will also assist in their general well-being. Studies indicate that breastfeeding for a minimum of six months, if possible, can help with a child's emotional function and cognition. Indications are also that the longer a baby is breastfed, the higher their levels of school readiness there will be.

But other things help as well. The younger a baby is read to, the more aware parents are of their young child's emotional cues and their own responses to them, the higher cognitive levels their child will have. Breastfeeding, reading to your baby and being emotionally responsive to your young child will increase bonding between mother and child. However, this bonding can also be as easily achieved between a child and their father if the same things are done. (With the exception of the breastfeeding, of course).>p> Other things that will have a bearing on a child's readiness for school, their cognitive abilities and their IQ will be whether the mother, while pregnant, has been exposed to pollutants, i.e.: lead, mercury, car exhaust or pesticides. The mother's diet while pregnant will make a difference also. Birth order can have a bearing as well. A parent usually has more time to give extra attention to a first born child; to read or play games with them than they do with subsequent children thereby stimulating their cognitive development.

Also those children who had more junk food or processed foods in their diets when they were young will not fare as well. And those who were physically punished creating more stress in their lives will have their cognitive development impacted. Genetic factors passed on to each baby at birth will determine brain size and IQ both negatively and positively. As well, their parents' income and education will make a difference. Also whether a child has been in a day care environment or been raised by a parent or a close family member. Those who have not been in a daycare environment will generally have a better advantage because more one on one time will likely have been spent with them.

As parents it is our responsibility to do the best we can for our children to help set them on the best road for a happy and successful life.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Helping Out When Your New Grandchild is Born

As a grandparent, there are many things you can do to help out when a new grandchild is born. For each one, the need may be different depending on the particular circumstances.

When my first grandchild was born, I cooked meals ahead and put them in the freezer so cooking wasn't an issue for the first week or so. However, it is best to ask first. Some people prefer their own style of cooking. When this particular grandchild was born, I also bought a fiscus plant. She is fourteen years old now and the plant is nearly as tall as she is. (However, plants may not always be welcome either).

When my second grandchild was born, I looked after the baby so that the parents could get some much needed sleep. Also, when it was decided that nursing wasn't the success the new mother had hoped for, I picked up formula and bottles, sterilizing the bottles and then making up some formula. And when their next child was born, I looked after both children so that the tired parents could catch up on their sleep. Although we all know that after the birth of a new baby it takes a lot more than that to be caught up.

When the third grandchild was born, both were uncomfortable with bathing the new baby so I gave the first bath and suggested that they could sponge bath the new arrival until they felt more comfortable handling her. I also, in this case too, looked after the baby while they caught up on their sleep. Sleep deprivation is a common problem with new parents and can make what really is a small problem seem monumental.

When the next grandchild is born, I'm sure my role will be to take the older child to karate and piano classes and pick her up from school and I will likely spend extra time with her so she doesn't feel left out. I'm sure also that I will look after both children so their parents can get, as all new parents need, some uninterrupted sleep.

Sometimes with a new baby, first time parents just have to be reassured that things are going as they should be. Yes, babies most often initially wake up to be fed every two hours, especially nursed babies. Those babies that are being nursed often fall asleep before they're full as it is hard work compared to being fed with a bottle. But the benefits of being nursed are significant to the baby. And yes, some babies do cry more than others. They each have their own personalities just as grown-ups do.

Many new parents look for answers from their friends, who are also new parents searching for answers. As a grandparent it is wise not to offer unsolicited advice even though you have the advantage of having already raised children. If they come to you with a question, that is the time to offer your help. How the answer is worded will be as important as the answer, especially at a time when emotions are running on high.

The most important thing we can do as grandparents is to extend our offers of help. Some of our children will jump at the chance for a little assistance and others will want to manage on their own. That's their choice. But offering is key; at least they know that help is only a simple request away.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Preparing Your First Child for the Birth of a Second

Preparing your oldest child for the arrival of their sibling will depend upon his/her age. Toddlers generally have an easier time adjusting than will a child that is a little older. But in most cases, inclusion in the preparation process will be a positive factor in a child's acceptance of a new baby.

The older the first child is when the second one arrives, the more aware he/she will be of the differences a new member of the family will make to their own life. They will realize that they may not get as much attention. Almost right from the beginning there is excited talk about this new person who is joining the family. There is probably a room being readied for him/her and new things bought. They are not going to be the only one their parents dote on. Things will have to be shared like when a friend comes over only now it will be all the time. There will be crying and noise and things are going to be different. They will worry about how that is going to affect them.

My son and daughter-in-law are expecting their second child; their first is five years old. They have been preparing her by including her in the build-up to the new baby's birth. She was taken when they went for the ultrasound. She wasn't that interested but at least she didn't feel left out. She's had her new room for a while, painted in her favourite colours with a brand new bed. She has a new purple quilt for her bed and she's quite excited about it.

Her parents have involved her in planning the new baby's room. Her little sister will have her old baby furniture and she is willing to share some of her prize stuffies with the baby, at least until the new baby gets her own.

She feels the baby's movements and sings to her little sister. She also chose the baby's second name. She knows that I will be taking her to the hospital when the baby is due to be born, (it is to be a caesarean), so she can see the baby right away. She knows this new baby is her sister as much as she will be mommy and daddy's second daughter and that she has an important role in the new baby's life.

Although the birth is in one month, my granddaughter does not appear to be bothered by the thought of another child to share her mommy's and daddy's attention. My son said they would probably get her her own baby doll for when they come home from the hospital with the baby. I did this with my daughter, also my first, when I brought my first son home. She wasn't particularly interested in the doll, but nor did she seem to be bothered with the addition of a brother. She was two and a half at the time she became a big sister. At this age, it isn't such a big deal; they can't visualize the changes in their life that an older child can see.

I don't anticipate that there will be any problems with my granddaughter as she will probably be too busy to notice her life being impacted that much since she goes to full-day kindergarten, takes karate, piano and dance and if the status quo continues, it shouldn't cause her any undue stress. But for the child who isn't so busy, it would be helpful if there was a grandparent or other relative to spend extra time with them.

The first month or two will be the most difficult since that's when babies are the most demanding and parents are often sleep deprived. If there are other family members who can help at that time, it will make the transition for the older child and the new parents, that much easier.

But if there isn't a grandparent or relative, perhaps supply the older child with a new game, colouring books if they like to colour, play dough if they like to be creative or something that they are interested in but only they can do as the older sister or brother.

And it won't be long before no one in the family will be able to remember a time when the latest addition hadn't always been part of the family.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Cowboy or Cowgirl Sleepover Party - Guest Post by Ryan

Whether they dream of racing through the wide open plains on a stallion or bull wrangling on the ranch, a lot of kids go through a cowboy or cowgirl phase. You can turn this period into an amazing fun filled theme party with a few easy games, like broom stick barrel racing, a squirt gun sharp shooting competition, and of course a bit of lassoing! Here are some activities that you can plan out before you invite your child's friends to come over in their best denim, with bandannas, cowboy hats, and if you are making it a sleepover, some cowboy or girl themed fun kids pajamas By the end of the party everyone should be yelling "Hee-Haw"!

1. Broom Stick Barrel Racing

This activity will show off everyone's imaginary horse riding skills. All that you need to set it up is a broom stick and several large cones or piles of stacked empty boxes. In a backyard, driveway, or nearby park, arrange the cones or boxes in a tight course that the little ranch hands will have to race around. Here is the catch - they will have to complete it as quickly as possible without knocking over any of the cones or boxes. If they do knock anything over, they will receive a time penalty of 5 seconds. To make the course more difficult, you can add balloon 'rattle snakes'. Just get some long balloons and then put a few dozen dried beans in each one so they will rattle when shaken. You can tie these off after they are blown up and place them throughout the course. Whenever someone steps on the 'rattler' they will be 'bitten' and receive another time penalty of 3 seconds. The fastest rider can get a prize, like a toy harmonica or a sheriff's star for coming in first place.

2. Sharpshooting Contest

Any cowhand worth his or her salt will know how to shoot. This activity lets the kids show off their marksmanship skills and water guns. Beforehand, freeze a few small trinkets like cowboy toys or wrapped candy in small plastic containers. Then, right before the activity, remove the blocks of ice, or just place the containers so that the opening is facing the kids. Once everyone is ready, an adult can load up the water guns with warm, but not hot, water. An easy way to do this is just to run a bathtub faucet at a warm temperature to fill up the squirt guns. Only an adult should do this step to prevent kids from getting burnt. The objective of the game is to melt the ice cubes by squirting them with warm water until the toy or candy is completely free of them. Depending on how many water guns are available, the kids can go one at a time and see who is the quickest, or they can go against each other in a head-to-head competition.

3. Lassoing a Rocking Horse

If you have a rocking horse toy in the house, now is the time to bring it out. If not, you can use a cone from the barrel racing, a tee ball tee, or any other small pole that will stand up by itself - this will be the runaway stallion that needs to be lassoed. Then, get a hula hoop and attach a length of string to it. About 10 feet away (make the distance shorter for younger children or further for older) from the 'horse', mark a line that the cowboy kiddies will need to throw from. The next step is to divide the kids into two groups. Each member of their group must get the hula hoop around the horse, and if they miss, they have to pull the hula hoop back to their side of the line using the string and throw again. The group that has each member lasso the horse in the least amount of throws wins. If there is a tie, a fun thing to do can be to have a lasso off where one person from each team throws at a time. If both make it, then the 'horse' gets moved two feet further back and the next two people go. The first team to miss loses.

From roaming the ranges to lassoing wild steer, a cowboy's life sure does seem like a fun one. By throwing a cowboy or girl themed party with activities like broom stick barrel racing, ice cube marksmanship, and a lassoing competition, you can give your child and their friends a taste of what it would be like to be a cowboy. So tell your kids to saddle up and get ready to party!