An Open Letter to My Non-stretch Denim Jeans

July 16, 2014 by  
Filed under NEWS

denim jeans

Dear Non-Stretch Denim Jeans,

I really miss you. Do you remember the days when I could put you on and with a few plie squats we’d be like old pals? Remember that? I do.

Now, when I put on a worn-in pair of jeans, they fit. I mean, they really fit. Skinnily. My legs are encased like sausages and no matter how many squats I perform, these jeans, these awful jeans, just keep going back exactly where they were. And don’t even get me started on the low rise of these lycra-ridden jeans. Seriously, I am sure that no designer working on the jeans in today’s market ever had children. Instead, these carefree childless heathens continue designing pants that seem to cup my mom flub as if mocking my body for its inability to be comfortable in this style.

Now, I am not saying for an instant that I want some “Mom Jeans.” I don’t even want “Not Your Mother’s Jeans.” All I am saying is that I would love to go into Gap or Old Navy, heck, even Target and pick up a pair of jeans that fit like jeans! That stretch over time instead of overcoming gravity and other laws of nature to remain permanently taut over my weary legs.

I have been on the hunt for perfect jeans (that don’t cost a fortune) for about 3 years now. That’s a long time to spend on this one task. Every time I think that I have found the perfect jean online, I go to the store and I try them on. And it’s awful; they are too long, they make me look like a pear, they have weird pockets. The story is always the same. I leave the store dejected and wondering whether that perfect pair of jeans even exists.

The fact that I am getting old and that non-stretch denim is as rare as a unicorn was made so apparent to me over Christmas break last year. I walked into Old Navy and asked the teenage worker if they had jeans that looked like trousers: straight leg, mid-rise, clean cut, regular denim. Her response broke my heart, “Um, those were popular, like, 10 years ago. We haven’t carried them since then.” Ouch!

Still, I continue hunting for the perfect jeans that feel like home, that I never want to wash because I don’t want to mess up the way they fit when I first put them on. But, I promise that I will wash them when needed. With these mythical perfect jeans, three squats and they’ll fit perfectly even if I had to dry them on high heat.

You exist, perfect jeans! You might be hiding out like the Loch Ness Monster, but I believe you are out there. At least once a week, I open up my web browser and stalk you. Sometimes I get so close, but you always seem to get away. But that’s not stopping me. No, it just makes me more determined the find you, buy you and wear you until you literally dry rot off my body. This might take some time, but that’s OK. You are worth it.

See you soon,

[Photo by:]

Kids Craft Ideas

July 16, 2014 by  
Filed under NEWS

Kids Craft Ideas

As summer lingers, here are some easy craft ideas to occupy your children indoors for a hour or two. Together, you can create some masterpieces and fun memories that will last a lifetime. o.Remember to cover your table or work surface with old newspaper. This makes for easy cleanup once the project is finished.

Rock Animals

Supplies: Rocks, tempura paint, paint brushes, decoupage solution

What kid doesn’t love rock hunting? Take a walk together one morning and have your children look for rocks of all shapes and sizes. Collect flat smooth stones, as well as jagged, sharp rocks.

Once you get home, give your children an assortment of tempera paints and paint brushes and let them kids have fun painting the rocks to their hearts content. Once the paint is dry, use your rock creations to decorate your garden or household plants.

Decorative Picture Frames

Supplies: unpainted wooden picture frame, tempera paint, foam letters, decoupage solution, paint brush

Turn a simple picture frame into a work of art that will hold precious memories.

Carefully remove the pane of glass from the frame. Using your favorite sheet of piece of scrapbook paper, outline the outside and inside of the frame. Cut out with scissors and carefully glue the colored paper to the outside of the frame.

Once dry, glue various buttons, foam letters, dried pasta or seashells around the outside. Let your child use their imagination to create a special look. Seal the decorated frame with a decoupage solution. Wait until fully dry, then carefully insert your favorite picture and enjoy.

Miniature Clay Critters

Supplies: Oven-bake clay (various colors)

Older kids will love the endless possibilities that can be created with colored modeling clay. If the clay seems hard, don’t worry, it will loosen up quickly with the heat of your hands.

To get started, condition the clay by kneading it in your hands until it’s warm and pliable. Encourage your kids use their imaginations to create miniature flowers, dinosaurs, aliens or other critters. (Use a toothpick to draw patterns in the clay.)

Once your sculptures are finished, it’s time to cure them. Bake your critter in a preheated oven at 275 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Let cool completely before handling. Once you’ve baked your sculpture, you can do more wonderful things to it. You can paint it using oils or acrylics. You can glue on hair, feathers, fur, jewels or fabric. Be creative!

50 Summer Activities for Kids

July 8, 2014 by  
Filed under NEWS

 Summer activities for Kids

50 Summer Activities for Kids

Summer may be a time to relax, but tell that to your kids when they are bouncing off the walls or flopped over the sofa because they’re bored. Here is a list of 50 Summer Activities to keep your kids entertained, active and out of trouble. See how many you can cross out before Labor Day.

  1. Go wading at Flat Rock Park (Columbus), Flat Shoals Creek (West Point), or along the Pine Mountain Trail
  2. Watch a movie
  3. Blow bubbles
  4. Play tag, hopscotch, or one of your favorite childhood games
  5. Make homemade popsicles
  6. Go horseback riding at Roosevelt Stables
  7. Play miniature golf
  8. Pick berries and peaches at a farm
  9. Roast marshmallows over a fire and make s’mores
  10. Dangle your feet off a dock
  11. Take a walk on the Chattahoochee Riverwalk and count the turtles
  12. Go swimming at Callaway Gardens or the Liberty Bell Pool
  13. Make lemonade from scratch
  14. Drink a sweating glass of ice tea
  15. Buy fresh produce at Market on Main
  16. Sit on a bench at Lafayette Square and watch the fountains
  17. Eat an ice cream cone with rainbow sprinkles
  18. Play in the sprinkler
  19. Nap in a hammock
  20. Have a picnic at Dowdell Knob in FDR State Park
  21. Sit on a porch swing
  22. Go kayaking or canoeing
  23. Try the “big slide” at the Water Wiz
  24. Go zip-lining at Callaway Gardens
  25. Stargaze while lying on the grass
  26. Pick wildflowers
  27. Enjoy a play day at Pop’s Party Placce
  28. Go camping at FDR State Park
  29. Toss a Frisbee
  30. Walk barefoot in the grass
  31. Clean up trash at a local park
  32. Bake cookies
  33. Play with a hula hoop
  34. Color the sidewalk with chalk
  35. Play a game of Old Maid or Go Fish
  36. Go on a bug hunt
  37. Have a water balloon fight
  38. Plant a garden of herbs and vegetables
  39. Make paper boats and float them in a stream
  40. Build a lemonade stand
  41. Wash the car, bikes and scooters
  42. Have a backyard campout
  43. Make a fort out of cardboard boxes
  44. Stage an A to Z scavenger hunt, where you have to find something that starts with every letter.
  45. Go geocaching at one of Georgia’s state parks or historic sites.
  46. Make homemade ice cream
  47. Build a sandcastle
  48. Interview an older relative about what life was like when they were young.
  49. Catch fireflies in a jar, then let them go
  50. Have a fancy tea party

Fever in Children

July 8, 2014 by  
Filed under NEWS

fever in children

Fever in Children:

When to worry and when to relax

By Shilpa Vernekar, M.D., F.A.A.P

Every parent can relate to that feeling of worry and even a hint of panic that come along with symptoms of illness in your child and a raised thermometer reading; anything above 98.6 ° F or whatever your child’s normal body temperature registers, can motivate many moms and dads to jump right into the car and head to the doctor. However, while your pediatrician always loves to see your family, many times that trip to the office just isn’t necessary.

At Preferred Medical Group, we strongly feel that parents should have all of the facts related to fever in children in order to make a determination about whether or not a doctor’s visit is needed. Here are a few tips about identifying fever, bringing fever down, and knowing when to call on your child’s pediatrician for backup.

What is fever?

Body temperature of more than 100.4 ° F or 38 ° C is considered to be fever.

Why does my child get fever?

Fever is a normal body response to fight against infections. Whenever the body recognizes there is an illness caused by bacteria, virus or other organisms, the body temperature raises to help fight off the infection. So, fever is a good thing for your child. It shows that the body is mounting an immune response to curb the illness.

When should I be worried?

This can depend on the age of your child. Any temperature of more than 100.4 ° F in a neonate (less than 28 day old) is concerning, and medical attention should be sought immediately. Between 1 and 3 months, it is important to have the patient checked out by a physician when body temperature rises above 100.4 ° F.

red digital thermometerOther symptoms warrant seeking immediate medical attention in a feverish child irrespective of age, including: seizures, altered mental status, severe headache with neck stiffness, and difficulty breathing.

If the child is currently on chemotherapy, has compromised immune system, has sickle cell disease, or if the temperature is more than 105 ° F, take your child to a physician at once.

If your child is healthy, behaving his usual self and does not have any underlying disease or condition, the child can be monitored for symptoms. In the meanwhile, administer a weight-appropriate dosage of Tylenol/Motrin to help reduce the fever.

(To calculate a weight-appropriate dosage for your child, please visit our website and click on our Phenix City Children’s office. The dosage calculator at the bottom right-hand corner will allow you to input your child’s age, weight and the concentration of the medication to determine how much to safely administer.)

Tylenol is recommended if your child is less than 6 months of age.

Please know that it is normal for children to act clingy, become picky eaters or eat less than normal when they have fever. It is part of the illness and will improve as they get better. You can be reassured if the child is drinking and is acting more or less like his usual self. Severity of the illness does not correspond with the body temperature. Most viral illness can cause temperatures as high as 104 ° F.

How to measure temperature?

It is very important that body temperature should not be estimated and always should be accurately measured with a thermometer. Temperature check by touch or visual appearance such as paleness or flushed cheeks should not be used as a means to assess increased body temperature, as these are not reliable indicators of whether or not fever is present.

There are various types of devices available to measure temperature. Digital thermometers are very easy to read and are very reliable. If the child is less than 3 months, temperature is best measured rectally. After the child is more than 3 months, temperature can be measured orally or axillary.

What to do if my child’s temperature is greater than 100.4 ° F?

  • Administer Tylenol or Motrin at a weight-appropriate dosing. (Again, please see the Phenix City Children’s page of our website for a dosage calculator.) Studies have shown alternating Tylenol or Motrin does not provide an additional advantage, so one can safely stick to either one of the drugs.
  • Let the child eat or drink as per preference. No dietary restrictions are necessary unless advised otherwise. Just ensure that the child stays well hydrated.
  • Avoid contact with other children if possible.
  • Make sure the child is comfortable, dressed in light clothing and the room temperature is neither too hot nor too cold.
  • If there are no symptoms as mentioned earlier that would cause immediate need for medical treatment, observe for other symptoms other than fever and overall appearance of the child—(ie his mental status, his breathing, appetite and usual behavior.). If any of the above-mentioned symptoms do appear, seek medical attention.
  • If the child has no underlying medical conditions and the temperature is greater than 102 ° F for more than 2 days, please call your physician’s office.

Parents, please rest assured that fever can be a good thing while your child’s body is fighting an illness and can often be treated at home with Tylenol/Motrin. However, please keep in mind that the advice contained in this blog are general guidelines for fever in children. You and your child’s pediatrician know your child best, and if you see signs that your child needs medical attention that may not appear in this blog, please do not hesitate to call the doctor’s office. Most physicians have nurses available to speak to parents on the phone to triage your child’s symptoms and to help you determine if a visit is necessary.


Dr. Vernekar, M.D., F.A.A.P. is a board-certified pediatrician who works at Preferred Medical Group, which has locations at Phenix City Children’s and Fort Mitchell Clinic. Her special areas of interest include weight management and nutrition.

Area Fourth of July Fireworks 2014

June 29, 2014 by  
Filed under Kids, NEWS, Outdoor Events, Seasonal Events

Fire up the grill and get ready for some area Fourth of July Fireworks! Here’s your 2014 guide to Independence Day fireworks shows in our area.

(If we missed any, please comment below!)

Celebrations with Fireworks

July 3, 2014

Manchester, GA

11:00am until 10:30pm ~ DOWNTOWN MANCHESTER now hosting the July 3rd Celebration previously in Warm Springs. Good Food, games, and great entertainment with a wonderful fireworks display at the end of the evening.

Opelika, AL

6:30pm ~ Celebrate Independence Day with Opelika Parks and Recreation. There will be inflatable games, hamburgers, hotdogs, popcorn, activities for the whole family and musical entertainment. The fireworks will begin at dark. Location: Opelika High School Track

July 4, 2014

LaGrange, GA

10:00am until 11:00pm ~ July 4th Celebration at Pyne Road Park featuring a children’s area, live music, and the Wendy’s fireworks show, $10 per vehicle. Sponsored by Troup Co. Parks and Rec.

Callaway Gardens, Pine Mountain, GA

Robin Lake Beach opens at 7am. Activities all day. The fireworks extravaganza begins at 9:30pm. For a schedule of events, visit

Franklin, GA

Join us for our annual fireworks and street dance on Friday, July 4th, 5:00 til.  Local talent is encouraged to perform during the evening event.  Loco Rio Restaurant will sponsor our street dance with UGLY BETTY performing after the fireworks.

Phenix City, AL

7pm ~ Concert. 9:15pm  ~ Fireworks show at the Phenix City Amphitheater, 508 Dillingham Street, Phenix City, AL. Free admission.

Auburn, AL

7pm ~ Live music; 9pm ~ Fireworks show. Duck Samford Stadium, Auburn. The parking lot off Airport Road, between the Bo Cavin Fields and the new Duck Samford Fields, will be CLOSED to the public during the event. Rain date, July 5, 2014.

Newnan, GA

Newnan Rotary Club Fireworks at Newnan High School Drake Stadium, entertainment starts at 6:30 Fireworks at dark with a newly recorded version of the national anthem by country music star Alan Jackson. Free Admission

Celebrations without Fireworks

July 4, 2014

LaFayette Square, LaGrange, GA

10am ~ Sweet Land of Liberty Parade for Youth, now in its 30th year! The route is new this year and will begin at the Carmike theater parking lot and march to the square on Main St. and return on Bull St.

National Infantry Museum, Columbus, GA

11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. The National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center will host its second annual community-wide Independence Day celebration. At 2pm, there will be an old-fashioned patriotic parade  where youngsters are invited to dress up their bicycles, tricycles and wagons – or themselves! – and parade down Heritage Walk. MCoE Rock Band concert at Noon. Live music, IMAX movies, Food vendors, and more.

Florence Marina State Park, Omaha, GA

Friday-Sunday – 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.  from Jul 4, 2014 until Jul 6, 2014 Celebrate the Fourth of July weekend with games, a watermelon eating contest, and educational boat tours on Lake Walter F. George.

Frontier Village, Fort Gaines, GA

10am ~ Ground Breaking Ceremony for the new Creek Indian Village that will be constructed at Frontier Village.  4th of July Parade. Musical festival, food, vendors, and more.


Teen Depression: A Parent’s Guide

June 28, 2014 by  
Filed under NEWS

What to do when your child/teenager won’t talk to you, and when to seek help: a Child Psychologist’s Perspective

By Michelle DeRamus, Ph.D.

As children get older and move into the teen years, it is natural for them to want to spend more time with their friends and open up to them more than to their parents. However, it is remains very important for parents to be involved in their teens’ lives and continue to set boundaries. Studies show that even as teens, children still value their parents’ input above anyone else’s.

What to do when your teen won’t talk to you

Some ideas for fostering communication between parents and children at any age include modeling good communication skills for your kids, making time for open communication as a part of your regular routine, and having more positive than negative interactions.

1. Model good communication skills

To model good communication skills, tell your children about your day, including information that is age-appropriate. When they talk to you, give them your undivided attention to foster better listening skills in them.

2. Make time for communication

Try to eat at least one meal a day together as a family, with a no electronics rule during the meal to encourage open communication. Some families have “conversation starter cards” or routine questions that they all ask one another to make sure everyone gets a chance to share their ideas or experiences.

If you find that your family is very busy and you’re struggling to find a time that you can be together, schedule “appointments” with each other regularly and treat them as seriously as doctors’ visits or work meetings.

3. Focus on positive interactions

Throughout your day-to-day activities, be sure to look for ways to have positive interactions with your children. It will be more fun for both of you, and you each will feel more like communicating if you’re not always fussing at one another. A good ratio to strive for is 5 positive comments for every 1 negative comment you make.

4. Recognize the symptoms of teen depression

However, sometimes a teenager will withdraw well beyond the range of “normal,” and parents can be doing all of this and more and still not seem to reach their teen. In these circumstances, your teenager could be suffering from depression and/or anxiety. Recognizing when a child or teen is depressed or anxious can be difficult because the symptoms are subtle, and all people experience sadness and worry at times.  It can be normal for children, just like adults, to feel sad in response to difficult circumstances, even for a few days at a time.

Major depression, however, includes symptoms that are persistent over time. In children, symptoms of depression can include:

  • Feelings of sadness
  • Increased irritability
  • Thoughts about suicide
  • Preoccupation with death or dying
  • Decreasing grades
  • Increasing physical symptoms (e.g. stomachaches, headaches)
  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • Loss of interest in things they used to enjoy

5. Recognize the symptoms of anxiety

There are a variety of anxiety disorders, and the symptoms of specific anxiety disorders can vary widely. However, in general, children with clinically significant levels of anxiety often worry about performing well in school, the health or safety of family members or themselves, environmental factors (e.g., the weather), and the future. This worry can, just like depression, affect social relationships, lead to a drop in grades, and cause physical aches and pains.

Know When to Seek Help

If your child or teen is suffering from depression or an anxiety disorder, it is important to understand that he or she cannot just “snap out of it” or “stop worrying.” While it can be frustrating, one of the best things to do as a parent is to try to be patient, understanding, and supportive. Listen to what your child has to say, even if it doesn’t make sense to you. Try to help your child see things from a different perspective, but take care to avoid telling your child he or she is “wrong” for feeling the way he or she does. If your child seems to be getting worse instead of better, or you’re not sure how to help your child, seek professional help from a therapist or physician.

Without treatment, depression and anxiety in young people can have long-term harmful effects on the child’s development in a variety of ways. Therefore, it is important for adults to recognize the symptoms of depression and anxiety and act quickly to get treatment for children or teens with these conditions. Research studies have shown that both therapy and medication can be helpful in treating anxiety and depression. Some families prefer one treatment approach over another, while other families find a combined approach to be most useful.

Here are two examples of patients I have worked with in psychotherapy who improved over time with treatment. (Names have been changed.)

Joe’s Story (Anxiety)

“Joe” and his mother had always been very close, and his mother knew Joe tended to worry about things a little more than other kids his age. However, as a little boy, he still played with friends and made the transition to school pretty well. As he went on through elementary school, his mother noticed that Joe started turning down invitations to birthday parties and sleepovers, saying he’d rather just stay home and hang out with her. He became more irritable, and at times, even angry, when she pushed him to do things apart from her.

When he started therapy, Joe said that he often worried that something bad was going to happen to his mom. He was afraid she might get in a car wreck, get sick, or that someone might break into their house and hurt her. He felt safer when he was with her and could “watch out” for her.

In therapy, we identified the situations that made him least scared of being away from his mom (e.g., her walking to the mailbox without him) and the situations that made him most scared of being away from his mom (e.g., going to a sleepover). After learning some coping skills to help him relax when he started to get scared and think more realistically about the likelihood of something happening to his mother, Joe gradually started practicing being away from his mother for short, then longer, periods of time.

By the end of therapy, he was able to spend the night with friends without calling his mother to come get him. While he still sometimes worries about his mom, he was able to relax and not let the anxiety keep him from doing the things he really wanted to do.

Sally’s Story (Depression)

When “Sally” turned 14, her parents noticed that she was spending more time in her room and less time with the family. She said she still had friends, but her parents didn’t hear her talking about them much, and she no longer asked to go do things with them. Her grades started dropping, and Sally, who was once an A/B student, was failing a couple of her classes. Her appetite decreased, and she seemed tired all the time. She also started complaining of headaches, and she spent much of her time lying in bed to rest. When her parents asked if anything was wrong, Sally just said she was tired and wanted to be left alone.

In therapy, Sally revealed that she felt overwhelmed by her schoolwork and worried that she was not as smart as her friends. She believed she was stupid and that she was going to feel this way forever. Over time, Sally learned that she often interpreted situations in a negative way and assumed that the worst was going to happen.

Once she identified these negative thought patterns, she was able to remind herself that there is usually more than one way to view a situation. She practiced coming up with multiple solutions to her problems and developed a list of several things she could do to help herself feel better when she was upset. Sally’s depression became less intense and she felt sad less often. She began participating in the things she used to enjoy, and her grades improved. 

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, depression affects about 11% of young people, and anxiety affects about 8% of young people. The rates of both depression and anxiety are similar in boys and girls as children, but in the teenage years, girls are more likely than boys to experience symptoms of each. There are also differences in the prevalence across ages, with depression and anxiety occurring more frequently in older adolescents.

Left untreated, children and adolescents with depression and anxiety are at higher risk for low self-esteem, substance abuse, suicide, mental health issues in adulthood, and physical conditions such as heart disease and diabetes as adults. However, many children and teens who get appropriate treatment in the early stages of depression and anxiety can significantly reduce their risk of these long-term effects.

Talk to your child’s doctor

If you suspect your child may have depression or anxiety, it is important to talk to your child’s doctor so that he or she can get treatment. More information about depression and anxiety in children and teens can be found on the websites for the National Institute of Mental Health ( and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (

Dr. DeRamus works at Preferred Medical Group’s at Phenix City Children’s office. She has a special area of interest in Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Summer Reading List for Moms

June 16, 2014 by  
Filed under NEWS

summer reading list for moms

Summer Reading List for Moms

By Rachel Hoeing with Triad Moms on Main

Who’s ready to dive into a great book this summer? We’ve asked local moms for their top picks for summer reads and have come up with a terrific list for 2014. Feel free to share this list and also add some of your own recommendations in the comment section.

For each book that was suggested, I asked the mom if she would classify it as a deep read (think intellectual, emotional, or difficult to digest), a light read (think lighter subject matter, quick reading etc.) or somewhere in the middle. Classifying these books can be very subjective, and I even had one book that was recommended for three different categories by three different people!  Therefore, don’t take it too “literally,” just think of it as somewhat of a guideline, depending on what type of book you might be in the mood to read.

Dive right in …

Deep Reads

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Me Before You by JoJo Moyes
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
Still Alice by Lisa Genova
Sugar by Bernice McFadden
Tell The Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty
The Lost Husband by Katherine Center
A Land More Kind than Home by Wiley Cash
The Year of My Miraculous Reappearance by Catherine Ryan Hyde
The Dry Grass Of August by Anna Jean Mayhew
12 Years a Slave by Solomon Northup
Lookaway, Lookaway by Wilton Barnhardt
Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III
The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon
The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

Light Reads

Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple
The House on Tradd Street,  The Girl on Legare Street,  The Strangers on Montagu Street, and Return to Tradd Street - all by Karen White
The House at Riverton, The Shifting Fog, The Forgotten Garden, The Distant Hours andThe Secret Keeper - all by Kate Morton
Ladies Night by Mary Kay Andrews
Hissy Fit by Mary Kay Andrews
Bossypants by Tina Fey
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
~ Any of the books by Janet Evanovich
~ Any of the books by Harlan Coben

Reads That Are Somewhere In The Middle

Carry On Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed by Glennon Doyle Melton
Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts On Faith by Anne Lamott
Glitter and Glue by Kelly Corrigan
A Dog’s Purpose and A Dog’s Journey by W. Bruce Cameron (for dog lovers!)
I Remember Nothing: And Other Reflections By Nora Ephron
The Passage by Justin Cronin
Last Days of Summer by Steve Kluger
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
The Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth
Serena by Ron Rash
Defending Jacob by William Landay
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

Rachel Hoeing is the Co-Founder of Triad Moms on Main, an online magazine, serving Winston, High Point & Greensboro, NC. It’s filled with daily articles that range from “fun and free” to informational.  This post was originally published on Reprinted with permission.

Preparing Your Child For Camp

June 2, 2014 by  
Filed under Camps & VBS, NEWS

Guest blog by The American Camp Association® (ACA); Reprinted with permission

Summer Camp

Preparing Your Child for Camp!

For parents, the most heart-racing, adrenalin pumping moments happen when you let go and watch your child try something on his or her own. The moment the training wheels come off, the first trip down the driveway on the skateboard, the time our children ride the school bus – these are more than just memories, these are critical moments that define growth and change. For many families, the first time they send their child to camp is one of the biggest let go, hold your breath, and watch them soar moments in childhood.

In today’s world of high-tech kids and families who have a constant connection to each other, it’s essential to take the time to emotionally prepare for camp. It is, of course, important to prepare the first-time camper, but families need to make sure that Mom, Dad, younger siblings at home – virtually everyone – is ready to adjust to camp life. The American Camp Association® (ACA) provides the following tips to help ease first-time families into the camp experience:


As parents, it is important to focus on the positive aspects of camp. Remember that separation is natural, necessary, and inevitable – what better place to have that first experience than in a caring and nurturing environment designed specifically for children? Parents can also focus on the amazing benefits of camp – an experiential education like no other teaching valuable 21st century survival skills like leadership, teamwork, problem-solving, and interpersonal communication. “The greatest gifts that parents can give their child are independence and resiliency,” said Peg Smith, ACA’s chief executive officer. “Parents should remember that by choosing camp they are giving both.”


Bob Ditter, family therapist and one of the nation’s leading experts on camp, cautions it is likely that the child left at home will experience separation anxiety and truly miss his or her sibling. To help them prepare, be sure to talk about the upcoming separation. Before the eldest child leaves for camp take a picture of your children together that the sibling can keep in their room or carry around. Remind your children about the communication they can have with each other through letters and postcards.

Other family members:

Be sure that everyone is aware of the upcoming experience. Let family members know how to contact camper if they are interested through letters and care packages — make sure they are aware of any communication policies the camp may have, i.e. no phone calls or restrictions on what can be sent in a care package. In addition, an increasing number of camps are using Web sites to display photos or video during the camp session. According to ACA’s 2011 Emerging Issues Survey, 75 percent of responding camps indicate that they post photos or videos to a Web site for families to view. Forty-five percent indicate that they post information, photos, and videos to social media outlets like Facebook. Families should be sure to ask camp directors about these options.

Camp is an equal opportunity life-changer. By sending a child to camp, families are truly giving a gift that lasts a lifetime. By taking steps to mentally prepare for camp, families not only keep from getting “kid-sick” for their camper, but they can stay positive about the camp experience – which goes a long way toward helping first-time campers adjust to life at camp. And just like taking off the training wheels, the moment families see their camper radiating confidence and joy they will feel that burst of pride and gratitude that they allowed their child this experience.

For more information about preparing for the summer camp experience, or to Find A Camp, visit

The American Camp Association® (ACA) works to preserve, promote, and enhance the camp experience for children and adults. ACA-Accredited® camp programs ensure that children are provided with a diversity of educational and developmentally challenging learning opportunities. There are over 2,400 ACA-accredited camps that meet up to 300 health and safety standards. For more information, visit

How Family Routines Help Child Development

May 27, 2014 by  
Filed under NEWS

 Family routines make children feel secure and are a great opportunity for family bonding. Here are some tips for routine building.

How Family Routines Help Child Development

Family routines make children feel secure and are a great opportunity for family bonding. Here are some tips for routine building.

It’s every parent’s dream to raise perfect children who do their homework as soon as they get home, help out around the house and don’t complain when it’s time for them to go to bed.

But of course, every parent knows that this is a fantasy and in the real world, kids need a little more coercing to do the normal things like brushing their teeth and taking a bath.

It’s not that the child is being deliberately disobedient; it’s just that usually they will have their own fun ideas of what they want to do next, and have yet to develop a full understanding of the negative consequences of things like not getting ready for school on time.

It is of course vital to the child’s development that they learn how to do things for themselves, as this will provide them with a sense of independence and self-confidence.

Research into Family Routines 

A study by the Children’s Evaluation and Rehabilitation Center (CERC) found that out of 8,550 children surveyed, those who regularly engaged in more than three family bonding activities (such as bedtime stories and family dinners) had high social-emotional health.

Daily family bonding activities give children a sense of security, as they come to expect certain activities happening at certain times of the day.

It’s calming for the child to know that there’s consistency in their lives, and they will come to look forward to things like a bedtime story. Eventually they will know what is expected of them and will learn to do things, (hopefully) unprompted by you.

Sleep is Vital to Child Development 

One of the biggest daily battles that many parents face with their children is getting them to go to bed at a reasonable hour.

A recent study looking at the amount of sleep teenagers get also found that a lack of shut-eye is linked to obesity, behavioral problems, depression and poor attainment in school.

As we all know, it’s hard to concentrate when you haven’t had enough sleep and many people will become irritable or crave sugary foods. Therefore, it is vital to ensure that your child is getting enough shut-eye.

The researchers recommend that: 

  • Children aged 3-5 sleep 11-13 hours a night
  • Children aged 5-12 sleep 9-11 hours a night
  • Teenagers sleep 8.5-9.5 hours a night
  • Adults sleep 7-9 hours a night

Tips for getting children to bed on time 

  • Give children a sense of control over their bedtime routine by letting them pick out their bedtime story or pajamas. However, be clear how many story books you will read that night to avoid the ‘one more’ pleas from your child.
  • Lower and soften your voice when you’re getting your child to go to sleep, much in the same way a hypnotherapist uses this tone of voice to get people to relax.
  • Use lavender scented bath salts or potpourris around bedtime, as this calming scent will help your child unwind and feel sleepy.

Reducing Screen Time 

With the  number of children and teens owning smartphones ever-increasing, researchers from the Geisel School of Medicine in Dartmouth conducted an observational study on the effect of increased technology use in teens. They found that kids who had no restrictions on their amount of daily ‘screen time’ were reported to be unhappier and more likely to be obese than the children whose parents did monitor their technology use.

But it’s not just the children who need to watch their smartphone use. Another recent study from the American Academy of Pediatrics found that parents who spent a lot of time looking at their cell phones may be harming their child’s communication skills, as very young children look for face-to-face contact with their caregivers in order to learn language skills and pick up social clues.

It is therefore vital as a parent that when you’re routine building with your little ones, that you make sure that the contact you have with them in family bonding moments is completely uninterrupted. Monitoring your own smartphone use will also help them address their technology/life balance.

Tips for Family Routine Building in Your Home 

  • Think about what your child is capable of doing for herself when you’re trying to build a family routine, as this will help you free up time to spend on bonding. For example, if your 4 year old can dress herself, you can get on with making breakfast, giving you the chance to sit and eat it together.
  • When introducing a morning routine, you may need to schedule in extra time for tasks during the first few weeks, as your child will need time to learn and adjust to the new responsibilities. For example, you can choose tomorrow’s outfit the evening before and leave it by their bed, so your child doesn’t have to choose what to wear if you’re in a rush to get to school.
  • Start off small when setting routines for young children. For example, you may want to start off getting night time structured before you start planning out your mornings. This will give your child the space to adjust to the new way of doing things.
  • According to experts, children from as young as four years old can undertake simple ‘chores’ around the house such as packing away their toys. To make chores more appealing to kids, there are many strategies to try such as inventing a game around the activity.
  • Life happens, so make sure that you are flexible with your family routines when you need to be. Christmas Eve for instance might be a hard sell for bedtime as normal, as your child will likely be very excitable and may need some extra playtime before bed to burn off some energy.
  • It may take your child a long time to get used to family routines, therefore you should always make the effort to reward them for their participation and praise them when they do something independently.

If you have any tips for building family routines, please share your thoughts below.

Elise White is a mom to be with an interest in child psychology. She has read widely on the subject in preparation for her little bundle of joy. If you’d like to connect with her you can find her at @Elise__White on Twitter.

Pool Safety Tips for Parents

May 27, 2014 by  
Filed under NEWS

 pool safety tips

Pool Safety Tips for Parents

Following these simple safety rules can save lives in and around pools and water.  

When heat waves dance on your patio and your children melt into puddles on the sofa, it’s the perfect time to go swimming. Few activities help kids beat the heat faster than a quick dip in a pool — not to mention it’s great exercise.

But before you let your kids take that first plunge, make sure they know how to swim. Once your child has mastered the basics, she can enjoy this family-friendly activity forever.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that each year nearly 300 children younger than five drown in swimming pools and more than 3,200 children that age go to hospital emergency rooms due to submersion injuries in pools.

The following tips from can help to keep your children safe and ensure a safe and fun summer at the pool.

Rule #1: Stay Close, Be Alert and Watch Children in and Around the Pool

  • Never take your eyes off children in the water— not for a minute! Drownings occur when there is a short lapse in adult supervision.
  • Teach children basic water safety tips.
  • Keep children away from pool drains, pipes and other openings to avoid entrapments.
  • Have a telephone close by when you or your family is using a pool.
  • If a child is missing, look for her in the pool first.

Rule #2: Learn and Practice Water Safety Skills

  • Learn how to swim and teach your child how to swim.
  • Learn to perform CPR on children and adults, and update those skills regularly.
  • Understand the basics of life-saving so that you can assist in a pool emergency.

Rule #3: Have Appropriate Equipment for Residential Pools

  • Install a four-foot or taller fence around the pool and use self-closing and self-latching gates. If your house serves as a fourth side of a fence around a pool, install door alarms and always use them. For additional protection, install window guards on windows facing the pool.
  • Install pool and gate alarms to alert you when children go near the water.
  • Ensure any pool you use has compliant drain covers, and ask your pool service provider if you do not know. Maintain pool covers in good working order.
  • Consider using a surface wave or underwater alarm.

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