Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Reblog: An Open Letter to Parents in Rensselaer County | Chuck and Kelly

I agree with much of what Kelly has to offer here.  I think that in the end, she gets off topic a little when describing the lives that these kids lead, she has no basis for that.  She is, however, right on when she says that the fact that only one kid showed up for this is disgusting.  Where is the parental responsibility here?    Thank you Kelly for sharing what many of us thought when hearing this very sad story.
An Open Letter to Parents in Rensselaer County | Chuck and Kelly

Friday, September 20, 2013

Recall Roundup 9/20/2013

Date Brand                           (follow link for details) Product Recall Reason Recall Volume
9/20/2013 Joie Car Seat Harness Safety Issue undeclared
9/19/2013 Honda Honda Odyssey and Acura MDX Air Bag Issue 405,000
9/19/2013 Wegmans   Apple Cinnamon Mini Muffins   Undeclared soy 4,327
9/12/2013 Dutch Valley Food Distributors, Inc.   Honey Roasted Peanuts   Undeclared Milk and Wheat undeclared
9/11/2013 Schwebel Baking Company   Golden Rich Buns with Honey   Undeclared Eggs 18,979
9/12/2013 Gree Electric Appliances Dehumidifiers - 12 Brands Fire Hazard 2,200,000
9/10/2013 Be Amazing Toys Monster Science Growing Spider Choking Hazard 26,500
9/9/2013 Talenti Gelato German Chocolate Cake Gelato Undeclared Almonds undeclared
9/9/2013 Bubbles Baking Company Blueberry Muffin Blueberry Loaf Cake Undeclared Milk and Soy  9,229
9/6/2013 Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls With Icing may contain fragments from a broken piece of plastic  undeclared
9/6/2013 McNeil Motrin Infant Drops may contain fragments from a broken piece of plastic  200,000
9/5/2013 Chobani Greek Yogurt reports of swelling and bloating undeclared

Friday, September 13, 2013

Middle School Mission: Too Young to Help?

The bulk of my personal posts are about my daughter and my families journey with her.  I love writing those, but this one is a little different.  In my non-daddy life, I am very involved with youth ministry and I would love some crowd sourcing help around that today.  So I hope you will indulge my departure.  You see, when I think of my middle school experience, I think of girls changing best friends every 26 seconds, detentions for not getting homework done, and slow dances where you could fit a full set of the Encyclopedia Britannica (if you're under 25, look it up, you'll be amazed!) between the parties involved. I don't think that these memories are completely fabricated but I love that as an adult I get to see it from a different perspective.  

Today, Middle School kids never cease to amaze me.  I have been working with them in one capacity or another for eight years and have an immeasurable respect for them.  The difference between the sixth graders we get in and the eighth graders we confirm and graduate is immense.  With most kids, you would hardly recognize the person that walked in 3 years earlier.  I suppose that is not too surprising when we remember that the time they spend with us is 25% of their lives. 

I think one of the more impressive things about kids at this point in their lives is that, for most of them, nobody has convinced them yet that it is not cool to be engaged.  No one has broken them down so far that they stop caring about others and they think that anyone who would break them down like that is not worth their time anyway.  To be clear, I am definitely not deluded enough to think that there aren't horrible stories of bullying and abuse that can happen to kids at this age but overall, the light that is within them hasn't yet been covered by the proverbial bushel basket (I know, I know, it wasn't Proverbs but you get my point!)  When we give these kids a chance to help someone in need, whether it be on the mission trips we do over the summer, the weekend trips we do in the spring or helping feed the folks in our PADS homeless shelter, they shine.  We see them step up in ways that people might not expect.  One reason that I think that this group is so important to work with is so that when the world pushes itself onto them, they have a set of experiences to draw from which will support the inkling that they have the doing the right thing is worth it because it feels great.

The advisors for WildFaith, the middle school youth group at our church, have agreed to take on a huge challenge this year  which we can only do because we have absolute faith that our kids will step up the way they always have. We are going to raise the funds, make the food, and staff the cooking team for one Tuesday every month this PADS season.  Our kids have always cooked for PADS a few times a year but this is by far the largest commitment to mission that we have ever endeavored.  One Sunday a month of cooking will mean fewer weeks of playing sardines and board games and movie nights but it will mean a way to guarantee that our kids aren't the ones who don't know that they can do more than "want to" help.  They can actually impact lives directly. 

This was a wonderful opportunity for us but it comes after years of being told that 11-14 year olds are too young to help at several other mission opportunities.  So my question to parents and youth leaders reading this is this:  Where have you found fun, hands on, age appropriate mission opportunities for little kids and/or middle school kids?  If you have friends who are involved in mission or ministry, perhaps you could share this post with them, I would love to get some varied ideas for what groups, organizations and projects need help from our kids.  Thanks Everyone-- Comment Away!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

You Don't Say!

A new study printed in the British Journal of Psychiatry tells us that kindergarteners who exhibit disruptive behaviors in school and receive attention to those issues may face a lower risk of abusing substances like drugs and alcohol during adolescence than those whose issues are not addressed.  I had a very quick gut response to that revelation--- DUH!

I truly hope that there were not a lot of resources pulled from other projects at University of Montreal to focus solely on this one.  I understand that we cannot act in all things based on logic without proof but it kills me that there was sufficient opposition to merit further study to the idea that taking kids who are acting out early in life and working with them will help them later in life.  Not only does working with the troubled kids teach them the tools to deal with the social challenges that are causing their anxiety or antisocial behavior.  It also teaches them that people care enough about them to try to help them.  The confidence that instills could certainly have a positive effect on a young person's social trajectory.  The reverse makes sense too, if a child is acting out and there is no help forthcoming a very important message is sent to that child as well.  Whatever validation or response or training they needed which caused the original behavioral issues has still not been addressed and their behavior will continue to suffer until those needs are met. 

I recognize that there are good reasons to do research on anything which may help funds become available to intervene as early as possible to help our kids but I found the outcomes of this study rather predictable.  Let's pray it can help the youngsters get the assistance they need as early as possible.

Tackling disruptive behavior in early childhood could prevent substance use in adolescence

Is Evolution Unfair to Women?

Many of us have seen or heard the results of the recent Emory University study probing the correlation between testicular size and nurturing parenting.  It made for fun radio banter for the overgrown 12 year old DJs and talk show hosts today and the amount of awful word play I saw today when reading about this was overwhelming (see here for instance.)  

For those who may have missed it the take away from most of the conversations was that men with smaller testicles tended to get the most joy out of being more nurturing fathers.  This was not wholly surprising since we learned 2 years ago in this Northwestern University study that your testosterone levels dropped some when you remained in a relationship and significantly farther after fatherhood.  It noted that the more paternal involvement, the lower the level.  This was fascinating at the time because it challenged the old school thinking that men were only wired to hunt and women to gather and take care of the kids. 
What was telling about the Emory study's results was that they found that
1) Testosterone levels were not strongly tied to testicular size
2) Bigger testes were ties to stronger, higher quality sperm
These 2 facts got me thinking.  Are our daughters genetically drawn to jerks who will leave them --or at least leave them to handle the child rearing-- because it's best for the species?  That seems a little unfair, doesn't it?  How could evolution, a system which has brought us so far have come to this?  The strongest sperm, the ones voted "most likely to succeed" in their sperm class, are from fathers who are not genetically programmed to be as engaged and nurturing as their weaker sperm classmates? 

Bedtime for Ducky

I have come a long way towards trusting all of those wonderful parents who have gone before me.  At the beginning, there was so much advice that I shut down and basically said "we are going to have to blaze our own trail." My aversion to advice left me not embracing food introduction order or bedtime routines.  I ignored keeping her away from people and not exposing her to animals.  Again, we decided to blaze our own trail and we did in ohh soooo many ways.  Ducky ate spicy foods and fed herself right from the beginning.  We had her at her first outdoor concert at 3 weeks old and she was at the Bristol Ren Faire by a couple months old.  She flew to both coasts in her first 6 months and through it all was a happy, well-adjusted baby about whom we had no serious complaints. 

More than anything, Ducky had always been a sleeper.  She started sleeping through the night at just a few weeks old.  She slept so much that we had to wake her up every night to feed her until her doctor was happy with her weight.  At times, she slept so deeply that I would have to put my finger below her nostrils to make sure I could feel the warm breath coming out.  During the first 5 months, when she was rock-sleeping, Ducky was sleeping either in the pack and play infant holder in our room or in our bed a la Dr. Sears' Method.  Around Thanksgiving, we decided it was time for her to move to her own bed.  Since I was staying at home with her, I volunteered to handle the transition which took 3 or 4 nights of gut wrenching crying.  I swear I went in at 5, 10, 12, 16, and 20 minute intervals but it seemed awful even though I knew she was OK.  Dr Ferber's follower's helped me get the first night down after about an hour and then we were at 20  minutes or less every night.  Within a few nights she was sleeping in her bed and fussing for no more than a few minutes.   

 This all ended after Christmas.  We were blessed that year to go to Washington State to visit Allie's parents for 10 days and while there, Ducky was forced to sleep with me because we didn't have her crib with us and Allie was ridiculously sick the whole time.  Convenient, I thought, since it meant she got the nice comfy bed while the baby and I shared an air mattress on the floor... Just saying.  This was a terrible idea.  When we got back, after a wonderful trip, we were exhausted and had to get back to our daily lives.  Ducky, on the other hand, was used to sleeping cuddled with me and not keen to give that up. So for the second time in a few months it was time to sleep train.  We punted.  For several months, we took the baby back with us and all seemed fine.  Eventually, with some Nyquil for Allie and Ferber-ization for the baby, we got her back in her crib and she started going to sleep after some fussing every night.  We took this as a win. 

It was a win, seriously, but here is where it got interesting.  In the last couple weeks, I got the baby into what everyone has been suggesting.... A Routine.  at We read books or play blocks for a while then at 8 PM we're in her room with the lights off and we sing songs until she calms and goes to sleep.  It seemed like a nice way to get her to bed and magically, it has started to work.  Tonight, when I brought the baby to bed, I started singing and immediately her head was on my shoulder.  A few minutes later, laid her down and there was no fussing,  just sleep.  We have been enjoying Puff the Magic Dragon, Lullaby by Billy Joel, Your Song by Elton John and a bunch of others including some wonderful hymns from my childhood.

So here is my question for all you parents out there.  What are some songs you remember singing to your kids before they had their own taste in music?  I know we will end up singing Barney or her equivalent thereof someday, but I am looking for some fun, wonderful songs to share.  Help me out!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Motrin Recall... Just another awesome function of your new favorite blog :)

Johnson and Johnson has issued a recall of some 200,000 bottles of Children's Motrin.
 Click here to see the full report.

"The recalled half-ounce bottles can be identified by their lot numbers: DCB3T01, DDB4R01 and DDB4S01. McNeil recommends that all consumers stop using the medication that’s affected and call the company for a refund at 1-877-414-7709."

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

What Should a Four Year Old Know

As School starts up for so many of my friends, I think it's important to consider exactly what we want our little one's to know for sure.  This was a good reminder for me already that knowing certain words is awesome but knowing that she is safe and loved matters more.  This is a pretty wonderful list.  Thanks to Alicia at Magical Childhood.