Stay With Me

My kids are three of the most important things in my life.  Ever since they were born they relied on me, their mother, for everything.  While they were young, there were times when that was exhausting.  If you are a parent you know exactly what I am talking about.

  • Late night feedings
  • Middle of the night illnesses
  • Waking up early because as soon as the sun hit their window they wanted to bound out of bed and play
  • Cooking
  • Cleaning
  • Laundry
  • Doctor’s appointments
  • Playing whatever they want
  • Watching whatever they want, as many times as they want
  • Teaching them everything you can about life and the world

Exhausting?  YES!  Worth it?  ABSOLUTELY!!!!!  I have delighted in being there every single step of the way with our kids.  Luckily I was able to be at home with them or on the same schedule as them for over 10 years while they were young.  This made them rely on me even more for things though, since there were a lot of times that Daddy was at work and I was there with them.  I was the first one they asked to do something or for something.  I was also a lot of the time the one that they wanted when they were upset about anything.  I was at all of the school programs, and PTA/PTO meetings.  I wanted to do everything in my power to give my children everything they wanted and even more.  Isn’t that what all parents want for their children?  Of course it is!

Sure there were moments during all of the craziness and stress that I just wanted and needed a break.  But I never once wanted my children to not want or need me.  Even when I was not with them, I was still thinking about them no matter where I was at the time.  Each of them was always on my mind.  I wanted to know what they were doing, if they missed me, if they needed me, and if they would be upset that I had been away from them for this period of time.

The emotions that I described in the above paragraph has not changed. I still feel exactly the same about my children.  When they are at school, or at a friend’s house, or when I’m at work … I miss them. My heart aches to spend more time with them and to enjoy every moment.  Actually, my heart hurts for this time even more now than ever before.

My oldest daughter is turning 16 in a few short months.  She is a sophomore in high school.  She used to want to sit with me and sing songs, color, play games, watch TV, and just snuggle.  Now she is busy with her friends, extra curricular activities, and looking at colleges.  She is in the beginning stages of making plans to leave the nest.  She is strong, confident, and independent.  She asserts her ability to think for herself and make her own decisions and be her own person.  That’s exactly what we wanted for her, right? We wanted to teach her how to grow into a strong, caring, compassionate, intelligent, hard-working, and all around amazing adult, right?  Then why on earth does it hurt so badly?

My son is 13, and he is such a funny character.  He used to love to spend his time in my lap or snuggled up under one of my arms doing just about anything.  He would run and play and laugh at just about any given moment.  Now he is about to finish up his 8th grade year and embark on the journey that is high school.  He is already talking about what college he might want to go to and what team he will want to play fro when he gets drafted in the NBA.  He’s got big dreams, and a big personality to match.  Once again, he is growing into all we had hoped he would be.  And still it hurts …

My youngest daughter is 11, and she is quite the pistol.   She has always been my snuggle baby.  She was constantly wanting to play, or learn new things and be with me no matter where I was.  It hasn’t happened all the way with her yet, but I’ve now been through it twice so I see all of the signs.  She’s growing up just like her siblings did, and she too is pulling away from me and becoming so independent.

They are all doing exactly what they are supposed to do. They are growing up, and becoming independent.  They can’t rely on me for everything forever.  But the thought of them leaving and going out into the big, bad world all on their own is more than terrifying.  Not because we haven’t prepared them for it, but more because I know what’s out there and I want them to just stay with me …

“Stay with me, the world is dark and wild.  Stay a child, while you can be a child … with me.” The Witch in Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods.

Here’s hoping that we can enjoy lots more fun before they all run off and leave me behind in the dust to move on to all of the bigger and better things that life has in store for them.

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Coping with Eczema in Children

I never thought of a skin condition as a chronic illness. I always thought a little itching was not that bad, just rub some cream on the rash and it will get better. This was well before I had to watch my child struggle with the affliction of eczema. I realized how serious a skin condition can be the first time I had to put socks on my infant’s hands to keep her from scratching herself until her skin was open, weeping and bloody. For those with eczema, it is more than just really dry skin or a patchy red rash. They can’t just put cream on it and make it better. It is a daily battle to not scratch even though it feels like tiny bugs are crawling all over their body. It is a ritual of lotions, creams, and moisturizers several times a day. For me, as a parent of a child with eczema, all I can do is have hope that tomorrow we will wake up to not have to worry about any of this anymore.

My daughter was diagnosed with eczema, or atopic dermatitis, at her two month check up by her pediatrician. She is my third child, and I knew something was different and that this was more than just the normal dry skin that new born babies sometimes experience. Luckily at this point, she was too young to agitate the condition by scratching. At first the pediatrician told us to use oatmeal baths and moisturizers. Being a work at home mother, I was able to put moisturizers on her several times a day. After two months of moisturizing, there was no change. At four months old she was prescribed a topical non steroid cream. It seemed to help a little and worked for a few months. As she got older the condition did not get better, it worsened spreading all over her body. To make matters worse she would scratch and rub her body until the skin was raw. We would do everything to keep her covered so she could not scratch and make it worse. This included cotton footed pajamas at bed time, socks on her hands, and tights instead of socks for her feet. At age one, my daughter was prescribed a topical steroid cream. This also seemed to help matters for a short period of time. She seemed to do better on it for a few months then the condition would inflame again, and seemed to come back even stronger than it had been before.

By age two, we were just about at our wits end. She was suffering so much and nothing we were doing was helping her at all. The pediatrician then referred us to an allergist and put her on an oral medication for ten days. Those ten days were glorious. Hardly any scratching, and she almost completely healed. The first day off of the oral medication, the eczema was back. We were heartbroken. The allergist ran tests to see if my daughter was allergic to something that may be causing the eczema. He found a few mild allergies and we did the allergy control for 6 months. There was still no change in her condition. After this, we opted to see a dermatologist. The dermatologist diagnosed her case as severe. She told us the best we can do is to manage her condition with proper care and medication until she outgrows the eczema. One important thing we learned from the dermatologist is not to use topical cortisone creams on eczema. In many cases this will only worse the itching.

It has now been a year since we have been to the dermatologist. My daughter’s eczema is not gone, but it is much better. We are managing her condition with a combination of medications, moisturizers, and oatmeal baths. Many people have made suggestions to us on different remedies to try for our daughter, some we have tried, others we have not. Each case of eczema is different and what works for some, may not work for others. Below you will find a list of remedies we have tried, or been told about. Hopefully one of these will help you or someone with eczema in your life.

Oatmeal bath, either store bought or homemade. We currently use a homemade one.

Moisturizing lotions, oils, butters, or jellies, we have tried so many of these that I can not even name them all. What works for us is to find one that doesn’t burn or sting when applied and stick with it until it doesn’t feel good anymore.

Noxzema, use this as a cleanser for the entire body. According to several people I have spoken with regarding this, originally it was not called Noxzema and it cured someone’s eczema. They wrote to the company about the experience and that is how the cleanser got the name Noxzema. (http://www.amusingfacts.com/facts/Detail/noxema.html)

Crisco, yes I do mean the shortening. I know it sounds crazy, but it worked for a while for us. This was suggested by our allergist. It works as a moisturizer similar to petroleum jelly, just thicker.

Prescriptions will of course been to be prescribed by your physician. Here is a list of the different medications my daughter has been prescribed. This list is only meant to inform you of the different treatment options that we have been offered by our doctors. My daughter has been prescribed topical steroids, topical non-steroids, oral steroids, anti-allergy medications, oral anti-itch medications, oral antibiotics, and topical antibiotics. There may be other treatment options out there that could work for you. Consult with your doctor to see if prescriptions are necessary in your case and what combination of medications will work best for you.

After almost 11 years, eczema is still a daily struggle for my daughter and for our family. I hope by writing this article someone else will be more informed and have better tools to deal with this condition.

Planning the Perfect Strawberry Shortcake Birthday Party

Is your little girl as sweet as Strawberry Shortcake? She is? Then a birthday party centered around this sugary sweet character and all of her friends is the perfect choice for your little sweetie! Here are some suggestions from my daughter’s recent party with this theme.

As I have stated in my other party planning articles, always start witht he guest list. It isn’t a party unless you have all of your friends and family there to celebrate with you. Invitations can be purchased at your local store, any store with party supplies will have them. You can also choose to order your invitations on-line. Many on-line party supply sites also carry party packs including many of your party necessities. You can also make your own invitations using any card making software or by using Microsoft Word. YOu can even make Strawberry shapes from construction paper and let your child help you cut them out and decorate them! To give your guests ample time to plan to attend and to RSVP, mail invitations at least two weeks prior to the party date. Even if you do not hear back from everyone on the guest list, still be prepared for all you invite to attend. The simple act of an RSVP seems to be a dying art these days.

This sweet them gives so many options for yummy foods. Since all of the characters are named after foods, the options just go on and on. Of course the main attraction of the food at any birthday partyis the birthday cake. YOu can always order a cake from a local bakery. I have even seen bakeries put a bunch of cupcakes together into the shape of a strawberry and then ice the cupcakes all together as one cake and decorate as a strawberry. It looks almost as good as it tastes! This “cupcake” cake would be easy to do on your own as well. You can also purchase a Strawberry Shortcake cake pan from a baking specialty shop, or on-line. This does require more decorating, but once you see the finished result, it will be well worth the additional effort! Cake plans need to be made at the two week before mark also. Either order the cake from the bakery, or find whatever pans you may need to make the cake of your choice. Do not put off the cake until the last minute, this is one detail you do not want to let slip through your fingers.

After you finish all of the planning for the cake, it is time to have some fun planning the other foods for the party. Here are some of the food ideas I had to choose from when planning our party.

1. Orange Blossom Cookies – I made simple spritz cookies and added a bit of orange extract to the batter. I used a flower shape disc on my cookie press and made these. I even had my daughter add orange sprinkles to the tops of the cookies. You can even use sugar cookie dough for this same thing and roll it out and use flower shaped cookie cutters. These of course are in honor of Strawberry’s friend, Orange Blossom.
2. Strawberry Shortcake – of course this one is the obvious option. You could have this yummy dessert instead of cake or in addition to cake.
3. Blueberry Muffins – I made miniature blueberry muffins, another recipe inspired by one of Strawberry’s friends, Blueberry Muffin.
4. Lemonade – this is always a great party beverage. You could even make a lemonade punch for more pizazz. This came from Strawberry’s twin friends, Lem and Ada.

There are tons of other options as well. All you need to do is do a search for Strawberry Shortcake and Friends and see all the character names to get inspired.

Now it is time to decide on party games. You need to first consider the age of your child and the children that will be attending the party. Make sure to choose age appropriate games and crafts.

1. Strawberry Shortcake coloring pages is great for any age. You can get these out of a coloring book, or print some out from on-line. Just do a search for Free coloring pages and you will find a multitude of sites that offer all different pages with all different characters. Print them out and you are ready to go!
2. Pin the tail on Pupcake – You can draw or purchase, or print out a large picture of Strawberry’s dog Pupcake. Have the kids pint he tail on him just like pin the tail on the donkey.
3. You could decorate cookies or cupcakes or rice crispy treats with the kids. One of Strawberry’s friend’s has her own bakery and this would be fin for older kids!
4. Strawberry crafts – You could make strawberries from construction paper or pipe cleaners or many other materials.
5. Strawberry patch – You could buy or make fake strawberries and hide them in the yard, then have the kids hunt for them. You can give them buckets or baskets to put the strawberries into. These baskets or buckets can double as their goody bags!

Speaking of goody bags, no party is complete without these special packages of special treats to thank your friends for coming to the party! You can find all kinds of neat goodies for the take home bags. Anything candy, cookie, or cake related would be perfect. Candy shaped erasers, and notepads with pictures of sweet treats ont hem would be great for any age. Also you can get small Strawberry Shortcake dolls for a small price, these would also be a good choice to send home with your little guests. Strawberry candies, and even strawberry fruit snacks would make a yummy addition too. You can even purchase ready made goody bags and character themed toys at your local or on-line party supplier.

The final seven days before the party get all the final items ready. Make a trip to the store to get all the final necessities, drinks, plates, cups, napkins, plastic silverware, any other snack foods you may want, and extra ice. If you want balloons make sure to order these at least 3-5 days in advance. You can order them from a florist or party store near you. You will need to pick the cake up the day of the party or make it a day ahead of time.

All of the details will fall right into place come party day! You will love watching your little sweetheart enjoy her party with her friends. Plus all of the adults will thinkt his is the best party ever! They may just all want you to help them plan their next party too! Enjoy your party, I know we enjoyed ours!

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