Feeding Hungry Children Fills Heart

Children Appreciate Volunteering When Feeding the hungry

feedinghungrychildren

I’ve always believed one of my parenting jobs is to guide my children’s eyes to truly see and respect those around them. Especially others who are different or less fortunate, and are in need of nutritious food, clean water, and shelter.

Often at our dinner table, we talk about children who are in need of a meal packed full of nutrients to keep their bodies strong, healthy, and growing properly. I’m not talking about 30 years ago when dinnertime meant parents threatening their kids into eating disorders with the “clean plate” method. Nor the pitiful line, “There are children in China who are starving!” Not sure why the Chinese got stuck in the middle of that phrase, but placing guilt on kids to eat when their bodies aren’t hungry is not the greatest plan.

For over a decade, I’ve been supporting Harvesters the Community Food Source. They are a non-profit organization whose mission is to “feed hungry people today and work to end hunger tomorrow.” Throughout 26 counties in Kansas and Missouri, they have provided food and essentials to over 600 agencies since 1979.

Why do they do this? Because according to Harvesters, in our area alone, one out of seven persons is “food insecure.” 127,190 children, translated to one out of five, are food insecure in the Kansas City area. And 38 percent of them don’t qualify for federal assistance, so their only hope for a meal is from charities. This is unacceptable.

So when my youngest daughter’s Girl Scout troop was to assist an organization pack food into backpacks, I insisted both my girls come. I’m a huge fan of this program. The “BackSnack” program provides backpacks filled with food, so the school’s can discreetly help children in need every Friday. This ensures all children have food for the weekend.

It does break my heart to think what happens on a long weekend or during school breaks, but I’m sure Harvesters is there to provide.

Pounding volunteerism into my children’s brains, with this hands-on experience, gave me a sense of parental accomplishment. It finally got through to my daughters. I thought the dinner talks were getting through to them, but they only had part of it.

When volunteers were calling out for more food containers and were naming the schools my daughters had heard of, it hit them like a ton of bricks. These were kids their age, who couldn’t afford to play soccer or attend dance class. They didn’t go on trips to Target to buy cool new clothes for school or go on vacations to Disney World. These children who might be sitting next to them in music class were struggling to just get some food.

“There are this many kids who can’t eat on the weekends!” said my daughter with frightened eyes.

That is the look I hope everyone would have in their eyes when they hear of this happening around them. Even friends at their school could be secretly heading to the office to get their sustenance for the next 48 hours.

“Mommy, those backpacks aren’t very big.”

“No. No they aren’t,” I said with an aching heart.

Thanks to this experience, my family feels even more blessed for what we have. I didn’t even need to guide my girls’ eyes, for they opened wide on their own. Now they are looking forward to our next volunteering event.

Thank you, Harvesters and to the hundreds of volunteers and supporters who give their time, money and food to those who matter.

Because we all matter.

If you stuck around this far, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Your opinions feed my soul.

Stacey

 

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Key to No Barfing on Family Road Trips

Nauseated

The other day my friend and I were discussing how we dreaded traveling with kids and it wasn’t for the reasons most parents have:

“She crossed over the line and her finger is on my side!!”

“Bobby took my headphones!”

“Mom, Sarah won’t stop staring at me!”

Oh, no, we both had the dreaded Car Barfer.

After discussing this malady by the snack table at church, regarding traveling with kids on Spring Break, I realized that after I fought this “uphill” battle for 7 years, I could be considered an expert.

And because of that, I felt it was my public duty to share my tricks and secrets.

When my daughter, Munchkin #1 was a baby, she immediately became what they call in some glamorous social circles, a projectile puker. The girl could hurl it to the third seat area of the van if she produced a good arc.

The hubby and I prayed that she would grow out of this attractive behavior, for she wouldn’t win any popularity contests if this continued.

In fact, we couldn’t go anywhere in the van over 15 minutes without the upchuck routine. This was awful since the grandparents lived 30 minutes away and people frown on covering infants in Saran Wrap or attaching feedbags.

So after many urping episodes, and tempts of fate thinking she could make it 16 minutes, 17 minutes, we tried everything we could think of to make our darling child, feel better, keep unsoiled and not smell like the ladies room on 50 cent beer draw night.

Here are my tips for keeping you and your child happy and considering getting back on the road again:

Medications:

Younger children cannot take any medication to settle their stomachs, so you have to just suffer through. When your pediatrician says that Benadryl is OK for your child, that can be a blessing for some; but you need to be careful and know the exact dose and realize it will knock most kids out into a prolonged stupor. Of course there are some kiddos that have the opposite problem and turn into complete spazzes, but at least they aren’t throwing up. REMEMBER: Don’t give Benadryl without your pediatricians approval.

Dramamine is for kids over 2 years of age, according to the packaging. There are chewables, but they are hard to find. And if you try to get your kid to swallow Dramamine in pill form, and they have not developed that skill yet, they taste awful just sitting on the tongue, so it will be near impossible getting another one in your kids mouth ever again.

However, Dramamine is a blessing from God!! I remember thinking that my daughter would never turn two so that we could use the magic potion of the road. NOTE: Never give Benadryl and Dramamine together. Dramamine contains Benadryl, so you can overdose.

Not all pediatricians will prescribe this for older children, but it doesn’t hurt to ask, but Odansetron (aka Zofran) is an anti-emetic (anti-nausea/anti-vomiting) drug that is often used for pregnant women who can’t keep food down or patients after chemotherapy treatment. Children over the age of 4 can take this, and if your child does not respond to the other choices, Odansetron works beautifully. This drug needs a prescription, so your physician will let you know if this is appropriate for your child.

Clean-up Supplies:

1. In addition to medication, you need to have your vehicle stocked sufficiently. A little package of tissues you carry in your purse is not going to cut it with one of these kids. You need a jumbo box of baby wipes and periodically check to make sure they remain damp. Nothing worse than reaching in for a cleanup job and find dry wipes! Not only do the wipes work well to essentially bathe your child in the car, but also they can clean upholstery, carpeting and the seat belts quite effectively. These are a MUST! My kids are 7 and 8 and I still keep a box in the car just for spills and accidents.

2. At first I asked every person who traveled to bring me back vomit bags from the airlines. I had about 20 of those in the back pocket of the driver’s seat. But you will quickly learn that those are 1) not airtight 2) not leakproof and 3) have a small opening, which proves to be a poor target for a young or inexperienced barfer. Ziploc Freezer Bags with the strong zipper seal are the answer. Aim, shoot, and zip! Toss and you are back on the road. I actually kept an entire jumbo box of those in the car with the wipes.

3. The last thing you want are kitchen trash bags. Many times I stood on the side of the highway with my toddler stripped down to her diaper and I was tempted to just dump her clothes right there. If you have a big bag for clothes or the liner of the car seat, you can close those up tight and toss them in the trunk.

I apologize for those with a weak stomach. I know this isn’t a glamorous post, but hopefully this information can save at least one family some headaches.

The good thing is usually by the time your car sick child is a teenager, she can sit in the front and look out the front window, reducing or possibly alleviating the nausea.

Thanks so much for joining Nurse Mommy Laughs today! If you know of someone that has a child this post could help, please feel free to forward this link. How do you get through traveling with carsick kids? Any other tips you would like to share in the comments below?

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A Child’s Fear of Halloween is Debilitating for Parents Craving Chocolate

Halloween Fear



Once upon a time, there were children who hated Halloween.

“Shut your mouth!” you exclaim?

True story.

“How can children not enjoy a holiday, where they are to dress up in costume and get free candy?!” you ask.

Well, I’m not a professional holiday/candy researcher, despite my deep love of peanut brittle and candy cane fudge; but there actually are people who can help these kids overcome their fears.

Several hundreds or tens of kids who are afraid of the dark and/or monsters can be experience extreme fears far into the grade school years. I wouldn’t have believed it, but I have watched some children firsthand who are highly creative, fueled by cute zombie commercials on the Disney channel; and their extreme fear of Halloween knocks them out of prime candy retrieval position.

I remember as a child being scared that things would jump out at me in the middle of the night. I’m pretty sure nothing like that had traumatized me. I had no case of Halloween PTSD.

*OK, the Halloween movies scared the crap out of me, but I was in middle school. And just because I watched all of them, doesn’t mean that I enjoyed them. Just say “No!” to peer pressure, kids.

Sometimes fears can appear for unknown reasons.

Actually, there’s a phobia related to the fear of Halloween. Samhainophobia is the obvious name of it. Not quite sure how they came up with this catchy title, but I have a sneaking suspicion it was due to a gang of scoundrels picking on a guy named Sam Hain.

One Halloween night, four scores ago, Sam opened his front door to a flaming bag of poo left by the gang. After stomping it out, crying like a baby, and running in front of town hall in his pajamas, he sadly developed a fear of Halloween – and by direct association, bags of fiery poop. Sam had to have been the poster child of fearing Halloween.

Apparently, 40 percent of kids from 6-12 experience some type of fear. However, the fear lessens by a gradual desensitization each time he faces it. Then the fear might become a phobia, warranting medical treatment or counseling.

“As part of the treatment plan for phobias, many therapists suggest exposing your child to the source of his anxiety in small, nonthreatening doses,” reports the American Pediatric Association.
Ultimately, the child will no longer feel the need to avoid the situation, which has triggered the phobia. While this process sounds like common sense and easy to carry out, it should be done only under the supervision of a professional and not “Aunt” Edith from the yellow house down at the end of the street.
Also, making fun of the child’s fear, belittling them or forcing the child to be brave will surely backfire. Relaxation techniques and deep breathing can soothe some panicking children.

Lighting bags of excrement and laughing at the child who stomps it out is not the suggested method for decreasing Samhainophobia. Patience, tolerance and not begging for your child to “go get me a big sack of candy,” will help them slowly face their fear.

My suggestion for parents of Halloween phobic kiddos is to go to the drug store the day after Halloween and get all the candy you want 50% off. You will not win this battle and everything is better with chocolate.

Here is the video of the KC Live! Mommy Panel for October 2014. Paige Kellerman, Snarky in the Suburb’s, Sherry Kuehl and I have fun talking about Halloween and kids.

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Grandparent Sleepover Healed my Poor Tired Heart

Christmas wish listAdmitting my years in age are increasing, instead of the opposite — which would be more appealing — I have noticed the hard drive that sits firmly above my shoulders seems to be full most of the time.

Like my computer, when storage is nearing maximum capacity the operating system slows down. This was my brain in 2012.

The holidays typically are a time for enjoying family, passing down traditions, completing a complicated puzzle or perhaps downing that box of wine you’ve been saving for a fancy puzzle.

However, I somehow I washed over that frivolity this year and I don’t think I was alone in that feeling. In the last few months, so much anger and hatred had reared its head across the world and its horrific force consumed even the most chipper and positive thinkers.

This winter holiday I had lost my umph, my festive tree-topper attitude. I didn’t take advantage of tormenting my children with all the verses of every Christmas song like I normally do. I didn’t bake my traditional cookies for neighbors or friends. Our Christmas cards were generic and boring for the first and last time, I promise. I didn’t even curl up to watch my favorite Christmas movies with the kids. Bad mommy? No. Sad mommy is closer.

“Blue Christmas” lyrics seemed to be mocking me at each turn, so I needed to find the antidote to this cultural plague, for the health of my family and myself.

De-cluttering the house was step one in finding the carpet. It was calming to see amber waves of plush pile beneath the myriad plastic parts that only a year before resembled workable toys. Not only did I carry out trash bags of paper, fill the recycling bin with flattened boxes and, with my head dropped, add to the Styrofoam landfill “Forever There” program. I also dumped a truckload of our old pink and purple toys off at Goodwill, making room for new, shiny pink and purple toys. Somehow that made room in my ribcage for me to breathe again.

Then in the midst of a semi-clean (I have children, I’m not going to lie about the condition) yet OSHA-safe home, I found the key to my newfound serenity of 2013! It came in the form of a list my 7-year-old daughter composed sometime during winter break. It’s what broke the Blue Christmas Camel’s back.

My daughter was elated to have a sleepover with her grandparents. She always is. Both sets of grandparents bring great joy to my girls. This time, she decided to create a list. Of course it was meticulously illustrated, like all award-wining lists are. It was stunning! We should have framed it.

What we will do at Grammy and Pops’s sleepover:

• Pillow fight

• Eat pizza

• Act out story of Peter Pan

• Make a gingerbread house

• Dress Pops up like a girl

According to my children, not all of the bullet points were performed that night. When asking my parents about the list and whether all activities were enjoyed, for some reason, the details were evaded.

The night of the Grammy and Pops sleepover — I don’t know if I will ever know exactly what happened. But I do know the list made me laugh until I reclaimed my super-chipper attitude.

Father And Two Children In Pillow FightI did find it peculiar, though, that it took me over a week to find all of my cosmetics. And I’m sad to report my Bamboo Pink lipstick will never be the same.

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Keeping the Normalcy and Holiday Spirit Alive

Baby with Christmas presentsEvery morning I have awakened with a lump in my throat and a surge of anxiety since the devastating massacre in Connecticut. I try to clear my mind with deep cleansing breaths, positive imagery and prayer for those all affected. But the problem is, I don’t know anyone who wasn’t affected by this tragedy. Even the newborn knows his mother is tense and crying more than usual.

So my quest, my personal goal is to continue praying for those in need, helping in whatever way I can and then making sure my children return to normalcy. Now if you have ever met my family, normalcy is so wacky and zany – usually involving interpretive dance and jazz hands every other day – so we have our work cut out for us to get to that point again. But I wish for this holiday to be one of deep love, family time and yes, a puppet show or two.

One thing I have noticed is that Alf, our Elf on the Shelf, who I might have previously mentioned I am not fond of (or is the bane of my existence, since he sometimes decides not to move at night and it upsets my children and makes them feel unworthy of his love. ARGHHHH!) is upset by the Connecticut incident as well. Alf is barely moving to another place each night and my children are noticing his lazy behavior.

Well, Mr. Alf this is your wake-up call: you need to pull it together and get more creative for my kids! They deserve it.

• I promise not to call you names and roll my eyes at you if you “up-your-game” and make this last week fun for my girls.
• I will start taking pics of you again and showing you off to my friends.
• It’s unfortunate it took this type of devastation and horrific incident for me to get my priorities straight,
but Alf, you are part of my family, and I promise to treat you better.
• I will not let other mom-bloggers bring me down and join them in badmouthing our elves at Christmas parties or Facebook.

I know our time together is limited, Alf. I don’t know how long you will be in our life, so I am going to change my Christmas Carol and sing your praises.

I’m starting a new movement:

“EMBRACE YOUR INNER ELF: YOU NEVER KNOW HOW LONG YOU’LL HAVE THE MAGIC”
Alf on Bike

Hug your kids for me too, kay?! Happy holidays, friends.

©2012, Stacey Hatton. All rights reserved.

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