How to Best Clean Indoor Air for the Allergic Child

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(This post was sponsored by The Blogger Collective)

The hay fever season is over; the trees are not pollinating your sinuses, yet your child still has allergy symptoms. Perhaps it isn’t what is going on outdoors, but inside your house the allergens lurk.

Thankfully, with persistence and consistency you can make home smelling “Home Sweet Home” for any allergic child.
Perennial allergic rhinitis, also known as year-round inflammation of the nose, consists of several indoor allergens. The most common are: dust mites, pet dander/saliva and indoor mold.

Not all kids are allergic to all of these, but just one severe reaction to any of these can leave your child miserable all year round.

Diagnosis

How do you know if your child is allergic to any of the above indoor allergens? An appointment with your primary doctor is the best start. They will find out when the allergies are worse and might be able to make a diagnosis with their exam.
You might be referred to a specialist, who would do a more extensive exam and possibly a skin test. According to Nemours Foundation, these allergists may do a quick skin test, which “usually involve(s) putting a purified form of an allergen either on the skin or underneath it to elicit an allergic reaction.”

An immediate diagnosis to these allergens comes from this type of testing.

Boy Blowing His Nose
Treatment for Allergies

Reducing the amount of indoor allergens is your next step. This can be a tedious and time-consuming process, but you will see a world of difference. Tips for cleaning your indoor air:

• Dust Allergies: Regularly vacuuming with a HEPA air filter vacuum will reduce dust mites. In extreme allergic cases, you might want to not have carpet or window treatments in the child’s bedroom. Valences and drapes are a great place for dust mites to harbor. Also, keep extra stuffed animals out of the bedroom and clean special lovies often in the washer and dryer on the hottest settings.

Anti-allergen pillow and mattress protectors will help keep out dust. And make sure to clean all bedding weekly in hot water and use a hot dryer to get rid of the mites.

• Pet Allergies: You will have to keep the pets out of your allergic child’s room at all times to reduce the amount of hair and dander in the air. Unfortunately, if your child is severely allergic to your pet and these suggestions don’t help; you probably should find another loving home for your dear pet.

• Mold Allergies: Any area that is prone to wetness can be a mold magnet. Basements, bathrooms, under kitchen sinks need to be checked and kept dry and clean. Also, it isn’t a good idea to have a basement playroom for a kid with mold allergies.

Constantly running dehumidifiers, or air conditioners can be extremely helpful for these kids. Also you might look into buying a home filter to reduce the allergens found in your home. To test if you even need a home filter, you can first start with a home mold inspection. These all dry out and clean the indoor air in addition to the other work you are doing to prevent allergens.

If you need professional assistance in assessing your indoor air, is one company that offers a mold inspection or testing service. According to their website, AirMD is “licensed and certified and all testing is confirmed by independent accredited laboratories.”

Keeping your children safe is every parent’s goal, and allergies are not something to brush to the wayside. Please remember that smoke of any kind, cigarette or other types (Yeah, I’m talking to you, Colorado!) leaves a residue on furniture, clothing and hair, which is an allergen – especially for newborns!!! Please don’t smoke around your kids. They aren’t asking for that junk to be in their little lungs.

If you think your child has food allergies, and you have to pay attention to the foods you buy, here is another helpful resource.

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Grass is Always Greener on the Golf Course

Landscape of a beautiful green golf course with sky(This post is sponsored by The Blogger Collective.)

When I moved out of the house into the dormitory freshman year of college, my folks decided it was time to start a new chapter of their lives. They bought a beautiful home on one of our town’s golf courses and then conveniently forgot to give me a key.

True story. Only a little bitter now.

Sometime during my first or second year, they gave up a copy of their house key – but it probably was when they needed me to feed the cats while they were off playing golf at some fancy course.

I’m not saying they didn’t love me. They just were ready for some privacy. And after becoming a parent, NOW I get it!

When my parents looked at new homes, neither of them knew how to play golf. My father claimed that people do this all the time, but as a college student I thought that was just my parents being quirky.

Mom liked the neighborhood.

Dad liked the view from the back porch. And after sitting out with my father many a night, I came to agree with my father that having a house backed up to a golf course makes your yard seem as if it’s perfectly manicured and goes on forever.

Plus, we had an instant pond equipped with singing toads and the entertainment when ticked off golfers would throw tantrums and heave their clubs into it. Truly enjoyable, especially when they noticed you were watching and then you gave them the neighborly wave.

It didn’t take long for both of my parents to take up the sport. I believe my father did so first, and then my mother thought she might as well join a ladies group so she had something to talk to my Dad about other than laundry and “what’s for dinner?”

Ironically, over the years my Dad’s love of the sport began to sour and then to disdain. He still loved the view, but really didn’t enjoy playing the sport. He would rather spend five hours of his day doing something he enjoyed and that he wouldn’t mentally beat himself up over. Smart man.

My mom, who didn’t want to play golf in the first place, but thought maybe she could get some beautiful vacations out of it, improved her golfing skills every year. Plus, she found a great group of gals to play with.

But my dad was firm in his stance to retire from golf, which left my mom only dreaming of their golf vacations to beautiful resorts around the country.

No Lake of the Ozarks Tan-tar-a Resort and Golf Club. No Verandah in Ft Myers area and no time spent in Desert Princess Palm Springs Golf Resort. Plus, any future plans of touring
SW Florida golfing spots was out of the question.

Luckily, with all the extra time my father had not playing golf, has given him time to discover what he truly loves and excels at. He has become a top-rate cook and hosts dinner parties almost more often than my kids take showers in the summer.

Also, he just finished writing a fascinating non-fiction book on his grandfather who had only a grammar school education but became a silent force behind the Natural History Museum at the University of Kansas in the first half of the 20th century.

So to all of you golfers out there, I get it. The beauty of the outdoors, the camaraderie… the beer!! But I think I’m more like my dad – I’d rather buy a house on a golf course and have my office window facing the view so I could create my literary masterpiece.

Not that THAT’S going to happen, but the grass is always greener on the golf course – and the view sure would be nice!

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Send Kids to Camp for Instant Relaxation

(This post is sponsored by The Bloggers Collective)

traditional soup cooking on fire in tourism pot
You are a couple weeks into summer with all your kids home 24/7, so you naturally start to contemplate going crazy as a good alternative, just so you can have a room to yourself at the psych hospital. Can you relate?!

The skilled parent (of whom I can only name on one hand) will have planned activities for every week, so that there aren’t constant whines of, “I’m bored!”

Come on! What would summer be without the soul wrenching cries of boredom?!

Yes, you could create a colorful and pinteresting board to proudly hang in your kitchen, to represent each child and their diverse educational yet entertaining summer activities.

Or you could send them to camp.

C-A-M-P. You heard me. Ship ‘em off to camp.

Ah…I can feel the muscles in my neck start to relax as I’m typing this.

What are the pros and cons of sending your children away for a week at camp? Don’t think I don’t got ‘em!

Pros of Camp:
1) You are sending your children away for a week at camp!!
2) It’s the perfect place for them to socialize with peers.
3) Supervised physical activity all the live long day.
4) Plus, it will give Mom and Dad a “stay-cation” for re-grouping – so that you can enjoy the remainder of the summer together as family unit. (aka no one will kill each other)

Cons of Camp:
1) You won’t have as much noise in your home.
2) Your home will remain clean while they are away.
3) No one will leave all the lights on, the door to the outside open or the refrigerator door ajar.
4) Or your kids might get homesick and sing the heart tugging, “I miss my Mama Blues.”

So in order to lessen the trauma for your little lovies, planning ahead for summer camp blues is necessary.

The American Psychological Association (Wallin & Palomares, 2012) reports, “About 90 percent of young people spending time away from home reported some sad feelings; 20 percent experienced moderate-to-severe homesickness; about 7 percent experienced debilitating levels of homesickness.”

That’s a heck of a lot sad letters heading home; and I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be getting those tear-stained, guilt postcards in the mail. Even though this is absolutely normal behavior, it can be alleviated with a little preparation before they get on the big school bus heading down that dusty road.

Plan Ahead
Usually, younger kids who have never gone to camp are going to have the roughest time, but the majority of them will adjust quite well within two days. Therefore, a backup plan is in order:

• Even though it may be tempting, don’t solve your child’s problems. Assist them to figure out what will work for them. If it’s their idea, they will have better results. “If (blank) happens, then what will make you feel better?” Then wait for them to come up with a resolution.

• If your babes are missing home and weepy, help them preplan with something concrete so they can get through the difficult time. Developmentally they aren’t mature enough to figure out how to problem solve, especially when they are fragile or having feelings of insecurity.

• Sleepovers scheduled ahead of camp departure time can be quite helpful. Especially if your kid has only spent the night at home or Grandmas. Set this up with the other parents so at first you could call your child. Texting could also work. Then work up to no contact at another sleepover, so they know what it will feel like at camp.

If you aren’t a planner and your child fits in just great in new situations, you are lucky and won’t have to do anything but help pack their bag and show them to the bus door. However, this is rare. Revel in your child’s self-confidence and pray it continues into the hormonal teenage years.

And then just enjoy your time to yourself. That week will FLY by!!

If you need more help, here is a parents sleep away camp resource.

If you enjoyed this, please find me at Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest. Love meeting new friends!

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Summers in NYC With No Air Conditioning

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This post was sponsored by The Bloggers Collective

Chillin’ with My Boys in NYC

Do you remember that insane time I lived in New York City on the Upper West Side? You don’t? That’s too bad because I hoped maybe you could help me with some of the foggy details of my intoxicating year of job searches, auditions for Broadway shows, cabaret acts in smoky bars and the last few nights when I was kicked out of my apartment and forced to live in a crack hotel.

Hmm. I guess I do remember a bit more than I had thought.

Apparently, I didn’t push that nightmare far enough into the recesses of my brain.

Before the night someone was murdered outside my window at the crack house, I lived in a five-bedroom apartment off of 98th and Broadway. I haven’t been back there since, so I’m not sure if it’s as lovely as it was in the mid-nineties. But I sure hope that lifesaving bagel store on the corner remains in tact.

Each morning I would wake up on my way to look for some disappointing job in the musical theater world or head to a deadbeat temporary agency gig. Since the money wasn’t pouring in from my talent, I was luckily able to answer phones like a champ for some of the bigger fancier companies in the world.

Mr. Gates, I’m sorry we never met; but I’m regretful to inform you, just last month I switched over to your major competitor and I’m totally blown away by new fruity computer!!

So back to my favorite part of NYC, Lenny’s bagel shop. Oy! It was a schmear of ecstasy! Each morning, the regulars which consisted of ten older Jewish men and this little ole blonde, Kansas girl would converse in line about our bagels, the weather and where they would be vacationing for the summer.

I knew that many New Yorkers retired in Florida, in fancy places such as West Palm Beach, Jupiter Yacht Club and Boca Raton. But I had only been to Disney World once so I only imagined their homes by comparison to the infamous Jerry Seinfeld’s parent’s retirement community, Del Boca Vista.

These fabulous men introduced me to a whole new culture and humor; and convinced me to try lox, which I will be forever grateful.

One sweltering summer morning, I sprinted to the bagel shop. Usually I am not a sprinter. Or a runner. I’m more of a sitter, but at the time I was young, fit and hotter than a two dollar pistol. (That’s what he said!)

I didn’t want to show up to the temp agency schvitzing, but our air conditioner had gone out in the apartment, and I knew that Lenny’s would cool me off before I walked several blocks to the underground subway.

Later that night, one of my roommates contacted the owner of our apartment – the same ass lovely man who kicked me to the curb the night of the crack hotel debacle – and said we were in need of new air conditioner units.

Our landlord said we could go find a window unit at one of the thrift stores.

Really?

I’m supposed to go 10 blocks, pick up an old dilapidated unit, haul it up 3 flights of stairs and install it myself into a window that has real, live people walking underneath it?

That was just asking for a mini-series to be written about us. Now we did consider it for a moment though because we thought if we wrote the script and could hire ourselves to play the lead roles, we could earn a mint!

We begged this parasite of man to be upstanding and provide us with what we needed…human decency and a new air conditioner.

“Don’t you think we would save money on your electricity bill if we had a new, more efficient unit?” we asked over the phone.

“I’m not the one paying the bills! You are. Sounds like your problem,” he threw out in a snippy voice.

Actually, this wasn’t the first time our landlord had manipulated the five roomies. We were living in this rent-controlled apartment, not according to the building owner’s rules. If we bucked anything our “landowner” said, he would have had to get rid of his boarders (us) and we would be on the streets.

Yes, he was a gem, but I was young and stupid and finding a place to live in the city for $350/month was unheard of!! Ignorance is hot, hot, HOT!!!

So I bought a fan. It sucked. Or blew, rather.

But every morning for the remainder of the summer, I would run to my favorite place in the city to hang with my boys, chat over a bagel, dream of vacationing in Florida and just chill!

Have any of you had any wild roommate experiences? Or lived in in NYC in the summer? I would love to hear if you think that anyone in their right mind can survive the city without A/C! 🙂

Find me on Twitter and Pinterest too.

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My Aunt, the Crazy Feral Cat Lady

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There are dog people.

There are cat people.

And there are people who prefer animals to people. My Great Aunt Fedalma, or Feddy Lorretti, as I called her the last year of her life, fit the last two categories to a tee.

This woman in my genetic pool was so complex an entire book should be dedicated to her and her idiosyncrasies; but I won’t tackle that one. Hopefully, someone in the family will. Lord knows there is a wealth of wacko for them to delve into.

But one of the most interesting aspects about this creative and aloof woman was her deep love of her feral cats.

Yes, my Great Aunt liked it wild!

For those of you dog peeps who might not be familiar with feral cats – they’re freaking crazy banshees from the wild – even though they might resemble cute house cats.

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Fedalma didn’t have lions, or tigers or pumas (insert joke here) in her 500 square foot shack hiding in the small town of Baldwin City, KS. She had too many longhaired cats to count. But each one had a body full of burrs, stickers and tangles. They were the kind of cats that you could scare a small child into thinking it was a guard dog or gargoyle.

I’m not sure they ever cuddled with my aunt, but she called them sweet names like “Peanut” and “Angel.” Like I mentioned…she was a tad off.

We only visited her a few times a year and I don’t remember ever getting a good look at any of her cats. They would run off like Animal Control was chasing them with a net and a cage.

But they had no reason to fear, because Aunt Fedalma cherished those cats with every fiber of her irrational self. Just like our crazy aunt, the rest of our family has always had cats. That doesn’t qualify us to all be crazy, mind you. We all have had to earn that title on our own merit.

When I was young, we had a dog for two weeks, but don’t ask – it’s a touchy subject and my brother and I aren’t sure of the accuracy of the details of his exit. I’m sure Randy has a lovely home now – or did. I don’t think dogs live to be 30 years old.

My hubby, on the other hand, grew up with dogs and much to my dismay prefers the big dog variety. The large, slobbery, faithful dog that leaves heated packages around the neighborhood, which you are required to pick up with your hand in a thin baggie.

Not my bag. I am an ex-poop toucher and plan to remain that way for the remainder of my life.

Unlike the hubby, I enjoy a small dog; but hubby will not hear of it. Something about yipping all the time and not shutting up – so we went with the obvious compromise…

2 kittens.

Once again, my family tree resembles a feline scratching post. The kind with branches, ‘kay! GAH!!

So when I heard that Not Your Mother’s Books was publishing another anthology on cats, I thought, “Hey, I love that show!!!”

Then I wrote an essay, which was just chosen to be in the new book, “NYMB…on Cats,” which will be out in September 2014.

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I’m thrilled to be in another book by Publishing Syndicate. My first one was in NYMB…on being a Parent (September 2013).

I’d love to hear about your cat that pees in the tub or the feline that climbs into the tall cabinets, opens the box of Cheez-its and helps herself or the one that only pooped in the fichus tree. Good times!!

Stacey