Author Archives: PsychMamma

Easy Way to End Feeding Pump Alarms for Zevex Enteralite Infinity Pumps (plus a little more random info)

I bet you all thought I disappeared. Well, I haven’t disappeared, but life sure is busy! I barely remember how to do this bloggy thing, but I have a few things I’ve been wanting to share and finally found a moment to sit down to write a post.

First of all, we finally found a fantastic, pre-packaged organic formula. It’s called Liquid Hope, and it’s ingredients are remarkably very similar to what I was making as a homemade blenderized formula. Jenna seems to tolerate it very well, and having a packaged formula when you’re on-the-go is a lifesaver.

We also found a way to minimize pump alarms in the night due to the thicker homemade or Liquid Hope formulas. We use a Zevex Enteralite Infinity pump and bag sets, and we found that where we seemed to be having trouble with clogging was at a certain spot on the looped clip part that goes inside the pump. If you take a close look at the loop, you’ll see a raised image of a drop. If you pull that rubbery, teal tubing off of the plastic post, you’ll see something that looks like this:


We take a pair of scissors and snip off that very end piece (which looks sort of like a hat sitting on top of 2 posts with a very small space between them where feeds get clogged – we clip at the base of those 2 small posts) so that it looks like this:


Then, we simply reposition the rubber tubing over the post, and we’re good to go. The result is MUCH fewer alarms in the night. Now, when we have pump alarms, they’re usually from Jenna rolling over onto the tubing or kinking it in some way. It’s a little hard to avoid that completely, but if any of you come up with a way, please let me know!

It’s good to note that snipping this piece results in free-flowing formula, so when you fill the bag, make sure that either the cap is on the end of the tube, or the loop is clipped into the pump, or else you’ll have formula quickly running out the end of the tube. We’ve been snipping off this piece now for months, and we haven’t experienced any problems.

Finally, we’re looking at a variety of ways to rehab Jenna’s gut after two serious bouts of trouble this year. In February, her entire gut shut down from a suspected virus that resulted in hospitalization for gastroparesis and an ileus. This past month, she started having repeated vomiting and diarrhea with increasing frequency that was determined to be the result of bacterial overgrowth. The suspicion is that this was a remnant of her illness in February – some “bad bacteria” held on where they don’t belong and began happily multiplying until her system was overwhelmed. So. We’re doing everything we can to get her back to optimal gut health. We’ve added L-Glutamine as a supplement at the prompting of her Naturopath. I’ve been doing a lot of research and have found supporting evidence for it’s beneficial use for various gut issues. This article is a great summary of many existing studies. You can scroll through to see information on specific disorders and diseases, and check out the bibliography for a huge list of specific research in different areas. We’re also exploring the beneficial use of donor breast milk via g-tube, since research shows that “the oligosaccharides in human breast milk are considered the prototypic prebiotics” (page S84) and offer many protective factors for the gut. And, because she’s lost 10 pounds since her hospitalization in February, we’re desperately trying to get her to gain weight and are currently adding Scandishake to her formula as a calorie boost. It might not be the most natural solution, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

Peace & blessings to all.


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Posted by on July 18, 2014 in Jenna


Papersalt Books Giveaway


The winner = Punkinmamma! Congratulations! I’ll be contacting you for shipping information! Thanks to everyone who commented! 

I was given the wonderful opportunity to review books from Papersalt, and I couldn’t be more impressed with this company or their products! From their website:

“We make books and activities to help parents teach life lessons and simple things all kids should know. We are parents. We have spent years building content around families. At our best as parents and family members, we still always need help. That’s why we started Papersalt. Building and nurturing your family is the hardest thing you’ll do. With so much media in front of us, we realize thatsimple, memorable, engaging content is extremely effective. Content for all books, games and artwork is researched and written by us and our families. And we produce all of the items in our Seattle facility.”

They boast: “simple ideas, memorable content, cool designs.” And they’re so very right!

I know you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but I do, and I did with these. Just take a look at that photo above! They’re beautiful! The pages are thick and sturdy, so small hands can easily “help,” and they’ll hold up to lots of use. The spiral binding is strong, not flimsy, and allows for easy reading. The quality is obvious, PLUS, they’re simply beautiful to look at! They have gorgeous colors, simple but eye-catching artwork, and easy to read text.

Here’s a peek inside the books I reviewed:


Dinner Table Manners is full of lots of fantastic, tips that several grownups I’ve met would do good to review. Like the one above. Ahem. Another example is: “Keep dinner table conversation polite – no gross things and no mean things.” And here’s one I wasn’t aware of {blushes}: “Once silverware is picked up from the table, it NEVER touches the table again.” Oops. You learn something new every day!


Being a Girl is full of all kinds of wisdom that I certainly want Jenna to know. The example above is one of my favorites, but I also love these: “The internet is amazing. It is not always truthful.” and “If it makes you feel uncomfortable, something is wrong. Stop. If it’s lying, cheating, putting yourself in danger, hurting others.” and this one: “When someone tells you that you’re beautiful, say thank you. Don’t roll your eyes or say ‘no I’m not.’ You truly are.” This list goes on, because the whole book is fantastic. There’s also one called Being a Boy with some of the same wisdom, plus some specifically geared for boys.


We Do lists the positive things that your family stands FOR instead of all the things that are against the rules. I love this positive slant on family values. The one above is possibly my favorite, but I love them all including this one: “We do quality time. We turn things off, put things down, and pay attention to each other.” A reminder that mom and dad probably need to hear just as often as the kiddos. Ahem.


Finally, I reviewed the new Voting & the U.S. Government. In a nutshell, it’s a book that finally helped me understand the Electoral College. It might be a miracle. Seriously, the entire book summarizes our political system, the branches of government, taxes and how voting works better than most I have seen. It’s clearly organized, simply worded, written with language that’s easy to understand and illustrated in a fun and engaging way. I do think that this book is geared toward older kids. It will help us answer questions with Jenna (who’s 6) right now, but to sit and read the entire book would quickly lose her interest.

The other three books that I reviewed above are suitable for ages 3 and up, in my opinion. If your child will sit still for reading, they’ll be engaged and listen to at least a couple pages at a time. Jenna especially loved Dinner Table Manners and sat through the whole thing with interest.

Papersalt has many other books covering other important topics, including books for teens, a beautiful guided journal, and “Good Stuff for the Brain.” Check out all the fantastic titles at their website. I know the guided journal “Me” and “Good Stuff for the Brain” are both going on my personal wish list!

These books would make fantastic gifts for graduates, new parents, friends, etc. Christmas is only 3 months away, so start shopping early! I know I’d love to receive any of their products as a gift.

Because I love you all, I’m giving my copy of Dinner Table Manners to one lucky reader! Simply leave a comment at this post to enter. The winner will be chosen randomly on Sunday, September 30 at 11p.m. EST. I’ll notify the winner via email on Monday, so make sure you post a valid address with your comment. I’ll also post the results here for all to see.

Disclaimer: Papersalt generously sent me the four books I reviewed, but the opinions stated are all my own. I seriously love their products. If I didn’t – I’d tell you. 


Posted by on September 25, 2012 in Jenna


Beach Dance

I know I’ve been largely absent here, and I apologize. I have a million posts in my head, but they’re just not making it into this computer.

Right now, Jenna and I are in Florida, soaking up as much Vitamin D as we can! We’ve been in the pool at least once pretty much every day, and most of the time, twice. It’s fantastic therapy for Jenna and she loves it. We have to tell her it’s time to get out every time. I think she would live in the pool if she could. She isn’t swimming yet, but she’s SO close! She has no qualms about getting her head under the water, and does an adorable little pseudo-swim where she holds her nose, kicks her feet and paddles with one hand while her little butt is up in the air. She stops and stands up when she needs a breath, then starts again. You can check out my Flickr photo stream (in the right margin) for a couple brief video clips.

The other day, it was too cold for the pool (around 70F and windy), so we decided to take a walk on the beach. I have to share a series of photos from our walk that I just love. We were headed back to the car, and she got a little way ahead of me. I noticed that she was doing a funny kind of little beach dance with her feet and I started shooting photos (she didn’t know I was shooting). As I watched and photographed, I realized that she was trying to make a horizontal line of footprints. I captured her finished work at the end of the series.


Some serious pronation going on – especially with her right foot. Need to ask our ortho team about it.

And a couple of extras from the photo shoot – just for fun:

Have a fantastic day!


Posted by on April 26, 2012 in Family, Jenna, Motherhood, Photography, Random Fun


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Extending Christmas: For the Birds

We had a real Christmas tree this year. We debated much about what was most “green,” and I read several accounts that said a real tree, when recycled after use, is still “greener” than artificial options. Something many people don’t consider is the amount of energy that goes into producing and transporting (usually overseas) artificial trees. Added to that, most people only keep artificial trees for 5-6 years (average), which means the used trees simply end in landfills. Christmas tree farms plant a new tree for the one you cut, and, natural trees can be recycled into mulch when you’re finished. Most of all, we simply love the experience of making a day, as a family, to go out and choose a tree on a farm.

This year, we found another way to extend the life of our tree. Jenna was very upset to see the tree go, but my allergies were flaring up, and we suspected the tree (mold? pine?). In an effort to compromise, I suggested that we set the tree outside the French doors on our patio. Then, inspiration hit, and I suggested that we decorate the tree for the birds with peanut butter and birdseed ornaments. Jenna was sold.

Here’s how our project went:

First, we tied dental floss (any string/yarn would work) through the holes in Saltine crackers to make a loop. (We also decorated one cardboard toilet paper tube that we poked a hole in for hanging. I preferred the crackers because the whole ornament was edible.)

Second, I pulsed chunky peanut butter in my food processor with a little sesame oil to make it thinner and easier to dip. Those lucky critters got some organic peanut butter (Yikes! $$) because that’s all I had on hand. We poured the peanut butter in a glass for dipping.

Next, we dipped the crackers. We pushed them down in with a spoon and sometimes scooped the peanut butter up over the crackers to cover completely. We laid them out on wax paper to wait for the next step.

Then, we dredged the peanut butter crackers through the birdseed. We pushed the seeds in, to make sure they were stuck more securely. This was an EXCELLENT sensory exercise for Jenna, who did NOT like the way the peanut butter and seeds felt on her hands. She wanted to get them done to hang on the tree, so she stuck with it.

The finished product waiting on wax paper.

Next, we strung popcorn on dental floss. This was good fine motor therapy for Jenna, but she didn’t do it long. My needle-phobic girl (too many bad blood work experiences) was too terrified of the threading needle. Especially after this happened to Mommy’s thumb:

Finally, we decorated the tree:


Now, to sit back and wait for the birds to come.  ……..

By that evening, our guests arrived.

They didn’t have wings, but they were still fun to watch. Within a day, we had six at a time climbing all over the tree and trying to pull the popcorn strings out! Within three days, the tree was bare. That’s OK! We can do it all over again. Christmas can last as long as the tree does. Then we’ll recycle it to mulch.

Next year, we’re considering finding a tree at a nursery that we can decorate for a couple weeks and then move outside for planting.


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The Value of Life

Lifephoto by gfpeck

This post is in a distinctly different tone than most of my posts here, but yesterday’s execution of Troy Davis in Georgia led to a very heavy heart and a need to say something. Desmond Tutu said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” I’m definitely not neutral, and if saying something makes some kind of difference, I can’t be silent either.

I wrote this piece as part of an Undergrad Ethics course. It happened to win a national award though U.C. Berkeley’s Anti Death Penalty Project. I say that not to “toot my own horn” but to point out that there are projects and organizations like this out there, and it’s not until enough of us stand up with them to make our voices heard that we can enable change. I suppose I also say that to provide a sort of validation. If such an organization felt that what I wrote was worth reading & publishing, maybe you’ll be motivated to keep reading as well.

This is a subject I feel very strongly about, and I realize it’s a polarizing topic. I hope, at the very least, this post makes you THINK. If you completely disagree with me, I simply ask that you at least thoughtfully read what I’ve written. If you can calmly, politely and rationally discuss your difference of opinion in the comments, I welcome other perspectives. If you decide to simply spew hate and rage, I will exercise my right to exclude your comment.

An eyewitness to the execution of John Evans in Alabama describes this scene from the final moments of a death penalty sentence being carried out:

“The first jolt of 1900 volts of electricity passed through Mr. Evans’ body. It lasted thirty seconds. Sparks and flame erupted from the electrode tied to his leg. His body slammed against the straps holding him in the electric chair and his fist clenched permanently. A large puff of grayish smoke and sparks poured out from under the hood that covered his face. An overpowering stench of burnt flesh and clothing began pervading the witness room. Two doctors examined Mr. Evans and declared that he was not dead.” It took three jolts of electricity and 14 minutes before John Evans was declared dead.

Did that disturb you? Because it disturbs me. A lot.

Throughout history, various forms of executions such as this one have taken place as a punishment for crime. In 1976, the United States reinstated the death penalty after having revoked it in 1972 on the grounds that it violated the Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. Since its reinstatement, the morality of such punishment has been extensively debated.

A major argument supporting capital punishment is that it serves as a deterrent to crimes – specifically, murder. However, this argument requires the would be killer to take at least a moment to consider what the consequences of murder within our legal system are. This assumes that the killer is capable of such reasoning, and, that the crime would be considered before it occurred. In fact, those who commit violent crimes often do so in moments of passion, rage and fear – times when irrationality reigns. Whether or not a murder or crime is premeditated, there are statistics existing that cause us to question how supportive an argument of deterrence can be. In 1989, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee said that if we look at other Western democracies, not one of those countries has capital punishment for peacetime crimes, and yet every one of them has a murder rate less than half that of the United States. FBI statistics from 1976-1987 show that in the twelve states where executions took place, the murder rate was exactly twice the murder rate of the thirteen states without the death penalty. The deterrent value of capital punishment is certainly in question.

Killing a human being as a deterrent to crime is, in essence, using a human being as a means rather than an ends. Kantian ethics state that we are to treat people as having intrinsic value and not simply instrumental value. Kant states that “people are valuable in themselves regardless of whether they are useful or loved or valued by others.” Using the concern for life that usually promotes it to make a case for ending life is inherently contradictory and a violation of the categorical imperative. If we hold that killing is wrong (except in self-defense) and therefore a killer needs to be punished, to follow with the conclusion that the killer’s punishment is to be killed is completely contradictory.

Some would argue that the execution of a murderer is in the “self-defense” of society itself. This is a distortion of the definition of self-defense. Self-defense is when your life is in immediate danger and a reaction is necessary in order to prevent your injury or death. I believe that self-defense could also apply to situations where the lives of children or others who could not defend themselves were in immediate danger and someone else had to react in order to protect them. The key phrase in each of these definitions is “immediate danger” and, in the trial of a murderer, there is no indication or guarantee that the person is going to kill again, and there is no immediate danger or threat that requires reaction. This is not self-defense and does not justify killing. Simply because a guilty verdict requires that the murderer be punished, it does not follow that the punishment should be death on the grounds of self-defense.

The determination of guilt within our legal system is also in question. Legally, criminals are to be innocent until proven guilty, but in reality they are often guilty until proven innocent. Unfortunately, our legal system is not always just or accurate. Innocent people are convicted. This can happen due to inconclusive evidence, the socioeconomic status of the accused, or jury/judge bias and prejudice, among other factors. A criminal who is convicted and sentenced to imprisonment and then later proven to be innocent can be released. Such is not the case once the irrevocable death penalty has been carried out. Michael Radelet of the University of Florida has counted 343 cases in which a defendant facing a possible death penalty was wrongfully convicted since the turn of the century. Of these, 137 were sentenced to death. If even one innocent person is wrongfully killed, how can we claim that this is justice?

Racial and socioeconomic factors also come into play in the trial and conviction of the accused. Since the death penalty was reinstated, six white defendants have been executed for murdering a black person, while 112 black people have been executed for the murder of a white person. Samuel Jordan of Amnesty International also points out that, in 1998, although African-Americans counted for 50% of homicide victims in the nation, 82% of death row offenders have been convicted for the murder of whites. In the 1970’s, the Baldus Study found that defendants charged with killing white persons received the death penalty in 11% of cases, but defendants charged with killing blacks received the death penalty in only 1% of the cases. The Baldus Study also found that prosecutors sought the death penalty more in cases where a black defendant was charged with killing a white person. Poverty, as well as race, often determines the allocation of the death sentence. Inadequate, inexperienced representation for indigent defendants characterizes most legal litigation. While the unfairness and inequality of our legal system does not show that the death penalty itself is wrong, I would argue that because of the judicial disparities shown in the statistics above, we can never be 100% certain of the guilt of an individual. Due to this measure of uncertainty, it is morally wrong to determine a punishment that is as irreversible as death.

Some will say that the killer’s actions are irreversible and that such a crime deserves an equal punishment. These same people would cite the biblical passage that exhorts “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”. However, if a crime deserves equal punishment, then why do we not rape the rapist or burn the arsonist? A civilized society must be based on values and principles that are higher than those it condemns. As I stated previously, to punish killing with death is inherently contradictory. Biblically we are called to live by higher values. In the New Testament, Jesus said that we may have heard it said “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” but he instructed us to “turn the other cheek” (Matthew 5:38-41) to love even our enemies (Matthew 5:43-45), to obey the Ten Commandments which tell us not to kill (Exodus 20:13) and not to put ourselves into the position of God by judging whether others live or die (John 8:7). Vengeance and retribution are to be left to God.

If the argument is that serious crimes deserve equal punishments, it is interesting to note that the death penalty is also assigned as punishment for treason and rape. Capital Punishment is obviously extreme and unequal to such crimes. Additionally, there are also times when the death penalty is not sought for murder cases. The inconsistencies in application seem morally problematic in themselves. Albert Camus said:

“What is capital punishment if not the most premeditated of murders, to which no criminal act, no matter how calculated, can be compared? If there were to be real equivalence, the death penalty would have to be pronounced upon a criminal who had forewarned his victim of the very moment he would be put to a horrible death, and who, from that time on, had kept him confined at his own discretion for a period of months. It is not in private life that one meets such monsters.”

Camus goes on to say that the devastating, degrading fear imposed on the condemned man for months or even years is a punishment more terrible than death itself, and one that has not been imposed on his victim.

A Utilitarian might argue in support of the death penalty based on the moral premise that the goal is to increase the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest amount of people. Often the victim’s family and others in society will claim that the death penalty is “justice” and that therefore they are happier when it is applied. I would argue that this “happiness” is often more of an appeasement – – a very shallow form of “happiness” that is actually wrapped up in anger and revenge, and not what Utilitarians would classify as true happiness. John Stuart Mill would classify this as a lower pleasure or happiness. I would also argue that such “happiness” would be of short duration. The killing of the murderer does not bring back the life of the victim, and the sorrow from that death is not eliminated by adding the death of another. It would also need to be taken into account that the murderer may also have friends and family who would be caused pain and suffering by the death of the person they care for. It seems morally dangerous to apply The Greatest Happiness Principle to the determination of whether or not another human being lives or dies. Using this type of reasoning a killer could be able to justify his actions if he were able to prove that greater happiness was produced through the killing of one individual than if they would have lived. The intrinsic value of life itself does not allow for this kind of reasoning for ending it.

Killing a human being hinders them from reaching their goal of mature potential. Human beings should not choose the time of another human being’s death – this is not natural. To argue that the killer has done this does not make it morally justifiable for us to do the same to the killer. Killing an individual robs them of the opportunity to rehabilitate and to live a good life. Whatever the reasons might be that would determine that a person should be sentenced to death, there can be no argument that we are prematurely ending the life of another with no foreknowledge of what their future may have held. We have no means beyond mere hypothesis to determine what the future actions of an individual will be. This is not to argue that certain actions do not morally require punishment, but simply to argue that the death penalty is an inappropriate form of punishment because of the way that it devalues life itself.

As members of a civilized society made up of morally responsible individuals, I feel that we are required to consistently value human life. There can be no “fair” judgment of which lives have more worth than others and we cannot, as a society of moral beings, be saying that it is wrong to take a life and at the same time threaten that if you do, we will take yours. The existence of the threat itself within our legal system contradicts the value we are trying to uphold. Gandhi was a strong proponent for peace and nonviolence within society and throughout the world. He said, “Violence can never bring an end to violence; all it can do is provoke more violence.” He also said that “Nonviolence is the law of our species as violence is the law of the brute. The spirit lies dormant in the brute and he knows no law but that of physical might. The dignity of man requires obedience to a higher law …”  No arguments can outweigh the intrinsic value of other human beings and of life itself.

Capital punishment cannot be morally justified.

We are all Troy Davis.

Please take a moment to visit The Innocence Project


Easwaran, Eknath. Gandhi: The Man – The Story of His Transformation. Tomales: Nilgiri Press, 1997.

Holy Bible: New International Version. Nashville: Broadman & Hloman Publishers, 1995.

MacKinnon, Barbara. Ethics: theory and Contemporary Issues – Second Edition. New York: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1998.

Radelet, Michael. Facing the Death Penalty: Essays on a Cruel and Unusual Punishment. New York, 1989.

The Information Series on Current topics. Capital Punishment. Cruel & Unusual? Wylie: Information Plus, 1998.

Wolfe, Burton H. Pileup on Death Row. New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1973.


Posted by on September 22, 2011 in Deep Thoughts


Lentils: Another Homemade Blended Formula Recipe

Lentils and Peasphoto by photobunny

As a vegetarian, I’ve known about the wonders of lentils for a while. Not only are they delicious (especially in a soup or stew), but they also provide a powerhouse of nutrition high in protein, calorie dense and balanced out with a healthy dose of carbs. Armed with this knowledge, I decided to try a recipe for Jenna’s homemade formula using lentils. Here’s what I came up with:

  • 1 c. Bob’s Red Mill Vegi Soup Mix  (green & yellow split peas, barley, lentils & vegi pasta)
  • 1/4 c. quinoa
  • 2 T raw honey (No children under age 1 should consume honey!)
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 T ginger (read this, too)
  • 1 T cinnamon
  • 4 c. coconut milk
  • 1 c. goat’s milk kefir and here
  • 1 c. powdered goat’s milk
  • 2 T coconut oil
  • 2 T Udo’s 3-6-9 oil (read here for benefits)
  • 2 T Hemp butter
  • 1 c applesauce
  • 1 medium apple
  • 1 medium banana
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 c. chopped spinach (dark, leafy greens are an often overlooked source of protein)
  • 3 T kelp powder read this also (especially for it’s iodine, iron & selenium)
  • 6 brazil nuts (for selenium)
  • 1 c. water

All my ingredients are organic from our local co-op.

Preparation is easy. I simmer the soup mix & quinoa in the 4 cups of coconut milk. While that’s simmering, I add all other ingredients to my Vita Mix blender and blend well. I add the mixture from the stove, blend very well (sometimes adding more water to achieve the desired consistency to pass through the feeding pump tubing) and pour into storage jars.

Nutritional info:

  • 2651 calories (30 cal/oz)
  • 112 grams of fat  (38% of total calories)
  • 90 grams of protein (14% of total calories)
  • 344 grams of carbohydrates (51% of total calories)

Good to know when making these calculations:

  • Fats have 9 calories per gram
  • Proteins & carbs have 4 calories per gram

I’d like to get the protein percentage a little higher and will probably do so by using more of the lentil soup mix the next time. BUT, even though the percentage of protein for the overall mixture is not as high as I’d like, I calculated what she consumes in a day and found that she’s still getting the 18 g/day recommended for her age and weight.

Happy cooking! Happy feeding!


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Fire Safety For Kids

firephoto by matthewvenn

We were in Chicago over the weekend and visited the Children’s Museum at Navy Pier. If you ever have a chance to go, I highly recommend it. One of their exhibits is on fire safety. There is a firetruck to climb on, fireman costumes to dress up in, pretend hoses to spray, flashing lights, radios, and a bedroom with lightweight fabric draped all around to simulate smoke. The bedroom is to train kids to “get low and go” to stay under the smoke. They find their way in the dark, under the hanging “smoke.” It’s a great opportunity to talk to kids about fire safety. They had brochures for parents to pick up, so I did. I know we need to work a little more on a concrete plan.

Here are the 10 Steps to Fire Safety (from the Chicago Fire Department):

Smoke Detectors Save Lives! Put a smoke detector outside your sleeping areas. Change batteries twice a year (when you change your clocks) and test them monthly so kids can hear the beeping sound.

Have an Escape Plan! Create and practice escape routes from different areas of your house – especially from your bedrooms at night.

Sleep With Doors Shut! Fire travels through open areas first. Closed doors help keep fire and smoke from spreading.

Get Low and Go! Smoke and heat rise toward the ceiling. Air is more breathable near the floor.

Never Hide – Crawl Outside! Young children may fear the sights and sounds of firefighting equipment. Talk about why they should NEVER hide from firefighters, no matter what.

Know Two Ways Out! A fire may block a certain path. Know two ways out of the house or building.

Feel Every Door! As you crawl, feel doors with the back of your hand. Don’t open a door if it’s hot – there may be flames on the other side.

Go to the Family Meeting Place! Make sure everyone knows where to meet after they leave the home (a neighbor’s house, street corner, or particular tree).

Call 911 for Help! It’s OK to scream and yell in an emergency. Find a neighbor and call 911.

Practice Your Escape Plan! Practicing how to exit your home in a fire is the BEST way to prepare.

If your child has disabilities, call your local fire department’s non-emergency number and explain your family’s situation. They can suggest escape plans, perform a home fire-safety inspection, and recommend special equipment, such as smoke alarms with flashing lights and vibrating elements to place under pillows.

More information for those with disabilities:

U.S. Fire Administration

Great books for kids:

A Day with Firefighters

Fighting Fires

Firefighters A to Z

Fire Truck

I Want to be a Firefighter

No Dragons for Tea: Fire Safety for Kids (and Dragons) – we love!

Free coloring book download

If your child is curious about fires, the bedroom is the most common place for children to “play” with fire. If you suspect your child is experimenting, look for burnt matches or burn marks under your child’s bed, desk or in the closet, and GET EXPERT ADVICE.

Hopefully, you never need any of this information, but if you do, preparedness is key and can truly save lives.

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Posted by on August 23, 2011 in Parenting tips, Special Needs


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Chihuly Beauty

Because it needs to be shared.

From the Indianapolis Children’s Museum. The sculptures are set on a floor of glass, then you can go to the level underneath to lay on a revolving bench and look up at the wonder. Awesome. If you ever get the chance to visit, do it. If you ever have the chance to see a Chihuly exhibit, go.

Photos taken with my Droid X smartphone


Posted by on August 13, 2011 in Favorite Things, Photography, Random Fun


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ID Bracelet Giveaway

CONTEST CLOSED. “Kel” (Comment #4) was the winner. Waiting for her contact information to send out her prize. Wish I had one to give to all of you! Thanks for entering.

We recently purchased a MY-MED ID bracelet for Jenna. It’s similar to the one shown above and features a USB storage device enclosed in water resistant silicone. The storage device includes already installed software that allows you to simply fill in the blanks with important information for your child. Programming the information was as easy as plugging in the USB device and filling in the blanks!

Before we ordered Jenna’s, I accidentally ordered the MY-ID bracelet (the one pictured above). It’s the same idea, but doesn’t include as many pre-programmed spaces for medical information. This is good news for you, because you get to benefit from my mistake! That’s right! I’m giving away the above pictured MY-ID bracelet to one lucky reader!

I think these bracelets are priceless for kiddos who are prone to wander, especially if they’re non-verbal. I can even see advantages for “typical” kids when visiting theme parks, festivals, malls, or other places where there might be a higher likelihood of being separated. Even though the MY-ID bracelet doesn’t include multiple spaces specifically for medical information, there’s a “Notes” section where medical conditions or medications could be included. From the MY-BANDS website:

“Each band comes with instructions for loading numerous emergency contacts onto the USB device, so emergency personnel have easy access to this critical information so they can reunite you with your child. There is also enough space to upload a current photo and scanned fingerprint.

MY-ID is unique as it holds the emergency contact information of whom to call when a child is lost, or missing, NOT the childs name and personal information.”

Jenna usually doesn’t like wearing jewelry of any kind, but this band is light and comfortable and she never complains. In fact, she loves wearing it, and frequently prompts me to remember that she needs to put it on!

To enter the giveaway, all you have to do is leave a comment! Simple as that! Make sure you include an email address so we can contact you if you win.

Contest details:

  • Only 1 entry per person
  • Winner will be selected at random using a random number generator
  • Contest ends at midnight on August 5
  • A winner will be selected and announced on August 6 during the chat/blog hop for BlogHer at Home
  • Winner will be contacted via email

For more fabulous prizes and fun over the next week, be sure to check out the BlogHer at Home website!

Disclaimer: I didn’t receive any payment or products for writing this post. The opinions expressed here are completely my own.


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Clouds 2


From a card I recently received:

People are unreasonable, illogical and self-centered.

Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.

Do good anyway.

If you succeed, you will win false friends and true enemies.

Succeed anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.

Be honest and frank anyway.

People really need your help, but may attack you if you help them.

Help them anyway.

Give the world the best you’ve got and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.

Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.