Halloween is a good time to remember children’s oral health!

6QyxOnpF42jhGQvUwxfOKSLirJ9tABOHRhwbNToYOv0Halloween is right around the corner and according to CNN more than $2 billion will be spent on candy for nearly 42.1 million trick-or-treaters ages 5-14. So it’s a good time to consider the impact of candy consumption on children’s oral health!

Sugar does indeed cause cavities and cavities, in addition to causing pain and dental care costs, also cause missed school days, difficulty concentrating, and embarrassment. All good reasons to make your child’s oral health a top priority!

As a pediatric dentist I am acutely aware of how much damage candy can do to teeth but as a parent I also know that it’s nearly impossible to keep it completely away from my children, especially during holidays like Halloween.

So here are my tips on Halloween and oral health care:

  • Some candy is worse for teeth than others. Sticky, gooey candy like gummy worms and caramels can get lodged in the crevices of your teeth where bacteria have more time to feed on them. If you’re going to let your kids eat sweets, stick with chocolate, which is more easily washed and/or brushed away. And definitely stay away from anything labeled “Sour.” The high acidity of these fruity/sour candies can weaken and wear away tooth enamel, which is essential to healthy teeth.
  • Let them eat Halloween candy but only for a day or two. I let my own kids keep their Halloween candy for 24 hours and then I take it away. It’s the exposure to sugar on a regular basis over an extended period of time that is bad for teeth.
  • Get them to brush and monitor their brushing. The American Dental Association suggests that children brush their teeth two times a day, twice a day but parents should require more brushing and flossing when they know their children are eating candy and other snacks that might stay on teeth. It’s not enough to just tell them to brush. One of the biggest culprits of tooth decay is bad brushing so parents should brush their children’s teeth until age 8 to be sure they are doing a thorough job.
  • Hand out a non-candy treat. As a dentist I would love to see parents give out toothbrushes, toothpaste and dental floss at Halloween! But the truth is that there are many non-sweet treats that can bring more joy than a quick sugar high. Small toys, popcorn, fruit, money, bubbles, stickers, erasers and more make great Halloween treats.

Have a Happy Halloween! Don’t forget to brush and don’t forget to see your dentist for an annual exam.

Saints Junior Tee Retrievers, Saints Kids Club, Saints Camp in December and More News for Young Saints Fans!

JrTee Kickoff SMEASEL9-15_FEver wonder how the Saints Junior Tee Retrievers – the kids who run out to fetch the football tee at Saints games – get chosen?  Well, it turns out there is a whole event dedicated to picking these lucky Saints fans and it takes place this Saturday from 10 am to 12:30 pm at Copeland’s in Kenner (1319 West Esplanade Avenue)!

Parents can enter their child for a chance to be chosen as a Junior Tee Retriever – and if you win not only will you be watching your child run out on the field but you will also be watching the game from the sidelines!

On Saturday, kids can also participate in numerous drills and inflatable skill challenges like the Quarterback Challenge, Saints Obstacle Course, Touchdown Dive and the Wide Receiver Drill.

Kids Saints Club

Parents can also register their children for the Saints Kids Club and the Saints Kids Kit, which costs $25, and includes the following:

  • Saints Wall flag
  • Saints and Copeland’s Kids Club Drawstring Bag
  • Saints Arm sleeve
  • Saints Rally towel
  • Official Kids Club Lanyard
  • Official Kids Club Bracelet
  • Eyeblack
  • Saints Sticker
  • Saints Pencil
  • An Official Kids Club Membership card
  • Cameron Jordan Photo with Gold-Foiled Lithograph Signature!
  • Saints Waterbottle

If you’re not going to the Saints/Copelands event, you can still register for the Saints Kids Club online.

On Saturday kids meals are just $1.99 (dine-in only, kids 12 and under, Kenner location only).

And when your child get his/her Kids Club Card stamped five times by dining at any Copeland’s Restaurants he/she will be able to participate in a camp with Cameron Jordan at the Saints Practice Facility in Metairie in December.  (Info will be emailed to qualifying participants the middle of November).

Who knew?!?!  Have you ever gone to Copeland’s Saints Kids Event?  Are you planning to go?  Will you spend $25 to be a part of the Saints Kids Club?  Give us your thoughts and insights!

This is NOT a sponsored story.  We just found it interesting.  Have any other interesting tips, leads, upcoming events to share?  Email us here.

{It Happened to Me} My Child is Gifted

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I have two beautiful daughters, one four and one nearly two. Both are fun, beautiful, smart, curious, determined, energetic girls. I could continue with the adjectives but I think it is clear how in love with and proud of my children I am. My older daughter, C, is smart. Very smart. I know this is something all parents say and my previous string of adjectives may dilute how true this statement is, but early on I realized that she was different than her peers. She started memorizing books around two years old and will correct me if I add or remove a word. She argues with my husband and me and can come up with compelling reasoning why she is right (we still win, we are her parents). When she turned four and began preparing “big girl school.” we took her to get tested for giftedness. Sure enough, she scored in the 99th percentile of children her age and is officially gifted.

Just because a child is gifted, however, that doesn’t mean that they don’t still need their parents. One of the harder things to remember about gifted children, in school and in everyday life, is they need attention like every other child. C is usually a fantastic child, eager to help out and listen, but some days, in daycare (and at home), she starts to act out. This usually happens when she gets bored. It can be difficult for her to sit still and listen to an explanation she has already heard. Also, her teachers know she understands right away so they focus on helping other children learn. This sounds simple and is very understandable, but for C, she gets upset because she wants one-on-one attention too. At home I ask both girls questions: about their days or what they want to eat or who they played with. Anything really. C answers every time. I have to remind C that her sister Q needs a chance to respond. She does not particularly care for this because she KNOWS the answers and loves sharing her knowledge–she wants to talk and interact.  But I want to give Q a chance to speak too and inevitably I spend more time trying to get an answer out of Q then it took for C to respond.

Physically C is exactly where she should be for her age. She started walking early, she loves to dance and sing and play. She has no fear of heights or slides or fireworks. She does, however, get really frustrated when she knows how something should be done but her body cannot complete the task. Potty training was an experience. Starting around 18 months, she would tell her Daddy or me that she had just gone, in complete sentences, but was unable to realize what was happening before she was actually going. It was confusing for us to reconcile how she always knew what happened afterwards but not before. It led to frustration for her because she wanted to use the potty. Physically, the nerves to let her know she had to potty were not developed enough at 18 months.

These small things are examples of the larger, more complex part of raising a gifted child. Although C is very advanced for her age as measured by intelligence, she is right where she should be emotionally. She has her fits and temper-tantrums like any small child and does not yet know how to control all of the emotions she feels. C wants to be independent and do everything on her own but also want me there with her. As her mother, I constantly have to remind myself that this child who speaks so eloquently still has not learned how to control herself.

A dear friend of mine (who has a threenager going on ferocious four-year-old herself) commented on why children like Frozen so much: they relate to Elsa–much like Elsa they are constantly told to act properly, hide what they are feeling, conceal their emotions, etc. This really struck me as true for C. Because she is so intelligent my instinct is that she should understand situations more advanced than she is emotionally ready to deal with. Don’t get me wrong, I know she is still young, but sometimes I think I can explain to her why she needs to do something, like wear long sleeves in the winter, and that she will be ok with it. Just because she understands what I am saying does not mean she emotionally is able to handle the disappointment of not getting to wear a pink sparkly dress. She gets upset, cries, pouts, and generally helps me remember she is four and just wants her way.

Luckily for me, my fun, beautiful, smart, curious, determined, energetic daughter helps me learn every day how to be the best Mom I can be; how to love unconditionally, how to be more understanding, patient, and compassionate, how to relax and enjoy the moment. Because above all else, I want my children to be happy; I want them to know how much I love them, their amazing stories and intense emotions, their warm cuddles and their growing independence.

9/11: My Journey Home

This is a picture of me and Lannie, one of my best friends from college. It was 2001 and I was in New York for a job interview. I got the job, so she took the train down from Massachusetts to celebrate with me. I had two weeks to pack my bags, grab my cat, and move my life from Houston to New York.

I had been waiting for this moment my whole life.

Lannie and Ashley, NYC 2001

NYC 2001

Gosh, we were so young… so happy… so tipsy. To the stranger who took this photo, thanks!

I wanted to post this picture of us because every year on this day, I get a note from her:

2013

Because this was where I worked:

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For the record, my office did open earlier… I was just always late. You see, I had just met this great guy and saying goodbye every morning was tough. Eventually, I would leave New York for New Orleans and marry him.

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So basically, it was love that kept me safe that day. But it shook me to the core. It shook the world and everyone felt it.

2012

I remember the heavy dust that hung over the entire city for what seemed like forever. In a city that never sleeps, it was so quite and so still.

I remember walking for hours trying to get home. My apartment was on 79th, so I had about 80 blocks to go. Public transportation was paralyzed and it took a few hours to get home. It shouldn’t have taken that long. I don’t know why it did. I was running in water.

There was no cell phone service. I remember hitting redial on my phone over and over and over again desperately trying to get through to someone. Anyone. I was so glad to finally get through to my dad. I think I heard his knees fall to the floor. After we hung up, he called my mother. I didn’t know if I would get another line.

By the time I reached Time Square, both towers had fallen. I stopped to rest only to realize I was surrounded by the instant replay of falling buildings and falling bodies. News tickers swarmed around bearing terrible news.

timessquare

Times Square, September 11, 2001 (image source browardbulldog.org)

When I finally reached my apartment, there was a note on my door. I changed my clothes, washed my face and stared at the blinking light on my answering machine. I walked out the door and headed to his apartment. I can still see his face when he opened the door.

I called my mom. She sobbed. She sobbed because she wasn’t sure she would ever hear my voice again. And then she sobbed for all the mothers who would not get a call that day.

And that’s when I realized the magnitude of what had happened.

A new boot camp for a mom like me

Throughout my life, I have dealt with weight issues. After having my beautiful son, I find that the challenges I face losing weight are much different. Nowadays, I am tired, none of my clothes fit, and to make matters worse, I have no motivation. Under these circumstances how am I supposed to lose weight?

Haven’t we all been there?

Currently, I carry a considerable amount of excess baby weight and am clearly out of shape. I woke up one morning and realized something needed to change. My priorities have changed and this weight loss is not just about me, it is about my son. I realized as a parent, I need to be a role model. This is where I am starting my journey.

I wanted a workout program that would challenge me and make me break a sweat. When I read about  Salire’s Boot Camp I thought, “OK. This is it. This is my chance.”

I started at boot camp in City Park mid-way through the month. I went into it with a lot of confidence that I would kick butt. The workout started with different stretches followed by two laps around the track. Half way through the first lap I realized how out of shape I was, but I was determined to keep going. The rest of the workout consisted of arm exercises with weights, a ton of lunges, and ab work.

I finished the workout feeling like a million bucks. It was the kind of workout where you get into your car to drive home and you instantly feel sore. I call it the good sore, the sore that makes your muscles stronger. After the workout I was itching for more!

About the author:  Eliza is 29 years old, born and raised in Tennessee. She and her husband moved to New Orleans from New Jersey and recently welcomed an adorable baby boy. 

Should I take my kid to the Jazz Fest?

The question of whether or not to bring kid(s) to the Jazz Fest comes up every year. When asked, my first response is always a resounding “No,” because I’m selfish and I love the freedom of running around with my husband, checking out new bands, worshiping the old, and hopping around to visit friends, some of which I only see once a year… at the Jazz Fest. All of this is very difficult to do while dragging a little one around because, let’s face it, kids don’t like to walk.

JazzFest01

Having said ALL that, the real answer is Yes AND No.

Yes, you should take your kid to the Jazz Fest, but only for a few hours.

Identity

The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is one of our city’s major cultural events. As a local, it’s important for our kids to be part of our community and appreciate the uniqueness that is New Orleans. The Jazz Fest is part of our city’s modern narrative, and anyone who lives here understands that there is a rhythm and flow to New Orleans life. Jazz Fest, in a way, marks the end of our celebratory season… which is about 6 months long. Exposing kids to their community’s cultural and musical traditions creates a shared identity and a sense of belonging to something bigger.

JazzFest03

Jazz Fest is as much New Orleans as New Orleans is Jazz Fest. Kids need to be exposed to the special parts of our city, even if it’s only for a few hours. Eventually, the sites, smells and feel of the Jazz Fest will sink into their bones and become part of who they are and where they come from. They will be glad you loved them enough to sacrifice your own enjoyment for the sake of their cultural and musical development.

Exposure

Jazz Fest is an opportunity to expose kids to live music. How many kids can say they’ve worshiped in a Gospel Tent or seen musical legends of their time? Even if they don’t appreciate it right now, they will thank you later. Also, music is the kind of stuff that makes kids interesting and smart. It’s important that kids get out of the bubble. Disney isn’t the only thing they should be looking forward to.

Strategy

As parents, we want our kids to experience this cultural bliss and appreciate it as much as we do. Alas, this is not always the case, which is why you really need an in-and-out strategy. Two to three hours is enough for the kids to hear some great music, eat some great food and rendezvous with some friends, so have a babysitter pick them up at the gate so the kids can marinate in their experience (at home) and you can be free to enjoy the adult time without the whining. It’s a win-win. If a babysitter (or some other arrangement) isn’t an option, then cut your losses and leave on a high note as a family. Yes, it is an expensive few hours. You’re either comfortable with that or you’re not.

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Lagniappe (this means “a little something extra… like a bonus)

Something awesome happened to us this Jazz Fest. A girlfriend of mine came up to me at carpool and asked me if Anson, my seven year old, would like to come to the Fest with her family for a few hours to see her son perform at the Kids Tent. Her husband would drop them off at the gate, they would stay for 2 hours and then her husband would pick them up at the gate and bring her home. Anson jumped in their car and headed to the Fest like a big girl. She had a great time. The lesson here is that if someone else wants to bring your kid to the Fest, say YES! There is nothing wrong with your kid experiencing cultural bliss with someone else. In fact, it’s a good thing.

Now for the other side of the coin.

No, you should not bring your kids to the Jazz Fest.

The reason you don’t see too many miserable parents lugging/wearing/strolling around their miserable kids at the Jazz Fest is because they had to leave. If it’s your one day to go to the Fest and you’ve paid a lot of money for tickets and/or travel and you don’t have the luxury of sending the kids home, you do not want to bring the kids. The Jazz Fest is an expensive, all-day endeavor. The odds are not in your favor that your kid is not going to rain on your parade.

But…

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Sometimes the stars align, you find the perfect spot, the kids have a little shade and space to dance and play in the grass, it’s not scathingly hot, there are no torrential downpours, and no one has to potty. If this is you, congratulations. There is something so sweet about having a great Jazz Fest with your kids. It’s one of those beautiful memories that you all will look back on and smile. And the only thing you should leave the Jazz Fest with is a smile.

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Easter family traditions, memories and identity.

I will not be having Easter Basket anxiety this year. When I was a kid, my brother and I would wake up to cheap plastic baskets wrapped in cellophane. Our baskets were always perfect because they were incidental. The real magic was in the chocolate. My parents would hide Hershey’s kisses and M&M’s all over the house. My brother and I had such fun running around discovering sweet surprises that waited for us in unexpected places. This is what I remember most about Easter. I’m sure we went to church, I’m sure I had on a new pair of white patent leather Mary Janes, I’m sure my slip was showing, and I’m sure there was a meal, but as for the childhood memories, the magic was in the chocolate.

Hiding chocolates throughout the house on Easter morning is a tradition that has been in my family for generations, although my grandmother tells me that her mother hid jelly beans. Traditions are an important part of the family narrative that connect generations and create a shared identity and a sense of belonging to something bigger. Kids love to hear stories, especially the real ones, because they give them a sense of who they are and where they come from.

So, what’s your story?

Toys: A Parental Breaking Point

I have three kids and I am drowning in toys… There are naked dolls in every corner, tutus overflowing from their storage box, abandoned, random game pieces in every room, and zillions of Lego pieces scattered throughout the house which, if you don’t already know, are excruciatingly painful when accidentally stepped upon.

Before I had children I swore that my home would never be invaded or overrun by plastic. Nine years and 3 children later, I am eating my words. Some might say our playroom rivals that of a small toy store.

My husband and I have reached our parental breaking point. No matter how we ask – sugary sweet, polite, yelling… one time or one hundred times, nothing works. So last night every toy in the house that had not been put away at the end of the day was scooped up and placed in large black garbage bags. Attached to these bags was the threat that their treasured items were going to be donated. After a morning filled with tears, we decided to cave give the children one last opportunity to salvage their loot by helping to clean up and organize all their bagged toys.

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New Rule: From this day forward, they must put away every toy they take out each day before bed or the toy will be bagged and either donated or earned back.

As to whether or not this tactic will work, the jury is out, but something has to change! I’ll keep you posted on our progress.

What do you do when your children won’t clean up after themselves?

Olympic Cold War?

With the Olympics under way, I have been hearing a recurrent theme of childhood recollections of Olympics past. Glorious athletes! Dazzling ceremonies! Hours mimicking those flips in the back yard! That nostalgia even prompted my boyfriend to volunteer at the Sochi Olympics – a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to realize a childhood dream. To many, the Olympics are a relic of childhood, and I’m no exception. Except these Olympics struck a chord with me that I did not expect.

As I watched the Opening Ceremonies with my son, I was dumbstruck by the artistic output and the cultural expression on display. The references resonated because it is “my” Olympics too – I was born in the Soviet Union, grew up in the US surrounded by plenty of Russian-ness, and got my undergraduate degree in Russian Languages and Literature. In watching the ceremony with my son, I felt I was relating something that I could not convey in words.

And then I opened Facebook and saw the countless reasons why the Russians did not deserve the Olympics, replays of the one flaw in the ceremony, and litanies about Putin. I looked up and noticed that though MSNBC was airing the ceremony 10 hours after its occurrence, they had not bothered to translate Russian speeches, nor to check the spelling of “Vladimir”. It felt quite a bit like those first few weeks in the second grade, when I spoke little English but was tormented as a “Russian spy” and a “Commie” by my classmates. Never mind that none of us knew what that meant, I was at the bottom of the pecking order.

The world has changed enormously in the last eighteen years, but that enmity remains. There are political reasons, which are eloquently addressed in this Foreign Policy article, which reads “When Americans look at Russia, they see what they want to see. And that’s dangerous.” The gist lies in Russians viewing the issues splashed across Western media in very different terms, often with indifference. Their day-to-day concerns have little to do with Pussy Riot.

Another article, from The Guardian, voices my thoughts on the anti-gay law “…while western opponents of the Kremlin’s law may have noble intentions, their criticism has far too often been both hysterical and hypocritical. Condemnation has also at times resembled hate speech, as in… suggestion(s) that Russians have nothing whatsoever of value to offer the world.” The reality is, most Americans still know little about Russia. Imagine hearing America’s loudest and most offensive fringe voices and painting the entire nation with that brush. Americans are not the only guilty party – I am equally annoyed when I hear Russian media, or even Norwegians, making fun of US quirks. It’s the bi-cultural equivalent of inviting guests into my home, only to have them criticize the silverware.

My son’s ballet teacher recently mentioned that he very proudly asked to count aloud in Russian. For now, he brags about his heritage and delights in Russian cartoons. I would love for him to one day recount childhood memories of Olympic Titans. But these games have become so politicized and polarized that he’s bound to hear that the Russians didn’t deserve them, and in some small way, that will sting. So please, when you watch the games with your children, revel in the grace and form of the individuals involved, and don’t pass on Cold War politics to those little ears. Let’s focus on the athletes who have spent a lifetime working toward those moments on screen, and on the volunteers hauling around their skis, no matter their nationalities or political leaders.

What three words will define you in 2014?

Happy 2014! I’m excited to finally have a moment to myself to write to you. At the beginning of the holiday, I decided to let go of everything that distracts and spend the last weeks of 2013 completely present, not hassled or harried, and not half hidden behind a screen. It was the best holiday I’ve had in years.

I hope your holiday was wonderful, and that you are ready to take on 2014. I know I am. Here’s why:

Do you have a favorite newsletter that you actually read? Besides this one, of course. 😉 Well, I’ve been following Chris Brogan for a few years now. He is many things, but I consider him an expert in the fields of marketing, online content development strategies and community engagement–three things that really resonate with me as a blogger.

At the end of every year, Chris encourages us to come up with three words that will define and drive our business efforts for the coming year. In looking at the future of nolaParent and the direction I would like to go professionally, I came up with the three words that will guide all my business decisions for 2014: Plan, Partner, Produce.

PlanWithout a plan, it’s hard to know where to go and how to get there. A plan gives you permission to say “yes” to the things that support your goals and “no” to those that don’t. When I launched nolaParent five years ago, I didn’t expect to have three kids within that time, so my “plan” was one of survival: keep the family going, keep nolaParent moving forward, and try not to end up in a mental institution. This year I am going to strategically plan my content so that you know what to expect. For example, in January, I will focus content on organization, health, and wellness–all the things we like to think about as we welcome a new year.

Do you have any content ideas to contribute?

partnerAligning nolaParent with people and organizations that bring relevance and value to families is what I enjoy the most, whether it’s partnering with Louise S. McGehee School to raise awareness of the advantages of an all-girl education and inspire the next generation of female tech leaders, or Touro to address important issues and advancements in women and family healthcare, or Virginia Barkley, life coach and leading authority on clutter-busting for busy women, to promote this very special, free online Look & Feel Great for Moms Online Rejuvenation Event.

Maybe there is something that you and I can partner on together?

produceAs a writer, this is the most important goal. I want to produce lots of awesome content that informs and entertains you.

What three words will define you, your business or your parenting in 2014? I would love to know!

xxoo,

ashley

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