Wednesday, August 31, 2011

August 31, 2011

Another month comes to a close and on the heels of hurricane Irene. We here in the greater Washington, D.C. metro are being blessed with unseasonability beautiful weather with no humidity and the absence of congress and the folks who currently call the white house their home.

The English language has some wonderfully anthropomorphic collective nouns for various groups of animals. we are all familiar with a Herd of cows, a Flock of chickens, a School of fish and a Gaggle of geese. However, less widely known is a Pride of lions, a Murder of crows (as well as their cousins the rooks and ravens), an Exaltation of doves, and, presumably because they look so wise, a Parliament of owls.

Now consider a group of Baboons. They are loudest, most dangerous, most obnoxious, most viciously aggressive and least intelligent of all primates. And what is the proper collective noun for a group of baboons? Believe it or not ...a Congress! I guess that pretty much explains the things that come out of Washington.

From Wikipedia: "The collective noun for baboons is commonly troop or congress"

(All others we verify)

It is Teddy Bear Day!!

By Diane Forrest,

Today is a day that is near and dear to me...and my state, Mississippi.  Today is Teddy Bear Day.  The story goes that back in November, 1902, Mississippi Governor Andrew Longino invited President Theodore Roosevelt to Mississippi to go bear hunting.  Well apparently there were a group of men hunting, and most of the other hunters had already shot a bear.  Not wanting the President to be outdone, his staff cornered and clubbed a sickly old black bear, and tied it up to a tree for him to shoot.  President Roosevelt would have none of that, saying it was unsportsmanlike.  He did however insist they put the bear out of his misery.

When the press got hold  of the story, they of course tried to make something out of nothing, and printed a cartoon that infered some sort of racial undertones.  Mr. Morris Michtom saw the cartoon and made a stuffed bear, put it in his store window with a sign saying Teddy's Bear.  He of course obtained permission from the President to use his name.  The toy became an immediate success and Mr. Michtom went on to found the Ideal Novelty and Toy Company.

At the same time, in Germany, Mr. Richard Steiff also created a bear, but due to poor communications at the time, he was unaware of Mr. Michtom's bear, so there is some disagreement who invented the first bear.  They were all widely popular, and even President Roosevelt used one as a mascot during his re-election campaign.
Teddy bears remain popular today, there is a Build a Bear Workshop, where customers can design their own bear, and there is a Teddy Bear Cop patrol.  They provide bears to children who have been in a fire, accident or other types of emergency situations to help calm them and ease their fears.

In the 1980's and 90's popular bears included Teddy Ruxpin and the Care Bears.   Teddy Ruxpin was a battery operated bear that would tell you stories when a cassette tape was placed in the compartment in his back.  His mouth would move, and you could change his clothes.  The Care Bears were a cartoon that featured several different colored bears who would go on all kinds of adventures.  One of the restaurant chains offered glasses with the different care bears on them.  My father, ever the comedienne, got my 4 little girl cousins each a cute glass with sweetly named bears such as Cheer Bear, Friend Bear, Funshine Bear and Tenderheart Bear, however for everyone else, they all got the same glass, the Grumpy Bear!

I have included pictures of some of my special teddy bears, my "nurse" bears, my sweet little lady bear, and my husband's "baby" bear.  I had to kidnap "baby bear" and ransom him off for some chocolate because my husband wouldn't share his Hershey’s kisses.  I only asked for 2 or 3 pieces, but was offered the whole bag for the safe return of baby bear. 

Today, on Teddy Bear Day, why don't you share some of your favorite bear stories with us.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Love Litigating Lawyers Day

By Diane Forrest,

When I checked the assignment sheet for today I had to laugh!  I just knew the boss was playing some sort of weird joke on me.   You is Love Litigating Lawyers Day, formerly known as Lawyer Appreciation Day.  Strange as it might seem, I had alot of trouble researching this topic.  I found countless lawyer jokes, none of them loving though.  There were many horror stories, but none showing appreciation.  In 1993 the first Lawyer Appreciation Day was held, however, the turnout was not favorable.

In order to love litigating lawyers, you must first know what a litigating lawyer is.  A litigating attorney is one who sees a law suit through the court process.  While some attorneys prefer to settle out of court,, others practice Criminal law,  litigators focus exclusively on law suits.

Litigators usually practice in personal injury cases.  These cases take a long time, and are very detailed.  Most work on a contingency fee basis, meaning they don't get paid unless they win your case.  If they win, then they get a percentage anywhere between 25 to 45%.  If a lawyer takes your case, they are pretty certain they can win and award in your favor.  The reason I found this topic so amusing is because for the past 15 years my husband and I have had to deal with several attorneys over his worker's compensation injury.  But, that is another story for another day.

While researching this topic, I found several Lawyer jokes, which made me think lawyers are not well loved.  However there are some lawyers who have claimed public affections.  Some of these include:
  • Perry Mason
  • Matlock
  • Ally McBeal

Television shows such as:
  • Law and Order, Criminal Intent, and Special Victims
  • The Practice
  • Boston Legal
  • Jag
  • Judging Amy

Movies such as:
  • A few good Men
  • My Cousin Vinny
  • The Lincoln Lawyer
  • The Firm
  • The Rainmaker
  • A Time to Kill

Of course these are just a small few, and there are new ones out all the time.  The truth is, while lawyers may not be loved, when you find yourself in trouble, they are good to have on your side.  So while you may not love a litigating lawyer today, try to muster up a little “Like” for them.

That might be a stretch...
Thanks Diane

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)

By Diane Forrest

August is National Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Month, is the name given to a continuum of physical and mental health problems that arise as a result of a fetus being exposed to alcohol in utero. A diagnosis of FASD can be hard to make unless a mother discusses her drinking with her doctor or the child's doctor. Some children may be misdiagnosed as having autism, ADHD, oppositional defiant or conduct disorder, pervasive developmental delay, learning disabilities, emotional/behavior problems, reactive attachment disorder and many other conditions.

Some of the most common characteristics of alcohol-related brain damage include:
  • poor impulse control
  • poor problem solving skills,
  • difficulty linking actions to consequences,
  • poor social communication,
  • limited abstract reasoning
  • lack of trial and error learning.

People with FASD have great difficulty internalizing values, feelings and laws, and may develop inappropriate social, sexual and sociopathic behaviors.

FASD is 100% preventable, simply abstaining from alcohol while pregnant.  There is no way to determine how much alcohol ingested will cause harm to the fetus, so the safe answer is to refrain from drinking any alcohol.

So today, as we recognize Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders I want to encourage you to spread the word to those you know who are pregnant, or anticipating becoming pregnant, the dangers of alcohol and the effects on their unborn child.

For more information visit this website:

Monday, August 29, 2011

National Toasted Marshmallow Day - 2011

By Diane Forrest

As the summer is winding down, and those camping trips and beach side campfires are coming to a close, we would like to recognize a major ingredient to Summer campfire fun.  The Marshmallow.  Today is National Toasted Marshmallow Day.   I don't know about you, but I can't even look at a campfire without wanting to hold a marshmallow or hot dog over it.  Of course sitting around the fire telling ghost stories are also a requirement. 

When I was younger my brother was in the boy scouts.  Since my father was the leader of the group my mother and I would get to go to the camp site to visit.  We would take bags of Marshmallows and wire coat hangers.  We straightened out the hangers and put a couple of marshmallows on it and hold them over the fire.  Of course the boys would inevitably catch them on fire until they turned black.  Then they would blow out the fire, slide them off the stick and have throwing wars with them.  The insides of the marshmallows would be liquid and sticky, so if you got hit with one, it was a job to clean it off.  We even managed to eat a few along the way.
Earlier this month we celebrated S'mores Day.  While writing up that article I roasted a few marshmallows, sure did bring back alot of fun memories of my campfire days.  If I had known about s'mores back then, I probably would have just moved outside and lived by a campfire!

Toasting marshmallows over a campfire isn't the only way to enjoy this tasty treat.  Every Thanksgiving my mother makes sweet potato casseroles and layers the top with marshmallows then places it in the over to brown.  While this method is not nearly as fun as holding them over an open flame, the result is still just as delicious.
The largest roasted marshmallow ever can been seen in the movie Ghost Busters, where the gang lights up the Stay-Puff Marshmallow Man in the final scent.  He, like all my marshmallows also burst into flames.
So, why not toast some marshmallows today and reminisce about your childhood days.  You don't have to build a campfire, you can use a gas stove if you have it, or even light a candle.

Did you know that the Marshmallow root was first used as a medicinal remedy for sore throats?

National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recover

By Diane Forrest 

In August, 2009, President Obama issued a proclamation making September National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recover Month.  The Proclamation is as follows:

Every year, Americans across the country overcome their struggles with addiction. With personal determination and the support of family and friends, community members, and health professionals, they have turned the page on an illness and sought the promise of recovery. On this occasion, we recognize these brave role models and express support for those in treatment, applaud those in recovery, and encourage those in need to seek help.

As a Nation, we must work together to provide access to effective services that reduce substance abuse and promote healthy living. Without effective treatment, abuse of alcohol, illicit drugs, or prescription medications can devastate the mind and body. With treatment, substance use disorders can be managed, giving individuals the effective tools necessary to address their addiction. This year's theme, "Together We Learn, Together We Heal," calls us to unite and encourage drug-free living. Treatment programs, family members, and neighbors can all help assist those who experience addiction.

During National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month, we also pay special tribute to the dedicated professionals and everyday citizens who, with skill and empathy, guide people through the treatment and recovery process. Across America, they are offering a message of hope and understanding. These compassionate individuals remind us that the strength of our character derives not from the mistakes we make, but from our ability to recognize and address them. When we extend a helping hand to those in need, we reaffirm the American spirit and move our Nation towards a brighter tomorrow.

Overcoming an addiction is a very difficult task.  The process has been depicted in numerous television shows and movies.  These dramatizations however can't compare to actual events.  During my years as a nursing student, we would visit rehabilitation centers.  Watching as these patients went through the recovery process is excruciating.  Ways you can help with this process is to offer your support.  If you know someone who is going through recovery, or has been recovering for years, let them know that you support them, their strength and courage as well as their dedication.  Addiction is a disease that can't be cured with a pill.  It is a lifetime battle that is fought one day at a time.

For more information visit this site:

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The cause of Sarcoidosis is unknown!

By Diane Forrest 

Sarcoidosis is a disease in which inflammation occurs in the lymph nodes, lungs, liver, eyes, skin, or other tissues.  I’m telling you this because today is National Sarcoidosis Awareness Day.

The cause of Sarcoidosis is unknown.  It can affect any organ in the body, but most commonly in the lungs.  In sarcoidosis, tiny clumps of abnormal tissue form in certain organs of the body.  Some possible causes of Sarcoidosis are genetic, high sensitivity to enviromental factors, or extreme immune response to infection.   It is more common in African Americans, usually between the ages of 20 and 40.  Women are more prone to it, and if you have a close blood relative that has it, you are 5 times more succeptable to get it.

  • You may not have any symptoms, but if you do, they most always occur in the chest.  This includes:
  • Chest Pain
  • Dry Cough
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Other symptoms can include joint pain, fever, fatigue and a general feeling of discomfort and lack of well being.

Skin symptoms include:
  • hair loss
  • rash
  • raised red sores usually occurring on the front lower legs
  •  If the eye is affected, you could experience itching, drainage, dry eyes, burning, pain, even blindness.

More Symptoms include:
  • Headaches
  • Seizures
  • Dry Mouth
  • Weakness on one side of the face
  • fainting spells
  • nose bleeds
  • Swelling in the upper part of the abdomen

  • A physical exam will show
  • Rash
  • Enlarged liver and spleen and lymph nodes
  • Abnormal breath sounds
  • It is often discovered with a chest x-ray
  •  To confirm diagnosis a biopsy is performed on the lung tissue

  • Sarcoidosis symptoms will often get better on their own slowly without treatment.  If the eyes, heart, lungs or nervous system are involved, sometimes corticosteriods are given.  Most people who have Sarcoidosis are not seriously ill, and nearly half get better without treatment in about 3 years.

For More information visit this site:

Friday, August 26, 2011

By Diane Forrest,

Wouldn't an ice cold Cherry Popsicle really hit the spot on this hot August day?  Well you're in luck!  Today is National Cherry Popsicle Day.  Frank Epson is the father of these frozen treats. In 1905, at age 11, he left a glass of his homemade combination of fruity soda powder and water in his backyard overnight. He forgot to remove the stir stick -- or so goes the legend. It was a record cold night in San Francisco, so when he came out the next morning, he discovered it was frozen. More importantly, he pulled it from the glass and started licking!
In 1923 Frank introduced his frozen treats at Neptune Beach in California.  It was originally available in seven flavors and marketed as a "frozen drink on a stick." The form is unique, with two parts joined together on two sticks, so the two sections could be divided and shared.  In 1924 Frank patented his "frozen ice on a stick" and called it an "Epsicle ice pop." His kids decided the name was too long and just called them "Pop's sicles".  He sold the rights in 1925, and it was bought in 1989 by the Good Humor Company.

When I was young my mom used to make kool aid, pour them in a metal ice tray, the kind that has the lever in the center.  She would cover the top with plastic wrap and stick tooth picks in it.  A yummy treat for those hot summer days.   These days they have some nice popsicle molds that you can fill and freeze.  Here is a fast easy recipe if you want to make your own, however if you don't have time today, you can always pick some up in your grocer's freezer. 

Enjoy an ice old Cherry Popsicle today and celebrate the day!

Easy Cherry Popsicle Recipe
  • 1 packaged cherry flavored Jell-0
  • 2/3 cup hot water
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 1 cup sugar

In a large pitcher mix the Jell-o, hot water and sugar. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Add cold water and pour into molds and freeze 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Kiss and Make Up!!!

Today is Kiss and Make up Day.  Couldn't find out who started it or when, but I bet I know the why.  Everyone gets into little spats, disagreements, arguments.  Sometimes they just blow over and are forgotten; sometimes they just blow up out of proportion and turn into major feuds.

Feuds are as famous as Romeo and Juliet, between the Montague and Capulet families that resulted in the tragic death of the young lovers, and the feud between the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s.  Their feud, over the rights of a hog, lasted for many years and resulted in several deaths.

Today is a day to end the fight, be it a short spat, or a long standing feud.  Some might suggest that the kissing and the making up part makes fighting worthwhile and even start a fight just to have the opportunity to kiss and make up.

Spend more of your time and energy appreciating the special qualities of your loved ones rather than dwelling on changing them as people or wishing for a relationship that doesn't or can't exist. Use Kiss-and-Make-Up Day to do just that: reach out to the people you've been bickering with and let them know how much they mean to you. Asking for forgiveness or receiving it is hardly important, but knowing that an argument can't ruin a relationship should you choose to upkeep it, is priceless. 

So today, forget about your differences and disagreements, Kiss and Make up, and let the people you are fighting with know how much they really mean to you.

Child Abuse Facts for Parents

Signs of Physical, Emotional and Sexual Abuse

Child Abuse Facts

Child abuse is harm to, or neglect of, a child by another person, whether adult or child. Child abuse happens in all cultural, ethnic, and income groups. Child abuse can be physical, emotional - verbal, sexual or through neglect. Abuse may cause serious injury to the child and may even result in death.

Signs of possible abuse include:

Physical Abuse
  • Unexplained or repeated injuries such as welts, bruises, or burns.
  • Injuries that are in the shape of an object (belt buckle, electric cord, etc.)
  • Injuries not likely to happen given the age or ability of the child. For example, broken bones in a child too young to walk or climb.
  • Disagreement between the child's and the parent's explanation of the injury.
  • Unreasonable explanation of the injury.
  • Obvious neglect of the child (dirty, undernourished, inappropriate clothes for the weather, lack of medical or dental care).
  • Fearful behavior.

Emotional - Verbal Abuse
  • Aggressive or withdrawn behavior.
  • Shying away from physical contact with parents or adults.
  • Afraid to go home.

Sexual Abuse
  • Child tells you he/she was sexually mistreated.
  • Child has physical signs such as:
  • difficulty in walking or sitting.
  • stained or bloody underwear.
  • genital or rectal pain, itching, swelling, redness, or discharge
  • bruises or other injuries in the genital or rectal area.
  • Child has behavioral and emotional signs such as:
  • difficulty eating or sleeping.
  • soiling or wetting pants or bed after being potty trained.
  • acting like a much younger child.
  • excessive crying or sadness.
  • withdrawing from activities and others.
  • talking about or acting out sexual acts beyond normal sex play for age.

Abuse can happen in any family, regardless of any special characteristics. However, in dealing with parents, be aware of characteristics of families in which abuse may be more likely:

  • Families who are isolated and have no friends, relatives, church or other support systems.
  • Parents who tell you they were abused as children.
  • Families who are often in crisis (have money problems, move often).
  • Parents who abuse drugs or alcohol.
  • Parents who are very critical of their child.
  • Parents who are very rigid in disciplining their child.
  • Parents who show too much or too little concern for their child.
  • Parents who feel they have a difficult child.
  • Parents who are under a lot of stress.
  • If you suspect child abuse of any kind, you should:
  • Take the child to a quiet, private area.
  • Gently encourage the child to give you enough information to evaluate whether abuse may have occurred.
  • Remain calm so as not to upset the child.
  • If the child reveals the abuse, reassure him/her that you believe him/her, that he/she is right to tell you, and that he/she is not bad.
  • Tell the child you are going to talk to persons who can help him/her.
  • Return the child to the group (if appropriate).

Record all information.
  • Immediately report the suspected abuse to the proper local authorities. In most states, reporting suspected abuse is required by law.
  • If you employ other providers or accept volunteers to help you care for the children in your facility, you should check their background for a past history of child abuse or other criminal activity. Contact your local police department. Many states require that child care providers have background and criminal history checks.
  • Dealing with child abuse is emotionally difficult for a provider. As a child care provider, you should get training in recognizing and reporting child abuse before you are confronted with a suspected case. If you suspect a case of child abuse, you may need to seek support from your local health department, child support services department, or other sources within your area.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Did you say Banana Split?

What could be a better treat for today than a banana split?  Especially since it is National Banana Split Day!   A banana split is a wonderful Ice cream dish that is served in a long bowl, called a boat.  The original dessert, which was created in 1904 in Pennsylvania by an apprentice pharmacist named David Stickler, contains a banana split in half lengthwise and placed in the boat.  Between the two halves there is a scoop of vanilla, chocolate and strawberry ice cream.  Crushed pineapples are placed on the vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup over the chocolate, and strawberries over the strawberry ice cream.  Nuts are sprinkled over the entire dish, and then covered with whipped cream. A marrichio cherry tops the masterpiece.

Walgreens drug store, in Chicago, is credited with spreading the popularity of the banana split. The early drug stores operated by Charles Rudolph Walgreen in the Chicago area adopted the banana split as a signature dessert. Fountains in the stores proved to be drawing cards, attracting customers who might otherwise have been just as satisfied having their prescriptions filled at some other drug store in the neighborhood.

My father, who worked as a soda jerk in a drug store when he was a youngster, always bragged about his split making abilities, however I can't recall his actually proving his claims.  Since they are a large dessert, it is best shared with a friend.  I have always considered banana splits a very "special" dessert, and have only had a very few of them in my life.  On such occasion was the day that I was to tell my son about the facts of life.  Being a single mom I knew it was up to me to give "the talk".  This didn't bother me, since as a nurse I explained the reproductive cycle routinely to area high schools.  Since I wanted to make this a memorable event for my son, I thought what would be better than to share a banana split over the birds and bees. 

I picked him up from school one day, took him to the local Dairy Queen, headed to an empty area and began to give the talk.  Unbeknownst to me, a Nun from the area Catholic Church walked up behind me and began listening to my talk as well!   I was properly embarrassed and my son couldn't stop laughing.  These days, when I think about banana splits, I also think of the Nun, and The Talk, and get a large grin on my face.

So treat yourself to a nice banana split today, and if you see a Nun, buy one for her too, and enjoy Banana Split Day!

Think Safety First - Avoid Common Dangers

You have gates on your stairs, child proof covers on your doors, latches on your cabinets, etc., and you feel comfortable that your kids are about as safe as they can be when they are at home...
All of that preparation to keep your kids safe can fall apart when you have visitors at your home though.


Visitors may forget to close gates, leave sharp items or breakables in your child's reach, and most importantly, forget to shut doors.

And if you have a lot of visitors, like at a party, it can be easy to think that the kids are safe, since there are so many adults around. However, instead of making your kids safer, having a lot of extra people around may actually put your kids more at risk. In addition to the confusion of having a lot of people around, the breakdown in your usual safety plans can put your kids at great risk.

Consider these all too common tragedies that highlight how important it is to think about child safety at all times:
  • a toddler drowns in the shallow end of a pool, while everyone else is playing in the deep end at a pool party
  • a child wanders away from a birthday party and drowns in a neighbor's pool
  • a preschooler drowns in a pond in the backyard of a friend's backyard pond during a friendly visit
  • your child discovers a neighbor's unlocked gun and shoots his best friend
  • a toddler gets out of the house through an open door and is run over by someone backing out of the driveway
  • To keep your kids safe in these types of special special situations, it can help to have a:
  • safety plan in place. This might be as simple as reminding people to close doors and gates, replace cabinet locks and latches, and not leave things around that younger kids can get to, like breakable glasses, alcoholic beverages, or sharp objects.
  • designated person who is supposed to watch the children. This might seem silly when you have a lot of adults around, but unless someone has the specific job of watching the children, everyone might assume that someone else is doing it and you can easily lose track of a younger child. And like a designated driver, this 'supervisor' should not drink alcohol and should not leave the children unattended, even for a few moments.
  • discussion about any possible hazards that may harm the children. These types of hazards might include a pool, pond, or other body of water that younger children might drown in, unlocked guns, and doors or rooms that aren't childproofed. These hazards should also likely be the first place you look for a missing child, after calling 911.
  • Taking layers of protection approach when childproofing your home can also help protect your kids in special situations. For example, in addition to a childproof lock on the door to your backyard, put up a fence around your pool so that even if a child does out of the house, he can't get to the pool.

So think about your child' safety, first and always. Remember that you may not be lucky enough to get a second chance if your child gets hurt.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

National Waffle Day

By Diane Forrest,

Today is National Waffle Day, it is a really huge celebration in Sweden, but not so big in other areas of the world. 

A waffle is a dough baked cake that is cooked between two metal plates connected by a hinge, with each plate connected to an arm with a wooden handle. The iron was placed over a fire and flipped to cook both sides of the wafer. The irons were used to produce a variety of different flat, unleavened cakes, usually from a mixture of barley and oats, instead of the white flour used today  .Waffles were first introduced to North America in 1620 by Pilgrims who brought the method from Holland. Thomas Jefferson brought a waffle iron from France, and waffle frolics or parties became popular in the late 18th century

The sponge cake recipe from yesterday is sometimes used to make waffles. The recipe I use comes in a yellow cardboard box and says Eggo's on the side. Growing up I don't remember eating waffles.  We usually had pancakes instead, and those were at suppertime.  My son however loves them, so much that one year for Christmas he got 3 waffle irons!  After that I don’t think he ever made another waffle!

When my husband and I would travel out of town, we eventually would visit a Waffle House.  That is a chain of small diners that are famous for their waffles.  He would always order a large waffle topped with strawberries and whipped cream.  Looked more like dessert than breakfast.  Of course you can eat waffles at any meal or even a snack.  Several places now offer a dish of chicken and waffles.

There is no better time like today to have some if you don’t have time to make them yourself, head out for breakfast and have a great start to your day!

Waffle Recipe:
  • 1 1/3 cups flour 
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 3/4 cups milk

  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients.
  • Separate the eggs, adding the yolks to the dry ingredient mixture, and placing the whites in a small mixing bowl.
  • Beat whites until moderately stiff; set aside.
  • Add milk and melted butter to dry ingredient mixture and blend.
  • Fold stiff egg whites into mixture.
  • Ladle mixture into hot waffle iron and bake.
So how do you like your waffles?

Gun Safety

It is estimated that there are guns in half of all of the homes in the United States. Although most of these guns are purchased for safety reasons, a firearm at home is thought by many people to be more likely to kill or injure a family member or friend than an intruder, especially if it is not secured properly.

To keep your children safe and prevent firearm related injuries, it is important to restrict access to guns by children and adolescents, either by not having a gun in the home or by storing it properly.

Proper storage of a gun includes that you:
  • keep your guns locked
  • keep your guns unloaded
  • keep your ammunition locked
  • keep your ammunition in a separate area from your gun
  • A safe or lock box are good places to store your unloaded guns and your ammunition. A trigger lock can also provide extra security when you store your unloaded guns in a safe or lock box.

As with other types of child safety, this type of layers of protection plan is the best way to protect children from accidentally finding a loaded gun, or finding a unloaded gun and ammunition and loading it themselves, and then shooting themselves, shooting a family member, or shooting a friend.

Other steps you can take to ensure gun safety include:
  • Use a gun trigger lock.
  • Make sure that your children do not have access to the keys used to lock your guns and ammunition.
  • Teach your children to not handle guns without adult supervision.
  • Avoid letting your children play with realistic toy guns.
  • Even if you don't have a gun in your own home, it is important to educate your children about firearm safety in case they discover a gun outside the home or in the homes of their friends.
  • Gun Safety Programs

Kids should also know the 4 steps of the Eddie Eagle gun safety program, including:
  • Stop!
  • Don't Touch.
  • Leave the Area.
  • Tell an Adult.

Parents should also consider discussing gun safety with other parents or family members if your child spends time in their homes. When your child has a play date or sleepover, do you know if there are guns in the home? If there are, are they properly stored?

Don't be afraid to ask other people about guns if your child is going to be in their home.

Kids and Guns

Parents shouldn't count on their child simply knowing what to do if they find a gun. Much to their parent's surprise, one study found that most kids who find a gun will handle it; many will even pull the trigger, being unsure if the gun is real or a toy.

Food Poisoning

Learn to Prevent Food Poisoning

Parents often suspect food poisoning every time their kids get diarrhea and vomiting. Fortunately, food poisoning doesn't occur that frequently, as most cases of diarrhea and vomiting in kids are caused by simple viral infections that kids get in daycare or school.

Still, food poisoning is common, as the CDC estimates that there are about 76 million cases of food poisoning in the United States each year. Although most of these cases are mild, about 325,000 people with food poisoning are hospitalized and 5,000 die each year.

Since young children are among the groups most at risk for getting serious and even life-threatening cases of food poisoning, it is important for parents to learn how to recognize and prevent them from occurring.

Food Poisoning Symptoms
  • Food poisoning symptoms can vary depending on what is triggering them, but they usually include vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, and abdominal cramps.
  • Other symptoms, like when someone has an E. coli O157 infection, can include bloody diarrhea, and complications such as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Or fever, when they have salmonellosis (a Salmonella infection).
  • Toxins, such as with botulism, can cause fatal neurotoxic symptoms, including double vision, and trouble swallowing, talking and breathing.
  • Depending on the cause, symptoms of food poisoning may occur a few hours or a few days after eating a contaminated food.

Diagnosing Food Poisoning
Food poisoning is often hard to diagnose because it can be caused by so many different things, including viruses, bacteria, parasites, and toxins, such as:
  • Campylobacter
  • Salmonella
  • E. coli O157
  • Norwalk-like viruses
  • Shigella
  • Hepatitis A
  • Giardia lamblia
  • Cryptosporidia
  • Clostridium botulinum which produces the botulinum toxin that causes botulism
  • Listeria
  • Staphylococcus aureus which produces a staphylococcal enterotoxin
  • Vibrio vulnificus

In addition to looking for a pattern of symptoms, such as everyone in the family got sick right a few hours after eating at the same restaurant, stool cultures can sometimes help identify the parasite or bacteria that is causing the symptoms of food poisoning. Stool tests can also sometimes identify bacterial toxins and viruses.

Not surprisingly, many people have food poisoning and never know it.

Food Poisoning Treatments
  • Like vomiting and diarrhea from a stomach virus, food poisoning treatments are usually aimed at preventing dehydration.
  • Antibiotics are usually not necessary or helpful for most cases of food poisoning, although for some severe infections, like shigellosis (a Shigella infection), and food poisoning caused by parasites, treatment is necessary. See your pediatrician if you think that your child has food poisoning, especially if he has bloody diarrhea, high fever, signs of dehydration, or if he isn't quickly getting better on his own.

Preventing Food Poisoning
  • Since food poisoning is often hard to recognize and few treatments are available, it is best to try and prevent food poisoning in the first place.
  • These food safety tips can help you keep your kids healthy and their food safe:
  • Wash your hands thoroughly before preparing and serving your child's food.
  • Cook foods thoroughly before you feed them to your children, especially meat, poultry and eggs.
  • Separate foods and utensils when you are preparing, serving, and storing your child's meals, so they don't become cross-contaminated with germs from each other, and clean utensils and surfaces with hot water and soap.
  • Chill leftover food as soon as possible and within a few hours of cooking or serving, being sure to set your refrigerator to no higher than 40 F and your freezer to 0 F or below.
  • Clean all fruits and vegetables before serving them to your child.
  • Avoid unpasteurized milk (raw milk) and juices.
  • Read about FDA recalls and alerts to find about contaminated food you may have in your home.
  • Throw out foods that you think are contaminated or are past their expiration date, even if they aren't moldy and don't have an odor, since you can't always tell when a food is contaminated.

What You Need To Know

Almost any food can become contaminated and cause food poisoning, but certain foods are considered high risk, including unpasteurized milk and other dairy products, undercooked meat and poultry, raw shellfish, and deli-prepared salads, such as egg salad, potato salad, and chicken salads.

Foods become contaminated and cause food poisoning in many ways, including when they are grown with contaminated water, improperly processed or canned, undercooked, cross-contaminated during preparation, or when someone who is sick prepares the food without properly washing their hands.

You can't usually tell if a food is "bad" or is going to make your child sick by its smell or color. Many contaminated foods look and smell normal.

Honey can be a source of the Clostridium botulinum spores that cause botulism, which is why you are not supposed to give honey to infants under 12 months of age.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Today is National Sponge Cake Day

Now Sponge cake is not a cake made out of sponges, but I'm guessing it got its name because of its light airy texture.  Sponge cake has been around for quite a while.  One of the first cakes that did not use yeast was first recorded in 1615.

The trick to baking this cake is the method of preparing the batter.  It is this area that I am thankful for my Kitchenaide mixer!   The eggs are beaten with sugar until filled with air, much in the way you make meringue.  Then the flour is folded in slowly.  Once it has been placed in the oven, if it is removed before it is fully baked, it will fall flat.

Once the cake has cooled, it is very flexible.  This allows it to be rolled for desserts such as a Jelly Roll, Swiss Roll or Buche de Noel.  Sponge cake is also used to make lady fingers, strawberry shortcake, madelines and other desserts.

The Victoria Sponge Cake which contains jam between two sponge cakes, was named after Queen Victoria who enjoyed having a slice with her afternoon tea.

Since the recipe does not use yeast, it is a popular dessert during Passover.  Most Jewish families have a special Sponge Cake recipe that is passed down from generation to generation.  Typical Passover sponge flavorings include almonds, lemon, poppy seeds, apples, and chocolate.

Sponge Cakes are also alot like Angel food cakes, they are prepared nearly the same way, and the difference being the Angel Food Cake doesn't contain the egg yolks. Also neither is typically covered with some type of icing.  They are usually served plain and topped with some type of fruit.

If your area is anything like mine, finding an already prepared sponge cake may prove to be a difficult task.  So here is a recipe by Emeril Lagasse, and if you are from the south you know who he is!  He is a chef from Louisiana and is known for "kicking it up a notch!" 

So today on National Sponge Cake Day, try to kick it up a notch yourself and bake your own sponge cake.

Sponge Cake Recipe

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a small saucepan, warm the milk and 2 teaspoons of the butter together over medium-low heat. With an electric mixer fitted with a wire whip, beat the eggs and 1 cup of the sugar on medium-high speed in a large mixing bowl until the mixture is pale yellow, thick, and tripled in volume, about 8 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, beat in the warm milk mixture.
  • Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a small mixing bowl. Add half the flour mixture to the egg mixture and blend thoroughly until smooth. Repeat with the other half. Add the vanilla and mix gently.
  • Grease a 17 by 12-inch baking pan or jelly-roll pan with the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Sprinkle evenly with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Pour the cake batter into the pan, spreading it evenly. Bake until the cake springs back when touched, about 15 minutes.
  • Cool for about 2 minutes, and then gently flip it out onto a large sheet of parchment paper. Let cool completely.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Today is Be an Angel Day

I’m not talking about a baseball team, or a motorcycle rider like the Hell's Angels, or a detective like one of Charlie's Angels.  An Angel is defined as a spiritual being, messenger of God.  Roles of angels include protecting and guiding human beings, and carrying out God's tasks.

Be An Angel Day was first celebrated on August 22, 1993.  It was created by Jayne Howard Feldman who claims that she was inspired by Angels to create this day.  The purpose is to be God's servant in doing good things for others. It is intended to do something nice or kind for someone who is in need of help. The type of angelic help you can offer is not defined or limited. It can be physical, emotional, or spiritual.

There can be many ways to be an angel for someone today.  Lending a helping hand to a friend or neighbor, calling to check on someone, if you like to bake, take cookies or a cake to a busy family.  Help a child with their schoolwork.  Help someone load their groceries in their car at the grocery store.  Visit someone in the hospital or nursing home.  Donate to a charity. The options are endless; just do something for someone else. 
I have been trying to research some stories about being an angel, but the ones I found were about actual angels.  If these stories interest you, check out these sites, they are very inspirational.

I wanted to share a story of a real person being an angel to me.   My first car was a 67 mustang.  It was a great little car, but occasionally gave me trouble because of its age.  It had been giving me trouble for a few weeks, and I had taken it to the shop to be fixed, and thought the problem had been solved.  I had to take a trip, 90 miles away, for a wedding.  I had to leave after work, which was about 9:30 at night.  I was driving on the Natchez Trace, which for those of you don't know about this road, it’s a long two lane road in the middle of the woods, which is not frequently traveled.   Well about half way into my trip my car dies, leaving me stranded in this dark lonely road in the middle of the night.  This was before cell phones, so I was just stuck.  I put my flashers on, but the occasional car just drove right past me.  After an hour I decided I would just stand out in the middle of the road, forcing someone to stop to help me.  Luckily, the next car to come along stopped, and did not run over me,.  There were actually two cars traveling together, two sons, their families and their parents.  Not only did they  not run over me, they stopped to help me, they fixed my car, then stopped to call my family to let them know what had happened and that I was back on my way.  That was 30 years ago, and I have never forgotten it.

A little kindness can make a big impact on someone when you least expect it.  That reminds me of this story:

One day, when I was a freshman in high school, I saw a kid from my class was walking home from school. His name was Kyle. It looked like he was carrying all of his books. I thought to myself, "Why would anyone bring home all his books on a Friday? He must really be a nerd."

I had quite a weekend planned (parties and a football game with my friend’s tomorrow afternoon), so I shrugged my shoulders and went on. As I was walking, I saw a bunch of kids running toward him.
They ran at him, knocking all his books out of his arms and tripping him so he landed in the dirt. His glasses went flying, and I saw them land in the grass about ten feet from him. He looked up and I saw this terrible sadness in his eyes My heart went out to him. So, I jogged over to him as he crawled around looking for his glasses, and I saw a tear in his eye. As I handed him his glasses, I said, "Those guys are jerks.”

“They really should get lives.”

“He looked at me and said, "Hey thanks!"

There was a big smile on his face. It was one of those smiles that showed real gratitude. I helped him pick up his books, and asked him where he lived. As it turned out, he lived near me, so I asked him why I had never seen him before. He said he had gone to private school before now. I would have never hung out with a private school kid before. We talked all the way home, and I carried some of his books. He turned out to be a pretty cool kid. I asked him if he wanted to play a little football with my friends He said yes.

We hung out all weekend and the more I got to know Kyle, the more I liked him, and my friends thought the same of him. Monday morning came, and there was Kyle with the huge stack of books again. I stopped him and said, "Boy, you are gonna really build some serious muscles with this pile of books every day! He just laughed and handed me half the books. Over the next four years, Kyle and I became best friends. When we were seniors we began to think about college.
Kyle decided on Georgetown and I was going to Duke. I knew that we would always be friends, that the miles would never be a problem. He was going to be a doctor and I was going for business on a football scholarship.

Kyle was valedictorian of our class. I teased him all the time about being a nerd. He had to prepare a speech for graduation. I was so glad it wasn't me having to get up there and speak Graduation day, I saw Kyle. He looked great. He was one of those guys that really found himself during high school. He filled out and actually looked good in glasses. He had more dates than I had and all the girls loved him.
Boy, sometimes I was jealous! Today was one of those days. I could see that he was nervous about his speech. So, I smacked him on the back and said, "Hey, big guy, you'll be great!"

He looked at me with one of those looks (the really grateful one) and smiled. “Thanks," he said.
As he started his speech, he cleared his throat, and began "Graduation is a time to thank those who helped you make it through those tough years. Your parents, your teachers, your siblings, maybe a coach...but mostly your friends...

I am here to tell all of you that being a friend to someone is the best gift you can give them. I am going to tell you a story."

I just looked at my friend with disbelief as he told the story of the first day we met. He had planned to kill himself over the weekend. He talked of how he had cleaned out his locker so his Mom wouldn't have to do it later and was carrying his stuff home. He looked hard at me and gave me a little smile. "Thankfully, I was saved. My friend saved me from doing the unspeakable." I heard the gasp go through the crowd as this handsome, popular boy told us all about his weakest moment. I saw his Mom and dad looking at me and smiling that same grateful smile. Not until that moment did I realize its depth.
Never underestimate the power of your actions.
With one small gesture you can change a person's life.

For better or for worse.
God puts us all in each other’s lives to impact one another in some way.
Look for God in others.
So, today, on Be an Angel day, it doesn't matter what you do, just show some kindness to someone else.