Five Ways to Ease Your Eyes from Screen Strain

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Did you know that 70% of Americans suffer from computer vision syndrome?

CVS happens when you stare at the computer for too long.

I discovered some valuable insight into this problem from Eye Care magazine published by HealthMonitor.

This type of “near work” strains the muscles in your eyes that focus on near objects and you also tend to blink less, which can dry out eyes.

Symptoms include blurry vision, headaches and strained, dry or tired eyes.

According to eye specialists, there are five simple steps that can help alleviate this.

1.     Follow the two-foot rule: sit about 25 inches away from your computer and tilt the screen to so you look down on your work.

2.     Get rid of the glare: glare from overhead lighting and the sun can reflect off your screen…this contributes to eye strain.  Dim the lights around your workspace and use shades or curtains to avoid direct light.  You could also try an attachable anti-glare screen for your computer.

3.     Take breaks: follow the 20-20-20 rule…every 20 minutes, look 20 feet across the room for at least 20 seconds.  In this way you will be activating your distance vision.  Blink often and take mini-breaks away from your desk.  Close your eyes briefly and practice deep breathing which also helps relax the eye muscles.

4.     Check your prescription: if you or your children wear glasses, make sure the prescription is up-to-date.  Eyes do change and it is important to see your eye doctor on a yearly basis, especially if you wear glasses.  If you or your children are having eye problems whether you wear glasses or not, please make an appointment…our eyes are so precious and they are not replaceable.

5.     Moisturize: staring at a computer screen, especially in an air-conditioned room, can lead to dry eyes.  Use artificial tears or a desktop humidifier and remember the 20-20-20 rule…look away and blink.

Many of us do lots of close work and when you add up the time children spend reading books and doing homework assignments, playing or working on the computer or other electronic devices and watching TV, you’ll agree that it’s really important for them to follow these simple steps as well.

Now that school is starting, many preschoolers will be left at home without older brothers or sisters to play with them.  If you’d like to provide great activities for your young child (other than sitting in front of a TV or computer monitor), please visit my websitewhere you can purchase a copy of Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking at 50% off the cover price.  This award-winning resource for busy parents will provide you with 100 picture book story suggestions and summaries and gives you an eco-friendly craft activity and a child-friendly recipe for each recommended title…FRESH IDEAS FOR A NEW SCHOOL YEAR!  BTW, it’s also available on Kindle!

Are Electronics Hurting Your Child’s Eyes?

WHR's computers

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Yesterday I had an eye doctor appointment.

As I sat in the waiting room, I noticed a small magazine entitled “Eye Care”.

It’s published by HealthMonitor.com and is packed full of valuable articles and information.

I know that many parents wonder about any dangerous effects that electronics…and their children’s use of things like mobile phones, iPads, 3-D handheld video games and laptops…might have.

Are electronics dangerous to your child’s eyes?

According to Dr. Benjamin Ticho, a pediatric ophthalmologist and associate professor at the University of Illinois:

There are no studies showing permanent or long-lasting visual damage from these types of devices.

But are there any temporary problems that can crop up from staring at portable game devices, surfing online or watching TV for prolonged periods of time?

The answer to this is YES!  Strain, fatigue and dry or scratchy eyes can result from doing anything up close where our eyes are doing too many things: focusing, coordinating and moving close together…this can cause the eye muscles to get tired.

What can parents do to help avoid this?

  • Put a daily time limit on electronic devices.
  • Remind your child to get up frequently while engaged in a task or game.
  • Encourage your child to participate in outdoor activities or sports each day.
  • Use time playing video games or going on the computer as a reward for completing homework…that will insure that eyes are tired out before homework is done.

Tomorrow I’m going to share: 5 Ways to Treat Screen Strain…for all of you out there who blog. 

Some MoreThoughts on Healthy Eating…for Summer-time and Beyond

Small child with head down on highchair.

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As parents, we are responsible for what our children eat…at least when they are little.

We plan the meals, shop for the ingredients, prepare the food and serve it.

So every young child should be eating a healthy balanced diet, right?

Unfortunately, many young children are NOT eating a healthy balanced diet because:

  • Many parents didn’t have a healthy diet themselves as children and don’t really know what to serve!
  • The media overloads us with commercials about fast food and sugary desserts!
  • Young children can be fussy about eating and concerned parents just want them to eat SOMETHING!

Here are some simple steps parents can take to help:

1.     Plan regular meal-times…if children know they can get something to eat at any time of the day or night, they will not be motivated to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner.  And having family meals together provides so many other emotional and social benefits as well. 

2.     Snacks are important additions to a young child’s daily food intake… provide nutritious ones like veggie sticks dipped in hummus, cheese cubes with whole grain crackers and fruit slices in yogurt.

3.     Serve small portions…young children can be overwhelmed when a plate piled with food is put in front of them…for instance, if your child is having a sandwich, cut it in quarters and serve one quarter at a time.

4.     Use your imagination to make meals pleasing to the eye…attractive plates and servings arranged in an interesting way…for example, a small bowl of spaghetti with two meatballs for the eyes, a steamed baby carrot for the nose and several steamed green beans for the smile.  What fun!  You can always add a new “nose” and new “smile” when your child finishes the first ones.   Or how about using cookie cutters to make interesting shapes of sandwiches?

5.     Avoid processed foods as much as possible…they are usually filled with salt, sugar, preservatives and artificial colors and flavors.  When your children become accustomed to these, they can lose their appreciation for the flavor and goodness of wholesome natural foods.

There are many websites that can help with nutrition information and meal planning.

http://nutritiondata.self.com/

http://fnic.nal.usda.gov/nal_display/index.php?info_center=4&tax_level=1

http://www.mealsmatter.org/

http://www.healthy-eating-made-easy.com/healthy-meal-planning.html

For more meal-planning tips, fresh ideas and simple recipes that your children can help prepare, you can get a copy of Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking…now on sale for 50% off the cover price on my website.  For only $22.50, you will have 100 child-friendly recipes, 100 arts and crafts activities and 100 picture book summaries that all build self-esteem, develop pre-literacy skills and create a life-long parent-child bond.  Did you know that this great resource is also a memory book…with lined spaces on every other page for you to record your child’s highlights?

Have You Abandoned Your New Year’s Resolutions: Healthy Habit Thursday

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If you’re like me, you start the New Year off with good intentions.

All of us probably KNOW what we should be doing to stay healthy.

Every January 1st, I make a list of New Year’s resolutions or goals.

Many of them focus on good health habits like walking every day, drinking 8 glasses of water, eating nutritious foods and getting 8 hours of sleep each night.

Then, life gets in the way!

We all lead busy lives and many of us have so many responsibilities that we often push our own needs to the back burner.


Can you believe that 2011 is almost half over?

I’m revisiting those resolutions and goals to see how realistic they were and whether or not I need to revise them.

Taking a time-management class would probably be a great thing for me to do.  I know that 24 hours should be enough time to accomplish what I want to do…the problem is making sure that I am devoting the right amount of time to each task.   Blogging always tends to take more time than I thought it would, but I love connecting with everyone. 🙂

I think what I need to do is write down a schedule of how I think each day should go…and then keep a log of what is actually happening…I’ll then see where I am spending time that might be better used in some other activity.

How do you plan your time?  I’d really appreciate your input because right now, unless I give up sleep, there is no way I can fit everything in. 🙂

I do know that I must walk and exercise…if I let a few days go by without doing it, my muscles tighten up and my back hurts.

I do know that I need to stay hydrated by drinking enough water…if I don’t, I wind up eating more…my body seems to tell me it is hungry when really all it wants is a glass of water.

I do know that I have to get at least 7 hours of sleep every night…if I try to make do with less sleep; I have a lot less energy in the morning and am less productive throughout the day.

I do know that I need to watch what I eat…if I eat “fast food” or highly processed foods, my body complains.

So I am rededicating myself to my 2011 New Year’s resolutions and goals that focus on staying healthy.  The warmer weather is here, the birds are singing, the flowers are blooming…it’s time for my walk!


Please stop by tomorrow for Follow-Me-Fridays: Where’s Miss Vivian?  I have several exciting upcoming local events (Summer Soulstice in Monument, CO – June 18, and PBS kids Fun Fest in Acacia Park, Colorado Springs – June 11) to tell you about and also a new special book offer that will go up on my website this weekend.

Making Blood Draws Easier for Kids: Healthy Habit Thursday

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Do you like going for blood draws?

I don’t know about you, but it’s not my favorite activity.

In fact, I don’t think there are very many people who would look forward to that…unless you are a character in the Twilight series. 🙂

And if having blood drawn is unpleasant for most adults, imagine how little children feel about it!

In two weeks, I have an appointment to see my family doctor for my annual physical and he always wants me to have various lab tests done beforehand.   So, the other day, I went to Healthlink, one of Memorial Hospital’s outpatient lab facilities in Colorado Springs, to get my blood drawn. 

While sitting in the waiting room, I saw a notice hanging on the wall entitled, “Making Blood Draws Easier for Kids”.

After reading it, I spoke to the staff and asked if I could copy it and post it on my parenting blog because I knew that there must be many parents who would appreciate the information. 

They were happy to have me pass along these simple tips that may help parents whose children need to have blood drawn.

1.     Your attitude is contagious!  If you are tense, your child will get tense as well.

Be positive!

Be honest with your child that it might hurt!

Talk about where or what you are going to be doing when you leave!

2.     Your child could sit on your lap during the blood draw.

3.     You could stand behind him or her and give a shoulder rub during the draw.

4.     You could hold his or her other hand.

5.     You could tell his or her favorite story.

6.     You could leave the room…sometimes older kids would prefer this…it makes them feel grown up.

7.     When it is all over, tell your child that you are proud of him or her…no matter how he or she acted during the draw.

8.     Things NOT to say:

  • Don’t say it won’t hurt!
  • Don’t say just think of something else!
  • Don’t say just act like a big boy or girl!

As a parent, I appreciate how hard it is to see your child being stuck with a needle.  I applaud the Healthlink staff for their foresight in posting this notice to encourage parents to be positive and honest with their children.  If you have a child who needs to have blood drawn just once in a while for a particular test or on a regular basis because of some ongoing health problems, I hope these suggestions will be helpful.

Here’s another suggestion: Mother’s Day is only a few days away…and the long days of summer are just around the corner.  We are offering a special Mother’s Day bonus for anyone who purchases a copy of Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking.  Get a copy of this wonderful resource, brimming with fun-filled educational activities for young children, and receive a $10 Marshalls/TJMaxx Gift Card for mom as a bonus.  Visit my website for the details.  Offer ends on May 8.

Please stop by tomorrow for Follow-Me-Fridays: Where’s Miss Vivian and find out about my visit at Queen Palmer School and my exciting plans for the Mother’s Day Weekend!

Healthy Habit Thursdays: Focusing on Vitamin C

Fruit on display at La Boqueria market in Barc...

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Last Thursday we found out why it is so important to eat foods rich in Vitamin B.

Today I want to give you some facts about another vitamin that is vital to your health: Vitamin C.

  • Needed for growth and repair of tissues
  • Used to form collagen, a protein that makes skin, scar tissue, and blood vessels
  • Essential for the healing of wounds
  • Necessary for the repair and maintenance of bones and teeth
  • Blocks some of the damage caused by free radicals

Now what, you may ask, are free radicals?  The term is mentioned a lot…perhaps it would be good if we had a definition. 🙂

Free radicals are the by-products that result when our bodies turn food into energy.  Perhaps it would help to think of it like setting a match to a newspaper…after the paper burns, you are left with ashes…the ashes are like the free radicals…kind of dirty garbage.  A build-up of these by-products in our bodies is largely responsible for the aging process and contributes to the development of cancer, heart disease and arthritis.  BRING ON THE VITAMIN C!!!!!!!

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin which means it dissolves in water.  Leftover amounts of this vitamin are not retained, but are passed out through the urine.  And what this means is that you need a CONTINUOUS supply of the vitamin in your diet.

So how can you make sure that you and your family are getting enough Vitamin C?

You need to eat foods rich in Vitamin C…many fruits and vegetables fall into this category, among them: papaya, watermelon, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, red peppers, blueberries, cranberries and pineapples.

SHOW ME HOW! BUILD YOUR CHILD’S SELF-ESTEEM THROUGH READING, CRAFTING AND COOKING contains 100 child-friendly recipes that your children would love to help you prepare.  Many of the healthful ingredients called for are rich in Vitamin C.  If you click on the book title, you can go to my website and find out more about the book.

Two important reminders:

  • Sunday, April 10th…I will be at the Covered Treasures Bookstore in Monument, CO from 2-3:30pm…talking about reading, crafting and cooking with young children and signing copies of my book.  For more details go to www.coveredtreasures.com.  The Book Fair benefits the Tri-Lakes Community Preschool Tuition Assistance Program.
  • Tuesday, April 12th…I will be hosting Max the Dog as he continues his 36 day book blog tour.  For more details about the on-going contest and to see where he has been and where he is going, please visit: http://readwithmax.com/blogbooktour.htmlhttp://readwithmax.com/blogbooktour.html.

And please don’t forget to stop by tomorrow for Follow-Me-Fridays: Where’s Miss Vivian? I will tell you all about today’s visit with Bates Elementary School.

Healthy Habit Thursday: The Importance of Vitamins!

Fruit on display at La Boqueria market in Barc...

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I can still remember the ENORMOUS vitamin pill my sister and I had to take every morning.  It was all but impossible to swallow…and often left us feeling that it was still stuck in our throats, long after breakfast was over.

These days, children have chewable vitamins with fruity flavors, shaped like favorite cartoon characters.

But the underlying premise is still the same…supplementing your daily diet with vitamins and minerals is probably a smart move…especially these days when the nutritional value of processed foods is questionable.

So why are vitamins important and how does each one help?

Today’s post will concentrate on Vitamin B…a complex vitamin made up of eight essential nutrients.  And then, every Thursday in the month of April, we’ll take a look at various other vitamins.

The B-complex vitamins are essential for life and good health.  They help make and regulate our genes, produce energy, regulate blood sugar, enhance mood and cognitive abilities and maintain cardiovascular health.  Since the 1940’s, they’ve been known as anti-stress vitamins because they help strengthen our resistance to the physical and mental consequences of chronic stress.

Eight B vitamins make up this family of essential nutrients.

  • Vitamin B1: Also known as thiamin, this vitamin helps cells produce the right amounts of energy and gives you the power to get through day-to-day life.  If you consume large amounts of sugars and simple carbohydrates like pizza, breads, pastas, bagels and cereals, your supply of B1 will be depleted.
  • Vitamin B2: Also known as riboflavin, this vitamin is at the heart of energy production and thought to be helpful to decrease the frequency of migraine headaches.
  • Vitamin B3: Also known as niacin, this vitamin helps cells produce an enzyme that repairs DNA damage from toxins and it also can significantly lower blood cholesterol levels.
  • Vitamin B6: Also known as pyridoxine and pyridoxyl-5-phosphate, this vitamin works together with other elements to promote a variety of chemical reactions involved in the production of serotonin and other mood-enhancing neurotransmitters.  It’s been used in studies to decrease PMS symptoms and carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Vitamin B12: Low levels of this vitamin can accelerate aging and the risk of cancer and may mimic symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Folic Acid: This vitamin is the main contributor to making new DNA which is needed to make new cells for growth and healing.  Studies show that this vitamin can enhance the benefits of anti-depressant drugs and cut hearing loss in middle-age and older people.
  • Biotin: This vitamin activates some of the genes involved in metabolizing blood sugar, protein and fat…it’s especially important for people with pre-diabetes and type-2 diabetes.  It also can help lower triglycerides and it improves nail health.
  • Choline: This vitamin is found in all cell membranes where it helps communicate external information to the cell nucleus.  It is needed for normal brain development and function.

This is a photo from my recent trip to visit my daughter and her family.  2 1/2 year-old Jeremy had a wonderful time whisking the eggs and mashing the bananas (both GREAT sources of Vitamin B) for the banana muffins we made.  As parents, we are responsible for providing healthful foods for our children…and ourselves.   Do you find yourself dragging before the day is half over?  Maybe you need to eat some foods rich in B vitamins.

1.     Dark leafy green vegetables

2.     Fresh fruits

3.     Fresh dairy products like milk, yogurt and cheese

4.     Meat

Two important tips to remember:

  • Most processed foods these days are “enriched” with vitamin B…but we should all strive to eat foods that are naturally rich in B.
  • The nutritional value of a food can decline when frozen, overcooked or combined with various additives.

If you are looking for some simple child-friendly healthful recipes…please visit my website where you can purchase a copy of SHOW ME HOW, a unique resource for parents and teachers of preschoolers that provides 100 cooking activities your child will LOVE to help with…most take just 15 minutes to prepare and will contribute to your child’s positive self-image.  The half-price sale continues until April 9th…so please don’t miss out if you were thinking of getting a copy.  You can also enter to win a selection of craft supplies for your preschooler.

Please stop by tomorrow for Follow-Me-Fridays: Where’s Miss Vivian and find out how much fun I had this morning at Edison School!  And don’t forget about the Book Blog Tour for Max the Dog.  You can click on my sidebar to find out more.