That time I got the flu

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A few weeks ago I got the flu.  The real flu.  Influenza, not just a bad cold.  My symptoms were classic – body aches, fever, cough, and a sore throat.  I’m pretty certain I know precisely when the flu virus entered my body.  I was caring for a sick patient, somewhat up in the child’s face to swab their nasal passages for a flu test, when the kid coughed directly into my mouth.  Gag! In desperation I actually Purelled my face as I left the room.  Of course, hindsight is 20/20 and I should have been wearing a mask, but it was too late.

Spew! Credit: Andrew Davidhazy/RIT
Spew! Droplet spray from a cough.
Credit: Andrew Davidhazy/RIT

It didn’t take more than a day or so before I started feeling ill.  Being a relatively healthy person I figured I’d get through the ordeal with only supportive measures: namely, hydration and rest.  Heck, I thought this would be a good excuse to entrust the kids to my husband, lounge out on the couch, and get caught up on Netflix. … Read more

For anyone who has ever wiped out on a wood staircase

Nearly invisible and SO much more safe!

I have a wood staircase in my home that leads to a loft.  The loft is awesome!  It currently serves as the kids’ play-space which means we’re up and down the steps multiple times per day.  The dilemma? The stairs are slippery!  The number of times I’ve wiped out, coffee cup in hand, nearly breaking a limb, is embarrassing.  A neurosurgeon once said to me that the most dangerous area of a home is the staircase.  Why? Because it’s so easy to sustain a head or neck injury when you fall.  This makes me especially nervous for my 3.5 year old son who often forgets to hold the railing.

For years I thought about putting some sort of traction tape or carpeting on the stairs.  Not that it would completely eliminate the danger, but it would certainly minimize the risk.  Frustratingly, I was never able found a product that was visually appealing.… Read more

Just another sore throat, or could it be strep?

sick boy

It’s hard to get through the winter without having at least one sore throat.  Most sore throats are minor, more of an annoyance than anything else, and they tend to be the first sign of a viral cold.

But what if it’s strep?

Strep is a bacteria that commonly invades the throat and tonsils causing pain, fever, and swollen lymph nodes.  We care because strep bacteria can be pesky.  Left untreated, the bacteria can wreak havoc in more than just your throat by invading other parts of the body.  Some complications of strep are minor, such as an ear or a sinus infection.  Some, however, are more serious involving a collection of pus in the back of your throat called an abscess, a blood infection, heart disease, kidney inflammation, or a neurologic disorder known as PANDAS.  If you do not treat strep throat with an antibiotic, there is also a greater chance that you will spread the infection to someone else.… Read more

#TheDollEvolves: What Barbie’s New Body Can — And Cannot — Do For Our Girls’ Body Image

Petite, Tall, Curvy, and Original Barbie

Also check out this article as published on Cognoscenti, a new ideas and opinion page developed by WBUR, Boston’s NPR news station.

Last week, Mattel announced a new line of Barbie dolls, complete with a new hashtag: #TheDollEvolves. The dolls have one of three “real woman” figures — curvy, tall and petite. The new bodies are outfitted with various skin tones, hair colors and hair textures, so that when kids peruse the Barbie aisle, they will see dolls resembling the real people in their lives. This is Mattel’s latest attempt to increase their bottom line, to win back the fandom of families, and to give Barbie more realistic features and proportions. Of course, the standard white, thin, blonde and busty Barbie will still exist, but now kids (and parents) have a more diverse set of options when choosing which doll to take home.

It’s helpful that Mattel is expanding the diversity in their doll line, but I’m not convinced that the new Barbie will sell.… Read more

Surviving a Stomach Bug

Folded Baby Laundry Kids' Health with Sarah

Can’t even. Piles of folded baby laundry after countless loads run in the wake of my daughter’s stomach bug.

The last four days have been miserable. It is no surprise that my 11 month old, who is constantly putting things in her mouth, crawling around in public spaces, and going to daycare full-time, came down with a stomach bug. She is absolutely beside herself with a crampy belly, low-grade fever, vomiting, and diarrhea. I am beside myself trying to keep her happy, disinfect, clean-up, and run laundry. Ugh. The medical term for her condition: gastroenteritis.

You may have heard gastroenteritis more commonly called “stomach flu.” Personally, I’d like to go on a campaign to remove the term from colloquial language. Calling a stomach bug a “flu” is confusing and a misnomer. Gastroenteritis is not flu. The only illness that is flu is influenza.

The term gastroenteritis is self-explanatory when you break it down: gastro (stomach) – entero (intestine/gut) – itis (inflammation).… Read more

Order in the cords!

Neat and Tidy Order in the Cords Kids Health with Sarah

For the last three years the zone behind our TV bothered me.  I’m not a huge TV person to begin with, but I do appreciate the occasional Netflix.  Our TV has way too many consoles attached to it – XBox, DVD/VCR, our router, and several other components I don’t even recognize being a non-techie.  The cords connecting it all had been a terrifying mess of tangles and a huge safety concern with our now toddling 11 month old.  I wish I had thought of taking a “before” picture!

I try to stay out of the Container Store given how pricey their organizational gear can be but I had an afternoon away from the kids and found myself meandering in.  While walking the aisles I encountered the Cablebox.  It’s packaging proclaimed the box could bring order to cords coming into a powerstrip and it sounded awesome.  Despite the Cablebox being a bit pricey ($29) and an impulse buy, the box came home with me.… Read more

Lead poisoning: What you need to know

Image by Steve Johnson of,

Image by Steve Johnson of,

This week my news feed is flooded with articles about Flint, Michigan.  Recent media exposure of the town’s lead crisis has brought to light several disturbing stories of lead poisoned children and families desperately searching for answers and solutions.  It is frightening to think that town officials of Flint may have knowingly put local children at risk by allowing distribution of lead contaminated water.

Certainly the story of Flint is the exception and most of us have safe water sources, right?  How can we know for sure?

When I was pregnant the first time around my husband and I lived in a two family home, built in the early 1900’s.  The home had gone through many owners and plenty of renovations; it was anyone’s guess how many layers of paint were on the walls.  When we first moved in I hadn’t considered the possibility of lead, but with a new baby on the way it surely entered my mind.… Read more

The Family Table

The Family Table Kids' Health with Sarah
The best dippy eggs I have EVER eaten
The best dippy eggs I have EVER eaten

Over the weekend I bought a table.  It’s secondhand off Craigslist – simple, mid-century, with clean lines, six accompanying chairs, and an amazing back story.  The original owners first purchased the dining set as newlyweds nearly 60 years ago.  Over the years their table served as hub to countless meals and dinnertime conversations as the couple experienced life and raised their babies into adulthood.

I met the couple’s daughter and learned that her parents had recently transitioned into assisted living.  With this came the selling of their home and, ultimately, the posting of their table to Craigslist.  The daughter assured me that her mother would be delighted to know that her table would continue as a gathering place for family.  Another generation of silly kids to dangle their legs off the chairs, a backdrop to photos of extensive holiday gatherings, a space for our family to laugh over competitive board games and to cry over complicated homework assignments as the kids grow older.… Read more

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