A Memorable (and cheap) Baltimore Winter

Winter days are frigid and short but children still seem to find the energy to
bounce off the wall. They don’t quite understand the beauty of a slow and relaxing
morning with a good book and big cup of coffee! Dreamy, right?
Ever wondered how to make the most of those blustery, winter months without
feeling those claustrophobic blues? This winter, let Baltimore (and the surrounding
area) surprise you with events and places to explore!

The Miracle of 34 th Street
If you don’t already know about Baltimore’s best kept Christmas secret, then
it truly is a best kept secret. Peruse the quirky neighborhood of Hampden while
sipping some of the Charmery’s hot cocoa. A crowd pleaser, for sure. Pop into Trovh
for some local gift ideas. Make your way to 34 th Street as the Christmas block truly
does shine for miles. The lights are on from November 29-January 1. It is free to the
public and makes for a great photo op.

Highlandtown’s Train Garden
Take a trip to Baltimore’s very own little neighborhood of Highlandtown this
holiday season. An impressive toy train set geared to awe any child. You will be
surprised at the attention to detail and Baltimore charm this little train garden
holds. The train runs from November 24- January 1 and is located at #41 Engine
House on Conkling Ave. Wrap up your event with dinner at the century-old Italian
kitchen and market, Di Pasquales. You will not be disappointed.
This is a free event but does accept and appreciate donations.

Holiday Festival of Trains
Got a train lover on your hands? Here’s another event promising to please.
While not in Baltimore city, this event claims to be the largest train display in the
area. Held in Ellicott City’s B&O Railroad museum, this set up includes a multilevel
Lego layout with interactive elements. This toy train is in operation November 28-
January 25 and costs $6-8 for admission.

12 Days of Science
The Maryland Science Center has incorporated activities this winter that go
far beyond checking the weather. Solstice-themed planetarium show, toy-making
workshops, “Christmas Bulb Drop Challenge” are bound to please all ages. Drop in
December 20-31 to have some interactive hands-on learning experiences. All extra,
holiday themed exhibits are free with paid admission.

It’s a Waterfront Life
This December, visit Baltimore’s very own Inner Harbor for an array of
festivities. Ice-skating (open until January 21), Christmas Village and photos with
Santa (both open until December 24) make every child excited for the upcoming holiday. Pop into Barnes and Noble for some hot chocolate and a cozy spot to read
and warm your toes. Events range in cost.

Baltimore Museum of Art
Free of charge and open all year round, this museum is an attraction worth
exploring. Browse colorful art and roam through rooms of talent. The sculpture
garden outside is interesting as well. Children will love to visualize, detect, and
discover through an artist’s eyes. Also, every Sunday from 2-5, the BMA hosts a craft
making event for children that is FREE. All materials provided. A family event that
guarantees to encourage a creative mind.

Protein in Pregnancy: What’s the big deal?

Have you ever wondered just how important your diet is for your growing baby in your belly? Have you ever allowed craving after craving to drive your food intake? Have you ever felt like your body only wanted to eat carbs, carbs and more carbs? If you have answered yes to one or all of these questions, this blog post is for you.

Throughout pregnancy, a protein rich diet can make all the difference in maternal and fetal health. It can reduce risk factors for pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes, and even improve your birth outcome. But how?!

When your baby is growing the fastest, during the second and third trimester, it is vital that your body intakes protein which contains amino acids. These acids are the building blocks for you and your baby. Most experts recommend consuming a minimum of 80 to 120 grams of protein per day while pregnant. It is also important to use salt to taste. Between 20-25% of your daily calories should come from protein. As explained in the chart below, albumin is made directly from the protein mom eats which in turn increases blood volume. When mom doesn’t get enough calories, the protein is burned up rather than being used to make albumin. This unfortunately drops blood volume. The result of high blood pressure is due to the kidneys producing an enzyme called renin which makes the blood vessels constrict. This down spiral of events often leads to early signs of pre-eclampsia and usually early induction of baby.

Adequate protein and salt for the pregnant mom are vital in an overall healthy pregnancy and an uncomplicated delivery. Best choices that include protein are as follows: meat and poultry, fish and seafood, eggs, dairy products, beans and peas, nuts and seeds, high protein grains, protein powder. If the mother will increase the amount of salt, protein, and calories that she eats, the blood volume will increase, and blood pressure will come down to a normal level. Sometimes, this could even mean eating an ounce or two of protein every hour. It is in fact possible to reverse pre-eclampsia risks with proper protein-rich nutrition. For more information on the link between nutrition and pre-eclampsia, see www.drbrewerpregnancydiet.com.

protein in the maternal diet

Spanking: What’s the Research Say?

spanking

The age-old debate has recently surfaced yet again. The hot topic issue of spanking as a means of discipline continues to divide parents across our country. While most Americans think that spanking is simultaneous with parenting, The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) points to insurmountable evidence that spanking may actually be harmful for a child’s brain development and may in fact lead to aggression and mental health disorders. This loud cry from the AAP may be just what it takes to shift the tides and decline the spanking era.

A recent study asked 758 children between the ages of 19-20 years old how often they had been spanked, slapped or hit with an object as a form of punishment as a child. The author of the study, Jeff Temple, connected children that admitted to experiencing corporal punishment were more likely to have recently committed dating violence.
“For children, their parents are the most important people in the world, and they learn from them what are social norms and how people should behave towards one another. Corporal punishment confuses the boundaries between love and violence for children while they are learning how to treat others,” claims Dr. Bob Sege, a spokesman for the AAP who specializes in the prevention of childhood violence.

An expert in partner violence, Emily Rothman, also claims that being hit by a parent can elevate stress and can reduce a child’s ability to cope. This, in turn, leads them to lash out when they are angry or upset. The UN Committee of the Rights of the Child defines corporal punishment as “any punishment in which physical force is used and intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort, however light.”

The latest data shows that 73.6% of parents strongly agree that spanking is sometimes necessary to discipline a child. Most of these parents argue “they turned out just fine” and continue with the behavior. AAP spokesman contradicts that our goal in parenting is not to have children that “turn out just fine” but that are “healthier and happier” than the previous generation. “There’s no benefit to spanking,” Dr. Sege said. “We know that children grow and develop better with positive role modeling and by setting healthy limits. We can do better.”

We’ve asked Baltimore parenting educator, Sheena Hill of Parenting Works for an alternative to physical punishment for poor behavior. “We’re beyond thrilled that the AAP has strengthened it’s position on spanking. But the new recommendations fall short of helping parents understand their most important tool for gaining cooperation: your relationship with your child. As social creatures, the limbic system of humans is literally built with responsive interactions with other brains (and the people they belong to). This means that your child’s top need when behavior is off-track is connection with you! Remember that all behavior is communication and children are attachment-seeking (not attention-seeking), so focus on providing authentic connection prior to any type of correction and lesson-teaching. This ensures that your child’s brain feels calm and secure enough to be receptive to learning and thinking more clearly (because you can’t learn when you’re in distress). In my experience as a responsive parent coach, I’ve found that most parents don’t want to spank, but they struggle to know what what to do when kids just aren’t listening. How can you focus on connection in the heat of the moment?

1. Take 3 slow breaths, so you are ready and open to connection with them.

2. Put your phone down (or whatever else is in your hand) and get close to them, if possible. Soften your body (if you’re still feeling tense) and make eye contact as you offer a loving touch or gently say the child’s name.

3. Don’t worry about stopping their feelings or fixing the situation. Instead, just offer your presence, touch, and voice to confidently validate their experience and emotions. Your only job is to help your child feel understood enough that the body naturally resets.

4. Once the child is calm and back to the thinking part of the brain, you can restate your limit and follow through, by empowering the child with choices (“it’s bath time–would you like to walk up the stairs or be carried?”) Or by using play to build a bridge and keep them calm and ready for cooperation (“it’s time to get in the car. Let’s walk like robots out the door!” Or “it’s time to clean up. What toy would you like to bring to the car with you?”).

5. If you notice a pattern of repeated not listening, use connection as a proactive tool to help them feel more regulated as a baseline.”

 

8 Stay-at-Home Date Ideas

Date ideas

Lately, I have been feeling like date nights come fewer and fewer the further we settle into the parenting gig. Who doesn’t enjoy a night out on the town careless and fancy-free? This simple luxury is something parenting robs you of, I believe. You are kept to the confines of your home while the kiddos get that restorative rest they (and you) need. But how do you make every night seem not so monotonous? Read. Netflix. Eat. Instagram. Repeat.

Is there a way to reconnect with our partners while not leaving home? I have a few ideas to jazz up your evenings in.

Candlelight Chinese. Yep, you guessed it. That cheap, MSG laden, free delivery General Tso’s chicken with those ginormous egg rolls. Light some candles and put out fancy plates. BAM! Romance for under $20.

Blindfolded Brownies. This one is bound to make you laugh. Whichever partner agrees to the blindfold wears it. The other person sets out materials and guides partner by voice only through the how-to instructions.

Watercolor Wonder. Buy a cheap set of water colors and some white paper and let out your inner Picasso. For an added challenge, use your less dominant hand.

Boggle Bliss. That simple cube filled with random letters is bound to spice up any evening in. It may be surprising which of you is the better Word Whiz.

Puzzle Palooza. Get a puzzle that can be completed in one evening. Around 200-300 pieces and work together to complete it. This will foster relaxation, conversation, and a shared goal.

Tasting Test. Get a few different wines, beers or even some different sodas and do a tasting. Pair it with a nice charcuterie board and some fancy cheeses for an added treat.

Microadventure Mania. Make a list of things you would enjoy doing together in your lifetime (as a couple or as a family). Similar to a bucket list, however, much more realistic. Try to attain one of these a month!

Karaoke Choas. Find songs with lyrics on YOUTUBE and sing your heart out. This is super funny when choosing some dramatic ballads to belt out.

It doesn’t take much more than an investment in time and energy to nurture your relationship. Whatever at-home date idea you choose, we wish you a fun evening filled with connection with your partner.

Confessions of a Potty Training Mom

potty training

Never in my 33 years would I think that potty training a human would require so
much thought and insight. I began thinking of and dreading this milestone shortly
after my first was born. I made every excuse possible. I thought my husband would
support the argument that if we never trained her, she would never get married and
he would never have to give up his diaper butt princess. But he thought it still
necessary.

The second birthday gave me a host of mixed emotions. Half of me dreaded this day
because I knew what was soon to come. A friend of mine lent me “Oh Crap! Potty
Training” and I began reading it. Several excerpts in this book convinced me that my
daughter was more than ready and I just needed to rip off the Band-Aid (or diaper)
already.

So we did just that. We are 7 days diaper free and I am here to share my
experiences.

Day 1 was an absolute crap shoot or pee shoot really. My daughter was completely
unaware of her bodily functions and had little to no control of her bladder. We were
pretty much chasing her around with a roll of paper towels and a potty. The book
talks of pushing through and teaching her that pee-pee goes on the potty. Honestly, I
did not see an end in sight and I was quite astounded at the emotional toll it took to
do nothing but watch her the entire day.

Day 2 was slightly better but not by much. My daughter was still naked this day as
the book claims this will teach her how to feel the sensation of having to go. Our
trashcan was filled with urine and poop paper towels. This task was not for the
weary. I began becoming obsessed with it. I was prompting her around the clock
every 15 minutes. We were both tense. Finally at the end of day 2, her heightened
frustration erupted and she physically kicked the potty. I then read the chapter on
“Over Prompting” and decided Day 3 would need a little more chill from Mama Bear.

Day 3 & 4 called for clothes (but no undies). More and more pee was making into the
potty and my hope began to rise. We decided to incorporate short walks around the
block because our two-bedroom row home was beginning to close in on us. At the
tail end of day 4, my daughter had her weekly music class to attend. I was on the
fence about weather or not we should go. We took a leap of faith and brought a little
port-a-potty. Minutes before the class ended, she had an accident and another kid
stepped in it. I was frantically cleaning up and trying my best to get us out of there.
To top off my embarrassment, I received an email later that evening about my
daughter wearing panties to the next class to prevent other participants from being
impacted.

Day 5 & 6 were by far the best days. We got out of the house and went on long
outings. She began to control those little muscles and get such a sense of pride at throwing away her pee pee in Mr. Big Toilet. Success after success made me one proud mama. Who would have known putting pee in the potty could make you feel so emotional?

Day 7 and beyond. If you would have asked me on Day 1 if I saw her accomplishing
this in such a short period of time, I would have never thought it possible. But for
the last 30 hours, we have been accident free. I am rarely prompting and she
surprises me with her ability to hold it for long periods of time.

While I know this is not the end of our potty adventures, I am pleased with what the Oh Crap! Method of
potty training offered my little one this week. A sense of accomplishment and pride in such a small amount of time.

Meet Hyeon-Jin Kwon, Baltimore acupuncturist and women’s health practitioner

Baltimore Acupuncture
Today we are discussing acupuncture, Traditional Chinese Medicine and women’s health with Baltimore acupuncturist and Chinese Medicine practitioner Hyeon-Jin Kwon. The Nurturing Root has had the honor of serving Hyeon-Jin after the births of all 3 of her babies, and have enjoyed learning about the important work she does to help women conceive and have healthy pregnancies and postpartum experiences.

Baltimore acupuncture pregnancy
Hi, my name is Hyeon-Jin. I work at Sustainability Wellness located inside Ruxton Towers in Towson. Our office offers many different forms of healing and energy work such as acupuncture, massage, readings, reflexology, and therapeutic touch.
How were you lead to this professional path?
I’ve tried on many different hats throughout my career. I never quite felt satisfied with the jobs I had and was always searching for the next thing that I thought would feed my soul. One day, with absolute clarity, I knew my work would be in acupuncture. I was let go from my job at the time as a gemologist (one of my many hats) because of downsizing. I thanked the Universe and I happily packed my bags. I drove from LA to SF in the hopes I would get into acupuncture school. I didn’t have a Plan B and I’ve never looked back.
What are you most passionate about in your profession? Why?
My passion is helping others in their journey. Patients come to my office for many reasons and at all stages of health but it’s my job to figure out what is it they need in this moment and in the long term. It could be tangible like a Chinese formula or it could be intangible like encouragement. Sometimes all it takes is a small shift to make a big difference.
I’m also passionate about education. My belief is that if patients are given all the information then they can make an informed decision. Too often than not, I find that piece missing when listening to patients. I want them to feel confident and take control of their health.
What are the benefits of your practice for the pregnant woman?
I see many women during the pregnancy for all the fun things. Nausea, constipation, and fatigue are common during first trimester. Back pain, sciatica, pubic pain, edema, and carpel tunnel are just a few things during second and third trimester. If there is an issue before pregnancy, it’s usually exacerbated with pregnancy so I work on minimizing if not relieving it.
At times I see women just at the tail end of their pregnancy. I help with labor preparation by working on the physical and psychological aspects of opening up for labor and delivery.
Explain how you are able to use your work to help women facing
infertility issues.
Chinese medicine is wonderful at understanding the complexities of the individual person and is not a one-size fits all. We begin with a thorough intake of their medical history which includes understanding their cycle. There is so much information to be learned from each week of the cycle. I examine where they are in their fertility journey and where they would like to go. In addition to a treatment plan which includes acupuncture, herbs and supplements; I offer nutritional and lifestyle counseling. The same approach is used for women trying to conceive naturally or with assisted reproductive treatments. Fortunately the medical community has become more open and even encouraging women going through IUI and IVF to seek out acupuncture.
What drew you to using placenta medicinally during your own postpartum experiences and how do you think it helped in your recovery?
I first learned about placenta encapsulation when I was an acupuncture student from my doula classmates. While in herbs class, I also learned placenta is part of the Chinese pharmacopeia. Placenta can not be used as part of an herbal formula that I prescribe in the US as determined by the FDA. But knowing the properties and benefits of placenta, I thought if I were to give birth then I would absolutely encapsulate – it made perfect sense. My recovery, luckily, was pretty smooth. My energy was good and my milk came in well (thank you Carmen for that reassurance) after taking the pills. I am so grateful especially for increasing my milk production which caused this new mom quite a bit of stress! Luckily, I had rather large placentas so I had enough pills to freeze. When production started to dip as I went back to work those capsules in freezer gave me peace of mind. I have happily called upon the services of The Nurturing Root for each of my 3 babies. And recommending placenta encapsulation is always on my list of recommendations to my mama-to-be patients.

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