Archive for the ‘Meaghan Howard’ Category

Ringworm! What is it, and How Do I Get Rid of it?

Tuesday, December 27th, 2016

ringwormThe first time one of my kids had ringworm, his pediatrician is the one that diagnosed it. Frankly, I wasn’t entirely sure what it was at the time. Worms? Like what we wormed our dog for as a puppy?

Well, no. The name ringworm is a bit of a misnomer, as there are no worms involved. It’s actually a fungal infection of the skin, and a common one, especially in small children and pets.

Yes, pets. This is one thing that can actually be spread from your dog or cat to your child. Cats especially seem prone to ringworm.

So, how do you know if your baby has ringworm? Ringworm presents itself as a red, raised, scaly patch (or patches), and often develops its telltale ring (where the center of the patch is not red) as well. Your doctor can diagnose it for sure if you aren’t certain. Often it’s diagnosed by visual inspection alone, but a skin scraping can be done as well.

How do you treat ringworm? Often, over-the-counter remedies (the same ones used to treat athlete’s foot, actually) work fine. These creams contain clotrimazole or miconazole. Your doctor may also elect to prescribe ketoconazole cream. For any of these creams, they’re generally applied topically to the spots twice a day. You will need to keep using the creams until the spots are completely gone, so they don’t come back. This can take two to four weeks. In my experience, living in a hot and humid climate extends the healing time, compared to a cold and dry one.

In the meantime, ringworm is massively contagious. Wash bedding and clothing daily while treating it, and wash your hands after applying the topical creams. If you have pets, inspect them closely for ringworm as well.

To prevent ringworm, keep your pets and their living spaces clean. Wear shoes in public showers, and keeping skin clean, including frequent hand washing. Still, it’s very possible your child will get ringworm at some point; luckily it’s pretty easy to treat.

Meaghan Howard is a stay-at-home mom to three little boys. She’s seen ringworm once or twice, and has managed to live to tell about it. 

Giving the Gift of Travel

Wednesday, December 14th, 2016

img_2214I contracted the travel bug as a child, I suspect through my voracious reading habits. My parents did not share this disease, and I remember being quite jealous of friends and classmates that took trips during holiday times, often in lieu of presents.

When I became a parent, I dreamed of giving the gift of travel to my children. Typically, our family has fairly modest Christmases and birthdays, present-wise. I thought this would make transitioning to vacation presents easier, since my kids don’t expect a mountain of presents to be waiting for them come Christmas morning.

We finally had our chance: the Christmas my oldest boys were 5 and 3, we had saved up and booked a cruise. We had never been on a cruise, had never been to any of the ports or cities we were slotted to visit, and we were so excited. So were our boys, who still talk frequently about cruise ships to this day. Due to the limited room, we brought stockings/stocking stuffers and a small gift or two for each boy for Christmas morning. And wet erase markers, which we used to draw a Christmas tree onto our glass patio door, and then decorate.

I’ll skip ahead and say, our boys were very disappointed come Christmas morning. Even with a note from Santa explaining there were more gifts waiting back home for them (we left gifts from family at home for them to unwrap when we returned), they really seemed let down.

So would I give the gift of travel again? Absolutely. In hindsight, while my children are very small and in the Santa stage of life, I think being at home for Christmas morning is ideal; planning a trip before or after that day seems to be the best plan, at least for us. As they get older, I hope that we can travel more and more with them, with them assisting in choosing destinations and activities, and at birthdays as well (which for us are way less crowded and expensive than the Christmas/New Year holiday).

Meaghan Howard is a stay-at-home mom to three little boys. They currently live in Asia and are enjoying adventuring around and seeing new sights. 

Caring for Dry Skin and Hair in the Winter

Tuesday, December 6th, 2016

Seven Ways to Keep Your Toddler Busy Indoors

Going into the winter months (of course, winter means different things in different areas), you probably notice that your grooming habits change a bit. This is no different for babies; as the air gets cooler and dryer, making a few tweaks to your child’s bath and skin care can make life a little more comfortable for them.

If you don’t already, a moisturizing baby wash or soap is a good swap to start with in the bath. If the air is especially dry in your home, adding a bit of oil to the bath can help as well. If you can, avoid bathing everyday as that can excessively dry out skin and even negatively effect their immune systems. If your child has curls, skipping shampoo sometimes and using just conditioner (co-washing) can help keep delicate hair from getting too dry. Using a conditioner on hair can help with fly-aways and static in dry, winter hair as well. If your child has very fine hair, there are many lightweight conditioners that won’t weigh their hair down.

After bathing, make it a point, if you don’t already, to always moisturize. You may find that the lotion you used all summer and fall is no longer cutting the mustard during the dry winter months. A heavier lotion, body oil, or cream can help, and for dry patches, a balm type product (or even diaper cream) will help seal in the skin’s moisture and prevent it from drying out. A spray-in de-tangler or conditioner can help hair stay tangle and static-free while hair is still wet. Curly haired babies may need more moisture in their hair; coconut oil or leave-in conditioner applied sparingly can be a big help.

If you live somewhere that gets very cold, consider applying a body cream or balm to your baby’s cheeks before going outdoors as well. Winter winds can chap sensitive skin incredibly fast; a balm or ointment is an effective barrier.

Finally, if you live someplace cold, furnaces and heaters can make the air in your home even dryer than it already was. A humidifier can be helpful for everyone in the house and can make breathing easier, too.

Meaghan Howard is a stay-at-home mom to three little boys. She and her family are currently enjoying living overseas and exploring their new little corner of the world. 

Daily Planks: Progress or Falling Flat?

Saturday, December 3rd, 2016

3-=day plank challengeThe 30-day Plank Challenge: have a stronger core, relieve back pain, and flatten your tummy in just 30 days! I totally signed on for this one. Before the plank challenge, it was the 30-day Squat Challenge, where the number of air squats done increased each day for a month, and at the end, you are rewarded with a really nice hiney. So I hear.

I’ve never actually finished one of these. I’m not sure why. They take such a tiny bite out of a day, and you can do planks, or squats, just about anywhere. These challenges could be an easy way to build fitness into my everyday routine, and as a side benefit, demonstrate for my kids the importance of physical fitness and exercise.

Here’s how the plank challenge went for me:

Day 1: Forgot to start on day one, remembered on day three.

Day 3 1: Goal: 20 seconds. Actual: I’m a superstar, I don’t need to start with 20 … I’ll do 30 seconds. Last 9 ½ seconds spent regretting that decision.

Day 2: Remember to plank right before bed. Husband sends eye-rolls my way as I plank 30 seconds before climbing into bed.

Day 3: What is it with day three? It’s jinxed, I say. Forgot to plank. Will make up for it tomorrow.

Day 4: OK, 45 seconds, done and done. Feel like I really have my life together. Then I remember I was supposed to add on yesterday’s forgotten seconds as well.

Day 5: Start planned 45-second plank, get called away by screaming kids. Never make it back to finish.

Day 6: There was no day six. Or seven. I like to say that I’m such an advanced planker (is that even a word?), that I finished the 30-day plank challenge in five days. But the reality is, I want to succeed and add this into my daily routine, and so far have not been successful. Years of momming, not to mention running, have done a number on my back and abs. (Note to non-runners: it’s true, running is just terrible for you. Just kidding! You should join a running club!)

For those of you that have been successful with a 30-day challenge, what are some tips that can help the quitters of the world (me) stick with the challenge?

Meaghan Howard is a stay-at-home mom to three little boys. She stays sane by running. And her back hurtssssssss.

Laundry and Different Skin Types

Wednesday, October 19th, 2016

There are a lot of plusses to cloth diapering (I know not everybody would agree with me there, but since you’re reading this blog, I think you might feel the same), but one of the best things that I’ve gotten from cloth diapering is how much I’ve learned about laundry. I’m young enough (barely) that Home EC was not a part of the curriculum during my school years, and old enough that my busy working mom wasn’t into home economics herself much, or at least not that she let on. Plus, modern washing machines and detergents kind of made laundry stupid proof, right?

My skin is fairly sensitive, but I can tolerate most detergents, barring the most heavily scented ones. My oldest son, however, was not nearly so lucky. He didn’t have eczema or psoriasis or other more serious skin conditions, but more detergents than not gave him rashes from his clothing (and it was worse with his cloth diapers).

In detergent land, there are two main camps; mainstream detergents, and eco-friendly detergents (plus soaps and soap nuts, not usually recommended for cloth diapers). Both mainstream detergents (like Tide, Dreft, etc) and eco-friendly ones (Ecover, Biokleen, etc) can be scented or “free and clear.” And of course further, come in either powdered or liquid formats (soap nuts obviously don’t fit in either camp).

If you are lucky and have no skin sensitivities in the house, the world is your oyster. Wash with whatever you like (or like many of us, what your budget will allow). But if one or more in your house are sensitive, you will have to be careful (and it may take some trial and error to find the magic bullet).

First, if you have sensitivities in the house, you can decide to wash everybody’s clothing together in the detergent you find works for the sensitive one(s), or you can wash separate, if costs or other factors come into play. When dealing with sensitive skin, I would start with avoiding heavy perfumes. For me, detergents like Gain break me out, but I can tolerate regular Tide and the like OK. My oldest broke out in hives from Tide, but the free and clear version was OK, and he could tolerate some lightly scented natural detergents as well.

Fabric softeners are often a no-no with sensitive skin; they coat fibers so generally shouldn’t be used with diapers, towels or tech fabrics like workout clothes anyway. Some, like Ecover, are compatible with natural fibers and many sensitive skinned people, but there are often no fragrance-free options in the fabric softener world, so they may have to be avoided completely (try vinegar in the rinse cycle, like in a Downy ball), for your clothing if you’re missing fabric softeners, especially if you line dry).

Outside of not breaking you out, your detergent also needs to get the family’s clothing, well, clean. How well different detergents will work for you will depend on many factors, one of which is likely familiar to any cloth diaper vets: water hardness. The harder your water, the more difficulties you may face, from just getting your clothing clean enough (very hard water can require using more detergent and/or a water softening additive like Calgon, which could also affect very sensitive skinned people), to even leaving iron stains on your clothing. Generally, if you have water on the hard side, you will be better served with a powdered detergent as they often have water-softening agents included in the formula.

Another upside to powdered detergents is if you need to order your detergent by mail. Some markets have almost endless options, mainstream to eco to niche, boutique brands. Others … not so much. When you’re shipping liquids, you’re also shipping water, which is heavy (and therefore more costly). Powders can save you a bit of cash sometimes (and a bit of backache too) because of this.

Finally, keep the tricks you learned from your cloth diapers handy when washing clothes for sensitive people handy … Shout may make your daughter’s skin itch, but putting her clothes on the line in the sun (with or without lemon) can remove often just as many (and sometimes more) stains, without adding any more chemicals into the washing machine. Natural fibers can be easier to get fully clean, with both diapers and clothing. And line drying will save you both wear-and-tear and money when/if you’re able.

Meaghan Howard is a mom to three little dudes, a ton of (rapidly aging) pets, and a super sweaty husband. She also loves running and currently lives on a lesser surface of the sun; laundry has become a bit of a part-time job.