January 19, 2007

Surviving As A Single Parent

Seven Simple Suggestions To Make Your Life Easier

by Danielle Hollister

1. Forgive even if you will never be able to Forget -

Let go of grudges you may hold against your child’s other parent, who is absent from BOTH of your lives. Holding onto feelings of anger will not change your situation and will probably consume a great deal of your energy – energy you need to devote to creating a positive environment for your child. If you dwell on your disappointment with and/or dislike of the father or mother of your child – chances are your child will sense your feelings and suffer in some way from your negative attitude.

2. Make the most of everything you have -

Even if you do not have a lot of money, you do have your child and your love and your time to give to him or her. Try to remember that monetary wealth and material possessions are not the most important items in your child’s life. Your love, support and time together mean much more to them. You can have fun for free. Activities like – going for a walk or a bike ride, playing at the park, coloring, painting, singing, or dancing – will thrill your child just as much as spending money to go to an amusement park, an arcade or a toy store.

3. Be the best parent you can possibly be –

Give as much as you can without setting goals that are unrealistic for one parent to achieve. Don’t beat yourself up for what cannot be. Do recognize what you can do to create a good life for your child to the best of your abilities.

4. Develop a network of reliable resources –

Families are not biological. Surround yourself and your child with friends you know and trust – people who care about both of you. “Aunts” and “Uncles” and even “Grandparents,” who are not blood-related can be just as beneficial to your child as actual biological family members. The “family” you create for your child can provide him or her with the same kind of love and support as a traditional family. They can also help you with your responsibilities as a single parent. Let them play an active role in your child’s life. Learn to turn to your “family” when you need a break. Nobody should have to go it alone and you will probably be able to be a better parent by relying on your “family” of close friends to support you and your child.

5. Take responsibility for your life today –

Remember whatever lead you to where you are today, you are responsible for another life – the innocent life of a child, who didn’t ask to be born. Your child is not responsible for the experiences or events that made you become a single parent. Your child is completely dependent upon you through no choice of their own. Don’t let them down or hold them accountable for your actions (or the actions of their absent parent). They are powerless and vulnerable to the possibly less- than-ideal consequences they face as the child of a single parent. Your role and influence in their life is paramount to their chances of becoming a happy, productive, successful adult. They need you more than their words will ever tell.

6. Set up daily rituals and regular routines –

Your child needs stability and security. One way to provide this is by developing a daily routine. Simple things like – going to the park every Sunday afternoon, eating dinner together each night, sharing a treat before nap time or reading a book together before bed every night, will become activities that your child looks forward to and can count on to occur with regularity.

7. Be consistent and dependable –

Create realistic rules and a standard of discipline that you stick to all the time. If you’re consistent with your child, he or she will learn what is acceptable behavior and what is not. They will also learn what you expect from them and what they can expect from you. If you’re dependable, they will know that they can always count on you to help them with their homework, be there for dinner or tuck them in bed at night. They have to be able to depend on you. You’re the most important person in their life.

Try to remember that no matter how tired you are at the end of the day or how frustrated you may become when they’re fussy – They need you to be there for them. You should cherish every moment with your child – they are the best blessings on earth.

© Danielle Hollister (2000)
Danielle Hollister is the Writing Host at BellaOnline and Publisher of BellaOnline’s Writing Zine.
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January 17, 2007

The Ultimate Soccer Kid

You’ve got to see this really cute video.

One of the best commercials I’ve ever seen! I promise you’ll be completely thrown off.

January 16, 2007

Drink Too Much Water And You Could Die

Water intoxication (also known as hyperhydration or water poisoning) is a potentially fatal disturbance in brain function that results when the normal balance of electrolytes in the body is pushed outside of safe limits by a very rapid intake of water.

Physiology of water intoxication

Body fluids contain electrolytes (particularly sodium compounds, such as sodium chloride) in concentrations that must be held within very narrow limits. Water enters the body orally or intravenously and leaves the body primarily in the urine, sweat and by exhaled water vapour. If water enters the body more quickly than it can be removed, body fluids are diluted and a potentially dangerous shift in electrolyte balance occurs.

Most water intoxication is caused by hyponatremia, an overdilution of sodium in the blood plasma, which in turn causes an osmotic shift of water from extracellular fluid (outside of cells) to intracellular fluid (within cells). The cells swell as a result of changes in osmotic pressure and may cease to function. When this occurs in the cells of the central nervous system and brain, water intoxication is the result. Additionally, many other cells in the body may undergo cytolysis, wherein cell membranes that are unable to stand abnormal osmotic pressures rupture, killing the cells. Initial symptoms typically include light-headedness, sometimes accompanied by nausea, vomiting, headache and/or malaise. Plasma sodium levels below 100 mmol/L (2.3g/L) frequently result in cerebral edema, seizures, coma, and death within a few hours of drinking the excess water. As with alcohol poisoning, the progression from mild to severe symptoms may occur rapidly as the water continues to enter the body from the stomach or intravenously.

A person with two healthy kidneys can excrete about 1.5 litres (0.39 gallons) of water per hour at maximum filtration[citation needed] (other studies find the limit to be as little as 0.9L/h (0.24 gal)[2]). Consuming as little as 1.8 litres of water (0.48 gal) in a single sitting may prove fatal for a person adhering to a low-sodium diet, or 3 litres (0.79 gallons) for a person on a normal diet. However, this must be modulated by potential water losses via other routes. For example, a person who is perspiring heavily may lose 1 L/h (0.26 gal) of water through perspiration alone, thereby raising the threshold for water intoxication. The problem is further complicated by the amount of electrolytes lost in urine or sweat, which is variable within a range controlled by the body’s regulatory mechanisms. Water intoxication can be prevented by consuming water that is isotonic with water losses, but the exact concentration of electrolytes required is difficult to determine and fluctuates over time, and the greater the time period involved, the smaller the disparity that may suffice to produce electrolyte imbalance and water intoxication.

Sodium is not the only mineral that can become overdiluted from excessive water intake. Magnesium is also excreted in urine. “Magnesium deficiency can cause metabolic changes that may contribute to heart attacks and strokes.”[3] Intravenous magnesium is used in cardiac care units for cardiac arrhythmias.[4]

Persons at high risk of water intoxication:


It can be very easy for children under a year old to absorb too much water – especially if the child is under nine months old.

Read the rest of the article about Water Intoxication

January 10, 2007

How to take amazing digital photos of your kids (or anyone else)

Children and a Camera – probably the most difficult, but creatively satisfying way of archiving your life’s wonderful moments.

Shooting pictures of children can be more difficult than getting a shot of that awesome dunk or the spectacular home-run hit, because a sports moment is probably more predictable than the expression of a child. It’s almost like trying to hit a moving target, except you don’t know when your target will show up, and which way it will move!

But rest easy – amazing advancements in digital photography, both in terms of technology and lower prices, have made it possible for your special moments to be captured with far better accuracy and detail than ever before. Newer cameras with improved photo resolution and shutter speed, with the help of spectacular low-cost lenses, help to make it easier for both professional and novice photographers to take excellent pictures. When these features alone cannot help take the picture you want, fancy software that comes for free with the digital cameras lets your alter the pictures to do full justice to the moments they capture.

Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTiMany believe that great cameras take great pictures. Well, there’s both good and bad news for you – the good news is that you don’t need a $2000 camera and a $3000 lens in order to take an amazing picture; the bad news is that you – the photographer – are the one who can single-handedly make or break an amazing photo – all by yourself, just with your “eye” for photography (or the lack of it).

Any photographer worth her salt will tell you that when it comes to taking good photos, timing is everything. There is a very small window of opportunity to capture a truly great shot, and whether you’re after that exhilarating sunset, or trying to capture that all fleeting expression on your child’s face, your fingers must have precision, timing and an intuitive sense of when to click. It is tougher than it looks, and that’s why photography is an art.

Similar to the famous saying, beautiful pictures lie in the eye of the photographer, and not in the camera.

Famous photographers charge thousands of dollars to take a picture. It is not because they have better cameras or expensive lenses (even though that does matter, but not as much as you probably think), but because they know what to focus on, and when to click.

Most of us only come close to getting the ideal shot, never fully realizing it in the end. More often than not, our pictures have most of the elements, but fall short in a few key areas: Perhaps you frame your subject well, but the lighting is just a little bit off; or perhaps the lighting is good but you forgot to include a flash or use red-eye reduction.

This is where modern digital photography becomes a necessary component in taking the perfect photo. Within minutes, just about any picture can be edited to reach its full potential when it is created with a digital camera. Automatic color enhancement, red-eye reduction, and zoom and crop features that go along with taking digital photos are just a few of the many awesome features that digital photos have to offer. With these tools in easy reach, taking beautiful pictures has become easier than ever.

It is then a no-brainer that you should be buying a digital camera, and not a film-based camera, for obvious reasons: you can shoot as many pictures as you want, repeatedly, till you get that perfect picture, without having to worry about burning through tens if not hundreds of dollars worth of film rolls, development and printing costs. Plus when shot using popular formats like RAW, the things you can do to your pictures before you print or publish them, are mind boggling.

All you need is to find the right camera. You want a camera that offers great pictures as well as easy options for downloading to your printer or computer. You can edit your pictures as you like with commercial programs like Photoshop or Corel, or with software that comes with the camera, like Canon’s EasyBrowser.

Technology has advanced so much and there is so much competition amongst camera makers, that the prices are now so attractive which makes it very hard to mention money as an excuse.

The hardest choice then becomes what ‘type’ of camera to buy: – a Point-and-click (that has a built-in, permanent lense), or – a SLR (Single Lens Reflex – whose lenses can be removed and changed).

Point-and-click cameras are meant for the average person, who doesn’t want to be bothered with too many options or choices – someone who wants to just point at the target, and click, and be done with it. The average auto-focus camera comes with an in-built zoom lens, has a little flash bulb, has a little screen behind the camera where you can see the full frame of what you are about to shoot, as well as a preview of the photo after you’ve shot it.

They take great pictures, no doubt. But they can, in no way, be compared to the pictures taken by the slightly more expensive SLR cameras.

An SLR camera comes with the ability to switch lenses, so that you can choose the right lens for that super-close up picture of that bee pollinating a flower, or the perfect wide-angle lens to capture the entire view of the Grand Canyon from where you stand.

Other features that make a SLR a much better choice for taking great pictures that last a lifetime, are:

* Built for speed – Super fast start-up speed so that you never have to miss that perfect moment because it took your camera 20 seconds to get to ready-to-shoot state. * Accurate “what you see is what you get” picture when you compose your shots through the view finder instead of the LCD display. In fact, the LCD display on an SLR will not show you a preview of your current composition, but will only show you the photo after you’ve shot it. * A wide choices of lenses: You’re not stuck with just one lens like you would with a point-and-click camera. You have the option of buying and using a variety of lenses to match just what you are about to shoot. * Better pictures in low light – Due to the ability to vary aperture, a SLR lens can open the aperture long enough to let in more light in low-light situations, or click faster in a very-bright situation (like a bright overhead sun).

When you are ready to buy your digital camera, you need to take the price into consideration, but it is more important to think about the features of the camera that you buy. It is the features that will help you to make the most of your pictures. You will not need an feature filled camera if you are only using it for recreational purposes. However if you plan to do a lot with your photos, you will want a camera that offers the right features for you.

Even though I own a Canon Rebel XTi myself and cannot recommend it highly enough, here are some digital SLR cameras to consider:

Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi :
Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi
This is what I own – a 10.1 MP (Mega-pixel) camera that takes phenomenal picutures, and offers a great combination of performance, ease-of-use and value. It comes with a 2.5-inch LCD monitor, a integrated cleaning system featuring a self-cleaning sensor that vibrates the sensor to shake-off dust, all of this in a very light, ergonomic body.

Nikon D80:
Nikon D80
This is a 10.2 Megapixel camera with instant 0.18 sec. start-up, and fast 80ms shutter response. Allows continuous shooting at up to 3 frames per second and up to 100 consecutive JPEG images. Takes about 2,700 images per battery charge as per Nikon. Has a similar 2.5″ LCD color monitor with 170-degree, wide-angle viewing. A little more expensive than the Canon Rebel XTi.

Sony A100:
Sony A100
A 10 Megapixel CCD, that has quite similar features to the Canon and Nikon, like Anti-Dust system, 2.5″ LCD amd 9-point autofocus. The distinguishing feature of the Sony A100 is the Super SteadyShot® image stabilization feature that moves the CCD to compensate for camera shake. This will come in handy especially when shooting in low-light situations, where the aperture opens more to let in more light, which means it could take a lot longer for the “click” than in normal-light conditions, and both the photographer (you) and the targets (your kids, friends or family) have a greater tendency to not stay still for that few precious seconds.

Canon and Nikon overcome this by incorporating image stabilization features into the lens, instead of into the camera itself like Sony does. This leads to slightly more expensive lenses, but some believe that lenses do a better job of handling “shake” rather than the cameras themselves. So, this is one more thing for you to consider while making the choice between say, a Canon and a Sony.

Finally, the bottom-line is cameras can only enhance a great picture – they cannot create it from scratch. You are the one who has the ability to elevate an ordinary shot into an extraordinary one with your sense of timing, angle, and composition. So, depending on your own internal “brand” preference, any of the above cameras would make a great choice.

To see how others have shot pictures of their little ones, check out the world’s cutest baby pictures. Afer that, head over to Amazon.com, read the reviews, do your research, and take your time in deciding which digital SLR is right for you.

If you are thinking that deciding which camera to buy is a difficult task, wait till you have that beautiful camera in your hand, and you wait for your little one to come up with that same expression that he had on his/her face last week, when you missed taking a photo because you had a slow and tedious point-and-shoot camera in hand!

Take amazing pictures that last a life time. Get a Digital SLR.

– Ravi Jayagopal

January 5, 2007

Pillow Angel: Count Your Blessings

AshleyIt breaks my heart to read about Ashley, a beautiful 9 year old girl, with permanent brain damage.

I have two beautiful children myself, and every time I read a story like this, I thank God for making my children healthy, and I pray to Him every day to keep them like that.

Give thanks to the beautiful, healthy people in your life. Children like Ashley are the children of God. He has his own mysterious ways in which he creates, loves and protects us. Ashley is no different. Maybe there is a reason for her being like this: God sent her to us to help you and me to appreciate what we have, to stop complaining about what we don’t have or how we wish things were.

Life is so uncertain, and in many ways unforgiving.

Go on and live to the fullest extent possible. Do something good for yourself, and the people in your life. Make a difference, and don’t forget to count your blessings.

Pray for dear Ashley today, and try to keep children like her in your prayers every day.

Read about the “Ashley Treatment” where she is being given medication to stunt her growth, so that her caregivers can give her better care, by visiting Ashley’s web site

– Ravi Jayagopal / http://www.BabyNamesIndia.com