Friday, May 25, 2012

Your Family's Sun Screen Adventure Begins!

A Cautionary Tale:

Two years ago, on a vacation to San Diego, I broke out in an incredibly itchy rash.  As someone who's skin sometimes reacts weirdly to different lotions, I thought perhaps I used the hotel shampoo or body wash and was having some sort of allergic reaction (although honestly... I was already taking two allergy medications a day!).  After several trips to the drug store, and several frantic calls to my family pharmacist, I took some Benedryl and it calmed down.  I was back home anyway, and the reaction stopped.

As it wasn't the first time I had reacted to various lotions/beauty products, I went to have my allergies re-tested and the results came back that I wasn't allergic to any chemicals.  So, I forgot about it.  I made it through a whole summer without a reaction.

One year ago, on a vacation to Ft. Myers, Florida, I broke out in the exact same rash.... still very itchy all over my body.  So bad that I actually broke the skin while scratching.  By this time my mother (a nurse) was fairly concerned.  I already had an appointment with a dermatologist and while there, I asked about my reaction.  I thought I had done the right thing in already talking to the allergist, but thought since they are experts in skin issues, I might as well ask.  I couldn't believe what she told me.

As it turns out - it was SUNSCREEN that was the culprit.  My reaction: 'I am the palest person I have ever met! I can't live without sunscreen, and I use it all summer long.  I was tested for chemical allergies and had none.  How is it possible that I could be allergic to sunscreen?' 
And that is when she explained about sunscreen allergies.  As it turns out, you can have two different types of allergies to sunscreen.  One is just a plain old reaction to the chemical you are allergic to.  No matter where or when you use it, you will react to it.  The other kind of allergy (the kind that I have) is a little more complicated.  It is an allergy that is 'photosensitive', and the reaction only occurs when activated by the sun.  This type of allergy normally shows up when you get closer to the equator (hence the reaction in San Diego and Flordia, but no reaction here at home).

Today, I read an article about protecting your family from some sunscreens that can contain harmful ingredients.  You can see the article for yourself here.  It also contains a link a website where you can research the sunscreen you are currently using and see how its active ingredients work. 

As Summer begins, don't neglect your family's skin.  Make sure to have plenty of sunscreen on hand.  Also, make sure to keep in mind that when you travel on whatever vacation plans you have this summer, your family's sun screen needs may change.  Keep your kids safe this summer, and have fun on your own adventures!  Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend, and remember that the library is closed on Sunday and Monday, May 28th and 29th. 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Storyteller in You

I hope that many of you have thoroughly enjoyed dramatizing and embellishing your nightly bedtime storybook reading  for your children! I think you are ready now to take the leap forward to original STORYTELLING without a book in hand!

After all, the sharing stories by word of mouth in families is oldest and most natural way to educate and entertain our children. As new parents, you were your child's first storytellers. Your babies listened intently to the sound of your voice as you talked to them, and sang them lullabies and nursery rhymes, before they could even form the words themselves. Since your children are now very talkative, and may be too focused on all the visual stimuli of TVs, talking toys and electronic games, this is the perfect time to reintroduce the STORY at the family dinner table , while riding in the car, and, of course,  at bedtime.

Start with stories you heard as a child from your parents or grandparents. (My father amazed me with his safari stories every night.) Treat your kids to funny but true episodes from your own childhood - misadventures with your friends, first day of school mishaps, family vacations in the car. (My grandchildren beg to hear again and again how our dog Sparky wiggled out the car window during our family car trip.) You could also retell a shortened version of one of your favorite childhood books which is probably not at all familiar to your child. (Dr. Suess's 500 Hats of Bartholemew Cubbins was mine.) If you loved that book years ago, your retelling of it will show it.

Finally, the best method of all is to make up your own stories, and to let your child supply you with ideas as you go along. Of course you and your children and pets are the main characters with amazing abilities! Pick a wild and exotic place or country as the setting. Use lots of repetition, and plot twists. Just make sure your story has a simple beginning, a decent-sized middle, and a very satisfying ending. Your child will beg you to tell it again or will even tell it back to you. Family storytelling, shared regularly with endless enthusiasm, will soon become the "glue" that binds your family together.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Pedal Your Way Through the Month of May

Growing up, bicycling was a taste of freedom and preferred way to explore my neighborhood and community. Now, as a mom, I enjoy this healthy and eco-friendly method of transportation. No matter what the reason it's easy to celebrate National Bike Month! The City of Des Plaines and Mayor Marty Moylan, an avid bicyclist, have paved the way for our residents to consider cycling throughout the city by implementing policies and systems for safety and convenience.  You might have read how city engineer, Derek Peebles, has been passionately leading the way for the cyclist cause as well as Des Plaines receiving a Cook County Model Communities grant for more than 120 new bike racks in this article by Active Transportation Alliance.

What can you do this month?
- Clean off the dust and debris of your bike and enjoy being active and healthy in the streets of Des Plaines.
-May 14-18th: Participate in Bike to Work week. Events and more can be found on the League of American Bicyclists website, national sponsor of Bike Month.
-May 19th: Visit the library table at the upcoming Spring Fun Fair at Mountain View Adventure Center from 10:00 am - 1:00 pm. The fair has free activities for the entire family including a Pooch, Pet and Pedal Parade, free bike helmets to the first 50 children who need one, bicycle maintenance by REI and plenty of other fun. Visit www.DPparks.org for more information.
-Learn about bike safety, maintenance, types of bikes and even stunt and extreme cycling by utilizing library resources.

Make sure to visit the city's website for the many bike events this summer and throughout the year.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Does Your Teen Have What it Takes?

Will your child be entering 7th-12th grade in the fall? Talk to them about volunteering for us during Summer Reading! One of the reasons our Summer Reading Club is so successful is because of our wonderful teen volunteers. They help sign up children into the Club, hand out halfway point prizes, get supplies ready, and help out at programs. In return they get a head start on their volunteer hours for the school year, a super cool volunteer t-shirt, chances to win prizes with the weekly raffle, and a volunteer party at the end of the Summer Reading Club!

Applications went out in the middle of April. If your teen is interested, please encourage them to come into the library and pick up an application to fill out. There are three training sessions for them to chose from (they must attend one) scheduled for June 6th, June 8th, or June 13th. At training they'll learn an overview about Summer Reading Club and what will be expected of them. If your child is looking for early work experience, is comfortable using a computer, and has a positive and friendly attitude then encourage them to sign up! If they should have questions, please have them phone either Cheryl or Liz at 847-376-2839. We're happy to answer any questions they should have.

Our volunteers are AMAZING! We'd love for your child to be a part of our team.