Gunning Daily News

Bringing Home Baby: When to Call the Doctor

April 24, 2013 6:58 pm

(BPT) - Most new parents are anxious when their infant has a fever, or is fussy, stuffy and simply not acting right. But how do you decide to call the pediatrician or to wait - especially in the middle of the night?

"We understand the uncertainty that comes with bringing home a newborn, and it's always better to be safe than sorry," says Linda Ciampa, a registered nurse in the labor and delivery department of a Boston-area hospital. "Even at 2 a.m., most doctors' offices are on call to give you assurance and advice. We would much rather have you call than be up all night worrying - or possibly overlook something important," adds Ciampa. "Even for the pros - ruling out anything serious offers the best possible peace of mind for us all."

Ciampa encourages all first-time parents to take advantage of the postpartum care, newborn CPR and safety classes offered at many hospitals and community centers. Knowledge and information can reduce stress when your baby isn't feeling well. She offers the following tips on what to look for when you suspect your baby may be sick:


Fever helps the body fight infection and doesn't always need to be treated. But sometimes, fever in a newborn can be serious. A temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher in a baby under the age of 2 months should be reported. Your doctor will likely ask whether the baby is feeding, urinating and sleeping adequately. Never give medicines or other home remedies to a baby without first consulting with a pediatrician.

Historically, the most accurate way to determine a baby's core-body temperature was with a rectal thermometer. Now, however, many doctors' offices and hospitals use a forehead scanner, such as the Exergen TemporalScanner. One swipe provides a fast and accurate reading in just two seconds.

Studies show that temporal artery thermometers are just as accurate as the more invasive methods of temperature taking, such as rectal. They take the stress out of taking a baby's temperature - and work on grownups too.

Seek immediate medical attention and call 911 if your infant is struggling to breathe or turns a shade of blue. Don't hesitate to call your pediatrician if:

  • Your baby's skin appears yellow or you suspect jaundice
  • The newborn's stools appear red, white or black (aside from the first black meconium bowel movements)
  • Your little one has a persistent cold, cough or is vomiting (more than spitting up)
  • Your baby is unusually fussy, lethargic or not waking up for feeds
  • The baby is not wetting enough diapers (look for six or more daily after 6 days of age)

Health care providers are there to offer advice and reassurance whenever you are unsure about any health issue concerning your newborn. Health care providers want your baby to be healthy—and you to feel confident –so you can enjoy this special time with your precious, new arrival.

Word of the Day

April 24, 2013 6:58 pm

Master deed. Document that converts a parcel of land into a condominium subdivision.

Q: Can an Older Homeowner Who Is Cash Poor but House Rich Use Their Home to Tap into the Equity?

April 24, 2013 6:58 pm

A: Yes, but not so much by refinancing. A reverse mortgage is a better, and increasingly popular, option for older Americans to convert home equity into cash. Money can then be used to cover home repairs, everyday living expenses, and medical bills.

Instead of making monthly payments to a lender, the lender makes payments to the homeowner, who continues to own the home and hold title to it.

According to the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association, the money given by the lender is tax-free and does not affect Social Security or Medicare benefits, although it may affect the homeowners’ eligibility for certain kinds of government assistance, including Medicaid.

Homeowners must be at least 62 and own their own homes to get a reverse mortgage. No income or medical requirements are necessary to qualify, and they may be eligible even if they still owe money on a first or second mortgage. In fact, many seniors get reverse mortgages to pay off the original loan.

Repaying a reverse mortgage is not necessary until the property is sold or the owner moves. Should the owner die before the property is sold, the estate repays the loan, plus any interest that has accrued.

What Will Really Make You Happy?

April 24, 2013 6:58 pm

The idea of a happy and meaningful life has become unnecessarily complicated in some circles, says author and certified positive psychology coach Lynda Wallace, who left a high-powered executive career with Johnson & Johnson to pursue her real passion – helping individuals and groups achieve greater happiness and success.

“Happiness has been appropriately cited as a goal in political debates on issues from taxation to the social safety net to marriage equality, but the debate is often confused,” says Wallace, author of “A Short Course in Happiness: Practical Steps to a Happier Life,” which topped Amazon’s Self-Help Best Seller list.

“Some people claim that happiness is all in your DNA or bank account. The truth is that happiness is largely a matter of everyday choices and actions. There are straightforward, well-researched and effective things every one of us can do to create greater happiness in our lives and in the lives of those we care about.”

The essential elements of a happy life are not mysterious, she says.

Research shows that the happiest people do four basic things that make the difference: they focus on what is good and positive in their lives; cope effectively with life’s inevitable challenges; develop strong relationships; and pursue meaningful goals.

“We can all become happier by putting our efforts into these areas,” Wallace says.

One of the first steps we can take is to get past some of the common misperceptions about happiness that can stand in our way. Wallace offers these four examples.

• Misconception 1: Happiness is about getting the big things right. It’s natural to think that if we were suddenly rich, beautiful and living on the beach somewhere, we’d be happy. But that type of good fortune turns out to have a surprisingly small impact on happiness. The happiest people are most often not those in the most enviable circumstances, but those who cultivate positive emotional outlooks and actions. So how can we do it? “Take concrete steps to practice optimism, gratitude, kindness and self-compassion in your everyday life,” says Wallace. “The cumulative effect of those everyday choices can have a tremendous impact on how you experience your life.”

• Misconception 2: Happy people suppress negative emotions. Happy people actually experience sadness, grief, worry and other so-called negative emotions nearly as frequently as unhappy people do. The difference is what happens when those feelings occur. Happier people are generally able to experience negative feelings without losing hope for the future. “They give themselves permission to feel sad, angry or lonely, but they remain confident that things will get better. As a result, their sadness progresses into hope and action rather than regressing into anxiety and despair.”

• Misconception 3: Pursuing happiness is self-centered. The strongest of all conclusions drawn by researchers into emotional well-being is that our happiness is determined more by our relationships with other people than by any other single factor. The happiest people build their lives around good, trusting relationships. “If other priorities are getting in the way of your relationships,” says Wallace, “take steps to shift the balance back to where it will really make a difference.”

• Misconception 4: I’ll be happy when I achieve my goals. Have you ever noticed that when someone wins the Super Bowl or an Academy Award, or when you achieve a long-sought ambition, that wonderful sense of accomplishment and happiness seems to fade faster than you’d expect? “That’s just the way our brains work,” says Wallace. “Committed goal pursuit is one of the keys to a happy life, but most of the happiness we get from striving for goals comes while we’re making progress toward them, not after we achieve them. That’s why it’s so important that we choose goals that are in synch with what we love and value, and that we make a conscious effort to enjoy them along the way.”


Whitewashed Floors Complement Lively Decorating Trends

April 24, 2013 6:58 pm

(BPT) - It's the season of sunshine and enjoying the great outdoors. Celebrate it with a style makeover for your home by tapping lively decorating trends and home decor ideas that will refresh and brighten your living space.

"Look to nature for inspiration for decorating ideas to refresh your home," says Erinn Valencich, Los Angeles-based interior designer, style expert and designer partner for Quick-Step, a laminate flooring leader. "Incorporate garden-fresh shades of green, warm and sunny color palettes, botanical prints, weathered woods and whimsical accents that will help reinvigorate your home's style and awaken your senses."

Top style trends for 2013

Green - It's the eternal color of lush and abundant life and the 2013 Pantone Color of the Year. Look for accent pieces in emerald and other shades of green to create a sense of well-being, balance and harmony.

Patterns - Floral patterns are hot, especially as fabric covers and wall decor. Choose bold, bright florals to make a big statement or florals on white backgrounds for a softer, romantic touch.

Stripes - In fabrics, carpets, artwork and other design elements, stripes can create the sense of movement and energy in a room.

Wide planks - Update the look of your room with new wide plank flooring to show off your unique sense of style. Wide plank laminate floors from Quick-Step come in many hardwood styles and colors and will help transform the look of a room.

Reclaimed woods - From barn board bedroom walls to wooden beams in kitchens, reclaimed wood adds unexpected rustic touches and weathered warmth to your home. For the look of time-worn wood without the high cost, Quick-Step offers the Reclaime Collection of laminate planks that look like vintage hardwood floors. There are nine reclaimed wood designs from which to choose, including the newest White Wash Oak Planks, which mirror the wood grain pattern, color and texture of weathered, whitewashed boards.

"Whitewashed floors offer tranquility and comfort, making them ideal for family rooms, dining rooms and other high-traffic living spaces," Valencich says. "Whitewash opens up a space and adds rustic appeal while keeping the look of your room fresh, soft and clean. It is also a very versatile foundation for a room's design and serves as a pleasing canvas on which to nicely showcase just about any wall colors and most styles of furniture.

"Work with what you have and add a few new-to-you items to your spring decorating projects," Valencich adds. "This will help you stay within a budget and create beautiful living spaces quickly, easily and affordably."

How to choose a new floor

Keep these tips in mind when selecting a new floor for your room makeover project:

  • When selecting a floor color, consider the tones of furniture you have, but don't feel that everything has to match. Contrasting tones make for a more pleasing design.
  • Brown, gray and white floor tones work with a greater variety of furniture colors and paints.
  • Light, neutral floor colors brighten a room and make it feel more spacious.


Relocating? Find a Trusty Mover with These Tips

April 24, 2013 6:58 pm

I am spending a lot of time this April focusing on the many issues one has to consider when planning a move. But we haven't really touched on the basics.

According to the Better Business Bureau ( the April and May time period is when many leases expire and renters move. BBB recommends doing your homework before selecting a mover and there are many good reasons to do so.

Across the nation last year, 1.2 million consumers researched moving company Business Reviews to check companies’ marketplace reputations, however, BBB processed more than 8,400 complaints against movers.

Consumers should follow a few simple rules when selecting a mover to protect against potential scams this moving season.

State laws offer regulations that protect consumers and their property, and it is vital that consumers are aware of their legal rights and be aware of the red flags of moving scams.

BBB offers the following checklist for finding a trustworthy moving company:

  • Research the company thoroughly. While state regulations vary, all interstate movers must, at minimum, be licensed by the federal government and are assigned a motor carrier number you can verify.
  • Get at least three written in-home estimates. Not all price-quotes online or over the phone are legitimate. Keep in mind that the lowest estimate can sometimes be an unrealistic low-ball offer, which can cost you more in the end.
  • Know your rights. Research your rights as a consumer for interstate moves or for moves within Connecticut. Also, contact BBB and local law enforcement if the moving company fails to live up to its promises or threatens to hold your belongings hostage.
  • Consider getting full-value protection. It may cost a few dollars more up front, but it can provide some peace of mind and eliminate a headache after your move. Investing in full (replacement) value protection means any lost or damaged
  • Articles will be repaired or replaced, or a cash settlement will be made.

Before hiring movers to transport your belongings from one state to another, the Better Business Bureau, along with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), suggest you know your rights and responsibilities. The FMCSA regulations protect consumers on interstate (state-to-state) moves - go to for information.

Q: If Faced with Foreclosure, What Are My Options?

April 24, 2013 6:58 pm

A: Talk with your lender immediately. The lender may be able to arrange a repayment plan or the temporary reduction or suspension of your payment, particularly if your income has dropped substantially or expenses have shot up beyond your control.

You also may be able to refinance the debt or extend the term of your mortgage loan. In almost every case, you will likely be able to work out some kind of deal that will avert foreclosure.

If you have mortgage insurance, the insurer may also be interested in helping you. The company can temporarily pay the mortgage until you get back on your feet and are able to repay their “loan.”

If your money problems are long term, the lender may suggest that you sell the property, which will allow you to avoid foreclosure and protect your credit record.

As a last resort, you could consider a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure. This is where you voluntarily “give back” your property to the lender. While this will not save your house, it is not as damaging to your credit rating as a foreclosure.

Word of the Day

April 24, 2013 6:58 pm

Master plan. Long-range, comprehensive guide for the physical growth or development of a community.

Setting the Scene for Exquisite Outdoor Entertaining

April 19, 2013 2:38 pm

I am enjoying the few first warm spring evenings. That means it's time to get your exterior living spaces ready for outdoor entertaining - so we'll check in on DecorDesigner Linda Gottlieb from Decor&You, one of America's leading, full-service interior decorating franchises.

Gottlieb shared a few secrets for getting started and key tips to keep in mind when refreshing your home's exterior:

Provide Ample Shade - Shelter from the sun is one of the most important aspects to any outdoor party. There are many different types of stylish products that can protect party guests from the sun's rays, including umbrellas, canopies, trellises and retractable awnings.

Add Low Maintenance Vegetation and Some Color - Try using long-lasting, drought-resistant plants to minimize the use of water. Also, having a variety of plants and flowers will add dimension and variety to your yard. Use flowerbeds, colorful planters and cachepots to add color and contrast to all the greenery.

Accent Lighting - Keep guests safe by making sure that entry lights are working and your driveway is well lit. Small, solar-powered lights along footpaths and around the entertaining area are a popular choice among homeowners. Add lights around each flowerbed or hang lights off a porch or trellis. Use gorgeous outdoor floor or table lamps to create the perfect ambiance in outdoor dining space. For adding decorative flair to decks and patios, colored lanterns or Tiki torches are great for setting the mood.

Keep It Warm - Adding an outdoor fireplace or fire pit will allow you to extend the outdoor entertaining season. For areas where these options are not feasible, a firebox that uses a clean-burning fuel, such as ethanol, can be a smart, sleek alternative. Add luxurious throws to keep your visitors extra comfy as they circle around your fire.

Furnish It - Look for patterns like chevron, stripes and ikat. An outdoor area complete with weatherproof lounge furniture, a dining table and chairs is a great way to decorate for function and also allows a tranquil space for guests to relax. Add fabulous outdoor pillows, artwork, rugs and colorful tableware and placemats to complete your look.

Cleaning the Right Way to Remove Allergens

April 19, 2013 2:38 pm

(BPT) - When you're done with spring cleaning, you may assume you've eliminated any allergy triggers that were lurking in your home. But the truth is, if you don't clean the right way, you might be making the problem worse.

More than 40 million Americans suffer from allergy problems, and 25 million have asthma. If your cleaning routine doesn't specifically focus on allergen control and removal, you may be only moving dust around, sending allergens and irritating cleaning chemicals into the air which can affect allergy and asthma symptoms. To maximize your cleaning efforts and reduce allergens, consider these simple tips from the asthma and allergy friendly Certification Program, the healthy home initiative of the nonprofit Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA):

  • Use a certified vacuum that has a high efficiency filter with tight seams and seals to prevent particles from leaking out while you vacuum. Also, choose a style that requires minimal exposure during canister emptying or bag changes.

  • Dusting improperly can actually increase airborne dust particles in your home. Use moist cloths or special dry dusters designed to trap and lock dust from hard surfaces. Use vacuum attachments to remove dust from soft and upholstered surfaces.

  • Certain cleaning products can also contribute to airborne irritants, especially if they contain harsh chemicals, strong odors or volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Choose products that contain none of these irritants, but also beware of "green" labels, as some of these solutions may be made with natural allergenic ingredients, such as lemon, coconut or tea-tree oils.

  • Rodent dander and cockroach particles are common household asthma triggers. However, some pesticides may do more harm than good for people with asthma and allergies. If you have a pest problem, look for an exterminator with expertise in integrated pest management and experience treating homes of people with asthma.

  • Whether you have a cat or dog, pet dander is present in most U.S. homes. If it is possible, keep pets out of the bedroom. Your cleaning routine should include frequently washing linens in your bedroom, where cat or dog dander can settle.

  • Place certified allergen barrier covers on your mattresses and pillows. Wash your bedding at least once a week in 130 degree or higher hot water to kill dust mites and their eggs.

  • Mold, a common allergy trigger, can grow anywhere in your home where moisture is present. Look for cleaning products that help kill and prevent mold from returning. Also, keep household humidity below 50 percent and fix leaky pipes and cracks to reduce standing puddles of moisture where mold can prosper.

  • If children live in your home, look for certified plush toys. Dust mites, mold and pet dander can accumulate on plush toys over time. Certified toys can be placed in the freezer for 24 hours, then rinsed in cold water to remove dead mites. Dry completely. Do this monthly.-

  • Lots of air passes through window areas, and airborne dust and allergens accumulate on all types of window treatments - which are rarely cleaned. In the family room and throughout the home, replace big, heavy linen drapes with more sensible window treatments such as wood blinds or flat screens that are easy to wipe and keep clean.

  • If your home uses central air conditioning or heat, replace the filter in the machine regularly, typically every 30 to 90 days. Choose an HVAC filter that has been certified to effectively capture fine airborne particles like pollen, dust and dander.

Keep in mind that while consumers spend nearly $18 billion annually on asthma and allergy medications, they also spend more than $20 billion on nonmedical consumer products marketed for people with asthma and allergies such as room air cleaners, bedding, vacuums and more, according to AAFA. While demand for such products continues to grow, there is little regulation governing product claims, the Foundation notes. AAFA's asthma and allergy friendly Certification Program helps consumers evaluate and verify the allergen-reducing effectiveness of a variety of products, from cleaning supplies, air cleaning devices and vacuums to toys, bedding, home improvement products, paints, clothes washers and more. You can learn more at