It’s that time of year again: school’s out, sun’s out, and the kids are ready for some outdoor fun! Calendars are filling up with play dates, birthday parties, and other events. On top of making sure our kids are having fun, we want to make sure they are staying safe. Read on for some summer safety tips from Shyam Sivasankar, MD, a Pediatric Emergency doctor.
What are common reasons for kids to visit the Emergency Department in the summertime?
Most of the time it is going to be heat or injury related. To prevent heat-related illnesses: don't leave your kid in the car, stay hydrated, apply and reapply sunscreen (proper sun protection is a must!), and remember to take breaks in the shade or in air-conditioning.
It’s important to always wear a helmet when on a bike or scooter, even if it is a "short" ride. We see lots of cuts, scrapes, bruises, broken bones, and head injuries. People often underestimate the strength of our skulls - although head injuries may seem intense, I would talk to your on-call pediatrician or nurse advice line before coming to the ED for head injuries.
Sometimes it will be water-related (i.e. swimming or lake-related injury) - if there is any concern for drowning or near drowning, you need to call 911. If there is some coughing or difficulty breathing that persists beyond the potential swallowed water, come to the ED for an evaluation.
What types of issues should I bring my kid into the Emergency Department for, versus Urgent Care or getting a rapid appointment with my pediatrician?
Head injuries with vomiting need to come to the ED.
Small cuts and bruises can be seen in urgent care. Falls can usually be seen at urgent care.
Larger cuts or lacerations, swelling of joints, or obvious deformities should go to the ED. Some urgent care centers have x-ray machines, but some will end up still being sent to the ED, and sometimes that's hard to predict.
What’s the most important thing parents can do to keep kids safe at the pool?
Especially when water is involved, an adult must be constantly supervising and paying attention. As a general rule, assign one adult to be a photographer and everyone else should put their phones away or indoors to avoid distractions. Drownings happen in an instant, so it is best to be vigilant. All parents should also consider taking a first aid/CPR class.
If I’m going on a hike with my kids, what would be some good things to bring in a first aid kit?
I love this question - it's a good one. I have bandaids, hydrocortisone, triple antibiotic cream, kid-safe insect repellent, sunscreen, and water.
Shyam Sivasankar is a Pediatric Emergency Medicine (PEM) physician who splits his time between Palo Alto, California and Austin, Texas. He attended medical school at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, followed by residency at Stanford University. Since completing his fellowship at Dell Children’s Medical Center, he practices as an EM physician at Stanford Healthcare and St. David’s Medical Center.
The San Mateo Parents Club has a variety of fun events throughout the summer. Check out our Events page, and RSVP to an event for some summer fun!
Many have gone through In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) to conceive a child. For those who have experienced it, infertility can be difficult and emotionally taxing. But when it is successful, the struggle becomes worthwhile as it brings a precious baby into our lives. As parents, we understand the love and happiness our children bring to our lives. Have you ever considered that you could extend that gift to others through the incredible process of embryo donation?
What is Embryo Donation?
Embryo donation is a beautiful way for those who have undergone IVF and have remaining embryos to offer them to individuals or couples experiencing infertility. These embryos, often referred to as "snowflake babies," are generously gifted to recipients who are unable to conceive using their own eggs or sperm.
The Options: Closed, Semi-Open, and Open Embryo Donation
Embryo donation offers different options in terms of the level of contact and communication between donors and recipients: closed, semi-open, and open embryo donation.
Closed Embryo Donation: In a closed donation, the identities of both the donors and recipients remain confidential. No direct contact is established between the two parties. The donor couple usually provides limited medical and genetic information to ensure the well-being of the potential child. This option is suitable for those who prefer anonymity and a clear separation between the parties involved.
Semi-Open Embryo Donation: Semi-open donation allows for some level of communication and information sharing between the donors and recipients while maintaining privacy. The degree of openness is agreed upon by both parties, typically involving the exchange of medical and genetic information. Communication might occur through a mediator or agency, ensuring that personal details remain protected. This option allows for some connection and the possibility of updates, while still respecting the desire for privacy.
Open Embryo Donation: Open donation involves a higher level of contact and ongoing relationship between the donors and recipients. It allows for direct communication, potential meetings, and sharing experiences throughout the pregnancy and beyond. Open donation often includes the exchange of identifying information and allows both families to develop a more personal connection. This option is beneficial for those who desire a deeper connection and the potential for an extended relationship between the donor and recipient families.
The Story From An Embryo Donor:
We had our second child through IVF, and with two children, our family is complete. But we had one remaining embryo unused, and we kept it frozen with our fertility coverage for 3 years. We knew our family was complete with 2 children and a dog, but we were also uncomfortable with the idea of destroying the embryo. We thought about how at one point, we had 2 embryos to select from, and our daughter was chosen to be transferred by the clinic (because we didn’t want to make that decision). Our sweet little girl was once an embryo—and the idea that she may have been the one to not be selected by our clinic and have been destroyed ––that didn’t sit well with us. And donating the embryo to science is also destroying it. So when our embryo storage benefits expired, we made the decision to explore embryo donation.
I contacted our fertility clinic and they recommended some matching services. We ultimately went with the National Registry for Adoption (NRFA) at https://nrfa.org/ because it’s free, easy, and not affiliated with any religion. I made a profile as a donor, included pictures of our family and described ourselves and what we are looking for in a recipient family and in an embryo adoption. I thought I wanted a semi-open adoption, but this quickly changed to wanting an open adoption as we went through the process. We made a profile last April. We wanted a happy and loving family, above all else. But then we also realized that we did have some additional requirements. We didn’t care about religion or political affiliation, but soon realized that there were characteristics about a potential family that we cared about that might be associated with those things: we were looking for a family that is pro-science (because having a healthy child who gets all recommended childhood vaccines is important to us); we wanted this child to grow up in a home without guns around; and for the family to be accepting if the child grows up to be LGBT, as a few examples. Soon, we had a few families message us in our inbox. I spoke with three of them. One was a no-go. The other two seemed great. I didn’t want to belabor this process and drag it out. These two families met my requirements: they were happy and loving; they were accepting of all types of people and would keep this child healthy and safe. No need to keep looking. So I scheduled Zoom calls with both families with my husband. My husband and I both agreed on our top choice, and we notified them right away. I have to say—the joy and tears from that couple when we told them that we chose them will always be with me. It doesn’t get better than that. We were making their dreams come true. We also realized that we like them and want to keep them in our lives, and we want an open embryo adoption. We want to be along for the ride every step of the way. I kept reading blogs from other embryo donation families about how their families are very close, they vacation together, they keep in touch, and their biologically-related children are in each other's lives. We wanted that. This family wanted that, too. This was still April 2022, and we just made our profile on NRFA just weeks before. The family wanted to move quickly and were targeting a transfer date of August 2022. They live far away, and they wanted to fly out to meet us and do the transfer here at our clinic. There were some steps we had to do to make this happen quickly. We needed a contract. Luckily, NFRA has a low-cost legal service, and we worked with them to get one drawn up fast. My husband and I needed to get a special physical exam at our clinic. And our clinic required counseling to make sure that we would be emotionally ok with this process. Check, check, check. We got all that done in a matter of weeks. As donors, there is no cost to us, and the recipients picked up all of these costs.
The family flew out here last August and they were lovely. They had a young child already who was their “miracle baby” and they made it clear that they would not be able to make another child themselves. Nor did they want to try. They came to our home for dinner, our kids played, and we bonded. During their stay, they did the embryo transfer at our clinic. A few days later, we took the kids to Happy Hollow for some fun. Our kids bonded so well with their child. The mom felt nauseous. I knew she was pregnant. She looked like a newly-pregnant woman. She was glowing and nauseous. It was pretty obvious to me. A few days later, they confirmed with a positive pregnancy test. We were all thrilled. They flew back home, and the mom and I have been in touch, texting each other regularly. The poor woman–she had a rough pregnancy. She was on bedrest for weeks. She had awful morning sickness. She went through all the pain that many moms have to endure to have a child. We told close family and friends. They asked “Does it feel weird to have your biological child out there?” No. It didn’t. It really didn’t. I felt joy and pride. I felt so happy that we could help provide life for this child who would have otherwise been destroyed, and to make a family’s dreams come true. This mom was the one who was going through all the pregnancy pains. She was the one throwing up, she was the one who couldn't sleep at night; she was the one who was on bedrest. We told our kids and our families. Our younger child has no idea what we’re talking about, our older child understands. She was weirded out by it. We didn’t want to push it, but said we are here to talk or answer questions. My daughter warmed up to the idea over time.
Months passed by and one early morning I got a text that the baby was born. She sent a photo. I cried. I got all my emotions out. Got that over with. The child looks like my older child as a newborn. That is a strange feeling. But I got my feelings out, I was done with that. I shared the photos with my family. My older child agreed that this baby looks like her, and said the baby is cute. My daughter didn’t seem weirded out by it anymore. That was a relief. I have been in constant touch with the family. We see pictures, answer questions about health and how our children were as babies. People ask if I feel weird, if I feel like our child is “out there.” I do not. I don’t feel weird at all. I see in their photos how much they love their baby, how their older child is such a great older sibling. How this baby is so wanted and surrounded by love. How this family flew thousands of miles to get their baby to complete their family. It's his mother who is breastfeeding him; his parents who are up all night with their newborn; his parents who are taking care of him and love him; his older sibling who is enjoying welcoming a little brother to their family. This family is going through the exhausting newborn motions while I sit comfortably, well-rested, thousands of miles away getting text updates, enjoying life with my kids and husband. This is THEIR child. We are lucky to have played a role in bringing him to his parents. I remind myself: there is no limit to the amount of people who can love this child. Our journey has just begun. I am pleased with the close relationship I have developed with the recipient mom. I look forward to getting our families together, building our bond as a unique extended family; big family vacations and moments, and having our kids develop their special relationship with their biological brother.
The Story From An Embryo Recipient:
The beginning of our story probably will sound familiar to many. We decided that we were ready to expand our family and started trying the old fashioned way. When that didn't work, we went to the doctor for next steps and went through years of increasingly expensive and invasive medical treatments. When we finally bit the bullet and did IVF, we figured that despite the pain and expense, at least it would work. Until it didn't. After several IVF rounds across multiple clinics, no one could explain why our embryos weren't surviving to a point where they could be transferred. We were devastated and started looking into options: egg/sperm donation, domestic infant adoption, foster care adoption, international adoption, and something that we hadn't heard of before - embryo donation/adoption. Our doctor recommended that we try some A/B testing with my eggs and my husband's sperm vs donor sperm to figure out whose gametes were causing the issue, but after doing a lot of soul searching and research, we decided to look into embryo adoption first.
We knew that we wanted an open relationship with the donors so that our future child or children would have access to ongoing medical history updates and be able to have a relationship with their genetic relatives. We wanted donors who looked similar to us, had similar values, personalities and interests, and ideally who were donating a batch of embryos so we could have genetically related children. In our ideal world, our families would become good friends and do things like vacation together. We decided against the religiously affiliated (and often expensive) agencies. I signed up for a Facebook group where families interested in either side of embryo adoption can learn more and connect, but none of the available profiles seemed like a good fit for us. I decided to look through some public listings on a website called miracles waiting, and one of the first listings that I saw sounded like it was written by us, had our IVF journey been successful. I signed up for an account and sent an email. The donor mom and I exchanged several, increasingly long emails and we set up a video call so that both couples could "meet". They agreed on the spot to donate all of their remaining embryos to us, and we started the process of drawing up legal agreements, doing the counseling that the clinic required (and that I also highly recommend to anyone considering embryo adoption), and taking legal possession of the embryos.
A few months after that initial email, we flew out to meet the donors and their kids in person and transfer the first embryo. That little cluster of cells implanted, grew, and became the most amazing, curious, sweet, and silly kid that we are so grateful to be raising. Another embryo from the same cohort is due later this summer, and we can't wait to meet them! We have also become very close friends with the donors. We text and send photos and videos all of the time, celebrating parenting wins, bemoaning the inevitable challenges, and enjoying getting to know each other and our wonderful kids! Because of COVID and living far away from each other we didn't have as many in person visits as we would have preferred over the first few years, but the kids finally met last fall. It was so much fun getting to know the donors' kids better and seeing them all play together and bond. We're looking forward to seeing them again soon!
Embryo donation is an amazing gift. It allowed us the opportunity to become parents and gave us a new extended family that we love dearly. We are eternally grateful to our donors for giving us the most amazing gift ever.
To all the parents out there who have gone through IVF and have remaining embryos, consider the incredible gift of embryo donation. By donating your embryos, you can give the precious gift of life to another family and experience the joy of completing your own journey.
For those struggling with infertility, embryo donation opens a door of hope and the chance to build the family you've always dreamed of. Embryo donation is a remarkable act of love, compassion, and generosity. It has the power to bring miracles into the lives of those who long for a child.
This article was kindly written and submitted by a San Mateo Parents Club member.
The Wizard of Oz - San Francisco, June 1-25
Fun Friday Bubble Show - Palo Alto, June 2
City Center Unplugged - San Ramon, June 2, 9, 16, 23, 30
Kids' Movie Friday - San Francisco, June 2
Jurassic Quest – Pleasanton, June 2-4
Proud of My Family – San Jose, June 3
Children’s Book Festival at Fairyland – Oakland, June 3
Habitot Mobile Museum – Livermore, June 3
Family Fun Day at Asian Art Museum – San Francisco, June 4
Cultural Festival – Hercules, June 4
Cal Sailing Open House – Berkeley, June 4
Butterfly and Bird Festival – Fremont, June 4
Storytime with Anna – Palo Alto, June 4
Free First Sunday at NUMU – Los Gatos, June 4
Family Day at Marin MOCA – Novato, June 4
Fur, Scales, and Tails Animal Show – Berkeley, June 5
Filoli’s Pride Celebration – Woodside, June 3-4
Kid Makers: Juneteenth – Redwood City, June 3
Redwood Mountain Faire - Felton, June 3-4
Mendocino Film Festival Free Family Film: Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown - Fort Bragg, June 3-4
San Leandro Cherry Festival - San Leandro, June 3
Los Gatos Music & Arts - Los Gatos, June
Veterinary Hospital Tours - Oakland Zoo, June 3, 7, 10, 14, 17, 21, 24, 28
River Fest - San Francisco, June 4
Redwood Mountain Faire – Felton, June 4
23rd Annual Butterfly & Bird Festival – Fremont, June 4
Regal Summer Movie Express - San Francisco, June 6-7, 13-14, 20-21,27-28
Family Art Making at de Young – San Francisco, June 10
Sand Castle and Sculpture Contest – Alameda, June 10
Non Stop Bhangra – Berkeley, June 10
Roundtable Reading at BAMPFA – Berkeley, June 10
Family Fun Day – Oakland, June 10
Kid Makers: Pop Up Chemistry – Redwood City, June 10
Second Saturday at Gamble Garden – Palo Alto, June 10
Kristi Yamaguchi’s Family Literacy Festival – San Jose, June 10
Niles Canyon Train Ride – Sunol, June 10, 11, 17, 18
Summer Learning Challenge Kick-off Celebration - Burlingame, June 10
West Coast Craft Show - San Francisco, June 10-11
Golden Gate Bandshell Concerts - San Francisco, June 10
Kids Art Class at Magical Bridge Playground - Redwood City, June 10
Children's Day with Ukrainian Cuisine and Handcrafted Art at Magical Bridge – Palo Alto, June 11
Viva CalleSJ Open Streets – San Jose, June 11
Jam Concert – San Francisco, June 11
Habitot Mobile Museum – Orinda, June 11
Kids Rock! – Redwood City, June 11
Marine Science Sunday – Sausalito, June 11, 25
JAM with Charity – Sausalito, June 12
Alphabet Rockers Performance – San Francisco, June 12
JAM with Charity – Mountain View, June 13
Happy Birds Performance at Hiller Aviation Museum – San Carlos, June 14
Kidchella – Danville, June 14
Snow White by Palo Alto Children’s Theater – Palo Alto, June 14-25
Solano County Fair – Vallejo, June 15-18
Ka-Hon Kids Show – San Francisco
Summer Sleepovers at Children’s Fairyland – Oakland, June 16
Alameda County Fair – Pleasanton, June 16 – July 9
Biggest Little Airshow – San Carlos, June 17
Bubbly Birthday Bash – Santa Rosa, June 17
Freedom Festival – Mill Valley, June 17
Kidstock with Lori & RJ – Mountain View, June 17
Juneteenth Festival – Los Altos, June 17
Movies at the Green: Wakanda Forever – Rohnert Park
Juneteenth Celebration – Santa Cruz, June 17
North Beach Festival – San Francisco, June 17-18
Father’s Day Brew Train – Felton, June 18
Open Cockpit Day – Oakland, June 18
Oakland A’s Kids Cheer Free – Oakland, June 18
Festa Junina – Berkeley, June 18
Immigrant Heritage Month Celebration – San Jose, June 18
Storytime Science for Kids at the Exploratorium – San Francisco, June 18, 24, 25
Live Music - Santa Cruz, June 15
Summer Concert - Los Altos, June 15, 22, 29
Summer Concert Cupertino Symphonic Band - Cupertino, June 15
Music in the Park - San Carlos, June 16
Brick Fest Live - San Jose, June 16
Father's Day Special Event - Fremont, June 17
Movies at the Green: Wakanda Forever – Sonoma
North Beach Festival – San Francisco, June 17
"The Secret Garden" Family-Friendly Circus-Theater Show - San Francisco, June 17-18, 24-25
Pride in the Park - San Carlos, June 17
Stern Grove Festival - San Francisco, June 18, 25
Father’s Day - Santa Rosa, June 18
Juneteenth Community Celebration – San Jose, June 19
Family Fun Nights – Burlingame, June 20, 27
Sonoma-Marin Fair, - Petaluma, June 20-25
Stafford Park - Redwood City, June 21
Circus Bella’s Bananas – San Francisco, June 23-24
Family Art Making at de Young – San Francisco, June 24
San Francisco Amateur Astronomers’ Star Parties – San Francisco, June 24
Teen Night at the Museum – Santa Rosa, June 24
Lakefest Oakland – Oakland, June 24
Fiesta Cultural Street Fair – Walnut Creek, June 24
Cultures of the World – Cupertino, June 24
Native Plant and Pollinator Day – San Jose, June 24
Kids Carnival at Hiller Aviation Museum – San Carlos, June 25
Unique Derique – San Francisco, June 30
Fire Truck and Fire Safety Talk – San Francisco, June 30
Asteroid Day at Chabot Space and Science Center – Oakland, June 30
Marin County Fair – San Rafael, June 30 – July 4
Central Park Music Series – San Mateo, June 22, 29
Opera In The Park – Orinda, June 22
Summer Concert Cocktail Monkeys - Cupertino, June 22
Classical on the Square - Redwood City
Brick Fest Live - San Mateo, June 24-25
Family Hike - Palo Alto, June 25
Summer Scamper - Stanford University, June 25
Summer on the Square: Big Band Jazz - Palo Alto, June 25
Summer Concert Snarky Cats – Cupertino, June 29
Reading books with your children has been shown to have many benefits. It can support cognitive development, improve language skills, and it is a great opportunity to bond with your child. Here are some current book favorites from members of the SMPC board.
Three Little Engines by Bob McKinnon
“When ‘I think I can’ isn’t enough and understanding the challenges others face” - Adara Citron, President
We are Little Feminist Celebrations by Brook Sitgraves Turner
“It shows kids and families celebrating all sorts of different celebrations. It’s part of a board book series that focuses on highlighting and celebrating diversity” - Laura DeKelaita, Preschool Fair Coordinator
Chika Chika Boom Boomby Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault
“Crowd favorite is definitely singing the alphabet song at the end” - Jamie Giloni, Events
Goodnight Goodnight Construction Siteby Sherry Duskey Rinker
“A fun book about trucks getting ready for bed after a long hard day of work” - Celia Hamdamov, Events
Eyes that Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho
“I didn’t grow up with books that showed people who look like me, and it was incredibly meaningful to have my toddler point at the main character and say, ‘that’s me!’” - Linda Hui, Blog Editor
Eating the Alphabetby Lois Ehlert
“Has beautiful illustrations of fruits and veg for every letter. Broadens their awareness of all the options available - radicchio, artichoke, as well as the usual bananas and oranges” - Erin Livingston, Playgroups Coordinator
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
“Shows to try food they might like” - Karolina Trofimov, Social Media
Happy National Library Week! The theme for this year is “There’s More to the Story.” Our libraries don’t just have books, music, and movies for us to check out. Our libraries bring the community together through story times, classes, and lectures. In addition to free online access to newspapers and streaming films, the San Mateo Public Libraries offer the following free resources (some not available at all branches):
Museum passes through Discover and Go
6 months of access to premium features of the Calm app
Bicycle check-out (Book-a-Bike, must be 18 years or older)
Printing time with 3D printers
Use of laser cutters (must be 13 years or older)
Use of virtual reality (VR) headsets (must be 13 years or older)
Sewing machines (must be 18 years or older)
Memory Labs, where you can digitize photos, VHS tapes, audio cassettes, etc
Some branches have Maker Spaces with different types of equipment available for you to use.
All of this is available for free, as long as you have a library card!
Purchasing a home for the first time can be an exciting but overwhelming experience, especially in the Bay Area where the real estate market is known to be competitive and expensive. The good news is that the local market today is a lot more buyer friendly and presents good opportunities for families who are looking to buy a new home. Home prices are down from last spring. In our San Mateo County, single family homes’ median sales price is 21% lower in January compared to a year ago. The mortgage rates also have started to improve since last November. With lower rates, your ability to buy your gem home greatly improves. And we will see more homes becoming available for sale as the Spring season starts. That means right now is a sweet spot if you’re in a good position to buy.
Here are some tips for first-time homebuyers in the Bay Area:
1. Get your finances in order: Before you start house hunting, it’s essential to get your finances in order. You’ll need to have a good credit score, stable income, and a clear understanding of what you can afford. Work with a lender to get pre-approved for a mortgage and get a clear understanding of the costs involved in buying a home, such as closing costs, property taxes, and homeowner insurance.
2. Start saving for a down payment: Start saving as early as possible to ensure you have enough money for the down payment, closing costs, and other expenses associated with homeownership. There are first-time home buyer assistance programs available, and you can purchase home with less than 20% down payment.
3. Determine your priorities: Do you want a spacious backyard, a pool, or a convenient location close to your workplace? Before you start house hunting, make a list of your must-haves, your wants, and your deal-breakers. This will help you focus your search and make it easier to find the right home for you.
4. Work with a real estate agent: A good real estate agent can help you navigate the competitive Bay Area real estate market, find the right home, and negotiate the best deal. They have access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), which is a database of homes for sale that only real estate agents can access. A good agent will also be able to help you understand the various neighborhoods in the Bay Area and find the one that’s right for you.
5. Be prepared for a competitive market: The Bay Area is a competitive market, and homes can sell quickly. Be prepared to act fast when you find the right home. Be ready with a pre-approval letter, proof of funds for the down payment, and a contingency plan if the deal falls through.
6. Don't be afraid to make an offer: In the Bay Area, many homes can be sold above the asking price, and it's not uncommon for homes to receive multiple offers. Don’t be afraid to make an offer, even if it’s above the asking price. Just be sure to work with your real estate agent to determine a fair offer that takes into account the current market conditions and the value of the home.
In conclusion, buying a home in the Bay Area can be a challenging and complex process, but with the right resources, preparation, and support, it is possible to become a homeowner in this sought-after region. To help you take advantage of the current market, I am kicking off a workshop series on homeownership and real estate investment with a group of experts. RSVP to our next workshop in San Mateo and you will automatically receive notifications of the related expert sessions and their recordings. Can you think of anyone who may also be looking for their gem home? Do share this invitation with your friends. And let us help you reach your homeownership dreams!
Empathy is the ability to understand someone else’s emotions and imagining what they might be thinking or feeling. It is a very complex skill to develop. Having empathy means that a child can do the following things:
What You Can Do to Help Toddlers Develop Empathy
Adapted from “How to Help Your Child Develop Empathy.”
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