Julie Reader


Late pregnancy is a time of anticipation, excitement, and challenges. One of these challenges is that as the third trimester advances and baby grows larger, many pregnant women find it more and more difficult to sleep comfortably. There are several reasons for this, including the following:

  • inability to find a comfortable sleeping position
  • nasal congestion
  • the need to urinate frequently

These problems may in fact begin earlier than the third trimester for some women, while others may never suffer from them all. However, for moms-to-be at any stage of their pregnancy, there are natural solutions to these problems that can aid in achieving more restful sleep.

Maintain a Comfortable Sleeping Position in Late Pregnancy

Finding – and maintaining – a comfortable sleeping position during the third trimester is often one of the biggest challenges for expectant moms in late pregnancy. Women who prefer to sleep on their stomachs will quickly find that this is simply not an option, for obvious reasons. According to Heidi Murkoff of What to Expect, sleeping on the back is also not recommended, because as the baby grows, the weight of it will put pressure on Mom’s internal organs and interfere with optimal blood circulation. Pregnant women will likely find that once the fetus is a certain size, sleeping on the back is no longer comfortable anyway.

This of course leaves only one option: sleeping on the side. Murkoff and other experts recommend favouring the left side as much as possible during the second and third trimesters, as this position is ideal for blood flow. However, it is not likely that a woman will be able to stay in the same position all night (doing so can lead to muscle aches and hip pain), and it will not harm the baby to sleep on the right side for at least part of the night.

Women who are not used to sleeping on their side may find that they need pillows to support their weight during the night. A regular pillow placed between the legs can reduce hip pain and the discomfort of having the knees rub together; some women may opt to place a regular or wedge-shaped pillow beneath their tummies for more support. Another choice is a full body pillow such as the Snoogle, which provides head-to-toe support during sleep. One issue that may arise when using a full body pillow, however, is that it is difficult to change positions in the night.

Minimize Third Trimester Congestion Without Drugs

A somewhat surprising but common discomfort during pregnancy is nasal congestion (also known as “pregnancy rhinitis”). According to Baby Center, it is caused by increased levels of estrogen and increased blood flow, which swells the nasal membranes. About 20 to 30% of pregnant women suffer from this condition, and it too can interfere with a good night’s sleep.

While some decongestants may be safe to use during late pregnancy, they are not recommended during the first trimester, and, of course, a pregnant woman should always consult her health care provider before taking any medication at any time during her pregnancy. Drug-free remedies for nasal congestion include saline drops or nasal spray (readily available at most pharmacies), nasal strips such as Breathe Right strips, steam, or the use of a humidifier.

If nasal congestion during pregnancy is due to a cold or allergies (which can worsen during pregnancy), women should consult their physicians for the best course of action. The above-mentioned drug-free remedies will also help.

Frequent Bathroom Trips During Late Pregnancy: Is There a Solution?

You know you’ve reached your third trimester when you are making frequent trips to the bathroom at night (although for many women, this issue can arise much earlier in pregnancy due to increased blood production, only to be exacerbated in the third trimester as the weight of the baby places pressure on the uterus). While it has been suggested that this is nature’s way of preparing a woman for the frequent wakenings she will experience during the first few months of her baby’s life, many women would rather have the sleep than the early training in parenthood.

Is there a solution to this common pregnancy problem? While it cannot be entirely solved, according to Baby Centre, it might help for pregnant women to drink the majority of their fluids during the day and less in the evening (a few hours before bedtime); however, it is essential that pregnant women stay hydrated and reducing overall fluid intake is not a good idea. Water is the best choice for hydration. Tea and coffee (and of course, alcohol), which have a diuretic effect, should be avoided.

While it may not be reasonable to expect to sleep perfectly peacefully every night during late pregnancy, conditions can be optimized for the best sleep possible. The third trimester should be a time when moms-to-be can focus on taking care of themselves, resting, and preparing for the big day. Women who experience more serious symptoms at any time during their pregnancy, such as severe anxiety or depression or extreme physical symptoms such as pain or bleeding, should consult their health care providers immediately.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), is a chronic medical condition that affects the lives of many people across the United States every day. It can basically be defined as a disorder of the gastrointestinal system. Typically, Irritable Bowel Syndrome affects sufferers during, or right after, a meal. However, the symptoms can happen at any time during the day or night. If you suffer from this condition, there are homemade treatments for Irritable Bowel Syndrome you can try to find relief from its symptoms.

Normally, after a person eats a meal, their digestive system moves the waste into the colon where it can be eliminated. These movements, which happen in the form of contractions, happen over and over again to move the waste along.

But people who suffer from IBS experience spasms in their colon. These spasms can cause sudden cramps, gas, or diarrhea during, or immediately after, eating. They often feel the urgency to have a bowel movement at any time. On the flip side of the coin, Irritable Bowel Syndrome can also cause constipation. Other symptoms of this medical condition include nausea and vomiting.

Although the exact cause of this condition is yet unknown, it has been determined that almost 66 percent of the people who suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome are females who still experience monthly menstrual cycles. It's believed that the hormones that are responsible for the cycles also cause IBS.

People of both sexes who suffer from depression and stress are also prone to this medical condition.

The main homemade treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome is to eat a proper diet which consists of plenty of fresh vegetables. Avoid eating processed and spicy foods as they can contribute to the problem. To help reduce diarrhea, include plenty of fiber in your diet. Foods that are high in fiber include broccoli, bran, whole-grains, blackberries, strawberries, bananas, kidney beans, black beans, and baked potatoes with the skin.

Eating high-fiber foods can also relieve constipation. Other natural ways to relieve constipation that's caused by IBS is to eat dried apricots, coconut, grapes, olives, pineapple, walnuts, and mangoes.

Eating dairy products, greasy foods, chocolate, and drinking carbonated soft drinks and alcohol can bring on attacks of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Along with eating a healthy diet, you should drink plenty of water each day.

Another homemade treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome is to take Peppermint Oil capsules. You can find these at your local healthfood store. Peppermint oil has been shown to be effective at getting rid of the gas and cramps.

Or, you may choose to buy some grapefruit seed extract from your local healthfood store instead. Grapefruit Seed Extract is available in capsules and in a liquid too. Studies have shown that this natural treatment helps minimize the symptoms that are associated with IBS. It treats diarrhea, constipation, gas, and cramps.

Since this chronic medical condition is thought to be brought on by stress, two other herbs, St. John's Wort and Chamomile can be taken too. Both of these herbs are known for their natural calming powers. St. John's Wort is taken in capsule form, while Chamomile Tea is a tasty way to treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Restless leg syndrome, also known as RLS, is one of the most maddening afflictions on the planet. The sensations that accompany this syndrome cause the sufferer to miss sleep and stay up all hours of the night trying to find solutions to make them go away. This lack of sleep causes stress and a lower quality of life if it is not treated and dealt with. Therefore, many people with RLS take medicines that help to control the symptoms. For those that do not want to take medicine, easing RLS naturally is the way to go. Here are five great ways to cope with restless leg symptoms without medicine:

Get on a schedule at bedtime

When you regulate your system and body to go to bed and wake up at the correct time every single day, you are much less likely to experience restless leg symptoms. The regimented schedule will be too tough to do at first, but will become easier as time goes on. Even if you are unable to fall asleep right away, hit the pillow at the same time every day and get up at the same time as well.

Cut out the caffeine…completely

Caffeine is a proven stimulant that will increase restless leg symptoms in the vast majority of people with the problem. This means it is an easy and logical target to eliminate. Many people "cut down" on caffeine thinking that this will help the symptoms but that is not effective. Caffeine hangs around in the body for many hours after consumption. Eliminate it from your life completely for maximum effectiveness.

Look into iron supplements

Vitamins are a great way treat the problem for those that are short on iron. Talk with your doctor to see if a lack of iron is causing some of your symptoms. As we age it becomes a common problem. If you are low, see about getting on supplements.

Get rid of the distractions

Television, computers and other stimulants can be a great diversion if you are trying to get sleepy, but they are horrible when they are in the bedroom. It seems that putting them in the bedroom has an opposite effect. The bedroom needs to be a sleep haven of sorts with no distractions. Get it the right temperature and keep the electronics in the living room or den.

Regularly take hot baths or cold showers before bed

Some folks prefer one over the other and both seem to be equally effective. If you want to fight through an episode of symptoms, few things work better than a quick bout of mild exercise coupled with a hot bath afterwards. This is a great way to ease things quickly when you simply must get rest.

Restless leg syndrome is not a problem that has to rule your life forever. There are plenty of ways to battle it without having to take yet another pill. Give these great solutions a shot and you might just be surprised at how well they work when done correctly and regularly.

When faced with a seemingly endless array of yoga choices, it is helpful to remember that most yoga practices are offshoots of a main body of practice called hatha yoga, and as such, they all share the goal of cultivating balance and awareness, while also building mental and physical strength and flexibility. Where styles begin to differentiate themselves is through the ways in which they go about achieving those goals. For example, Ashtanga yoga places an emphasis on a flow of physical postures (asanas) and controlled breathing (pranayama), while Iyengar focuses more on proper alignment and sustained poses.

Both your fitness goals and your personality will help to determine which yoga style is best for you, so we’ll begin by dividing the available styles into those that are focused more on physical postures, and those which place more of an emphasis on meditation and breathing. Again, keep in mind that all yoga styles are a blend of most, if not all, of these elements; it’s simply a matter of finding one that emphasizes your personal preferences. We’ll progressively narrow down our list of choices based on the main features of each style-let’s get started!

To begin, let’s separate out a few styles that focus mainly on the meditative aspect of yoga: kundalini and tantra. Kundalini yoga primarily uses postures, chanting, breathing exercises and meditation to awaken and channel the life force, or prana. Tantric yoga is a mixture of various disciplines, but similar to kundalini its main focus is energetic. Tantra combines visualization, meditation, chanting, and other spiritual practices to harness prana. Both of these styles are excellent choices for the yogi or yogini in search of an intense energetic awakening and cultivation of a deep inner focus, with less of an emphasis on physical postures. If you’re looking for a more physically challenging practice, continue reading…

There are a number of yoga styles designed to build strength and flexibility. We’ll start with one that really stands out from the crowd: Bikram yoga, also known as “hot yoga” or “fire yoga.” Bikram is practiced in a room kept at 85-105 degrees with high humidity levels, and it is a physically and mentally challenging practice centered around 26 poses and two breathing exercises designed to cleanse, stretch and balance the body and mind. If you’re not a fan of heat, you’ll want to choose another style of yoga.

Next on our list is Ashtanga yoga, and for simplicity’s sake, we’ll include in our discussion its most popular offshoot, power yoga. Ashtanga and power yoga incorporate a series of yoga postures, beginning with a sun salutation sequence, into a flowing series of movements linked through intentional breathing. Those new to yoga may find Ashtanga a difficult place to start, with the fast-paced flow a bit overwhelming, but many classes and videos offer sequence breakdowns for the yoga newbie. Regardless of your skill level, Ashtanga and power yoga provide a physical challenge equal to that of an intense aerobic workout while cultivating awareness and balance.

If you’re a fan of flowing movement but are searching for a workout with less physical intensity than Ashtanga, two gentler options are Viniyoga (sometimes called Vinyasa) and Sivananda yoga. Both of these styles incorporate a sequence of poses with coordinated breath, chanting and meditation. You’ll still reap many of the physical benefits of Ashtanga yoga, but at a more relaxed pace. Viniyoga is increasingly used for therapeutic purposes and is considered an excellent choice for beginners. Sivananda yoga incorporates tenets of a vegetarian diet and is also a great tool for achieving deep relaxation.

If sustained postures, rather than flowing movement, is more your style you may want to explore Iyengar or Kripalu yoga. Iyengar places great emphasis on anatomical alignment, and poses are generally held for longer amounts of time often with the aid of various props, such as blocks and straps. Controlled breathing and guided physical adjustments aid in achieving balance and symmetry in Iyengar practice. Kripalu yoga also focuses heavily on alignment, with a typical practice progressing through three stages; the first consisting of a steady practice of postures, the second aiming to hold postures for longer periods of time combined with inner attention and awareness, and the third a surrendering to the “body’s wisdom” resulting in an almost automatic flow of postures accompanied by a meditative state of mind.

Similarly, Ananda and Anusarayoga also emphasize careful alignment paired with controlled breathing, with Ananda offering a somewhat less rigorous physical workout than Anusara. Ananda focuses on postures coupled with affirmations, strongly linking the physical and meditation components of the practice. If you’re looking for a gentle, inward focused workout with an emphasis on relaxation and awareness, Ananda is a good choice. Anusara, which means “following your heart,” combines alignment and breathing with a strong philosophical core, which aims to cultivate bliss and joy, both on the mat and in everyday life. A popular choice with many Western practitioners, Anusara places a strong emphasis on optimism and encourages yoginis to look for the good in all things.

While this is by no means a comprehensive listing of all the available yoga styles, you should now have a better idea of what the major practices have in common and how they differ. Start by choosing one or two styles that sound appealing, and try taking a class at your local yoga studio. Ultimately, you’ll have to get on the mat and test drive a particular style before deciding if it’s a good fit for you, but regardless of which brand of yoga you choose, with continued practice you’re sure to enjoy the benefits of greater physical and mental fitness, increased relaxation, and a more positive outlook. Namaste!


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Looking for little ways to help get healthy sleep? It’s not difficult or time-consuming. You can find many simple ways to improve your sleep without the need for pills, potions, or therapy. Here are just 4 painless, easy-to-do lifestyle changes you can practice every day that’ll get you on the fast track to improving your quality of sleep.

– Healthy Sleep Change #1: Stay Away From Late Night Snacking –

Have you ever heard that rumbling noise in your stomach late at night while watching a talk show? More than likely, that’s not real hunger; it’s your imagination trying to compensate for your boredom. Many times when you think you’re hungry you’re really just looking for something to do… especially late at night.

Eating and lying down right away makes it harder for your body to digest food. You can even get heartburn or acid reflux after eating a late night snack. So to prevent your insides from keeping you awake tonight, eat an earlier snack or just wait until the morning for breakfast. You’ll have healthy sleep and happy dreams.

– Healthy Sleep Change #2: Stay Away from the Sugar Fix –

Just say no to sugar right before bedtime! It can mess with your healthy sleep in a couple of ways. First, you’ll be so hyper and find it hard to even fall asleep. Second, you can get vivid dreams and nightmares that’ll make you wake up in the middle of the night in a sweaty panic. Hold off on the sugar until the next day so you’ll have enough time to burn it off (and keep the bad dreams at bay).

– Healthy Sleep Change #3: Stay Away from the Greasy Good Stuff at Dinner –

You probably know that feeling of having your insides feel like they’re clogged with after a greasy meal. And you’ve probably tried going to sleep with that feeling, only to find yourself tossing and turning all night instead of getting any healthy sleep. Do yourself a favor and skip the high-cholesterol, artery-clogging late night dinner so you’ll happily drift off into dreamland.

– Healthy Sleep Change #4: Eat a Small, Early Dinner –

You eat a big meal and experience that sluggish, sleepy feeling afterwards. Then you think you need something to increase your energy, so you reach for the sugar or caffeine. And right around bedtime, you find yourself wanting a little snack.

Eating a small dinner before bedtime can help give you healthy sleep in numerous ways. You won’t overeat, your body will digest the food easier, you won’t feel the need to exercise late at night just to try and burn it off, and you’ll prevent any problems creeping in during your sleep time.

It also helps if you eat your dinner early. The sooner you eat, the sooner you can snack. You’ll have enough time left in the day to digest your snack as well, before going to bed. Early dinners also have the extra benefit of helping you burn off more calories, too!

If you want to improve, you can’t just keep doing what you’re doing and expect your situation to get better. Making these small lifestyle changes, you’ll notice the increased amount of healthy sleep you get and you’ll be a happier, more energetic person to be around.
Uncover the big sleep myth that’s draining you of energy at

We all understand that we will need to use somebody else's toilet once and awhile. However did you know that millions of bacteria and germs linger there? How about it only takes on time of touching the surface to catch a cold or the flu? Doing a few things will visiting others will help you be safe and enjoy yourself. While we can't avoid using the bathroom at work, or while at a friends we can do a few key things to ensure our overall health & safety.

Below are some quick tips to keep you safe when using a public bathroom:

Tip 1] Carry disinfectant wipes- While many people try to avoid siting on the public toilet altogether for some it's not that simple. Since you never know when you will be in that situation it's best to carry some form of disinfectant wipe with you at all times. Disinfectant wipes kill many of the germs and bacteria that may linger any public toilet.

Tip 2] Bring your own paper towels or napkins with you- Though you maybe a thorough at washing your hands the person ahead of you may not have been. The truth is many people don't wash their hands long enough to kill the germs that have gathered on them.

The truth is you are suppose to wash your hands for a total of 30-60 seconds to kill the germs and bacteria. And after they've touched the public toilet seat are you sure you want to touch the paper towel?

Tip 3] Use the Toilet seat covers they provide- Many people think that the free toilet seat covers you find in a pubic restroom are simply there for decoration. Well the truth is it's probably your safest bet. Remembering to lay one on the public toilet you are using is very important. It keeps you from having direct contact with the seat and could save you from bacteria & germs building up there.

Tip 4] Lower the lid before flushing the toilet- Did you know that particles of toilet water can reach everything in range to 20 ft? That is amazing but it also means that your purse, clothes, shoes, and yes even you can get sprayed by the dirty water. It's always best to lower the lid first!

Tip 5] When turning on the hand dryer use your arm or elbow instead of your hand- why you ask? If you just washed your hands because you were in the public restroom, why would you touch the dryer afterward? Using your arm or elbow to hit the button will keep you from having direct contact with the germs that maybe there.

Chemotherapy is a complex health service that is provided to individuals who are suffering from malignancy of some type. For individuals who have a blood disorder with malignancy, the use of chemotherapy is vitally important but can lead to secondary health complications as well.

If you are a cancer patient who is undergoing chemotherapy for a malignant blood disorder, it is important to speak with your oncologist about your health risk, but to also understand what side effects are associated with chemotherapy drugs. Because chemotherapy can reduce your underlying immunity, and suppress bone marrow, there are a variety of health risks that you may develop and oftentimes cancer patients are not prepared for these side effects.

One of the most common side effects of chemotherapy, in those patients with a malignant blood disorder, is the development of complications in the mouth. For most cancer patients in this class, the development of oral lesions is quite common. Unfortunately, when undergoing a routine physical examination by your oncology nurse or oncology doctor, the condition of your mouth may not be fully checked and often lesions develop without the patient even realizing the complication exists.

If you are about to undergo chemotherapy, it is important, as the patient, that you pay especially close attention to your oral healthcare and to ask your doctor, or nurse, to thoroughly check the inside of your mouth for any signs of complications. With close examination, complications such as abnormal saliva, redness, swelling and even bleeding, can be detected early and often negate the need for more expanded oral health treatment.

Because complex oral health complications, when not treated promptly, can lead to other health conditions it is important to pay especially close attention to your teeth, gums, lips and the inside of your cheeks. When unsure about your health, be sure to see an oral surgeon or dentist as well as often they can work with your oncology team to mitigate the health complications that will arise while you are fighting the malignant blood disorder. The key to your optimal health may lie, however, in your ability to become your own advocate and to recognize that the oral health may be overlooked by your oncology team.

Sources: Managing the Side Effects of Chemotherapy and Radiation, by Marilyn J. Dodd

Every parent hopes to raise children who will develop into responsible, healthy adults. In today’s society, that isn’t such an easy task. The temptations of fast food restaurants on virtually every corner and the general lack of regular exercise programs make it difficult for parents to ensure that their children will grow up with healthy habits. There are, however, some useful steps you can take in the early stages to help your children become fit and healthy adults.

Turn off the TV

The American Heart Association suggests that parents should limit their children’s time in front of the tube to “less than 2 hours per day” ( Instead of popping in a DVD after school, take your kids for a walk or a bike ride. The more opportunities you give your children for some physical activity, the sooner they will see the importance of daily exercise.

Make fitness fun!

Working out doesn’t have to be a chore, especially for children. Make a game out of getting in some cardiovascular exercise. Take a trip to the roller skating rink with your teenagers, or create an obstacle course out of cardboard boxes and blankets for your crawling toddlers. The possibilities are endless for the ways you can make exercise an exciting, integral part of your lives.

Prepare “heart-healthy” meals

Incorporate nutritious foods into your meal planning. Try offering fish (rich in heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids) or foods that are high in fiber and whole grains. Suggest that your children eat vegetables and fruits for snacks. Take stress off of your life during busy times by preparing several healthier snacks at the beginning of the week and storing them in individual Ziploc bags. Then there will be no excuse for not having healthy options readily on hand.

Be a good role model

The most important thing you can do as a parent is to set good examples for your children. If they see you eating junk food, they will be more likely to want to do the same thing. Likewise, if they watch you preparing healthy meals and nutritious snacks, your kids will learn to choose fruits and vegetables instead of processed foods.

A little creativity and preparation can go a long way in helping parents to raise healthy children. Remember that a healthy, nutritious diet combined with an active lifestyle doesn’t have to be fancy. Your kids will probably be quite happy to run in the park on a Fall day or learn how to play a new sport. Start instilling a love for fitness and smart eating at a young age, and your children will be well on their way to becoming healthy adults.


We all have a life plan. Of the eight or so decades of existence on this earth, each is designated for a purpose. The twenties are a search for a stable job, a career and a lasting relationship. The thirties construct the foundation that the forties continue to build on the structure, the fifties and beyond. We add to our life's structure with expectations on a future which we feel is sound, based on the accomplishments which construct the walls of our own self-esteem.

Then, it all comes crashing down, with one word: unemployed.

Losing a job is much more than a simple matter of a paycheck. There are multiple social services and government agencies who provide the basics of food and shelter, but there are few who can provide sustenance for the soul. The darkness in the soul manifests itself in a variety of ways we never expect.

The first few days after losing a job is a bit of a vacation. We don't have to set the alarm clock because we no longer have a reason to wake up early. We don't have to get dressed, because we don't have anywhere to go. We don't have to shower, or shave, and now we have free time to watch all the movies we missed and read all those books we've wanted to read, and just relax. For awhile.

Until we've read all those books, and watched all those movies…twice and we still don't have a reason to set our alarm clock so we don't have a reason to get out of bed, or shower, or shave and we wonder how it happened that once we were a "somebody" who had a reason to set our alarm clock and get out of bed and take a shower and shave, and now we're a "nobody" and the only thing we have to look forward to another day of the same.

When we meet new people, the first thing they'll ask is "What do you do?" We are identified by what we do, as if, somehow, our job validates our existence. If the answer is "nothing", then, in a sense, we are nothing. We're not looking for a job, we're looking, searching, desperately for who we are, not what job we do.

We sit down and construct our resume. One page or several brief "advertisements" of what we are selling; ourself, in the hopes that someone, anyone, will buy our talent, our experience…us.

We realize there are many identical products, so what makes us so special? What do we have that someone needs and is willing to pay for when they know that the supply for our product is so much greater than the demand, and that those buyers are shopping around for the best deal, not necessarily the best product.

We're not cheap, but we start to feel cheap. We start to feel as low as any prostitute standing on a street corner with hundreds of other prostitutes, some with a lot more experience than ours, some with a lot less because they're younger, and we want to step out of the crowd and scream at the top of our lungs; "HIRE ME!" and no one hears.

Our social life has become us and our computer. We can no longer afford the membership dues of all the charitable organizations and associations we used to belong, and so we do not leave our homes to attend the meetings. Nor do we want to socialize with those who will now look at us the way we do; as failures.

We wonder why, after spending so many years helping those less fortunate, that now that we are one of those less fortunate, no one is there to help us. Our still employed friends are too busy working to meet for lunch, which is now only a cup of tea because we can't afford anything more. They almost feel as if our state of unemployed non-existence is somehow contagious.

After all, if this could happen to someone as successful as we were, then it certainly can happen to them, and we can always see the sympathy in their eyes when they leave to "go back to the office", when they know we have no office to go back to. And we can't help that growing anger in our gut, that inner voice which keeps saying how unfair it is, how we don't deserve what has happened to us. And we can't help but think that we wished more than anything that we were our friend going back to the office while he was left behind.

Going to the grocery store is devastating now that we're using a government issued card, formally known as food stamps. We envy the mentally challenged kid bagging our groceries, because he has a job.

Back at home, our walls display our college diplomas and perhaps an advanced degree, now worth less than the frames their in because they tell everyone we're overqualified to even bag groceries. We look at the service awards we've received and want to throw them into a bonfire, which we might have to do if we can't pay the heating bill.

We hate everyone. The "talking heads" who report on the huge lines at job fairs, who all have jobs and are secretly relieved that they're not on that line. The actors selling products we can no longer afford, especially during the holidays. We hate every "happy" holiday greeting because we can't even afford to purchase a card, let alone a present and we have to chose to eat the hard-boiled eggs and not decorate it.

We go on interviews in front of kids less than half our age who doesn't have a family to support and even though we've forgotten more than this kid will ever know, he still has our future in his hands.

We mentally rewind all those years when we gave so much to so many and feel that it was all worthless because now, at this moment, we have no value because we're unemployed. We don't want sympathy. We don't want support. We just want a job.

So you have a kid with the dreaded DD label: Developmentally Delayed (or Disabled, depending on his age). He's not getting what he needs at school, so you decide to take on his education at home.

If you have any sense at all, this is where you pause to wonder whether you've taken full leave of whatever brains your kids have left you with, but you'll get over that. Then it's time to figure out how to make educating your child as easy as possible for both of you.

Despite what most public schools imply, with their rigid schedules (who really believes two dozen six-year-olds will all need to potty at the same time?) and uncomfortable chairs, learning shouldn't be hard. It should be fun and progress naturally, at a pace that's right for your child.

The first thing you need to do is take a good long look at your child and note the way he seems to learn best. Does he need structure and a predictable plan for each day, or does he thrive on knowing something new and different will happen each day? Does he retain more information when he sees it, hears it, or immerses himself in it? Can he sit still for a while and focus or is he a little jumping bean? What things does he really enjoy doing? What motivates him? What is he doing well in academically, and where does he struggle? Once you've assessed these things you can develop a plan to help him reach his full potential without having to engage in a full-on war to get the lessons into his head.

The first and most important thing to remember is that kids are always learning. Everything they do teaches them a little something, plants little seeds in their heads that help them learn the next thing, and the next. So don't sweat the off days, and remember that you can always try again tomorrow, and in a different way if you need to.

One of the most helpful things you can do is to invest in a large dry-erase or chalkboard and write the day's schedule on it. If your child is a pre-reader, draw or cut out pictures that help him see what he'll be doing. It's best, especially with younger kids, to keep the blocks of time fairly short, with frequent breaks. If your child needs quite a bit of structure, your schedule can be pretty detailed, so he can see when it's time for each subject or activity, and what exactly he'll be doing. Some kids need things to be very specific, so it's fine to have a schedule something like this:

8:00-Math time. Do page 7 in your workbook. You can use bears to help with counting. Mom will help you. When you are done, put your book back on the shelf.

8:30-Break time. You can play with cars, color a picture or go outside until break is over. Go potty if you need to.

9:00-Reading. Choose a book from the bottom shelf and sit on the couch. Read to Mom. Ask for help with words you don't know.

You get the idea there. For a kid who's more easygoing about such things, it's fine to lay out a loose guideline for the day, something like this:

8:00 to 11:00-School time. No TV or playing outside!

11:00-Break for running around, playing and lunch.

12:30-Reading and rest time.

1:30-Go play!

Once you're ready to get to the actual schoolwork, make sure your child has a comfortable place to sit and work. Lots of kids with Asperger's or other developmental delays are wigglers. If your kid can't keep himself still, trying to force him to will just make both of you miserable. Instead, get him a large yoga ball to sit on, a wiggle seat (available at places that sell tools for occupational and physical therapies, and sometimes loaned out by local developmental agencies) , or one of those squishy beanbag pillows. He'll be able to have a little bit of constant motion going on, and if he isn't focusing on trying to be perfectly still, he'll be free to focus on his schoolwork. I bought my son a wiggle seat called a Disc-O-Sit and it's made a big difference in how long he's able to sit and focus. He still isn't a placid, docile statue of a kid, but he can get through a meal or worksheet without getting up and down a hundred times. If your child has fine-motor delays or difficult with handwriting, buy or make him a slantboard to help position him correctly and make writing easier. They're simple to make-all you need is a 3-inch binder, a clipboard, and some strips of Velcro or glue. Position the binder so that the spine is facing away from you, and attach the clipboard to the binder so that the bottom of it is level with the side of the binder closest to you. If you like, you can glue or Velcro the binder closed so it won't slip while your child is writing.

Remember that kids aren't made to be silent, despite the admonitions of our great-grandmothers that they should be seen and not heard. It may help your child comprehend his reading material if he can read it out loud to himself. He may simply focus better if he's providing himself with a steady stream of chatter. If his talking, singing or humming isn't affecting what he's learning, leave him alone. It may well be a self-calming technique that helps him relax and concentrate.

Allow for differences in learning styles. Your child may forget what he's read as soon as he closes the book, but remember it well if it's read to him, or vice versa. If you need to, get him books on tape or CD, or record yourself reading the stories. Don't make him try and do math problems in his head! Give him paper clips, Cheerios, plastic blocks or bears, whatever is handy, and encourage him to use them to figure out the problems. Not only does it help him solve the actual problem, it also helps him to relate math and counting to something concrete, which many kids have a hard time doing. 6+3 doesn't really mean anything besides some squiggly lines on paper, unless you have a context for it. Using manipulatives helps kids realize that 6+3 means adding a number of something to something you already have, and many kids who have the kind of literal minds that tend to go along with Asperger's need that visual to understand it. I love paper clips for teaching math, because they link together and actually show how parts can join to make a whole, or a whole can be broken down into parts.

If your child is excelling in some areas and not doing as well in others (and I have yet to meet a kid who isn't like this, developmentally delayed or not) make sure to allow plenty of time for the more difficult subjects. It may be a good idea to start off with a fun activity, like an art project, then work on something hard for a little while, then move on to a subject the child does well in. After a snack or lunch, some play time and a little rest, go back to the harder subject again. Sitting for hours working on something a child struggles with is just setting you both up for anger and tears. Remind your child why it's important that he learn the material, and remember that the world won't implode if your child doesn't master a certain subject or skill on a given day. Kids learn at widely different speeds and sometimes, a child just plain isn't ready to do certain things.

Keep in mind that kids in school may be there for seven or eight hours, but they only get less than half that in actual learning time. Adjust your schedule to fit your child's needs, build in plenty of time for running, playing, cuddling and being silly, take a break when you need to (and you'll need to), and your child will absolutely succeed.