Help Spread Holiday Cheer to CHOC Children’s Patients

The spirit of the holiday season has been ignited with help from the Orange Coast Harley Owners Group and Orange County Harley-Davidson, who are organizing a community toy drive to benefit CHOC Children’s. 

Anyone interested in donating new, unwrapped toys or gift cards can deliver them, from December 11 – December 23, to the Orange County Harley-Davidson dealership, located at 8677 Research Dr., in Irvine.  The dealership will provide a pancake breakfast to anyone who drops off donations on Saturday, December 12, from 9 a.m. – 11 a.m.  For the hospital’s “wish list,” please visit and click on “Give to CHOC,” followed by “Ways to Help.”

Individuals and other groups who have donated to CHOC during the holiday season are encouraged to join efforts with the Harley Owners Group and drop off their toys at the Orange County Harley-Davidson dealership instead of the hospital, due to campus construction.  Anyone with questions about the Harley Toy Drive can email the Orange Coast Harley Owners Group at

Healthy Eating Habits for the New Year

I am the first to admit I indulge in sweet honey every now and again, but I am determined to eat better in the New Year and encourage parents to teach their kids about healthy eating habits.  Here are some simple tips, provided to me by one of our pediatricians, to get you started:

  • A child’s food portion is much smaller than that of an adult.  One kid serving should be about the size of your child’s fist.
  • Keep an eye on portion sizes for pretzels, popcorn and crackers, since the salt in these snacks can stimulate the appetite.
  • Instead of granola or energy bars, give your kids fruit slices, vegetables or string cheese.
  • When your children insist on cookies, chips or candy, give them the 100-calorie packs of their favorite snacks.
  • When it comes to soda, it’s best to “can” the stuff.  Did you know that one 12-ounce soda contains 10 teaspoons of sugar and 150 calories, far exceeding your child’s recommended daily limit.  You can’t go wrong with milk or water.

I sure hope these simple tips will help get you and your family off to a healthier 2009!

Put Children’s Safety on Top of Holiday Wish List

‘Tis the season to be jolly, and the health and well being of children top my wish list.  The injury prevention experts in CHOC’s Community Education Department tell me that the holiday season can be a dangerous time for kids.  Routines are interrupted, new hazards are introduced into the home, and parents are often distracted by the hustle and bustle of this time of year.  Here are a few helpful tips that I want to pass along to all moms, dads and caregivers to help keep the ‘jingle’ in the holiday season:

  • When baking your yummy goodies, be sure to keep ingredients, like vanilla and almond extract, out of children’s reach.  It’s also a good idea to keep those round hard foods and candies out of kids’ reach.
  • Keep a close eye on kids in the kitchen.
  • Make sure alcoholic beverages are out of reach of your little ones.
  • Avoid putting fragile ornaments, especially those with small detachable parts or metal hooks, on the lower branches of the Christmas tree and don’t use ornaments that look like food or candy.
  • Watch for holly and mistletoe berries that may have fallen into your child’s path; they are very poisonous.  Poinsettias are not poisonous but can cause skin irritation and gastrointestinal distress if digested.
  • Keep guests’ purses away from curious little ones.
  • Supervise children around the fireplace and those festive candles.

Hope you and your loves ones enjoy a magical – and safe holiday!

Santa Spreads Holiday Cheer with Help from Local Firefighters

I have always counted firefighters among my list of heroes – along with CHOC doctors and nurses, of course.  Today, firefighters from the City of Orange were big heroes to our patients for escorting Santa to our campus – despite the rain.  Patients gathered in the playrooms to see the big guy in the red suit riding on a firetruck,  with sirens blaring, behind the hospital.  Santa, along with the firefighters, came into the hospital to spread a little holiday cheer.  Our young patients could not take their eyes off of our special guest.  (See the photo if you don’t believe me.)

Out of respect for Mr. Claus, I stayed low key – I didn’t want to take the attention away from him.