Some St. Louis family attractions are re-opening with limited capacity and enhanced safety protocols for visitors and staff. Read more about family attraction re-openings and safety guidelines here. We invite our readers to enjoy virtual events and socially distanced events highlighted in our Things To Do calendar. Public health experts recommend that when you do go out, follow public health guidelines: wear masks (now required in St. Louis City and County), practice social distancing and wash your hands frequently. To learn why social distancing is important and effective in lessening the spread of COVID-19, hear from Dr. Alexis Elward, Chief Medical Officer at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

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What Are They Thinking?

Most of the parenting how-to books I read focus on the preschool and early elementary ages, but occasionally, to find out what I’ve gotten myself in for, I pick up something about older kids. Getting to Calm: Cool-headed Strategies for Parenting Tweens and Teens sounds like one I’ll definitely want to read. 

I heard about it in an NPR segment that also contained a lot of fascinating science about how tweens’ and teens’ brains are rewiring themselves. The tremendous growth in brain cells and neurotransmitters of early childhood tapers off, and in adolescents the numbers are getting smaller. Yes, their brains are shrinking – sort of. They’re also becoming much better at integrating information from multiple sources and thinking deeply about a topic. A third change is that the parts of the brain that recognize emotions mature more quickly than the parts that regulate emotions.

You can see how all of this is a recipe for trouble.

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Parenting Lessons From the Jersey Shore

I admit it. I love TV. 

Worse, I love reality TV.

Now, I don’t plan my life around any reality shows, except My Life on the D-List, but on lazy Sunday afternoons when the kids are napping and I have five loads of laundry to fold, a little Jerseylicious brightens my day.

Throughout my journeys to the Jersey Shore, Orange County and Miami, I always leave with a little reminder of something I need to talk with my kids about. So here are four lessons I’ve gleaned from reality TV that I wish to share with the Little Ps:

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Five Tips for Shaping Up Your Kids' Food Choices

So we got home from vacation today, and I had to face up to the fact that I’m going to have to retrain my kids from a diet of Powerade and Fruit Loops back to milk and actual fruit.

Daunting. But I picked up some great tips during a phone conversation last week with Melissa Halas-Liang, a California-based nutrition coach and founder of SuperKids Nutrition. We started corresponding a few months ago about the impact health advocates are having on TV food advertising aimed at kids. In our call, she was pretty blunt in her assessment: “Obviously it’s not making a difference.”

So we spoke instead about three main problems when it comes to overweight kids: 1) the wrong food choices, 2) outside influences (like those ads), and 3) lack of exercise.

Just hearing that made me feel better, because despite our crappy diet during the past 10 days, we burned off way more calories than usual at the beach, the mini-golf course, the German cultural festival where the boys danced and in swimming pools at our hotels. The boys barely had time to watch TV or absorb any junk food ads other than the occasional billboard as we drove.

My task is really to address the first problem on the list. Halas-Liang gave me five good ways to do that.

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School Stress - The Mommy Edition

In just a few weeks, my 4-year-old’s preschool starts once again. As her excitement runs wild, my anxiety is jogging right alongside it.

Between work schedules, daycare, preschool, soccer, tumbling, family events and, on a very rare occasion, a social life, our home turns upside down the day school starts. Trying to stay on top of everything can be overwhelming for any parent, so instead of burying my stress under a king-sized Kit-Kat, I turned to two experts to help solve my most pressing organization dilemmas.

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Oh Dear, Oh Dear - Here Comes Ramona

Imaginative, mischievous children are among some of the most memorable characters in children’s literature.  There is the brave Madeline, the capricious Eloise, the hilariously mouthy Junie B. Jones - no shortage of strong young girls full of ideas and energy, with big hearts and the confidence to come into their own. But the girl who will always stay with me, who made her appearance in the 1950’s but was just as reachable to me in the 1980’s and to kids today, is stubborn, pesty Ramona Quimby.

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Grieve Out Loud – Support in a Time of Loss

Wendy Warren was 24 ½ weeks pregnant with her second child when she was placed on bedrest at St. John’s Mercy Medical Center. 11 ½ weeks later, her son, Elijah, was born, but because of Potter’s Syndrome, a birth defect in which the kidneys fail to develop, the Warrens only had a few precious hours with their child before he passed away.

Each year, thousands of parents across the U.S. leave the maternity ward without a child in their arms to face a world of sadness and isolation. Yet, for individuals like Warren, they’ve also discovered a world of hope and support via the Internet.

“After Elijah was born and then shortly passed away, the women that I found online were the only ones I could turn to,” she said. “No one else in my life had any idea what I was going through.  I could share my feelings freely, and these women knew exactly how I was feeling.”

During Warren’s time at St. John’s and through her relationships on the web, a connection was made with another mother going through a similar loss. A connection that in time would help other grieving parents around the world.

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Back-to-School Physicals

With the start of school just a few weeks away, it’s the season for students to get physicals. My kids think of these visits as a time to get poked and prodded, and they’re not big fans. But I’ve found that the Q&A with our pediatrician is invaluable.

Many families schedule these exams with their own family doctors, but there’s also the option of going to an urgent-care clinic for physicals. And once you have the appointment, you should think about just what you want the doctor to check for. Like, say, cholesterol.

Really? For elementary kids?

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Bring A Touch of Tea Home

Over the past couple of years, the phrase “tea party” has taken on a political connotation. But back in the day, a tea party was synonymous with white gloves and petit fours, or in my case, Cabbage Patch Kids, teacups full of tap water and Little Debbie’s Devil Squares® cut into fourths.

In an overstimulating world packed with iPhones, Wiis and DVRs, occasionally it’s nice to escape to a simpler time, especially if pastries are involved. That's where Carol Richardson of A Touch of Tea comes in.

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Have You Seen What Your Kids Will Want to Be Eating?

I’m a newspaper and magazine junkie. I’ve cut back, but I still subscribe to more than I can realistically read, especially in the summer when the boys are underfoot. So when an article about food ads targeting kids  caught my eye recently, it wasn’t a huge surprise that the paper in question arrived last week … sigh. The story ran in the Post, but was written by Jessie Schiewe of the Los Angeles Times, and cited a study by the University of Illinois at Chicago that analyzed trends in advertising aimed at kids.

Researchers used Nielsen ratings from 2003, 2005 and 2007 to compare what products showed up most often in ads on kids’ shows. Turns out that the foods featured in ads are less sugary but more fatty – cereals, candy bars, soda and cookies have been replaced by fast food, diet soda and bottled water.

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HBO Focuses on Homelessness

Every night in the United States, children fall asleep in a home that’s not their own. Instead, their bed may be in a homeless shelter, in a car or, in some cases, the bushes.

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Looking for Romance? Look Across the River!

St. Louis is a perfect place for a couple of stressed-out parents to find romance.

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Waitress and Working Mom Shares Her Parenting Secrets

Your first thought when meeting Chuck-A-Burger employee Brenda Helton, is, “What an incredible server.” The second, after hearing about her tenure at this St.

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Star Party

“Star light, star bright, the first star I see tonight; I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight.”

Most of us have wished upon the first star in the nighttime sky with this little rhyme. But it’s not going to work if you’re wishing on a DirecTV satellite. Maybe it’s time to figure out what you’re looking at.

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What Planet are You From?

Among the many books I can’t put down this summer is Michael Chabon’s Manhood for Amateurs: The Pleasures and Regrets of a Husband, Father, and Son. Though our 1-year-old son “gave” this book to my husband for his birthday, I find myself reading it right along with him. It is not a kids' book of course, but it calls up childhood in so many wonderful and honest ways.

At one point, Chabon is reflecting on the “wilderness of childhood,” describing this time in one’s life as “the great original adventure.” He writes: “For the most part the young adventurer sets forth equipped only with the fragmentary map – marked HERE THERE BE TYGERS and MEAN KID WITH AIR RIFLE – that he or she has been able to construct out of a patchwork of personal misfortune, bedtime reading, and the accumulated local lore of the neighborhood children.”

Reading this, I was reminded of one of my favorite picture books and another splendid summer read, Earth to Audrey by Susan Hughes.

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Peek-a-Boo, I See You

At birth, vision is one of babies’ least-developed senses. It catches up quickly by the time they’re about 4 months old, and their eyes are one of their most important tools for learning about their world. But that’s not to say that all kids have 20/20 vision – any genetic conditions like farsightedness, nearsightedness or lazy eye are already present, and screening can catch them. That’s important, because as much as 80 percent of what children learn as preschoolers and elementary students comes to them visually.

Only 15 percent of preschoolers get vision screening, according to the Missouri Lions Eye Research Foundation. That’s why it offers free eye checkups to youngsters at preschools, child care centers and public venues like the Saint Louis Science Center, where it will host a free screening event Aug. 6 to 8.

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Things to Do

Teaching in Room 9 from The Nine Network

The Nine Network is producing two hours of literacy and math instruction for prekindergarten through fourth grade weekdays from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. The grade-appropriate instruction is taught by local educators at home, and is available on your St. Louis PBS station, channel 9. 

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Explore Purina Farms: Responsible Pet Care

Purina Farms is bringing the best of the farm to your home every week! You can virtually explore Purina Farms through videos featuring the animals, dog trainers and others who work there, as well as the pets who work and play at Purina Farms every day. Each day of the week features videos on a variety of topics including animal connections, training tips and responsible pet care advice for kids. 

 

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Science @ Home with the Saint Louis Science Center
Thursday, July 9, 2020

The Science Louis Science Center is continuing to ignite and sustain lifelong science and technology learning through its online Science @ Home series! Visit the Science Center's web site or social media channels for DIY science experiments that can be done at home, Amazing Science Demonstrations from the Science Center's Energy Stage team, connections to local scientists, astronomy updates from the McDonnell Planetarium, live chats and more. Content is designed for all ages. 

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Open Gym at Miss Kelly's Gym
Thursday, July 9, 2020
Friday, July 10, 2020
Thursday, July 16, 2020

Kids can work on existing gym skills, learn new skills or just play around during Open Gym at Miss Kelly's Gym. Space is limited to 10 kids per session. Reservations are strongly encouraged.

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Magic At Home with The Magic House
Thursday, July 9, 2020

The Magic House is bringing innovative, hands-on learning to you at home with its #MagicAtHome series of interactive, instructional online presentations. The Magic At Home series of activities includes lots of fun projects that you can make at home with common materials. The easy-to-follow directions mean your kids can make paper sculpture, do shaving cream marble painting, create make-your-own flowers, go "fishin," make TP roll animals, make salad spin art and more.

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Parenting During the Pandemic: Overwhelmed and Exhausted

No, last Saturday I didn’t plant a victory garden or make a sourdough starter. I wasn’t the mom who created movie tickets and set up a concession stand in my house for movie night (seriously, WHICH ONE OF YOU DID THIS and how did word get back to my kids?). I stayed on the couch all day and hissed at anyone who invaded my territory. Like millions of other parents juggling homeschooling and working from home, I’m beat.

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The Magic House, Made for Kids, Sandcastle Beach Will Reopen to the Public, Including Summer Camps

The Magic House has announced it will reopen to the public on June 15, open its St. Louis city satellite location – MADE for Kids – on June 9, and summer camps are proceeding as planned. 

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St. Louis Area Summer Camps, Some Family Attractions to Open In June with New Safety Guidelines

Summer camps in the St. Louis area that have announced they will hold in-person summer sessions are enacting strict safety protocols to help ensure the health of their campers. In addition to limiting enrollment, camps are cancelling field trips, enacting strict cleaning protocols, taking daily temperature and symptom checks, and installilng measures that allow for social distancing.

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Saint Louis Zoo Announces Opening Date for Summer 2020; New Safety Protocols

The Saint Louis Zoo has announced it will reopen Saturday, June 13 with new protocols for visitors, including requiring timed reservations and face masks, and limiting attendance to better allow for social distancing. All Zoo staff will wear face masks and all guests over the age of 9 will be required to wear face masks/face coverings while visiting. 

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Coming Soon: Why the Forest Park Playscape, Opening This Year, Will Be Much More Than a Playground

Since breaking ground on the child-inspired Nature Playscape in Forest Park last summer, Forest Park Forever, the City of St. Louis and their team of partners have been pushing forward on this much-anticipated project at full speed, constructing eight activity areas where your kids will soon splash, climb, build, and learn. Already halfway completed, this one-of-a-kind play area in the heart of the park is destined to grow children’s interest in the natural world around them.

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