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A 'Touching' Story about a Tiny Miracle

This past week one of my colleagues at Parents as Teachers (where I do some freelance work) was aglow over the news of a “miraculous” baby. The tiny boy was born prematurely and had been pronounced dead – but he was revived after being held in "kangaroo care" against his mom’s chest for a couple of hours, while doctors left her and her husband alone with him so they could grieve and say final farewells.

In fact, their doctor was so disbelieving that he wouldn’t return to check out the baby’s lifelike “reflexes.” The parents had to resort to deception to get him to come back and confirm that the boy was indeed alive.

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Brain Boost: Speed up Your Child’s Processing Rate

It’s a couple of weeks into the school year … how’s it going?  If your answer is “not so hot,” maybe your child could use a boost to get onto the right track.

On page 28 of our Fall issue (yes, it’s now available digitally as well as in print!!), writer Gina Parsons shares local educators’ insights into possible problems and solutions. Some kids will benefit from testing for learning issues; others may get all the help they need from a tutor.

Another option is a computerized learning program that zeroes in on brain processing skills. Don’t let your eyes glaze over – this is fascinating stuff. Our brains are sort of like computers. They have a processing speed. But because we’re on the inside, we may not be aware that our mental “computer” is running more slowly than it could be. To someone on the outside – for example, you watching your child – the poky pace may be more apparent.

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Keeping Marriage Strong When Bringing Baby Home

As new mothers, most of us have been there. The day we welcome our little ones to our families, we look over at our significant other and think, “Wow, I could never love him more than I do right now.”

Two weeks later, after our third round of middle-of-the-night nursing, we muster all our strength not to throw our breast pump at the snoring lump of husband in our bed.

Having a baby is hard on any couple, especially those experiencing parenthood for the first time. Between the sleeplessness and the financial stress, it’s no wonder that 60 percent of couples experience a drop in relationship quality within three years of a child’s birth.

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Fresh, Healthy and Cheap

I’m going to sound really old here, but my first memories of food co-ops go waaaay back to the ‘70s and ‘80s. The upside was healthy, nutritious (and, for us, exotic) foods like dried papaya and carob chips. The downside was pen-and-paper ordering, tallying and record-keeping. Those poor volunteers, including my mom, really toiled over their calculators at delivery time.

Nowadays, ordering is online and you don’t even have to break out a pen – unless you need to jot a reminder note about your pick-up date and time. The foods are still healthy and nutritious, but the focus has shifted to locally produced wares.

I walked through the sign-up process at Community Helpings Coop a few days ago, and it was so easy that I asked one of the organizers, Tracy Gruener, if I had missed something.

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Cancer Survivor and Mom Celebrates Two Big Milestones

Having a child changes your life. For Karen Higano, giving birth to her son, Connor, actually helped saved her life.

Five years ago, 39-year-old Higano had been in labor for 33 hours when her doctor recommended a Caesarian section. During the surgery, her obstetrician discovered four cysts on her left Fallopian tube. He thought nothing unusual, but removed the cysts and sent them to pathology to be on the safe side.

On the day she left the hospital with her newborn, Higano was hit with the news: ovarian cancer. “When I was diagnosed, I was shocked,” she said. “I knew about breast cancer because my mom was a survivor, but I really had never heard of ovarian cancer.”

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In Vogue, Not in Debt

With cooler weather around the corner, many moms begin thinking of cute fall clothes. However, our kids’ needs come first, leaving little left over for us to update our wardrobes.

So until daycare is free and groceries cost a smile, I needed to figure out how to freshen up my working mom’s attire without breaking out the credit card.

I could be like Marisa from New Dress a Day who uncovers $1 finds at thrift stores and transforms them into runway-worthy designs. But my sewing skills are nil. Really – I make my husband sew on buttons and hem pants.

Or, I could try the Six Items or Less plan, living off six pieces of clothing for one month. But that would necessitate doing laundry more than once a week.

To curb my dilemma, I turned to two St. Louis experts to help me on my quest for cuteness. With their advice and a little extra work on my part, I’m headed on the right track to an affordable wardrobe rework.

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Pounding the Pavement in the Right Shoes

Farewell, flip flops. Sayonara, sandals. Ciao, crocs. My son’s elementary school has a policy against all of them, along with any other footwear that gets in the way of running and playing. I used to think such policies were harsh, back in the days when my 7-year-old was first in preschool. Now that I’m older and wiser (and have seen the scientific studies to support the bans) I see where they’re coming from.

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Be a Part of Mom is Born!

You're invited to participate in the biggest virtual baby shower of the year! The moms at mymommymanual.com are throwing a baby shower on Wednesday for expectant mom Virginia Kerr of KMOV-TV, and you can watch and participate in the event as it's broadcast live online. The shower benefits the March of Dimes and celebrates the journey into motherhood for Kerr, the anchor of KMOV's early news show Awake.

The two-hour broadcast will focus on every women's transition into motherhood, and we all know that's one of, if not the biggest, milestone in our lives. You'll also hear great parenting tips from experienced moms and learn about new products that make the journey into motherhood easier and more fun. On top of all that, prizes have been donated by the shower sponsors for giveaway that you can win online. Prizes include

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Take a Walk on the Safe Side With Trailnet

When we were little, we’d listen to our parents and grandparents share how they “walked five miles to school in the snow and pouring rain." Today, our kids are shocked when they hear we walked three blocks to school every morning.

Whether school is too far from home in our ever-expanding suburbs, their parents are afraid of them heading to school on their own or, let’s face it, they just don’t want to, kids these days rarely walk or bike to school. However, 10 to 20 minutes of exercise twice a day can have a significant effect on a child’s well-being. According to the National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research , middle-school girls can get an additional 13.7 minutes of exercise a day simply by walking to school.

Thankfully, Trailnet, the St. Louis nonprofit which promotes active living, has come to the rescue once again this school year through its participation in the Safe Routes to School national program.

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Yoga for the Wild One

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine mentioned her daughter’s daycare offered yoga lessons. Knowing I’ve done yoga for years, she asked me if I ever considered yoga for my 4-year-old.

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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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Things to Do

Weekend Play Time by Reservation at Play Street Museum
Sunday, February 28, 2021
Saturday, March 6, 2021

Grab a spot for Weekend Play Time by Reservation at Play Street Museum in St. Charles. Kids and families can explore the museum during these special weekend hours. Playtime will be by reservation only to limit the number of occupants in the building at one time. Play is offered in 90 minute sessions and occupancy will be limited during each session. 

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Snow Town at The Magic House

Plan your visit to Snow Town, an outdoor adventure at The Magic House complete with a Snowball Carnival, featuring whimsical winter outdoor games, a variety of snowball-themed carnival booths, snowball putt putt and lots more! This completely outdoor experience is SNOW much fun!

 

 

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Springtime Magic at The Magic House
Tuesday, March 2, 2021
Wednesday, March 3, 2021
Thursday, March 4, 2021

Get a jump on springtime fun at Springtime Magic at The Magic House! Springtime Magic includes Bunny Town, the museum's newest outdoor experience featuring spring-inspired art, bunny games & trike rides through floral fun, visits the bunny, egg hunts, and more! 

 

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How to Lessen the Impact of Social Isolation on Your Child's Mental Health

This need for regular socialization all comes down to nature – we are biologically human wolf packs who need to connect with each other, especially in our early years. We asked local experts how to help kids handle the isolation resulting from the pandemic and remote learning, and how it may impact their futures.

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Spring Break Camps Offer a Variety of Activities for Kids and Teens in St. Louis

Welcome 2021's much-awaited springtime with a variety of fun Spring Break camps for kids as young as Pre-K. From rocketry to wildlife, science to arts & crafts, sports to healthcare, in-person or virtual Spring Break camps offer kids a way to meet up with their peers, learn a new skill, or return to favorite fun activities. Here is a roundup of Spring Break camps available in the St. Louis area:

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How Are You Holding Up? Here's What Experts Say About Coping With Anxiety, Stress and Uncertainty

Telling children they shouldn’t worry about something doesn’t make that worry go away. Instead, we want to help them develop skills to manage worries so they can feel empowered to cope with future worries.

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The College School Announces Diversity Scholarship

The College School, an independent school for grades Pre-K through grade 8, has launched a new Upper Division Diversity Scholarship for students of color who are entering fourth through seventh grades. The scholarship award will include up to 100 percent of tuition and fees for the student's time enrolled at the school.

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SLSO's Soundlab for Families Offers an Exploration of the Power of Music

Families are invited to explore the science and emotion of music during the SLSO SoundLab, a month-long, free virtual experience from the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. Every Saturday in February, families can tune in to Soundlab host Alicia, who will lead them on a journey that begins with how sound can be heard, felt and seen.

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