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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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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

U.S. Bank Wild Lights at the Saint Louis Zoo

U.S. Bank Wild Lights at the Saint Louis Zoo is back for another beautifully lit season. Your family can stroll through the Zoo grounds surrounded by a million lights! Visitors will see animated light displays, enjoy fireside stories, fun photo opportunities, the Conservation Carousel, and lots more in this enchanting holiday wonderland. Timed-ticket reservations are required and must be purchased in advance.

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Garden Glow at the Missouri Botanical Garden

More than a million lights will illuminate some of the Missouri Botanical Garden's most iconic locations, walkways will be transformed into sensory light tunnels providing an explosion of visual magic, and traditional candlelight village displays, festive drinks, s'mores and great photo opportunities will delight crowds of all ages.

 

 

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Go for the Glow: Eight Must-See Holiday Light Displays in St. Louis

Santa’s helpers throughout St. Louis have been working their magic for months – testing bulbs, hanging lights and building displays – to spark joy for families this holiday season. As soon as November rolls around, the entire region flips the switch to light up dazzling displays that will wow even the grinchiest of visitors. Add in some holiday tunes, kids’ activities and tasty treats, and these light displays become enchanting experiences you and your little ones will never forget.

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Get Ready for Fall Fun with a Non-Stop Lineup of Family Friendly Events

Just as they’ve done for the past year and a half, St. Louis’ theater companies, museums and nonprofits have found creative ways to alter their events so they’re safe for everyone – without cutting down on any of the fun! Whether you want to take in a show, eat all the treats at a fall festival, or sit center ring at the circus, there’s an event worthy of a spot on your family’s busy calendar.

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Postpartum Support: How Elephant Baby is Helping New Moms Relax and Recover

To ensure the best health outcomes for both mother and baby in the critical “fourth trimester,” we have to stop ending the conversation at “You got this, mom” as we walk away, and instead remind her that “We got you”  and actually mean it.

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What is Your Child's Learning Style?

It’s important for parents to understand their child’s learning style so that they can help them find study methods, environments, and activities that help them learn best. 

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