Latest News

Is TV Helping or Harming Our Kids

I love TV. In fact, I’ve written posts for this site declaring my love for reality TV junk and pretending I’m BFFs with Sue Sylvester and Pam Beesly-Halpert.

But I’m an adult and have come to grips with my weakness for Glee. When it comes to choosing appropriate shows for my impressionable kiddos, however, the waters become muddied. Am I selecting the right programs? Am I banished to mom purgatory for letting them watch at all so I can get a bathroom break?

A couple of months ago, my colleague, Sharon, wrote a great article on the controversy surrounding the Your Baby Can Read DVDs. Then lo and behold, last week, a national debate began pinning those against the system versus those who swear by its effectiveness. While many parents understand that TV can’t replace human interaction when it comes to teaching our children, they wonder if a middle ground exists.

Dr. Sophia Pierroutsakos, child development expert, associate professor of psychology at St. Louis Community College-Meramec and mother of an 8-year-old and 15-month-old, noted that researchers don’t fully know what the long-term consequences are for toddlers who watch TV, mainly because things like Your Baby Can Read and 24-hour kids’ networks are relatively new phenomena. However, she referred to studies that showed babies from 8 months to 17 months of age who watch TV an hour a day average a 17-point decline on a cognitive and language development scale. Children the same age who are read to every day see a 7-point increase over the average on that same scale.

Continue reading »
I Will Grow Up

Growing up is not exactly a pleasant experience for any of us. Except when it is. Mo Willems Knuffle Bunny Free: An Unexpected Diversion, the last installment of his beloved Knuffle Bunny series, captures this double-sided reality perfectly. While comic in a way that is signature Willems, the story is also a touch sad and maybe best read sometime other than bedtime.

Knuffle Bunny Free opens on Trixie’s ever-expanding world. She, her parents and Knuffle Bunny are taking a trip to Holland to visit Trixie’s grandparents. As usual, Knuffle Bunny gets lost – only this time, he winds up much farther away than another neighborhood. He winds up in China.

Continue reading »
I Am Lame According to Toyota

Earlier this summer, I wrote a post about how I love the Toyota Sienna Swagger Wagon commercials. I crave them like I do 30 Rock and Modern Family. I think they’re a riot, and they give me a hankerin’ for a minivan.  In fact, I draw hearts and NP + TS on Sienna pictures I rip out from magazines before I tape them in my locker.

Then Toyota rolled out the campaign for the Highlander featuring some snarky little smart aleck, and I hit the brakes on my Toyota girl crush.

Now, I love the Highlander. My dad, Big Al, drives one, and I think it’s fabulous.

What I don’t like is a snide, too-hip-for-the-room elementary schooler talking smack about his parents.

Continue reading »
Refusing to Switch the Skinny Jeans for Mom Jeans

At the end of summer, my friend and I were discussing our fashion needs for fall and mentioned our mutual desire to pick up some skinny jeans. While I didn’t think the skinny jeans/flats combo worked on my body, I was excited to pair them with some knee-high boots I had stuffed away in the closet. All was right in Mommy Land.

However, a couple of days later, my friend went on Facebook and questioned her decision to purchase said skinny jeans. That’s when the floodgates opened and all hell broke loose in Mommy Land. By the responses she received, you would expect my friend to be parading down the street in a Lady Gaga meat dress. Almost all of our fellow mommies rallied against the purchase of the skinny jeans and noted how silly they look on women our age.

Yikes! My friend and I both flew into a tizzy (yes, I said tizzy) which fueled our nonstop skinny jean debate – “Should we buy them? Will we look dumb? Maybe I’ll just purchase a cheap pair from Old Navy and see how they work.”

I know, I know. Stressing over a stupid pair of jeans – it’s ridiculous. But it got me thinking – why can’t a mom still follow fashion trends, within reason, after the baby arrives?

Continue reading »
How Sick Is Too Sick for School

The first rounds of seasonal colds struck our household last week. I try not to be a worrier when it comes to colds, but one son is prone to ear infections and the other to asthma-like breathing problems, so we are no strangers at the doctor’s office.

This time, although our nurse practitioner confirmed that my 7-year-old had indeed brought home a viral cold, there was no ear infection, and she was ambivalent about whether he should stay home from school the rest of the day. That response seemed a little peculiar until I looked into it, and it turns out the medical community is pretty much in agreement that kids are going to get colds, so if they are energetic enough to follow through with the normal school day, a sniffle or a cough need not keep them home.

Continue reading »
Little Picassos in Training

I recently read that Pablo Picasso created one of his most well-known pieces of artwork, The Picador, when he was only 8 years old. He began exhibiting his art at just 15.  While most of us don’t have a child prodigy on our hands, it’s never too early to introduce little ones to art.

One great place to start is the Foundry Art Center in St. Charles. On the third Saturday of the month, little Picassos can get their paintbrushes wet at the Center’s Mini-Masters Preschool Art Classes. Each hour-long program uses stories, instructions and hands-on activities to teach children about art. Every class is different, so kids can show up just for one or take them all. No experience is necessary and all materials are provided. This class is best suited for 3-to-5 year olds. Classes will be held on Saturday, November 20, December 18, January 15 and February 19 from 10:15 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. The cost is $8 per class or $39 for 5 classes for Foundry members and $10 per class or $46 for 5 classes for non-members. Class size is limited, so visit the Foundry’s website or call them at (636) 255-0270 to register.

Celebrate the arts as a family at the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis’ Kids ArtStart program. Held at the Loretto-Hilton Center on the first Saturday of the month, Kids ArtStart is a series of free family events focused on art, dancing, singing, music and theater.

Check out the lineup for the next few months:

Continue reading »
Beating the Sack Lunch Blues

My 7-year-old brings his lunch to school. Every. Single. Day.  Which wouldn’t be so bad except for two things: 1. He’s vegetarian. 2. His school is a tree-nut-free zone. This puts some serious crimps into my protein options. And he apparently treats his lunch like a beanbag – the day I sent a banana, it came home so disgustingly mushy that I promptly tossed the bag into the washing machine. His excuse? “Michael sat on my lunch.” Hmmm.

At the start of the school year I’m gung ho about packing lunches, but two months in, my enthusiasm is long gone. So I sent out a request for help in spicing up my repertoire via e-mail to Leah Hammel, a registered dietitian and certified personal trainer at Studio Element in Clayton.

Continue reading »
New Crisis Hotline Is Already Helping Local Teens

The new St. Louis County Youth Connection Helpline – which just started answering the phones on Oct. 7 – is already impacting teens’ lives. It’s a noteworthy start for a unique project.

“We went live a couple of weeks ago, and already we’ve gotten several crisis calls,” said Julie Russell, director of programs and performance at the St. Louis County Children's Service Fund, which pays for the Helpline. “There’s been a lot of need for shelter services for youth and teens.”

Those calling the Helpline at 314-628-2929 or 877-928-2929 may not realize it, but they are getting in touch with a very innovative service. Russell explained that four factors make the Helpline the first of its kind in the country:

Continue reading »
Your Flu Shot Questions Answered

I’m a flu-shot fanatic ever since I had the flu when I was four months pregnant with my son in 1998. I thought I would die, and I was certain that I would miscarry. Obviously, a slight over-reaction on my part, but the experience means that my children and I are always among the first inoculated each fall. And last year we stood in line for hours to get H1N1 shots, too.
 Dr. John Madden
This year, the Centers for Disease Control are suggesting that everyone six months and older should get the flu shot, and the vaccine being offered includes H1N1. Fortunately, it appears that there is no shortage of the vaccine, so standing in line probably won’t be necessary.


Dr. John Madden (right), a pediatrician with Esse Health in Sunset Hills who also has a doctorate in microbiology and an informal degree in fatherhood (his children are 8, 6 and 8 months), says everyone over the age of six months who doesn’t have a medical reason NOT to get a flu shot should definitely get one this year. He says that about 25,000 people die each year from the flu. Plus, the flu can result in complications such as pneumonia, and those at greatest risk for those complications are those over age 65 and under age 5.

Continue reading »
Reflecting on a Week of Me Time

Looking back at the first week of mantras and tasks for the moms who’re participating in the Living The Self-Care Challenge, I feel pretty good. To my surprise, I was actually doing some of them already, like putting on my radio station (NPR, not music – I don’t think my kids realize radio stations actually play music in the mornings!) and making a “did do” list at the end of the day.

However, I’m not so great about some of the others.

Continue reading »
Helping Children Understand Disabilities

I'm blessed to have a very warm-hearted little girl who so far has embraced every one she meets with open arms and a constant barrage of conversation. But like any other 4-year-old, MJ often has questions regarding the differences in other people, some for which I’m sure I don’t have the best answers. This was especially apparent when we were planning a get-together with a group of friends, one of whom has a little boy whose forearms did not develop while he was in the womb.

I was torn. Should I prepare her for his physical challenge beforehand, or would that just bring unnecessary attention to his disability? Or should I let her questions flow organically after she met him and be ready to answer on the spot?

Turns out, I was overthinking it, like I do with so many other things.

Continue reading »
The Challenge: 21 Days of Setting Aside Time For Me

All the experts say moms should set aside time for themselves. Meanwhile, we moms - juggling three meals and two snacks a day, plus carpools, sports practices, library books, laundry, homework, housework and maybe even paying work occasionally - roll our eyes and check our schedules on our phones.

But last week it wasn’t only those nebulous “experts” who were after me. Both my dentist and my hair stylist noticed my lack of self-care showing up in their domains. It’s one thing to be scolded by a TV talking head and another to try to defend your crazy life to a person wielding sharp objects at very close range.

And they weren’t the only ones. Recently a professional contact invited me to take part in a 21-day self-care challenge starting today, Oct. 6. I was on the fence until Saturday, when the haircut sealed the deal.

Continue reading »
Waiting For “Superman” Flies into St. Louis

It’s been celebrated on The Oprah Winfrey Show, spotlighted in Entertainment Weekly and now the criticially acclaimed and controversial documentary Waiting For “Superman” is making its debut in St. Louis.

As we all know, many public school systems across the country are in upheaval, threatening the success of today’s children. To put a face – or five faces, in this instance – to this troubling situation, Oscar-winning director Davis Guggenheim introduces viewers to a group of students whose opportunities for achievement are at a crossroads.

Continue reading »
Building Skills Against Bullies

A couple of weeks ago my fellow blogger Sharon pondered the question of bullying. She was worried about her daughter, both her potential to be a victim and her potential to be influenced by the “alpha kids” at school. Most of us can relate to her dilemma – and the feelings of helplessness we struggle with as parents.

An interesting Canadian study released this past week looked at bullying from a group standpoint and found that it may be an extreme form of our natural desire for order within social settings. The kids who were victimized tended to be different and thus threaten the established hierarchy. That is, the “alpha kids” – fifth- and sixth-graders in this case – were protecting their status at the expense of the victimized children.

Continue reading »
Our Daily Things to Do email is the easiest way to plan your day.
Follow Us
 
Want daily ideas of things to do? How about special offers & giveaways? Sign up and we’ll handle the rest.
Things to Do

Mad Science Time at Play Street Museum
Sunday, February 25, 2024

Calling all budding scientists! Let's experiment, measure, and mix things up a bit with a morning full of exploration at Mad Science Time. Kids will get to be hands-on experimenting. All activities can be explored freely and playtime is included. 

View this event »
Paws for Reading from the St. Louis County Library
Monday, February 26, 2024
Monday, March 4, 2024
Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Read to a friendly therapy dog from DUO Dogs, Inc. After the story, the dog's handler will answer any questions kids have about therapy dogs, pet care and more. For ages 3-11. Registration is required for this free program. 

View this event »
Kindermusik Playdate
Monday, February 26, 2024
Friday, March 22, 2024
Monday, April 22, 2024

Are you interested in learning more about Kindermusik before committing to a full semester? Are you unsure how your baby or child will respond in a group setting? Join Kindermusik for a musical playdate and see firsthand how singing, moving, playing instruments, and dancing together has the power keep us connected, fuel kids' brains and bring joy. 

View this event »
You Might Also Like...

From Our Sponsors
Popular Stories

COCA Ignites Creativity and Sparks Fun for Kids of All Ages, All Summer Long

Stroll along the Walk of Fame in the Delmar Loop, and you’ll spot the playwrights, actors, and artists who got their start in St. Louis, from Tennessee Williams and Katherine Dunham, to Tina Turner and John Goodman. Just a few steps away and around the corner, a new generation of Gateway City superstars will discover their love for the visual and performing arts this summer.

Continue reading »
Life Lessons Learned at Overnight Camp

With the perfect blend of adventure and responsibility, camp life teaches kids valuable lessons they can use for the rest of their lives. If you send your child to overnight camp, here are some life lessons they are likely to learn.

Continue reading »
10 Reasons Your Teen Might Love to be a Camp Counselor

Day or sleepaway summer camp is the perfect place for teens to transition to the world of the employed. The paycheck is nice, but being a summer camp counselor has other rewards, too.

Continue reading »
Parenting the Video Game Fanatic: How to Encourage Other Interests

Every now and then I wonder if it is worth investing money and time into classes or sports my son doesn’t want to participate in. But if I hold off on signing him up for things, he does nothing except play video games until we try something new again. It’s a never-ending cycle.

Continue reading »
7 Valentine's Traditions to Start with Your Kids

Valentine’s Day is traditionally a time for couples to express their love for one another, but it is also a great chance to show your children how much you love them too. While children typically exchange cards and small gifts on Valentine's Day, this year try starting some fun new traditions for your family. 

Continue reading »
Follow Us