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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:

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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When Moms Get Angry

I don’t know about you, but it makes me crazy that the foods offered to my children at their respective schools often seem to undo all of my efforts to make sure they’re eating healthy at home. On any given day, either one of my older children could choose for lunch an order of French fries and a packaged brownie that has so many preservatives in it that I could set it aside and serve it to my future great-grandchildren.

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The Super Soccer Mom Game Plan

I’ve always thought myself to be a pretty mellow sports fan. I love watching sports, I just don’t love it. Going to Busch Stadium for me is really an excuse to eat hot dogs and get a tan. I think the last time I really got passionate – and by passionate, I mean jumping on a table and knocking over a round of beers – over a game was the Illinois-Arizona Elite 8 matchup in 2005.

But when it’s your own kid, you become a fanatic.

As I sat in my lawn chair during my 4-year-old’s first soccer game, I knew I had to keep my emotions in check. While I cheered MJ and her teammates on, I eventually had to clamp my hand over my mouth to stop myself from playing sideline coach or admonishing the referee for failing to eject the dirty-playin’ preschooler who tripped my kid.

To ensure I remain the supportive – not obnoxious – parent in the stands, I turned to Dr. David Shields via e-mail to get his insights on what makes a good sports parent. Shields is an expert in healthy competition – he’s an associate professor in the College of Education at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, author of True Competition: A Guide to Pursuing Excellence in Sports & Society and founder of TrueCompetition.Org, a nonprofit dedicated to providing the insights, skills and approaches necessary to reclaim competition as a place of excellence, ethics and enjoyment.

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Five Things You Can Do (Starting Now!) to Boost Your Child’s Brain

New Year’s resolutions are all well and good, but I for one don’t really have the energy to start new lifestyle commitments right after the holidays. This first full week of fall is a different story – I’m inspired by the cooler nights, back-to-school routines and fresh-off-the-tree apples.

And I don’t think I’m the only one – during the past week my inbox has been full of great ideas for enriching our children’s lives. Here, in no particular order, are five ideas to get you started.

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Hangin' With Mrs. Heck

It’s my favorite time of the year. The leaves are turning gold, the heat is easing up and, best of all, I no longer have to watch endless home remodels on DIY Network just to get my TV fix.

Yes, this week, thanks to the launch of the new fall TV season, I’ll be reuniting with some of my best friends – Sue Sylvester, Liz Lemon, Jules Cobb. However, there’s no one I’ve been looking forward to reconnecting with more over a glass of wine and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups than Frankie Heck of Orson, Ind., and the matriarch of The Middle on ABC.

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Things to Do

Family Sunday at the Saint Louis Art Museum
Sunday, April 21, 2024

Families are invited to the Saint Louis Art Museum on Sunday afternoon to participate in free hands-on art activities with fun themes and to explore the galleries. Each Family Sunday focuses on a different family-friendly theme. 

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Sea Lion Shows at the Saint Louis Zoo

See the Zoo's California sea lions perform acrobatic and athletic feats, including Olympic-style dives on a high-diving platform, flipper walks, frisbee tosses and plenty of surprises. While on stage with the sea lions, the Zoo's trainers explain sea lion behavior and positive-reinforcement training, in addition to the need for conserving the sea lion's ocean habitat.

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Animals Aglow at the Saint Louis Zoo

Explore the Saint Louis Zoo in the evenings at the new Animals Aglow exhibit. Bring your family to experience the luminous glow of 50 towering lanterns depicting animals, plants and traditional Chinese elements. Don't miss this celebration of culture and art! 


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