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We’re baaack!

October 21, 2011

After an extremely long maternity leave combined then with kids going back to school, family vacations, and the sick bug getting us a few times – we are finally back at Care Hound. We have missed posting so we are excited to start writing again, get our guest blogger’s posts up, and of course to get back to our Facebook page with all the fun stuff we find out there in the wonderful world wide web.

It’s so hard to believe that Halloween is just around the corner – and then even scarier to think that Thanksgiving and Christmas will come and go before we know it! But we do LOVE this time of year and all the fun that comes along with it. Every year we host Halloween at our house. I make up chili, we have mass amounts of food, and a few of our close friends come over. I think in all we never have less than 15 trick or treaters from little babies, to the big {almost too cool for Halloween – but thankfully not yet} middle schoolers. I love the packed house and the kids running all over the place. They all go trick or treating – they start out together in our circle, then the babies come back, then after a trip around the block the little kids usually come back, and then after the older kids have made sure to hit all 400 houses in the neighborhood, they return – candy filled pillow covers in tow.  It’s one of my favorite nights of the year and so this year I have been doing my research, trying to find some fun {but also extremely simple} Halloween craft, decor, and food ideas.  We have a couple listed below, but check out our Facebook page to see more of our favorites!

Apple Smiles (DisneyFamily.com)

  Less than 4 ingredients and a snack I know my kids would love.

Cloud costume {found on Babble.com}

I love this DIY cloud costumes – it is so sweet!!

DIY leaf lantern {found on 5OrangePotatoes.com}

I think this would be a fun project to do with the kiddos and light up on Hallowen night.

Kindergarten Readiness

March 24, 2011

by Dr. Liz Walenz

March is the time for March Madness, but in the pediatrics office, it is the start of the kindergarten physical season.   The time when 4, 5 and 6 year olds tromp down the halls of the office to get their vision and hearing checked.  They stand up so tall to get measured to see if they have grown and to see how much they weigh.  The visit is fun.  They get to show off their drawing skills, drawing different shapes, people and writing their names. They sit up tall and answer questions about their interests and likes and dislikes.

The current cut-off date for Omaha for kindergarten entrance is October 15th.   That is, children need to have their birthday on or before October 15th in order to gain entrance to kindergarten.  There is a proposal to change the date for the 2012/2013 season to July 1st.  It can be a difficult decision for the parents of those children born in the summer to send their children onto kindergarten or hold them back an additional year.

Some children are developmentally ready at 4/5 to start kindergarten, however, some children are not.  I had read an interesting article in the New York Times last year titled “The Littlest Red-shirts Sit Out Kindergarten.” The article spoke about parents holding children back an extra year for kindergarten primarily so that the child could gain height and wouldn’t be labeled the littlest kid throughout grade school and especially high school.  Parents start to think about high school sports early and if their child is the youngest and the smallest on the team, they likely won’t play varsity sports.

The article brought up some interesting points.  I started kindergarten on the younger end of the spectrum as did my husband and my son and thus far, we have done okay.  In 1970, 14.4 percent of kindergartners started at age 4, but in the year 2010, the number had dropped to less than 10 percent.  However, with an age span of 4 years to 6 years in kindergarten, this provides quite a challenge to the kindergarten teachers.  The teachers have to be able to challenge the 6 year olds and keep them occupied but also to provide age appropriate material to the 4 year olds in the class as well.

How to decide?

I went to the books and researched this issue. The American Academy of Pediatrics generally does not recommend holding a child out of school for another year or putting them into a transitional or developmental kindergarten prior to the academic kindergarten year.   In reviewing the literature on effects of younger age in starting school demonstrated a small disadvantage for the youngest children in the 1st grade but these academic disparities disappeared by 3rd grade.

From the pediatrician’s perspective, we have to look at the whole child and not an isolated picture of the child at 4, 5 or 6 years of age. We need to look at the child’s health status.  If a child was born prematurely, had very low birth weight at birth or prenatal exposure to tobacco, alcohol or other drugs puts them at risk for low academic achievement.  These children often will achieve their developmental milestones slower than their peers.  The pediatrician needs to look at developmental milestones, motor milestones, but more importantly speech and language milestones.  Appropriate achievement of speech and language milestones is a stronger correlate to school readiness than achievement of motor milestones.

What are the speech/language milestones?

2 years:  Using “I,” “me”and “you,” although not necessarily correctly

Verbalizing immediate experiences, a base of at least 50 words, generally 50% of what a 2 year old will say is understandable to strangers

3 years:  Using an active vocabulary of 1000 words, speaking clearly that strangers can understand

4 years: Telling long stories

5 Years: Speaking, using adult sentence structure.

Also, the pediatrician needs to judge the child’s interaction with his/her environment. We need to look at the interactions between the child and parent.  We need to look at the respect of the parent for the child’s individuality and the conversations between parent and child.  We need to look at the parent’s ability to maintain appropriate control of the child as well.

One of the best things, a parent can do for a child is to read to a child.  Reading helps to improve the vocabulary of children and to improve their understanding of  the world.  Studies have shown that lack of exposure to books and reading has created a school readiness gap.  Introducing books early helps children to enjoy books which can last throughout their lifetime.

If you have questions, the best source for answers is to look to your pediatrician and your preschool teachers as well.

Introducing our newest blogger!

March 18, 2011

I feel so fortunate for our team of guest bloggers here at Care Hound. We feel that we have the very best people writing for us to bring you posts, stories, and information from all different aspects of parenting. I am so excited to be introducing our latest addition to the team, Lindsey Elsaesser.  Lindsey and her husband John live here in Omaha with their 2 girls, Lyla & Evie.  I met their family while she was pregnant with their second daughter in what at the time seemed like a devastating situation. Evie had been diagnosed with a rare disease and was only expected to live seconds, minutes or hours after birth. After finding this out at 20 weeks Lindsey and John turned to their Faith and cherished the moments they had while she was pregnant. Her journey and Evie’s story is one of the most powerful, uplifting and incredible stories of Faith that I have been a part of. While Evie survived, she was re-diagnosed at 2 weeks old with a rare bone disease.  They are learning about living with a child with special needs and embracing the lives that they were blessed with. Whether you have a special needs child, or just want to read about their story, or be inspired by their Faith – I encourage you to follow Lindsay here at Care Hound and on her blog at http://eviejayne.blogspot.com/.  This is one {of about 100} of my favorite posts from her – http://eviejayne.blogspot.com/2011/01/my-thoughts-on-holland.html.  To read more about Lindsey in her own words check out her bio!

Setting a good {financial} example

February 25, 2011

By Kirstin Ricketts with Vintage Financial

We all want the best for our kids.  What can we do to make sure that they don’t fall into the trap of the financial stresses that so many face?  From a very young age, your children can feel if you are stressed about your finances, and the way they view money and their finances will stem from the decisions that you are making in front of their very eyes.  When speaking to a middle school class not too long ago, I had a student ask me if their parents were to die, if he would be responsible for their credit card debt.  Yuck!  Kids should not be burdened with this type of pressure!  So what can you do?

One major first step is to get your own finances in order.  Know what you own and what you owe.  Create a net worth statement.  This is as simple as taking a sheet of notebook paper and writing down all of the different accounts that you have.  Don’t leave anything off, bank accounts, retirement plans, credit cards, mortgage…write it all down.  Write down two to five goals that you would like to accomplish financially over the next twelve months.  This may be to start or build your emergency fund, or to start saving for your child’s college, or to increase what you are putting into your  retirement plan at work, or paying off a credit card.  After writing down your goals, identify what action steps you will need to take to insure that at the end of this twelve month period that you will be in a better financial position than you are today.   Put your plan on automatic pilot.  We don’t need to be thinking about our finances everyday.  There isn’t time for it!  We need to be focusing what it truly important.  If you want to pay extra towards your credit card so that you can pay it off, set up a higher automatic payment, if it’s saving for your child’s education, have the money taking automatically out of your account.  Take yourself out of the equation.  Finally, STICK TO IT!  By writing down your goals, identifying what baby steps need to be made so that you can continue to have forward progress, and then putting your plan on automatic pilot you will be well on your way to making sure that twelve months from now, as you reflect back on your progress, that you will not have financially wasted the past year.

Another step that we can all take to set a good financial example for our children is to reflect on how we would want them to live, and then live that way ourselves.  If you want them to learn to be frugal, stop buying everything under the sun.  If you want to encourage them to be good savers, talk with them about how you save each month.  If you want them to tithe to the church, allow them to see you writing your check out each week.  If you want them to set goals, allow them to see you setting and discussing your goals.

Money is often times the elephant in the room that no one wants to discuss.  How can we expect our children to follow our example if we give them no indication of what is going on with our own finances?  Talk about money as a family.  Get your own finances in order so and choose to live in a way that you would  want your children to emulate.

As I meet with my clients when I work with the grandchildren, parents and children, it is common that all three generations will view their money in the same way.  They often times have the same successes and struggles.  Choose to life in a way that will set your children up to find success in the way to they view and handle their own money.

A Sophisticated Nursery

February 18, 2011

by Jessica McKay, owner of Birdhouse Interior Design

Here’s the deal, people: just because your newborn is a tiny little baby now, doesn’t mean they are going to stay that way for long. Oh, and on that note, your baby boy doesn’t have to enter this world in a sea of blue and that sweet girl of yours need not be surrounded by wall after wall of pink. In fact, why does the nursery need to be any less chic and sophisticated than the rest of the house? The answer is, it doesn’t!

Here are a few tips and ideas for expectant mothers or mothers of little ones on decorating your child’s room:

Chairs by Jennifer Delonge

  1. Think of the things you like and consider smaller versions of them. These kid-sized chairs look just as amazing as their grown-up counterparts. They will make your child feel special because they get to be just like mommy and daddy in their pretty chairs. Plus, you can put one of these into the nursery and as the baby grows there is no need to change the décor for several years. This aesthetic will last ten times longer than anything that screams “tiny baby”.

Via Design Crisis

  1. Start with a neutral background (white, gray, cream) and add color and personality in all your accessories. I’m willing to bet when your child turns about 5 or so, the little princess with her pink room may already love playing soccer and throwing mud a lot more than she likes twirling around in her tutu playing with her Barbies. Or, that little boy might really love to play on his little piano and be a budding musician and that train bordering his room doesn’t make much sense to who he’s starting to be as a person. The point is, you can change out accessories as your child grows and becomes more of an individual much easier than you can change the big stuff.

Jennifer Delonge’s son’s room (That chick rocks!)

3. Kid-friendly art doesn’t mean bad art! I’m not saying you should spend a fortune on original art for your child’s room. What I am saying is if you have taken the time to be thoughtful about everything else in there, why wouldn’t you put some effort into what will be on the walls for your child to see everyday as they grow? Maybe your sister is an amazing artist. Ask her to paint something for the baby’s room as your shower present. Or find a favorite book that you had as a little one, buy a used copy, rip a few pages out and frame them. There are a thousand options you can choose, just try to avoid the least thoughtful one, which is running to a big box store and buying something mass market.

STYLISH clothes for the nursing mama

February 15, 2011

Maternity clothes are every where you look, and any more you can get really cute maternity clothes and keep your style going through that 9 months.  However people rarely warn you or talk about clothes for after the baby – when your shape and size is different and has different “functionality”.  Here is a great post by Megan Hunt about “breastfeeding in style“.

My snow storm survival kit

February 1, 2011

Unfortunately my emergency list doesn’t include bottled waters, canned food, blankets, or flashlights – as it should. My survival kit is more geared towards my ultimate comfort and happiness rather than actual survival. If we do indeed lose power we will last about 25 minutes before the cold sets in and I give up.  However when I hear the words “snow storm”, “blizzard” or “snow day” this is where my mind immediately goes as for things I can’t live without. {this would be the actual grocery list I sent to my husband of things to pick up on his way home last night}:

milk {I’m not completely unreasonable}

apples

cereal {we have jars of peanut butter and bread in the pantry so we technically can survive on these 5 things for weeks.}

Diet Coke

Crystal Light Energy

string cheese

chicken nuggets

dog food

Some type of dark chocolate with almonds – hersheys or dove.

And there we have it – a happy healthy snow day.

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