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Kim’s Blog combines home front experiences with informative updates on area events, unique opportunities and of course, dynamic deals!  For daily updates, Get Social and Follow SpringfieldMoms on your preferred Social Network for event reminders, coupon links, reader favorites and lots of helpful tips and laughs.

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Belle_Beauty_Beast_Kim_SmootBelle will be joining Springfield Moms at the YMCA Free Healthy Kids Fitness Festival during the Kids’ Triathlon Saturday April 30th.  Rain or shine! Come to the Kerasotes YMCA Saturday and get your photo opp with Belle from 11am-Noon at the Springfield Moms booth. Lots of fun going on during the festival.

  • 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 Noon: Games
  • 10:30 a.m. Kids Karate Demo
  • 11:00 a.m. Triathlon Begins
  • 11:00- Noon Belle Opp at our SpMoms Booth!
  • 11:30 a.m. Preschool Obstacle Course
  • 12:00-2:00 p.m. Emergency Vehicle Tour
  • 12:00 p.m. Zumba for Kids
  • 1:00 p.m. PIG Competition
  • 1:30 p.m. Awards

ymca logoSee you there!

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We all try to make a difference in our community with the daily habits we incorporate in our routine to leave a much smaller footprint on the Earth than previous generations. The Earth Day 2016 website is a great resource.friends in spring

At Springfield Moms, we strive to help area families adapt these ideas where WE live. We guide you to events, educational opportunities and resources to share ideas on how to make an impact where WE live.

Events

Living Green

Don’t miss our Green Living Resource List.dad and baby in spring

Books and DVDs to celebrate Earth

  • “Tarra & Bella: The Elephant and Dog Who Became Best Friends.” Text and photography by Carol Buckley.  G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2009.  This true story set in an Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee will touch your heart and the hearts of your kids.  A powerful true story about how opposites attract and friendship is not just for humans.  Also, a testament to the work this organization does to care for needy elephants who are sick or old.
  • “10 Things I Can Do to Help My World” authored by Melanie Walsh. Walker Books, 2008. Perfect for preschoolers yet important for all of us. Ten simple things each of us can do on a regular basis to help the environment.
  • “It Is Easy Being Green” DVD. Elmo and Abby learn how to help Mr. Earth on this Sesame Street Earth-a-Thon.
  • “Earth” is a movie released by Disney follows the lives of three animal families and their journeys throughout our planet.

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IMG_3917“April showers bring May flowers.” or so they say.  If you are looking for fun and educational ways to entertain your kiddos at home.  Here are a two pre-tested science experiments tested by these two cuties to try!

 

April Showers: Walking Water:  This fun science experiment is easy and actually really beautiful to look at.  What you will need:  7 glasses of the same size, paper towels, water, and food coloring.  Step 1: Fill the first glass a little over half way. Do not fill the next glass.  Add water to the third glass to the same level as the first.  Skip the fourth glass. Fill the fifth and seventh glass, skipping the sixth.  In the glasses that have water add food coloring. Glass 1: Red Glass 3: Yellow Glass 5: Blue Glass 7: Purple.  Drape the paper towels into the glasses as shown in the picture.  Let the glasses sit for the next couple of hours.  Soon the empty glasses will be filled with water and complete the rainbow.
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May Flowers: Four Color Flowers: This science experiment would even double as a great Mother’s Day gift.  Materials Needed:  Food Coloring, A light colored flower with a thick stem ( 4 White Gerber Daisy is ideal), Water, and 4 glasses.  In each glass fill 3/4 of the way full.  Add a few drops of food coloring to each glass.  Pick different colors to create a beautiful bouquet.  Place flowers in the water and check back in a few hours.

 

 

hahnDr. Laura Hahn, a researcher at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and her research team are seeking participants for a study on when 2 to 5 year-olds with intellectual and developmental disabilities begin to understand the intentional actions of others. For example, you are trying to open a jar of spaghetti sauce but are unable to open it. At what age does your child understand that what you are trying to do is open the jar?

Participation involves your child being asked to play with some toys and a developmental assessment for language and cognitive abilities.  Both of these activities will take no more than 1 hour and can take place either at your home or in our lab at a time that is convenient for you (nights, weekends, afternoons). If you are interested in learning more about our study or participating please contact us at 217-265-8043 or by email at thedndlab@illinois.edu. Or view flyer here: Intentionality Recruitment Flyer-1.

Jack Schwoerer 1Autism, Hope and Recovery: A Mother’s Story Shared By Melissa Schwoerer

Your son sits on the floor, dropping a ball over and over again. You call his name, and he doesn’t respond the first 10 times you say it. When he finally notices, he stares right through you. You get down on the floor and try to look in his eyes and play with him. He gets up and runs off to his next solitary game of repetitive toy throwing. He has no words to tell you what he wants, he does not point or share or show. He is alone in his world, and though you see him in there, you are lost as to how to reach him.

This was life with my first child when he was 18 months old.

As the rates of autism in the United States have skyrocketed in recent years, we have all become increasingly aware of this disorder and the issues it creates for children and their families. The CDC’s current estimate of autism prevalence is 1 out of 68 children who were born in 2004. This measurement does not yet include my own son, who was born in 2010. Thanks to significant medical and therapeutic intervention, by the time his year is counted, I have every intention that he will not be a part of that statistic.

So much can change in just four years. My son’s autism was first brought to light almost exactly that long ago by an amazing developmental therapist who had just started to work with him. When Jack was still not talking at 18 months old, I contacted the Illinois Early Intervention program for an evaluation. He started speech, occupational and developmental therapies shortly after. The day we first realized he had autism was one of the most emotional days of my life, but I very quickly learned that many of his symptoms could be alleviated by very simple lifestyle changes, such as changing his diet. At our therapist’s suggestion I immediately stopped giving him dairy products, and within two short days he was making better eye contact with us. From that point on we knew he could be healed, and we never looked back.

Jack Schwoerer 2I learned so much that year about the underlying medical conditions that contribute to and cause symptoms of autism to appear. Because an autism diagnosis is based purely on professional observation of particular behaviors and developmental delays, it does not provide any insight into the physical symptoms that many of these children share. Many parents are told that their child’s issues, such as sleeplessness, headaches and stomach pain, are “just behavioral.” If a developmentally typical child had these complaints, a physical cause would be sought, but when it’s a child with autism, oftentimes the disorder is blamed and the family is sent on their way without any help for their clearly very sick child.

Recent scientific research shows that autism is a condition that affects the whole body. Children and adults with autism often have allergies, autoimmune conditions, gastrointestinal diseases, immune dysregulation, metabolic abnormalities, mitochondrial disease, neurological inflammation, oxidative stress, seizure disorders, and extreme sensitivities to environmental conditions. Some of these afflictions can be life threatening and even deadly when not properly treated.

As a baby and toddler, Jack was constantly sick with ear and respiratory infections, chronic eczema, and gastrointestinal problems resulting in a cycle of constipation and diarrhea. He was unable to sleep, was extremely sensitive to noise and movement, and needed very strict routines. He was constantly moving and seeking sensory input to regulate his nervous system. But as we treated him for these medical issues, he began to flourish. He started talking, he became more engaged with us, and his anxiety with new situations and transitions eased significantly. This was a process; we tried our fair share of interventions that gave us no results at all. It was over a year before we saw some of these changes, but I had so much faith that we could reach him. We were lucky to eventually find a doctor who believed in autism recovery and is still one of our trusted providers today.

Along the way I’ve met other local families who have seen their children recover by treating their comorbid medical conditions. Laura Cellini’s son, Jonathan, regressed into autism after hitting all of his developmental milestones around 17 months. Recognizing that something dramatic had happened, Jonathan’s parents took him to the University of Chicago for a diagnostic evaluation that classified him as having severe to moderate autism and indicated that his receptive and expressive language scores had regressed to that of a six to nine month old (he was 26 months old at this time). He had lost nearly two years of development. He had been very sick for much of his life to this point, with frequent ear and upper respiratory infections and reflux, among other illnesses. His autism was so severe that his parents were told he would eventually require residential care. Laura states that a gluten-free, dairy-free, dye-free, organic diet helped tremendously. However, it was when he was accurately diagnosed with a primary immunodeficiency and given appropriate medical care that his symptoms of autism also started to disappear. Today, Jonathan is a bright and engaged 17-year-old who will soon go to college; he wants become a writer.

Mandy and Sean Dickerson’s son, Cameron, was diagnosed with autism at three years old after having been enrolled in speech, occupational, physical, and feeding therapies for over a year. Cameron had a myriad of symptoms, including lack of engagement, strict routines, stimming, poor eye contact, sensory disorder related to taste, touch, sound, and movement, oppositional defiance disorder, abusive tantrums, inability to transition, inability to communicate and socialize, interrupted sleep patterns, and high anxiety. His parents started to address his physical conditions, which included chronic eczema, immune dysfunction, severe seasonal allergies, and gastrointestinal problems. Very quickly, his autism symptoms began to fade away. Cameron is now a happy and healthy six-year-old thriving in a mainstream kindergarten classroom and does not require assistance or special education.  I have talked to countless other moms from all over the country who can tell similar stories about their children recovering from autism.

Jack Schwoerer 3My son Jack is doing amazingly well these days. Now that he’s healthy, he can benefit from traditional speech and occupational therapies much more than he did as a toddler. He is in kindergarten, and though he has some catching up to do, he continues to exceed even the highest expectations we have for him. He loves to play with his brothers and friends at school; he can read and is starting to write. I try not to think about where he would be now if we hadn’t found the right treatments for him.

I often wonder why it is so difficult for children with autism to be diagnosed and treated for their underlying medical conditions. Part of the challenge is that each and every child is unique; the causes for one child may not be applicable to the next. The other part is a simple lack of training for pediatricians on how to recognize and treat some of these issues; the pediatrician who saw Jack as a toddler admitted that she knew almost nothing about autism and could not answer most of my questions about the medical research I had found on these comorbid conditions. If this is the response you are receiving, please know that there are specialists who can help you. The fact that these children can recover from autism needs to be more widely known.

I love my son and I always will, no matter what happens in the future. He is a sweet, funny, brilliant, loving little boy. But I knew something was wrong that was preventing him from leading a full and happy life, and I had no choice but to use every resource available to help him. I will never stop trying to find ways to help him live his life to the fullest extent.

autism_awareness_butterfly_3_lapel_sticker_48_pkMy hope is that, in this month of Autism Awareness, we become more conscious of what we can do to help our children. It will surely require time, effort, and patience, but it is so completely worth it to watch your child grow and develop and gain his life back. Autism recovery is real, and I am so very blessed to witness it in my home every day.

The Autism Society of Illinois is hosting the “Take a Step For Autism” Walk and Family Fun Day on April 30 at Southwind Park. For more information on medical conditions associated with autism, visit Autism is Medical,Talk About Curing Autism and Thinking Moms Revolution Red Flags Series.

Schwoerer family pic

 

Melissa Schwoerer is a mom to three fun-loving little boys, as well as an attorney and owner of Engrained Brewing Company with her husband Brent. She can be reached at melissa@engrainedbrewing.com.

looking_for_lincolnThe Lincoln Presidential Half Marathon, held on Saturday morning, April 2, will feature several new events and exhibits this year that will allow runners, spectators and area residents to further immerse themselves in Lincoln history.  The Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition, Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, and the National Park Service (NPS) have joined together to bring more interpreters dressed in 1800s apparel to Springfield to cheer on runners who will start and finish at the Old State Capitol and pass the Lincoln Law Office, Lincoln Home Site, and Lincoln Tomb during the 13.1 mile race. The two organization will host a “reviewing party” consisting of volunteers in period costumes in front of the Lincoln Home between 7:30 a.m. and 8:00 a.m.; activities for children at the Lincoln Home Site from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.; and exhibits from the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area on the north lawn of the Old State Capitol from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. All events are open to the public and not limited to participants of the half marathon.

The NPS, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, will host several activities for families with children at the Lincoln Home site starting at 8:00 a.m. Race spectators and residents with younger kids can stop by the lot across the street from the Lincoln Home and experience the types of games and toys that the Lincoln boys enjoyed, including graces, dancing bears and the cup and ball. Park rangers will have several activities, such as making haversacks. Children who participate can complete Junior Ranger activities and earn a Lincoln Home Centennial Junior Ranger badge. Streets around the Lincoln Home Site will be clear of runners starting at about 8:15 a.m.

The north lawn of the Old State Capitol serves as the finish line area of the race and new this year are interactive exhibits from several national heritage sites. There will be 1840’s reenactors, demonstrations and children’s games. Residents interested in visiting the Old State Capitol should plan to park a couple of blocks from the site as 5th Street between Jefferson and Adams will be closed until 11 a.m.

It’s a great way to enjoy summer at the Springfield Racquet & Fitness Center.  Join as an individual, couple or family membership.  You can add on one adult or babysitter addition to a Family Membership as well (Babysitter, Grandparent or Split Family Adult).

With four pools, plenty of lounge chairs and a snack bar, there is something for everyone:

Baby pool, kid pool 2 feet deep all around, Main pool with lap swim, two slides and a diving board/well. Call or visit today or complete your 2016 Summer Membership Application here.

SRFC_Camp_Kids bannerKids Camp Registration Early Bird Discount through mid-April.  For Kids ages 5-14…Learn about Kids Camp here!

 

Children Pool Members ages 6 and older can get involved in the Swim Team.Children ages 6 and older, who are able to swim one length of freestyle (with proper breathing) and one length of backstroke are encouraged to join in on the FUN!

The SRFC POOL is HEATED for Swimmer Enjoyment.

 

Register for the SRFC_Swim Team Registration 2016.

 

SRFC Banner3725 Chatham Road, Springfield, IL 217-787-2460 A full service Tennis, Pool and Fitness facility, serving the Springfield area for more than 30 years.

Join Today and receive two months free.

 

 

April is Autism Awareness Month! Are you aware of the resources available in Springfield?

Skill Sprout is a premier provider of services to children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, and they also offer many therapeutic and educational opportunities to children and adolescents of all ages and abilities. Taking a family-centered approach, our highly-trained and compassionate staff will work with you to develop the best plans and programs available, from initial screenings through intensive therapies. Our team specializes in a wide range of areas, and our services include Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapy, Occupational Therapy,Physical Therapy, Speech and Language Therapy, Social Skills andPeer Groups, Parent Counseling, Sibling Support Groups, School Consultation, Parent and Group Training, Tutoring, Preschool Readiness Programs, Science and Technology Exploration Programs, and more! Most services are available at our clinic location in Springfield, and many can be provided in-home and in-school by our talented team of professionals. Contact us for more information on how Skill Sprout can help your child grow today!

You can review other Autism Resources on our A-Z index as well.

 

 springfieldmoms.org/skill-sprout-services-for-autism-spectrum-disorders/

 

LiveWell Cube 200x120Remember when you were trying to talk your toddlers into eating something beyond Goldfish and foods doused in ketchup? My how the times do change. Except now your toddler is a teenager, and the temptations range from fast food to quick meals of processed foods high in fat and sodium eaten in the car in between sports practices, music lessons or general running around.

 

big family“Research shows that kids and teens that have family meals tend to do better in school and display higher levels of self-esteem,” said Cheri Harrison, MS, LCPC, pediatric program coordinator at the Memorial Center for Healthy Families. “They are also less likely to reach an unhealthy weight and more likely to engage in frequent family conversations.”

 

Check out this recent Live Well blog post which offers hope and practical tips for families who want to nurture better eating habits for their teenagers. March is National Nutrition Month. Be inspired and try some of these ideas out!

 

 

 

 

 

 

ChicagoSpring Break Sanity Savers: There are some super cool things going on over spring break. Take the train up and enjoy a day or two in the Windy City!

  • Spend an Astro-Overnight at Adler Planetarium! Still spots open for April 1. Talk about unique.
  • Go see a play! Matilda – based on Roald Dahl’s book – runs through April 10 at the Oriental Theatre.
  • Love toy stores that are full of creativity, magic and unique offerings? TimeOut Chicago shares their top picks for a Toy Store Tour.
  • Speaking of toys, the LegoLand Discovery Center has a new exhibit called MiniLand Chicago featuring Lego creations of Soldier Field, Willis Tower, O’Hare, Navy Pier, Buckingham Fountain and the Wrigley Building. More than 2 million Lego bricks!
  • Gorgeous spring weather on tap? The Chicago Botanic Garden and The Morton Arboretum in Lisle both offer fabulous walking trails and cool family-friendly indoor exhibits.
  • Weather cold and nasty? Head to Navy Pier for all kinds of excitement including the IMAX 3D, the Chicago Children’s Museum and Pets Unleashed!
  • Don’t forget our SpringfieldMoms comprehensive list of Chicago museums and other attractions here.