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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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    Local UIS Professor and research is looking for caregivers and teachers to help identify important early characteristics for school readiness and get an evaluation of your child’s cognitive skills and a gift card to Target. We are currently conducting a research study examining early social emotional development and school readiness in children ages 30 to 42 months at the University of Illinois Springfield and need your help. Your involvement would be easy, convenient, and compensated with a $20 gift card to Target for families or a $10 gift card to Target for teachers. 

    If you agree to participate, I would mail you a few questionnaires to complete at your convenience. Questions pertain to basic demographic information, items of importance for school readiness, and social emotional development. Additionally, caregivers and children will be invited to our lab on campus whenever it is most convenient so the child can participate in a 30 minute to 1 hour long fun, play-based assessment of their current cognitive skills. 

    Please contact Dr. Michele Miller if you have any questions, would like a more detailed description of the project, and/or would like to participate. Email: mmill36@uis.edu

    or call  217-206-8058 Thank you for your consideration of our child development research!​

    It was a day in the life of a doctor for elementary school kids that visited HSHS St. John’s Children’s Hospital yesterday for “Operation Kid Clinic.” They ventured into a day of a doctor putting on stethoscopes, wearing surgical gear and experiencing what it’s like to work in a hospital. They experienced the health care environment through three different specialized stations. With the help of our healthcare team, the kids designed their very own doll to be their patient. Then, in Operation Kid Clinic, they checked the doll’s vitals with a stethoscope, blood pressure cuff and thermometer then will start an IV on the “patient.”  The kids will also get to see how therapists in pediatric rehabilitation help our smallest patients. The kids coming to the visits are part of Camp Compass a free summer program for at-risk elementary students of Springfield School District 186. Camp Compass is designed to improve reading and math skills to prevent learning loss over the summer months. Camp Compass is an academic intervention where licensed teachers instruct the students three hours per day, five days per week, for the six weeks of camp. 

    Thank you to the staff at HSHS St. John’s Children’s Hospital for providing this memorable experience!

    Baby in carseatIt’s summer, and that means travel to visit family, friends and, of course, a vacation spot! Here are 5 things to know before you hit the road to make sure your kids are as safe as possible as you travel.

    1. Get your child’s car seat checked by a certified child passenger safety technician.

    Why is this important? Because 80% of car seats are not installed correctly. Correct installation matters in a car crash so take the time to make sure that your child’s seat is in the safest position in your car and tightly attached to your vehicle. This can be done by calling the Illinois Department of Transportation or the Secretary of State and making an appointment. You can also go to a community checkpoint where no appointment is needed. These are held on a monthly basis here in Springfield and the surrounding communities. Best of all- there is no cost for this service! Details on year-round safety check locations.

    2. Keep your child rear facing until at least 2 years of age.car seat 2011 [1]

    The recommendation for how long to rear face your child changed in April 2011. In fact, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), it is actually safer to rear face up to age 4. Research has shown that for kids less than 2 years of age, rear facing is 500% safer than forward facing when it comes to preventing severe injuries. Rear facing seats support your child’s head and protect their spinal cord until their bones and muscles are strong enough to do it in a forward facing car seat.

    3. Keep your child in a 5 point harness until they outgrow it.

    The harness in a car seat contacts your child at 5 points: shoulder, shoulder, hip, hip, and crotch. When properly tightened it keeps your child correctly positioned inside of his seat during travel and of course, a car crash. Harness limits start at 40 pounds and go as high as 65 pounds. This being said, kids are often moved to a booster seat too soon. Boosters are designed to position an adult seat belt on child’s body but they aren’t able to position your child correctly 100% of the time. That is up to the child. Therefore, the decision to move from harness to booster is related to your child’s maturity. The ability to sit correctly for the entire ride, 100% of the time, happens somewhere past the age of 5 for most kids.

    4. Kids should always ride in the back seat until the age of 13.

    There are two main reasons for keeping kids in the back seat. The first is that over 60% of crashes come from the front of the car. The further that your child is from the point of impact, the safer they are. Kids are 40% less likely to be seriously injured when they are properly restrained in the back seat.

    The second reason is that the air bag in the front passenger seat is designed for adults, not children. When a child is unable (or unwilling) to wear an adult seat belt properly they may sit too close to the air bag. Sitting too close to the air bag at the time of a crash has been shown to cause serious injuries, and even fatalities, to children.

    5. Know the child passenger safety laws in the states that you will be traveling to and through.

    These laws are different from state to state. Be sure to check on the state(s) that you are traveling through on the way to your destination to see what they require for car seat use. Illinois law states that your child must be secured in the appropriate car seat until they reach the age of 8. Other states have higher ages listed before the child is allowed to be in a seat belt.

    And one final word about state laws. Some of them meet the safety guidelines from the AAP but most do not. Your child passenger safety technician is trained to teach you how to seat your child the in the safest way possible according to current research and science. It will be up to you ultimately to decide how your child will ride.

     

    Having been a parent who was sent to the car seat certification course when my own children were ages 2 and 5, I thought I knew what I was doing. It was a humbling experience to find out that most of what I was doing was incorrect. I was lucky not to have been in a car crash with the car seats installed as badly as they were. While attending the class those mistakes were corrected. I am a firm believer that once you know better, you can do better. So parents, make your appointment and let a technician teach you how to install your car seat so that your child will have the safest ride this summer!

    Susan O’Connor RN, BSN is the Patient and Community Educator at The Birth Center at St. John’s Hospital. She has been a certified child passenger safety technician for 15 years.

    Resources:

    Where to get your car seat checked: st-johns.org

    The American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations for car seats: healthychildren.org

    Questions and answers about extended rear facing: autobytel.com

    Illinois child passenger safety law: buckleupillinois.org

    Child passenger safety laws by state: csftl.org

    2008_septemberarts_in_the_park-018We asked our facebook followers, what is your best advice for raising a toddler or PreK child?   We were overwhelmed with the response! There were many great tips and wonderful pieces of advice.  We all know what wonderful and magical spirits two, three, and four year olds have; but we also know how difficult they can be at times.  Below is a list of the top 15 parenting tips for toddlers from our readers.

    15. Teach them Manners.  Several of our readers talked about the importance of manners.  Learning manners and social skills help children navigate the world of friendships and relationships.

    14. Let them help with tasks around the house.  While it may take a lot longer to get things done with little ones helping it will teach them responsibility.  They will take pride in small accomplishments.

    13. Remember Each Child is Different.  What worked for your older children may not work for their younger siblings.  Adapt for each child’s personality.

    12.  Be a Role Model.  Remember they are watching every move.  They learn from you.  How you handle disappointment will be how they learn to handle it as well.

    11. Teach them to play by themselves as well as with others.  Learning to entertain themselves is a wonderful skill for them to have.  Making sure they socialize with others is also very important.  Provide opportunities for both.

    10. Sometimes let the meltdowns happen.  A good cry can help children recuperate and move on.  Sometimes this goes for parents too.

    9. Make Messes.  This age is full of exploration.  Let them really experience their world.  Have fun and get messy with them.

    8. Have realistic expectations.  Remember they are only two, three, or four.  A great tip a reader shared was after explaining something, allow them time to comprehend what you just said.  

    7.  Say “Yes” as much as you can.  We all respond better to positivity.  One reader said “Saying ‘Yes’ will help them deal with the times you have to say ‘no’.” little boy with glasses looking up

    6.  Daily Routines.  When children know what to expect they are able to better deal with their surroundings. Routines help children transition from one activity to another.

    5.  Take Lots of Pictures.  They grow so quickly that you want to capture this moment.

    4.  Live in the moment and slow down.  Don’t take so many pictures that you aren’t actively participating in the moment.  While you may want to capture every moment on film, it’s ok to take mental pictures sometime instead.

    3.  Trust Yourself.  No one knows your kiddos as well as you.  You know what is best.  Go with your gut.

    2.  Love, Love, Love!  Teach them that your love will be there no matter what.  Play with them as much as possible and give lots of hugs.

    1.  Have a sense of humor.  The most common trend from our readers: Sometimes you just have to laugh.

    List compiled by Lauren Coleman, a busy Springfield Mom of two daughters.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Headed to the beach this summer?  Jumping in your car to go camping? What about jet setting off to sight see New York?  Great!  Now pack everything that you own so that you have everything the baby will need.  What I once was able to do in one suitcase now takes close to three bags, a stroller, car seat and pack and play.  So what do some of the amazing parental road warriors have for suggestions when traveling with a little one to make it easier and relaxing?  Here is our top ten musts for traveling with a baby:

    1. When packing, sort outfits into ziploc bags to keep pieces together and label for the day.  Hair bows, socks, pants, onesie, pajamas can all fit into a bag and make it easier to sort through at your destination.
    2. Pack any medicine you may think you will need OR have ever used in your life.  When you get to the top of the mountain and there isn’t a grocery or pharmacy in sight; that is the time your little love will spike a fever.  Have the meds and a thermometer ready to go.
    3. Speaking of spiking a fever, remember to have all insurance and i.d. forms with you.  Emergency trips in the middle of the night in Palm Springs because you think your new little walker may have broken their leg, go a lot smoother if you have your insurance info.
    4. When loading all million items into your cool, hip, mini van; make sure to leave a space that can easily shift into a diaper changing station.  We have all been to a gas station that is the stuff nightmares are mad of.  Make sure there is a back up plan.  Also, this way Dad can change some diapers too since very few stations have them in the men’s room.  
    5. Figure out where the baby will sleep and have them sleep like that leading up to the trip.  Currently my little guy is tucked in, in his pack and play because he will be sleeping in it at the hotel this weekend and I wanted him to get used to it.  We have changed our kiddos bed up a few times and it was so disorienting that they had difficulty sleeping.  Trust me it’s much better to struggle through the night in the comfort of your own home than all family members shoved in one hotel room with a crying baby.
    6. EXTRA PACIFIERS!!!!! This needs no explanation.  Just don’t forget them.  Especially when flying for their little ears.
    7. Speaking of flying, guess what?  Everyone on that plane was a baby at one point and time.  If you have to get from point A to point B and your little nugget cries, apologize and ignore they nasty glares.  You are doing your best and most people have been there before.  Give yourself a break!
    8. Pack a change of clothes somewhere that is easily accessible.  Your baby will have a blow out, be ready!
    9. A mirror to help you see your rear facing child will help you and entertain the baby. 
    10. Last travel tip and the most important: Family vacations can be stressful but the memories you make will last a lifetime.  You will never get these years back… take the trip!  Babies who start traveling turn into good travelers. Have fun Mom and Dad!! You got this!! 

    During the summer we try to spend as much time outdoors but some days are just too hot.  Beat the heat with these three movies this summer.  

     

    Cars 3:  Disney’s Cars 3 is a fun family movie for all ages.  We chose to enjoy this movie at the Drive In and it got a thumbs up from everyone.  Is Lighting McQueen ready to hang up the tires?  Blindsided by a new generation of blazing-fast cars, the legendary Lighting McQueen finds himself pushed out of the sport that he loves. Hoping to get back in the game, he turns to Cruz Ramirez, an eager young technician who has her own plans for winning. With inspiration from the Fabulous Hudson Hornet and a few unexpected turns, No. 95 prepares to compete on Piston Cup Racing’s biggest stage.  For Showtimes Click here! 

     

    Despicable M3: We watched this movie at the new Imax.  The seats are great but if you are looking to save money enjoy on the regular screen.  This movie is recommended for ages 7 and older but we took our kiddos that are just a bit younger. This wasn’t our favorite in the trilogy but Gru and his Minions always provide a good laugh. The mischievous Minions hope that Gru will return to a life of crime after the new boss of the Anti-Villain League fires him. Instead, Gru decides to remain retired and travel to Freedonia to meet his long-lost twin brother for the first time. The reunited siblings soon find themselves in an uneasy alliance to take down the elusive Balthazar Bratt, a former 1980s child star who seeks revenge against the world.  For Showtimes Click here! 

     

    Wonder Woman:  We broke a rule that we never do in seeing this movie.  On PG 13 movies we have always pre screened before showing the kiddos.  We had heard too many amazing reviews and listened to several friends and family who insisted that the girls could probably handle it.  We probably won’t be breaking that rule again.  Don’t get me wrong Wonder Woman was AMAZING!!! Loved the story and my girls thought it was awesome, however there were some violent parts as well as brief nudity.  While this movie isn’t bloody, the battle scenes are intense and the story takes place during WWII.  While it was awesome that afterwards when we went home the girls played Wonder Woman for a couple hours in the pool instead of mermaids at night there were some bad dreams.  The premise of this movie is before she was Wonder Woman she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained to be an unconquerable warrior. Raised on a sheltered island paradise, Diana meets an American pilot who tells her about the massive conflict that’s raging in the outside world. Convinced that she can stop the threat, Diana leaves her home for the first time. Fighting alongside men in a war to end all wars, she finally discovers her full powers and true destiny.   We give this movie two thumbs up but please pay attention to the PG 13 rating. For Showtimes Click here! 

    Visitors who donate a backpack for students get free admission to Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

    Anyone who donates a sturdy new backpack for Springfield school children in July will get free admission to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.

    All backpacks will benefit the students of Springfield Public School District 186. The backpacks should be new and sturdy enough for students to carry books and school supplies.

    “The ultimate mission of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is education. This exchange is a great way to make school a little easier for students and simultaneously give people yet another reason to come learn about the nation’s greatest president,” said ALPLM Executive Director Alan Lowe.

    Donors can bring their backpacks to the presidential museum and tour immediately or get a coupon for free admission later this year. Donors can also drop them off and pick up admission coupons at The Real Estate Group, 3701 W. Wabash Ave., Springfield.

    Backpacks can cost just $10, so donors not only do a good deed but also save money off the regular admission price of $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and $6 for children. Find out more at www.presidentlincoln.illinois.gov.

     

     

    Looking for a quick adventure?  

    Just 18-24 hours away from our homes can do a lot of good in refreshing our energy and procrastinating to-do lists that never end!  There are so many options within a few hours drive; so scroll through our list of suggestions and find something NEW! Bloomington, Lincoln, New Salem, Peoria, St. Louis, Chicago or neighboring states for outdoor/indoor waterparks.  Let us know your favorites, and we will keep spotlighting ours too.  One of our recent faves?  Yucandu Art Studio in Webster Groves Missouri.  Spend a few hours being creative.

    Check out our Day Trip Diversions

    It’s summer and that means free time! So I recruited my daughters to make a video on how to make fluffy slime.  It’s fun to make and will last when you keep it in a ziploc bag. 🙂

    Enjoy!

    Help track attendance at the Old Capitol Farmers Market and enjoy your visit at the same time!

    The Illinois Stewardship Alliance needs your help at the Old Capitol Farmers Market! Volunteering at the market is a great way to support your community; meet new friends; learn more about local farms, chefs, bakers, and other vendors; and get a behind-the-scenes look at the people and faces that help make our farmers market the place to be every Saturday morning. The Old Capitol Farmers Market is all about building a thriving local community and creating a sense of place here in Springfield. 

    Volunteers are welcome to sign up for a single date, multiple dates, or the whole season!

    Volunteers will count people entering the market for a 20-minute period each hour. People watching at its finest! In between counts, volunteers are welcome to shop and enjoy the market, including live music, fitness activities, yoga, and chef demonstrations! There are just two 20-minute counts each shift, which means you get to spend just as much time eating breakfast tacos and watching chef demos as you do volunteering. That’s the kind of volunteer style we’re all about! We have two shifts available, the first is from 8:00 am – 9:45 am and the second from 10:00 am – 11:45 am.

    Your help measuring market attendance allows us to document the importance of the market to our community and local economy. 

    We’re counting market visitors every Saturday and once a month on Wednesdays. The market runs through October 28th

    We would love your help!

    Email marisa@ilstewards.org OR Ready to sign up? SIGN UP HERE