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10 Things to Know About Hidden Disabilities

January 5, 2016

By Jessica Vician

10 Things to Know About Hidden Disabilities | Between 13 to 20 percent of children in the U.S. experience a mental disorder each year, according to the CDC. That’s nearly one out of five kids. What can you do if your child shows signs of an issue? How can your treat your child’s friends and classmates who have special needs? | A teacher helps a girl learn.

Between 13 to 20 percent of children in the U.S. experience a mental disorder each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That’s nearly one out of five kids. What can you do if your child shows signs of an issue? How can your treat your child’s friends and classmates who have special needs?

In a guest post on Love That Max, filmmaker Dan Habib discusses 10 things people might not know about hidden disabilities. Usually labeled “emotional and behavioral disorders,” these disabilities include, but aren’t limited to: anxiety and depression, bipolar disorder, ADHD, and more.

Read the article to learn about these 10 things you should know about hidden disabilities. From Individual Education Plans (IEPs) and how the education system works with special needs to how some of these children communicate through their behavior, the post is an important read for parents of children with and without special needs.

After reading the article, check out the rest of the blog, written by a mother of three children. One of those children, Max, has cerebral palsy and inspired the “blog about kids with special needs who kick butt.”

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5 Ways to a Healthy Immune System This Holiday

December 1, 2015

By Jessica Vician

5 Ways to a Healthy Immune System This Holiday | December is a busy time for families. With the school parties, vacations, and family visits, it’s especially important to make an extra effort to keep the family healthy. Make sure you're doing most of these things to keep your child’s immune system healthy for the holidays.

December is a busy time for families. With the school parties, vacations, and family visits, it’s especially important to make an extra effort to keep the family healthy.

You might be thinking, “I can’t add anything else to my plate this month!” Don’t worry: you’re probably doing most of these things already to keep your child’s immune system healthy for the holidays. Check the list and add whatever you’re missing.

Teach Them to Avoid Germs 
Remind your kids that it’s especially important to wash their hands and avoid germs during the holidays. Every time they come inside, before eating, and after playtime, ask them to wash and dry their hands.

Discourage your kids from sharing drinks, food, or utensils with anyone during the holidays, too. Even with the best intentions, we all have different germs and can get each other sick.

Settle the Stomach
If your child has a party to attend or you know grandma makes lots of cookies for holiday dessert, ensure the day’s first meal healthy and packed with nutrients. Make a spinach, egg, and cheese sandwich on a whole-wheat English muffin, and include yogurt rich in probiotics.

For lunch, include those nutritious greens, grains, and protein and add a probiotic drink like GoodBelly to make sure your child’s stomach is ready for the heavier food.

Plan Physical Activities
The day after a big party, plan a fun physical activity with your child like sledding, ice skating, or going to an indoor trampoline park. The fun exercise will keep your child in peak physical condition and sweat out all those cookies!

Make Time for Resting
The holidays are a very stimulating time physically, socially, and emotionally. Make sure your child gets a little extra rest this month so he or she has enough time to recover. Even an extra half an hour of sleep goes a long way.

And for those days that you plan heavy exercise, remember that you’ll also need to plan a nap or early bedtime.

Remember The Multivitamins
Even with healthy eating, physical activity, and rest, your kids can still pick up a virus over the holidays. Encourage them to take their daily multivitamin and get plenty of vitamin C and zinc to ward off those viruses.

As always, before starting a new health regimen, check with your child’s pediatrician. These tips should help you and your children avoid getting sick over the holidays, but if your child has any special conditions, talk to the doctor first.

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12 Winter Exercises to Keep Your Kids Fit

November 19, 2015

By Jessica Vician

12 Winter Exercises to Keep Your Kids Fit | These are 12 easy and fun ways to keep the kids fit through the winter. Don’t let the weather stop your family from getting at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. | A young child and mother have a playful pillow fight with the father on the bed.

As the weather cools, it can be difficult to keep your child physically active indoors. While summers are full of playing outside, riding bicycles, rollerblading, and even hoverboarding, the cooler temperatures and wet weather puts an end to the outdoor fun.

But just because the kids are inside doesn’t mean the exercise and fun should stop. Exercise is critical to your child’s physical development and must continue in every season to help your child:

  • Strengthen his or her bones and muscles
  • Reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes
  • Lower his or her blood pressure and blood cholesterol (yes, it’s important for kids, too!)
  • Reduce and cope with stress

Kids ages 5-12 should have at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day, according to the National Association for Sport and Physical Education.

While your school-aged child should get some of that 60 minutes during recess, fill in the extra time (and get the full 60+ minutes on the weekends) with these fun activities both in and out of the home.

In Your Home

1. Crank up the tunes and throw a dance party. Practice routines from YouTube videos.

2. Hop on the bed and have gentle pillow fights.

3. Host hallway races, encouraging the kids to beat their best times.

4. Have a big basement? Play crab soccer.

5. Run to find the best hiding spot during a physical game of hide and seek. 

Outside the Home

6. Visit a trampoline park for bouncing basketball, dodgeball, or just jumping.

7. Find an indoor laser tag center for running, hiding, and fun in the dark.

8. Roll your little ballers into a family bowling night.

9. Kids can practice their swings at an indoor golf center in the off-season.

10. Swim their energy away at an indoor pool.

11. Practice a single lutz or play hockey at an indoor or outdoor ice skating rink.

12. Have a snowball fight after each big snow.

These are 12 easy and fun ways to keep the kids fit through the winter. Don’t let the weather stop your family from getting at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. Join in on the fun for your health and fun family memories.

What activities do you do with your family in winter? Tell us in the comments below.

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5 Healthy and Creative Halloween Party Foods

October 6, 2015

By Nikki Cecala

It’s difficult to come up with healthy, satisfying treats for children at Halloween parties, so I recently took on the challenge. Not only did I try to find amazing recipes for all ages to enjoy, but I also tried to make the food so appealing that the kiddies would beg for more!

These recipes were the biggest hits for the eyes and the taste buds. Bring these fun treats to your child’s classroom Halloween party or to the family bash you’re throwing this year.

BOOnana Pops

5 Healthy and Creative Halloween Party Food | Boonana pops, recipe and photo via Amber's Recipes | Banana pops covered in white chocolate with chocolate chips for the eyes and mouths of the ghosts.

Photo and recipe via Amber's Recipes

Ingredients and materials:
Skewers (sharp edges trimmed) or wooden or plastic treat sticks
Bananas (one banana will give you two pops)
White chocolate
Raisins or chocolate chips

First, slice the banana in half. Insert the skewer or wooden/plastic stick into the thick end of each banana half. Place the bananas on wax paper or a plate and put in the freezer for at least three hours.

Once the bananas are frozen, place the white chocolate in the microwave (30 seconds) or in a pot on the stove to melt. Stir it frequently. I recommend putting the melted white chocolate in mug so it’s easier to dip the banana into. Dip the bananas in the white chocolate one at a time and then place on the wax paper.

Quickly add the chocolate chips or raisins for the eyes (and mouth if you prefer) before the chocolate hardens. When finished, place back into the freezer until ready to serve.

Frankenguac

5 Healthy and Creative Halloween Party Foods | Frankenguac, recipe and photo via Dine and Dish | Frankenstein's face is made of guacamole, with blue corn chips serving as hair, sour cream as eyeballs, and olives as pupils and the mouth.

Photo and recipe via Dine and Dish.

This is a fun and quick recipe.

Ingredients:
A batch of your favorite guacamole
Handful of blue tortilla chips
2 tablespoons sour cream
¼ cup sliced black olives

First, make sure you have a rectangular platter. Spoon the guacamole onto the platter using a flat-edged rubber scraper to shape the guacamole.

Place the blue tortilla chips near the top of Frankenstein’s head with the triangle tip pointing downward. Add two dollops of sour cream a few inches under the chips onto the guacamole for the eyes. Place a sliced black olive in the middle of the sour cream eyes, with the hole of the olive facing down.

As for the mouth, I recommend looking at a picture of Frankenstein to get the idea. Push sliced olives with the rounded edges facing up into the guacamole.

Bloody Brains

5 Healthy and Creative Halloween Party Foods | Bloody brains made with cauliflower and beet hummus. Recipe and photo via Jeanette's Healthy Living

Recipe and photo via Jeanette's Healthy Living

Scare the kids with this healthy treat!

Ingredients and materials:
1 head cauliflower (cut into florets)
Virgin olive oil
Salt
Ground pepper
6 roasted beets
¼ cup roasted pine nuts
Balsamic vinegar
Parchment paper

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Toss the cut up cauliflower with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place a piece of parchment paper onto the baking sheet. Roast the cauliflower for about 20-30 minutes or until tender.

In a food processor or blender, combine the roasted beets and pine nuts, blending until the nuts are finely ground. Add olive oil and vinegar and blend again until smooth. Use a spoon to smear the roasted beet hummus or “blood” on a plate and top with the “brain,” (the cauliflower).

Dracula’s Teeth

5 healthy and creative Halloween Party Foods | Dracula's dentures are made of cookies, marshmallows for teeth, red-tinted vanilla frosting for gums, and slivered almonds for fangs. | Photo and recipe via The Girl Who Ate Everything

Photo and recipe via The Girl Who Ate Everything

This was super fun to make. While it’s more delicious than healthy, you can vary the recipe to swap a gluten-free version of the cookies if needed.

Ingredients:
1 package refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough (or your favorite cookie recipe)
½ cup red-tinted vanilla frosting
1¾ cup miniature marshmallows
Slivered almonds

Prepare cookies as directed on package or according to your favorite recipe. Once the cookies are cooled, cut each in half for 48 halves (assuming you make 24 cookies). Then, frost the bottoms of all the cookie halves.

Place six marshmallow teeth around the curved edges of 24 halves. Place the other frosted cookie half on top of the marshmallows. Insert two almond slivers in between the teeth for fangs. If the fangs do not stay put, dip the tips into the frosting.

Pumpkin Fudge

5 healthy and creative Halloween party foods | Pumpkin fudge recipe via Blissful Basil.

Photo and recipe via Blissful Basil

Did you really think I was going to give you five recipes and not include pumpkin? You can decorate this fudge how you please after it’s made, but here is the basic recipe that is “vegan, gluten-free, paleo, and free of refined sugars,” according to Ashley at Blissful Basil.

Ingredients:
½ cup of coconut butter (NOT oil)
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons canned pumpkin purée
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons creamy almond butter
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
Fine grain sea salt

Place all the ingredients in a medium saucepan over slow heat. For 3-5 minutes, whisk constantly until everything is melted.

Using coconut butter, grease a small container (3x5 or 4x6) and pour the mix into the container. Freeze for one hour.

Remove the block of fudge from the container by turning it over and tapping until the fudge releases. Cut the fudge up into small slices and store in the refrigerator (for soft fudge) or freezer (for firm fudge).

What are your favorite healthy Halloween recipes? Share with us in the comments below.

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Save Your Child’s Immunization Records

September 1, 2015

By Jessica Vician

Save Your Child’s Immunization Records | How long should you save your child's immunization records? Until they finish their doctorate. Once your child graduates from high school, they will need those records to apply for undergrad, graduate, and post-graduate school, so keep them just in case. | A doctor fills out an immunization form.

You know you need to save your child’s immunization records for a while, but just how long should you save them?

The short answer? Until your child finishes a doctoral program.

I know it seems extreme, but the reality is that pediatricians aren’t in business forever. While high schools keep records for some time after students graduate, if you or your child moves away, it’s hard to track those records down.

11 years after graduating high school, I decided to go to graduate school and needed to provide proof of certain immunizations. At that point, I had no idea where those records were. My pediatrician had retired long ago, and my undergraduate school wasn’t able to provide them. Luckily, my high school still had my records and my parents still lived nearby so my mom was able to pick them up for me.

However, most high schools won’t keep these records for more than a few years after graduation. To avoid your child needing to repeat vaccines or have extensive blood work done to prove immunity, keep these immunization records until your child is ready to take them for safe keeping.

The vaccines required may vary by state and school, but generally your child will need proof of the following:

  • Measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR)
  • Meningococcal meningitis
  • Tetanus/Diphtheria
  • Hepatitis B

While your child might not have plans for graduate or doctoral studies right now, keep those immunization records in a safe place for many years after he or she graduates from high school, especially if you move. It might not seem like a big deal now, but your child will thank you if he or she ever pursues an advanced degree.

To learn more about college and career readiness and supporting your child’s health, read the YOU: Your Child’s First Teacher 3-book set, available on Amazon.

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