Easiest Ways to Play with Your Babies and Toddlers to Promote Healthy Development

From Ms Barb and Ms Vanessa at the Lily Pad Lab

1. Blocks
-Stack them and knock them down (cause/effect).
-Line them up and make a train (counting, pre-reading if you line up left to right, fine-motor, language “choo-choo”).
-Sort them by color or size (math readiness).
-Drop them into a bucket (cause/effect, fine-motor, object permanence by looking for the missing blocks).
-Bang them together and its imitation, which is needed to develop language for babies.

2. Teach your child easy baby signs to reduce frustration. Remember communication is the key, not exact pronunciations at this stage. Kids need a way to say what they need/want, and sign language gets the job done. Try “more, all-done, eat, drink, want, and help.” After that, try adding some animal signs or ones more relevant to your family.

3. Sing songs!

4. Read books!

5. Talk about the sounds things make, like animal noises or cars/trucks for example (language development).

6. Let kids empty the “plastic container drawers” and then show them how to put it all back in.  Much of early childhood is spent taking things out and putting them back in again.  Play with boxes and other containers.

7. Roll kids in a blanket (leave head out) and pretend they are a taco.  Add lots of “toppings” by gently or firmly patting them. Talkers can say what they want added, and non-talkers just love to be looked at and talked to.  A gentle tickle is fun too. Kids love this game and enjoy the silliness of it. Parents can also have a turn being the “taco.”

8. Try at least 5 or 10 minutes a day to talk less and give more eye contact to your child. Let the child lead the activity while the parent engages with their presence. Put the phone away and follow your child’s lead. Even if you are quiet the entire 10 minutes and only smile and look into your child’s eyes, you will be amazed at what you find. This activity fills their need to be loved and noticed and cherished.

9. Kids also love to dress up and do pretend play. Even if you don’t have costumes, pretending to be dogs or cars or monsters can be very entertaining for kids (language development and social/emotional health).

10. String beads (or pasta with wide holes, or cheerios).
Play with glue, markers, washable paint, sand, and crayons.

11. Make playdough and play! Those activities are good for fine-motor skills like eye-hand coordination and also language development.

Camp for Kids with Asthma

By Carol Rudd, Healing Choices Oasis

I was one—a kid with asthma. I know what it feels like to be short of breath! I was a sick, asthmatic kid that wasn’t able to exercise much. I missed out on a lot of fun activities with family and friends because my asthma would flare up when I got excited. So, vacations, holidays, stress at school, or even catching a cold could lay me low for weeks. I always wondered, “Why me?” “What did I do to deserve this?” I felt something was wrong with me, that I was weak and everyone was better than me. My parents tried to help and overprotected me most of the time, saying, “You shouldn’t go outside, Carol, it’s too cold.” I missed out on a lot of living. As a child, I felt that my asthma controlled me. In my teenage years, I finally started taking control of my asthma. I paid more attention to my breathing, and with avoidance of my triggers, life got a little easier.

I wish someone had told me when I was young that I would live through this. At twenty-five I realized I wasn’t going to die from my asthma and decided I better figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I learned more about my lungs, became a respiratory therapist, and worked with both kids and adults for the last forty-one years. While I never outgrew my asthma, I did learn to live and even thrive with my limitations.

My dream is to help kids (and parents) with asthma learn to live and cope better with the symptoms of asthma and grow to be strong, independent adults. Kamp KiWA (Kids With Asthma) is a half-day camp for elementary-age children (about eight to eleven years old), who are newly diagnosed with asthma or are struggling with symptoms. The program will include tips I have personally learned over the years plus the National Asthma Guidelines and current medication, nutrition, and coping strategies. Additionally, alternative healing practices such as qigong and meditation will be included in this interactive, hands-on learning event. I look forward to helping every child breathe better.

There is only room for twelve students, so call Carol soon at 715-852-0303 to reserve your spot.

Kamp KiWA March 24, 2018
$150 per child (parent is encouraged to attend)
9:00 am to 2:00 pm (includes lunch and snacks)
Healing Choices Oasis, 2711 Pleasant St. Eau Claire, WI

As a licensed massage therapist focused on energy healing, and a registered respiratory therapist, Carol combines the best of Eastern and Western medicine. She opened her massage practice in 2001 offering AMMA Therapy (based in traditional Chinese medicine). Since then she has offered tai chi, qigong, and meditation. Her new adventures include FIT2Breathe! and Kamp KiWA. After forty-one years in the healthcare industry serving those struggling to breathe, she is passionate about offering programs that help children or adults in our community with COPD, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and asthma.

Nonjudgmental Mindfulness Practice in the New Year

By Ann Brand, PhD

January is that time of year we embark on our radical plans for self-improvement. We look at ourselves with dismay, berate ourselves for mistakes and poor choices made in the past year, and come up with a long list of the ways we are going to eat healthier, be more fit, get organized, and improve our flaws. We charge ahead with this ideal in mind, ready to take on the new year. And then by the end of January, we are right back where we started, failing to meet our lofty expectations and kicking our self for blowing our New Year’s resolutions once again. It is an all-too-familiar cycle. Mindfulness practice is one way to interrupt this painful cycle. Mindful awareness can support us in making wise, healthy changes that we can sustain throughout the new year.

Change begins with awareness. We must first pay attention to our present experience, so we can see clearly what needs to change. That means seeing our experience as it is right now, not how we would like it to be. It is difficult to look at the unskillful patterns getting the way of well-being. We might see the ways we are not taking care of ourselves and the well-worn patterns behind our unhealthy habits. Perhaps we drink too much when we are anxious, or eat when we are lonely, or consistently put others’ needs before our own, leading to emotional burnout and poor health. Mindfulness practice supports us in staying present to our experience without judgment. We can see our unskillful patterns with kindness and gentleness instead of the harsh critic of self-improvement. With this clarity, we can make wiser changes that will support us in meeting our goals in sustainable ways.

Change is difficult. Our habits and patterns are engrained, and we are likely to slip up along the way. Maybe we are seeing our goals for the new year as a way of punishing ourselves for past failings. When we make a mistake in meeting those goals, it reinforces this self-punishment, sabotaging our efforts. “See,” our inner critic says, “you will never stop smoking, lose weight, run that marathon,” and then we give up. Mindfulness practice cultivates the awareness needed to keep us out of our judging, reactive mind, allowing us to stay present to our experience with kindness. We can then make a wiser choice to move forward in the face of an obstacle. Maybe the initial goal we set was too big to start with, and instead of giving up, we can see clearly how to readjust to support our long-term well-being. Mindfulness practice fosters the willpower we need to compassionately begin again when we make a mistake.

Maybe your first intention for the new year is to cultivate nonjudgmental present moment awareness through the practice of mindfulness. Try reading a book like Real Happiness by Sharon Salzburg or take a mindfulness class, all in support of changes that lead to sustainable, healthy habits for the year ahead.

Ann Brand, PhD, is a mindfulness meditation teacher and lecturer at UW–Stout in the School of Education. She teaches mindfulness classes in Eau Claire at The Center and can be reached at annbrand365@gmail.com.

Natural Preventions for Cold and Flu Season

By Nyssa Langlois, Writer & Copy Editor for Farm Table Foundation

Winter in the Midwest is renowned for its intense cold; many stay cooped up indoors simply to avoid the icy wind whipping across their faces. Unfortunately, perpetually staying inside, coupled with the many social gatherings taking place around the holidays, tends to lend itself to the spread of nasty colds and the flu. While many respond to these heinous illnesses by venturing to the nearest drugstore to cure their sickness, home remedies can be just as, if not more so, effective in combating colds and the flu. Nancy Graden, owner and operator of Red Clover Herbal Apothecary Farm in Amery, Wisconsin, has been practicing the art of sustainable, plant-based home remedies for several years, and has multiple recommendations for encouraging wellness this season.

First and foremost, hydration is crucial. With this in mind, you can add many natural ingredients to your beverages that will assist in preventing you from becoming sick. Graden’s best recommendation for preventing the flu would be to add elderberries, or elderberry syrup, into your diet. Elderberries have incredibly effective antiviral properties, and Graden uses elderberry concoctions as her natural alternative to a flu shot. Another preventative method, geared more toward colds, would be to drink a mix of hot water and echinacea (commonly known as coneflower) leaves; echinacea contains several elements that help more effectively stimulate the immune system, therefore enhancing your defenses against contracting a cold or flu.

While adding different plants to your drinks is an effective way to prevent the spread of sickness, it is also a good idea to add natural defenses to your food. Nancy highly recommends increasing your garlic consumption; garlic is incredibly helpful when fighting off a cold or a cough due its possession of allicin–a powerful antioxidant. This bulb can easily be added to a variety of dishes and can be used to infuse different oils for more versatility when cooking. Graden recommends adding fresh garlic to meals, as the bulb will lose some of its antioxidant properties once cooked.

Ginger root also combats the common cold and typically helps reduce nausea, which frequently accompanies the flu. Like garlic, ginger can be added to many different recipes and infuse oils, but it can also be used to infuse honey, and it easily spices up different tea blends. Graden recommends a simple blend of honey, lemon, and ginger in hot water during the chilly months to prevent and remedy colds.

Despite our best efforts, sometimes our defensive preparation cannot thwart illness entirely. When illness hits, specifically colds, Graden recommends using eucalyptus essential oils in hot water to stimulate the clearing of sinus infections and to open airways. An additional healing method, particularly for sore throats, Graden recommends gargling with a combination of cayenne and salt water every hour, as the cayenne helps stimulate blood flow to clear infection faster.

For additional preventative and healing techniques through the use of natural products, Nancy Graden can be reached on her website: www.redcloverapothecary.com.

Nyssa Langlois studied at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire and worked as a program advisor for World Endeavors. Her current positions are copy editor, writer & server extraordinaire for Farm Table Foundation in Amery, Wisconsin.

Tips to Keep a Weight Loss Resolution on Track

by Victoria Vande Zande, MD, Prevea Health Internal Medicine

The start of a new year can be a great time to make positive changes in your life. According to Proactive Change 2016, more than 40 percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions. The key is to be one of the 8 percent who achieve their resolution. Striving for healthier habits and weight loss are among the most common New Year’s resolutions. Here are some tips to help you stay on track with your healthier lifestyle resolution.

Set realistic goals and write them down: If you truly want to do something, write it down. Mark your goals on a calendar or on a to-do list. Meet mini goals such as: week one, eat one more serving of vegetables per day; week two, drink eight glasses of water per day; week three, remove sugared drinks from diet; week four, walk three days per week, etc. Do these and you are well on your way to a healthier lifestyle. It may also be helpful to set definite dates for long-term goals. Remember, it took more than a couple of weeks to gain weight, so it will take some time to lose it as well. It really is a lifestyle change.

Journal: Keep a detailed record of your weight loss, daily activity, dietary intake, and how you are feeling. You will be able to see what you are actually eating, and this may help you to figure out what your problem areas are. You may be surprised at how many calories you are consuming in a day. You should also be able to correlate how you are feeling with your diet and activity.

Remove temptations: Leave the temptations at the grocery store. It is much easier to give in if these foods are readily available. Allow yourself to give into cravings only when you are outside of your home and only in one serving portions.

Support system: Find a buddy that has some of the same goals as you do. You can share your ideas, plans, successes, and failures on a regular basis. It is also important to involve your family and friends so they can support you.
Photograph yourself: Pictures don’t lie. Take a photo of yourself every week and monitor your progress. The scale may not show that you have lost weight because of change in body composition, but you should be able to watch your progress through the pictures. You could also do body measurements or monitor your body composition over time.

Give yourself a break: Don’t beat yourself up if something doesn’t work. Figure out what you could do differently to get better results next time. The same things don’t work for everyone. If you have a bad meal or a bad week, make sure to stay positive and get back on track as soon as possible.
Keep your eyes on the prize with the ultimate prize being a better life and being healthier. Healthy people have more energy, more fun, and ultimately, more time.

A Weight Loss Program That Works
For some, a more structured diet is necessary. For these people, Prevea Health offers Ideal Weigh. Ideal Weigh is a medically supervised weight loss program that uses Ideal Protein foods along with vegetables, protein, and supplements to achieve weight loss. With Ideal Weigh, carbohydrates are limited to push your body into ketosis. During ketosis your body burns fat first. Since you are eating more protein, your body doesn’t burn muscle. In fact, patients on Ideal Weigh have improved body composition (decreased fat and increased muscle) and lose inches. Additional benefits? Patients with diabetes and high blood pressure are often able to decrease the medications they are on, or discontinue them altogether. Patients who have difficulty with fertility due to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can have improved fertility. Patients with muscle and joint pain will often have improvement due to decreased inflammation when they decrease their simple carbohydrate intake. To learn more visit prevea.com/weightloss.

Dr. Vande Zande is an internal medicine physician with Prevea Health in Eau Claire, Cornell, and Chippewa Falls. She provides routine care for adults including preventative medicine and diagnosis and treatment of conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, joint pain, heart disease, and depression. She is also the medical director for Prevea’s medically supervised weight loss program, Ideal Weigh. Visit prevea.com to learn more.