Who Says Parenting Is Easy?

By Melinda Gardner, Executive Director of APPLE PCC

Someone recently showed me a book that really made me laugh. It’s called Parenting Is Easy: You’re Probably Just Doing It Wrong. It’s a book of stock photos of “perfect parents” and some funny captions about how “easy” parenting is.

Well–if you’re a parent, you KNOW that’s not true! Having a baby changes everything. It’s one of the most amazing experiences anyone can have. It can also be very overwhelming. We all need help and support and encouragement in raising our children.

The APPLE Pregnancy Care Center has been helping pregnant women and parents in the Chippewa Valley for over thirty-six years. We know that pregnancy can be an emotional time, and we all need support.

That is where our “Earn While You Learn” program comes in. We have an extensive curriculum to offer parents (women AND men) who want to learn about everything from pregnancy, nutrition, childbirth, parenting, and even life skills. Our moms and dads (and pregnant clients) can come in every week and chose what they want to learn. Each hour spent learning “earns” points to purchase diapers, formula, baby clothing, furniture, toys, and so much more.

The items you can earn are donated by individuals, churches, businesses, and organizations in the community. The Chippewa Valley is an amazing place, and we know it is full of people who love to give and help others.

Here’s what one of our moms says about her experiences here: “The staff are all super, caring, and helpful. I have felt very comfortable with them, and learning everything there is to know about having a baby is just amazing. I have gained a ton of knowledge about caring for an infant and what is going to happen when I have my baby. Getting diapers there has helped me out tremendously. I would recommend the center over and over again to anyone.”

If you’re pregnant and needing help and support, or are a new mom or dad who could use formula or diapers or much more, please don’t hesitate to call 715-834-7734 and make an appointment. We’re here for you. All of our services are free and confidential.

You’ll be glad you called.

Purr-fectly Purr-tect Baby from Allergies with Pets

By Margaret Meier Jones, Buffalo Valley Vet Clinic

 Bringing home your new baby is a time of great joy and celebration. As you’ve gone through your pregnancy, no doubt you have received countless tips, suggestions, and various opinions regarding raising your baby with pets in your home. From the old wives’ tale of cats smothering babies in their cribs to increased risks of vivacious dogs harming your baby; you may have been encouraged to re-home your pets before your baby’s arrival. The good news, however, is that children raised with pets have a stronger immune system and are actually less likely to be allergic to animals as adults!

In the study led by Ganesa Wegienka, PhD, and published in the journal Clinical & Experimental Allergy,[1] researchers concluded “the first year of life is the critical period during childhood when indoor exposure to dogs or cats influences sensitization to these animals.” Wegienka went on to say, “Dirt is good. Your immune system, if it’s busy with exposures early on, stays away from the allergic immune profile.” Interestingly, the study did not show a substantial reduction in adult pet allergies if the children were first exposed to pets after the first year of life.

Raising your baby with pets has many other benefits for you and your child. As your children grow, having a pet in the household can also help to keep your child active; thereby preventing childhood obesity. Taking your dog for daily walks with your child helps to demonstrate the importance of getting outside and exercising on a regular basis. These early influences help to develop a lifetime habit of activity and provide priceless memories for you and your child.

As your child grows, pets also help develop self-confidence and allow children to become responsible adults. Going outside to play with the family pet encourages one’s imagination and creativity. I remember well watching my daughter, Emilia, develop games she and our dog, Sara Jane, would play for hours on end. She would also carry her favorite kitten, Toupe`, in a small pail telling us he was in his car seat and they were on their way to the grocery store to buy groceries. Finally, pets can also help our children learn how to deal with grief. Several studies have shown that the younger we are when we learn how to process the feelings of grief, the better equipped we are to deal with it throughout our lives.

 

So enjoy raising your baby WITH your pets. The benefits that will last your and your child’s lifetime are yours to create and share.

 

  1. “Lifetime Dog and Cat Exposure and Dog and Cat Specific Sensitization at Age 18 Years,” Journal of Clinical and Experimental Allergy, 2011, Jul 41, (7) 979-986.

Late Summer Calls Us to Mindfulness

by Ann Brand, PhD

The practice of mindfulness is beneficial year-round, but let’s look at how it can be relevant in late summer.

Mindfulness in Late Summer

As the summer winds down to a close in August, many of us must shift from the carefree days of summer with little to no schedule (or a schedule that changes each week) to the organization of the school year. For some, this is a challenging transition. Our capacity to be present to our experience is critical, whether it is embracing school shopping or mourning the loss of casual evening driveway gatherings with the neighbors. A regular mindfulness practice helps us cultivate that present moment awareness, so we don’t fast-forward through the last days of summer to the business of the school year in our head.

 

Mindfulness Tools

A daily mindfulness practice of mindful breathing or mindful movement helps us cultivate awareness of our habits and patterns. For example, we notice when we are getting caught up in the to-do list in our head and not paying attention to the laughter of our children as watermelon juice runs down their chin or we hear the sounds of the band playing in the park. A regular practice helps us to show up to the moments of our life as they unfold.

 

Mindfulness and the Season

Each season has its unique joys and challenges. And it depends on the person to some extent. For me, the advent of a new school year is like New Year’s Day. I review my priorities, set goals, maybe even set some resolutions to be more organized, more productive, or eat healthier. I love the school year for the structure it provides to my daily life. But for others, the structure of the school year is confining rather than comforting. Mindfulness helps us to be more aware of our own particular habits and patterns, so we can respond skillfully to our experience.

 

Learn from the Children

Children are naturally mindful. They are in tune with the full range of their experience—the movements of their body, the sounds they are hearing, their emotional experience. They are much less likely to get stuck in the story in their heads like us adults. So we can take a page from their book and pay attention to what are we doing right now, whether that is feeling the sand between our toes or carefully sorting through last year’s school clothes to prepare for school shopping.

 

Benefits of Practicing Mindfulness

Mindfulness practice has many benefits. Because of advances in neuroscience, scientists can see how mindfulness practices work to change our brain and lead to benefits in physical health, stress reduction, attention, learning and memory, positive emotions, empathy, emotion regulation, and interpersonal relationships. Mindfulness practice can help us manage our stress and bring calm, clarity, and peace into our daily lives.

 

Mindfulness is a self-awareness practice. And when we get better at paying attention to our own experience, we get better at noticing others’ experience. This is important as our family members begin to anticipate the beginning of another school year with its excitements and fears. When we listen and notice without judgment, we can respond to others more skillfully and support them in the best possible way. This paves the way for a smoother transition to the new school year.

 

For more information contact Ann at annbrand365@gmail.com.

Quality Eats Lead to Quality Zzzs

By Bethany Soderlund, dietetic intern, Festival Foods

Sleep is a key lifestyle factor that can positively or negatively affect our health. When it comes to sleep, the quantity and quality of those resting hours make all the difference. Whether you struggle to fall asleep every once in a while or it seems to be a chronic issue, finding a solution will greatly benefit your mood and ability to function throughout the day. Did you know food and nutrition can play a key role in the quality of your sleep?

The quantity, quality, and timing of meals can positively or negatively impact your sleep. First let’s look at how food can disrupt our sleep. Large meals, high fat or high protein meals, and spicy foods during the day, and especially before bed, may cause gastroesophageal reflux, or heartburn, which is a potential sleep disrupter. Many foods also contain substances that act as stimulants to the brain including alcohol, caffeine, and tyramine.

Alcohol before bed can cause frequent sleep disruptions, headaches, and less restful sleep, so it is best to avoid alcohol four to six hours before bedtime. For many Americans, caffeine is the life-sustaining liquid that flows through their veins. Whether a cup of coffee, energy drink, or soda, the high levels of caffeine consumed during the day can lead to a night of tossing and turning. For optimal sleep, avoid consuming caffeine four to six hours before bedtime. Another potentially problematic component is tyramine. It is a naturally occurring substance derived from the amino acid tyrosine that causes a brain-stimulating effect. Some of the tyramine-containing foods to minimize or avoid before bed include bacon, ham, pepperoni, raspberries, avocado, nuts, soy sauce, and red wine.

Fortunately, not all foods are sleep disrupters. In fact, some foods can actually be sleep promoters. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that is a precursor to serotonin, a neurotransmitter that acts to increase the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of deep sleep. Meat, dairy products, eggs, nuts, seeds, bananas, and honey are some of the sources of tryptophan. Carbohydrate foods help increase tryptophan’s access to the brain. What does this mean for your meal plan? In general, eating a balanced diet containing protein at each meal during the day and a small snack one to four hours before bed will promote this normal body physiology to increase the stages of deep sleep. Example bedtime snacks include yogurt and crackers, wheat toast and cheese, and cereal and milk. Just remember to keep your portion sizes small to help avoid sleep disturbances.

Sleep is a key element of a healthy lifestyle that can affect mood and productivity during the day. Our food choices and the timing of those food choices can be the difference between counting sheep and a deep restful night’s sleep. Whether you opt for two cups of coffee instead of three or switch your bedtime snack from hot wings to a glass of milk, small changes each day can get you on the right track to waking up energized and rejuvenated.

Bethany Soderlund is a dietetic intern with the University of Wisconsin–Green Bay and is currently working with the Mealtime Mentors at Festival Foods. Learn more about Festival’s registered dietitian team and their many resources and recipes at FestFoods.com/Mealtime.

Pure Fitness 4 You has your Barre Needs!

by: Pure Fitness 4 You

Top 5 Benefits of adding in Barre to your workout routine!

1. Strength and definition. When you work your thighs in a barre class, you target that muscle group from all angles. Three thigh exercises will work to fatigue the front, inner, and outer thighs, strengthening the muscles from joint to joint. The same goes for your butt, abs, arms, and back. By strengthening each muscle group thoroughly, you are not only creating amazing definition, you are also strengthening muscles that are often underused and underdeveloped.

2. Endurance. Each barre class is known for its use of isometric contractions and small isotonic movements. In an isometric contraction, you tighten or contract the muscle without changing its length. Think plank position or those poses where you hold completely still as your legs start to quiver and shake. These Barrcontractions utilize slow-twitch muscle fibers that can increase stamina and improve your endurance.

3. Flexibility. You don’t need to be flexible to practice barre, but the amount of stretching in each class can help improve your overall range of motion and reduce your risk of injury. Tension and tightness in your muscles and the tendons around them can lead to back pain and poor posture, and can make everyday tasks like bending down to tie your shoes more difficult. Stretching out your muscles will help relieve stress and allow you to move through your day with a little more ease.

4. Posture. Core muscles are engaged throughout the entire class, and they can be used for the primary focus of an exercise or for stability as you perform a move that targets your thighs or butt. The most common issue that clients come in with is back pain that usually stems from weak core muscles and hours spent sitting at the computer. As you strengthen your core, you will notice that you can sit and stand taller and your lower back will take less stress and tension throughout the day.

5. Mind-body connection. Barre classes challenge you to not only go through the motions of the workout but to focus your thoughts on each and every tiny muscle you are working.

Barre Class Schedule (More class times coming soon)

Sundays: Barre/Ab Combo

3:30pm – Legs and Abs its a win-win

Mondays: BarOga

4:30pm – Combination of Barre & Yoga/PiYo.

Wednesdays: Barre Express

5:30pm – 30 minute class w/a cardio barre feel.

Fridays: BarOga

9am – combination of Barre and Yoga/PiYo.

Let’s meet at the Barre!! It will be soooo worth it!!