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Help Me Grow Saved My Family…

Our family has been on a road that has taken us so many places and allowed us to meet so many people. Our girls were diagnosed with Hypotonia at a very young age. This just meant that their limbs were very “loose” and doing gross motor activities such as walking, running, jumping, riding a bike, keeping their balance, etc. came at a much slower pace than your average child. As a first time mommy and daddy, this news was awful (and I am well-aware our news could have been worse). We felt alone and unable to put together a plan that would best support our oldest daughter and her needs. A specialist doctor recommended Help Me Grow and I decided to give them a call. I was AMAZED at their professionalism, their quick response to my situation, and their support right from the beginning.

Annora, our eldest, was tested within a week of my phone call, accepted within that same day of being tested and a plan was put in place within the next week of how they were going to best serve her AND my husband and I! It may sound like a whirlwind but it was an answer to prayer. We now had a solid plan of how to best help our child, we had access to OT’s and PT’s, Play Groups and Interventions galore. Our life went from unorganized chaos on how to best help our child to a solid plan within a matter of 2 weeks. The best way to describe our feelings at the time as a first time parent being bombarded by the news that your child is and will be “different” was GRATEFUL.

When our second child was born, we knew pretty quickly that she suffered from the same diagnosis and would be on a similar path as her older sister. This time, the phone call to Help Me Grow was easy, I knew how to handle what was going on with Delise, and the feeling of being alone never crossed my mind. My feelings were more of a “Let’s conquer this bad boy” rather than the first time around of “Where do we begin?” We were FAR from alone and the the HMG team was ready for action.

If it weren’t for the specialist doctor’s recommendation and us deciding to pick up the phone, we are 100% confident our daughters would NOT be where they are today. We owe everything to HMG and their amazing team.

If you are a parent of a child under the age of 3 and have been stuck in a similar situation as my husband and I, feel overwhelmed and not sure how to handle the whirlwind going on in your life, I encourage you to pick up the phone and make the call. You won’t be sorry you did. The link to Help Me Grow is attached below.

 

http://www.helpmegrow.ohio.gov/

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Staying Healthy During Pregnancy

I take great pride in staying healthy but when I pregnant, it seems to be more difficult than when I am not. I am fighting cravings, obstacles with what I can and cannot eat, making sure to get enough water in daily, etc. It can be downright difficult and overly exhausting. Wouldn’t it be easier to just eat whatever sounds good?

The answer is yes, BUT, feeding your body right during pregnancy is almost MORE important than feeding your body right without growing a human.  Healthy eating during pregnancy is critical to your baby’s growth and development. In order to get the nutrients you need, you must eat from a variety of food groups, including fruits and vegetables, breads and grains, protein sources and dairy products. Typically, you will need to consume an extra 300 calories a day.

Sample Daily Menu

The following sample menu will give you some idea of what a pregnant woman should typically consume in a day for a healthy diet during pregnancy. Three small, but balanced, meals and three light snacks throughout the day are a good rule of thumb to ensure you and your baby’s nutritional needs are met.

Breakfast: Oatmeal cereal, banana, 1 slice whole wheat toast, 2 tsp jam, 1 cup skim milk

Snack: 1 cup yogurt, grapes

Lunch: Turkey (if deli meat, do not eat cold – heat to steaming to avoid Listeria) and cheese sandwich on whole wheat bread, raw carrot sticks, pear, and 1 cup skim milk

Snack: Raw veggies and low-calorie dip

Dinner: 4 oz chicken, 1 cup wild rice, 1 cup veggies, 1 cup skim milk

Snack: fresh fruit or low-fat frozen yogurt

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Fall Festival Activities

As much as I LOVE summer and all that happens during the summer months, fall has a special place in my heart. I love the leaves changing, the weather getting crisp but not quite bitter and most of all, the festivals. If you haven’t made your way to any this month yet, you’re in luck because there are 2 left that are worth checking out. Unfortunately the end of the month is sooner than later so make sure to check out the following festivals:

1. Erie Orchards Harvest Festival-Saturday, September 23rd

This is a great fall weekend to visit the orchard. The apples are all ripe for picking and the corn maze is open and pony and hayrides for all.  They will have a magic show on Sunday for the children. 

http://www.erieorchards.com/?pg=events

2. Traumatic Brain Injury Resource Center Fall Festival

The Traumatic Brain Injury Resource Center will host its first Fall Festival on Saturday, September 30, 2017 from 10 AM to 5 PM in the parking lot in front of the Center.

This family-oriented event features:

Children’s games

Both children and adults can make a fairy garden or decorate pumpkins.

Our pumpkin patch will be stocked with both typical and exotic varieties, courtesy of Rupp Seeds.

Food with an autumnal flare will be available from our neighbors at Fowl & Fodder.

The Amazing Eli will conjure up balloon creations from 11 AM until 2 PM.

This year’s main event will be the MEGA Brain, a larger-than-life, inflatable interactive exhibit of the human brain. Visitors will have the chance to learn how the brain works from the inside out and what can happen when the brain is injured. This is a wonderful educational tool for teachers, healthcare professionals, parents, children or anyone that wants to know how the brain works.

Healthcare professionals will also be available to answer questions about brain injury and resources in our community.

We will also be offering fleece mermaid tails for sale. These one-of-a-kind items, crafted by TBI survivors, can be worn for Halloween or used to keep warm while relaxing at home as the evenings turn cooler.

Admission to the event is free. Proceeds from the event benefit the Traumatic Brain Injury Resource Center and will help to support the launch of pediatric programming. The event take place under a tent, rain or shine.

https://tbirc.org/index.php/component/content/article?id=122.jpg&Itemid=

 

 

 

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Healthy Dinner Options For the Picky Eater

If you have a child like mine in the house, then you know how difficult it is to get them to eat a balanced meal…let alone a balanced diet. I have found some healthy “go-to” recipes that my picky eater will devour. I have compiled a breakfast, lunch and dinner menu along with a dessert and snack option. Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Breakfast:

Vanilla Yogurt Bowl

This is no ordinary bowl of yogurt!
 Prep Time 10 minutes
 Total Time 10 minutes
 Servings 1 serving

Ingredients

  •  cup reduced fat (2%) plain yogurt
  • 1 scoop Vanilla Shakeology
  • 5 medium strawberries , chopped
  • ½ medium banana , chopped
  • 1 Tbsp . sliced raw almonds

Instructions

  1. Combine yogurt and Shakeology in a small bowl; mix well.
  2. Divide yogurt mixture evenly into two medium serving bowls.
  3. Top each bowl evenly with strawberries, banana, and almonds.

 

Nutritional Information (per serving):
Calories: 354
Total Fat: 9 g
Saturated Fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 20 mg
Sodium: 286 mg
Carbohydrates: 48 g
Fiber: 7 g
Sugars: 26 g
Protein: 26 g

Lunch:

Edamame and Radish Salad with Avocado

 Prep Time 10 minutes
 Total Time 10 minutes
 Servings 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 clove garlic , finely chopped
  • 1 tsp . finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 tsp . raw honey
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar
  • 4 tsp . olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp . fresh lime juice
  • Sea salt (or Himalayan salt) and ground black pepper (to taste; optional)
  • Hot water
  • 2 cups frozen shelled edamame , thawed
  • 3 medium green onions , chopped
  • 6 sprigs fresh parsley , chopped
  • 8 medium radishes , thinly sliced
  • 2 cups fresh arugula
  • 1 medium avocado , chopped
  • 2 tsp . sesame seeds

Instructions

  1. To make dressing, combine garlic, ginger, honey, vinegar, oil, and lime juice in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper if desired; whisk to blend. Set aside.
  2. Place edamame, green onions, parsley, radishes, arugula, and avocado in a medium bowl; toss gently to blend.
  3. Drizzle with dressing; toss gently to blend.
  4. Top with sesame seeds.
  5. Divide evenly between four serving bowls.

 

Nutritional Information (per serving):
Calories: 263
Total Fat: 16 g
Saturated Fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 89 mg
Carbohydrates: 23 g
Fiber: 13 g
Sugars: 7 g
Protein: 11 g

 

Dinner:

Steak Fajitas

  Prep Time 20 minutes
 Cook Time 18 minutes
 Total Time 38 minutes
 Servings 4 servings, 2 fajitas each

Ingredients

  •  tsp . olive oil
  • 2 medium green (red or yellow) bell peppers, cut into strips
  • 1 medium onion , sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic , finely chopped
  • 1 lb . raw extra-lean beef sirloin , cut into 2-inch strips
  • 1 tsp . ground chili powder
  • 1 tsp . ground cumin
  • 1 tsp . crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ tsp . sea salt (or Himalayan salt)
  • ½ cup fresh salsa
  • 8 6- inch corn tortillas , warm
  • 4 Tbsp . reduced-fat (2%) plain Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Lime wedges

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add bell peppers and onion; cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 6 minutes, or until onion is translucent and peppers are tender.
  3. Add garlic; cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute.
  4. Add beef, chili powder, cumin, pepper flakes, and salt; cook, stirring occasionally, for 7 to 8 minutes, or until meat is no longer pink.
  5. Add salsa; cook, stirring frequently, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until heated through.
  6. Evenly top each tortilla with beef mixture, yogurt, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime juice

Desserts:

Slow Cooker Baked Apples

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 15 minutes
Servings5servings, 1 apple each

Ingredients

  • 5 medium Cortland (or Honey Crisp, Macintosh or Mutsu) apples
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup dry old-fashioned rolled oats
  • ¼ cup coconut sugar
  • ½ tsp . ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp . pumpkin pie spice
  • ¼ tsp . sea salt (or Himalayan salt)
  • 2 tbsp . organic grass-fed butter , (or extra-virgin organic coconut oil)
  • ¾ cup water

Instructions

  1. Core apples using an apple corer (or sharp knife).
  2. Add water to a 3-quart slow cooker and carefully place apples in slow cooker so that they are standing upright.
  3. Combine flour, oats, sugar, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, salt, and butter in a small bowl; mix with a fork until crumbly.
  4. Fill apples evenly with oat mixture.
  5. Cook on low for 2 hours, or until apples are fork tender. Remove apples from slow cooker. Cool for 5 to 10 minutes.

Nutritional Information (per serving):

Calories: 251
Total Fat: 6 g
Saturated Fat: 3 g
Cholesterol: 12 mg
Sodium: 134 mg
Carbohydrates: 49 g
Fiber: 6 g
Sugars: 29 g
Protein: 3 g

Snack:

Maple Chai Roasted Chickpeas

Prep Time 10 minutes

Cook Time 38 minutes

 Total Time 48 minutes
 Servings 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained, rinsed, dried
  • 1 Tbsp . olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp . pure maple syrup
  • ½ tsp . ground ginger
  • ½ tsp . ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp . ground cardamom
  • ¼ tsp . ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp . sea salt (or Himalayan salt)
  • ¼ tsp . ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F.
  2. Combine chickpeas, oil, maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl; toss gently to blend.
  3. Place chickpeas on large baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 35 to 38 minutes, shaking baking sheet every 10 minutes, until brown and crunchy.

Maple Chai Roasted Chickpeas

Nutritional Information (per serving):
Calories: 151
Total Fat: 6 g
Saturated Fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 477 mg
Carbohydrates: 20 g
Fiber: 6 g
Sugars: 3 g
Protein: 6 g

 

 

 

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How Much to Allow a Child to Dictate the Day

Who is in the driver’s seat in the house? Is it you? Your child(ren)? Sometimes balance can be tricky…especially when it comes to  a child with disabilities. Balance is one thing every parent strives to conquer and usually fails before getting it right.

As parents, we tell our children what to do. It is our job to set limits and boundaries, and teach them how to behave and be respectful. I would imagine I bark orders at my kids at least 20 times a day: “Be nice to your sister.” “Get dressed.” “Sit up.” “Chew with your mouth closed.” “Clean up your toys.” These are just a few of the everyday utterances that leave my mouth.

For the child being on the receiving end, I can imagine how this may get frustrating. Nobody likes someone telling them what to do, and just like us, children have opinions, desires, and needs.

And so the power struggle begins…

My children’s demands constantly tempt me, and I often contemplate how much say they are allowed to have: Should they get to choose what they want to wear in the morning, or do I? Should they get to pick what they want to eat for dinner, causing me to cook two or even three different meals? If they don’t want to do a planned activity, such as going to a soccer practice or friend’s house to play, do I give in to their request?

Most of the time society tells us that as parents, we are in charge and need to maintain authority within the family. But I’ve noticed an epidemic of children acting entitled and disrespectful towards their parents, teachers, and coaches. I’ve also noticed that most children don’t just automatically respect their elders; instead, elders must earn their respect, which is different than it was generations past.

So how do we earn our children’s respect? It’s simple—by respecting them. It is important that we truly listen to what our children say, and that we listen to them the same way we listen to our partners and friends. Then, we need to let our children know that we’ve heardwhat they’ve said. That might mean that we repeat it: “I hear that you want to play longer, but it’s time to go.”

Answering a child with, “Because I said so and I am your parent” certainly has a time and place. But if we don’t allow a child to question the world they live in, we may be teaching them not to be curious. When we disregard our children’s feelings, or tell them we don’t care what they think, we may be sending a message to be silent. In the moment it can be effective, but the long-term impact may be that we raise our children not to speak up when they are bullied, assaulted, or mistreated. We may be raising young adults who do not have the resources to speak out for what they believe in, because we never gave them the chance. We may be raising adults who cannot resolve a conflict because they are too frightened to speak their mind.

As parents, we must teach children to trust themselves, and to do this, we have to validate their voice. That doesn’t necessarily mean giving in to their every wish and demand. We all want what’s best for our children. We all try to do the best job we can. Ultimately, we will never be perfect.

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Growth Spurts…YIKES!

I don’t know about you, but when our girls are going through a growth spurt, our household is in disarray. In fact, we have started recognizing the “symptoms” of growth spurts so that we can adjust the way we handle certain situations accordingly. The first step though is recognizing them.

Here’s how to recognize your little sprout’s spurt:

 Your baby wants to eat nonstop. If you’ve been breastfeeding every three hours, your baby will now want to belly up to the milk bar every hour or two. That’s just fine. The more often your baby breastfeeds, the more he stimulates milk production to keep up with his growing appetite. Older babies will also want to nurse more and up their intake of the jarred stuff if they’re eating solids.

Your baby will be up more often at night. Even if your baby was sleeping for a blissful five- or six-hour stretch, during a growth spurt he’ll howl for a midnight snack, then one at 2 a.m., and 4 a.m., and so on. You may find your older baby waking up earlier from his naps, too.

Your baby will be crankier than usual. At the breast he’ll be extra fussy, latching and unlatching because he wants more milk right now, and your production might not be up to speed yet. Plus, all those late nights don’t help his mood (or yours!) either.

***Now that you have recognized the spurt and know what to expect, how do you deal with it? Here are some tips that we do in our household that help with this crazy time in life.***

HOW TO DEAL WITH BABY GROWTH SPURTS:

Since you were already struggling to get enough rest or do anything other than feed your baby, it’s extra-exhausting to have a newborn who suddenly treats breastfeeding like a 24-7 all-you-can-eat buffet. So make sure you’re drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated, recruit help from your partner or a friend to do dishes and other household chores, and settle in for the long haul. (A DVD can help pass the time.)

Whatever you do, don’t give up on breastfeeding now. When your baby seems hungrier and crankier than normal, you may worry that he’s not getting enough to eat and think about abandoning breastfeeding altogether. But those temporary round-the-clock feedings are actually your baby’s way of boosting your milk supply to keep pace with his oh-so-healthy appetite.

If you’re really concerned, keep an eye on two things: diapers and weight gain. If he’s packing on ounces (that adorable little T-shirt seem tighter today than it did two days ago, for example) and soaking five or six diapers a day, he’s doing just fine. Soon enough his hunger pangs will be over, the growth spurt will end, and things will settle back to normal. Until the next baby growth spurt hits, that is.

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Let’s Talk Dirty…Potty Training

Our youngest (born) three-year-old child has been potty trained for a good 4 months now and things were going GREAT! We were having ZERO accidents and only wearing pull-ups at night…and waking up dry 50% of the time. We felt that Delise was on her way to a pull-up free life in just a few short weeks.

Then something happened…the idea of being in underwear, stopping what she was doing to use the restroom, and the novelty of being a “big girl” wore off. Potty accidents started creeping into her day and she started wetting the bed during nap time. I found myself getting frustrated day by day at her lack of care for being “dry” anymore. Why was this “Potty Trained little 3 year old” going backwards with her milestones?

So I looked in Parent Magazine and found some truly interesting pointers I wanted to share with all of you on this topic called “Potty Training Regression.”

Don’t Overreact!

If your child has an accident, don’t show disappointment; doing so can make your little one more anxious and that, in turn, can lead to more potty problems. “Despite the frustration of having to head back into accidents and diapers because of toilet-training regression, do everything you can to stay positive,” says Wendy Sue Swanson, M.D., a Parents advisor and pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Hospital. When you check to see if your child is dry, clap and cheer if she is. If she’s not, just remain nonjudgmental and say, “Oops. You had an accident. Let’s go sit on the potty.” Remember to remain upbeat and never yell at or scold your child. “You want your children to feel empowered and not worry they’re going to be punished if they make a mistake,” explains Lisa Asta, M.D., a clinical professor of pediatrics at University of California, San Francisco.

Resolve the Root Causes

You’re not going to stop the setbacks if you don’t address the exact problem. “Try to identify the reasons for the regression, as addressing them will help the child return to where she was,” says Mark Wolraich, M.D., Chief of the Section of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and the Director of the Child Study Center. For instance, many children start having accidents during times of transition that might cause stress, such as starting a new school or welcoming a new sibling. Chances are, once your lives settle down, your child will master potty training once again. But even if your child makes it through the day without accidents, she still may have mishaps at night. “Many kids are not dry at night for years after they are dry during the day,” Dr. Goldstein says. “Nighttime and naptime control are very different than daytime control.” Medical issues can also cause potty training regression, and constipation is a common one. If a child has difficulty having a bowel movement, she might steer clear of the potty altogether to avoid having to push and strain. Make sure your child is getting enough fiber and plenty of water, but if she’s scared of pooping on the potty, play games or read books with her while she sits on the toilet to make it more fun.

Give Gentle Reminders to Go

Often, accidents happen because a child is having too much fun playing or doing an activity and just doesn’t want to stop to run to the bathroom. To resolve this situation, explain that it is normal to forget to use the potty sometimes and reassure your child that she’s still “a big girl,” Dr. Goldstein says. “Then take her to the potty every few hours at home and ask her teachers to make sure she gets to the potty frequently. Simple, gentle reassurance and reminders to use the potty will get a child back on track.” Encourage your child to at least try to use the potty when she first wakes up, before meals, before bedtime, and immediately before you leave the house.

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The Art of Bedtime Routines

If your household is anything like our household, then your household thrives on repeating solid routines to make things run smoothly.  In fact, all the research suggests that bedtime routines work best if you reserve the hour before bedtime for quiet play. It lowers your child’s activity level and prepare his nervous system for relaxation. Roughhousing, running, playing tickling games, and even watching action-packed TV shows or videos make peaceful transition to sleep especially difficult. Here are just a few of our “musts” when it comes to bedtime:

    • Set a specific time and stick to it. Your child’s body clock will adjust much more quickly to the routine if the routine follows a natural and consistent pattern.
    • Give a warning. Just before bedtime, give your child advance notice that the day is winding down. Your child may be too young to judge time yet, so saying something like “five more minutes” is not likely to be understood. Instead teach your child by association. Begin the first part of your routine — running the bath water, putting the toys away, or however your particular routine begins to signal the start of the wind down. Some parents signal impending bedtime with the ringing of a kitchen timer for five minutes; the child learns that the sound means bedtime. This allows an impersonal third party to announce bedtime and reduces the desire to complain, since even a toddler knows that you can’t argue with a machine.
    • Offer a snack. A light snack that includes both protein and carbohydrates — for example, a small piece of cheese and one half slice of whole-wheat bread — will induce sleep and help her stay asleep through the night. The carbohydrates make her sleepy, and the protein will help keep her blood sugar level on an even keel until breakfast. Be sure to brush her teeth after she eats.
    • Give your child a warm bath. By raising your baby’s body temperature slightly, you’ll make him more prone to sleepiness. Also, playing with his bath toys allows him to relax.
    • Get dressed for bed. Choose comfortable, non-binding pajamas, that are neither too warm nor too light.
    • Read a favorite story to your child. This is a particularly comforting routine for your toddler, particularly if it’s a favorite story that’s associated with bedtime, such as “Goodnight Moon.”
    • Make sure your child has a friend to sleep with. A favorite doll or teddy bear provides comfort. Our girls LOVE sleeping with stuffed animals so they are allowed to choose 5 to sleep with each night. That is something you could adjust for what fits with your child’s age and your comfort level.
    • Limit or eliminate bottles. If your child needs a bottle to fall asleep, make sure it contains only water. Milk, formula, or juice can pool around her teeth causing cavities, even in infants.
    • Keep last “goodnights” brief. Say “goodnight” when it’s time for you to leave the room and try not to come back if your child calls for you. This sounds harsh, but if you keep coming into the room you will have taught your child that “If I call to Mommy, she’ll come back.” Kids learn how to “condition” parents very quickly! Any hesitations on our part may be picked up by your child as an indication that maybe you really aren’t serious about this bedtime business and if she yells loudly enough you’ll come back and play some more.

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The Importance of Reading to Your Kids

You probably already know that you should read to your children, but do you know why? Here are three important reasons to not only read aloud with your child, but also to make it a shared activity:

  1. Reading exposes your child to rich language and diverse content.  Book language uses a larger vocabulary and more complex grammatical structures than the short, one-way communication we tend to use in feeding and caring for our children. Books allow us parents to expand the language environment as we become their children’s first and most important teachers.  They help us to immerse our children in rich and varied language. Books of narrative fiction spark children’s imagination as they entertain and inform them about their emotions.  Books of informational non-fiction answer questions, providing concepts and knowledge that are the cornerstones of science and math. Both types are important and all of their benefits can be realized with books in any language. Parents should feel empowered to read aloud in Spanish, Chinese, or whatever their native language.
  2. Reading with your children helps prepare their minds to succeed in school.  The benefits of shared reading know no age limits.  Babies are soothed by their parents’ voices; school children reading to parents can show their new accomplishments or seek their parents’ help. Books for toddlers can help children get ready to learn to read. I recommend books that provide nursery rhymes, songs and verse as they help children learn to appreciate the sounds within words. Children are used to listening to language for its meaning, but reading demands that they also pay attention to the sounds of language.  Hearing words in terms of syllables, consonants and vowels encourages phoneme awareness, which is the first step towards reading phonetically.  Nursery rhymes and songs leap from the page when parents remember them from their own childhood and make them a part of family life.  When said in English or Spanish, traditional nursery rhymes and songs help attune children to what the alphabet is all about.
  3. Reading with your child can enrich family ties and intimacy.  Its virtues are strongest when us parents read ‘dialogically’ by taking the book as an opportunity to enjoy a conversation.  Reading together is family time; it is fun time, cuddle time, a time to share your passions, perspective, and your values but also a time to listen. It creates a time for children to express themselves as well as an opportunity for us to show our willingness to listen. When we build a conversation around a book we encourage our children to communicate with us.