Category Archives: Engage

Baby Talk Before Baby Talks

by on December 16, 2014

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How Baby Sign Language Can Help Ease Frustration

Every parent’s been there, those fraught moments when their cuddly, cooing, oh-so-cute baby suddenly turns into a cranky, frustrated infant or toddler, spitting food, constantly crying, or even throwing tantrums. When it’s a toss-up over who’s more frantic and confused, baby or mommy, and it’s definitely not colic, a bump or a burp, there’s an ingenious way to ask baby “What’s up?” The little tyke may not yet have any words but definitely demands to be heard.

To bridge this super charged communication gap, Touch Blue Sky’s Baby Sign Language dedicated instructors teach new parents how “to talk” with their young offspring via American Sign Language. The amazing results calm everyone, get baby’s message across and offer brain enhancing benefits: accelerated language ability, reduced aggressive behavior and positive interaction plus the bonus of a stronger bond between baby and parent.

The fun-filled classes with songs and interactive activities teach classic American Sign Language to parents (babies welcome), who then weave it into their infants’ everyday routines. Tricky to learn from a book, however an experienced “personal trainer” can fuse the nuance of signs, sounds and gestures that will work—and stick.

Parents begin Touch Blue Sky programs just as children’s long-term memory and motor skills kick in at about 6-8 months old.  At 8-10 months, as kids start mimicking adults and gesturing their wants, simple signing provides a jump-start for the verbal skills ahead. The 90 minute Introductory Workshop presents the basics and benefits of signing (with a proof-positive video of adorable babies signing), prior to the follow-up six weeks of themed, one hour courses designed to help absorb about 100+ signs (for foods, colors, clothes, animals, playtime, etc.), that cement the magic.

According to Teacher Bill, even the youngest babies want to be connected to the world around them and can be clever and resourceful while learning how. Infants will emphatically indicate, “all done” after meals and baths or begin moving their hand to their mouth when they’re hungry. Emotions shine via smiles and hugs to the unmistakably signal “I love you.”

With mom, dad and grandparents consistently reinforcing with words, expressions and body language, signing kindles indelible associations in the fast forming infant brain. “It’s like riding that proverbial bicycle,” explains Bill, “once learned, not easily forgotten.” Early communication in languages, whether signing, Chinese, English or all together, becomes natural, interchangeable, useful and fun. Babies just do it and quickly catch on!

As children mature, the pleasure of being understood enhances self-esteem that in turn, encourages confidence toward increased communication which leads to more effective signing…a lasting circle of learning that spirals on to pre-school and beyond.

Parents wholeheartedly endorse this training. From emails and letters, via Yelp and testimonials. Touch Blue Sky’s instructors are lauded and loved for their special expertise and super enthusiasm. Paraphrased excerpts include, “My baby is rarely frustrated and therefore so am I; my child was so excited when we understood him; such a fun way of presenting the material—never too rigid; my daughter adds signs together for sentences…like ‘MORE’ + ‘BOOK’.” And “the payoff is tremendous!”

As a speaker, Mommy’s Coach, and class participant, Carrie Vawter-Yousfi, says, “I especially appreciated Bill’s teaching by example, his wonderful stories of how signing with his own two young sons made their family life so much easier. I learned to start early, the sooner the better.”

Liza Baskind, mother of three, dispels the mistaken notion that signing will limit speaking. “On the contrary,” she says; “especially for so many children with delayed speech ability, signing will coax out more words, another factor in reducing frustration for parent and child.”

With the increasing popularity and positive results of Touch Blue Sky classes, parents who consider saving for a far off college future can make a nominal investment of time and money for their babies today that pays huge dividends in just a few months. It’s proven that children who communicate early via signing are verbally ahead a year or more by age three. Along with Thoreau’s premise that “language is the basis of all knowledge,” Teacher Bill reminds parents that “You can never redo those most important first two years of life!”

For more information on Baby Sign Language classes please visit TouchBlueSky.com or sign up for an upcoming class  at the PJCC January 20.

Excerpt with permission from Parenting on the Peninsula and author, Evelyn Preston.

Depression — The Lowdown

by on December 2, 2014

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News of Robin Williams’ suicide was a shock. How could a man devoted to making others laugh take his own life? His death brought the disorder of clinical depression to the forefront.

Depression is a common mental illness that is manifested by prolonged sense of sadness, and other symptoms such as loss of desire to do pleasurable activities, irritability, insomnia or oversleeping, change in appetite, loss of energy, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and sometimes thoughts of death or suicide. Depression affects 1 in 11 adults, and nearly twice as many women as men. Sadness and depression are different. Many people feel sad after losing a loved one, or losing a job, or ending a relationship. People who are depressed, however, can usually differentiate normal grief from the disabling continued weight of clinical depression. Although there is excellent treatment for depression, many people do not seek help because they mistakenly construe it as a personal weakness rather than a legitimate illness. Many celebrities have publically acknowledged their own battles with depression in hopes that others Continue reading

A Healthy Spin on Latkes: The “No-tato” Pancake

by on November 21, 2014

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Traditional potato latkes are delicious but more and more people are looking for healthier ways to make these wonderful fried patties.  We’ve come up with a recipe that is heavier on protein and veggies and light on the carbs.  And, as a bonus, they taste great! Enjoy!

Quinoa & Veggie Latkes Recipe

INGREDIENTS:

3 cup cooked quinoa (use 1 part quinoa to 1 part water)
1/2 cup grated onion (about 1/2 medium onion)
1 cup each finely grated zucchini and carrot
1/4 cup potato starch
1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste Continue reading

In Search Of Sleep

by on November 4, 2014

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But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep.”  Robert Frost

A relative of mine, Stewart, (not his real name) was driving home from LA, and fell asleep at the wheel. Stewart was 18 years old at the time, and on winter break from college. He drove to LA in the morning, and then, after spending the day there, drove home that night. Although he knew he was drowsy, he made the decision to drive home. The last thing he remembered was listening to a 49er Monday night football game before he dozed off without warning. His new 1996 Toyota Corolla was totaled when the car crashed into a barrier on the side of the highway Continue reading

Pink & Powerful

by on October 21, 2014

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Everyone is wearing pink to bring attention to a disease that will touch over 280,000 women per year in the US alone.  Odds are high that everyone knows at least one person effected by breast cancer. While fighting and beating cancer is  the main goal when one is diagnosed, there is a long road of rehabilitatation following surgery that is so important to regaining strength and mobility.

In the following video, we hear a few inspirational stories from women who have taken on breast cancer and come out the other side with more strength, courage, and lust for life than before.

The PJCC is doing its part on October 26, 2014 with our Pink Ribbon Day.
We invite the whole community to come and support a great cause.

RESOURCES

Pink Ribbon Program @ PJCC  - Postoperative workout designed to enhance recovery
Check Your Boobies – Dedicated to early detection and prevention

 

 

Hepatitis C – A Stealth Killer

by on October 14, 2014

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I recall my Great Uncle Sidney.  He loved to devour a delicious steak for dinner.   Eventually he had to undergo coronary bypass surgery for cholesterol-clogged arteries of his heart.   Within a decade he died!  His heart did not kill him.  He died of cirrhosis of the liver because of a blood transfusion contaminated with hepatitis C virus which he received during his bypass surgery.

Hepatitis C (HCV) is one of those conditions one hardly hears about because most people who have it don’t know they do.  Of the 3.2 million Americans who have hepatitis C, only 5-6% of them have been successfully treated.   It is 3 times more common than HIV in this country, and it is the leading cause of liver transplantation and liver cancer.  The mortality from HCV has Continue reading

The Baseball Dilemma

by on October 11, 2014

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Hank Greenberg

With the month of October comes the annual race for the pennant. It often coincides with the Jewish New Year and Yom Kippur.  Through the history of baseball Jewish players who find themselves lucky enough to make it to the playoffs have had to make difficult choices between their religious values and their team.  If Yom Kippur happens to fall on the day of a playoff game, it can, and has, ruffled some feathers in the baseball community. Continue reading

Cultivating Good Health

by on October 10, 2014

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Any time is a good time to cultivate good health by developing a wellness plan that will help you flourish. Don’t know where to begin? Draw inspiration from your garden and apply the same concepts to your health.

Preparation
Planning your garden is the first step to its success and the same holds true for your health. Buy a notebook and name it your health journal. Begin by writing down two goals that are attainable and aren’t overwhelming. For example, start preparing your afternoon snacks to bring to work instead of buying from the vending machine. This action alone can save you 200 Continue reading

Sukkot: Traditions of Wonder, Gratitude, & Justice

by on October 2, 2014

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Traditions of Wonder, Gratitude and Justice:
Reflections on Sukkot from the PJCC Garden Manager

‘Among the many things that religious tradition holds in store for us is a legacy of wonder.’ –    Rabbi Abraham Yehoshua Heschel

The fall is a season of abundance in the PJCC garden. Thanks to the hard work and heart of many volunteers, our garden is bursting with greens, tomatoes, squash, peppers, figs and strawberries – to name a few. Beginning my new position as Garden Manager during this rich time of year has given me a lot of joy, especially as it coincides with Sukkot. The holiday offers Continue reading

Homemade Honey & Oats Granola Bars

by on September 12, 2014

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Healthy, Tasty, Portable.  What’s not to like?

Finding a snack that will provide you with energy and is easy to pack and carry isn’t always easy.  Granola Bars fit the bill but can be pricey. This recipe for homemade granola bars will be satisfying and easy on the pocket book!

And, an added bonus, oats are known to lower cholesterol levels, provide fiber in your diet, Continue reading