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Early Intervention Speech Therapy

Pretzel Perfect: Summer Themes Continued
July 29, 2014 8:10 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
Pretzels are VERY important to my hometown and where I live and work.

The privately run "Pretzel Museum" opened in Philadelphia in 1993. And in 2003, the then Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell declared April 26 "National Pretzel Day" to acknowledge the importance of the pretzel to our state's history and economy. Soft pretzels are served at our sporting events and are often a staple for school and community activities. We love pretzels!! So, it's no surprise that "pretzels" are this week's summer school theme! 

In order to make pretzels fun and more than just a salty snack, I have designed 3 short and exciting activities perfect for preschoolers!

  1. A Story About the Birth of Pretzels!
    • The book, Walter the Baker by Eric Carle is a wonderful story about Walter the Baker who is famous in his town for making the most delicious breads, rolls, cookies, tarts and pies. The Duke and Duchess especially love his warm sweet rolls, delivered fresh to their castle every morning. Then, after disaster strikes in his kitchen, the Duke threatens to banish Walter unless he can make a delicious roll that the rising sun can shine through three times! It's a challenge that has a pretzel-like twist at the end!
  2. Pretzel Yoga Moves Kids Will Love!
    • I used some of my own yoga books and chose 10 of the most fun and kid-friendly moves! After reading Walter the Baker, we practiced twisting our bodies into silly "pretzel shaped" yoga positions! This was really fun for the students and a great way to get them up and moving after the story. It was also an ideal way to work on following directions and 1-2 step commands. If you don't have any yoga books of your own, just scan the web googling "yoga moves for kids"!
  3. A Pretzel Snack!
    • A great way to end our pretzel celebration is to actually taste this doughy delight! To help make our topic come alive I provided the students with mini pretzel logs and two different dipping sauces - one caramel and one chocolate. The students loved both and really enjoyed a salty sweet snack to end our really great language lesson all about PRETZELS!

Join me Friday for DESSERTS that are perfect for the grill!

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Recipe: Grilled Kabobs for Kids!
July 25, 2014 8:00 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
This week I am continuing my kid-friendly grilling recipes highlighting a summertime BBQ favorite: KABOBS! Your little one can easily help you layer up some tasty kabobs using favorite fruits, vegetables and meats. What an exciting way to add health to your child's summertime diet. And remember, not only are they fun to make, but they are also fun to eat! Below are some wonderful kid kabob combinations the whole family will love!

 Hawaiian Hot Dog Kabobs!

These are great just as they are! No marinade is necessary!

You will need:

  • *Metal (grill friendly) skewers (Wooden ones may burn and fall apart under the intense heat of a grill)
  • Hot dogs (cut into bite sized pieces)
  • Pineapple (fresh or canned, cut into chunks)
  • Fresh red peppers (washed and sliced/cut into square sized pieces)

Recipe Steps:

  1. Lay out each ingredient and get your skewers ready!
  2. Preheat grill to low-medium heat.
  3. Lightly grease the grill grate. Thread hot dogs, peppers and pineapple alternately onto skewers.
  4. Grill 10-15 minutes, turning occasionally, until light grill marks appear.
  5. Serve with cheesy rice or macaroni and cheese and a side of ketchup for the hot dog bits!

Asian Chicken Chunkers

You will need:

  • Skewers
  • Chicken, cut into chucks
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Green peppers
  • Soy sauce
  • Brown sugar
  • Ground ginger
  • Garlic powder

Recipe Steps:

  1. In a shallow dish, mix soy sauce, brown sugar, ground ginger and garlic powder. Stir the chicken pieces, peppers and tomatoes into the marinade until well coated. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator at least 2 hours.
  2. Lay out each ingredient and get ready to layer your skewers!
  3. Grease the grill and preheat to medium-high heat.
  4. Thread chicken, peppers and tomatoes alternately onto skewers.
  5. Grill 15-20 minutes, turning occasionally, until chicken juices run clear.
  6. Serve with sticky coconut rice and a fortune cookie!

Join me next week for some delicious grilled desserts for kids you won't want to miss!

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Summer Themes Continued: Popsicles and DIY Chalk!
July 22, 2014 8:47 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
This week's theme is all about a childhood summer favorite: POPSICLES! Some of these popsicles you can eat and some you can't! All of them you can make on your own and today's post will show you how!

DIY Rainbow Popsicle Chalk

This is one of the latest crazes this summer! We actually made popsicle chalk at school this past week and the kids loved it! You only need a few simple ingredients, a popsicle holder and a freezer!

Ingredients Needed:

  • ½ Cornstarch
  • ½ water
  • Washable tempura paint (in fun, bright rainbow colors!)

*Important Notes:

  • Make sure you and your child(ren) are wearing play clothes that can get dirty and possibly stained!
  • No tempura paint in your art closet? Try food coloring; however, you will need to add a teaspoon of dish soap to the mixture as well to reduce staining.
  • Flour CAN be a substitute or addition to the cornstarch; however, some people have reported that it causes the chalk to stick to the containers
  • Many recipes similar to this have been posted online. Today's post is a collection of all the most important information you need to know to make this recipe work!

Recipe Steps:

  1. Measure and pour in both the cornstarch and water and mix together.
  2. Separate out enough mixture to fill each popsicle holder individually.
  3. Add in a tablespoon of tempura paint to each separate dose of mixture to create the individual colors (you can add more to brighten your colored mixture).
  4. Once the color is mixed to your liking, pour into the popsicle holder.
  5. Place in the freezer and let set for at least 6-12 hours (ideally the next day).
  6. Remove from the freezer and enjoy decorating your sidewalks with bright and beautiful designs with your homemade chalk!

DIY Rainbow Fruit Popsicles

Ingredients Needed:

Suggestions for fruits in rainbow colors:

  • Red: strawberries, raspberries, watermelon
  • Orange: oranges and mangos
  • Yellow: pineapple, lemon and banana
  • Green: granny smith apples, kiwi, lime, pear
  • Blue: blueberries
  • Purple/Violet: dark grapes, black berries and black cherries

*Important Notes:

  • Any of the above fruits can be used in any combination, based on what you have available or how you want your popsicles to taste. Above are my suggestions for making popsicles in the main colors of the rainbow.
  • Juices can also be used to enhance color and taste.
  • Water can be used to thin pureed fruits.
  • Fruit used can either be frozen (and thawed) or fresh produce.

Recipe Steps:

  1. Puree fruit in a blender or food processor to a thickened liquid consistency, adding juice and/or water to thin if necessary.
  2. Pour mixture into the popsicle holder (or ice cube tray) and freeze for approximately 6 hours
  3. Enjoy!

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Recipe: Simple Grilled Foods for Kids
July 18, 2014 7:35 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
Today's recipes are a collection of simple and basic ideas using fresh fruits and vegetables on the grill! Each recipe only calls for 3 or 4 ingredients, making them both easy and inexpensive! Trying these recipes or ones like them will help to make your family's summer diet light and delicious!

Savory Grilled Pineapple

You will need:

  • 1 fresh pineapple - peeled, cored and cut into 1 inch rings
  • 1/4 teaspoon honey
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • Salt to taste

Recipe Steps:

  1. Place pineapple rings into a large resealable plastic bag. Add honey, butter and salt and seal the bag.
  2. Shake the bag/pineapple to coat evenly. Marinate for at least 30 minutes or overnight in the refrigerator.
  3. Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat and lightly oil grate.
  4. Grill pineapple rings for 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until heated through and grill marks appear.

*Grilled pineapple goes perfectly with BBQ'd shrimp and chicken!

Tangy Grilled Zucchini

You will need:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 zucchinis, sliced 1/4-inch thick, lengthwise
  • Sea salt
  • Balsamic vinegar

Recipe Steps:

  1. Preheat grill for medium heat and lightly oil the grate.
  2. Drizzle zucchini slices on both sides with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with sea salt.
  3. Grill zucchinis on preheated grill until tender, approximately 3 to 4 minutes per side.

Serve with ranch dressing as a dipping sauce.

Sweet Grilled Peaches

You will need:

  • 3 fresh peaches, sliced or 1 (16 ounce) package frozen peach slices (either can be used)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon

Recipe Steps:

  1. Preheat a grill for medium heat.
  2. Place peaches onto a large piece of aluminum foil, facing upward. Use two pieces of foil if necessary to hold in all of the peaches without spillage. Drizzle the honey over the peaches, and sprinkle with cinnamon. Close up the foil, sealing tightly.
  3. Place the foil packet onto the preheated grill, and cook for 10 minutes, turning once halfway through.

Serve with a generous scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.

Join me next week for wonderful summer classroom therapy ideas as well as more summer grilling recipes!

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Summer Speech Themes!
July 15, 2014 7:33 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
Starting today and running every Tuesday over the next 5 weeks until August 12th I am going to highlight fun summer themes that you can incorporate into your speech sessions during the warm steamy days of July and August. Today's theme is PIRATES, which is one that is very popular with both little boys and girls, especially under the age of 6, perfect for our Early Intervention population!

ARRRRGHHHHH!

Here are 4 great ways to bring a pirate theme into your speech and language sessions!

  1. Go on a Treasure Hunt! - Gather together some "pirate treasures," hide them around your office or classroom and then create a treasure map for your students to follow to find the hidden treasures! An ideal way to work on following directions and spatial concepts, such as "under," "over," and "behind"!
    • Not sure what to use for TREASURE??? Look around your home and office for loose change, beads and baubles, fake jewels and candy! Or visit your local dollar store for a stash of pretend gold coins and you are all set!
  2. Make Your Own Bag of Pirate Booty! Using brown paper bags and at least 4-5 treats (such as marshmallows, small pretzels, Cheez-its and Cheerios), set up an assembly line at school and have the students name each food. Place foods into bowls with scoops and let each child have an opportunity to fill their bag with some yummy booty!
  3. Build a Pirate Ship! All you need for this activity is a LARGE card board box and art supplies! Lay the box down horizontally and cut off the top so that there is now a bottom and four sides like a boat. Add cuts into the box for windows and a door. Add a flag using some spare fabric (or an old t-shirt!) and broom handle. Let the students color, paint, glitter and glue the ship to their liking and add on a skull and cross bones picture at the end and you are all set! Let the pretend play begin!
  4. Play Pirate Games! Games like "Pin the Patch on the Pirate's Eye" and "Pirate BINGO" are perfect ways to keep the fun in your lessons and still work on the speech and language goals you need to address! Be creative and have fun and your students will love it and the parents will appreciate it!

Join me Friday for more summertime foods your kids will love!

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Recipe: BBQ Your Kids with Love
July 11, 2014 7:55 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
Last week I shared my own personal homemade cheeseburger recipe. It is delicious whether fired up on the grill or cooked in the comfort of your kitchen. This week and throughout the month of July I will be posting kid-friendly recipes that are perfect for summertime and meals on the grill! I know my girls and other children I know often shy away from grilled food mainly because it looks and tastes different then what they are used to. My older daughter loves hot dogs... unless they are charred with black stripes from the outdoor grill. Then, she cries and asks for a "plain hot dog" AKA a boiled hot dog. This happens time and again with other food favorites such as shrimp and corn on the cob, which both my girls love, but only if made "plain" and not barbequed!

This week I am sharing 2 ways to make a deliciously seasoned Corn on the Cob that even the pickiest kid will love!

Honey Sweet Corn

You will need:

  • Corn on the cob (cut in half)
  • Sea salt
  • Softened butter
  • Honey
  • Tin foil wrap

Recipe Steps:

  1. Wash and dry the corn. Make sure the cob is cut in half and therefore easier for small hands to hold.
  2. Lay out a long piece of tin foil wrap and place the pieces of corn on top. Curl up the sides of the foil so that you are cradling the corn inside.
  3. Drizzle about a teaspoon of honey onto each cob.
  4. Spread a slab of softened butter across the top of each cob.
  5. Sprinkle some sea salt on top of your corn.
  6. Wrap up the sides of the foil, as you would a present. Fold the sides together and create a seal to help lock in the flavor when the corn is cooking on the grill.
  7. Place on the grill at medium heat for about 15-20 minutes.
  8. Remove, unwrap and enjoy a deliciously sweet and buttery mix of corn goodness!

Mom's Yummy Corn

You will need:

  • Corn on the cob (cut in half)
  • Sea salt
  • Garlic powder
  • Lime juice
  • Softened butter
  • Tin foil wrap

Recipe Steps:

*Follow the steps above substituting with the seasonings for this recipe.  These seasonings when used together give the corn a subtle savory flavor that is delicious for a summer BBQ!

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Providing Treatment to Children Who Stutter
July 8, 2014 7:47 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling

Over the last two weeks I posted information about how to know if your young child is truly stuttering or is simply in a normal phase of dysfluency that many experience as language skills develop. Today's post provides tools to help parents speak with their young child at home as well as tips to think about when therapy is necessary.

The following resources are ones that I use when sharing information with families when stuttering is their child's diagnosis:

  • 7 Tips for Talking with Your Child - This is great resource for parents of young children who are showing early signs of stuttering. Click here to view a PDF handout.
  • A Risk Factors Chart - This is an ideal resource for parents who have concerns about their child possibly stuttering. This chart provides a list of risk factors common in children who stutter
  • If You Think Your Child Is Stuttering - "If your child has difficulty speaking and tends to hesitate on or repeat certain syllables, words, or phrases, he may have a stuttering problem. But he may simply be going through periods of normal dysfluency that most children experience as they learn to speak. This pamphlet will help you understand the difference between stuttering and normal language development." This pamphlet breaks the information into 3 groups: The normal dysfluent child, the child with a mild stutter and the child with a severe stutter. Excellent resource for parents to use at home!

In addition to implementing new strategies at home with your child, actual therapy with a speech-language pathologist may also be necessary. The Stuttering Foundation suggests that stuttering therapy for children usually means learning to talk in an easier manner, and to build positive emotions, and attitudes about talking. As a result, length and type of therapy can vary greatly depending on your child's needs. A list of sample therapy goals for children includes:

  • Reducing the frequency of stuttering;
  • Decreasing the tension and struggle of stuttering moments;
  • Working to decrease word or situation avoidances;
  • Learning more about stuttering; and,
  • Using effective communication skills such as eye contact or phrasing.

Working together with a speech pathologist who is knowledgeable about stuttering will help your child learn to talk successfully and well.

If your child is under the age of five contact your local Early Intervention office to ask for and set up an evaluation with a speech-language pathologist. If your child is school age or attends a preschool, speak with your child's teacher and find out what resources they have available.

Lastly, on The Stuttering Foundation website is a list of summer camps that specifically address stuttering.  The Stuttering Doesn't Take a Summer Break handout which is a list of Summer Camps can be found here.

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Recipe: Homemade Cheddar Cheese Burgers
July 4, 2014 8:37 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
Happy July 4th America!!!

Today I'd like to share my own delicious sharp cheddar cheese burger recipe that my girls and my husband all love. It's a great recipe for a summer holiday weekend and when hosting a BBQ. I made these earlier this week and was shocked when my picky eater 4 year old and my 2 year old BOTH ate the burgers, bun and all! Both girls could be heard "mmmm"-ing as they savored this fantastic dish!

You will need:

  • 2 lbs. lean ground meat (at least 85% lean)
  • ¼- ½ cup A1 steak sauce
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Sharp cheddar cheese
  • Butter
  • Potato bread hamburger rolls
  • A griddle-type ridged pan or indoor/outdoor grill

Recipe Steps:

  1. Place the lean ground meat in a large bowl. Break up the meat using utensils or your hands (make sure they are washed!).
  2. Season the meat with A1 steak sauce and balsamic vinegar and mix thoroughly with both liquids to soften the meat (this step could be done several hours ahead of time to help marinade the meat; however, seasoning the meat right before cooking it will be delicious as well).
  3. Continue seasoning with the sea salt, pepper and garlic powder - a few shakes of each. Mix again thoroughly. Make sure you have mixed the burger meat well so that it is soft and almost mushy. You do not want chunks of unseasoned meat ruining your burgers!
  4. Shape the burgers into round patties and set aside.
  5. If cooking in your kitchen, warm the griddle pan and melt butter generously to prevent burgers from sticking.
  6. Place patties onto the griddle and cook thoroughly (I like to flip my burgers a few times to coat the outside with butter, giving them a really tasty flavor).
  7. Place the buns on the burgers and/or the griddle to help warm and season them as well.
  8. Seer the burgers at the end by raising the heat to high.
  9. Reduce heat to low and place cheddar cheese on now. Cover lightly for about 2 minutes so cheese melts.
  10. Place your burgers onto the wonderfully soft, warm and seasoned potato rolls and enjoy!

*IF you are cooking this on an outdoor grill, use a grill friendly pan or tin foil to support the burgers so that you can cook the burgers with some butter on them. Do not just place the burger onto the grill grate. You want the burgers to soak up their own juices and the butter as they cook!

Wishing all a Joyful and Safe July 4th Holiday!

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Stuttering: When To Seek Help
July 1, 2014 8:36 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
Last week I shared a post highlighting information about what "normal" speech looks like, as well as providing a comprehensive definition of the term "stuttering." This week I would like to further explore this complex speech disorder and what it looks like in young children. Research shows that for most children who present with some mild dysfluencies under the age of 5, the dysfluencies will often resolve themselves during those early years. These normal dysfluencies are mainly a temporary and typical phase in speech and language development.

According to the Kids Health website:

"Usually, stuttering drops to very low levels when kids enter elementary school and start sharpening their communication skills...If your child is 5 years old and still stuttering, talk to your doctor and, possibly, a speech-language therapist. You also may want to consult a speech therapist if:

  • repetitions of whole words and phrases become excessive and consistent
  • sound and syllable repetitions start happening more often
  • there is an increase in the prolongations of words
  • speech starts to be especially difficult or strained
  • you notice increased facial tension or tightness in the speech muscles
  • you notice vocal tension resulting in rising pitch or loudness
  • your child tries to avoid situations that require talking
  • your child changes a word for fear of stuttering
  • your child has facial or body movements along with the stuttering
  • you have other concerns about your child's speech

Most schools will offer testing and appropriate therapy if you have been concerned about the stuttering for 6 months or more.

According to the Stuttering Foundation, founded in 1947, "research suggests that as many as 70% of all children who start stuttering will outgrow it on their own with no speech therapy. But, research also indicates that if a child has been stuttering longer than one year, the likelihood that he or she will outgrow it without any speech therapy is reduced. Unfortunately, there are no firm guidelines about the best time to start therapy although most speech-language pathologists will recommend starting therapy within 6-12 months after you have first noticed the stuttering."

Join me next week for possible treatment strategies and what YOU can do as a parent if your child meets the guidelines listed above in today's post.

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Recipe: The Best Baked Ziti Ever!
June 27, 2014 7:46 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
Growing up in an Italian-American home, baked ziti was a family staple at dinner time. The gooey flavor and consistency of the melted cheese was irresistible and when paired with browned meat and tasty al dente noodles, the dish was always heaven on earth! One aspect of this yummy kid-friendly dish that could sometimes ruin the meal, was if it became over-cooked and therefore dried out. One way to preserve its moist deliciousness is to cover the dish while it bakes, hence locking in all the natural juices and moisture!

To make this delicious meal, you will need:

  • 1 pound dry ziti pasta
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 pound lean veal, pork, beef (aka the meatball mix! For a healthier low fat recipe, substitute with ground turkey meat)
  • 2 (26 ounce) jars spaghetti sauce (or your favorite homemade sauce!)
  • 6 ounces provolone cheese, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 6 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Spray olive oil

Recipe Steps:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a pinch of salt and a few drops of olive oil for flavor.
  2. Add ziti pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes; drain.
  3. In a large skillet, brown onion, minced garlic and meat over medium heat. Add spaghetti sauce, and simmer 15 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and spray a 9x13 inch baking dish with spray olive oil.
  5. Layer as follows: 1/2 of the ziti, Provolone cheese, ricotta cheese, 1/2 of the sauce mixture, then the remaining ziti, mozzarella cheese and remaining sauce mixture. Top with grated Parmesan cheese.
  6. Cover lightly with foil and bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until cheeses are melted. Remove the foil and bake uncovered for 10 minutes or until the cheese on top begins to brown.

Serve with homemade garlic bread and your favorite baked parmesan chicken dish and enjoy!

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Stuttering in Young Children
June 24, 2014 9:30 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
From time to time I will have parents, teachers and even friends and family members ask about a young child they know who "stutters." When I ask them to describe what the child is doing and saying when they stutter, most of the time they explain characteristics of normal developmental dysfluencies that are often temporary and mild. Today's post is designed to help parents know what these normal dysfluencies look and sound like, as well as when they should be occuring.

The Stuttering Foundation defines "Stuttering" as the following: "A communication disorder in which the flow of speech is broken by repetitions (li-li-like this), prolongations (lllllike this), or abnormal stoppages (no sound) of sounds and syllables. There may also be unusual facial and body movements associated with the effort to speak. Stuttering is also referred to as stammering."

At this time there is no known cure for stuttering; however, there is extensive information about the causes and treatment of this complex speech and language disorder. The Stuttering Foundation deems the following four factors as the "most likely to contribute to the development of stuttering:

  • genetics (approximately 60% of those who stutter have a family member who does also)
  • child development (children with other speech and language problems or developmental delays are more likely to stutter)
  • neurophysiology (recent neurological research has shown that people who stutter process speech and language slightly differently than those who do not stutter)
  • family dynamics (high expectations and fast-paced lifestyles can contribute to stuttering)"

The KidsHealth website offers the following information about young children under the age of 5 and what "normal" speech patterns looks like:

"The first signs of stuttering tend to appear when a child is about 18-24 months old as there is a burst in vocabulary and kids are starting to put words together to form sentences. To parents, the stuttering may be upsetting and frustrating, but it is natural for kids to do some stuttering at this stage. It's important to be as patient with your child as possible."

"A child may stutter for a few weeks or several months, and the stuttering may be sporadic. Most kids who begin stuttering before the age of 5 stop without any need for interventions such as speech or language therapy."

"However, if your child's stuttering is frequent, continues to get worse, and is accompanied by body or facial movements, an evaluation by a speech-language therapist around (instead of before) age 3 is a good idea."

Join me next week for a more in-depth look at stuttering diagnosis and treatment

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Recipe: The Ultimate Meatloaf Recipe
June 20, 2014 8:00 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
Meatloaf is not a food that is usually part of my cooking repertoire. I do LIKE meatloaf, but I need to admit that I don't always like making it. I often get nervous when I do, fearing that I won't be able to shape it correctly and it will somehow fall apart in the oven! However, today's recipe offers solutions for the meatloaf blues! In addition, today's recipe is a collaboration of several, which I have collected and put together to create a real winner. When made well, it is a delicious and hearty meal that will satisfy even the pickiest of eaters!

You will Need:

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ½ teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup dried bread crumbs
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons prepared mustard
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Recipe Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the beef, egg, onion powder, milk and bread crumbs. Mix everything together well.
  3. Season with salt and pepper to help bring out the flavors.
  4. Place in a lightly greased 5x9 inch loaf pan OR form into a loaf and place in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking dish. *Another way to make meatloaf more "kid-friendly" is to shape your meat mixture into individual discs, similar to a meatball or hamburger. You could also use a "mini" loaf pan and make several small meatloaf shapes. 
  5. Once you have decided on and created your meatloaf shape, it's time to top it off! In a separate small bowl, combine the brown sugar, mustard and ketchup. Mix well and pour over the meatloaf.
  6. Bake for 1 hour or until browning on top. *You may want to use a meat thermometer to ensure that a large loaf is cooked thoroughly. In addition, adjust your cooking time based on the size of your loaves. You will need less time for small loaves.

Serve with crescent rolls and macaroni and cheese for the ultimate kid-friendly, belly-busting meal!

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Free Family Summer Speech Activities
June 17, 2014 8:17 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling

Now that school is out (or almost out!), it's important to find ways to help your child practice his speech skills. Speech sessions often reduce during these hot months and some children may not even qualify for summer services. Don't let your little one waste hours of their precious summer sitting in front of the television or air conditioned mall! Get out and get active in your community! Here are some FREE ways to do so:

  • Library - Many times local libraries will offer free activities and classes for young children. Two of our local libraries offer wonderful programs that center around music, art and of course, reading! They bring in a variety of guests that run different types of programs for varying age groups and really encourage parents to bring siblings and get involved!
  • Local Park - Go and play and make friends! Many times when I take my girls to the park, other parents will strike up a conversation. Introduce yourself and model for your child how to meet new friends. Maybe even set a time to meet back at the park on another day and pack a lunch! I find that this is often a great way to meet people in our community and learn about different resources that may be available.
  • Playdates - If you (or your child) are on the shyer side and prefer not to speak with strangers at the park, pull out the school phone list and call that friendly parent who suggested a play date months ago. This may be the perfect opportunity to reach out to other families and build those connections. Or, stop by a neighbor's house and invite them over for popsicles and sidewalk chalk! Be adventurous and create opportunities for your child to build relationships.  
  • Local Church/Community Organizations - Keep an eye out for festivals and special events! Our local church recently held a Strawberry Festival. Admission was free, as was the moon bounce and playground. Face painting was $1 and strawberries with chocolate cake and ice cream was $5. Our girls loved it and keep asking to go back!
  • Neighborhood Flyer, Church Bulletin, Facebook - Not sure where to find these FREE activities? Again, check your library and church as well as convenience stores for local newspapers and flyers. Check out Facebook and see what is happening in your area! Opportunities are everywhere. Seize these days and enjoy spending time with your child while helping him to grow, explore and socialize!

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Recipe: Vanilla Cinnamon French Toast
June 13, 2014 8:00 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
During the summer months we often have more time home with family, school is out and vacations are in session!  I really enjoy making a special breakfast for my little ones when I have this extra time. Today's recipe is a family favorite. It is warm and buttery, a perfect meal to wake up to any time of the year! My mom has been making French toast like this for decades and now my husband and my girls LOVE when I follow her recipe! My older daughter will even request it for dinner!

Vanilla Cinnamon French Toast

*The following recipe will make approximately 4 pieces of French toast

You will need:

  • Healthy multigrain bread
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • Cinnamon
  • Butter
  • Syrup

Recipe Steps:

  1. In a medium sized cereal bowl, beat the two eggs.
  2. Add the cup of milk, vanilla extract and a dash of cinnamon. Mix everything together.
  3. Heat a flat skillet on the stove and use butter to grease and prepare for the bread.
  4. Once the skillet is hot and buttered, dip bread into milk and egg mixture. *Note: Do the dipping quickly, but thoroughly. Make sure all the bread is dipped so that it will cook evenly. Don't let the bread soak, it will quickly absorb the liquid, become too mushy and fall apart.
  5. Place on the skillet and cook on medium-low until golden and slightly crispy on the one side. Sprinkle the side that is up with extra cinnamon
  6. Flip the bread and cook on the other side. *Keep heat low so that the outside doesn't get too crispy leaving the inside mushy. You may want to add additional butter and cinnamon as the French toast cooks.

Serve with warm maple syrup and enjoy!

Looking for ways to add flavor and a burst of nutrition?? Try these tips:

  • Replace butter on pan with a butter spray or use a butter substitute
  • Add some sliced bananas with walnuts
  • Other fruits that pair well with French toast: blueberries, strawberries and sliced apples and pears

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Getting Ready for Summer!
June 10, 2014 9:14 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
This is officially our last week of preschool, then we have 3 weeks off and then summer school begins. Over the last 5 years of writing the blog I have tackled many topics regarding this time of year, such as preparing for summer speech services and recipes for the picky eater. Today I'd like to share some of those posts, as well as some additional tips to help kick off the summer season!
  • A Vacation From Speech Therapy: This post reminds parents that SUMMERTIME may be the perfect season to give your child a temporary break from speech therapy and invest time in other very worthwhile activities. A complete list of over 15 ideas for things to do during the summer months with your child can be found here
  • Speech Spirit: Carpe Diem! This post was written for all those hardworking SLPs out there who will actually get a little vacation time during the summer months! It was part of my "speech spirit" series that focused primarily on the deeper meaning of our work and the need to feel connected to what we do each day. The post was a personal reflection meant to encourage others to seize the season and enjoy what matters most to them so they can return in September refreshed for another great school year!
  • Picky Eater Summer Solutions: These two posts are ideas to help moms who are home this summer with picky eaters! They are hands-on and very practical ways to help improve your child's interest in food.

Looking for some additional picky eater ideas?? Try having a play date or a family member visit, such as Grandmom or a favorite aunt. Have your picky eater help you prepare dishes for your special guest and/or have your guest cook with your picky eater. Change your routine and try something different to help take the pressure off of the food and onto the company sharing the mealtime experience!

Enjoy the remaining days of the school year! Happy Summer to All!

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About this Blog


    Stephanie Bruno Dowling, M.S. CCC-SLP
    Occupation: Speech-Language Pathologist
    Setting: Early Intervention in Delaware County, PA
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