The Studio Blog Archive

A few posts we've written over the years

Janeen Hughes

That is why I believe in Rainbows United

As an expectant first-time mother, I carefully followed my doctor’s instructions, watched what I ate, switched to low-impact aerobic exercise and read a mountain of childbirth and parenting publications. I was determined to be well-prepared for the arrival of my baby.

However, I was not at all prepared for the reality of the birth of my precious daughter. Kelli was born six weeks’ prematurely, and it soon became apparent that she was not the child I’d planned for.  

Shortly after she was born, Kelli was diagnosed with a rare chromosomal anomaly, which meant that she would face a number of developmental challenges and a very uncertain future. I was heartsick and desperate.

Fortunately, we were referred to Rainbows United and Kelli began receiving home-based services shortly after she was released from the hospital. Over the next five years, Rainbows case managers, therapists and specialists provided guidance, support and encouragement that became a lifeline for our family.

We experienced the enormous impact of early intervention services on the lives of children with special needs and their families. That is why I believe in Rainbows United. That is why I am a raving fan of the caring, competent and dedicated staff. That is why I continue my support.

-Janeen Hughes, Board of Directors


Happy Holidays from Rainbows

Kids Make the Best Holiday Helpers

Entertaining for the holidays involves plenty of planning and preparation, in addition to all the shopping for gifts and house cleaning. Not surprisingly, the youngest guests may get the least amount of attention. Here are a few ideas to make sure even the youngest members of the family feel special and included in the celebration.

For Thanksgiving, make sure the kids’ table has a fun and edible centerpiece. A cheese ball shaped like a turkey, a cheese tray turkey, or a turkey fruit platter makes a tasty focal point. Fill paper cups with assorted crayons, pencils and pens and set at each place. A simple paper table cover can double as drawing paper or you can print turkey-themed coloring and activity pages. Pinecone turkeys are a quick craft to keep small hands busy.

Teens stay occupied with a more challenging coloring page. A fall leaf lantern craft will be a fun diversion for any older child. Have the young pilgrims string fall-colored beads for pretty napkin rings. These are so nice, the grown-ups may want one, too. Put a deck of cards and a few board games close by so kids can keep the fun going while adults are finishing their meal. After dinner, a hike to a nearby park or game of catch in the backyard can work off some of the extra calories.

Desserts with a younger flair are turkey gelatin or pudding cups, rice krispie treat pumpkins, or turkey Oreos. Get kids involved by letting them help with cooking and assembly. As your young guests leave, make sure to give them a sweet sendoff with a candy cornucopia.

While the children are on Winter Break, try cookie and candy baking. Something super simple like Reindeer Chow or Pretzel Treats are a great start. If baking from scratch isn’t your thing, buy sugar cookie dough and let the young ones go with cutters and loads of frosting and sprinkles. One of my favorite quick recipes is Chocolate Peppermint Cake Mix Cookies. These are an easy rendition of thumbprint cookies. Grocery stores have several varieties of dipped Oreos in stock now. Use all that icing and decorations to make Santa’s, reindeer or snowmen.

Crafts come together easily with just a few items, like Popsicle sticks, buttons, markers and glue. I have made sleds, Christmas trees, sparkling stars and reindeer, to name a few. Make easy tree ornaments with pipe cleaners and beads or pom poms. Candy canes and wreaths are fun starters for young hands. Simple DIY gifts for teachers and school friends could be Santa cups, Jingle Bell necklaces, and pencil (or crayon) initial frames.

Decorate the kids’ Christmas table in a fun and functional way, with festive Christmas stockings as napkin/silverware holders. Buy colorful socks and stuff one inside the toe of the other. Add a few inexpensive trinkets or toys to fill out the stocking. Try a color or themed table, like peppermints, snowmen or Santa. Add a table runner down the center that your kids have decorated with fabric puffy paint. Place a table top Christmas tree in the center and surround with mini gift-wrapped packages filled with dollar store finds. Construction paper cutouts make easy place cards. Add each child’s name, so they know where to sit.

While adult guests enjoy hors d’oeuvres and cocktails, let the younger set party with a festive fruit platter and a cranberry lemon-lime mocktail or popular Grinch punch. After the meal, treat children to reindeer Oreo balls or brownie Christmas trees. Goodie bags filled with purchased candies will send the youngsters off with stars in their eyes.

My family always plans an elegant New Year’s Eve dinner in the dining room, complete with our best dishes, elegant menu and dressy clothes. Serve juice in wine or champagne glasses (maybe plastic!), so the younger set can propose toasts, just like the grownups. Food selections might be Cornish game hens, petite filets or shrimp cocktail. Start a conversation about dreams and resolutions for the coming year. Hint: Write them down. You are 42 percent more likely to achieve them!

Whatever you do…don’t overdo! Just pick one or two DIY ideas that strike your fancy and plan a fun and peaceful celebration. Allowing the kids to help will bring them joy and you some much needed family time. Happy Holidays!

-Carol Martin, Finance Department, Rainbows United

The Impact on Early Childhood Development

Sometimes, You Just Need to Unplug

The technological boom of the 1990s has, in many ways, transformed media and its role in the average household. Infants, toddlers, and preschoolers are growing up in an environment saturated with many forms of digital technology. “Screen time” is a term loosely used to describe sedentary activities spent utilizing television, personal computers, gaming consoles, or hand-held mobile devices (iPad, tablet, smart phone, etc.) for personal or educational purposes. With increased accessibility to such technology, much attention has been given to the influence of media and screen time on the health and development of its youngest consumers, children ages birth to 5 years.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has released recommendations on the use of digital technology for young children. According to the AAP, children under 1 years of age should engage in minimal screen time due to the need for hands-on exploration and social interaction with peers and trusted adults. For young children between the ages of 15 to 24 months, the AAP recommends that parents engage children in a co-participatory role when utilizing media containing music, movement, and stories. By co-watching media, caregivers are better able to guide and re-teach content in a way that is meaningful for the developing child. For media consumers between the ages of 3 to 5 years, the AAP recognizes the positive influence of well-designed programs on a preschooler’s cognitive, literacy, and social development; however, such programing is best when used with a dual audience (both parent and child).

While used in moderation, screen time can be an asset to the developing child; however, the AAP identifies several concerns related to a child’s overall health and development associated with excessive screen time. Increased duration of media exposure is associated with increased risk of obesity, disturbance in sleep patterns, overall delays in cognitive development, language and social/emotional development. Excessive screen time for school aged children can result in risk of hyperactivity, emotional and behavioral difficulties, overall school performance, and social difficulties with peers.

For additional resources and assistance in developing a Media Use Plan for your family, visit:

By Rhiannon Miller, LMSW and Jennifer Hurd, LMSW – Mental Health Specialists