Acceptance on World Down Syndrome Day


In honor of World Down Syndrome Day, we wanted to share something from one our of friends and members, Lauren Molloy. Her daughter, Autumn, brings smiles to all! Thanks, Lauren for sharing your words of acceptance. We know many can relate to this.


Acceptance: Everyone has the desire to be accepted and included whether you have a disability or not. I’m sure many people can relate to a time they felt isolated, and not accepted: maybe it was the time you had no one to be your locker partner, the time in gym class you were picked last, a Jr. High or HS School Dance that you weren’t included, the Neighborhood Click that didn’t invite you to that fun outing, the work group that didn’t ask you to join them in Happy Hour, it could go on and on…

But what is true is that we can all reflect back and feel that moment of wanting to be accepted and included. Let’s take those memories and use them as a learning lesson for those that aren’t just like “us”. Inclusion is contagious; we can all learn from each other.

Let’s spread Love, Acceptance, and Awareness on World Down Syndrome Day; we are all more a like than different! Differences make us unique, so having an accepting outlook will change the perception of people with disabilities.


World Down Syndrome Day was celebrated this year on Sunday, March 21st.


10 Phrases to Inspire Confidence in Your Child


We all know the importance of having healthy self-esteem and, as parents, we have the opportunity to build self-esteem and confidence in each of our children every single day.  Motherly shares some great phrases that inspire confidence–here are 10 of our favorites:

  1. “You are capable.”
    As a parent, our words become the internal language in the minds of our children. We know that our kids are capable of so much—let your words match this belief
  2. “That was brave.”
    Sometimes we need to notice things aloud. That means to let them know when we see them being brave. When we notice our kids being brave, they start to notice too.
  3. “You’ve got this.”
    You know that they have the skills and means necessary and your vote of confidence will give them that extra boost they need to succeed.
  4. “I believe in you.”
    As the parent, you have faith in your child’s ability. When you openly communicate that faith in them it will inspire it within themselves.
  5. “You can do hard things.”
    When the going gets tough the obstacles can seem insurmountable. So this direct phrase will tell them exactly what they need to hear—acknowledgment that this is hard work and that they are capable.
  6. “No matter what happens, I still love you.”
    Our children need to hear words that communicate unconditional love. That means providing reassurance of our love—regardless of the outcome.
  7. “How’d you do that?”
    Ask questions. When you see them do something hard, say, “How did you manage that? How can you do it again?”
  8. “I know it’s hard, but I’ve seen you do it before.” 
    It can seem overwhelming, but let’s give them evidence of when they have been successful before. This will instill the confidence that they can do it again.
  9. “You are enough.”
    It doesn’t matter what the outcome—they need to know they are enough just the way they are.
  10. “You make me proud.”
    Straight and to the point—you can never tell your child this enough.

Want some more inspiration?  Check out more great phrases here.


The Moms Network October Episode: Blended Families


Whether it is blending different cultures or different families through divorce, the co-hosts share their unique experiences and perspectives on what it is like to raise a blended family in this month’s episode of The Mom’s Network on NCTV-17. You can watch the full episode below. Thank you to this month’s show sponsor DuPage Medical Group.

You can catch up on all episodes by visiting the NCTV-17 website.

Local Experts Offer Parents Advice for Summer Learning Slump


The summer learning slump is a normal thing for students, but this year it’s made even more challenging when combined with the “COVID slide.”  Our friends at NCTV interviewed local experts to get the best tips for helping students this summer.

Get more information here.

The Moms Network: Summer Skincare & COVID-19 Check-In


The Moms Network co-hosts welcome Dr. Juliana Basko-Plluska of Basko Dermatology to this month’s virtual episode to discuss everything we need to know about summer skincare—for us and our kids!  In addition, the co-hosts share some of the lessons they have learned as we head into the next phase of the state of Illinois reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Check out the clips of the segments below and head to NCTV to see more of The Moms Network.




Thank you to Basko Dermatology for being the sponsor of this month’s episode.

10 Virtual Field Trips for Kids

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This past weekend was the unofficial start of summer and with many camps and other programs postponed, you may be looking for some new ways to entertain the kiddos.  Why not take them on a global field trip?

Good Housekeeping recently shared 35 virtual field trips—from museums to farms to famous landmarks, your kids can go on a global adventure every week of the summer.  Here are 10 of our favorites:

Metropolitan Museum of Art: The #Metkids site is geared for little ones, and lets them explore a cute, illustrated map to find treasures in the museum’s collection.

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History: This site offers a virtual version of every exhibition in the museum.  You’ll want to bookmark this one.

Farm Food 360: Kids can see 11 different sorts of farm and food plants, including dairy cow farms, egg processing facilities, and an apple orchard.

Buckingham Palace: Go room-by-room and see all of the amazing historical objects in the palace.

Mount Rushmore: The virtual tour of Mount Rushmore was created through 3D scans of the mountains.

San Diego Zoo: One of the most famous of zoos in the United States, you can catch live cams and videos of your favorite animals.

Shedd Aquarium: Everything you love about the Shedd brought to your own home.  They even have new episodes of a limited series called #StayHomeWithShedd, made for kids and kids at heart.

M&Ms Factory Tour: The Food Network hosts a virtual tour of the M&Ms factory and shows how the delicious candy gets made.

The Moon: NASA does virtual tours of the moon, along with the International Space Station.  Kids can also see the real surface of Mars, courtesy of the Curiosity rover.

Discovery Education: The site hosts virtual field trips for kids, from engineering plants that make cars of the future to a lab that researches nuclear energy.

And while all of these are “screen experiences”, you can continue the engagement offline by having kids draw what they remember most, write about the favorite part of their “trip” or even create a family quiz filled with facts they learned.

Click here for the full list of virtual field trip ideas.

Does Online Babysitting Work?

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According to a recent article in the New York Times, interest in virtual sitters is surging.  Whether its stand-in home-school teachers, professional babysitters or a grandparent holding a virtual tea party, companies are creating platforms for caregivers to interact with kids virtually—including options to book onscreen babysitters.

But, does it really work?

“Of course, virtual babysitters can’t change a baby’s diapers, tuck a preschooler into bed or chase an unruly toddler around the house. But screen-based caregivers can entertain kids and give parents short breaks,” writes Katharine Gammon.

Here are some things you should consider before hiring your virtual sitter:

Timing is Everything
According to the article, virtual babysitting works best in small amounts of time, usually half an hour to an hour.  And parents should be nearby—at least within earshot of the child. It also tends to work best in the mornings, when kids are rested and fresh.

Focus on Special Talents and Interests
Consider hiring a virtual sitter who have specific skills, like being able to talk and play games about sports, or dinosaurs, or math.  This especially works well for older kids who can often pay attention longer when the topic is interesting.

Plan a Specific Activity
Doing an activity—reading a story, creating a craft or play a game—over a screen still engaged kids’ imaginative play.  As long as the child is able to communicate well and is interested in the person onscreen, virtual babysitting can work. “The burden is more on the babysitter than on the child,” Dr. Arthur Lavin explains, adding that the virtual sitter has to be more prepared and care about what the child will click into.

Virtual Experience Matters
Because keeping kids engaged virtually is different than when in-person, you should look for a sitter that has experience in virtual babysitting.  “As a parent you’re kind of looking for the feeling of — I know how to do this; I got you,” she parent Kimberly Sloan. “I haven’t experienced any sort of platform that has got this dialed in yet.”

You can read the whole article here.

Have you tried using a virtual babysitter?  We’d love to hear how it worked for you and your child.

The Simple Way to Charge Ourselves


My sister, Amy Hamrick of Kind Coffee in Estes Park, CO, is giving us a little lesson in charging ourselves…

Hope you find time to charge yourself this week!

This Mom’s Creative Idea is a Win for Us All


My good friend Jessica Todd of Jessica Todd Designs and her daughters are having a lot of fun with their school’s art challenge.

“I have been blown away with how quickly our school district and elementary school jumped into action to provide virtual leaning curriculum,” said Jessica.  One learning option that really peaked her children’s interest is a Facebook page where students could share their art.  Launched by two art teachers at the school, the page offers a platform for children to showcase their weekly art projects and participate in a virtual art challenge.

The challenge–which originally came from the Getty Museum–asked students to mimic famous art pieces using objects that they had in their home.  “I am an interior designer so I do feel that helps us when we do these photo shoots,” said Jessica.  “I look for art pieces that have color palettes similar to our home and have details and pieces we can mimic with what we have here. I have loads of fabric stored away from various projects around my home and the fabric has been a major part of all of our projects. We adopted a dog a little over a week ago and gave him some time to acclimate and featured him in our latest art piece. He is too cute not to show off.”

Below are pictures of Jessica’s daughters along with the pieces of famous art they are mimicking.

“The pictures have been very well received and the project has felt like something that we can do to entertain people and make them smile,” adds Jessica. “We are just trying to get by during this time and figure if we can make ourselves smile and other people smile, it’s a win.”



Resiliency Through Challenging Times


In 2007, a Medicare law change happened that took the rights away from chiropractors to bill and get paid for physical therapy codes. At that time, I had been in practice for eight years and had three offices, which were primarily Medicare based. We loved treating patients, listening to their amazing stories and helping them regain lost mobility, decreasing their severe pain and putting a smile on their faces.

In this one law change, my billable amount decreased by 81 percent and it destroyed me. The following year, I got divorced and was trying desperately to get back up on my feet, financially. My dad and his wife paid for me to get a small apartment, paid for the furniture and my living expenses until I was able.  Personal bankruptcy was a part of this time in my life as well.

In January 2015, additional insurance shifts and changes reduced our patient volume by 40 percent.  Many patients no longer had insurance that covered our services or their deductibles went from $300 to $3,000 as the new year hit. This loss is actually the main reason why I had to close Cafe N Play, an indoor playground and coffee shop that served as our “clubhouse” for the Naperville Moms Network (now The Branch!). I no longer had extra money from the practice to help cover the loss that Cafe N Play still had as a young, growing business and I couldn’t put both businesses at risk. It was a very sad decision to make.

Today, my practice is on a pause due to COVID-19 and it is incredibly stressful. I have eight employees that I love and care for, they represent the best team I could ever ask to have. I have spent hours and hours working with my accountant and banker to secure the PPP loan to help cover their salaries so I don’t have to lay them off during this time. I am happy to say I have been approved, but it doesn’t cover all of my overhead or my salary, so it is still a scary financial time with no income coming into my practice.

One major thing is different though. This time, I know it won’t last forever. This time, I have been able to draw strength from my past and tap into that fighting spirit of overcoming adversity. I have NEVER given up. Today, I look back in a bit of amazement of what I have traveled through and came out of–that view gives me so much hope for our future on the other side of these challenging times. Does that hope take away all of the fear and all of the anxiety? Of course not, but I know I will be ok.

And, I know you will all be ok too. You have strength and resilience in you that you don’t know you have. You can navigate these incredibly choppy waters whether you are a stay-at home mom, a work-from-home mom or a business owner like myself. Your kids are resilient too. They will follow your lead. I know all of our emotions are a bit high right now but remember all that you have been through in the past and all you have overcome. Dig into that space and find that extra strength and take one day at a time, biting off little portions instead of looking at the entirety of this time of our lives. I believe in all of you.

We are moms and we can basically do anything we set our minds to!

Stay well and keep smiling,


Dr. Cathy Subber
Founder of The Branch

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