Thursday, July 28, 2011

Healthy Snacking

Getting all the necessary nutrition into your child on a daily basis is tricky.  Giving him a multivitamin may help but the best source of vitamins and minerals are from a variety of healthy foods.  Viewing snacks as mini meals of nutritious offerings is a great way to provide your child with the daily nutrition he needs.  As a certified Lifestyle and Weight Management Consultant, I try to teach the importance of choosing a variety of healthy foods every day. 

On the Mayo Clinic website you’ll find a great article “Healthy snacks for kids: 10 child-friendly tips.” There are other great resources on the internet such as this very informative article “Healthy Snacks for Kids” fromthe Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine website.  At the Center for Science in the Public Interest website you’ll find ideas for serving healthy snacks to children and much more!   
Snacking is a great way to help picky eaters get the daily nutrition that they need.  There’s a great article on tips for picky eaters on the Mayo Clinic website .  Cooking with kids helps them want to try new foods.  Discover more about this at the PBS website. 
Fueling your child with nutritious food not only keeps them alert, focused, and able to work, it also sets good habits in place for a lifetime of good health.  In addition, a healthy child is able to attend school on a regular basis which has been shown to increase academic achievement.
Does all this mean that you can’t give your child a treat?  Not at all, but treats should be just that, rare special nonnutritive foods just for fun like a cookie or other sweet.  However, there’s no rule that says you have to have dessert at every meal--save dessert for dinner.   Check out some cookbooks to help you get started. I found some great books HERE.
Does your family have any favorite kid-friendly recipes?  Leave me a comment.  I’d love to hear from you!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Bats Are Good

Hooray for Bats! Bats are really very beneficial to our ecosystem yet they have gotten a bad rap over the years. Tired of getting eaten alive by mosquitoes? You need more bats in your neighborhood!

My family had a lot of experience with bats when I was growing up. In 1977 my parents bought an old (built in 1799) brick house. They still live there today. It has thirteen rooms, nine fireplaces, and bats. Every summer evening we could see their dark silhouettes swooping in the dusk sky catching their supper.

Sometimes the bats would get into the house. One night, I’m told (I slept through this event) a bat got into my younger sister Marcia’s bedroom. She wrapped up in her comforter, cocoon style and inch-wormed her way down the hall to our parents’ bedroom as Dad went to investigate.

Meanwhile the bat had followed Marcia and had perched on the wall in the corner of our parents’ bedroom. My mom called, “Buster, the bat’s in here now.” So Buster, that’s Dad’s nickname, came into the room and whooped, “Whoop, whoop.” The bat dive bombed the bed. Mom screamed and scrambled off of the bed and attempted to get under it…

…Only to find she didn’t fit. Not that Mom was too chubby, she’s actually quite thin. No, the bedframe was really close to the floor to accommodate the thick mattresses. Dad eventually got the bat outside and everybody went back to sleep. How I slept through all of this excitement I’ll never know.

Speaking of bats, Brian Lies’ Bats at the Beach, Bats at the Library, and Bats at the Ballgame are delightful and engaging! His illustrations are vivid and detailed, making the reader stop and take a closer look. The rhyming text is gentle and fun to read aloud, not forced. Brian Lies won this year’s Crystal Kite award for his newest book, Bats at the Ballgame, a NY Times best seller!

Find out more about bats at Brian Lies’ website then spend an enjoyable summer evening with your family outdoors observing the bats in your neighborhood. (You’ll need blankets to lie on and some bug repellant.) As they flit about, it’s fun to imagine they’re on their way to a new adventure!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Road Safety

Bikes, scooters, rollerblades, and skateboards are fun! Having a concussion is not.

I’d like to encourage everyone to wear their properly fitting helmets as well as practice safe riding habits! There’s a reason for this: it can save your life!

One way to encourage a child to wear a helmet is let them decorate it with stickers. Another is to wear one yourself! Children learn by example. Actions speak louder than words!

However, even more important than wearing a helmet is using safe riding habits. Have you taken the time to teach your child the “rules of the road?” As more and more people use bicycles for transportation in the U.S., it’s crucial that everyone obey these rules, whether you’re driving a car or a bicycle.

Do you bike with your family? Do you have a favorite bike trail? I’d love to hear from you! Leave me a comment below.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Taking the Family to the Beach

In The Cats of Mrs. Calamari, the characters go to the beach. Do you have access to the ocean from where you live? If so, the beach is a great place to take your family. Even if you’re far from the ocean, a pond, lake, or river are fun to visit, too.

Your day will be more enjoyable if you remember some important things:
• Sunscreen
• Bug repellant
• Healthy snack and meals (a cooler on wheels is handy!)
• Water and juice beverages (plastic containers, no glass!)
• Bathing suits
• Hats and a change of clothing
• Shelter—pop up cabana or umbrella for shade
• Towels (two per person and leave one set in the trunk)
• Beach chairs, blankets or quilts for sitting on
• Beach toys (shovel, pails, etc.)
• Bubbles (be considerate of others who may not want to be “bubbled”)
• Plastic bags (for wet clothing as well as packing home your trash)
• Baby powder (for helping to remove excess sand)
• Camera (don’t forget the camera bag for protection!)

Optional but fun:
• Bug net/container for catching/releasing specimens/magnifying glass
• Fish net/pail for catching/releasing specimens
• Kite/balls/Frisbees, etc. (be considerate of others and watch for power lines)

Good to know:
Not all areas allow inflatable flotation devices or facemasks/snorkels. It’s good to check these things out before you go!

A day at a shore of any kind can be a day of discovery for you and your family. Digging holes is fun! Just be sure they’re not too big—they can collapse and cause injury! Don’t forget to fill them back in when you’re done.

Be sure to end the day on a happy note. There’s nothing worse than driving home a car full of sunburned, hungry, thirsty, bug bitten, sand encrusted, tired children. After rinsing off as much sand as you can, pat dry with the extra towels you previously stowed in the trunk. Dust any residual sand off with the baby powder. That and a visit to a local ice cream, burger or clam shack makes for an enjoyable ending to a memorable family outing.