Archive for the 'Lifestyles' Category

Beat the Heat

It’s July and we’re now in the firm grips of sun, heat, and more heat. Here are some tips to keep cool and keep the electric bill from rising. These tips are especially useful if you don’t have air conditioning at all.

Shade. Before it starts to get hot, close the blinds and the curtains. Not having direct sunlight come inside the house makes a huge difference on the temperature indoors. And really it’s cheaper to have a light on than to have the A/C running on full blast.

Windows. While it’s still cool out open up all the windows in your house, letting in all the cool air — better still to leave them open all night when it gets even cooler. Then before it starts to get hot shut them all. It will stay cooler in your house longer if you don’t keep letting in the hot air.

Fans. Fans take up less electricity than an air conditioner and they’re a real life saver if you don’t have any A/C at all. Ceiling fans are best as they keep the air circulating and you can change the direction of the blades but box fans and oscillating fans are better than nothing. A great trick for cooling off your house fast when the sun goes down is to open the windows to create air flow and put the fans in front of the windows on one side of the house. They will suck the cool air in from outside and push the stale warm air out the other side. It doesn’t work if you have fans in all the windows because the air doesn’t move anywhere. When you have the house shut up for the heat of the day, keep them running to help keep the air cooler and to keep it circulating.

Water. If you have access to a swimming pool the best time to go is when it’s hottest. It gets you out of the hot house or apartment and cools you off — don’t forget the sunscreen, though, because that’s when the UV’s are at their worst. But if you don’t have access to a pool, then run a cool bath. Drinking lots of cold water helps to keep you cool internally as well.

Posted in Uncategorized, Home and Garden | No Comments »

Road Trip With a Toddler Tips

Doing any kind of car traveling with a toddler can be an adventure in and of itself. Whether you’re taking a long road trip or just driving to Grandma’s here’s some tips to make the trip a little easier on the whole family.

Breaks. If you are going for any distance, there is no way a toddler can sit the whole trip. Break the trip up into segments — drive for an hour and a half and then take a break, get out of the car, and stretch for a half hour. Sure, it takes a lot longer but you get there with a much happier child. You can combine these breaks when you need to stop for food but make sure that the toddler doesn’t have to sit. Restaurants with play areas or picnics at rest stops are the best bet.

Snacks. You won’t always be someplace you can pull over and pick up a bite to eat. Make sure you’re prepared for when hunger strikes your toddler by packing healthy snacks. Finger foods are best because they give the tot something to do with their hands. Things like graham crackers, cheerios, grapes, slices of cheese, and celery or carrot sticks. Avoid sticky sugary foods, though, because that’s a mess just waiting to happen.

Songs. Brush up on your children songs. Singing silly songs that the toddler can sing a long with you is a great way to distract your kid from the long miles ahead of them. Inventing a silly travel song for that particular trip makes it special and can entertain the little one for a time.

Essentials. Pack a bag of small toys, coloring books, crayons, and books. The best toys to bring aren’t their favorite ones but rather toys they’ve never seen or haven’t played with in a long time. It keeps their attention longer and makes the trip special. Toddlers are smart, and if they get new toys when they travel, they’ll remember and be more agreeable to the trip in general. You don’t have to buy new things or expensive toys, things from kid’s meals or something they haven’t played with in a long time work just as well.

Posted in Uncategorized, Vacation and Travel | No Comments »

Mutant Turkey

In my defense, I’ve never actually cooked a turkey. Sure I’ve seen them done, I’m no stranger to the kitchen during Thanksgiving preparation, but I’ve never had to do it on my own. That is, until last year.

I have no idea what possessed me to blurt out, “I’ll cook this year,” when the family gathered around the table to strategize the holiday. I should’ve clued in it wasn’t as easy as I thought when there was a large collective sigh of relief and everyone readily agreed it was a wonderful idea. Instead, I was too busy imagining the glory of everyone telling me what a fabulous cook I was and how it was the best turkey they’d ever eaten. I began researching turkey recipes immediately, until I found “the one”. This recipe guaranteed your family would rave and insist you make it every year.

I was confident as I selected a meat thermometer for dummies, no pop-up timers for this girl, and the perfect turkey, a beautifully wrapped twenty pound behemoth. I’d done the math and decided that for six people a twenty pound bird was a must. I’d even talked turkey with a woman in line at the checkout, giving her pointers on what she should do.

The night before Thanksgiving, still dreaming of greatness, I prepared a brine to soak my fully-thawed turkey in overnight. I felt like a gourmet chef as I’d never seen my mother brine her dried out old turkeys. Everything I’d read promised that the salt/sugar solution would ensure the bird stayed tender, moist, and melt off the bone. I even remembered to take out the neck and giblets, I’d done a lot of turkey prep reading, and submerged the bird overnight.
The morning of, I rinsed the turkey thoroughly and stuffed the cavity with apples and onions, something else I’d never seen Mom do but the recipe called for it and after all it’d come with a guarantee. I inserted the thermometer into the thigh as directed, put the turkey in a cooking bag, and placed it in the oven — setting the timer for three hours per the directions.

The timer buzzed and I checked the thermometer. It showed the right temperature so I took out the turkey and it was a delicious golden brown. I mentally patted myself on the back as I cut into the bird and I swear it gobbled. It wasn’t done. No big deal, it happens, right? I put the bird back in the bag, reinserted the thermometer, and put it back in the oven for another hour.

My family waited with anticipation for the timer to go off. An hour later, the thermometer indicated it was again 180 degrees so I pulled it out and cut into the thigh meat. It gobbled again in protest, still raw. Back in. Back out. Still raw.

We played this game a little more, and then I sliced off some of the more done parts and nuked them in the microwave as the side dishes were getting cold and Three-feet-of-fun was starving. I put the turkey back in the bag, didn’t bother with the thermometer this time, it was obviously defective, and flung it back in the oven.
It baked while we ate, while we did the dishes, and while we ate pie. I took it out of the oven again and cut into it. Still raw, still gobbling. Fed up, I put it back in the oven and turned the temperature down. I told my husband to make sure it didn’t catch on fire and I went out shopping. My husband forgot about it and when I got back four hours later, I pulled it out of the oven and cut into it again. I couldn’t believe it, it was still raw.

I ended up baking that mutant turkey the rest of the day and night and it never did get completely cooked. My dreams were shattered. Maybe I’ll start cooking it on Halloween next year. That is if the family lets me.

Posted in Cooking, Holidays, Humor | No Comments »

Educational Market Trips

Every trip the the market can be fun and educational for the little ones. Even tiny babies (assuming they are awake) can benefit from the learning possibilities while you get your grocery shopping done. Here are some tips for making your next trip to the market (or any store for that matter) fun and educational.

Babies

  • Show them their world
  • Introduce them to different shapes and colors: Red apples, round oranges, square boxes for example.
  • Keep wipes/hand sanitizer on you or within easy reach, and if your baby is old enough, let him touch different things and feel the different textures: smooth cucumbers, bumpy squash. (Make sure baby keeps things out of her mouth.)
  • Toddlers

  • Have them him and count.
  • Let her count the pears as you put them in the bag for example.
  • Continue talking with him about colors, shapes and sizes. Ask: which is bigger: a grape or a grapefruit?
  • Have her find letters on signs, boxes and wrappings.
  • Play the “I Spy” game, with older toddlers.
  • If your toddler is a walker, opposed to one who sits in the cart, let them pick some things out themselves (or go with an older sibling to do so.)
  • Now is a good time too (for older toddlers), to introduce the concept of money and that you have to pay for the things in the store before you leave with them.
  • School-aged

  • Combine what she’s learning in school with the trip to the market. If she’s studying geography for example, talk about where some things come from…bananas from Chile, oranges from Florida for example.
  • Talk about cooking with him and what the ingredients are for a ________.
  • Have her try to figure out how much the groceries will cost.
  • Have him pay, accept and count the change. (This means of course, that you’re using cash instead of a credit/debit card.)
  • Use coupons/store bonus card and have her figure out what the savings will be.
  • If he’s taking a foreign language (or you speak one at home) practice vocabulary in the foreign language about things in the store.
  • Have her guess how many bags it will take to pack all of the groceries (for a large shopping trip).
  • Discuss with him why you’re making the choices that you do as a shopper. (For example: Less expensive? Brand loyalty? Eco-friendly? You have a coupon for it?
  • Talk about why some things are taxed and others are not?
  • These are just some ways that you can turn a trip to the market into an engaging, fun and educational experience, foster communication and teach your child about their world. Come up with your own to add that work for your family.

    Posted in Parenting, Lifestyles, Activities, School and Learning, Smart Buying, Child Education, Guest Blogger | No Comments »

    Beyond the Sandwhich part3

    In this third installment of Beyond the Sandwich, we’re looking at lamb.

    This meal is ideal for the day after your holiday lamb leftovers and when you might want something lighter.

    Mediterranean Lamb Salad

    Ingredients:
    Romaine lettuce
    Field greens
    Greek olives
    Spanish Olives (with or without pimientos)
    Fresh garlic
    Fresh basil (not the dried flakes)
    Tomatoes
    Burpless cucumbers
    Feta cheese
    Greek vinaigrette (or other vinaigrette of choice)
    Leftover lamb sliced thin
    Cracked pepper (optional)

    Instructions
    Wash the tomatoes and cucumbers
    Slice tomatoes in eighths and the cucumbers into thin slices and then in half
    Cover the tomatoes and cucumbers with the dressing, add 1/2 t of fresh garlic, cover and chill during remaining steps

    Wash and drain all of the greens
    Slice about 4 long leaves romaine in small bite-sized pieces
    Add the field greens to the romaine and toss together gently
    Add the olives–about 1/4 of each (or more to your desire)
    Add the feta and chilled marinating cucumbers and tomatoes (include liquid)
    Toss all of the above together to cover all leaves and olives lightly (add more dressing if necessary)

    Lay the above into a bed on plates.
    Wash and pat dry the basil.
    Gently lay the fresh basil in the center of the plated mixture. (Have fun with it and make a design with the basil leaves.)
    Lay the sliced lamb on top of the basil and serve.

    Posted in Uncategorized, Cooking, Holidays, Healthy Eating, Guest Blogger | No Comments »

    Take the 4-point plastics pledge

    Probably everyone has seen that one scene from The Graduate where during the Benjamin’s party, one of his parent’s friends says something to the effect of: “I’m going to tell you one word about the future. Plastics.” Many of us even remember the old commercial sponsored by the American Chemistry Council that stated: “Plastics Make It Possible.” For years we’ve come to rely on the convenience, portability and “safety” of plastics.

    Then, we got a collective environmental conscience and realized that plastics were filling our landfills and destroying the planet.

    Now, we know that certain plastics contain Bisphenol-A a possible endocrine disruptor and hormonal disruptor as it mimics the female hormone estrogen.

    It is in many items that we use daily and consider safe: from baby bottles to sports bottles, the linings of metal food cans, and in nearly any take-out container that isn’t foil or a paper product. The least safe plastic items are those labeled 3, 6 and 7 and their unsafe properties increase with heating from the dishwasher and microwave. A recent report by Catherine Zandonella, M.P.H. in the Green Guide states that “the plastics industry says it is harmless, … a growing number of scientists are concluding, from some animal tests, that exposure to BPA in the womb raises the risk of certain cancers, hampers fertility and could contribute to childhood behavioral problems such as hyperactivity. …[And] ninety-five percent of Americans were found to have the chemical in their urine in a 2004 biomonitoring study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).” The company bisphenol-a.org asserts that the levels of BPA found in the items we use daily are safe, and are only unsafe at high doses. Zandonella’s report continues that according to Frederick vom Saal, Ph.D., a developmental biologist at the University of Missouri, “low doses that are now proving to cause a myriad of harmful effects in animals, including chromosomal damage in female egg cells and an increase in embryonic death in mice. A follow-up to this is a study indicating a relationship of BPA blood levels to miscarriages in Japanese women.” While the FDA sees no reason to change its 2003 opinion on the safety of BPA in conjunction with food use, they have been wrong before. In contrast, in December 2007, the Center to the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction issued a detailed report about BPA and its implications in humans, concluding that more study on the effect of BPA in humans is needed.

    Hmmm. Some experts say BPA is perfectly okay; others, not so much.
    So what are we to do?

    After a thorough check of my cabinets for anything labeled 3, 6 or 7, I was happy to find that all of my son’s sippy cups were labeled 2. But that was just the cups themselves. What about the lid–the part that he actually sucks on? What about the ones that have been saved by relatives with toddlers before us and passed down to us and clearly show the wear and tear of little toddler nibbles? Are the ones that are a decade old (and clearly flaking) still safe? There was no way to know…as neither the contemporary lids nor the older sippy cups had any numbers on them. Am I to assume that because the newer cups have a “2″ imprinted on them that the lids are also twos?

    You see. More questions.

    I checked my son’s bowls and other plastic that we use for food regularly as well. No numbers there either. Luckily, I never heat food in plastic, but what about transferring hot food to a plastic bowl?

    As you can see, the new information only leads to more questions, concerns and decisions about food container choices.

    While on one hand I don’t want to give my toddler a glass bowl…it is much easier to take care of a cut than potential future problems that could affect his internal functions.

    I put my mind at ease with the intent to make some behavioral changes and wiser shopping choices. Luckily, I didn’t have to grapple with how to dispose of any threes, sixes or sevens properly.

    But later in the day, the question arose again. I was at my favorite local cafe, where as I sipped my steaming coffee from its cardboard-lined cardboard cup, I stared down at the number six on the lid. How many times have I sucked on a hot liquid in one of these lids in my lifetime? How many times have I consumed hot food from a number 6 container? Sure, my exposure has been minimal according to the FDA and some scientists, but the questions still lurk.

    What about you and your family? It makes you too, wonder now, doesn’t it?

    Armed with this new information, I am willing to take a four-point pledge for myself and for my family and make a behavioral change to reduce my (our) exposure to BPA.

  • A pledge to shop smarter and avoid purchasing plastic products labeled with the numbers 3, 6 or 7.
  • A pledge to avoid take-out and establishments that use plastic containers labeled with 3, 6 or 7.
  • A pledge that when point two is absolutely unavoidable, to avoid personal exposure to such plastics that have come into contact with heat.
  • A pledge to use sustainable and safe reusable products.
  • Will you too take the pledge?

    Feel free to make it public and claim the pledge in the comments field.

    Posted in Health, Daily Living, Health Care, Healthy Living, Poison, Smart Buying, Guest Blogger, News Items | 1 Comment »

    Beyond the Sandwich: Making Use of Holiday Left-overs (part two)

    In this installment of Beyond the Sandwich, we’re looking at turkey. There always seem to be leftovers when you make a turkey, and after a while, turkey sandwiches can get a little boring. Here are two easy recipes to breathe new life into those turkey leftovers: turkey tortellini soup and warm turkey burritos/wraps.

    First, set aside some turkey breast for the burritos/wraps.

    Turkey Tortellini Soup

    Ingredients

    Turkey (still on the bone)
    Stewed tomatoes
    While the turkey is boiling, wash spinach and remove the spines from the leaves. Set aside.
    Carefully remove bones from the liquid and discard them. You may need to use the slotted spoon to help gather the smaller bones. Use a pair of tongs to return any meat collected in the spoon back to the soup.

    Add the tomato sauce and stewed tomatoes to the mixture.

    Add a handful of basil (Note: other spices are not necessary as the soup will have the flavoring of whatever spices were used to season the turkey initially before cooking.)

    Bring mixture to a low boil, stirring intermittently. If the mixture is too thick, gradually add cupfuls of water until it is at your desired consistency.

    Simmer for 20 minutes

    Bring mixture back up to a boil and add the tortellini. Cook according to manufacturer’s directions.

    When tortellini is al dente (or near it) gently add the spinach to the soup by the handful and stir it into the soup. As each handful of spinach wilts down, add another of fresh spinach.
    Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until all spinach is wilted.

    Serve and enjoy.

    Warm Savory Turkey Burritos/Wraps
    (Note: these can be served cold as well, just omit the melting directions)

    Ingredients
    Large, round flat bread/tortillas (either wheat or corn)
    Field greens/lettuce (optional)
    1 T olive oil
    1 medium Red onions (chopped)
    Chopped tomatoes
    Scallion /green onion (chopped)
    Block of sharp cheddar cheese (shredded)

    Optional Sauce:
    Mayonnaise
    Chipotle powder
    Black pepper

    Utensils/Gear
    Knives
    Cutting board
    Small whisk (or fork)
    Small bowl (for the sauce)
    Spatula
    Cheese grater
    Oven

    Directions
    Prepare sauce and refrigerate
    In a small bowl, add about ¼ tsp of chipotle powder to mayonnaise and whisk, blending well. (Add more or less of each to taste.) Dash with a sprinkle of ground black pepper to taste.

    Prepare wrap
    Preheat oven to 350° F.

    Shred the cheddar cheese and set aside

    Wash the lettuce/field greens and set aside (if using for the cold wrap)

    Cut the turkey breast into long, thin strips (about ¼ to ½ inch wide)

    Chop the scallions, red onion and tomatoes and mix together. Set aside.

    Gently warm the tortillas/flatbread in the oven. (You can also steam them if you have a large steamer.)

    When warmed, remove from oven and layer the turkey and cheese, lengthwise in the center.

    Return to oven to melt cheese/heat turkey. Watch carefully as cheese melts. When cheese starts to melt, remove from oven and layer on the onion/tomato mixture.

    Top with the sauce and roll up or fold into thirds. (This last part has to be done fairly quickly.)

    For a cold wrap, still warm the bread but skip heating the turkey and cheese. Instead layer on the lettuce/greens, turkey, cheese, onion/tomato mixture and sauce. Roll up and enjoy.

    Next up…Left-over Lamb

    Posted in Cooking, Home and Garden, Healthy Eating, Guest Blogger | No Comments »

    Home Safety: Home Invasion

    Last night my husband told me about something that is possibly an Urban Legend, but is still disturbing no matter where you live. It seems that, according to the reports, a new gang has moved into our area. They are supposedly ‘bumping’ cars with theirs, then when the people in the car that was hit stop, they execute them, gangland style. Not only this, but their activities have stepped up to home invasions.

    Even if this is not true, I felt that I should address home safety. A home invasion is terrifying. Your home is your private area, a place to be relaxed and with the ones you love. Even if you are single, your home is your sanctuary.

    So what can you do to protect yourself and your family against a home invasion?

    1. Install real or ‘dummy’ cameras at your home. Key areas to place them are the corners of your home, facing the entire yard and entrance areas. Home invaders are less likely to attack a home with cameras in view, real or fake. They have no idea if the cameras are real, especially if the cameras come with a battery operated ‘on’ light.

    2. Alarms for your windows and doors. You can purchase alarms that make a very loud, high pitched noise that are activated by magnets. These can be put on nearly any surface which make them very handy. These are often advertised on television and are much lower in cost that traditional alarm systems which can be too costly for the average family. Another plus is that even if you rent, you can use these alarms and take them with you if you move.

    3. Motion lights can be purchased and installed in the darker areas of your property. Motion lights can be low cost if found on sale at your local hardware store. You can also purchase night lights that are activated by motion or sound and place them in each room of your home. This can completely un-nerve a would be home invader who does not want to be seen!

    4. Keep all entrances to your home locked. Deadbolts may not stop a home invader, but it can slow them down. Entrances that are rarely, if ever used by your family can even have two deadbolts, especially if you live in a high crime area.

    5. Most of the time, any home invader will not try for a home with a dog. This does not mean that a dog will completely deter someone who is determined. It has been proven that a burglar who steals from homes for a living will befriend a dog while casing a home. Even the most well trained dog can be enticed by treats or stopped by a weapon. In the case of home invasion that is on the spur of the moment, a dog can be invaluable in stopping your home from being a target.

    Posted in Uncategorized, Personal Safety | 4 Comments »

    Beyond the Sandwich: Making Use of Holiday Left-overs

    We’re hosting Easter dinner this year for the extended family of 15, which means that despite the gazillion-pound ham that I bought at the market yesterday, there will be left overs. There always are. And of course, with left overs comes the lingering question of what to do with them to make them interesting for the next couple of days, and maybe even for a not-too-distant lunch, snack or dinner. Sure, I could send some home with the family as they each depart for their own homes, but that still leaves whatever is left for us to contend with. Whether you’re having ham, turkey or lamb for Easter (or any other holiday), these recipes may help make greater use of your leftovers too.

    Disclaimer: Please forgive any missing quantities or measurements. I cook like my mom and grandma: part alchemy, part inspiration, part magic and a whole lot of love.

    What to do with left-over ham: Savory Split-Pea Soup

    You’re probably thinking “ick.” But this split pea soup will delight even the biggest naysayer. (I know, because my husband loves it.) If you have a ham with the bone in, save it, wrap it well in parchment paper or a freezer bag and refrigerate overnight or freeze if it will be longer than a day or two before using. (Don’t forget to put the date on it.) Do the same with some of the meat.

    Ingredients:
    Ham bone (optional)
    Left over ham—diced (about 1 cup)
    1 16 oz package of split peas
    vegetable or chicken stock/broth (about 6 cups)
    Sea salt
    1 T. Ground black pepper
    1 T. Yellow curry powder
    2 T. Cilantro or recaito
    One onion peeled and diced
    Several cloves of garlic diced or pressed
    One to two whole carrots, peeled and sliced into disks
    Olive oil
    fresh parsley or cilantro
    sour cream or half-and-half
    optional: sherry or sauterne

    Equipment:
    Stock pot
    Wooden spoon
    Rubber spatula
    Ladle
    Blender or food processor

    Directions:
    1 Wash and drain peas. Set aside. (You can soak them in warm water while they are set aside.)
    2 In the stock pot, place 2 T olive oil
    3 On medium heat sautee the onion, garlic and 1 T cilantro until the onion is clear
    4 Reduce heat slightly and add the ham, sautee for about five minutes
    5 Reduce heat again and add 1 cup of stock/broth
    6 Add in the ham bone and add more broth gradually until the bone is covered (if not using the ham bone skip to #10 )
    7 Increase heat again to medium-high and bring to a low rolling boil
    8 After mixture boils, reduce heat and simmer until the meat falls off of the bone
    9 Carefully remove the bone from the liquid and discard
    10 Add the remaining broth (you can substitute one of the cups of broth with water or dry white wine)
    11 Add the peas, carrots, 1 T of recaito or cilantro, 1 t of curry and the salt and pepper
    12 Increase heat again and bring to a rolling boil
    13 Reduce heat, cover and let simmer until the peas are tender (use a the back of a spoon and see if you can smush the peas against the side of the pot)
    14 Remove from heat and let cool about 10 minutes
    15 Carefully ladle the mixture into the blender or food processor
    16 Add remaining curry (or more to taste) and blend until a velvety smooth texture and a uniform color
    17 Remove from blender/food processor with a rubber spatula and serve in bowls
    18 Sprinkle a bit more curry over the top and add a dollop of sour cream or swirl half-and-half in gently to the soup in small measures.
    19 Garnish with a sprig of parsley or fresh cilantro and serve.

    This soup can be served warm or cold. It also can be served in bread bowls for a fun touch. And, as a vegetarian option, skip the meat steps use vegetable stock. For added texture, use diced potatoes instead of meat, and add when adding the carrots and peas. Use the potatoes as the gauge for when to remove the mixture from the heat and blend.

    Next on beyond the sandwich, ideas for left over turkey.

    Posted in Uncategorized, Cooking, Holidays, Healthy Eating, Guest Blogger | No Comments »

    Spring is time for…

    …Puddles!

    The snow is melting. The spring rains and “seasonable mixes? are falling…and that means one thing and one thing only to the little ones—puddle jumping. To parents this instills thoughts of wet shoes, socks and cuffs, mud and the germ fest that might be lurking within those growing pools around the yard and neighborhood. But to the wee ones puddles mean endless fun.

    Don’t fight it. Embrace the puddle adventures by being prepared and thinking of it all as a learning experience.

    Here are some tips for going with the flow:

    Spare Change. Keep a spare set of clean, dry socks, pants, shoes and a small towel in a gallon-sized zipper-styled freezer bag in the car for when you encounter a puddle on your usual journeys. Depending upon how much of a splasher you have, you might also want to include an extra jacket, top or mittens if it’s still chilly enough in your area to need mittens. When you venture out, factor in some extra time for a few minutes of splashing (and a quick change) if you can. You can put the wet clothes in the freezer bag after you make the change into the dry gear. Don’t forget extra wipes and hand sanitizer (used sparingly) and don’t forget to change the “spare set? when it gets worn. Put it back in the car as soon as possible so that you can be ready at any time for those impromptu puddle adventures.

    B-O-O-T-S. BOOTS! Any Laurie Berkner fan knows the song. Consider keeping Wellie-styled rubber boots ready for when the little one wants to venture out. You can get them almost everywhere relatively inexpensively at bricks-and-mortar stores such as Target and Walmart and at higher-end stores like Nordstroms. You can also order them on-line at LLBean, Lands End, Zappos, Piperlime, Wellie Boots.com, CoCo Bons.com and many others. With or without matching rain coats they are a “must have? not just for puddle jumping, but for those wet and wild rainy days. (If you’re concerned about products for your child that may contain vinyl or Bisphenol-A (BPA) because of their potential to disrupt our hormonal systems, be sure to read labels carefully and choose ones with rubber only or the lowest amounts of vinyl or BPA.To learn more about potential issues and hazards of vinyl and BPA visit the Environmental Working Group.)

    Be Prepared. If you don’t have rubber rain gear you can still enjoy the puddle-fest by rolling up pant-legs and having a spot to change out of wet clothes right when you return to the house. Near the door, keep a towel down to keep the floor dry. (It also means a quick clean-up of wet things for easy transport to the laundry. Just scoop everything up in the towel and take to the washer.) You can also keep a change of clothes ready for when you get back into the house or a dry robe. Don’t forget to wash hands (and any other body parts that may have come into contact with puddle water) after you have changed out of the wet clothes. It may even be a great time for a bath to continue the water play and get the little one thoroughly clean.

    Jump In! Why let the kids have all the fun? Get in on the action and get in touch with your own inner child and make a splash or two yourself. See who can make the biggest splash. Play with cause and effect: what happens if you just tap the puddle with your toe? …your whole foot? Stomp in it? Walk through it? For older splashers who will know not to try and taste the water, see what happens if you float a leaf in it, toss a rock into it. The possibilities are endless and you can also turn a fun time into a learning activity. Extend the learning for the older splashers by drawing pictures or writing a story about your puddle excursion(s) once everyone is inside and dried off.

    Be Vigilant. While your child doesn’t know a safe puddle from an unsafe one, as a parent you do. Trust your instincts, if you think a puddle looks unsafe steer your child to a safe puddle. What makes a puddle unsafe? Debris, it’s extra muddy, it has oil or other slick appearance on top of it, birds or other animals avoid it entirely, it is near dog poop or other animal droppings, it smells strange, it is in or near the street or near a sewer, drain, ditch or other municipal drainage system. If you do see puddles that are suspect (especially ones with oil or what may seem to be hazardous materials, let your Dept. of Public Works know…it is better to alert them to a potential issue than to let it go unaddressed.)

    End It Well. Time is elusive to little ones. Everything either takes forever (when they are waiting) or didn’t last long enough (when they want to do something). Avoid the end-of-activity battle by letting them know ahead of time how long you’ll be out, or that in x-number of splashes left it will be time to go in. That way the fun doesn’t just end abruptly. Also pay attention to your child’s cues that they are ready to go in or do something else. You can always do more tomorrow, and if that’s the case, tell them so. Wrap up the activity with some warm milk or hot cocoa when you get in as an extra warming-up treat after everyone is in dry clothes.

    With a little planning and creativity, puddle adventures can become an enjoyable and hassle-free experience for you as much as it is for the kids. Now go get splashing!

    Posted in Parenting, Lifestyles, Activities, Clothing, Guest Blogger | 1 Comment »

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