Firework Safety – Things to Consider

Posted by: on Jun 28, 2013 in Blog | 7 Comments

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Do you go to the local firework display?  Or, do you buy some noisy sparkly pieces at a gas station tent and put on your own family show?

While fireworks are fun and exciting for everyone, there are some things you must consider to keep your family safe.

Is it Legal?

Not everything that is for sale is safe (or even legal). Know your local ordinances concerning fireworks and be responsible. It may be legal in the next town but not yours.

Your kids are watching. It matters.

Is it Appropriate?

Sparklers are not for children. I know, I know, I try to take the fun out of everything.

Think about it, though.   If you really look at the faces of children when they hold sparklers, you’ll see fear. My sister still has the scar from stepping on a used sparkler.

Just because it is little, doesn’t mean it is meant for children. Buy a bunch of neon glow sticks from the dollar store and let the children run around with them. They will have just as much fun and no one will get burned.

Plan Ahead and Stay Safe

If you are doing any type of firework display at home, keep a bucket of sand a, a bucket of water and a heavy blanket nearby.

Place all used pieces in the water. The duds go into the water bucket too. Never try to relight a dud.

Use the sand to cover anything that looks like it’s getting out of hand.

That blanket is to smother any sparks or flames that ignite a person’s clothing. Let it serve as a visual reminder to leave fireworks for the professionals and keep an eye on the children.

It may be pretty in the moment but a moment is all it takes to go from entertainment to tragedy.

What about Noise?

At home or away, fireworks can be very loud.

Bring earplugs for the whole family. If your child is under 7 or 8, consider noise cancelling earmuffs.

I have a friend who had to leave a firework display while she was pregnant because the noise was too distressing for her unborn child.  Protect small ears from those huge sounds.

How does your family play it safe with fireworks?  Share your thoughts.

About the Author – Terri Lyttle cares deeply about children and families.  A Wee Friends Careteacher since 2011, Terri provides caring learning experiences for children in the  “New Discoveries” classroom.  Terri holds a Bachelor Elementary / Master of Arts from Western Michigan University.

Respect the Rules Where You Are- Gun Play

Posted by: on Jun 24, 2013 in Blog | One Comment

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Has your child ever taken a bite out of a piece of toast, aimed it at you, and said “Bang”?

Did you ask them to take another bite and make a boat, or did you shoot back with your banana?

Do you know what will happen to your child if he/she engages in pretend gun play at the school he/she currently or will one day attend? How does that policy line up with your own beliefs?

My Story

I was not raised in a family of hunters. My grandfather had a BB gun. I think I tried it once or twice with him standing beside me.

It held little interest for me.

I did, however, play with toy guns of various types. I don’t imagine there was much thought given to the “appropriateness” of playing with guns in my family.

I also did not grow up in an era where school shootings occurred with such frequency or media coverage.

I’ve used “Nerf” guns, water guns, rubber band guns (I don’t recommend them- they hurt!) and even cap guns.  The cap guns were metal (realistic looking to say the least), and had red paper ammo rolls with small dots of gunpowder that smoked and flashed with each shot. They were stinky, loud and wonderful fun.

Playing with these guns did not lead me into a life of murder and mayhem. It never occurred to me to bring any of these toys to school.

It’s about Respect

I’m not here to say it’s OK or not OK to let your child engage in pretend gun play. I’m here to say, be aware of what is coming down the road for your child.

Some schools have “zero tolerance” policies, even for preschoolers. Make it your business to know the policies that are in place, whether you agree with them or not. Make sure your children know “There are different rules for different places.”

Teach them to respect the rules where they are.

I’ve come across a few sites where the comments following an article about children and gun play (pro or con) has remained respectful and thought provoking. I’ve also viewed sites where the comments have quickly moved from opinion to accusations and name calling. We’ll struggle to get anywhere that way.

I learn best when I hear honest, calm voices. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

About the Author – Terri Lyttle cares deeply about children and families.  A Wee Friends Careteacher since 2011, Terri provides caring learning experiences for children in the  “New Discoveries” classroom.  Terri holds a Bachelor Elementary / Master of Arts from Western Michigan University.

Sandals, Water Shoes and Tennis Shoes- Why Bother?

Posted by: on Jun 21, 2013 in Blog | 6 Comments

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When I was growing up, heading out the door barefoot was the norm. Unfortunately, so were trips to the doctor and tetanus shots.

Here are my 4 favorite reasons for wearing something on your feet, even in the water:

Nails and other “sharps”- Children love to explore. The best places to explore are often places where things are being built or torn down. That can mean nails, wood, pieces of sharp siding and broken glass. Even jagged cement can do a number on bare feet.

 While I’m living proof that nails can go through shoes, put them on anyway.

Sticks, stones, cans and broken glass in the water can ruin a trip to the beach or a tubing trip down the river. Even plants can be sharp and cause injury to feet. Thorns, thistles and sticks are all potential pain producers. Poison Ivy isn’t sharp, but on the bottom your feet? Forget about it!

Insect bites and stings– Bees, wasps and biting ants build nests in the ground. Insects of all kinds fly, hover and crawl in grass, dirt, trees and other plants. All the places children love to hang out. While stings can occur on any body part, it’s a simple thing to keep your feet covered and protected.

Germs/fungus– Where there are bare feet, there are germs and fungus. Pools and shower areas are hot spots for “athlete’s foot” or other fungal diseases. Covering your feet protects you from what others have left behind.

Another nice thing about wearing water shoes or “flip flops” is your feet don’t get dirty walking back from the pool or shower to your car or campsite.

 Burns– The sidewalk and sand can get really hot in the summer. Wearing shoes offers a layer of protection from the hot surface. Besides, aren’t the kids are getting too big to carry along with the cooler, bags and chairs?

Protect yourself. Protect your family. Protect your feet! Have fun, stay safe!

About the Author – Terri Lyttle cares deeply about children and families.  A Wee Friends Careteacher since 2011, Terri provides caring learning experiences for children in the  “New Discoveries” classroom.  Terri holds a Bachelor Elementary / Master of Arts from Western Michigan University.

Staycations

Posted by: on Jun 19, 2013 in Blog | 15 Comments

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Maybe you’ve lived in the same place for a long time. Maybe you just moved into town. When you need to take a break but can’t get very far away, don’t worry. There are plenty of things to do in your own back yard.

Getting Away From It All, But Not Far Away

For the sake of argument, consider your back yard as a 60-80 mile radius. This is just the right amount of driving for a day trip for most families.

Here’s where you can find ideas for where to go and what to do:

  1. Internet/social networking sites- Look up a local chamber of commerce- you knew they existed for some reason. Some sites will be more helpful than others, based on the way they are set up or simply having more to share.

Ask your Facebook friends. They may know of places they simply assume everyone has been because they are so close.

See what’s out there on Twitter. Someone is most likely tweeting about something local right  now.

  1. Rest stops– Many local rest stops and restaurants have brochures available providing information on local/nearby activities. You’ve walked past them for years, step over and pick up a few.
  2. Local libraries– Your local library may very well be hosting summer activities of interest to the whole family.

When “Staycation” Focuses on “Stay”

Say you and your family don’t intend to be in the car at all. You just want to be in your own house with your own family.

No sites, no souvenirs, just family. No problem.

  1. Set up a tent in the backyard, pack a picnic and play outside all day

 

  1. Have a game day.  Play outdoor games during the cooler hours, indoor games when it’s hot. Mix up active and passive games (OK, I’ll give you a pass for one hour of video games). If the kids are young, keep them short and fun. How about “toss the wet sponge in the bucket”?

 

  1. Even a “get the yard looking great” day can be a fun change of pace. Listen to music and turn the chores into games. How many sticks can you pick up before I count to 20?

You don’t have to go far. You don’t have to spend a lot of money. The best part of any vacation is having fun with the ones you love.

Tell us about your favorite “staycations”.

About the Author – Terri Lyttle cares deeply about children and families.  A Wee Friends Careteacher since 2011, Terri provides caring learning experiences for children in the  “New Discoveries” classroom.  Terri holds a Bachelor Elementary / Master of Arts from Western Michigan University.

 

Smoothie Recipes

Posted by: on Jun 14, 2013 in Blog | 45 Comments

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When it’s Too Hot to Eat

Sometimes it’s too hot to cook.  Sometimes if you look at one more salad you’re going to lose it.

Smoothies are a great way to beat the heat and fill you up. They are a great on the go breakfast, lunch or dinner option.  Kids love them!

Equipment

There are fancy machines that make smoothies in individual cups.  You don’t need one of those.  Just get out your blender and have a go.

Ingredients

You can use ice, but you don’t have to. I always feel that it’s used as cheap filler when you buy a smoothie away from home. Frozen fruit does the trick.

  • Milk -almond, rice, cow, soy- I can’t personally recommend goat, but that is my personal bias, go for it.
  • Yogurt– I rarely use it myself but it does help to give it that smooth texture.
  • Fruit -get a bit wild, bananas and avocados provide richness and smooth mouth feel if you don’t want to bother with yogurt.
  • Vegetables– Vegetables can create texture issues.  I tend to think of juicing them rather than using them in smoothies.
  • Canned beets and carrots are already pretty mushy so I tend to use those when I’m in the mood.
  • Baby food is another great ingredient.
  • Spinach is an ingredient I use quite often. Blend it with whatever liquid you are using and then add the other ingredients. It really affects the color. If you’re at all bothered by this, use a solid colored cup, cover and straw!
  • Protein Powder- I use it in my breakfast smoothies when I’m out the door in a hurry. Texture alert, some blend better than others. Find a favorite.

Measurements Anyone?

Take a chance and experiment with amounts. Smoothies are more of a process, than a recipe.

Think personal preference; do you like it thick, thick thick or extra thick? If you go overboard with the thick, thin it with milk, water or juice.

Yummy Combos

I am a huge fan of the following:

  • Almond milk (unsweetened vanilla), canned pumpkin, frozen banana, cinnamon/pumpkin pie spice.
  • Almond milk (unsweetened chocolate), frozen cherries, cocoa powder, honey.
  • Almond milk (chocolate or plain), frozen banana, nut butter (almond, cashew, peanut), spinach.

Have I forgotten anything?

What’s your ideal smoothie combination? Pass it on!

About the Author – Terri Lyttle cares deeply about children and families.  A Wee Friends Careteacher since 2011, Terri provides caring learning experiences for children in the  “New Discoveries” classroom.  Terri holds a Bachelor Elementary / Master of Arts from Western Michigan University.

 

Are You Really Here? – A Guide to Balance

Posted by: on Jun 12, 2013 in Blog | 3 Comments

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Balancing a job, a personal life, and a growing family sometimes feels like a magic trick.  You might look like you have it all together.  But inside you know it’s just smoke and mirrors.

Balance can feel like an unattainable goal.  I’ve been there.  I get it.

So, what can you do to be an excellent parent, a valuable employee, an organized household manager and an engaged spouse or partner?  The key is focus.

Is your inner critic coming out?  Don’t shake your head and think “I’ve heard that before.”  Stick with me.

I’m not talking about focusing on the important parts of life, although you should.  I’m not talking about setting priorities and keeping a planner or online task list.  I’m not suggesting a great new tactic to help you get organized.

I’m talking about intentionally living your life in the moment.  Being “in it to win it” no matter what you’re doing.

Living Life with Childlike Focus

Think of your children.  My son Andrew is a great example of childlike focus.  When something captured his attention, the rest of the world ceased to exist.  He saw nothing but the butterfly or thought of nothing but the ice cream truck.

For Andrew, life is a grand adventure.  He is 100% focused on the moment, whatever moment it is…as long as it captures his attention or imagination.

As working parents, we are taught to multi-task.  We believe, incorrectly, that thinking about work while taking the kids to the park helps us handle the challenges of our lives.  We believe we can fold laundry, check our work email, and listen to our children at the same time.

It’s a lie.

Every role in your life deserves your full attention during the time allotted for it.

When you are at work, be present.  Work effectively, work hard.  Focus on being the best team member, manager, or leader you can be.  But when you leave – leave the work day behind you.

Give your children your full attention when you are home.  Stay away from the computer, email, or smart phone.  Unplug from the world and plug in to your child.

Those moments talking about the day’s adventures or exploring the world together are precious to both of you.  Be fully present and focused, and experience the joy of parenting.

Balance and Focus – What Can You Do Now?

  • Practice really listening to your children.  Stoop down to their level and look them in the eyes.  Give them your full attention.
  •  Leave work issues at work.  Use your commute to make a transition between work and home.
  • Plan time for yourself into your week.  Do something you enjoy and focus on relaxing your mind and body.
  • Make time for your spouse or partner.  Don’t discuss the children or your job when you are out on “date night” unless you both want to.  Make the time together about your relationship.

Interested in achieving balance and focus in your life?  Tell us about it.

 

About the Author – Michelle Hunter is a writer, speaker and consultant focused on helping businesses create marketing and operational documents to reach and serve their customers.  She is passionate about issues that affect growing businesses and families in our community.

Bug Bite Home Remedies

Posted by: on Jun 10, 2013 in Blog | 4 Comments

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Big Year for Bites

This is turning out to be a particularly bad year for mosquitoes. I spent a few hours putting flowers in at my grandmother’s house a few weeks ago. The repellant I used was apparently made of sugar.

One bite is annoying but already we are seeing children and adults covered in itchy bites. The itch can be bad.  Scratching can lead to problems.

Children will scratch and dig at bites to the point of scabs and infection. Adults do it too.  You know who you are!

While there are over the counter items available to stop the itch, it never hurts to turn to the home remedy file. Often just as effective. Almost guaranteed to be cheaper.

It turns out that many of the remedies don’t actually cure the itch. They simply distract you from the itch.

But hey, if it works, don’t question it.

Home remedies to cut the itch

Here’s a short list of the many remedies out there:

  • Aspirin– Take a simple aspirin (acetaminophen, not ibuprofen), crush it or simply wet it and hold it on the bite. This will work on the inflammation caused by the bite.

 

  • Baking soda– Make a paste with baking soda and water and rub it on the affected area.

 

  • X marks the spot– Use your fingernail to press an “X” into the raised welt. This is one of those distraction techniques. It works. Be careful not to break the skin. I learned this when I was young.

 

  • Vinegar– A solution of 1 part vinegar to 2 parts water. Take a cotton ball, dip it in the liquid and place it on the bite. Keep a container of this is the refrigerator. The cool feeling is a great distraction.

 

  • Ice pack– Speaking of cool distraction!  Children love ice packs. Keep several in the freezer.

Let’s hear from you

How do you cut the itch? Share your best ideas.

About the Author – Terri Lyttle cares deeply about children and families.  A Wee Friends Careteacher since 2011, Terri provides caring learning experiences for children in the  “New Discoveries” classroom.  Terri holds a Bachelor Elementary / Master of Arts from Western Michigan University.

 

Cars, Children & Heat

Posted by: on Jun 7, 2013 in Blog | 3 Comments

ID-10091908The baby is finally sleeping. You just have to run in to pick up milk. You’re even stopping at the gas station so you don’t have to run to the back of the store.

Why do they put the milk way back there anyway?

It won’t take a minute. It’s not worth waking the baby or bothering with the car seat. You’ll be right back.

STOP! TURN AROUND!

TAKE THAT BABY OUT OF THE CAR!

A child has already died this year (2013) due to heat stroke after being left alone in a car. One is too many.

Cars and heat are a bad combination even if no one is left alone inside of it. Dark seats, steering wheels, dash boards and car seats can all become dangerously hot.  Hot enough to cause burns!

Remember:

  • The metal piece of the seat belt can get really hot as well as dark seats and dashboards, be careful!
  • Cars heat up really quickly; rolling down the window isn’t good enough.
  • It doesn’t even have to be that warm outside; incidents have occurred in temperatures around 70 degrees http://www.ggweather.com/heat/ .
  • Even if you have the air conditioning on and it feels cool now, it only takes minutes for the temperature inside a car to get too hot.
  • 20 states (including Michigan) have laws regarding leaving children alone in cars.
  • Take the baby out of the car (it’s worth repeating).

Don’t take a chance!

Wake up the baby and take that cranky child into the store when you pick up the milk.

Look people straight in the eye. They may whisper, or even comment about bringing a crying child into the store.   Don’t worry about what people think.  Keep your head up; you’ll never be sorry that you did it.

What are your tips for dealing with children and hot cars?

 

About the Author – Terri Lyttle cares deeply about children and families.  A Wee Friends Careteacher since 2011, Terri provides caring learning experiences for children in the  “New Discoveries” classroom.  Terri holds a Bachelor Elementary / Master of Arts from Western Michigan University.

Invest Your Money In Memories

Posted by: on Jun 5, 2013 in Blog | 51 Comments

penguinsI was talking today to a good friend of mine.  She’s a single mom with two daughters.  Money is tight, as it always is in a single parent family.  As we talked about one of her daughters, my friend said “She deserves more than I can give her and it breaks my heart.”

When my children were small, I struggled as a single parent.  I know how challenging it is to make tough decisions about money.  I often longed to give my kids material things that I simply couldn’t afford.

Whatever your situation, parenting involves deciding where to invest your money.  Should you buy your child more toys or a new electronic device of some kind?  Should you take a family vacation or put money into a college fund?  Personal choices…and sometimes tough ones.

Well, here’s my advice…invest your money in memories.

My children are grown now.  They don’t remember going to the book sale at school with only a few dollars.  They don’t think about the toys they had to have at Christmas but didn’t get.  Those casserole dinners where I stretched a can of tuna are a distant memory.

My children remember different things.  They talk about…

  • Finger painting as a family on that beat up garage sale coffee table
  • Snuggling on the sofa reading library books
  • Our camping vacation in the living room of our apartment – complete with flashlights
  • Riding bikes to the grocery store for fun (not to save gas…that’s my secret)

Why do they remember these things?  Because fun times…creative times…mean more to children than material possessions.  Believe it.  It’s true!

I told my friend that being a mommy isn’t about all the hard work.  It’s not about keeping them safe and healthy, buying them toys, or providing them with everything they want.  It’s about treasuring who they are as people.

It’s about watching our children grow and develop from little babies with loud cries and sunny smiles to independent people who still need us, just in a different way.

I wouldn’t trade being a mommy for anything.  I’m so glad I invested my time and treasure into making the memories for my kids – and for myself.

What have you done recently to make memories?

 

About the Author – Michelle Hunter is a writer, speaker and consultant focused on helping businesses create marketing and operational documents to reach and serve their customers.  She is passionate about issues that affect growing businesses and families in our community.

Sunscreen – Physical vs Chemical

Posted by: on Jun 3, 2013 in Blog | 10 Comments

DSCF2911I was watching Doctor Oz the other day and the topic of sunscreen came up. I paid attention for a couple of reasons.

It is spring time and we’re collecting sunscreen at the daycare. I also have very fair skin. A few years ago I had a spot removed from my face. It turned out to be cancer.   So, sunscreen is important to me.

The focus of Dr. Oz’s show was physical vs chemical sunscreen.  Maybe you are wondering which one might be right for you.

Physical Sunscreen

v  Contains titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide.

v  Creates a physical barrier on your skin to protect you from both UVA and UVB rays.

v  Tends to leave a whitish color on the skin.

v  Doesn’t wash off that easily.

Chemical Sunscreen-

v  Filters UV rays, but does not block them.

v  May only protect against UVB rays, check the label to make sure it protects against UVA rays as well.

v  Needs to be applied 15 to 20 minutes before going in the sun

v  Needs to be reapplied, often, check label recommendations.

Here are some things you should consider:

  • Some chemical sunscreens will contain titanium and/or zinc ingredients in an effort to provide the best of both worlds.
  • If you are someone who plans ahead, and remembers to reapply often, chemical may be for you.
  • If you have more sensitive or fair skin and/or think about sun protection just as you step out the door, physical sunscreen may be the way to go.
  • The words sunscreen and sunblock are used interchangeably, so don’t assume that a sun block is any better or safer than sunscreen.
  • Sunscreen/sunblock lotions are intended for children over 6 months of age, if your child is younger than 6 months, keep them out of the sun!
  • Don’t forget about sunblock clothing. A regular summer t shirt is only SPF5 and most people aren’t putting sunscreen on under their clothing in the morning, let alone stripping down when it’s time to reapply. I have a big floppy sunscreen hat which I really should wear more often.

Let us know what you think: Do you have a favorite sun protection product for your family? Do you use different products for different members of your family?

Have you ever purchased sun protective clothing? How did you like it?

Let us know!