Category Archives: Poppyseed

Banish Lunchbox Blues with Grapes

When it comes to packing a school lunch, you know the drill: Lay out two slices of bread. Spread one with peanut butter, the other with jelly. Press together, slice diagonally and place in sandwich bag. Repeat. And repeat. And repeat.
Of course good ol’ PB&J is a lunchbox staple, but who doesn’t crave something just a little different every now and then? Here are some quick and easy ideas that are sure to earn an A-plus with your kids:

*Add halved grapes to chicken salad for a refreshing take on this timeless sandwich filling. Pack it in a separate container, and provide crackers for a crunchy alternative to bread.
*Offer a mix of baby carrots and sugar snap peas with hummus for a smashing side.
For creative sandwich substitutes, think outside the bread box:
* Create a bento-box-style, snackable lunch combo: include cheese and crackers, fresh grapes from California, and a small handful of nuts.
* Make a sandwich rollup, using flatbread or flour tortillas as the base, or stuff pita pockets with filling, as a fun replacement for sliced bread.
* Tuck whole-grain tortilla chips and salsa, a side of black bean and corn salad, plus cheese and grapes for a Mexican spin on lunch.
* Looking for a gluten-free alterative? Try a cheese stick rolled with a slice of ham, with grapes on the side.
*Shape-shift familiar lunch items to add interest: offer cheese cubes, apple rings, carrot coins, and tortilla pinwheels.
*Tuck in a cluster of fresh grapes from California for an easy finger food that’s juicy and hydrating too.

After school, a good snack can revive and refresh your student for homework time and afterschool activities. Smoothies are a great-tasting option, offering unlimited possibilities for ingredient combos and the ability to customize to everyone’s liking. Plus, they’re a nutritious way to tide over tummies until dinner, or even start the day at breakfast, by providing an excellent source of protein.
Grapes and yogurt are a classic combination, and this great-tasting smoothie proves the point: creamy and naturally sweet, simple to make and easy to embellish as desired. Just whirl all the ingredients in the blender and you’ve got a delicious superfood smoothie.

21329564Grape smoothie

1 cup lowfat vanilla yogurt
2 cups red California seedless grapes
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 banana (optional)

Place all ingredients in blender. Cover and blend until smooth. Pour and serve.

Yield: Makes 1 3/4 cups.

Note: To make a green smoothie, use green California grapes instead of red, and toss in a handful of spinach leaves.

Nutritional analysis per serving: calories 192; protein 5 g; carbohydrate 39 g; fat 1.5 g; 7 percent calories from fat; cholesterol 7.5 mg; sodium 100 mg; calcium 205 mg; fiber 1.5 g.

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Top Tips for Getting Your Child Ready for College

Heading back to school can be stressful for a number of reasons, from new routines and lengthy shopping lists to preparing your students for the year ahead. It becomes even more stressful when you’re faced with the tough task of outfitting a college-bound teen for dorm life. But there’s no need to fret, the following tips will allow you to rest easy and have confidence that your child is prepared for the adventure ahead.

Plan-ahead packing
Unlike typical back-to-school shopping, college preparation takes a lot more planning. Begin shopping for school supplies and clothes at least two months in advance to avoid last minute stress. Many schools help by providing a shopping list of must-haves for the dorm, including power strips, refrigerators and toiletry kits – which is a great place to get started. You can also encourage your teen to reach out to their new roommates in advance through social media to discover their likes and dislikes. This can help them learn what kinds of supplies and furniture each person is bringing, so they don’t end up with two microwaves or small refrigerators in what will likely be extremely limited space.

Many retailers even allow grads to create a college registry so family and friends know just what to get them. Soon-to-be college students can create an account and handpick specific gifts that range from dorm room essentials to tailgating supplies, bicycles, and even pepper spray. These retailers also often provide helpful registry guides so you don’t miss a thing. Creating a registry will allow you to start preparations early and shop throughout the summer for items that may not be purchased as a graduation gift, rather than darting out on a mad dash when it’s time to move.

Savvy storage
If there’s one thing your teen will need to adjust to when going to college, it’s dorm life. The rooms are typically a small, bland 200-square foot space with very little storage. And sharing with at least one other person is definitely not luxurious. While preparing for life in such small quarters may feel like a messy situation, it doesn’t mean your teen’s room has to look like one. With a little creativity and know-how, your teen’s home away from home will be an organized, cozy retreat.

For storing large items, look no further than under the bed. Use extra-long containers to store clothing, shoes and other items that require easy and often access. To eliminate clutter, you can also turn empty suitcases from move-in day into storage containers. If you need more space, consider requesting a lofted bed to create more height for additional storage.

When closets and horizontal space run out, look to the walls. GeckoTech Reusable Hooks help provide added storage to dorm rooms, allowing your teen to easily organize items such as desk accessories, jewelry and jackets. Utilize these hooks in the closet to organize scarves and hats, and by the door to keep keys, umbrellas and backpacks at hand. GeckoTech Hooks are easy to re-position and reuse, which means you can move them – and your belongings – around the room, to find the best organizational solution for your new space. Plus, the hooks remove cleanly so you won’t have to worry about damaged walls during move out next spring.

Life Basics
While purchasing the correct supplies is essential, it’s also important to teach your child to become self-sufficient.  Show your teen how to do laundry and insist that they do their own clothing, sheets and towels for the entire summer.  By the time they get to college with a roll of quarters in hand, they’ll have the hang of it. College kids also need basic financial know how. This summer, show them the basics of banking, including how to responsibly use an ATM and debit card, write checks, pay bills online and balance their account. You may also want to set a budget – late night pizza and movie nights can quickly add up – to ensure your teen is responsible enough to manage his or her own funds.

Sending your teen off to college can be an exciting and emotional time, but with these tips you can make sure they are well equipped to survive dorm life.

Ten Tips to Make Your Home Safer for Kids

Home is where the heart is, and for most people, it’s where they feel safest. Yet for children, the home isn’t as safe as you might assume. In fact, you may be surprised to learn that 3.5 million children go to the emergency room every year for injuries that happen in homes.
Some parents are unintentionally putting their children at risk by making common mistakes in the home. For example, parents say they are worried about fire safety and 96 percent report they have a smoke alarm, yet 14 percent never check their smoke alarm battery, according to “Report to the Nation: Protecting Children in Your Home,” from Safe KidsWorldwide and Nationwide.
“Parents just can’t imagine a tragedy could happen to them, but it happens far too often,” says Kate Carr, president and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide. “Sadly, 2,200 kids die from an injury in the home every year. The good news is that we know how to prevent these injuries, and parents can take simple steps to protect their kids.”
Safe Kids Worldwide teamed up with Nationwide and its Make Safe Happen program to help families keep kids safe in the home. “We know parents want to protect their children,” said Terrance Williams, Nationwide’s Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. “It’s our hope that by bringing this information to families and caregivers, we can help them protect what matters most.”
Here are 10 tips to make your home kid-safe so you avoid preventable injuries. To learn more, visit or

1. Make sure there is a working smoke alarm and carbon monoxide alarm on every level of your home, especially near sleeping areas. Test the batteries every month.

2. Create and practice a home fire-escape plan with your family. Know two ways out of every room in case of a fire.

3. Give young children your full and undivided attention when they are in and around water. Only 1 percent of parents list drowning as a concern, according to the Safe Kids report, yet every week a child dies from drowning in a bathtub.

4. For young children, use safety gates at the top and bottom of the stairs, attaching them to the wall if possible.

5. Keep cribs clear of toys and soft bedding, and make sure that babies sleep alone, on their backs, and in a crib every time they sleep. For children under the age of 1, suffocation is the leading cause of injury-related death.

6. Keep all medicine up and away, out of children’s reach and sight. Think about places where kids get into medicine, like in purses, on counters and on nightstands.

7. Store all household cleaners, liquid laundry packets and other toxic products out of children’s reach and sight. Use cabinet locks to prevent young children from getting into products that may cause them harm.

8. Save the Poison Help line number into your phone and post it in your home where anyone can find it easily in an emergency: 1-800-222-1222.

9. Secure flat-panel TVs by mounting them to the wall and place box-style TVs on a low, stable piece of furniture.

10. Properly install window guards or stops to help prevent falls from windows. Each year, 3,300 children are injured by falling out of a window, yet 70 percent of parents say they have never used window guards or stops that prevent these falls.

Product Spotlight: Little Passports

Help your little explorer learn fun facts about the United States and other countries with Little Passports’ Explorer Kits for Kids!

Choose from Early Explorers (for ages 3-5), World Edition (ages 6-10), and USA Edition kits (ages 7-12). The first month you will receive an introductory kit complete with everything your child needs to get started with the program (based on which one you choose). For the USA introductory kit, customers will receive a USA Field Guide, Scratch Book, a wall-sized USA map, a welcome letter, and a disposable camera.

Subsequent kits in the USA Edition include information about the two states featured each month. Enjoy a 32-page activity journal, stickers and postcards, pop-out models, and access to more information and activities online.

You can win The Discovery kit AND one State Adventure kit from the USA Edition on our Facebook page!



7th Annual Touch-A-Truck!

Is your little one obsessed with the idea of driving a tractor trailer, operating a bucket truck, or riding in a race car? If so, you don’t want to miss the seventh annual Touch-a-Truck event on Saturday, July 25!

UnknownFrom 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., come out to see these vehicles and more at Roanoke County’s Green Hill Park. Kids of all ages can climb, touch, and explore many unique vehicles that are not always accessible to the public. This FREE event is open for kids and adults to sit in, touch, and learn about vehicles they usually don’t have the opportunity to be up close and personal with.

Touch-a-Truck has popular vehicles from the previous six events, accompanied by new participants. Interstate Battery will showcase their battery route truck and race car. VDOT, who has attended Touch-a-Truck in the past, will have their snow fighter for the first time.

super duty

The DMV 2 Go van is also a new addition to Touch-a-Truck. DMV staff will help citizens renew their ID card, purchase hunting and fishing licenses, apply for or renew their driver’s license and more! Additionally, the Blue Ridge Soaring Society will be in attendance with their sailplane glider.

Vehicle drivers and operators will be on hand to educate the public and answer any questions about their vehicles. Favorite activities from past events will return this year, including Firemen’s Foam, petting zoo, food vendors, and a magician along with other special attractions! This year’s event will also include not one, but two hay rides! Parental supervision and participation is essential and cameras are highly recommended.

Vehicles vary from small bobcats to large monster trucks. As well as airplanes, helicopters and boats for the public to explore.

Enjoy a day filled with adventures, new opportunities and memories that will last a lifetime. For more information visit

Be Water Smart This Summer!

US Swim School Association Helps Parents Detect If Their Kids Are Water Smart

Guidelines to evaluate if kids know basic water safety skills to stay safe at the pool, in open water.

Drowning is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. According to research by the United States Swim School Association, between Memorial Day and Labor Day 2014 there were at least 511 media reported drowning incidents involving a child under the age of 18 in the United States. Of these incidents, a little more than half occurred in a swimming pool and about 45 percent involved children ages 5 and under. The tragedy of these statistics is nearly all drowning deaths are preventable.

Parents need to be aware of their children¹s swimming capabilities as well as their knowledge of how to be safe around water before summer beach and pool season arrives. Water wings and other floatation devices are no substitute and should not be relied on to keep kids who don¹t know how to swim safe.

Kids at Pool WallTo help parents determine if their children are knowledgeable of basic water safety skills, USSSA has created a basic safety guideline parents can use to evaluate their children’s water safety skills. USSSA also reminds parents that enrolling their children in year-round swimming lessons is one of the first defenses in drowning prevention. Even if children can complete the following tasks, year-round lessons can help children maintain their swimming skills and build strength.

  • Flip and Float. Any time a child enters a body of water unexpectedly, he or she should know to first reach the surface then flip onto his or her back and float until help arrives.
  • Find the Side. If your child accidentally falls into a pool he or she should know how to swim to the side, and either pull themselves out of the water or move along the wall to the stairs where they can safely exit.
  • Do a Clothes Test. Children might be successful swimmers in their goggles and swimsuit but if you have a backyard pool there could be a situation where your child falls into the pool fully clothed. To help your children know how to react and judge their skill level in a situation like this effectively, under your supervision, have them jump into the pool with clothes on and swim to the side.
  • Throw, Don’t Go. When asked what they would do if a friend or sibling is struggling in the water, children should know to not enter the water. Instead, they should look for a device that can reach into the water such as a pool noodle, a foam ring or even a large stick the struggling person can grab and hold onto while being pulled to safety.
  • Take a lap. If you have a backyard pool it is a good idea to test your child at the end of the summer to make sure your child can swim a full lap of the pool. This will inform you if your child can swim far enough to reach the side or a step to exit the pool no matter where he or she falls in. Baby in Pool

For more information on USSSA, details on becoming a member of the nation’s leading swim school organization, or to find a USSSA affiliated swim school near you, visit:

About US Swim School Association

US Swim School Association (USSSA) began in 1988 to fill a gap in the swim school industry. USSSA has become the largest and preeminent swim school association in the country with over 400 members providing swim and water safety instruction to over 500,000 students each year. Swim schools receive invaluable benefits as USSSA members, receiving the latest training in water safety, swim instruction methods and tools, invitations to annual conferences, and many other benefits that help establish and build each individual business. USSSA has partnered with Safer 3 Water Safety Foundation for its official water safety program. Through USSSA, parents and students are provided with a reliable and trustworthy resource when searching for a swim school and can rest assured they have chosen a top school when they choose a USSSA affiliated location. For more information, visit

Book Spotlight: My Yellow Balloon

9780990337003_p0_v1_s260x420Teaching children about loss is one of the hardest things you will ever have to do. Pets, friends, and even family members may leave their lives at an early age, and it is important to help them understand the stages of their grief. Younger children may benefit from a little help from literature. That’s where My Yellow Ballon by Tiffany Papageorge steps up to the challenge.

The main character, a young boy named Joey, is given a yellow balloon at a carnival. He takes the balloon everywhere with him, until it slips off his wrist one day.

The poignant tale of love, loss, and letting go will help serve as a comforting guide to children who are navigating the complicated emotions of grief, and offer hope for brighter days ahead. Even if your child has not yet experienced loss, this is a great book to read and then revisit during a tragic time. We will be giving away a copy on our Facebook page this month— but you can also purchase one for your child on Amazon.

Backyard Fun!

backyardWhen summer arrives do you see even less of your kids than you did during the school year? Too many American children, tweens and teens spend those extra hours of free time indoors playing with technology, rather than engaging in healthy outdoor activities. Even when you know where your kids are, you may not understand what they’re doing with all those devices and game controllers.

This summer, why not help your children get excited about a healthy and fun time outdoors? You can make your backyard the neighborhood hotspot that no kid can resist by providing three key ingredients to a great summer: fun, food and friendship.

Fun in the sun

To compete with smartphones, PCs, tablets and other digital devices, you need outdoor excitement – the kind that only water can provide. Installing a backyard pool may not be practical for everyone, but a backyard water slide is a great substitute.

Easy to set up and use, a water slide is a cost-effective way to create outdoor fun this summer. For example, we love H2OGO! backyard water slides for their modern but comfortable products. They feature the Speed Ramp, an inflatable launch pad that creates a smooth belly-flop landing at the start of the superfast 18-foot slide. A Splash Lagoon funnels water throughout the entire slide, reducing friction and increasing speed. Learn more at

Food for fun

All that water sliding and other fun activity is going to make kids work up an appetite. They’ll need fuel so they can keep having fun. Look for fare that is easy, kid-friendly and nutritious. For example, instead of serving high-fat, high-sugar ice cream, consider frozen fruit or fruit pops. Replace sugary, calorie-laden sodas with flavored water. For kids who crave crunch, replace chips with fresh-cut crisp fruits like apples and kid-friendly veggies such as carrots or cherry tomatoes. You can serve them with a variety of delicious, yogurt-based dips. Whip up a nacho platter that incorporates low-fat shredded cheese, fresh salsa and lean protein like beans or grilled chicken.

Friendship and fun

With your backyard gaining the reputation of the neighborhood hot spot for great food and fun, you may notice some new faces showing up. Encourage children to engage in games that can help them get to know each other and create new friendships with others in the neighborhood.

Some of the simplest games are great ice-breakers. One game that’s great for getting to know each other is to have kids stand in a circle and toss around a bean bag or small ball. The child who throws asks a question – such as “What’s your name?” or “What’s your favorite sport?” – and the child who catches has to answer.

Another fun idea for older children is a biography building circle. Kids sit in a circle and start with one child making a simple statement about himself, such as “I like to play baseball with my dad.” The next child in line adds his or her own information by building off something the first child said, such as “My dad is an airline pilot.” The play continues with children each saying something new that is somehow linked to what the last child said.

Each of these activities will help keep your child healthy and happy this summer. Inspire them to grow and make good choices by fostering outdoor play in your own backyard!