Tag Archives: family fun

Get Outside!

The Return of America’s Toughest Road Marathon!

Are you ready for the most exciting annual spring athletic event to come to Roanoke this year? We couldn’t be more excited for the return of the Blue Ridge Marathon! This year’s event will take place on April 21 at 7:35am. It features a full marathon, a half marathon, a 10k, and a Carilion Children’s Family one mile walk/run! Courses begin and end in Elmwood Park, and each one is uniquely geared to be fun for every participant. Whichever path you choose, you are guaranteed to have a great time.

The full marathon (26.2 miles!!!) course takes runners through scenic views of the Blue Ridge parkway, Mill Mountain, and South Roanoke. “America’s Toughest Road Marathon” is also, arguably, the most beautiful. Marathon runners will receive free chip timing, access to “runners-only” food tent at the finish line, free event/runner photos courtesy of Game Face Media, an event shirt (if you registered by March 20), one complimentary beer ticket, live music at the finish, a free pair of Feetures! running socks, access to Fleet Recovery Zone massages and chiropractic adjustments, and more! If you’re thinking that 26.2 miles is not challenging enough, you may want to join the double marathon runners. This dedicated group starts running as early as 1 a.m. on Saturday. (There are limited registration spots available for the full and double marathons, so register as soon as possible!)

Not ready for the full marathon yet? That’s perfectly okay. The half marathon is also challenging, and features all of the freebies mentioned above. The best part: you get to break off and head to the finish line while the full marathoners continue for another 13 miles! All marathon and half marathon finishers receive a commemorative finisher’s medal. The top three male and female finishers in each age group, and the top three runners overall, will receive awards.

There is also an option to conquer the full marathon as a four person team. The 4-Person Marathon Relay allows a team of four friends to complete the course, one section at a time. All members of the relay team will get their own unique Blue Ridge Marathon Relay finisher’s medal and a marathon shirt. The first three teams, regardless of their gender or age, will be awarded a trophy at the end of the full marathon award ceremony.

Finally, the 10k option is a great way to get involved in the excitement without the daunting commitment of the full or half marathons. The course will still take you up to the Mill Mountain Star, and there will be awesome photo opportunities to commemorate your achievement. Once you finish your route, you can enjoy local food from food trucks, a beer compliments of the Blue Ridge Marathon team, and free live music. It doesn’t get any better than that!

For more information on the Blue Ridge Marathon, its rules and features, please visit www.blueridgemarathon.com. We can’t wait to see you there!

A Staycation You Won’t Forget

If you love music, fun, and meeting great new people—FloydFest is the place for you! This weekend, from July 23-27, an 80-acre plateau right off of the Blue Ridge Parkway near Floyd, Virginia will come alive for a summer celebration. Attendees will experiences a 5-day staycation with a new “Revolutionary” theme. With performances from Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite, Lauryn Hill, Ziggy Marley, Buddy Guy, Madrone, Lettuce, and many more, there is something for every taste in music. Visitors will also enjoy healing arts, sustainable workshops and panel discussions, safe and fun activities for young children and teens, and other functions throughout the festival grounds.

Since its inception, FloydFest has placed a strong emphasis on promoting sustainability and green initiatives. The FloydFest family has gone through great lengths to ensure that the festival area they love stays as unspoiled as possible. In 2011, FloydFest partnered with Klean Kanteen to provide free drinking water to all patrons and re-usable, stainless steel cups are available for festival-goers to purchase. The festival also hosts a multitude of sustainability panels and discussions ranging from composting workshops to water quality information sessions. Each year during the festival, a volunteer “Green Team,” monitors recycling stations, compost piles, and water bottle refill stations that are easily accessible to festival patrons throughout the entire venue.

FloydFest’s unique location opens the door for a wide range of easily accessible outdoor activities, including hiking, mountain biking, white water rafting, disc golf, and more. Back at the festival site, the Healing Arts Village offers massages, yoga classes, meditation sessions and sustainability workshops. FloydFest’s strategically built concert stages, such as the Virginia Folklife Workshop Porch, provide a sweet concoction of picturesque views and intimate mountain sound that you can’t find anywhere else.

Go to www.floydfest.com for more information and a complete line-up of performers. You can even build your own custom schedule to ensure you don’t miss performances from your favorite artists. Spend a couple of days (or the entire weekend) enjoying the scenery, the people, and the music of FloydFest. We will see you there!

Fall Bike Ride for a Great Cause

Virginia Tech is hosting a Veterans@VT Combat Cancer Bike Ride on October 12! The ride is fun activity for families and friends to participate in together as an effort to get outside and enjoy some beautiful fall weather.

In addition, proceeds from registration and donations will benefit the Blue Ridge affiliate of Susan G. Komen and student veterans at Virginia Tech.

Unlike most rides where riders choose one of several distances, this height-of-foliage season ride will feature a 20 mile loop that individuals or teams are invited to ride as many times as they like. This allows the ride to cater to all ability levels and ages, and makes it a fantastic family activity.

The ride will begin at 8am, rain or shine, and will remain open until 4pm. There will be bike shows, food stands, and a live band at the finish for your entertainment. So grab a bike and a friend and head to the Veterans@VT Combat Cancer Bike Ride on October 12 at Floyd Eco Village in Floyd, VA!

Register for the ride now at www.veteranscombatcancer.org. Registration is only $45, and it includes a long sleeve technical tee and a ticket for the chance to win some great prizes (including a bike)! You can also like them on Facebook by following this link.

 

Written by Eleanor Haeg.

Melanoma Awareness Month

One in 50 men and women will be diagnosed with melanoma of the skin during their lifetime. Think of 50 people you know. Now, ask yourself if those 50 people wear sunscreen every time they go out in the sun. We are all human, and it is easy to forget sometimes. Buying additional bottles of suncreen for your car and workplace can help you get into the routine– but first you need to know why that routine is important.
Life is about time. Everyone wants just a little more. However, we are often rushing to get to the next enjoyable moment, and sometimes we forget to prepare for preventable catastrophe. According to the American Cancer Society, one person dies of melanoma every 57 minutes. It takes about five minutes to apply sunscreen on yourself and one very active child. In those five minutes, you could be adding years to your life.
woman-putting-sunscreen-on-child-300x199It is almost bikini season, and that means millions of people are flocking to tanning salons. A startling number of those individuals are teenagers. Do not let your insecurities be your death sentence. Before you get back in the tanning bed this year, consider this: people who first use a tanning bed before age 35 increase their risk for skin cancer by 75 percent. Take it from someone who is pale, with a history of cancer in her family. Those who love you would rather see your pale skin than visit you in the hospital because you wanted a tan for the summer.
My father has battled potentially cancerous moles for years. Up until recently, he often “forgot” to wear sunscreen, despite numerous warnings from his doctor. One such incident resulted in a sunburn on his legs that sent him to the emergency room. Last summer, I asked my 8-year-old sister to remind him to use sunscreen when he went outside. I even went so far as to say, “If daddy doesn’t wear sunscreen he could end up very sick and back in the hospital.”
A few weeks passed, and one day I received a phone call from my dad. He said, with a little sarcasm, “I just wanted to thank you for what you said to your sister. She will not let me leave the house without sunscreen now.”
It doesn’t matter how annoyed you feel by those five minutes you spend putting on sunscreen. What matters is that someone cares enough about you to remind you to do it. So, do us a favor. Grab a piece of paper and write, “sunscreen” on it. Tape it next to your door, and place the bottle of sunscreen somewhere nearby. We care about you, and we hope you will do your best to protect yourself from harmful UV rays this summer.

P.S. You can add additional protection with clothing that carries a UPF rating of 50+. We love products from UV Skinz, and this month they are offering a free baby sunshirt with every order! You should also check out the gorgeous scarves and gloves from Bloxsun for fashionable accessories that offer amazing coverage and protection.

DIY: Easy backyard bird feeding tips

Help nurture kids’ love of nature with easy, basic, backyard bird-feeding tips

Parents and children enjoy spending quality time together, but it’s not always easy to find shared interests. The backyard, however, can provide the perfect place for generations to meet when parents help kids learn the delights of bird-watching and bird-feeding.

Interacting with backyard birds benefits children on many levels, including teaching them the responsibility of caring for other living things to nurturing their appreciation of nature. Fall and winter are the perfect times to introduce kids to backyard bird care; as food sources dwindle in their natural habitat, birds will frequent a backyard where feeders serve up seed and suet daily.

The wild bird experts at Cole’s Wild Bird Products offer some guidance for families launching bird feeding lessons:

Feeder facts:

Different bird species like different types of feeders, but some styles, such as tube feeders, will attract a large variety of birds. Basic bird feeder styles include:

* Tube – Best for serving seed, tube feeders keep the contents clean and dry, providing birds with access to the food through feeding ports. They’re great all-purpose feeders and will attract the most variety of songbirds. It’s important to clean tube feeders regularly, so choose a model that’s easy to clean. Cole’s high-quality tubular feeders are made with state-of-the-art materials to prevent warping, discoloration, and they feature Quick Clean removable bases that make cleaning fast and simple. Feeder bottoms pop off with the push of a button.

* Bowl feeders – If separating seeds into different feeders gets too complicated, bowl feeders can be an all-in, easy solution. Options like Cole’s Bountiful Bowl Feeder can accommodate a variety of feed types, from seed and suet to mealworms, fruits and nuts. Bowl feeders are especially good starter feeders for children since they are easy to fill and clean.

* Suet feeders – During cold winter months, suet is an essential source of energy for birds. Suet feeders can range from a simple mesh onion bag to a wire or plastic mesh box that affixes to a tree, or post. Woodpeckers, warblers, nuthatches, titmice, jays and chickadees love suet.

Whatever styles of feeder you choose – and a mix is ideal – be sure to select feeders that are sturdy enough to withstand winter weather and unwanted visitors, like squirrels. They should be tight enough to keep seeds dry, and easy to disassemble for cleaning. Most importantly, keep them maintained and stocked – if you neglect to feed them, birds will go elsewhere.

Food fun:

In order to attract birds, it’s important to serve high-quality food. Seed blends with too much cheap seed, known as fill, won’t satisfy birds, and you’ll end up with a mound of discarded fill under feeders and few feathered friends in your backyard. Here are some basic foods birds look for in winter:

* Suet – Long gone are the days when serving suet was a messy proposition. Kids can serve suet without messing up their little hands when you choose convenient suet cakes, kibbles, nuts and pearls. Many of these suet options are mixed with other treats birds love, such as nuts, grains and berries. You can even find options with habanero pepper infused in the fat to dissuade squirrels from dining on the suet. Nutberry Suet Blend, by Cole’s, mixes human-grade cherries, apples and blueberry-flavored cranberries, preferred nuts, nutritious insect suet kibbles and whole kernel sunflower meats into an energy-packed, powerhouse feed.

* Seed – Many songbirds favor seeds, and in winter it can be difficult for birds to find seeds in nature. From black oil sunflower seeds and Niger to seed mixes, it’s important to serve a variety of high-quality seeds. Choose mixes with large proportions of sunflower seeds and avoid ones with fillers like wheat, milo and corn; birds will pick out the appealing seeds and kick out the filler. You can learn more about seed mixes at www.coleswildbird.com.

* Dried mealworms – Although the name might imply an “ick factor” that appeals to kids, serving dried mealworms is easy and mess-free. High in protein, mealworms are favored by bluebirds, flickers, woodpeckers, siskins and nuthatches. Plus you don’t have to feed them or keep them in the fridge like with live mealworms!

Introducing kids to backyard bird-feeding is an enjoyable – and easy – way to connect families with nature – and to each other. All you’ll need is a feeder, bird feed and some time. The birds will come, kids will surely enjoy the experience, and you’ll all have some good family fun.

Turn a New Leaf: Family Road Trip

With the cooler temperatures of autumn flowing in, many Americans will be hitting the road to discover the natural beauty that the season brings. Whether they crave adventure, want to see the fall foliage or are just getting ready for the Thanksgiving holiday, families need to be prepared to ensure they are getting the most out of this travel season.

“When it comes to fall travel, there is no experience quite like the autumn day drive – it’s your last taste of crisp air and warm colors before the blanket of winter hibernation sets in,” says Editor in Chief of “Road & Travel Magazine,” Courtney Caldwell. “The keys to a successful road trip lay within the amount of preparation you do for your family and vehicle before you put either into motion.”

Nothing puts a damper on a weekend getaway like car issues that could have easily been prevented by simple maintenance.

The American Petroleum Institute’s (API) Motor Oil Matters (MOM) program has been established to provide information to consumers on the importance of using high quality motor oils, and verifying the oils are properly identified on invoices and receipts. Oil-change locations and motor oil distributors that share MOM’s commitment – and submit to independent, third-party auditing – have the opportunity to be recognized by MOM through the Motor Oil Matters distributor and installer licensing programs.

MOM and Caldwell recommend fall travelers arm themselves with a simple plan of action and preparation to help get to their destination:

Don’t fall behind on your vehicle maintenance:

* Change that oil: Motor oil is the lifeblood of your engine. One of the simplest steps you can take to ensure your vehicle is maintained is to change your motor oil with an API-licensed motor oil that meets your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations. Be wary of deals that sound too good to be true, and make sure your value-priced oil change includes high quality motor oil. MOM has put together a checklist for consumers, to ensure they are confident when going into a shop. To download this checklist, please visit www.motoroilmatters.org.

* Breathe free: Replacing a dirty air filter can increase a vehicle’s life expectancy and fuel efficiency by reducing the strain on the engine, especially during warmer months.

* Check your tires: Pay attention to your tire pressure and tread depth, as they are essential for increased automotive safety and optimum driving performance. The lower the tread depth is on your tires, the less traction you will have on wet and dry roads, and the greater the distance you will need to stop.

Enjoy more than the season:

* Keeping everyone happy: Write out a packing list for each family member. Store these lists on your computer so you can adjust them for different seasons and trips. Kids can be easily entertained during long car rides in the backseat with trivia, coloring books, games, books, assorted toys and stuffed animals.

* Stop and pop: Bathroom breaks are always a good thing. They force you to get out of the car and talk with locals. A 10-minute break every two hours also increases alertness and adds to the overall sight-seeing experience.

* Expect the unexpected: Always have a car-safety kit packed for you and your family. It should contain: an auto escape tool, blankets, cell phone charger, cleaning items, flashlight, jumper cables, matches, pencil and notepad, warning lights or road flares, bottled water, non-perishable items and drinks, extra (hidden) cash, and a well-equipped first aid kit.

* Keep it clean: Save and bring a handful of plastic grocery bags in the car to use for trash, damp clothes, or a “sick” bag for any car-sick passengers.

For more tips and to read about potential travel destinations, visit www.roadandtravel.com. For more information on MOM and to download MOM’s Oil Change Checklist, and the importance of using high quality motor oil, go to www.motoroilmatters.org. Be sure to also check them out on Facebook and Twitter (@motoroilmatters) for the most recent updates and news.

Cooking with Kids

Once temperatures start to drop, keeping kids active can be a difficult task as weekends migrate away from park visits and Little League games to more time spent indoors. Luckily, there are plenty of things you can do in your own home to keep children engaged and help limit their video game and TV time. One of those things is cooking together, which reinforces math, science and reading comprehension skills while building great memories.

Keep your household free of the winter blues by following these simple steps to a successful and fun time with kids in the kitchen:

Establish good habits

Set good habits for your children by teaching them to wash their hands before, during and after cooking. Kid-friendly tools, like a small step stool or high-tech faucet, can help make reinforcing these habits even easier. Let your little sous-chefs know that they should wash their hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds, by helping them count or singing the “Happy Birthday” song twice. Remember to set a good example by washing your own hands before and after eating and during the cooking process, as needed.

Different stages for different ages

Understanding which tasks your child is capable of doing is important. Children under 5 years old enjoy observing how recipes are compiled and can help out with small tasks like setting the table, while school-age children can strengthen their math skills as they help combine ingredients for recipes and practice cooking basics, like cracking an egg. This stage is a great time to introduce the importance of choosing nutritious ingredients for everyday cooking, which can help lay the groundwork for a healthy lifestyle. Tap teenagers for help by encouraging them to choose the menu or explore new and exciting cuisines.

Timing is everything

Avoiding a tight schedule is important. Instead of involving children in the dinner rush, enlist their help on a weekend afternoon when there is plenty of time for questions, experiments or careful demonstrations. Choose a time when everyone is well-rested and not easily frustrated. Plan ahead when deciding what recipe you will cook together. For younger kids, consider starting with a simple dish that has fewer than five ingredients like a fruit salad or an easy muffin recipe. A pizza assembly line allows children to show their creativity by choosing their own mini-crusts, sauces, cheese and toppings.

And if nothing else, just enjoy these moments! They may be messy, they may (or may not) be fun… but above all else they will be memorable and cherished for years to come!