Tag Archives: Poppyseed

Putting the Fun Back in Family Road Trips!

On family road trips, do you spend the entire drive listening to the music your kids prefer, playing their favorite games and generally doing everything you can to keep them content – and peaceful – in the car?

It happens with the best intentions, but too often parents sacrifice their own enjoyment to keep the kids happy, thinking they can’t please everyone. Fortunately, with some creativity and the right travel “tools,” it’s possible for everyone to enjoy the drive.

Here are some ways parents can reclaim their fun on the family road trip:

* Expand musical horizons. Sure, you want everyone to connect with each other in the car and enjoy all the sights they’ll see. But it’s also okay to set aside some non-talk time. Pop in music they’ve never heard of and introduce the kids to different musical genres. There are a variety of songs out there that are kid-friendly. Do some research before your trip– you may even find a few new songs to enjoy yourself!

* Find an audio book that appeals to all. Bestsellers, non-fiction, self-help and children’s titles – audio books offer a great way for everyone to participate in the fun, including the driver. Look for material with age-appropriate content if you’ll all be listening together. “Borrowing” books through an exchange service is a great way to access a variety of titles. Cracker Barrel offers a service that allows you to get an audio book at one  location and return it at any other Cracker Barrel in the country. When you return the audio book, you’ll receive a full refund less an exchange fee of $3.49 for every week you kept the book. Visit www.crackerbarrel.com to learn more.

* Introduce kids to games from your childhood. Playing games is a great way to pass time in the car, but if you dread the thought of playing one more princess- or shape-shifting-robot-themed game, why not introduce the kids to games you loved as a child? Many require nothing more than your imagination, like group storytelling or license-plate bingo. Others like the low-tech classic peg game or Simon, the original electronic memory game you played as a kid, travel well in the car and provide challenging fun for all ages.

* Pack a snack bag with everyone in mind. Everyone will get hungry on the road, so if it’s not yet time for a stop, a snack bag can save the day. Pack with balanced nutrition and broad appeal in mind. Travel-friendly options like fruit and whole-grain snacks can be appetizing and satisfying. Be sure to toss in a few sweet treats for some extra fun. Look for nostalgic options that will appeal to kids while reminding adults of their own childhood, like Moon Pies or Cracker Jacks. 

Whether you are packing up to go visit a family member over the weekend this fall, or preparing early for a holiday getaway, these tips are sure to help your trip be a little less stressful for everyone involved!

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.

For more grape ideas, go to GrapesfromCalifornia.comfacebook.com/GrapesfromCalifornia,twitter.com/GrapesfromCApinterest.com/GrapesfromCA.

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 SafeKids.org or MakeSafeHappen.com.

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!

 

 

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 www.bestway-global.com.

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!

Adventure Awaits!

Summer and fun – while these words aren’t technically synonyms, they probably should be. School is out for the children, you have summer vacation time from work stocked up, and the nice weather across the country is beckoning.

Are you in search of some fun ideas for your summer activities? Check out these family-friendly ideas everyone will love!

Camp – Sleeping under the stars is just the first great benefit of going on a camping adventure. You can plan plenty of fun and kid-friendly activities to keep you busy all summer long. Hiking, cooking over the campfire, fishing, swimming, catching fireflies, telling ghost stories and toasting marshmallows all add to the fun. Just remember to pack plenty of bug spray and sunblock so your fun doesn’t get interrupted by painful or itchy skin.

Ride the Trails – Taking the family for an ATV ride is an adventure all in itself. You get to see the country in a new way, plus you’ll have fun trekking across the countryside. However, we recommend riding with an experienced driver and ALWAYS follow all safety precautions, including wearing a helmet.

Develop a Family Project – It’s always fun to spend time together as a family working on a project. Let your imagination run wild and see where it takes you. If you want to explore your creative talents, consider producing a short play or movie. Everyone can get involved in writing the script, the acting, set creation and finding the perfect costumes. Or consider participating in a community service project. Maybe you have an organization close to your heart you could raise money to help support. Ask the organization if there is something your family can help with this summer.

Road Trip – A themed road trip can create a lot of excitement for your family members. For example, maybe you want to create a theme of seeing all the odd tourist attractions like the world’s largest ball of twine or the country’s biggest collection of autographed baseballs. Perhaps you want to visit as many national parks as you can. Have your children help with the planning and you’ll have a very interesting road trip adventure.

Museums – Make it an educational summer by planning visits to all the museums in the nearest city. Include the local zoos and planted gardens on the list, and you’ll be sure to pique the interest of every member of your family. Plan for one family museum visit a month or every other week, and combine it with a family dinner out or a picnic in the park.

You can combine several of these ideas together for even more fun this summer. So whether you go camping, road tripping, or tour museums, you know every member of the family will enjoy the summer activities!

Reading Outside of School

Reading is a fundamental skill people use throughout their lives, and in this digital age reading is more important than ever. When children and tweens read, they improve their reading skills and they also improve their comprehension, knowledge base, concentration and vocabulary. Many children love books, but getting those children to continue to read as tweens can be more difficult.
As a parent, you cannot afford to let your tween’s reading fall by the wayside or trust that the reading they do at school is sufficient. Supplemental reading at home will help your child do better at school and in real world after graduation, too. To encourage their reading outside the classroom, follow these suggestions:

* Keep it positive. Encourage your tween to read without pressuring, nagging or bribing them. Tweens should read for enjoyment, not because they feel forced or stand to profit financially from doing so. You should also avoid criticizing what they read. Even reading a gossip, music or video game magazine is better than not reading at all.

* Set an example. Want your tweens to take an interest in reading? Then read yourself. If your tweens see that you make a habit of reading and enjoy doing it, they’ll be more apt to pick up supplemental reading on their own.

* Find a story that interests them. Looking for a unique story that will interest your tween? Broken by Tanille Edwards is the love story of Milan, a high-school girl with a burgeoning modeling career. She’s also deaf and struggling with the same insecurities many tweens and teens face. This book is geared toward young adults, making it easy for them to tackle. The book also comes with its own musical soundtrack, allowing your child to enjoy the music as they turn the pages.

* Start a book club. Join your tween in what they are reading. Ask them to pick a book you will both read together and then discuss at the end of the month. This will help keep both of you on task and provide a great way to share mutual interests.

* Stress reading’s other benefits. Reading offers numerous benefits to your child beyond the purely academic, so make sure they are aware of them. Reading a book also grows their imagination, spurs creativity, entertains and provides a cost-effective way to kick back and relax after a long day of school. The more your child sees reading as a reward, the more apt they will be to do it in their spare time.

Between friends, technology and school, there are plenty of forces vying for your teen’s attention; make sure supplemental reading is one of them. Encouraging your tween to read in their free time, as well as at school, offers them with a wonderful hobby today and lifelong benefits down the road.