Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Kid Safety-Learning About Strangers

Strangers.  A topic most adults don't much think about until they have children.  As adults, we avoid anyone who we feel threatened by or gives us the instinctual feeling that we should stay away.  However it's important to go back to square one when talking with a child about strangers.

What should you tell your children?  Which strangers are safe to interact with and which ones aren't?  You want them to know the difference on being polite to adults, but also knowing what they should and shouldn't say or what they should or shouldn't do when someone they don't know approaches them.  Keep in mind a traditional stranger is anyone your child or family doesn't know.  The stranger philosophy has changed over the years and new ideas on talking to your child about this are explored more in the post "Tricky People Are the New Strangers," by the Checklist Mommy.  

A doctor or police officer is a stranger, but we classify them as "safe strangers."  You can teach your child that these types of strangers are ok to talk to or approach.  It's also very important to teach your child that not all dangerous strangers look scary.  Cartoons and books tend to make the bad guy look like an evil, scary villain, but this is not always the case.  If your child is ever in a predicament where they feel threatened  or become separated from you or a guardian, it's important they know what to do, and which strangers they can turn to for help.  The National Crime Prevention Council advises parents to point out easy to recognize strangers when out with your child, such as teachers or police officers.  But what happens when these options aren't around?  Some parents tell their children to find another mommy with kids if they get lost in a place like a mall or grocery store.

It's smart to come up with a plan of action or family code in case a child gets separated from their family or guardian or feels threatened.  A meeting area should always be established when you go to any public space such as a shopping mall or grocery store.  Tell your child to meet you there if they get lost and to wait until you find them.

What plans of action or advice do you have for parents talking to their child(ren) about stranger safety?

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Eco Friendly Birthday Party Ideas

After recently attending a 5 year old's birthday party, a family friend shared some secrets to throwing an economical, eco-friendly bash, that's sure to make the kids and parents happy.

Mrs. B has two children-a boy and a girl.  For her oldest, the boy, she made flag garland to hang outside the house out of scraps of fabric and string.  She has used the same decoration now for 3 years.  She kept the colors and patterns simple-nothing themed, so she can reuse them every year.  For her daughter's 1st birthday, she decided to do the same thing, but with more feminine colors and she plans to hang these each year as well.

Photo courtesy of Sparkle Power
Mrs. B's house is right across the street from a neighborhood park.  She has utilized the playground (free of cost) for her son's birthdays, however decided this year, due to a more active child and his more active friends, not only would they use the park, but she would set up an obstacle course in her backyard with items that can be played with over and over again.  They had a hula hoop ladder, bean bag throw, and soccer ball dribble.  They also purchased a moon jump for less than $200 that they plan on using for their daughter's next few birthdays.
This moon bounce can be purchased at Walmart for less than $200.
Paint this board over and over to fit a new theme-courtsey of Pam-a-rama ding dong

Dribble the soccer ball thru the cones via The Soccer Essentials

Hula hoop hop via Learn, Play, Imagine
After the kids have worn themselves out, they go inside the house for homemade cupcakes and are sent home with a simple paper bag with some yummy sweet treats.

By timing your event effectively, you can avoid having to serve big meals items.   For example, schedule the party for late afternoon, so that you don't have to serve heavy meal items like you would during lunch and dinner hours. Instead, opt for simple snacks like trail mix (be careful for nut allergies among the children), chips and dips, and simple finger sandwiches for the adults.  Or schedule it during the late morning hours and serve bagels and doughnuts.  

For more birthday and green birthday ideas, check out our Pinterest board-Birthday Parties.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Meatless Monday: Carb Lovers Edition

Carbs...who doesn't love 'em?  Today's recipes are based off filling carbs that are paired with a healthy dose of yummy vegetables.  But enough with the chatter...let's get to it!

Our first meatless recipe is from the queen of Italian cuisine, Giada de Laurentiis.  Her Rigatoni with Eggplant Puree offers the best of an in-season favorite and because the veggies are all pureed, you can introduce this dish to any picky eaters in the family, without breaking a sweat!

Need something with a little more zing?  Then try this Spring Vegetable Fried Rice recipe by Laura B. Russell.  Don't let the name fool you though, all veggies in this dish can easily be found at your local grocery store, year round.  Or if you want to shop at the farmer's market and only want to use in season goods, substitute the vegetables for what is available in your area.

Spinach and artichoke go together like peanut butter and jelly.  So for this next dish, why not go with such a winning combination?  Spinach Artichoke Pasta offers the creamy goodness you know and love from the traditional dip, but add some cayenne pepper for a little kick and this pasta dish will have you making it over and over for your family.

And if you're feeling just a little guilty for consuming all these carbs, don't be afraid to make the switch from regular pasta to whole wheat.  Or for today's Spring Vegetable Fried Rice, use brown rice or even quinoa as a healthy substitute.