Staying Active During the Summer

Exercising as a family
source: Aikawa Ke via Flickr Creative Commons

Recently on my personal blog’s Facebook page, I expressed some worry about keeping up my exercise routine this summer. You see, for the first time in my life, I actually have one. I’ve consistently gone to the Y 2-3 times a week at least since September, right after school got into full swing. I love my water aerobics and Zumba classes. And I’m a little worried that summer is going to throw this routine right out the window.

I got some great suggestions from my friends over there. One person mentioned that if the kids are biking, running, etc, she was also biking or walking. I’m trying to put that in practice immediately; when my kids are playing around on tricycles or bikes, I am walking small laps around the circle area. (And chasing a 2-year-old. Always!)

Another friend said to have a gym where the childcare was so awesome she couldn’t bribe her daughter with doughnuts NOT to go was essential. Two out of three of my children loooove the YMCA childcare. The center where I go has an awesome climbing area with slides, mazes, the works. My introverted 4-year-old, however, hates the place. He would rather be coloring or playing with cars. But once he gets there, he will generally at least wander around. So while I am exercising, they are getting exercise, too. And their love for the center motivates me to stick to my workout.

Even if you don’t belong to a gym, your family can stay active together this summer. Here are a few more suggestions.

  • Take a nightly walk after dinner, when the weather is slightly cooler.
  • Swim. A lot! Swimming burns a ton of calories, builds muscles, and strengthens the core. Plus you stay cool and have fun.
  • Train for a 5K together.
  • Make a list of all of the playgrounds in your city. Make it a goal to visit all of them during the summer. The kids will be more active as they explore a new area. You can chase kids, push swings, walk laps, or do push-ups on the equipment.
  • Limit technology – yours and theirs – until you’ve had 30 minutes of physical activity that day.
  • Do an exercise DVD or find something on YouTube. My young kids love to join me when I do this!
  • Find more ideas about local activities, camping, hiking, and more on

Let’s make a commitment together to stay active this summer. Do you have any great tips?

When Do I Take My Child to the Doctor?

19/365 - My head is hot and my feet are cold. Ha...Hee...Hachoo!
source: Micah Taylor via Flickr Creative Commons

In February, I had a very sick baby. My youngest child was 11 months old. He was running a high fever that wasn’t coming down with medicine. His breathing seemed labored. It was really scary for me! And still, because it was at night, after all the doctor’s offices had closed, I questioned whether or not to take him to an urgent care clinic or just wait until morning.

After calling the after-hours line at our pediatrician’s, we decided it was pretty urgent that we take little Joshua to the walk-in pediatrician’s clinic. And I’m glad that we did, because he had influenza A. (Despite having had a flu shot!) We were able to start treating it immediately and in a few days he was ship-shape.

Whether it’s day or night, though, I think we all question ourselves when it comes to taking our children to the doctor’s office. Is it worth exposing him to germs? Is she really sick, or is it just a cold?

According to pediatrician Jennifer Shu, here is when you should go ahead and at least call the office:

  • High, persistent fever – and always take your infant to the ER if her fever is over 100.4 rectally (under 3 months)
  • Labored or noisy (wheezy) breathing
  • Thick eye discharge that sticks the eyelids together
  • Not producing urine every 6-8 hours (due to vomiting or diarrhea)
  • Vomit or diarrhea containing blood
  • Extremely lethargy or a stiff neck

I think erring on the side of calling the nurse is never a bad thing … especially for Mommy and Daddy’s nerves! But if you’re stuck in a should-I-shouldn’t-I cycle, there are some pointers to consider.

Are You Ready for Summer?

Believe it or not, summer is right around the corner. Have you planned your summer adventures yet? Check out these helpful products to help you and your family stay safe (and have fun) this summer!

  • BabyBanzBaby Banz Sunscreen Lotion Spray — Baby Banz has made it easier than ever to protect your little one’s skin from the harmful rays of the sun. They have created an amazing sunscreen perfect for young ones ranging from crawling toddlers to growing teens! The sunscreen is formulated with SPF 50 UVA/UVB protection and is PABA free for peace of mind! Simply point and press and the convenient spray emits a continuous, angled spray for maximum coverage. It’s never too early to establish good skin care habits!
  • Baby B’Air — The FAA-approved Baby B’Air Flight Vest is a safe solution for lap-held children while traveling in an airplane. The Baby B’Air is the perfect solution for all babies, securing them safely to their parent so that both the baby and parent are comfortable and there is no squirming or potential for baby falling. The Baby B’Air is worn by the infant like a vest. Constructed of 100% cotton and comfortable to wear for baby, the Baby B’Air is used by simply connecting it to the seat belt of the adult. The baby can then be held, fed, and even changed while both parent and child remain securely fastened in their seat. For more information, visit
  • PuddleJumperPuddle Jumper Life Jackets — The fun lasts longer for kids in the water with a Stearns® Puddle Jumper® Life Jacket. The comfortable design allows children 30 to 50 lbs. to move and swim freely in pools and lakes and at the beach, without the life jacket riding up around their necks. Each PFD is Coast Guard-approved and can be used as a learn-to-swim aid. They come in lots of different colors and styles.

What are your family’s must-have summer products?

Emergency Room vs. Urgent Care Center

203-urgentcareDid you know that more than 100 million Americans go to the emergency room every year? Maybe you’ve been there even recently with a sick or injured child and can relate to this information firsthand. While most of us visit the ER only for true emergencies, others use the ER for conditions which may be better resolved by a local urgent care walk-in center. Common visits to the ER include stomach and abdominal pain, step throat, seasonal allergies, flu, fever, headache, and back pain. All of which are easily treated at an urgent care center and for a time and cost significantly less than the ER. I don’t know about you, but I love the idea of saving time and money!

A visit to the emergency room can cost up to five times more than a visit to an urgent-care center. Emergency-room treatment for non-emergency medical conditions is a major contributor to the rising cost of health care. It also ties up ER staff members, who spend valuable time treating non-critical cases, such as skin rashes and ear infections, rather than treating life-threatening conditions.

Want the numbers? The average wait time at the ER is 55 minutes versus 12 minutes for walk-in center. The average copay for ER is $125 versus $25 for a walk-in center.

Urgent care centers are popping up all over the United States, giving you lots of options, such as 203-Urgent Care, in the Connecticut area.

Have you saved time and money by visiting an urgent care center near you? Tell us about your experience. Your experience could be helpful to other parents!

Position Your Poinsettias Wisely

The bright and colorful leaves of this plant may tempt little ones to take a taste. Display this beauties high on shelves or outdoors out of reach. Contrary to popular belief, they are not actually poisonous to children. However, contact with their milky substance can cause a mild, itchy rase. And, if the leaves or steams are eaten, the child may have nausea or diarrhea.

Diaper Rash 101

Diaper rashes can occur when a wet or soiled diaper is left on too long. When changing a soiled diaper make sure to clean in the skin folds where stool can get trapped. If a diaper rash develops use an ointment containing petroleum jelly or zinc oxide which will also help provide a protective barrier against further irritation from more moisture. If the rash is not getting better in two days you may want to talk with your child’s doctor. Other warning signs that should prompt medical attention include redness spreading up the abdomen or down the legs, pus-filled blisters, increasing fussiness, or fever.

Banana Bread Recipe

We hope you enjoy this great banana bread recipe!

Best Banana Bread

1 3/4 c. flour
3/4 tsp. Soda
1/4 tsp. Salt
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
3/4 c. oil
3 Tbsp. Milk
1 c. mashed banana (2 lg)
½ c. chopped pecans or walnuts.

Stir dry ingredients together. Mix in eggs, oil, and milk. Then stir in banana and nuts until just blended. Bake 350 for 1 hr. (less for muffin tins).

Pumpkin Bread

Celebrate the season with this yummy recipe for Pumpkin Bread! And make sure to check back tomorrow for a great banana bread recipe!

Makes 3 small aluminum pan loaves.

2 ½ c. flour
2 tsp. Baking soda
½ tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Cinnamon
½ tsp. Nutmeg
1 16-oz. Can pumpkin
2 cups sugar
1 ½ c. vegetable oil
5 eggs
3 tsp. Vanilla
1 lemon pudding (3 oz. Instant)
1 butterscotch pudding (3 oz. Instant) (or 2 french vanilla if you can’t find lemon and butterscotch)

Mix all together in large mixing bowl with beaters until very smooth. Put into sprayed pans or muffin tins. Bake almost an hour at 350 (less time if using muffin tins!)

Cooking With Kids: Stovetop Popcorn

source: rilmara

The art of homemade popcorn is one that has fled with the simplicity of microwave popcorn. I remember fondly my mom popping kernels on the stovetop, then turning them into wonderful caramel corn in the oven. But from about middle school onward (and that was, oh, 20 years ago now), I don’t remember even having popcorn that wasn’t from a microwaved bag or the movie theater.

When I started being a little more aware of what we were putting into our bodies, however, I decided to bring stovetop popcorn back into my life. (Did you know there are PFCs in the lining of a microwaved popcorn bag, and one of the chemicals in the butter flavoring has been linked to Alzheimer’s?) This way you can control your own ingredients, not to mention change the toppings to your liking! And it’s a great snack to make with kids. Popcorn is a whole grain and has a lot of fiber, making it a healthy snack that seems indulgent.

Here’s the recipe and then we’ll talk about how your kids can help!

Stovetop Popcorn

  • 1/2 c. popcorn kernels
  • 1 T oil (I like to use coconut oil)
  • optional toppings: salt, melted butter, Parmesan cheese, cinnamon, etc.
  • equipment: a large stockpot, aluminum foil
  1. Put oil in stockpot and heat over medium on the stove. When the oil is melted (if it’s a solid like coconut oil) or warm, add popcorn kernels.
  2. Cover stockpot with a layer of aluminum foil. Use a sharp knife to cut a few slits in the foil to let steam escape.
  3. Shake the pot every few minutes until kernels start to pop. While it’s popping, shake continuously. When pops are 4-5 seconds apart, remove from heat.
  4. Season to taste and enjoy.

We like to sprinkle our popcorn with salt and then drizzle with a couple tablespoons of melted butter. For an even healthier snack, try a pinch of salt and a good sprinkle of nutritional yeast, which is full of B vitamins. (If you’re nursing, it’s also a galactagogue, increasing milk production!) Parmesan cheese is also tasty and is salty enough by itself usually.

My 4-year-old daughter will pour kernels into the pot and then help with toppings once the popcorn is cooked. An older child can do pretty much all of this by him or herself depending on his skill with the stove.

So pop some corn, pop in a movie, and your kids will think you’re pretty much the best parent ever.

(Psst: you can also make chemical-free popcorn in the microwave with just a brown paper lunchbag, too!)

Do you make popcorn at home?

Real Life Solutions With Dr. Linda Mintle

Q. I am a new mom and love to be out in the sun during this time of year. A friend of mine told me to be more careful and cover up my baby from the sun. Is this really a big deal?

A. Absolutely. Most sun damage occurs in childhood. Sun exposure builds over the years and can create problems later in life. Babies can get sunburned and their tender skin can’t handle the harmful UV rays emitted by the sun. A baby under the age of six months should not be exposed to direct sunlight. And even though it is hot, cover your baby with light cotton clothing to protect her skin. Limit her exposure to the sun during the peak hours of ultraviolet rays—10:00a.m to 4:00p.m. Shade her whenever possible. Most baby carriers have sunshades built in, car shades can be use when she is in her car seat and umbrellas, baby tents and other shading devices can be used as added protection. Use sunscreen designed for infants with at least an SPF of 15, even on hazy days. Apply the sunscreen at least an hour before going out and reapply it often. Hats are also a good way to protect the face and they look really cute! Keep in mind that if you live in a high altitude, sun exposure is greater. If your baby gets sunburned and is showing blisters, fever, chills headache or appears ill, contact your pediatrician immediately. Sunburn can lead to dehydration and is treated like a serious burn. So yes, your friend was right. It is a big deal!

Resource: Baby 411: Clear Answers & Smart Advice For Your Baby’s First Year by Denise Fields & Ari Brown M.D. Windsor Peak Press; Fifth Edition, Revised, 5th ed. edition (September 1, 2011)