Summer Playground Safety

Yesterday I took my kids to a park and we were all but unable to play.  Everything was so hot from the sun, I was afraid the kids were going to hurt.  After checking out a few shadier parks, only to find that the slides there were also very hot from the sun peeking in between the trees, we headed to the Burger King playplace (as did many other parents - it was packed!).  Here are some summer tips to keep your kids safe at the playground:

  • Sun Protection - Sunscreen and Hats.  Reapply sunscreens to avoid becoming the shade darker than broil that I currently am.  And try to avoid mid-day sun when it is at its strongest.
  • Plastic and Metal Burns - It takes just a short time before playground slides, swings and ride-ons get dangerously hot.  Test both metal and plastic play toys before allowing your kids play to avoid burns.
  • Hydrate - Keep your kids hydrated when they are at play in the heat.  I like to make ice cubes out of fruit juice and put them in a big jug of water for my kids.  They keep the water cool and it gets the kids the water they need with a splash of flavor - without a ton of sugar.
  • AGH! Mosquitoes - Those pesky little buggers find me no matter where I am and no matter what time of day it is.  I’ve tried the bug bands and the natural repellents and still I get bit.  Now, I’m sticking with DEET.  Though - use caution with DEET. 
  • Splinters - Make sure your kids’ feet are protected when playing in playgrounds with wood chips.  I always put my kids in sneakers for wood chip parks.  I’ve had my fair share of wood chips sticking out of the skin or in a nail bed while wearing sandals.

Maybe it is because my kids are so accident prone, but I always have in my bag/car: a mini first aid kit, a mini burn kit (both found at the Target dollar spot for $1), those smack and go ice packs, extra water and snacks, and a wet washcloth in a bag.  My grandma used to carry a wet washcloth in a bag.  I always thought it was kind of stupid until I was scratched down the face by a cat.  Now, I carry one, too.  It can help refresh on a hot day, wipe away tears after a fall, cleanse a wound.  You never know what you might need it for, but I sure was glad my grandma had one the day that infamous cat crossed my path.


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Strawberry Picking & Muffin Recipe

This past weekend, I took the kids Strawberry Picking at one of our favorite NJ U-pick farms, Lee Turkey Farm.  Not only was it perfect weather for strawberry picking, we had a great time and picked a ton of juicy, tasty, super-sweet strawberries.  After realizing 1) that I had no idea what I was going to do with so many strawberries and 2) I probably didn’t have quite enough to make jam, I decided to check out my dusty cookbook shelf.  I stumbled across a random strawberry cookbook.  It is small and shaped like a strawberry and is entitled “Strawberry Recipes”.  I have no idea where this cookbook came from, but there are some great strawberry recipes in it.  Tonight, we made Summer Strawberry Muffins.  YUM!  They are quick and simple to make and would make a great addition to a  brunch table or as a Father’s Day breakfast.

Summer Strawberry Muffins

 Summer Strawberry Muffins

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk (I used fat-free)
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup hulled and chopped strawberries
  • 3 TBSP chopped fresh mint (OPTIONAL - I did not use as I don’t like mint)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Butter 12 medium muffin cups.  (I got 12 regular sized muffins and 5 mini muffins)  Mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl and make a well in the center.  In a small bowl, mix the eggs, milk, and oil.  Add egg mixture to well and stir into flour mixture until just mixed.  Stir in the strawberries (and mint, if using).  Pour the batter into cups and bake 20-25 minutes (mine took 23 mins).  Let cool slightly and then turn out onto a rack to cool.


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The Coolest People Work at Borders

So yesterday I went to Borders with the kids.  We picked up our free book for summer reading. As we’re going up to the register to check out, I hear CheezWaster say, “Ahoy, Matey!”  I look up to see the register clerk was wearing an eye patch - the black kind - like a pirate would wear.  I can only imagine what my face must have looked like - a cross between hysterics and complete mortification, but the clerk was SUPER cool.  He responds with, “Aaargghh, bring up yer loot!”  CheezWaster loved it and awkward mommy moment completely avoided.  Thanks Borders for hiring some really cool employees!

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Raise A Reader

It’s National Children’s Book Week, through May 16 so grab your kids and a good book!  I never was much of a reader growing up, despite always being in Honors English classes (I’m the grammar dork - not the literary dork!).  My mom always enrolled me in the Summer Reading Program at the Library and I enjoyed that very much, but during the school year, I was always so busy with extracurricular activities like band, gymnastics & dancing, that when I did have some free time, I rarely spent it reading - at least not “for fun” reading.  I also think the fact that I’m so nearsighted contributed to this.  To this day, I find reading to be hard on my eyes.  With my contacts, I have to hold the book out and without them it is touching my nose (please don’t say bifocals - I’m TOO young!).  My husband was an avid reader as a child (and still is) and that is something I admire about him.  He can sit down with a book and read it cover to cover no matter what is going on around him.  Not me.  I’m more of an ADD reader - you know, stop, give my eyes a rest, get the kids a juice, what page was I on, oh let me read that chapter again because I can’t remember what happened from the last time I read.  So you now understand why I prefer to read things like magazines where I can finish one article and come back and start something fresh the next time I’m ready to read. 

I want to encourage my boys to read.  Even though they are still too young to do it on their own (though CheezWaster is making strides), they delight in listening to the stories and seeing the pictures - especially when I do my special voices as part of the stories.  We, again this year, will sign up for our local library’s summer reading program.  We will also again partake in TD Bank’s reading incentive program which will give kids $10 into their savings account for reading 10 books (1 time offer only).  Borders is offering a free book to kids who read 10 books over the summer (also a 1 time offer).  Most of their book offerings seem more geared toward the tween/teen set, but we’re going to try our hand at Flat Stanley.  If you are looking for some book ideas to read to your kids, here is a list of the NEA’s Teacher’s Top 100 Books for Children. Or check out Parenting Magazine’s Best Books to Read with your Kids list.  And finally, here are the 2010 Children’s Choice Book Awards.  HAPPY READING!

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The Closet Ghosts

My mom picked up a very interesting book for the kids on their recent trip to the library - called The Closet Ghosts by Uma Krishnaswami.  The story tells of a young girl who has recently moved into a new house only to find ghosts in her closet.  What really caught my attention in this story was not only the numerous lessons it taught (moving into a new house, leaving behind friends, making new friends, going to a new school, being afraid) but the incorporation of Hindu mythology.  This story was a great way to introduce my boys to the Hindu culture, as well as the idea that some people believe in more than one god.  The book is also beautifully illustrated by Shiraaz Bhabha, whose pictures are vividly colorful.  I highly recommend this touching story.

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