Monday, December 28, 2009

Creating a Family Resolutions Book

Today on WUSA 9 our Events Coordinator, Anna Snead demonstrated a craft for creating a Family Resolution Book. Most people think that resolutions are only for adults but really it’s a motivational and skill building tool for everyone especially kids. It can improve your child’s self esteem, build family communication as well as teach goal setting. I am a big fan of goal setting and how that can help children throughout their lives.

Anna selected this activity and you should consider starting it in your family. If you do, let us know how it works for you. I think it would be a lot of fun. I wish my kids weren’t all grown. Maybe I will do it with my grandkids?

Activity: Family Resolution Book

You will need:
-A photo album or scrapbook
(you could also use heavy paper as the cover pages)
-Photo of each family member
(if your child wants to draw each member of the family, that might also be good)
-Lined flash card or ruler
(use these if you choose to draw your own lines directly on paper)
-Decorative supplies (optional) – stickers, glitter, etc

1. Take or get a picture or headshot of each family member. Or you can let your children draw each person.
2. Glue each one on a separate page in your book.
3. Glue one flashcard onto each page or draw three lines under each photo.
4. Each family member can write down 3 resolutions (more or less optional) on their designated page that they will try to keep throughout the upcoming year.
Examples: Finish my homework before dinner. Clean my room at least once a week. Cook dinner at least 4 times a week for the family (mom or older children). Exercise 3 times a week. Raise my grades one point each semester. Help dad with the yard work weekly. Wash the dog every week. Have a positive attitude.
5. Decorate each page as desired.
6. Discuss the resolutions as a family. Make a list of ways each person can support the others at the back of the book. If, at first, certain family members struggle to find resolutions sit down before starting this activity and brainstorm together in a constructive (and friendly!) discussion.

**Over the next year, each month try to take out the book and see how each person is doing with their resolutions.

Anna had another idea for the book that I thought was very creative. She suggested video taping the family telling their resolutions. Then video tape the discussions through out the year. This would be a great video record of your children and you could post it on YouTube!

Here are some benefits Anna listed for this activity. I can think of more.
-Family Bonding and communication
-Goal setting
-Learning how to be more supportive of each family member
-Self Improvement

Does your family have any traditions similar to this? Do they work?

Let us know what your family does for New Year’s resolutions.

Happy Parenting, Brenda

Monday, December 21, 2009

Fun Holiday Craft Becomes Traditon

The holidays mean family gatherings and big meals. Why not include the kids in the table decorations this year with a variety of fun and festive crafts? It will keep them busy and you’ll have decorations that you can treasure for years to come.

Today Liz McConville, Resource Editor for FAMILY Magazine was on WUSA9 News Now with Peggy Fox demonstrating crafts for table decorations

Why should we involve our children in the preparation of the holiday meal or decorations? I know it helps with the work, but does it do anything for them? YOU BET! Kids love it and it really helps them develop.

Helping benefits kids in many ways –
Raising self-esteem & learning life skills
Develop a sense of tradition (being part of a group)

Here are the crafts that Liz demonstrated along with materials and detailed instructions.

Candy Cane Napkin Rings

• 1 sheet of construction paper
• Red glitter glue
• White glitter glue
• White craft glue
• Paintbrush
• Scissors or cutting board
• Tape

What to do:
1. Lay down the construction paper lengthwise
2. Starting at the bottom of the far left corner draw a line of red glitter glue from the bottom to the top of the paper. Skip about one inch and repeat. Continue all the way across the paper.
3. Repeat step 2 with the white glitter glue, drawing the white lines in between the red lines. Your line won’t be touching.
4. Using a paintbrush gently spread out the first line of red glitter glue, careful not to touch the white. Repeat for each red line.
5. Clean out the paintbrush and repeat step 4 for the white glitter glue. All your line should be touching, or at least very close to each other.
6. Allow the sheet to dry completely. This can take several hours.
7. Once dry, fold in half like a greeting card and gently crease. Use scissors to cut along the crease.
8. Hold one of the pieces so that the strips are going horizontally. Cutting from the bottom upward, cut in half and then in half again to create four strips. Repeat this for the other half-sheet. This will result in a total of 8 strips.
9. Turn strips over so that the glitter side is facing down. Carefully fold along the long edge, both sides, to create a more finished look. Glue the folded sides to the back. Repeat for all strips.
10. Roll each strip into a circle; the ends should overlap by about an inch. Secure the overlap with a piece of clear tape.
11. Insert napkins.

For more craft ideas like this one check out:

Angel Place Cards

• Paper Cups
• Napkins
• Lollipops
• Chenille Stems
• Paint, optional

What to do:
1. Fold a napkin back and forth as you do when you are making a fan.
2. Take a paper cup (painting the cup in optional) and turn it upside down
3. Place the napkin on the top (bottom) of the paper cup and with the stick end of the lollipop push the stick through the layers of the napkin and through the cup.
4. Make a halo out of a chenille stem and attach it around the angel’s head or push the straight section of the halo through the same hole made for the stick of the lollipop.
5. The name can either be painted on the cup or a round card with the name can be glued to the halo.

For this craft and more crafts like it check out

Silverware Stocking

• Stocking template
• Scissors
• Felt
• Patterned fabric
• Hot glue or fabric glue
• Rickrack
• Beads
• Beading cord

What To Do:
1. Use the template to cut two stocking shapes from the felt, then cut the cuff and toe shapes from the patterned fabric. The cuff is a long rectangle with the two long edges folded under and ironed for a clean look.
2. Glue the two stocking shapes together at the edges, leaving the top of the stocking open. Fold a 6-inch length of rickrack in half and glue the ends just inside the stocking’s top. Glue the cuff and toe in place.
3. String beads onto the cord. When the string of beads is long enough to form your letter, knot both ends. Draw your letter onto the stocking with glue, and then press the string of beads onto it.

For this craft and more crafts like it check out

Do you have any crafts you like to do for table decorations? Do you let your children help with this? We do name plates at our house and the little kids are in charge. It is a hoot. Maybe this year we will use one of Liz’s ideas. They look adorable!

Happy Holidays!


Monday, December 14, 2009

Award Winning and Educational Toys and Games

With the holidays just around the corner, you’ve probably started making your shopping lists.

Today, during the WUSA9 segment, Amy Bevins, Assistant Editor and Toy Expert for Washington FAMILY Magazine, shared a few great ideas for this holiday season.

Here are a few standouts from Amy’s article on Award Winning and Educational Toys and Games in this month’s Washington FAMILY magazine.

Go Go Sports Girls from Dream Big Toy Company are one of my favorites for all ages. These sports themed dolls give a positive message about healthy bodies along with being absolutely adorable.

Cornerstone made by Good Company Games, has become one of my family’s favorite games and the most requested. It is kind of a cross between Jenga and Blokus, combining strategy and adrenaline as you build the towers and outsmart your opponents.

If you are looking to get kids and adults up and moving, Djubi is perfect and brings a great new twist to the game of catch. You use the hook to launch the balls and the net to catch them.

Q-BA-Maze is as much fun to create as it is to play with. You join the pieces to make a marble run. It is almost like a kinetic art sculpture and is so fun whether you follow the patterns or create your own masterpiece.

Funny Business from Gamewright is an absolutely hilarious game of mixed up mergers that the whole family can play. It is all about having fun and competition takes a backseat.

Sprig Discover Rig from Sprig Toys is a kid-powered eco-friendly truck that is made from recycled wood and reclaimed plastic and is so appealing to kids for imagination adventures.

The cute Muddy Pigs from Munchkin are perfect for a tub time. With a little warm water their muddy spots magically wash off.

Lastly, Chickyboom by BlueOrange appeals to all ages. There’s more science and math than you’d expect and it really draws in kids and adults alike.

Amy’s article, “Award Winning and Educational Toys and Games,” is filled with lots of wonderful holiday ideas and is in the December issue of Washington FAMILY Magazine. Pick one up or view it online at

Many of the featured toys have won numerous national and international awards, meaning they were a hit with kids, parents, testers and industry experts. Groups like the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio, Dr. Toy, Parent’s Choice and AblePlay give awards to toys and games that meet criteria for standing out among their peers. Each one is tested for quality, safety, playability, value and most of all FUN!

To learn more about the Toy Awards; visit the FAMILY Magazine web extras on our homepage.

What great ideas do you have for gift giving this holiday season?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Training to Eat for the Holidays

The holidays are fast approaching. This wonderful time of year is filled with good fellowship, food, and fun….and lots of calories and overindulgence often leading to weight gain and weight loss resolutions. How can we make this year different?
After this segment be sure to log on to FAMILY Magazine publisher, Brenda Hyde, will be online to discuss this topic inside the Washington FAMILY Magazine Group.
Today, Judy Caplan, Registered Dietitian and author of the children’s book Gobey Gets Full – Good Nutrition in a Nutshell (, shared tips on “Training to Eat for the Holiday” during the Moms Like Me segment on WUSA9.
Judy suggests:
If you put some simple practices into play now, you can avoid that beginning of the year regret. She calls this “Training to Eat for the Holidays.”
Tip One: Make awareness part of the holiday spirit. Ask yourself, “Where do I want my weight to be to on January 2nd?” Jot the answer down on a piece of paper and post it where you can see it every day. For example: “I want to weigh 135 on January 2nd.” Now don’t lose sight of that goal.
Tip Two: Set into motion actions that will lead to achieving your goal. For instance, continue your exercise program. If you don’t have one, now is the time to start. Don’t wait until the first of the year to begin. Exercise is a great calorie burner. Exercise also increases endorphins which promote a sense of well being, something you will need lots of at this stressful time of year.
Tip Three: Set a carbohydrate limit for the day. Allow yourself a daily total of four to six carbohydrate servings. Since there will be sweets and alcohol everywhere, each time you eat a cookie or have a drink over the holidays, you have to subtract some other carbohydrate from your diet that day, so plan ahead. Here are some other examples of one carbohydrate serving:
One slice of whole wheat bread
½ of a hamburger bun
8 stick pretzels
3 Hershey kisses
¼ of a medium order of French fries

Keep a food log. This helps you know how many carbs you have eaten and how many you have left. One strategy is to limit carbs during the week and fill up on lots of salads and fresh veggies, limited amounts of whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats. Use two servings of fruit each day to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Here is a sample menu:
Breakfast: Egg white omelet with spinach and low fat cheese, topped with salsa and sliced avocado
¾ cup oatmeal or whole grain cereal with sliced fruit and skim milk plus one teaspoon ground flaxseed
2 slices (40 calories each) whole grain bread with 1T. natural peanut butter and fruit spread
*Coffee or skinny latte

Lunch: Large salad with lean protein – grilled chicken, low fat cheese, shrimp, salmon or lean beef. Add sliced avocado or toasted nuts.
Vinaigrette dressing (preferable made with olive oil)
If you did not have carbs at breakfast (oatmeal, cereal, toast) sandwich on whole wheat bread with nitrite free turkey with olive oil mayo, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle (if non meat, eater make with low fat cheese)
Fresh cut up veggies with 1/3 cup hummus plus 5 Triscuits or 20 Wheat Thins

Dinner: Fresh salad with vinaigrette, lean protein of your choice, and steamed or roasted veggies (non starchy)

Snacks: Use your two servings of fruit for snacks. Add 12 raw almonds with each fruit serving
*Coffee is a calorie free food but can lead to hunger pangs, so limit intake.

Tip Four: Have a plan before you attend a party because once you get there good intentions can quickly fly out the window. Alcohol, besides adding calories, diminishes your ability to stay focused on your goals. Set a number of drinks for the night and stick to it.

You never want to go to a party hungry. Telling yourself you won’t eat all day so it is okay to indulge at the party is a formula for disaster. At the party avoid fried food, any appetizer that sits on bread, creamy dips, and limit sweets and alcohol. That leaves veggies and protein. Save the carbs for your set amount of alcohol or a bite or two of something yummy.

For more articles and resources about how “Training to Eat for the Holiday,” visit the Washington FAMILY Magazine

Monday, November 30, 2009

American Girl Craft for Merriment in Georgetown

Today on WUSA 9 we demonstrated a craft that we will be doing at the
Merriment in Georgetown on December 6.

If you don’t know about Merriment in Georgetown, you should check it out.
It is going to be a great event with a special book signing with Valerie
Tripp, author of the American Girl books. Here is a link to more

The American Girl Felicity Merriman, described as the colonial girl living
in Williamsburg, VA, was the inspiration for FAMILY Magazine's craft we
will be doing where we will be making silhouettes.

A silhouette or a shadow picture was very popular during the 18th Century.
It was the only method of capturing someone's image before cameras were
invented other than an expensive self-portrait.

This craft would be great for kids to do for grandparents. It is very
personal and a great keepsake.


Materials Needed:
-Black construction paper
-White regular or thick paper
-Flashlight or lamp
-White chalk or white colored pencil
-Doilies (optional)
-Buttons (optional)

1. To make a silhouette, sit the subject 12-18" in front of a wall, facing
parallel to it.

2. Shine a bright light on them, so their shadow falls on the wall. You
may need to adjust the light until you get their shadow as sharp and
detailed as possible.

3. Tape a black piece of construction paper on the wall where the shadow
is falling. You should see it clearly on the paper. 4. Now, carefully
trace the outline of the shadow using your white chalk or colored pencil
including everything even their eyelashes. The subject must sit very
still for it to work.

5. Once you've completed the tracing take the black piece of paper and cut
out the picture you made along the white lines. Do this CAREFULLY!

6. Paste your silhouette onto the white piece of paper.

7. To finish off your project make a fun ribbon frame cutting a strip for
each side of the paper and glue it on. Doilies can be used in place or
along with the ribbon to give the picture more of a winter holiday feel.
Decorate your frame with buttons, glitter, or anything else you'd like.

Do you have a favorite American Girl Doll in your house? We would love to
hear from you.

Happy Parenting -- Brenda

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving Traditions

With Thanksgiving coming this Thursday, there’s lots to do. This morning, on WUSA9 News, reporter Peggy Fox and Liz McConville, the Resource Editor for FAMILY Magazine talked about some really fun crafts you can do with your kids for Thanksgiving.

In our family, we love traditions. A couple of years ago my grandkids made name place cards for our holiday table and then assigned where each person would sit. We use these cards every single year (Christmas and Thanksgiving) just adding the new people when there are new ones at our holiday table. The kids get the place cards out and talk about when they made them. They also talk about how much better they can write now! But it is fun and really gives me a warm feeling to hear the conversation when they are arranging the table and assigning seats. It is a hoot!

Some of Liz’s decorations are really cute and such good ideas I think we will incorporate them this year.

Finger Stamp Place Cards
• Card stock
• Nontoxic stamp pads in brown, red, orange, and yellow
• Glue
• Googly eyes
• Paint markers

1. For each bird, fold a piece of card stock as shown (ours were roughly 3 by 4 inches). Set out nontoxic stamp pads in brown, red, orange, and yellow. Using your thumb or index finger, stamp rings of yellow, orange, and red, and a brown turkey body.
2. Glue googly eyes in place, then use paint markers to draw on a beak, snood, and feet and to write a guest's name below the bird.

For more crafts like this one, check out:

Indian Corn Napkin Rings
By: Amanda Formaro

What you'll need:
• Green construction paper
• Scissors
• Tissue paper: yellow, orange and burgundy
• White craft glue
• Pencil with an eraser

How to make it:
1. Cut construction paper vertically in strips about 1.5” wide. Each strip will yield two napkin holders.
2. Cut each strip in half to get 2 napkin holders.
3. Cut tissue paper into 1” squares.
4. Cover a 1” section of the construction paper strip with white craft glue.
5. Twist a square of yellow tissue paper around the pencil eraser and push down onto the glue. Remove pencil, leaving the tissue paper on the construction paper.
6. Repeat step number 5 with tissue paper, alternating orange and burgundy for every 2-3 yellow.
7. Cover entire strip of construction paper, leaving only ½” at the end without tissue paper.
8. Bend into a “ring” and glue together.
9. Let dry completely then carefully insert a napkin.

For more crafts like this one, check out:

Why not decorate the table with these festive crafts that the whole family will enjoy making as well as using in the future?

From all of us here at FAMILY Magazine we wish you a happy and joyous Thanksgiving.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Gifts to Go

With the holidays just around the corner, you’ve probably started making your shopping lists.

Today, Amy Bevins, Assistant Editor of Washington FAMILY Magazine, shared a few great ideas for this holiday season on the Moms Like Me segment on WUSA9.

Here are her choices for Gifts to Go,” items that are lightweight and inexpensive, making them perfect to mail, give in gift exchanges or use while your family is traveling. You can find many more toy ideas in the current issue of FAMILY Magazine. Go to our web site for a list of locations where you can pick up the magazine.

If you are looking for a stuffed toy, here are two great choices.

Normally you wouldn’t think of plastic water bottles as cuddly, but Fuzz That Wuzz stuffed animals from Mary Meyer Corporation are actually made from recycled plastic bottles. Swingzzz Monkey has more than 20 different Fuzz That Wuzz friends, including a moose, an elephant, a bear and a snowman.

Lubies, made by Rocket USA, are a wonderful combination of a soft, stuffed ball and a snuggly friend. So you can combine a little toss and catch with a sleepy time pal. There are over 20 Lubies available, including a flamingo, a panda, a shark and even a Thanksgiving turkey.

Here are three great things to keep kids busy while you are traveling.

YamSlam from Blue Orange Games is a fun, fast-paced game that combines a little Yatzee-type action with intriguing poker chip scoring for a great mix of luck and strategy. Best of all, the dice roll quietly in the game case and everything stores neatly, making it a perfect on-the-go game.

Gallison Mudpuppy makes wonderful magnetic figures for keeping kids entertained. Each one has several backgrounds and lots of outfits for imaginary play, all of which store in a tin box. Depending on your child’s interest, Mudpuppy makes sets from monsters and robots to fairies and mermaids.

Adams Cube by ThinkFun is a 6-in-one brain teaser puzzle cube. Best of all, the puzzle pieces store inside the cube, making it perfectly portable. It’s great for kids who love a challenge.

And if you need to wiggle, the JellyFlyer, by Noodlehead Fun can be tucked in a pocket, purse or backpack and pulled out wherever there room to play frisbee. Because it is made of soft silicone, it can be used indoors and it won’t hurt little fingers. Amy’s family loves things like this for long car trips. They pull them out at the rest stops and get everybody moving to shake out the wiggles.

For more great ideas, you can find Amy’s article “Gifts to Go” on the Washington FAMILY Magazine web site,

What suggestions to you have for some holiday “Gifts to Go?”

Monday, November 9, 2009

Nutrition and School Performance

As parents one of our major concerns is how well our children perform in school. Our worries often lead us to consult therapists, tutors, and other specialists. Good nutrition is another important, powerful tool to help our kids reach their potential. Studies show that certain types of fats in the diet might actually improve brain function.

Today, Judy Caplan, Registered Dietitian and author of the children’s book Gobey Gets Full – Good Nutrition in a Nutshell ( and Nutrition Editor for FAMILY Magazine, shared tips on Nutrition and School Performance during the FAMILY Magazine and Moms Like Me segment at 9AM on WUSA9 News Now.
Judy suggests:
Take a look at your child’s overall food preferences and assess the quality of fats in his/her diet. Some studies show that increasing healthy Omega 3 and monounsaturated fats in your child’s diet is good for brain function.
Why do we want to feed kids more fat?
Fats are important for brain function and hormone development, but not any type of fat. It needs to be healthy fat from Omega-3-fatty acids and monounsaturated fat. The problem is many children get too much of the wrong fats called trans or hydrogenated fats. Some researchers think this imbalance might play a role in decreased brain function.
What foods contain these healthy fats?
Monounsaturated fats or MUFA’S are found in olive oil, olives, sesame seeds, avocado and nuts like almonds, pistachios, and peanuts. Salmon, tuna, and sardines are high in Omega-3-fatty acids. Ground flaxseed is also high in Omega 3’s.
What is a hydrogenated fat and why should they be avoided?
Hydrogenated fats are solid at room temperature. Oils start out liquid. Food manufacturers shoot hydrogen into the oil to make it solid. Food companies rarely hydrogenate the healthy fats like olive oil and sesame oil because of expense and taste, but rather the cheaper and less healthy oils like corn oil and soybean oil. Eating too much trans fats and too little healthy fats can cause a ratio imbalance of the healthy and unhealthy fats and researchers think this discrepancy causes problems.
How does this translate into eating?
Kids need more nuts and natural nut butters, the kind with the oil on top (refrigerate after opening). If your school has a no nut policy, then serve those foods at home. Cook with olive oil; pack olives as a snack; dip veggies in hummus made with tahini or sesame paste; snack on guacamole and baked chips. Serve more fish – smoked salmon (nitrite free) on a whole wheat bagel with low fat cream cheese; grilled salmon, pan seared halibut, grilled shrimp, and other fatty fishes like tuna, though experts currently recommend limiting tuna to a few times a month due to elevated mercury levels.
What should be avoided?
Avoid anything with hydrogenated fats or partially hydrogenated fats. These fats are found in commercially fried foods like French fries, nuggets, and in commercially prepared products like frozen foods, cereals, candy and baked goods. It is also recommended to cut back on saturated vegetable fats like palm kernel oil as well as excess amounts of animal fat. Generally kids will benefit from a more plant based diet with lots of fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, healthy fats, moderate amounts of protein, and a little junk just to keep them happy!

For more articles and resources about “Nutrition and School Performance,” visit the FAMILY Magazine web site –

Monday, November 2, 2009

Work at Home Parents

Have you ever considered that President Barack Obama is a work-from-home dad?

In today’s economy many moms and dads are looking at work-from-home options so that they can still be home with the kids but also develop their career or maybe just bring in some extra income for the family.

President Obama is an extreme example, and most work-from-home parents are moms.

There are over 120 million women in the workforce. Over 18% have children under the age of 18 and work one or more days a week from home.

According to, an online job source for work-from-home workers there are over 33 million people working from home. has thousands of job postings in over 70 categories for online and work-from-home job seekers.

On the web site they list 111 job categories for those searching for a work-from-home opportunity. And by the way, Washington area entrepreneurs Christine Durst and Michael Haaren run this web site. has over 50 categories with all of their jobs are hand-screened telecommuting/work-at-home jobs

Having workers that are home based reduces overhead expenses, allows access to talented workers who may not be available locally, provides off-hours support and helps retain employees. Many companies are becoming fans of telecommuting.

FAMILY Magazine started as a home-based business and still has many home-based employees.

Work-from-Home Web Site Resources

Data on women in the workforce --

Here are some examples of traditional work-from-home jobs:

Virtual assistant -- $15 to $100 per hour

Small businesses hire virtual assistants to help when they can't justify a permanent employee. The company I use for technology support just hired a virtual assistant to take all his incoming calls while he is out working on his clients computers and networks.

The International Virtual Assistants Association was co-founded in the 1990’s by Christine Durst of, began with 28 members and has grown to more than 600, who charge from $15 per hour to more than $100 per hour.

Medical transcriptionist -- $20 per hour or more

Good transcriptionists are in very high demand. Expect initial earnings of less than $10 per hour, but some transcriptionists earn $20 or more per hour.

Translator -- $20.74 per hour

Home-based translators with hard-to-find language skills are not held back by geographic location. The site, has 21 categories of jobs and within the translator listing there are 15 companies searching for translators.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook 2008-09, which groups translators and interpreters, notes a projected employment increase of 24 percent over the 2006-to-2016 decade, much faster than the average for all occupations. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the mean annual wage for a translator is $20.74 per hour. Some industries have significantly higher wages for translators. It depends on the type of translation.

Web developer/designer -- $10 to $150 per hour

Of the more than 15,000 new monthly work-from-home job postings on, Web developers are in the greatest demand. There is a large range for income in this category. It seems to vary depending on your level of experience. $10 to $150 per hour.

Call center representative -- unknown

While some Web sites, such as, actually hire representatives, most use subcontractors. The pay may be by the minute rather than by the hour, so you may not be paid for time you spend waiting by the phone. It was very difficult to find a salary range for this. Most of the companies wanted to pre-screen you before you could find out what the salary range was.

Writer/editor -- $5-$20 per post, $50 per article

Writing jobs would include traditional writing as well as blogging. A list of blogging opportunities, for which the pay range is less than $5 per post to more than $20 per post, can be found at

Other Jobs –
Tech support specialist
Travel agent
Teacher or tutor

*****SCAM ALERT*****

There are so many work-from-home opportunities that it is hard to tell which ones are real and which ones are scams, cons and other ways to swindle people out of their money. Christine Durst of suggests watching for these positive indicators of "real" employment:

* The hirer is an established company.
* The ad includes the company name and does not have applicants reply to a blind e-mail address.
* Human resources personnel are available for questions.
* There is mention of information commonly associated with "real" employment (benefits, vacations, policies, etc.).
* There is an application and interview process, not simply an e-mailed offer.
* The employer can detail the job duties and expectations.
* References/work samples are requested.

FAMILY Magazine started as a home-based business and we have supported working from home moms for years. There are good businesses out there that need a workforce but don’t want or need to have the “brick and mortar” building to go along with it. Search carefully and you might find the perfect match.

Happy Parenting, Brenda

Monday, October 26, 2009

Nutritious Halloween Treats

With Halloween approaching it’s hard to avoid candy. It feels like it’s everywhere. For parents, it can be worrisome with fears like cavities and childhood obesity. But there are spooky treats out there that you can make with your kids and don’t have to be full of sugar and candy.

This morning on WUSA9, Peggy Fox and FAMILY Magazine’s Liz McConville made great treats for kids that are easy to make and delicious to eat. These are simple enough for your child to make them and nutritious enough that you don’t have to worry about all that sugar.

Cup of Worms

What you will need:

Chocolate pudding
Gummy worms
Cocoa power or hot chocolate mix
Chocolate sprinkles
Clear plastic cups

How to make:

1. Make the chocolate pudding (already made- full recipe on and let it cool in the refrigerator for a few hours.
2. Next put individual portions into the clear plastic cups. Don’t worry about smoothing out the top, it should look rough.
3. Sprinkle cocoa powder and sprinkles on top of each cup.
4. Put a few gummy worms in the cup.
5. Lastly place in the refrigerator until ready to eat.

Vampire Fangs in Blood

What you need:

8 large Red Delicious Apples,
1/4 cup of lemon juice,
1 tbsp. Of sugar,
1 10 oz. Of strawberry or cherry sauce.

How to make:

1. Wash, peel and core the apples.
2. Cut each apple into 8 pieces.
3. Dip the cut apples in lemon juice to prevent them from turning brown.
4. Cut the apples into long narrow triangles and redip them in the lemon juice and lightly sprinkle them with sugar.
5. Arrange the fangs in a bowl with the sauce in the middle.
6. Make sure to sprinkle some of the “blood” on them.

Spider Pretzels

What you need:

2 round crackers
2 teaspoons of smooth peanut butter
8 small pretzel sticks
2 raisins

How to make:

1. Place the peanut butter between the two crackers and insert the pretzel sticks into the filling so they look like legs.
2. Take a little bit of peanut butter and place two eyes on the top of the cracker.

For more crafts and recipes, make sure to check out for other great ideas.

Do you have any other ideas or recipes you would like to share? Please send them along. Liz might even use one of your recipes in the FAMILY Magazine weekly eNewsletter!

Happy Parenting, Brenda

Monday, October 19, 2009

Artist Trading Cards

If you are a mom, dad, or grandparent, you probably have kid art work all over your refrigerator, on your walls and tucked in boxes in your closet. But what else can you do to celebrate the art your kids create?

Today is on the Mom Like Me segment on WUSA9 Amy Bevins, Assistant Editor of Washington FAMILY Magazine, shared information about Artist Trading Cards, a space-saving way to enjoy kid art.

So what are Artist Trading Cards?

According to Amy, Artist Trading Cards are pocket-sized works of art intended to be traded or swapped like baseball or Pokémon cards. Cheryl Miehl, art teacher at the Congressional Schools of Virginia has a wonderful article about them in this month’s FAMILY Magazine. Pick one up or check it out online at

What makes Artist Trading Cards so unique?

Amy points out that the only “rules” to Artist Trading Cards are the size (2.5 x 3.5 inches) and that they are only traded, never bought or sold. Typically most have a label on the back with the artist’s name and the name of the artwork.

They can be made out of anything. Truly, this is a project where imagination is the only limitation. It is a good idea to use a heavy paper like cardstock to make the cards more durable. Then kids can use paint, crayons, markers, glitter, string, tidbits and scraps. Whatever they want.

Once you’ve made them, then what?

Then it is time to trade them. They can be traded with friends, other artists, pen pals, grandparents. Setting up a swap meet is a great scout troop or neighborhood project. Cheryl also mentions several online sites that can help you find other kids to trade with around the globe. It’s a great idea to connect kids around the world with art. Or maybe connect kids with cousins or grandparents that live far away. There are so many options for how to swap these cards. And because they are so small, they can be kept in a binder like baseball cards or even in a changing collage photo frame so that kids can showcase new ones as they get or create them.

You can find Chrely Miehl’s article and more great craft ideas on the FAMILY Magazine web site,

What other great ideas to you have for showcasing your children’s art?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Your child’s artwork

How do you display your child’s art? Do you put it on the refrigerator or on the walls? I have a neighbor that hangs it all over the walls of her garage. It looks so neat when you pull into the garage. I have several of my favorite art pieces that hand on the wall in my office.

We are going to be talking about a really cute new idea on how to take advantage of your child’s artwork on the WUSA 9 News Now on Monday morning. Please tune in and then join in the conversation inside the Washington FAMILY Magazine group on on Monday morning.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Boost Your Family’s Immunity

Flu season is fast approaching. This year parents are more concerned than usual due to the swine flu’s epidemic and its possible hard-hitting effect on young children. We all want to protect ourselves and our children. So how can we boost our family’s immunity and our body’s ability to resist disease?
Today, Judy Caplan, Registered Dietitian, Nutrition Editor for FAMILY Magazine and author of the children’s book Gobey Gets Full – Good Nutrition in a Nutshell (, shared tips on how to Boost Your Family’s Immunity during the Moms Like Me segment on WUSA9.
Judy suggests:
While there is no magic bullet to prevent coming down with a virus, you can reduce your chances of getting sick by improving the overall health of your body. Take a three pronged approach to building resistance:
· Get plenty of rest
· Exercise regularly
· And on the nutrition side, eat plenty of vegetables and foods high in vitamin A

Foods high in vitamin A help fight infections:

Studies show that Vitamin A and its metabolites play a role in immunity to infectious disease by keeping mucosal tissue healthy. Viruses often enter the body through mucus membranes. However this does not mean you should go out and start taking vitamin A supplements. Vitamin A supplements in large doses can cause liver toxicity. So instead of supplements, increase foods that are high in vitamin A.

Vitamin A rich foods:
In the vegetable group broccoli, carrots (either cooked or raw), kale, and spinach are very high in Vitamin A. Baked yams are also a good source. In the fruit department, apricots, cantaloupe, papaya, avocado and tomatoes are the best sources for Vitamin A. Yes avocados and tomatoes are technically fruits!

How to work Vitamin A rich veggies into your diet on a daily basis:
Kids like dipping, so steam some broccoli and have them dip it in ranch dressing. Carrots are great in soups (so is broccoli), grated in salads, and baked in muffins and breads. You can make a delicious and healthy spinach and artichoke dip with low fat cheese, served hot with whole grain crackers. (We can post some recipes on the web site) Baked yams are also a hit with kids.
How to work in Vitamin A rich fruits into your diet on a daily basis:
Apricot jam can be spread on whole grain toast with natural peanut butter or added to plain yogurt. Dried apricots and papaya make a great sweet snack. But just eat a few as they are high in calories. Avocados are great as toppings on sandwiches, salads, and beans. Guacamole makes a great snack with baked whole grain chips.

For more articles and resources about how to “Boost Your Family’s Immunity,” visit the Washington FAMILY Magazine web site –

Monday, October 5, 2009

Building Stronger Bubbles (and learning about them)

Do you ever look for activities to do with your kids that will not only be fun but also educational?

On this Monday’s segment on WUSA9 News Now, I showed Peggy Fox and the viewers a nifty trick with bubbles. We made stronger bubbles that we could bounce and play with.

But before I forget, here is a reminder about the Private School and Enrichment FAIR that will be taking place next Saturday.

Saturday, October 10th 11:00 am- 4 pm
NEWSEUM in Washington DC
555 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Enter at the 6th Street Entrance
FREE Admission
Hands-on Science Activities
Door Prizes

If you have been thinking about going to the Newseum but thought it was a bit pricy, this is a terrific opportunity for you. We will be giving out discount tickets to the Newseum at the FAIR. The FAIR is free and you don’t have to go through the Newseum to get to it. You enter on the 6th Street entrance. And when you get there, just ask for your discounted tickets to the Newseum. Be sure to let the kids do some of the hands-on activities we will be doing at the FAIR. There will be door prizes and seminars on topics of interest to moms and dads.

Active, Healthy Lifestyles for Kids (Presented by Richard Romero)
Preparing Kids for Success in School (Presented by Monica Gourovitch, PhD)
Family Wills, Trusts & Selecting a Guardian (Presented by Carrie Tipton, Esq.)
Panel Discussion -- Meet the Directors
School Admissions Questions and How to Choose a School
-----Bekah Atkinson, The Siena School
-----Leigh Ann Cahill, Independent School Options
-----Bobby Edwards, McLean School of Maryland
-----Susan Matilla-Goin, National Cathedral School
-----Theodra Washington, Metropolitan Educational Consulting Group
-----Karen Weinberger, Congressional School of Virginia
Hands-On Science Activities with Your Child & Discussion
and Resources for Science at Home (Presented by the Children's Science Center)
Special Needs Within Private Schools (Presented by Sally Neuberger, LCSW)
The Bully Prevention Parenting Seminar (Presented by Dr. Marc Grande, Psy.D.)

Special Prizes:
· Family Weekend Getaway for four to Massanutten Resort
(includes accommodations and indoor water park tickets)
· $500 School Tuition
(to the private school of your choice)
· Shred Sled Skateboard
· Girl Gourmet Cupcake Maker
· DVD’s
· Books
· … and more

Click Here for all the information on the fair.

Now, about those strong bubbles. First, what is a bubble?

According to Wikipedia:
A soap bubble is a very thin film of soapy water that forms a sphere with an iridescent surface. Soap bubbles usually last for only a few moments before bursting, either on their own or on contact with another object. Before they pop on their own, the bubble itself usually starts to thin, then it reaches a point where it can thin out no more and it pops. They are often used for children's enjoyment, but their usage in artistic performances shows that they can also be fascinating for adults. Soap bubbles can help solving complex mathematical problems of space, as they will always find the smallest surface area between points or edges, for example.

Surface tension causes the layer of soap to act as an elastic sheet with the water forming the bubble. Liquids have surface tension and it draws them together. Have you ever seen 2 drops of mercury get close to each other and then suddenly become one drop? That is surface tension. Another example easy for children to see is when rain drops are running down the window. When they get close to another rain drop they join together and become a larger rain drop.

This is all a part of the laws of physics.

If you just let a bubble sit on the table or your hand, it will eventually pop because the water evaporates and the surface tension is too much as the bubble contracts. You can freeze bubbles but you have to have the temperature at -15 degrees Celsius. (5 degrees F).

A Chicago company called Chemtoy began selling bubble solution in the 1940s, and they have captivated children ever since. According to one industry estimate, retailers sell around 200 million bottles annually, perhaps more than any other toy.

What we did this morning was add glycerin to our soap and water mixture. This makes the bubble stronger. Then we tested our bubbles.

(FYI the trick to making the solution produce really strong bubbles is to let it sit at least overnight before you start using it.)

If you try to catch a bubble with your bare hand, you will most likely pop it because of the dirt and oil on your hand breaks the surface tension of the soap and water bubble. If you put on a soft fabric glove, you can catch the “strong” bubbles and bounce them around. Or you can just hold one in your hand until it evaporates and pops. It is great fun. Here is the recipe we used for our strong bubble mixture.

Strong Bubble Ingredients:

Cup of distilled or bottled water

Tablespoon of dish soap

Teaspoon of Glycerin

Bubble wand or straw

Be sure to let it sit for 24 hours. Then you can blow and bounce to your heart’s content.

Do you have any activities that are fun and relate to science? I would love to see them. Send them along and we will share them with other parents.

Happy Parenting,

P.S. Remember – we want to see you next Saturday at the Newseum for the Private School & Enrichment FAIR.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Parent Teacher Conferences

It’s hard to believe that so much of the first quarter of this new school year is already behind us. And that means Parent Teacher Conferences are just around the corner. These conferences can sometimes be so daunting. How do you make this easier?

Today, Amy Bevins, Assistant Editor of Washington FAMILY Magazine and an educator, shared Parent Teacher Conference suggestions during the Moms Like Me segment on WUSA9.

Amy suggests:

First, look at the goal of the conference. It’s to open communication with the teacher. You’re not going to be able to address in-depth issues in 15 minutes. It is more of a springboard to get communication rolling. In fact, in our family, we don’t wait until the end of the quarter to meet with our kids’ teachers. We always schedule a conference within the first few weeks of school so that we’ve already interfaced with the teacher from the get-go.

Before the conference:
Take some time to think through anything you want to share with the teacher or questions you may have and jot them down. Conferences go quickly and this way you won’t forget something important, especially if there are concerns or large issues you need to discuss. Also, ask your child if there is anything he wants you to talk about. Sometimes children have questions that are hard for them to bring directly to the teacher.

When you’re actually in the room meeting with the teacher:
Be on time and end on time. It is so tempting to keep talking, but often teachers have conferences scheduled back-to-back. Again, this meeting is hopefully the start of an on-going conversation. If you can’t cover everything, introduce your main points and set up another meeting for a later date.

You will have questions and the teacher will have information to share. Take turns being a good listener and a concise speaker, which can be very hard when you are talking about your child.

During the meeting, write down action items, decisions or questions to discuss further. At the end of the meeting, review those items so that you and the teacher are both working on the same goals.

After the conference:
If you have anything to put into action or follow up on, get started right away. A post conference email is always a good idea, both to thank the teacher for her time and to clarify goals, plans and questions.

Most importantly, keep in touch with the teacher throughout the year. You are not restricted to the one or two conferences a year. Your child’s education should be a partnership between you and the teacher. Research shows that children whose parents are involved in their education are more successful at school. So ask what you can do at home and be involved in your child’s school.

Here are some lists that might help.

Things to remember:
What is the Goal of the Conference?
Communication is Key.
Consider Scheduling Early in the Year

Prepare for Conference
Think through questions.
Write them down.
Ask your child for questions.

Day of Conference Tips
Be on time.
Introduce your main points.
If needed, set up another.
Be a good listener.
Take notes.
Review notes at the end.

After the conference?
Take action.
A post conference email.
Keep in touch with the teacher.
Ask what you can do at home.
Be involved in your child’s school.

For more articles and resources about “Parent Teacher Conferences,” visit the Washington FAMILY Magazine web site -

Do you have some Parent-Teacher Conference tips that you use? Please let us know and we can share with other parents.

Happy Parenting,

Article Links -- to some interesting articles

Getting Ready for the New School Year

Vision and Reading Skills

Parental Involvement

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Are you worried about your children catching the H1N1 flu?

Are you worried about your children catching the H1N1 flu? We are going to be talking about how to help our kids not catch the flu on WUSA9 on Monday morning. It is something to be concerned about.

Now that kids are back in school, parents are understandably leery about recent serious health concerns. Recently the CDC reported 436 deaths and 6,506 hospitalizations nationwide associated with H1N1 flu. No one knows what this school year has in store, so what must parents do to make sure their child stays safe from the H1N1 Flu?

What can parents do to protect their children?

First it is important to note that based on its wide spread, the World Health Organization has declared the 2009 outbreak of the new H1N1 flu a global pandemic. And the best approach we can take with our children is to help them avoid infection. If you or your children develop symptoms of the H1N1 or any flu, seek prompt medical attention to give yourself the best chance of antiviral drugs being effective.
H1N1 flu symptoms in humans are similar to those of infection with other flu strains and they include:
· Fever
· Cough
· Sore throat
· Body aches
· Headache
· Chills
· Fatigue
· Diarrhea
· Vomiting
And the CDC notes that H1N1 flu symptoms develop three to five days after you're exposed to the virus and continue for about eight days. You are contagious starting one day before you get sick and continuing until you've recovered. This means that it is imperative for parents to keep children home and away from others as soon as they first become ill.
What are some preventative tips for parents.

The best way that parents can protect their children from this outbreak is with prevention. And the best prevention with any infection is to wash hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds (parents should tell children to wash long enough to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice). Parents should teach kids to wash their hands throughout the day. And parents can keep anti-bacterial pumps accessible. Explain what the pumps are and when it's appropriate to use them.

Also instruct children to cough and sneeze into a tissue. (If a tissue is used, throw the tissue away immediately). Remind children not to touch their eyes, nose and mouth with their hands. Germs are spread when a child touches something that is contaminated and then touches her or his eyes, nose or mouth. Plus remind children that sharing food and drink will also spread germs.
Additionally stay at least six feet away from people who are sick. And stay home from school if sick, and stay away from sick people until they are better.
The CDC’s website has plenty of additional information for parents and caregivers that are concerned about this newest health threat. Just follow the link on

Flu Symptoms
· Fever
· Cough
· Sore throat
· Body aches
· Headache
· Chills
· Fatigue
· Diarrhea

Tips for Kids to Prevent the Flu
· Wash hands for 20 seconds
· (Teach kids to sing “Happy Birthday” twice when washing hands)
· Use anti-bacterial gels
· Contain your cough or sneeze
· Throw the tissue in the trash
· Do not share food or drink
· Stay 6 feet away
· Stay home when sick

And a quick reminder that our next Moms MEET UP will be in Silver Spring at Color Me Mine on this Wednesday, September 16, at 11 AM. You find details on inside the Moms Do Lunch Group. Hope to see you there.


Monday, August 31, 2009

Back to School Crafts

It’s that time of the year again, back-to-school time. Parents all over the area are getting their kids ready with clothes, books and supplies. This can be a crazy time for both parents and children. To ease children back into school why not make their supplies personal and fun?

This morning on WUSA9 Peggy Fox and I talked about how to make personalized pencil cases and book covers is Liz McConville, Resource Editor of Washington FAMILY Magazine.

Today we talked about two easy crafts that parents can do with their kids to get them excited about the coming year.

First, we have pencil cases to decorate. What you will need are pencil cases, foam letter stickers and scrapbook stickers. There is a vast selection at any craft store.

The second craft we have are book covers. Now you can go out and buy book covers for your kids, however some schools don’t accept the stretchy kind of cover. You can also make these right at home using paper bags from the grocery stores, which would be a great green alternative. You will need a pair of scissors, tape, any kind of decorations, along with a paper grocery bag.

Cut grocery bag at seams so it is one big piece of paper. Lay down your book on the brown paper. Allow for 2 1/2 inches more at the top & bottom of book. Open the book. Place the inside front cover 2-3 inches from the edge of the paper. Fold over cover and close your book, pull it tight. Cut other side 2-3 inches from the book. Open the book leaving the back cover down. Fold the paper into the back cover and close the book.

Crease the edges around the book. Crease where the spine of the book is and bend the paper down where the edge of the book is. Place your scissors at the edges of the spine until the blade touches the edge of the book. Bend up the flap and cut it off. Bend the remaining flaps out and mark where you are going to fold and tape. Cut off inside extra flap. Open the front cover. The top and bottom flaps get folded down while the left flaps get taped on top. Tape only one side at a time. Repeat the final step with the back cover.

Back-to-School is a great time for fresh beginnings and these simple crafts will help you and your child get organized and ready for a happy and successful school year!

Happy Parenting, Brenda

Monday, August 24, 2009

Preparing your child for the first day of kindergarten

The first day of school can be stressful for kids and their parents. The first day of kindergarten is can be more stressful. Many parents prepare their child academically but sometimes we can forget to teach them the really simple things that can make the difference between a great first day and a disaster. Right now is a great time to make these preparations.

This morning on WUSA9 Peggy Fox and I talked about how we can prepare our kindergarteners for the first day of school.

I often think the first day of a child’s academic career is harder on mom that it is on the child. It certainly was for me.

The best way to make it easier on you is to be prepared. Much of your anxiety is due to the fact that your child is no longer under your wing. Being prepared will relieve your fears.

Talk to other moms – we have all be there. We understand.

Get involved with the school -- this will also help you feel like you are still attached and part of your child’s academic adventure.

Most children just starting kindergarten have some the same fears. We think they are going to be concerned about the academics but mostly they are worried about the simply, everyday activities.

In the August issue of FAMILY Magazine, Paula Court tells us how she spoke with preschoolers and found that they had some pretty standard fears. Here is Paula’s list of the “Top Preschooler Questions.”

How Will I Get to School?
How Do I Find My Classroom?
What If I Have to Go to the Restroom?
What Will Lunchtime Be Like?
How Will I Get Home After School?

Paula’s Tip for Moms
Remember- children watch you carefully and listen to everything you say, so if you're worried or apprehensive about anything concerning kindergarten-don't show it. If this is your first child to go to school, don’t cry in front of your child. That might be really hard, but it will help them a great deal.

My Own Experience

I can remember every first day of school for my four children. Each day was different just like each of my children are unique. When my oldest went off to kindergarten for the first time, I was really scared. This was my first child and I did not know what to do. She was pretty confident and marched right into the classroom without much hesitation at all. She walked up to where the other kindergarteners where sitting in a circle and the teacher was reading a book. She sat down and started listening.

The teacher said hello to her and smiled at me. I knew that was my cue to leave. I turned around and walked out of the classroom. And, then I squeezed in right behind the door and peeked into the room. My daughter had her back to me and could not see me but I could see her.

I cried like a baby. It was so silly. I was standing behind a door peeking through the crack, crying. If anyone had walked past me they surely would have laughed. After a few minutes I became confident that she was going to survive without me so I went out to my car. I sat in the parking lot and cried some more.

I still cry on the first day of school. I even cried when my kids went off to college. There is just something so touching to me about starting that journey and beginning a new year of school. Every year you give your children a bit more independence and they move closer and closer to being separate from you. You loose some things but you gain others. You are proud and at the same time sad to see them grow up.

Tell us a little about your experiences, fears and how you feel about your little ones going off to school. We can all share the experience together.

Happy Parenting, Brenda

Monday, August 10, 2009

Pool Safety

Hot summer days are the perfect time to cool off at the pool. FAMILY Magazine has a great list of area water parks and spraygrounds. You can find it on this link.

But with drowning the second leading cause of accidental death among children ages one to fourteen, just how safe is summer fun in the water?

Today Amy Bevins, Assistant Editor of Washington FAMILY Magazine, shared some pool safety tips during WUSA9’s DC Moms Like Me segment.

Most of us know about having locked fences around pools and completely removing pool and hot tub covers so kids don’t become trapped under them. But what else can you do to keep your kids safe?

Amy offers a number of other measures that make summer even safer.

Vigilance is the number one way to keep your kids safe. Most young children who drown in pools or hot tubs have been out of sight for less than five minutes. It can’t be said often enough, you have to watch your kids around water.

With infants and toddlers, use “touch supervision” meaning you are always within an arm’s length.

If a babysitter takes your child to the pool, make sure he or she knows about pool safety and the need for constant supervision.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to have an in ground pool to practice pool safety. Children can drown in as little as one inch of water. So think about inflatable and baby pools. Either fence or drain them when you are not using them.

With any size pool or hot tub, keep a phone nearby so you don’t leave your child unsupervised while running inside to answer it and so it’s right there for emergencies. Also keep a list of emergency phone numbers near the pool or hot tub.

What if you are lucky enough to have a pool at home? Are there any extra safety measures?

Amy notes:

Make sure toys are out of the pool after playtime to lessen the chance of a child falling in while reaching for a toy.

Keep chairs and tables away from the pool fence so that kids can’t climb the fence to get in to the pool.

And if your child is missing, always check the pool first. Every second counts!

Recently, there has been a lot in the news about the safety of pool and hot tub drains.
Because of the danger of kids being trapped underwater by the pool drain suction, federal legislation, known as The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act, was enacted to help ensure all public pools and spas have safety-compliant drain covers and anti-entrapment systems. The safety act was passed into law in December of 2007 and is named for a 7 year old girl who died in 2002 after being trapped underwater by the powerful suction of a hot tub drain.
Amy notes that it is critical to teach your kids to stay away from pool and hot tub drains.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the pressure on some pool drains can be as strong as 300 pounds per square inch.

To keep safe, kids should tie back long hair, remove jewelry, make sure their arms, legs and heads stay clear of the drains and not sit on drains. This goes for public as well as private pools and hot tubs.

If you do have a pool or hot tub, clearly label the circuit breaker in case it needs to be turned off in an emergency.

And remember, these tips apply to any pool from community pools to hot tubs in the backyard. Even if you don’t own a pool, your child may play with kids who do or their camp or daycare may take them to the pool. Be sure to teach them about the dangers of pool drains and pool safety.

Also be sure to visit Washington FAMILY Magazine’s website,, for a list of top local pools and spraygrounds where you and your family can cool off this summer. Know of a great place to get wet that isn’t listed, let us know and we’ll add it to our ever-growing list.

So let’s get this conversation going. What do you do to ensure your kids are safe at the pool?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Firefly Fun and Craft

There’s nothing that says a summer night like the blinking lights of fireflies in the darkness. When people think of summertime activities they did as children, odds are they caught lightning bugs or fireflies. This morning on WUSA9 News Now Peggy Fox and Liz McConville (our Resource Editor) talked about fireflies and how much fun it is to catch them. Peggy’s children were on to show how to make a firefly jar.

What are fireflies?

Something that people may not know is that fireflies are actually beetles. There are about 2,000 species of fireflies in the world and tend to live in a variety of warm and mostly humid environments. However they can be found in drier areas but they tend to be found around damp areas.

What makes fireflies glow?

They have special organs under their abdomens. When the fireflies take in oxygen inside special cells, it combines with a substance called luciferin that produces the light with almost no heat. This light is used mostly to attract mates but can also be used to communicate with each other, defend territory and warn predators.

What’s the best way to catch a firefly?

Fireflies can be found during summer months in fields or forests or even in your yard. When you want to catch them, make sure to turn off your exterior house lights since that can distract them. You can use a flashlight to mimic their light patterns. Use a net if you have one, you can catch them in your hands also but be very careful since fireflies are very fragile.

What we’re making today are the containers you put the fireflies in. It can be any kind of container but a clear plastic or glass jar lets you see what you catch. You can decorate your jar with paint pens, stickers and all sorts of art supplies.

Make sure the top of the jar is well ventilated and place a damp paper towel inside the jar to keep the air humid. This way, they will be able to breathe and won’t dry out. Once caught, don’t keep them for longer than two days and let them go at night. Treat the fireflies carefully, their numbers are dwindling due to various causes like light pollution.

To find out more about fireflies check out: or

Hope you are having a great summer. If you have other summer activities that are fun for kids, send them along. We will share them with other moms.

Happy Parenting, Brenda

Monday, July 20, 2009

Best Playgrounds and Playground Safety

Now is the time of year when we are all taking advantage of the wonderful recreational facilities that we have in the Washington Region including some great parks for kids.

However, according to the National Program for Playground Safety, each year over 205,000 preschool and elementary children receive emergency department care for injuries that occur in parks.

Where are the great parks?

Every year in our Best for Families survey we ask parents where their favorite park or playground is. Our Best for Families is an annual survey of parents about resources in the Washington area and it appears in our July magazine. As you can imagine, it is EXTREMELY popular.

This year there were over 4,000 nominees in our Best for Families Survey. There were many, many playgrounds and parks nominated but the top three are favorites of mine. Here is a link to the Best for Families Winner Page. You can also find detailed descriptions of many of these parks inside the FAMILY Magazine WEB EXTRAS (here is the link). The number one playground or park in the Best for Families survey was Clemyjontri Park in McLean. Here is some information about Clemyjontri as well as the next two most favorite playgrounds.

Clemyjontri Park
6317 Georgetown Pike
McLean, Virginia 22101
Features a unique playground where children of all abilities can play side-by-side. It is a playground where every child is welcome. Children who use wheelchairs, walkers or braces, or who have sensory or developmental disabilities, can have a parallel playground experience. At Clemyjontri ramps connect structures, swings have high backs, arm rests and special safety features, rubber surfacing allows wheelchairs to roll easily, lowered monkey bars provide easy access, equipment is designed to be sensory rich so all children can participate with peers, & wider openings allows easy access to play structures. Other features include a carousel and a picnic pavilion. The entrance road leads to an 81-space parking area and a drop-off zone for vehicles whose passengers need close access. Future development will include other amenities in the surrounding 10 acres of space.

Clemyjontri is located on Georgetown Pike in McLean. It was opened in 2006 with funding donated by Mrs. Adele Lebowitz who envisioned an oasis for youngsters – especially those with physical, sensory or developmental disabilities. The name “CLEMYJONTRI” is derived from the four Lebowitz children’s names.

Cabin John Regional Park
7400 Tuckerman Lane
Rockville, MD 20852
(301) 299-0024
Huge park with lots of climbing structures, slides, mazes, play houses, swings, Cinderella's pumpkin carriage, airplane, and cars. Other features include miniature train, snack bar, rest rooms, hiking trails, picnic areas, indoor/outdoor tennis courts, ice skating rink, Locust Grove Nature Center, the Cabin John Amphitheatre and lighted athletic fields. Plenty of shade. During the summer months, evening concerts are offered to the public free of charge.

The park has --
* 1 Baseball Field (lighted)
* 5 softball Fields (one lighted)
* 4 Tennis Practice Walls (lighted)
* 9 Tennis Courts (lighted)
* Pee-Wee Soccer Field
* 4 Single Wall Handball Courts
* 1 Volley Court

Burke Lake Park
7315 Ox Road,
Fairfax Station, VA
A 218-acre lake with fishing, boating, rowboat rental, camping, a miniature train, a carousel, outdoor volleyball courts, open fields, an 18-hole par 3 golf course, clubhouse with snack bar and driving range, disk golf, horse shoe pits, an ice cream parlor, picnic areas with grills, 3 playgrounds, trails, amphitheater, and a brand new miniature golf course. Swimming and windsurfing are prohibited.

For a list with pictures of area parks from our resource editor, Liz McConville’s list of area parks and playgrounds CLICK HERE. (

For the Best for Families survey results, CLICK HERE.

National Program for Playground Safety says that each year over 205,000 preschool and elementary children receive emergency department care for injuries that occur on playground equipment.

* 76% of the injuries happened on public playground equipment
* 23% occurred on home playground equipment

15% of these injuries were classified as severe and 49% were injuries to the head or face.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in a recent study of U.S. hospital emergency rooms, the majority of playground accidents (79%) resulted from falls from equipment. has a great article about playground safety and what you can do to make sure the playground you go to is a safe place for your children. Here are some excerpts from their article.

The most important factors in evaluating the safety of any playground are surface, design and spacing, and equipment inspection and maintenance.


A proper playground surface is one of the most important factors in reducing injuries — and the severity of injuries — that occur when kids fall from equipment. The surface under the playground equipment should be soft enough and thick enough to soften the impact of a child's fall.

Here are some things to consider:

* Concrete, asphalt, and blacktop are unsafe and unacceptable. Grass, soil, and packed-earth surfaces are also unsafe because weather and wear can reduce their capacities to cushion a child's fall.
* The playground surface should be free of standing water and debris that could cause kids to trip and fall, such as rocks, tree stumps, and tree roots.
* There should be no dangerous materials, like broken glass or twisted metal.
* The surfaces may be loosely filled with materials like wood chips, mulch, sand, pea gravel, or shredded rubber.
* Surfacing mats made of safety-tested rubber or rubber-like materials are also safe.
* Rubber mats and wood chips allow the best access for people in wheelchairs.
* Loose-fill surface materials 12 inches deep should be used for equipment up to 8 feet high. The material should not be packed down because this will reduce any cushioning effect.
* No surfacing materials are considered safe if the combined height of playground and the child (standing on the highest platform) is higher than 12 feet.
* The cushioned surface should extend at least 6 feet past the equipment. Additional coverage may be needed, depending on how high a slide is or how long a swing is.
* If there is loose-fill over a hard surface (like asphalt or concrete), there should be 3-6 inches of loose-fill like gravel, a layer of geo-textile cloth, a layer of loose-fill surfacing material, and then impact mats under the playground equipment.

Keep in mind that even proper surfacing can't prevent all injuries. Also, the greater the height of the equipment, the more likely kids are to get injured if they fall from it.

Design and Spacing

Playground equipment should be designed for three different age groups: infants and toddlers under 2, 2- to 5-year-olds (preschoolers), and 5- to 12-year-olds (school-age kids).

In the safest playgrounds, play areas for younger children are separated from those meant for older kids and signs clearly designate each area to prevent confusion.

Younger children should not play on equipment designed for older kids because the equipment sizes and proportions won't be right for small kids, and this can lead to injury. Likewise, older kids shouldn't play on equipment designed for younger ones. Smaller equipment and spaces can cause problems for bigger kids.

Maintenance and Inspection

Whether your kids play on a home or public playground, it's important for you to take a general look at the equipment to make sure that it is clean and well maintained.

Check for objects (like hardware, S-shaped hooks, bolts, and sharp or unfinished edges) that stick out on equipment and could cut a child or cause clothing to become entangled.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Blog Endorsements

Do you read blog reviews of products and then buy the product? Recently I came across an article about the liability parenting blogs may have when it comes to product endorsements. I guess I had not given any thought to the importance of these endorsements. Have you ever purchased an item because you read a blog about it?Have you ever considered blogging about a product? I know some moms who have done this. There is even a web site where you can sign up to become involved in word-of-mouth marketing. Business Week Magazine recently ran an article describing how companies can to pitch to mommy bloggers.Apparently there is a regulatory review process underway by the Federal Trade Commission to determine whether reviews by bloggers may be in violation of good business practices. Maria Bailey of BSM Media says that moms spend $2.1 trillion annually and that this is expected to go up to $3 trillion by 2012. Her data states that 80 percent of moms buy a product at the recommendation of another mother and 87 percent of mothers read blogs.Do you think this is true? Anyone have an idea of how we can verify this data?Marketing to moms through blogs appears to be big business! Brenda

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Summer Fun Ideas

With summer in full swing, you might be asking yourself, “What can I do with the kids today?”

Today Amy Bevins, Assistant Editor for Washington FAMILY Magazine, was on WUSA9 to share some ideas for places to go and things to do with your kids this summer.

Here are a few of her favorites?

This year, money is on everyone’s mind, so why not take the kids to see where money comes from. At the Bureau of Printing and Engraving, kids can see money being printed, stacked, cut and examined for defects.

And while you are in DC, be sure to check out the National Aquarium. It is tucked in the bottom of the Commerce Building and is home to over 200 different species including alligators, piranha and sharks. Her kids love exploring all it has to offer.

Looking for suggestions of things to do if you are looking to keep costs down this summer? There are so many low-cost or no-cost options in this area.

Amy suggests spending the summer going on a playground hunt. Whether you search out neighborhood parks, mall play places or regional playgrounds, involve the whole family in seeing how many new play places you can find. Try packing a picnic lunch once a week and having a playground adventure. You can even set up a rating scale for the playgrounds you visit and vote for your family favorites at the end of the summer.

Do you have kids fascinated by history, science or nature?

Here in the DC Metro area we have nineteen National Parks and Monuments that offer kids ages 6-14 the opportunity to earn a Junior Ranger Badge. At places like the C&O Canal, Manassas Battlefields, Great Falls National Park and the Korean War Memorial kids complete activities, games and projects that teach them more about the park or monument so they really get an in depth knowledge about the park.

If your kids are in to science or dinosaurs or just spending the day in the outdoors, they might love hunting for prehistoric sharks’ teeth. Amy’s family found dozens of sharks’ teeth at Purse State Park in Maryland. Both there and at the more well-known Calvert Cliffs, you can find sharks teeth and ray plates along the shore that are millions of years old.

If your kids are in to sports, we’re so lucky to have several options in this area. We have three minor league baseball teams in the Metro area where you can get all of the enjoyment of a ball game with a reduced price tag. We are also home to the Washington Glory, a women’s fast pitch softball team and Washington Freedom, the new professional women’s soccer team.

And what if, even with all these great things to do, your kids still hit you with the classic, “I’m bored!”

Amy suggests, “Let them be bored.” Set out a few puzzles, craft supplies or books and let them learn to entertain themselves. They may even surprise themselves with the creative things they come up with.

You can find more summer things to do and places to go on the Washington FAMILY Magazine web site Amy’s article, “50 Days of Summer Fun,” lists places to go and things to do.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Easy Patriotic Kids’ Crafts

Patriotic crafts was the subject this morning on WUSA9 News Now. Liz McConville of FAMILY Magazine demonstrated a couple fo great ideas if you want to stay away from live fireworks this year.

When people think of Independence Day they usually think of fireworks. cookouts and parades. But you can get your children involved in the day’s festivities without the safety issues of live fireworks.

Here are two easy patriotic kids’ crafts that the whole family can enjoy.

Star-Spangled Wavers
The first craft is to make star-spangled wavers. Just in case you don’t know what these are they are essentially batons with streamers. All you need are five items: scissors, tacky glue, a 3/8 inch dowel, and red, white and blue felt and ribbons.

First cut a pair of six-inch stars from the felt. Then make two smaller stars, each slightly smaller than the other, to place on top of your bigger star. Make sure to use different colors for each star. Place the dowel between the two larger stars and glue the stars around the dowel. Then you can glue the smaller stars on top of the bigger one. Make sure to let the glue dry and then you can tie the ribbon around the dowel. Now you have a fun star-spangled waver.

4th of July Shaker
The second craft is to make your own 4th of July shaker. All you need is an empty toilet paper tube, tissue paper, uncooked beans, scissors, glue, and two aluminum-baking cups to cap off the end. Another optional item you could use would be glitter to make it pretty.

First glue an aluminum-baking cup to one end of the toilet paper tube. Pour a handful of beans into the tube. Then glue your other aluminum baking cut to the other end of the tube. Then you can decorate your tube with the tissue paper and glitter. Now shake away.

Here area a cou;le more of crafts from Denise Morrison Yearian, a regular contributor to our magazine.

Items needed: Terracotta planter; red, white and blue non-toxic acrylic paint; paintbrushes; ruler; pencil; white star stickers; potting soil; plant; small American flag.

Paint the top rim of the planter blue and the lower portion white. Let it dry. Give both colors a second coat of paint then let it dry again. On the lower, white portion, use a pencil and ruler to draw vertical lines that are evenly spaced apart. Paint a red stripe between every other line so it looks like an American flag. On the upper, blue rim attach small, white star stickers over the blue paint. Fill the planter with potting soil, add a plant and push a small American flag into the soil.

Items needed: Star stencil (several inches in diameter); paper lunch bags; red, white and blue tissue paper; glue stick; star stickers; sand; tea lights.

Use the star stencil to trace and cut out stars on red, white and blue tissue paper. Glue the stars to the inside sides of an open paper bag using a glue stick. Add small star-shaped stickers to the inside too, if desired. Fill the bag with two inches of sand. Repeat these steps to make additional luminaries. Place luminaries outdoors where you can keep an eye on them. Press a tea light into the sand at the center of each bag. As the sun sets, light the luminaries and watch the stars glimmer and glow.

You can read several more craft ideas from Denise inside the July issue of Washington FAMILY Magazine. To find a location where you can pick up a copy, go to and click on the “Where to Find” words at the bottom of the page.

Happy Holiday!


Monday, June 22, 2009

Kids flying solo

This morning I discussed children traveling alone with Peggy Fox on WUSA9 News Now. If you are planning to put your child on an airplane for a trip alone, you may have cringed when you heard the news a few days ago. Two young unaccompanied girls, traveling separately, were placed on the wrong Continental Airlines flights.
For many families this is a summer ritual, children flying alone to see grandparents in faraway cities, going to a favorite camp or perhaps spending time with another parent.
How safe is this and how can we plan so that we make it easier on our children? Here are some of the tips Peggy and I talked about.

How old should a child be before you allow them to travel alone?
Millions of children fly alone each year, the majority without incident. Most airlines will not allow a child under 5 to travel alone. Children ages 5-14 who travel without a parent or guardian are known as “unaccompanied minors.”
Whether or not your child is mature enough to travel alone is really dependent on the child and not their age.

What type of guidelines do the airlines have?
Many airlines will not allow children who are under 7 to make connections at all, but in the event a minor is old enough to change planes, airline personnel will probably escort them and a fee of $70 to $100 will be charged. Some airlines will not allow any minor to take a flight with a connection.
We have links to specific airline guidelines inside the group for Washington FAMILY Magazine.

Is this really a safe way to send your child on a trip?
I know we have heard some really bad press on this over the last week, however I know of many children who have traveled across the country with good experiences. In my own family we sent our youngest off to a camp in the Florida Keys for several years. We were allowed to go through security and walk her onto the plane. At the other end, the camp had personnel there to greet her as she left the plane. She called me immediately and we never had any problems.

You have some tips for Smooth Travel for Unaccompanied Minors

Buy Nonstop Tickets
Try to buy nonstop tickets for your child. This will make the trip much easier for them and for you. Also, try to get morning flights. This will give you more time if you have a problem with canceled or delayed flights.

Tell the Airlines
Talk to the airlines in advance to become familiar with their policies. Make sure they know your child will be traveling unaccompanied.

Verify You Can Go to the Gate
Verify in advance that you can go with your child to board the plane or come close to boarding the plane. You can make sure they are on the right flight. Stay at the gate until the plane takes off. This way you know they did get on their way and the flight is not delayed for some unknown problem that is discovered after they are boarded.

Prepare for the Unexpected
Make sure your child has plenty of emergency information, as well as phone numbers and names of people they can contact in case they are unable to reach you. Give them resources such as a credit card in case the worse happens and they need to spend the night somewhere.

Get Information on the Person Picking UP on the Other End
Make sure you have all the information you will need about the person picking up on the other end. Some airlines require driver’s license numbers for the receiving person when you check your child in at the originating airport. Another good tip is to give your child a picture of the person who is picking them up along with their information written on the back. This will help the airlines agent on the other end as well as the child.

Get There Early
Arrive at the airport early so there is no rush or need to hurry for your child. This will assure that you get the arrangement all set up and that your child will not be stressed when they go on to the plane. They will be apprehensive so you want to make sure they don’t get upset by being rushed.

Here are links to information and guidelines for letting your child travel alone. We would love to hear any other tips parents might have. Send them to me at

Kids Fly Alone from Department of Transportation (download the booklet)

Airline Guidelines





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US Airways

Article online from

Bus & Train Guidelines



Monday, June 15, 2009

Slip in Summer Learning

School is out and you and your kids are ready for a break from academics. But should you really give your kids the whole summer off from learning?

Today Amy Bevins, Assistant Editor for Washington FAMILY Magazine, was on the Moms Like Me segment on WUSA9 talking about toys and games that Slip in Summer Learning.

Why is it so important for kids to keep learning over the summer?

Amy offers the following thoughts and suggestions:

Research shows that over the summer, kids typically lose 2.6 months of grade equivalency in math and often a month or more in other subject areas.

Summer is a great time to give your kids, and yourself, a break from traditional academics, but you can still reinforce skills in fun ways. A lot of it is how your present it. Make it fun and your kids won’t feel pressured to learn.

Here are a few toys and games that slip learning into a fun package for at home or on the road.

Fractiles are one of Amy’s favorites, because they are so versatile and portable. Fractiles are magnetic pattern blocks whose angles are based on the number 7. You can follow the patterns on the package or website or create your own designs.

Fractiles are wonderful for teaching about symmetry, geometry, spatial relations and pattern matching, which is critical for reading success. Fractiles come in several sizes, from a small travel version all of the way up to ones for the fridge. And, you might even find yourself vying with the kids for a turn with Fractiles. (

When keeping a journal about travels, memories or observations, kids practice handwriting, recall, sequencing and so much more. Notebooks by Eeboo are perfect for collecting summer memories. The Summer Days journal has places for memories of camp, the beach, books read or hanging out in the backyard. The Travel Notebook has places for itineraries, packing lists, mementos and, like all of the notebooks, comes with fold over stationary to send letters along the way. The Nature Notebook has space for your budding naturalist to write observations and draw pictures and comes with glassine envelopes for field specimens. So you can even sneak in a little science and handwriting. Tricky! (

The Brain Game from Discovery Toys is a fast-paced trivia game for the whole family and has categories like geography, history, sports/games and even a no-brainer category. Because it is a game the whole family can play and has this fun electronic brain, kids won’t realize they are learning while they are playing. (

What about those pesky math facts? For things like multiplication facts, there really is no way around drill and practice. But is doesn’t have to be boring. Amy’s daughter actually asked to play with Math Whiz and was thrilled when she beat her time on a math challenge. Math Whiz has 8 challenge levels for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division for basic facts up to pre-Algebraic concepts. It is great for at home or on the road and can be played individually or head-to–head and even converts into a calculator. (

Slipping in summer learning can be fun and can really pay off in the long run.

For more articles and resources for families visit the Washington FAMILY Magazine web site.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Father's Day Crafts

This morning on WUSA 9 News Now, Annette Cooper, managing editor of FAMILY Magazine and Peggy Fox discussed gifts for Father’s Day.
Before we getting started on these great Father’s Day ideas I want to let everyone know that we will be hosting our next Moms Do Lunch event, sponsored by, Wash FM and FAMILY Magazine on June 11 in Sterling at the Loudoun Gymnastics Center. We will have a light lunch so moms and kids can come, network. We will have a short discussion about choosing a preschool. You can get more information inside the Moms Do Lunch Group on
With Father’s Day right around the corner children (or moms) everywhere are asking the same question, “What should I get dad?” Special tables are even set up in store entrances geared towards Father’s Day presents. But the perfect Father’s Day gift may not need to be purchased in the store. Sometimes the best gift you can give your dad is something that you make yourself.

I know how hard it can be to find the perfect gift for your dad. I struggle with this every year. Annette told Peggy that when she asked her dad what some of his favorite Father’s Day presents have been it was the ones she made herself. I love to give handmade gifts because they mean more to me and the person I am giving them to. So Annette had a few craft ideas that any child could make for their dad.

Here is what Annette had to say:

Make a card –
This is one of the easiest long lasting gifts you can make for your dad. I like to take an activity that my dad and I enjoy doing together and use it to make my Father’s Day card. One of the things my dad and I like to do is watch baseball or go to baseball games. One of the memories I have from growing up is going to a St. Louis Cardinals game with my family. I’ll never forget the experience. So to honor this memory and many others like it I have designed a card with a baseball theme.

Make a coupon book –
Another fun idea is to make your dad a coupon book. I’ve gone to a local craft store and found a wooden clipboard but you can use anything including just cutting up paper and punching a hole in it and tying it with a ribbon. Then I cut up some cardstock in different colors and wrote a few coupons to my dad, which he can “cash in” whenever he wants. The nice thing about this idea is that you can decorate the wooden clipboard to personalize it and also write some nice things about your dad. This is something he can keep forever. If you didn’t want to do coupons you could write the top ten reasons you love your dad. There are really endless possibilities.

Dou you have a favorite craft for your dad? Is there a gift you have given him in the past that he loved or appreciated? Let us know. We will share them with other moms.

Have a great Monday!