Monday, January 25, 2010

Winter Fun Ideas

If cold, wet winter days are giving you cabin fever, you might be asking yourself, “What can I do with the kids today?”

Today durning the Monday morning WUSA9 DC Moms Like Me segment, Amy Bevins, Assistant Editor and Toy Expert for Washington FAMILY Magazine, shared some ideas for places to go and things to do with your kids this winter.

For more great Winter Fun Ideas, be sure to visit January’s issue of Washington FAMILY Magazine features Amy’s article 30 Days of Winter Fun.

Here are a few of Amy’s favorites.

1. Every Birdie Counts
From Feb 12-15, 2010, participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count. This nationwide event provides a “real-time snapshot of where the birds are across the continent and in Hawaii.” Help hunt for blue jays, robins and chickadees. Even if you don’t know a Pine Siskin from a Savannah Sparrow, the easy to use bird guides and instructions make it an event for the whole family.

2. Cheer for the Home Team
With more than 50 colleges and universities in the DC area, there are lots of teams to root for. Check out a Georgetown Women’s basketball game, diving at George Mason, a George Washington swim meet or an indoor track meet at University of Maryland. Great sports at a more reasonable cost.

3. And Now for Our Feature Presentation
Pop the popcorn, dim the lights and curl up with the kids for a Classic Movie Fest. Whether you laugh out loud with the Little Rascals, Three Stooges or Tom and Jerry or revive the Sound of Music, Wizard of Oz or Bringing Up Baby, classic movies make a perfect winter escape.

4. Build the Future, Celebrate the Past
At the National Building Museum, explore original drawings, antique building toys, innovative buildings and changing exhibits. Get involved in hands-on activities in the Building Zone, with Family Tool Kits, at weekend Discovery Carts and at events like Engineering Family Day.

5. Plan a Day Off
Put a meal in the crock pot, stock up on books and movies from the library, set out craft items, and set aside one day just to relax.

What great ideas do you have for Winter Fun here in the DC Metro area or at home?

Happy Parenting,

Monday, January 18, 2010

Getting the most out of Summer Camp Fair

This morning on WUSA 9 News Now I talked with Peggy Fox about getting most out of an attending a CAMP FAIR.

It may seem too early to start thinking about summer since there is still snow on the ground in some places. However the perfect time to think about summer enrichment opportunities for you child is right now. And, the upcoming weekend is the beginning of Camp Fair Season with 2 big camp fairs in our area.

FAMILY Magazine is a sponsor of these Camp Fairs and the magazine is a great resource for camps. If there is one thing our magazine has, it is great resources for summer activities of ALL KINDS. We also have lots of articles from “Why you should send your child to summer camp” and all the way to “How to choose a camp.” If you are at all considering sending your child to a camp this year, you HAVE TO check out our web site.

BE SURE TO COME TO ONE OF THE CAMP FAIRS THIS WEEKEND. You can find a complete list of the fairs in the DC area on our web site,

Here are some tips on how to get the most out of attending a camp fair:

Parents should think about these questions before the CAMP FAIR—

• Day Camp vs. Overnight Camp -- How long is my child comfortable being away from home or does my child just want a day camp?
If your child has never spent a night away from you, a 3-week camp might be a bit much for them to adjust to. You might want to start them in a day camp that has a one or two night overnight experience.

• How far away does my child want to go for camp?
Do you want your to have to drive 12 hours to get to the camp or put your child on an airplane to go to camp? Think about this ahead of time so you don’t find yourself in an uncomfortable situation this summer.

• What age group is my child comfortable with?
If your child is in the youngest age group of a camp, are you and your child comfortable with this?

• What type of program interests my child (academic, sports, adventure, arts)?
Sports interest camps are great ways to engage your child. Most of the programs also offer the traditional swimming and camping experience as well.

• Does my child want a co-ed or same sex camp experience?
This is probably more important to the parents than the child and it is important to think about.

• How much do I have in my budget for a camp?
There will also be other experiences related to camp. Some camps require special equipment and even special clothing. Keep all of this in mind when you are selecting a camp.

Questions to ask the camp representative (or director) at the CAMP FAIR:

When you go to a camp fair you can expect representatives of several camps there to talk with you about their camp. Often this might even be the camp director. They will be there to talk you as long as you want so that you can feel really comfortable with their camp.

• What is the camp’s mission and philosophy?
This will tell you what they feel is important and where their emphasis will be.

• What is the staff to camper ratio?
You want as many staff as possible to make sure your child is properly supervised.

• What is the background of the director and key staff?
You should make sure the director and all the key staff has appropriate credentials. Being a member of the American Camping Association is important for overnight camps.

•How is the staff trained, what are their credentials, and how many are former campers?
If you are sending your child to a specialty camp, you want to make sure they are qualified and have the experience to teach your child. You also want to make sure they have experience with children. Staff members that were also campers are the best recommendations.

• How many campers return for multiple summers?
Camps that have a lot of returning campers from previous years are great. This shows that the parents and the kids were happy with their experience.

• Can you provide the names of former campers who are willing to talk with us that live in our area?
Recommendations from parents in your own area are the very best. You can ask them lots of questions about the camp and find out what their child liked or did not like.

• What kind of medical treatment/facility does your program have access to?
Of course you want good medical care if your child becomes ill or has an accident.

For more information about camps and camp tips, visit the FAMILY Magazine web site. We have many articles and a great deal of information about camps.

Do you have a favorite camp or camp memory? I would love to hear about it.

Happy Parenting,

Monday, January 11, 2010

Nutrition Resolutions and continuing a Weight Loss Program

For most people the number one New Year's resolution is weight loss. This morning on WUSA9 News Now, Judy Caplan, the nutrition editor for FAMILY Magazine talked about nutrition resolutions and how to continue a weight loss program. Judy discussed how we can stick to our goals so that by the end of the month we have not returned to our old habits. REALLY????
This is good stuff!

Here is what Judy had to say:
Resolutions – Are They Still Happening?
We all start out gung-ho about what we want to accomplish in the New Year. Dietary resolutions are usually numero uno on everyone’s list. How can we keep our good intentions alive? How can we make this year different so that next December, at year’s end, we are kicking up our heels and celebrating our successes?

Researchers have studied individuals who are successful at weight loss. Individuals who have lost thirty pounds or more and kept the weight off for at least five years have a few things in common. You might be surprised to see what makes them so successful. Let’s take a look at three of their most important tools:

Tool One: Keep a Food Diary
Awareness is the number one key to success when trying to lose weight. If you are aware of what you are doing, then you are paying attention. Paying attention means you are following what you set out to accomplish.

Most people fail to reach their goals when they start to stray from their plan. Staying on the plan or getting back to the plan after a day, week, or month of straying is the key to success. The act of writing down your food intake actually makes you stay on your plan. It keeps you honest, focused, and motivated. It allows you to see results and it builds on habits that will help you keep the weight off.

I recommend keeping a food diary until six months after you have achieved your weight goal. You have to build a system that keeps you accountable to yourself. Whether you keep your record in a notebook, a Blackberry, or on scraps of paper, the act of being accountable is HUGE.

Tool Two: Eat Breakfast
Many of us wake up in the morning; look in the mirror and say, “I will not eat today. I am sick of being fat.” Those good intentions are usually gone by mid morning as the first donut lands in the break room. Then it is off to the races.

Eating breakfast not only sets your blood sugar pattern for the day, but also helps prevent overeating after dinner when you start to crave sweets. Breakfast also gives you more energy throughout the day so at day’s end you will be ready to hit the gym. Here are some examples of easy to grab, healthy breakfasts:
• Egg white omelet with fresh spinach, topped with salsa and sliced avocado
• Vitalicious Muffin Top (frozen foods Giant, Whole Foods)
• Uncle Sam’s Cereal (3/4 cup) (Whole Foods, Giant)
• Two slices whole wheat bread spread with almond butter and Polaner All Fruit
• Fage 2% Fruit Yogurt + 1 T. ground flaxseed

Eating more food earlier in the day fills you up, usually with healthy food (unlike food you eat after dinner) and avoids drops in blood sugar that cause irritability and sweet cravings and lead to trips to the vending machines to seek out junk. The desire to visit the snack shop or machines means your blood sugar is dropping and should be a signal that it is time to eat a healthy snack. Plus when you start off the day doing something good to your body, your body responds with better brain function so you are more likely to continue treating yourself well…and achieving your goals. Here are some healthy snacks:
• 12 raw almonds, cashews or walnuts
• 1 T. dried cherries
• 1/3 cup hummus with 8 whole wheat stick pretzels
• Cut up veggies (peppers, fennel, carrots)
• 2 oz. Cabot 75% reduced fat cheddar cheese
• Sliced avocado/marinated artichoke hearts/sliced red pepper
• 3 oz. grilled chicken breast
• Fresh fruit/apple/pear
• 1 T. natural peanut butter
• 1 bag free range dried buffalo or turkey jerky
• Bottle of bubbly water

Tool Three: Exercise
Just remember, pounds lost will never stay off if you don’t exercise regularly, approximately one hour a day. The goal is to not to have to revisit the weight loss again. Once the weight is gone, exercise is the key to keeping it off forever.

Exercise builds muscle and muscle increases metabolism so you burn more calories at rest. Therefore, once you start exercising, you will actually be burning more calories. That is a good thing if you spend most of your day at a desk, sitting on you rear end. Because exercise burns calories, it allows you some leeway in your dietary choices. No one eats perfectly all the time and thankfully exercise offers a buffer doing those stressful moments when you are traveling or having crunch times at work. You may not lose weight when life is crazed, but it will help prevent any further weight gain. Then once things calm down, you get back on target and continue the weight loss program, in earnest, all the while not stopping your exercise routine.

Exercise also takes on a life of its own. Once you start, something about the act of exercising is replenishing and you keep on doing it. The endorphins exercise produce promote feelings of well-being and these endorphins help reduce sadness, depression, and many other feelings that can derail us in our weight loss attempts.

So staying on top of your resolutions is really as easy as one, two, and three.

Do you have any suggestions on how someone can get and then stay motivated while establishing a weight loss program? Please share them with me!

Happy Parenting, Brenda

Monday, January 4, 2010

Winter Eco-friendly Craft to do with your Kids

Today on WUSA 9 our Events Coordinator, Anna Snead demonstrated a craft for creating a homemade birdfeeder. It’s a great way to teach your kids the importance of being eco-friendly. This particular craft is very beneficial to birds during the winter months and it involves recycled goods.

Anna selected this activity because it’s earth-friendly, creative, and fun. Below are two variations of the craft suited for different age groups. Let us know if you try it and what you think.


Empty quart sized cardboard milk carton, wash out and dry well
String or cord
Hole punch or pencil
Bird seed
1. Cut a circle-shape hole in the bird feeder, large enough so that a bird can sit and eat food.
2. Use the hole punch to put a hole at the top of the milk carton. Tie a few feet of string through the hole.
3. Fill bottom of carton with bird seed until it reaches the opening.
4. Hang the carton on a high tree branch.
5. Refill as necessary.

One easier variation for younger children only requires four items: a pinecone, peanut butter, birdseed and a string.

peanut butter

Take your pinecone and smear peanut butter all over it. Then roll your pinecone in birdseed. And last but not least, tie a string around your pinecone and hang it in your backyard. Make sure to keep some binoculars near your backyard window so your kids can keep a lookout for all the different birds.

Have you taught your kids about being eco-friendly? If so what activities or lessons have you shared with them?

Happy Parenting,