Park Spotlight

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On this months review of our local parks, I am highlighting my childhood favorite: Alderman’s Ford Conservation Park.

Location

100 Alderman’s Ford Park Dr.

Plant City, FL, FL 33567
Hours
Spring/Summer: 8 AM – 7 PM
Fall/Winter: 8 AM – 6 PM
Contact (813) 757-3801
 Entrance Fee

$2 per vehicle. Up to 8 people per vehicle. Rentals are extra.

 

This county park is at the top of my list. It offers a playground with shade for all ages,  a boardwalk, canoe/kayak launch, a gorgeous 1.9 mile paved hiking trail, and CLEAN bathrooms!

It is one of the most well-rounded parks in the area. The paved loop is hiker, pet, and bicycle friendly. The Boardwalk is great for bird watching and possibly spotting an alligator. The boardwalk is currently being repaired. (see note below).

The last time we went I took my daughters bike. She loved riding the trails and even rode her bike on the boardwalk bridge. We had the best time. She also enjoyed taking a break at the workout equipment along the trail.

As a self-proclaimed hover mom, this park makes me comfortable. I was able to walk the trail as my daughter rode her bike. It was not too hard to keep up with her and I was able to see her even if she was ahead of me. There is also a side-walk all the way around the playground (off the main trail) that kids can ride on. I can sit on a bench and see her ride around and around. The park equipment is appropriate for all ages even the little ones. there is a nice rubber pad under both play areas. There is also a big open area for the kids to explore while you keep an eye on them. We love to print and bring scavenger hunt with us too.

This park is also perfect for parties and family gatherings. Pavilions need to be reserved in advance, but can be done online. The cost ranges from 42.00 to 75.00 for the day. They also have a 600 sq. ft. air-conditioned room you can rent with 12 banquet tables and 65 chairs. The room cost is 161.00 for the day. All of these areas are close to the restrooms.

A canoe launch is located in a separate entrance at 9625 Canoe Launch Loop Lithia, FL 33547. The launch entrance opens daily at 7 a.m.

Fellow Everyday Moms, Jennifer Dean and Courtney Fletcher have spent many hours with her families at Alderman’s Ford. So I asked the two of them a few questions to provide a little more perspective.

1)What are your key reasons for visiting the park?

Jennifer Dean: “We were introduced to Alderman’s Ford Park by my oldest son’s school. They had their cross-country meets there once a week. He would run and our other kids would play on the playground. After visiting a few times, we decided to see what else the park had to offer. We’ve gone canoeing, hiking, fishing, attended a birthday party at the pavilions and have even had a photo shoot there.”

 

Courtney Fletcher: “The main reason for visit the park is to let the kid(s) play on play ground and run around and go on the trail and explore nature.”

Do you feel safe when visiting this park?

Jennifer Dean: “I’ve always felt safe at Alderman’s Ford, though I’ve never been there after dark or without an abundance of other families.”

Courtney Fletcher: “I have felt safe with no issues at Alderman’s Ford, other than squirrels liking to steal food when are not watching it.”

What is your overall opinion of Alderman’s Ford?

Jennifer Dean: “Overall, the park has some great offerings for families. We enjoy spending time there as a family. The main downside is lots of bugs (more than other parks we’ve been to in the area) and few restrooms or drinking fountains. As long as one plans ahead for these, a fun day can be had.”

Courtney Fletcher “I do like Alderman’s Ford park but due to the river flooding the past year its been hard to go out and enjoy the trails.”

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Overall Alderman’s Ford has much to offer the families in our community. As long as you protect your food and bring bug spray, you should have a wonderful time. Also, for those of us born and raised here this usually goes without saying, but BEWARE OF ALLIGATORS!

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Gator on the bank while Canoeing at Alderman’s Ford. Photo by Jennifer Dean

 

Suzette Foister,

SAHM, Wife, Homeschooler, EM contributor, Owner/Artist of Bring Your Own Canvas

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**PLEASE NOTE**

Unfortunately mother nature has caused the main trail to be closed during the weekdays this summer for repairs.

  • The canoe launch is temporarily closed (posted 7/3/18)
  • The paved trail at Alderman’s Ford Conservation Park will be closed during the weekdays from April 16, 2018 thru September 2018 for construction to the boardwalk. The trail will be open for use on the weekends.

For more details, please call the park at (813) 757-3801.

 

Clean Eating Crockpot Meals

Written By: Lisa Valentine

Being a mom can be hectic and being a working mother makes it even crazier, especially when I’m at work in middle of dinner time. That makes it even harder to make sure my family is fed a hot meal. When I first became a mom my husband and I both worked different shifts and neither were the typical 9-5. With my husband working 12 hour shifts and my first baby starting to eat real food, I was at a loss for how to have a hot meal for my family when I could not be there. That’s when I started my crockpot experimenting.
Pinterest became my friend. I just started trying different recipes that I found and started making a list of which recipes were at hit. Not all got put on that list, some got altered and tried again, some got the boot. There were a lot of failed attempts and wasted food but I got better at picking meals to cook in the crockpot and it became my saving grace.

   I’m not just talking to working mothers here. I know how crazy kids’ schedules can be and it’s hard to cook dinner every night, especially when your kids have sports and different activities after school. We end up hitting the drive through because we are at a loss for what to cook or you just don’t have the time.  No matter what kind of mother you are; working, stay at home, work from home or homeschooling, the crockpot is THE go-to mom hack. Even when I’m not working I use it because there are some nights I know I won’t have the time or energy to cook. You know, those days you are out all day running errands or doing something fun like going to a theme park, the last thing you want to do when you get home is cook.

   Before I had my second baby I knew I needed to plan ahead this time. That’s when I made a list of our favorite recipes and made some freeze ahead crockpot meals to have on hand post baby. Nutrition is so important when you are postpartum and getting little to zero sleep usually leaves us in survival mode, eating whatever comes our way. This was a life saver when we got home from the hospital! All we had to do was decide the night before what we wanted for dinner, let it thaw out a little bit in the refrigerator and throw it in the crock pot the next morning.

When I became a health and fitness coach and started getting into clean eating, I started altering the recipes to fit our clean eating lifestyle. I knew this was something that I could not keep to myself and could use to help other moms who struggle with putting nutritious meals on the table because time is limited.
   Sometimes time plays a factor, even with the crockpot. Sometimes I forget to put it on in the morning or just didn’t find the time. My shortcut for that is adjusting the cook time. Below is a conversion chart for crockpot cooking.
LOW setting   HIGH setting
7 hours            3 hours
8 hours            4 hours
9 hours            5 hours
10 hours          6 hours
11 hours          7 hours
12 hours          8 hours
My go-to versatile crockpot hack is chicken. Throw in some chicken breasts with a little bit of water or chicken broth (low for 8 hours) and shred it when done. You can use this throughout the week for several recipes and alter to your liking. Some ideas are,
Chicken Salad
Buffalo chicken
BBQ chicken
Quesadillas
Enchiladas
Burritos (or burrito bowl)
Stir fry
To put my clean eating twist on it, I use organic chicken. I will serve atop of a salad, quinoa or brown rice or wrapped in romaine hearts or Ezekiel tortillas. I also recently discovered NUCO coconut wraps, they are a natural alternative to tortillas. I thought they were more flexible and held together better than the Ezekiel tortillas. They tasted good to me, but if you don’t like the taste of coconut, you may not like them. I ordered mine off of Amazon.
I hope these tips bring you some relief so you can still eat healthy while surviving parenthood. Bellow I added some of my favorite freeze ahead crockpot meals with grocery list to help on those days you are in a pinch.

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Crock Pot Italian Turkey Meatballs

Ingredients:
2 lbs ground turkey
1/2 cup whole wheat seasoned breadcrumbs
1/2 cup Reggiano Parmigiano cheese, grated
1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons cornstarch or 2 eggs
2 large clove garlic, crushed
2 tsp salt + fresh pepper
For the sauce:
2 tsp olive oil
8 cloves garlic, smashed
2 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes
1 bay leaf
Salt and fresh pepper to taste
1/4 cup fresh chopped basil  

1. In a large bowl, combine ground turkey, breadcrumbs, egg, parsley, garlic and cheese. Using clean hands, mix all the ingredients and form small meatballs, about 1/8th cup each.
2. Flash freeze on parchment lined cookie sheet in the freezer then place into ziplock bags.
3. Make sauce ahead or when ready to put in crock pot – In a small sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté until golden, being careful not to burn. 

5. Pour crushed tomatoes into the crock pot with bay leaf. Add garlic and oil.
Drop meatballs into the sauce, cover and set crock pot to low, 4 to 6 hours. When meatballs are ready, adjust salt and pepper to taste and add fresh chopped basil or parsley.
Serve over favorite pasta.
Write on bag:
1. When ready, pour sauce and place in Crockpot and cook on low for 6 hours.
2. Serve over favorite pasta.

Easy Crock Pot Vegetable Beef Soup
Ingredients
1 1/2 to 2 pounds stew meat
32 oz beef broth
1 – 15 oz can diced tomatoes
1 carrot
1 medium onion
1 stalk celery
8 oz green beans
1/4 t thyme
1/4 t marjoram
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
Add 1 T oil to a large pan over medium high heat. When oil is hot, add about 2 pounds of cubed beef and cook until browning some. About 10 minutes.
While the meat is browning, clean and prep veggies. One stalk of celery chopped medium. One carrot cut into 1/4 inch medallions. One medium onion chopped medium. Also 8 oz of fresh or frozen green beans.
Add all to freezer bag. Add 32 oz beef broth (you can do this now or when you dump it all in the crock pot), one 15 oz can diced tomatoes (not drained), 1/4 t thyme, 1/4 t marjoram and one bay leaf. Salt and pepper to taste.
Mix well
Write on bag:
1.When ready, cook on high for 4-5 hours until meat and carrots are tender or 8-10 on low

Crock Pot Chicken Fajitas
Ingredients
1 yellow onion, sliced
3 peppers, sliced
1 ½ pounds boneless chicken breast or thighs
1/4 to ½ cup chicken broth, depending on preference (leave this out if you prefer a drier fajita filling)
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cumin
1 ½ tablespoons chili powder
Squirt of lime juice

Instructions
Combine sliced onions, peppers & chicken in a ziplock bag
Pour chicken broth over top (you can do this now or when you are ready to cook)
Sprinkle everything with cumin, salt, and chili powder.
Give a nice quirt of lime juice over the top.

Write on bag:
1. When ready, cook on low for 4-8 hours (or on High for 4 hours) or until meat is spreadable.
2. When meat is done, shred with two forks and stir back into juices. Serve meat mixture with slotted spoon with your choice of fixings.

Chicken Vegetable Soup
Ingredients
1 – 2 lbs chicken, skinless, boneless
1 cup celery, diced
1 cup carrots, diced
1/2 cup onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 cup corn, frozen
1 cup edemame (soy beans), frozen
1 14oz can tomatoes, diced
4 cups chicken broth, low sodium
1/4 tsp. thyme
1/4 tsp. salt (to taste)
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. pepper, ground
1 tsp. parsley, dried
Instructions
Add all ingredients to a zip lock bag and freeze.

Write on bag:
1. When ready, cook for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low.

* To shred chicken – I keep the chicken in the Crockpot and take two forks to pull apart the chicken. The chicken should be falling completely apart.

Honey Sesame Chicken

Ingredients
1lb chicken tenders
3 T olive oil
1 cup raw honey
2 T sesame seeds
1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 t. salt
1 t. pepper

Directions
Place all ingredients in freezer bag, toss to coat and freeze.

Write on bag:
1. When ready, place in crockpot and cook on low for 4-5 hours.
2. Remove chicken & shred, and then return to sauce.
3. Can serve over hot cooked rice or serve in lettuce wraps.

Crock Pot SW Steak
Ingredients:
1-1/2 lbs. stew meat
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
16 oz. jar chunky salsa
1/2 tsp. dried oregano leaves
2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
Directions                                                                                                                                          Place onions and garlic in bottom of freezer bag and top with meat. Mix salsa, oregano, chili powder, salt, and pepper in small bowl and pour over meat. Top with drained black beans.

Write on bag:
1. Cook on low for 7-9 hours until meat is tender
2. Serve with favorite rice

Sausage and Peppers

Ingredients
1 – 2 lbs chicken sausage
2 peppers, sliced
2 onions, sliced
1 can diced tomatoes
2 Tbsp parsley

Directions
Flash freeze sausage on parchment lined cookie sheet in the freezer.
Place onions and peppers in bottom of freezer bag and top with meat. Add in can of tomatoes and parsley, pour over meat.

Write on bag:
1. Cook on low for 7 hours or high for 4 hours
2. Serve with favorite rice or in favorite rolls

Grocery list
Meat & dairy
4 pounds stew meat
1 ½ pounds boneless chicken breast or thighs
2 lbs chicken, skinless, boneless
3 lb chicken tenders
2 lb Ground turkey
1-2 lbs turkey sausage
4 eggs

Pantry
Whole wheat seasoned breadcrumbs
Reggiano Parmigiano cheese, grated
2 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes
32 oz beef broth
1 32 oz & 1 can chicken broth
3 – 15 oz can diced tomatoes
Lime juice
Honey
Soy sauce
Sesame oil
Extra virgin olive oil
16 oz. jar chunky salsa
15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed

Spices
Salt
Pepper
Sesame seeds
Parsley
Chili powder
Oregano
Bay leaves
Thyme
Cumin
Marjoram
Basil
Cornstarch (if subbing for eggs)
Frozen
Green beans
Corn
Edemame (soy beans)

Produce
2 bulbs garlic
fresh chopped basil & parsley
Carrots
6 medium onion
Celery
5 peppers
*Don’t forget freezer bags, your favorite fixings for garnish and favorite rice/pastas.

Freezer bags
Cheese?
Salsa?
Sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
Rice
Pasta
Romaine (for lettuce wraps) and/or side salad for soups.
Whatever else you like…

Healthy School Lunches

There are so many things to think about when you are getting the young people in your house ready to go back to school. There are supplies to purchase, clothes to pick out, and let’s not forget the all-important finding the right backpack. I still remember the Snoopy debacle of 1992. Mom and I picked out a great Snoopy backpack that I thought would be all the rage, but it turns out Lisa Frank was where it was at and my backpack was the bane of my existence for the entire year. These errands take up a lot of time in the month or so before our kids go back to school, but they are, thankfully, not an ongoing issue (unless you pick the wrong backpack).

There is one task that faces parents and guardians day in and day out – lunch. I don’t know about you, but for some reason my kids require sustenance throughout the day. You’d think they could save the hunger strikes, they go on at home, for school, now and then just to give me a break, but alas, they don’t. Lunch planning has escaped me in the past. Even when I was working out of the house full time, planning ahead on what to take myself for lunch was something that I wasn’t good at. I’d arbitrarily throw together something in the morning that was always a weird conglomeration of leftovers from dinner the night before, a yogurt and some kind of fruit. Now, with little tummies to consider, I’ve made it a point to be more conscious of the food choices I have on hand to send with them. I also consider the containers I use to send their food in, as I like to be eco-friendly and safe, when it comes to what will house our food.

First, a word about prep. You know how they say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure? Prep is the same way. I find that if I take a few minutes, when I come home from my weekly grocery shopping trip, to consciously wash and prep the fruits and veggies I’ve brought home, they last longer and are much easier to use. It’s no secret that most produce is sprayed with pesticides during the growing process, but did you know that a lot of it (even some organic produce) is sprayed with accelerants that help it to grow and ripen faster? This is good for the farmers who want to produce faster yields, but not so great for the consumer, as it causes the food to continue ripening at an accelerated rate, even in your refrigerator. The secret to getting your fruits and veggies to last longer is to get these products off of them before you store them.

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The good news is that it’s easy to do. Simply fill your kitchen sink ½ to ¾ full of cold water and add around 1 cup of white vinegar to it. Then put all of your fruits and veggies, except berries, into the sink to soak for 20 minutes. Berries go in for 1-2 minutes only, as they will absorb the water if you leave them any longer. After the soaking, pat everything dry with a towel and let it finish drying on the counter before you put it away. Then slice up, portion out and put things away in containers that are easy to grab and throw into lunches throughout the week. All my produce, including fresh berries now stay good for at least a week!

So now that we’re all prepped, let’s check out some of the fun, healthy school lunch ideas I found on pinterest that are a hit around our house:

Tortilla pinwheels. For some reason, if I wrap sandwich ingredients into a tortilla and cut it into pinwheels, my kiddo loves the once mundane “sandwich” concept and gobbles it up. This is my quick and easy go to when the morning is kind of hairy and I need to get us out the door. You can fill your tortilla with whatever you’d like, spinach, cheese, meat, veggies, fruits, cream cheese; the possibilities are endless.

pinwheels

Image credit to foodformyfamily.com

Another sandwich variation is sandwich kabobs or stackers (the difference lies in whether I have a kabob stick to skewer it with or not). Simply layer cubes of meat, cheese and veggies with cubes of bread and skewer it together (or not). Voila! Sandwich on a stick!

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Image credit to littledairyontheprairie.com

Quick and easy nachos. Simply layer shredded cheese and chicken or beef pieces on top of tortilla chips and add a small container with black beans and sour cream (or a mixture of sour cream and plain yogurt to be a bit healthier). Your kids can dip the chips into the bean and sour cream mixture to create the perfect nacho bite.

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Image credit to whatlisacooks.com

We love bagels as a breakfast staple around here, but they’re also a quick, easy lunch choice too. My little guy likes the mini-bagels so I just slather a couple of those with cream cheese and stick them in his lunch along with some veggies, fruit and yogurt.

bagel

When I have some prep time the day or night before, I love to make crescent roll ups. Simply add your favorite meat or cheese choices to a crescent, roll it up and bake it according to the package directions. For a pizza variety, add pizza or marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese and pepperoni.   You can either make these completely the day before and refrigerate or prep them to be ready to bake in the morning before school.

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Image credit to amandascookin.com

Now that you’ve prepped and got your meals all ready, what should you put them into? For my family, I choose glass, silicone or stainless steel options. Glass is great as far as being food safe and eco-friendly, but it’s heavier and breakable so I usually opt for silicone or stainless steel when they need to be portable. Here are a few of the options I’ve found that work best for us:

Silicone

This container is a favorite because it has two compartments and comes with a spork that stores in the lid.

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This little container is perfect for snacks or yogurt.

snacker

Stainless steel

For hot or cold food storage, you can’t beat this insulated container.

insulated

This divided container comes with a divider that slides to size to whatever you’re packing for the day.

divided to go

These nesting containers and square containers are great for packing things individually.

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Glass

This glass container is a favorite that we use at home.  I like it because it has the silicone sleeve to protect it.

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I hope these ideas are helpful and that they make it a little easier as you tackle the never ending question, “What’s for lunch?”  Happy eating!

13716016_10153862140698178_5093751296788590959_nSharon is a WAHM of two boys ages 2 years old and 4 months old.  She co-owns WrappedUpTampa.com, a natural parenting online boutique that has carefully chosen products from wooden toys and teethers made by hand, stainless, silicone and glass food storage and various types of wraps and carriers for babywearing.

 

 

 

 

 

Back To School Salve

Written By: Leslie Jacobi

The kids are heading back to school soon and you know what that means. . . . germs! It is all too typical that when all the kids get back from their amazing summer vacations, the first couple weeks of school are prime time for germs and colds to rear their ugly heads. I am going to share with you an amazing and very easy salve to make that will protect your child (and household) from getting a cold when school gets back into session.

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Miracle Cold Salve

  • 8 cloves organic garlic
  • 1/4 cup organic coconut oil (I like the Trader Joe brand)

1) Peel the 8 cloves and add 1/4 cup coconut oil. Blend mixture in a blender, food processor or with a hand mixer until the cloves are mashed with the oil.

2) Place the oil into a small container and refrigerate until hard

3) When ready for use, take the salve out of the refrigerator and spread a liberal dose onto the child’s chest and soles of their feet. Cover their feet with socks or pajamas so the oil doesn’t get all over the floor. Reapply every 2 hours until cold symptoms subside.


coconut-oil-and-garlic-juice

Coconut oil and garlic work so well with colds, because coconut oil has antibacterial properties. The reason we put it on the skin, is that when we ingest it, the acid in our stomach actually breaks down the specific chemical responsible for the oil’s antibacterial property. So, we absorb the oil into the skin and don’t risk breaking down it’s ability to kill bacteria. Garlic is an antimicrobial, antibacterial and antiviral. It also contains a slew of antioxidants, Vitamin C, sulphur and selenium. We place the salve on the chest, because garlic is a natural expectorant and decongestant. This will help with the sinuses and to get any crud out of the lungs.

For a healthy start to the school year, use this salve every night on your little one to help prevent colds in your household. Your kids may smell like an Italian restaurant, but they will not be sick.

Enjoy!

 

 

Campo Family YMCA

By: Regan Burke

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The YMCA, otherwise known as The Young Men’s Christian’s Association, has come a long way since the days of old. Once a gathering of men seeking sanctuary for bible study during troubled times, the YMCA has developed over decades, across miles, and continents. Today the YMCA is so much more than that, although its history is rich, the “Y” offers a vast array of programs tailored to develop youth, seniors, families, and communities in all aspects of life.

Every Y seems to be a little different, from the programming to the facility itself, each tends to focus on and service its community a little differently than the next. Recently Everyday Moms partnered with the Campo Family YMCA to schedule a playdate at the facility’s splash pad. Between the employees leading fun water activities, the slides, and the fact that there were so many lifeguards present to help keep watch, this playdate was perfect for both mommies and children. The kids were so happy, and moms were all able to enjoy some quality adult conversation while the kiddies burned off some energy in a safe environment. While we were there we had the opportunity to learn a little more about what this facility had to offer and it was nothing short of impressive!

Family programming:

This Y, much like many others, aims to offer programs to help develop and strengthen the bonds that hold a family together. The family programs here offer opportunities to families that will not only develop them as individuals but create lasting memories that they can all carry with them.

Sports programming:

Whether you’re an adult just looking to keep up your skills and fitness in a friendly adult league or you are a parent looking to peak your child’s interest in a sport, the YMCA has many sports leagues to offer. While each Y tends to focus on certain sports, the Campo family YMCA offers basketball, volleyball, and swim teams as a way to sharpen skills, make friends, and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Health programming:

With many other gyms, the intimidation factor starts the moment you walk in the door. Walking into the YMCA made me so incredibly comfortable. We learned of all the free or very affordable options they offer to aid someone in their fitness journey. Programs like Y weight and the diabetes prevention program help educate people in the areas of fitness, strength training, and cardiovascular training, but also in nutrition, which I learned in a key ingredient that so many people miss. The Campo Family Y also offers a wide array of group fitness classes, two appointments with a personal trainer (for free) upon joining the Y, and countless other events that support people in their goal to get healthier and stronger.

Senior programming:

The YMCA also offers both fitness a social programming for senior citizens in the area. They host social events, offer volunteering opportunities, AND fitness programs. Giving back to a population who has done so much for their communities seems like a no-brainer, yet no other “gyms” seem to offer them quite like the Y.

Other various offerings we learned about:

  • Birthday Parties
  • Holiday events (Easter, Christmas, etc.)
  • Free Judo Classes for members
  • Ballet
  • Boot Camp classes for home-schooled kids
  • Small group training classes
  • Youth and teen room
  • Huge kid’s zone, complete with tons of credentialed staff members, slides, arts and crafts, etc.

 

For families large or small, theres just not a better place. There are so many options; programs, sports, classes, and events offered under one roof, that are all for the betterment of both individuals and families.  The Y goes far beyond a few sets of weights and treadmills. It’s obvious to see that their goal is to give to the community in which it resides and that is something that we can get behind!

How Safe is Your Sunscreen?

By: Sharon Letsinger

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Summer is quickly approaching, as we can all tell here in Florida.  The weather is warming up rapidly and outdoor activities are planned around avoiding the hottest part of the day, hugging the shade or finding refuge at pools and splash pads.  With the heat, comes the need to consider what types of products to use to prevent sunburn.

Every Florida parent knows the fun of trying to choose sun protection that is safe, non-toxic, easy to apply and actually works.

Do we get enough sun?

The overzealous use of sunscreen on kids has resulted in widespread vitamin D deficiencies, which are linked to cancer, depression, multiple sclerosis, heart disease, and obesity. Recent studies have estimated around 70% of US children are deficient in vitamin D.

Are we really being protected?

Most sunscreens on the market contain chemicals that are known carcinogens, such as parabens and endocrine disrupters like oxybenzone, which when exposed to UV light, may produce free radicals.  These risks, coupled with the risks from vitamin D deficiency, should give us pause in deciding whether to use conventional sunscreen.

What’s safe?

Zinc oxide is a good barrier ingredient that has long been touted as a natural alternative to conventional sunscreen, however, it’s important to distinguish between particle size when selecting sunscreen to use on your family.  Nanoparticles of zinc oxide have been shown to generate free radicals and are small enough to penetrate cell membranes.

Sensible sunburn protection

Given all the confusing information on sun safety as well as sunscreen safety, the ideal scenario would be to take your child outside each day for ten or fifteen minutes, and then seek shade, thus preventing vitamin D deficiencies as well as sunburn. Obviously, this isn’t always possible, and fortunately there is a brand of sunscreen that you can feel good about using.  We selected Butterbean Organics sunscreen for our kids and to sell in our natural parenting shop.  It provides spf 30 protection with large particle zinc oxide and all organic ingredients.  It’s also convenient to use in the pump applicator and spreads easily.

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Bottom line

My super pale boys are out in the sun daily and I don’t regularly use sunscreen on them unless we will be out all day at the beach or zoo and they don’t burn.  I sell safe sunscreen and use it sparingly on my own family, but because of my own research, I think it’s important to allow for daily sun exposure.  Of course, I’m not your healthcare professional, and you should always consult with your own pediatrician for advise.

Here’s to fun in the sun this year!

 

IMG_4421 Sharon is an owner of wrapped up, a natural parenting and babywearing boutique. She has two boys that keep her hands and heart full. http://www.WrappedUpTampa.com

Are you putting your mask on?

By: Michelle Hudock

You are sitting on the airplane, about to take off and they are going over the safety instructions. They talk about the oxygen masks and tell you “Put your mask on first before assisting others.” Your small child is sitting next to you. If you had to make that decision, would you listen? Would you put your mask on first or put their mask on first?

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I know when I sat and listened to them say that I would think to myself “No way! I am putting my child’s mask on first. It is my job to take care of them and put their needs before mine.” This was my way of thinking in several areas of my life. But now I know I do need to put my mask on first.

After our second child was born I was constantly exhausted. He wasn’t the best sleeper and was still up every couple hours way past the time he was “supposed” to be sleeping through the night. I had daily headaches and took Aleve each day like it was a daily vitamin. I would skip meals or wait too long to eat because I was busy taking care of his needs and he had to eat first. But then I found myself even more drained. I would stay in my pajamas all day, skip taking a shower, some days not even look in the mirror to see the hot mess I was. Not only was I taking care of a baby, but I had a Kindergartner at the time who needed me. I had to get her breakfast in the morning and feed the baby, which meant there was no time for me to eat. Then I had to drive her to school that wasn’t close. By the time I got home it was time for the baby to eat again, so that meant I had to wait even longer to eat. This is how my day went. The baby needs his diaper changed, I have to change it. The baby needs to eat, I need to feed him. I have to get our daughter breakfast, take her to school, pick her up from school, get her a snack. It was always something and it meant that my needs got pushed back. I was always putting myself on the back burner. But what did that get me? I was tired, had headaches, I was stressed, moody, and just going through the motions. My husband and I would sit on the couch watching TV each night while we would watch our kids play and entertain themselves nearby. We would doze off most nights. We hardly ever made dinner and mostly ordered pizza, Chinese delivery, picked up Carside to go, or went through a fast food drive thru.

In October 2014, something changed. One day I decided I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I was tired of the same old, same old. I was tired of the headaches, the stress, being moody, and just being a Mombie. (Mom Zombie) I was tired of my pre-pregnancy clothes not fitting right STILL, not feeling confident about myself, not looking forward to date night with my husband and making excuses to get out of it because I didn’t have anything to wear and didn’t like how things looked on me, I was tired of just not feeling good. My husband had some pregnancy sympathy weight to lose too. We both decided we needed to make a change. We started working out in our family room as soon as we put the kids to bed. We made it like an appointment we had to be on time for and “met” each other there. It became our time together and like a hobby which we never really had together. We started making healthier food choices and did meal prepping and planning together. It wasn’t easy in the beginning, but we started seeing changes so we kept going. Not just on the outside of losing weight and inches but on the inside too. We started having more energy, I had less headaches, I was able to deal with the stress better by letting it out in my workouts, my moods were better, and I was feeling like a better Mom and Wife. I realized I needed to eat too. I realized in order to feed my baby well, I needed to feed myself well. I started eating 5-6 meals and snacks a day, every 2-3 hours. I thought of it like this- if my baby was hungry and crying to eat, would I make him wait? Would I tell him “Sorry, I don’t have time. You’ll have to wait to eat.” No! And I shouldn’t tell myself that either. We had to make some changes and adjustments and although it took time, it was so worth it. We were making healthy dinners at home together. We were going on walks and bike rides around our neighborhood together. We were playing WITH our kids and not just watching them play. We were setting a good example for them to be active and healthy.  We started seeing more and more positive changes and it became so rewarding! It let us know we were making the right steps towards better health which effected so much on a daily basis. When you feel better, you do better. When you feel better, you are better. Whether your job is at home as a stay at home Mom, you work from home, you work outside of the house. You are a better Wife, a better Mom, a better employee.

 

If you want to see change, YOU have to change.

For things to get better, YOU have to get better.

For things to improve, YOU have to improve.

When YOU grow, EVERYTHING in your life grows with you.

So whenever you start feeling run down and worn out ask yourself “Am I putting my mask on?” You MUST put your mask on first before assisting others!

 

 

10897977_10206241527816591_3774314369757525231_n My name is Michelle Hudock and my husband and I have two kids. Kyla is 10 years old and Kellen is 4 years old. I work from home as a health and fitness coach helping people with their health and fitness goals. I have always wanted to “help people” and I feel like each day I get to do just that! It also allows me to stay home with our two young kids and have the freedom to volunteer at their schools or go to class parties, go with my husband when he travels for work, and to truly enjoy Spring Breaks and Summers while the kids are off school. I love trying new recipes to cook for my family, going to playdates and meeting new Moms just like me, and just being an “Everyday Mom!”