Looking for games to play with your kids and the thought of one more round of Candy Land makes you want to cry? Desperate to pry the smartphone or the tablet away from your teens? Tired of starting another game of Monopoly you know you’ll never finish?
Oh friends, I am about to change your world.
Table-top gaming is diverse and entertaining, ranging from dice and cards to miniatures and tiles. Some can be played in 15 minutes and some may take hours, depending on what you’re looking for.
Games indirectly teach problem-solving skills, math, strategy and adapting to other players’ actions. There is also the etiquette of listening, taking turns and teaching new players the rules of the games.
You can find something for every age. There are games that focus on math and spatial skills and are appropriate for preschoolers. There are also games that are definitely NOT for children and make for a fun evening with your grown-up friends. Continue reading “Get Gaming!”
The extra downtime for our kids over the summer means that we, the parents, get to use them in the name of furthering their education. Every summer, we make them plan a menu for one night a week. They help with the shopping and estimate how much it will cost (even if we are still the ones paying the bill). And then – my favorite part – they cook and clean up afterwards! It’s pure bliss to have some of that responsibility of what to cook lifted off my shoulders, and they get to learn valuable skills. That’s how I rationalize it, anyway.
I recently brought home some new cookbooks – which were met with a few groans – but it wasn’t long before I was hearing, “Hey, this looks good!” I’m really looking forward to the crustless tomato-ricotta pie in “Gluten-Free: Easy & Delicious Recipes for Every Meal.” Fresh tomatoes from the farmers market and eggs from our backyard chickens should make it incredible! And the flourless chocolate hazelnut cake? Yum! Continue reading “Summer Cooking (or How to Torment Your Kids)”
The popularity of the 5K running event is soaring these days. Nearly 8 million people competed in a 5K event during 2015 according to the official entity that keeps such statistics, Running USA. That is a significant number of people pounding the pavement in pursuit of a personal running best. Probably the hardest thing about the process is actually getting started! Fortunately, there are many “couch to 5K” types of books to help.
My wife and I have two small children, ages 6 and 10, and we love running with them. I really enjoy it – an after-work two-miler with my kids is just what the doctor ordered. I get to spend time with my girls, and they get to stay fit and active. A great book about starting a running program for kids is titled: “Young Runners: The Complete Guide to Healthy Running for Kids From 5 to 18.” Some of the challenges facing young runners are age and growth specific injuries such as shin splints and knee pain. “Young Runners” outlines training programs so that kids can avoid these pitfalls, stay motivated and even run their first 5 or 10K. Continue reading “Couch to 5K: Books (and Other Resources)”
At one point in my life, when I was feeling unmoored, I came across the book “PMS, Perimenopause, and You,” by Lori Futterman. Now what does a healthy mind have to do with PMS (premenstrual syndrome) and perimenopause, you ask? Well, included in this helpful book, which takes a holistic approach to this stage in a woman’s life, is a very good definition of what it means to be healthy. And I quote Futterman: “You are healthy if you are able to do the things you want to, have a strong sense of calm, and are able to face unforeseen events that may be stressful with resolve and resourcefulness. You may achieve inner peace through meditation, religion, reflection, study of philosophy, or visualization.” Continue reading “A Healthy Mind”
“Do you know what my favorite part of the game is? The opportunity to play.”– Mike Singletary, speaking of his career in football.
Isn’t this what we all want: the chance to participate in activities that enrich our lives? In the past, a physical or cognitive disability often meant spectator-only status when it came to sports, but that’s become less true with each passing decade. Check out Special Olympics champion gymnast, Chelsea Werner. Color me impressed; I never even learned to do a proper cartwheel. Continue reading “Everyone Deserves the Opportunity to Play”
Sizzle, sizzle, pop, hiss, sizzle, sputter, sizzle. No, unfortunately, that is not the sound of bacon frying…it’s the sound of unprotected skin exposed to the summer sun. Ouch!
We all know the mental and emotional boost received from spending time in the sun, and the sunshine has other healthful properties, including acting as a germicidal, healing certain skin conditions and helping the body synthesize vitamin D. But, our beautiful, heavenly golden globe also showers down very harmful ultraviolet rays, which can cause premature aging of the skin (including sagging, wrinkling and age spotting) and worse, skin cancer. May 27 has been designated Sunscreen Protection Day, otherwise known as Don’t Fry Day, and protecting your skin from sun overexposure is actually serious business. Did you know that all tanning is a form of burning, even if it doesn’t hurt, and the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) has declared there is no safe way to tan? Continue reading “Your Skin in the Sun: Remember, You Are Not Bacon”
Happy Birthday, National Park Service!
The weather is warming up, school is coming to a close, and we are making plans for the summer! What a great time to visit one of the National Park Service’s 411 sites, including 59 national parks. The National Park Service, under the Department of the Interior, manages memorials, seashores, historic sites and battlefields. They even manage the White House and four former prisons!
When I was a kid, I remember loading up in the back of our station wagon for vacation. No seat belts, y’all! We would go for a week or two and visit places like the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Great Sand Dunes or Estes Park in Colorado. We also visited Scott’s Bluff in Nebraska, as well as Mount Rushmore and the Badlands in South Dakota. The drives always seemed arduous, but they were made worth it by the thrill of whatever scene we came upon. I don’t think we were ever disappointed.
To celebrate this wonderful anniversary, I have been checking out a few books from the library collection. “The Wonder of it All: 100 Stories from the National Park Service” is a collection of stories from various parks employees and rangers about their experiences. I had no idea that the Gateway Arch in St. Louis was managed by the National Park Service. I also didn’t know that it had anything to do with the Scotts of the Dred Scott case. Continue reading “Happy 100th, National Park Service!”
I am not an impulse shopper when it comes to clothes or everyday groceries. I’m a disciplined gal, sticking to my list. However, when it comes to farmers’ markets, I cannot resist the jewel-toned eggplants, the deep green and curling kale leaves, the delicate mushrooms. Many times a summer I find myself with a counter full of fruits and vegetables without a clue as to how to integrate them into my week’s meal planning.
We are lucky to have a number of farmers’ markets in Boone and Callaway Counties (see our local produce subject guide for details). If you, like me, want to make sure your locally sourced veggies don’t wind up rotting in your crisper drawer, check out some of these cookbooks for delicious inspiration.
Williams-Sonoma’s “Cooking From the Farmers’ Market” includes not only recipes but also helpful tips for picking the freshest produce and best ways to prepare various fruits and vegetables. The pictures are gorgeous, and there are three recipes provided for each ingredient highlighted. Many of the recipes are simple with minimal ingredient lists — when the produce is fresh, you can let that sun-ripened flavor be the star of the show. I can’t wait to try baked eggs with spinach and cream or sugar snap pea risotto! Continue reading “Feasts From Your Farmers' Market”
Imagine this: you are a citizen of a Democracy where individual rights and privacy are supposedly its most sacred principle, and yet 24/7 you may be tracked by the government, corporations and even the city in which you live. You constantly wear or use devices that send out signals and information transmitted to millions of different data-gathering entities. A future such as this, predicted by the likes of George Orwell and Aldous Huxley, may have seemed very frightening little more than 20 years ago. Such a future, however, is in the here and now. Continue reading “Big Data and "Choose Privacy Week"”
A Charm for Spring Flowers
Who sees the first marsh marigold
Shall count more wealth than hands can hold.
Who bends a knee where violets grow
A hundred secret things shall know.
Who finds hepatica’s dim blue
Shall have his dearest wish come true.
Who spies on lady-slippers fair
Shall keep a heart as light as air.
But whosoever toucheth not
One petal, sets no root in pot,
He shall be blessed of earth and sky,
Till under them he, too, shall lie.
Oh, the magical charm of wildflowers, especially the earliest ones, which rise up through the woodland leaf litter to sing, when winter is gone. If you’ve spent any time in the woods hunting down or chancing upon these fleeting beauties (in our local area, bloodroot, wake robin, Dutchman’s breeches, etc.), you know how bewitching they can be. I was 15 years old when I found and identified wild columbine flowers. We were on a spring road trip, my mother and I, headed to Georgia via Skyline Drive to visit my grandmother, when we stopped for a break. I wandered off for a short walk and found columbine growing on a sunny hillside. The blossoms, with their complex structure formed in bright red and yellow, were stunningly beautiful and unlike any flower I had ever seen before. They most certainly cast a spell on me, propelling me on a lifelong quest to find and identify more wildflowers. It is a sweet and happy hobby.
The first week of May is National Wildflower Week, and what a worthy group to showcase and celebrate. Continue reading “Wildflower Enchantment”