Saturday, June 29, 2013

Water Safety

It seems simple enough...supervise your children when they are in or near the water.  The doorbell or phone rings, children need towels, juiceboxes or pool toys and we become distracted.  Children can drown in seconds.  Children under 5 account for about 76% of pool/spa drownings and drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death in young children (ages 1-4).

From the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services
*Appoint an adult who can swim to watch children while they are in the pool. The supervising adult
should not read, talk on the phone, mow the lawn, leave or turn her back on the pool area,
or do any other distracting activity while watching the children.
*Don’t consider your children to be ‘drown-proof’ because they’ve had swimming lessons.
*Keep ladders, patio furniture and toys away from above-ground pools. Toddlers are better climbers
than you might think!
*Fence in your pool completely and install a self-closing, self-latching gate. Pool safety covers and
alarms provide added protection.
*Young children should wear or use personal flotation devices, but these devices do not
replace adult supervision. They could deflate or slip from underneath a child, leaving him in a dangerous situation.
*Remind baby-sitters and other caretakers not to leave children unattended near or in water.
Keep pool water clear and remove floats and other toys when the pool is not in use. Cloudy water
and items floating in the water may prevent a child from being seen.
*Learn CPR and keep rescue equipment, a telephone and emergency numbers near all pools. Seconds
count when it comes to preventing death or serious injury. 
*Save a life: constantly supervise kids near water.
For more information,
or call 312-814-68

For more information---
Illinois DCFS---
NBC's Today Show---  
American Red Cross---

Keep your child safe near the water this summer!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Clothesline

If all our troubles were hung on a line, you would choose yours and I would choose mine.  Anonymous

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Farmers Markets 2013

A trip to the farmers market can be a wonderful opportunity to spend time with your child.  The colors, shapes, smells and textures of the market will provide limitless topics for discussion.  It is an opportunity to introduce vocabulary and learn the names of new foods.  Bringing the food home gives you and your child time in the kitchen creating and tasting new foods and recipes.  Check out these past posts for some helpful hints---

From the Peoria Journal Star---

Local Markets...
►Metro Centre Farmers Market
Metro Centre, 4700 N. University St.
8 a.m. to 2 p.m. (May to October)
-Riverfront Farmers Market
►Downtown Peoria riverfront
8 a.m. to noon (June through September)
-Metamora Farmers Market
►On the square in Metamora
8 to 11 a.m. (June to September)
►Canton Main St. Farmers Market
South end of Jones Park in downtown Canton
7:30 to 11:30 a.m. (June through September)
►EPIC Market
1913 Townline Road
8 a.m. to noon (May 18 to Oct. 12)
►Heights Farm Market
Peoria Heights
3:30 to 6:30 p.m. (June 12 through Sept. 18)
►Washington Square Farmers Market
On the square in Washington
8 to 11 a.m. (June 22 through September)
►Pekin Main St. Farmers Market
Courthouse Square in Pekin
4:30 to 6:30 p.m. (June 19 to Sept. 25)
►Stark County Farmers Market
Corner of 7th and Williams in downtown Wyoming
4 -7 p.m. (June to September)
►East Peoria Farmers Market
Pedestrian promenade at East Peoria's Levee District
3 to 6 p.m. (June 21 through Sept. 27)

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Fathers & Sons...Quality Time

We lived near St. Louis, Missouri for about ten years.  The boys were little (under ten years old) and I was a  young mom :-)  The St. Louis Post-Dispatch was our daily paper.  Gregory Freeman was a journalist for the Post-Dispatch.  Sadly, Mr. Freeman passed away in December 2002 at the age of 46. 

My morning routine has always included reading the newspaper.  My favorite columns were when Mr. Freeman would write about his son who was older than my two boys.  I always felt Mr. Freeman was giving me a special gift---a quick peek into my future.  I would cut the articles and hang them on my bulletin board.

This column was published on Tuesday, April 30, 1996.  Dads enjoy some quality time with your sons.  Sons enjoy some quality time with your dad.  Happy Father's Day!

Father, Son Quality Time Decreasing in Quantity
Gregory Freeman  April 30, 1996   St. Louis Post-Dispatch

My son and I took in a Cardinals game last week and watched the Redbirds stomp the Mets, 9-4.

I'm not a  big sports fan, but I do like the Cards.  Will and I usually take in a game or two a year.

I wondered, though, as we watched the game, how much longer this simple ritual would last.  Gone are the days when he was more interested in who was selling popcorn, soda and ice cream. 

At 15, he knows the records of some of the players, and  he's glad to share his opinions on whom the Cardinals should keep and whom they should deep-six.

He's growing up, this one I used to call my "little bud."  He peers over my head now.  I jokingly tell him that I'm going to start wearing his shoes, even though his are a size larger than mine.

I continue to enjoy time with him, but I'm also forced to realize that less of his time is spent with his parents.  He's active with Boy Scouts, with his school's baseball team, with his friends.  He's a busy kid who no longer relies on his parents as the sole source of his entertainment.

This has happened gradually, over time.  It's good that he's developing the sort of independence that will allow him to grow into a healthy, well-adjusted adult.  But it also fills me with a touch of sadness to realize that in not too many years he'll be grown, with perhaps a family all his own.

No longer is he the little boy who shadowed me wherever I went, the toddler who was fascinated with the computers at his daddy's office, the child who fidgeted as he and his father listened to a speech by Alex Haley. 

Gone is the little one who was fascinated by kites, the tot who could barely peer over the dining room table, the tyke who got cake all over his face on his second birthday.

That little boy has been replaced by a young man, tall and handsome, smart and smart-alecky, a collector of baseball cards and an admirer of Ken Griffey Jr.  A teen-ager who spends hours on the phone talking about what, to a parent, seems like nothing.  An adolescent who has become an aficionado of bands and who leaves his old man in the dirt when it comes to understanding much of today's music.

He's the one who wonders how I got stuck in the past as I enjoy my disco tapes from the '70's or play an old Lionel Ritchie song.

I can close my eyes and see myself hoisting him in the air, humming the theme to "Superman" and watching him scream with glee, at a time when he was no bigger than a pillow.

He's a big guy now, too big for anyone to pick up, a voice too deep to scream about anything.

The closeness remains.  He still gives me a hug every so often, and we still have fun chats together.  But the young man is growing up, and his interests, like those of other young men his age, are turning in other directions.

He's with me now, and yet I miss him, or at least miss the little boy he used to be.  In a few year, I'm sure I"ll miss the teen-ager he is now.

But that's part of being a parent:  realizing that they grow up and begin to develop lives of their own.  I'd be less than honest if I were to say that I was completely thrilled by that part, but I've been overruled by time.

So I've watched as the little boy has become a young man, and I continue to marvel at this wonderful thing called life.  It's one thing to watch yourself grow older; it's another to watch your child do the same. 

We've had lots of good times, and I hope those good times will translate into good memories as he passes into manhood.  All of those good times have been special, and none can be completely replicated.  But they can be remembered and savored.  I savor many now; I hope to savor many more.

Sure, we've got pictures, but there's not enough film in America to capture all the "Kodak moments" we've had.

Still, I'm pleased that he's a good kid.  He's a normal youngster, and we've had the troubles out of him that most parents have with their teen-agers---forgetful at times, not always wearing the clothes we'd like, seeking a little more independence than we're willing to give him.

But overall, I'm proud of the lanky kid that towers over his father.

No matter how tall he gets, he'll always be my "bud".

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Kids Bowl Free

It's summer and it's going to get hot...really hot and really humid.  Often it gets too hot and too humid to play outside so make sure you sign up for the Kids Bowl Free summer program. Get a group of friends together for some nice cool and active fun.  For more information and how to sign your child up, go to

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Summer Bucket List 2013

School has been out in central Illinois for a couple weeks.  Have you done anything really fun with your kids yet?  or just running to camps, practices and ballgames? Is your supper bad nachos and a diet soda in lawn chair while watching your child play ball?  Time to get planning.  Summer is a blank canvas but often we get so busy with 'stuff', we forget the fun summer can offer.

Check out these past summer posts for ideas to get you started on a fun filled summer with your child!

The Family Field Trip---

Safety Town---


Fun & Games---

Farmers Market---

Ice Cream---


Zoo---check out June 2012 posts

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Great American Backyard Campout

The Great American Backyard Campout  is Saturday, June 22nd.  My childhood is filled with mostly wonderful camping memories :-)  My parents traveled with five kids in a station wagon and pulled a small camping trailer.  We camped in Yellowstone and Yosemite National Parks, the Boundary Waters of Minnesota and Virginia Beach. 

My husband and I were 'Weekend Warriors' camping for a night or two in local state parks.  After the boys were born, we began day trips to state parks.  We would get a campsite and set up camp.  We would spend the day fishing, hiking or playing depending on the park. The boys would take nap in the tent.  We would build a campfire and cook dinner.  After dinner, we would clean up camp and head home.  It was a camping style that worked for us.

The Great American Backyard Campout is an opportunity to introduce your child to the concept of camping in the security of your backyard.  Your Great American Campout  can be as organized or unorganized as you wish.  It's an opportunity for you and your child to spend an evening under the stars together or with friends.

A quick Internet search will provide you with  lots of helpful information and hints to hosting your own backyard camp-out. Here are few ideas and hints to get you started---

*Keep it simple.
*Check the weather.
*Set a date and time. 
*Invite family, friends and neighbors.
*Encourage people not to use their phones during the campout.
*Check your local fire codes for open fires (municipal and neighborhood).
*A tent can be optional---Sleeping bags can be placed air mattresses on the ground or large sheets. 
*Food---hot dogs, burgers, s'mores or Hobo Packs (foil cooking).  Want to keep it really simple? Order pizza and have it delivered!
*Have bug repellent, wet-wipes for sticky faces and sticky hands, joke books (to tell around the campfire), flashlights and lawn chairs.

A backyard camp-out will create a lot of fun summer  memories for you and your child!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Brains of the Family

If only it was that easy!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Art Garage

Looking for some summer fun for you and your child?  Gather a group of friends and head over the the Art Garage or The Hive.  Both businesses provide a wide variety of materials and art experiences for all ages.  Check out the article in Peoria Journal for more information...

The Hive---

Fired Up Studio---

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Lemonade Stand

National Lemonade Days is Friday, June 7th - Sunday, June 9th.  National Lemonade Days is a coast to coast 'lemonade stand' to benefit  Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation.   The ALSF is non-profit organization that is "fighting childhood cancer, one cup at time."  In 2000, Alex Scott (1996-2004) was four years old and a cancer patient. She set up a neighborhood lemonade stand to help fund finding a cure for childhood cancers.  She raised $2000 that day and the foundation continues to raise money one cup at time.

Who can pass up cute kids selling lemonade? This would be a great family or neighborhood project.  Get a card table. Make a poster.  Use social media to let friends and family know about your lemonade stand.  Click on the links above to learn more about foundation.  You and your child can help make a difference in the battle of childhood cancer. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Bug Eyed!

Very Hungry Caterpillar Inspired Playdough Fun!
 Our Very Hungry Caterpillar unit at the end of the school year inspired me to cook up a new batch of green playdough for the classroom.  I added large googly eyes, black pipe cleaners and all the red and green plastic caps I could find in our sorting bin (we have hundreds of plastic caps for counting, sorting and patterns).  Homemade playdough will last much longer than store bought.  I just store in plastic zippered storage bag and it will keep for a year to eighteen months. 

Need some playdough recipes?

Take playdough to the park, on trips. to family reunions or outside on your picnic table. Have playdough ready for indoor play---rainy summer days and baking hot summer days!  It's time to cook up a batch of playdough for summer fun with your child!