Picnics are a great way to enjoy warm summer days, but food poisoning can ruin the fun. The Partnership for Food Safety Education launched the free Perfect Picnic app, just in time for the summer grilling season. Perfect Picnic teaches kids ages 8-11 about the importance of food safety and how to reduce their risk of food poisoning.
I recently tested Perfect Picnic to see what I could learn, and I was so impressed. I was the master of my own park filled with trees, outdoor kitchens, and several of my park “friends.” In order to pay for all of my park amenities, I rented out barbeque spots and kept my visitors happy.
However, I quickly learned that if my park wasn’t clean, my “friends” would leave. I needed to act fast! Luckily, I made sure all visitors knew how to wash their hands to reduce the risk of contaminating food and use a food thermometer to avoid problems from undercooked meat. I also needed to keep coolers filled with ice, so all perishables stayed chilled to 40°F. In addition, all food preparation surfaces needed to be kept clean.
Perfect Picnic is a great way for kids to learn about safe food handling practices in a fun, engaging way. After a few rounds on the app, kids will be ready to help out at the next barbeque. Click here to download Perfect Picnic.
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Last week, Parents caught up with Maggie Gyllenhaal at the 125th Anniversary celebration of The First Aid Kit by Johnson & Johnson. After hearing from Safe Kids Worldwide about preventing childhood injuries, we spoke to Maggie about how she keeps her two daughters, Ramona, 6, and Gloria, 14 months, safe, and what she does to stay relaxed even in scary moments.
P: When you first became a mom, were you the nervous type?
MG: I was young when Ramona was born. I was 28 and still kind of a kid in a lot of ways. I wanted to be cool about everything and easygoing. I didn’t realize that the way to be easygoing is to do some preparation, to actually have a diaper bag with the things you need! Because if you do that then you don’t have to constantly be worrying, “Oh G-d! They need a snack and where am I going to get something?” I know all that now! Also my second daughter is much more easygoing with her own bumps and bruises. She’ll fall over and kind of get up and be fine. Not always, but she’s a different personality than my first.
P: Who puts on the Band-Aids at home? You or Daddy? Does Ramona or Gloria have a preference?
MG: I’m not sure Gloria has ever had to have a Band-Aid, yet. And Ramona definitely prefers me for that kind of thing, although Peter is happy to do it, too. She’s definitely more of a mama’s girl.
P: Have you had any scares with Ramona?
MG: I look at my girlfriend who has three little boys and they have been in and out of the hospital. They have gotten broken bones and stitches and my kids haven’t had any of that stuff…yet. It’s partially to do with their personalities. Ramona definitely is super active, but she’s also cautious.
There was one time when Gloria was about 4 weeks old that Ramona slipped. We were staying at a friend’s house in upstate New York and I was downstairs with our newborn. All I heard was a big thud and crying. I went upstairs and Peter was holding Ramona’s ankle in this way and looking at me in a way that I thought, “Oh my G-d she broke her ankle, and we’re upstate, and I have a 4-week-old, and it’s like 100 degrees.” And I really thought something terrible had happened and, in fact, it was nothing. But I think the way that she’d fallen he just thought, Ok sit down. Let me check it out. Peter was a soccer player, so he knows all about injuries. I remember that as a really terrifying moment, because when you have a tiny baby you are so sensitive, and my heart was just so open in those first six weeks in particular. So I still was not fully functional. I didn’t know how I was going to manage taking her to the emergency room with a newborn. Thank G-d I didn’t have to.
P: You mentioned that your husband is great with these sports injuries. Is Ramona going in to sports or dance?
MG: I think she’s just active the way a kid is active and loves to do cartwheels and round-offs. In her school they do a lot of that stuff. She’s very strong. But, I don’t know yet what she’s going to be.
P: If you end up on the sidelines, how do you make sure she’s safe being an active kid?
MG: Well, like they say, some injuries are part of being alive. It’s just the same as…I think about heartbreak for my children or even the social stuff that goes on between friends. It prepares you for being an adult where you get hurt all the time—not as much physically. I think about that sometimes, too. If you ever fall as an adult—slip and fall—how incredibly jarring it is. As kids they’re doing it all the time, just falling over.
I think the ways that you hurt yourself both physically and emotionally as a kid are ways of preparing you for dealing with those same kind of things as a grownup. So, I don’t think it’s the end of the world for people to get hurt, but I do think that you have to be careful. I think you have to keep an eye out for them and you have to keep boundaries.
I thought before my kids were born that I was just going to be so easygoing. In fact, I find that it’s easier for me and it’s better for them to be really clear about what’s safe and what’s not. What’s okay and what’s not.
P: When they’re with their Grandma Naomi, do you leave behind instructions?
MG: My mom has said, “I’m allowed to give her more treats than you do. I am allowed to let her stay up late. That’s my job.” It’s part of the gift of being a grandmother.
Click here for tips on how to be prepared in 12 scary situations.Add a Comment
“First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in the baby carriage,” I used to sing gayly on the blacktop at recess as I jumped rope. It all sounds so nice and simple, like a present wrapped in a bow. But as we all know, life is not as easy as the jingle had us believe when we were young, particularly the part about having kids.
More women are beginning to discuss the struggles and more serious medical side-effects of giving birth— specifically postpartum depression—but the subject still feels taboo. Director/writer/producer Jon Avnet hopes that his new YouTube series Susanna on the WIGS channel will help eliminate the stigma associated with the condition. The drama tells the story of Katie (Anna Paquin), a new mom suffering from acute postpartum depression, and her younger sister Susanna (Maggie Grace), who must step in to care for her newborn niece when it is clear that Katie’s illness is dire.
According to Postpartum Support International, 15 percent of women experience major or minor depression after the birth of their child. Yet, so many of us are in the dark about the condition and its symptoms. Like Katie, women experiencing postpartum depression often feel a lack of connection to the baby they were so looking forward to meeting. As a new mom, Katie feels rejected, like her baby is a stranger to her. Avnet combines Katie’s feelings of insecurity with the sleep deprivation and uncertainty that every new mother experiences to create a relatable and powerful story.
Each episode is a quick but impactful 10-minute view into Katie’s world, showing suffering mothers that they are not alone, postpartum depression is more common than we think, and there is no shame in talking about it and seeking help.
Susanna starring Anna Paquin and Maggie Grace debuts with six episodes Friday, June 14 on WIGS.
Click here to watch a preview clip of the series.Add a Comment
NCIS: Los Angeles star Chris O’Donnell has joined with The ConAgra Foods Foundation’s Hunger-Free Summer program to raise awareness for kids who depend on free or reduced lunch meals during the school year. Now in its fourth year, the initiative has delivered over 2.5 million meals and snacks to children struggling with hunger over the summer. The goal is to reach at least 25 percent more children in need during the summer than before, over the course of five years.
We spoke with O’Donnell about the program, his career, and what it’s like to raise five children.
How do you manage raising so many kids? Do you ever have peace and quiet?
On a normal day, peace and quiet doesn’t begin until the last one goes to sleep, which gets later and later as they get older. My wife Caroline and I do try to find time for just the two of us, run out for a glass of wine or a quick dinner. The noise feels like the new normal at this point. If it gets too quiet, that usually means trouble.
What’s the best part of having a big family?
In terms of our children, we try to encourage each of them to explore their individual interests since they are each so unique. It is fun watching them as they dabble in all types of sports and extracurricular activities.
You took time off from your acting career to focus on your family. Was that a scary decision to make?
I had a couple moments early in my career where it was more about re-examining my life. I started young and had a lot of success out of the gate. I would go movie, to movie, to movie, and would never see the people I worked with again. I was really getting burnt out on a personal, emotional level. And that’s just not who I am. The road I wanted to go down was to be married and have a family.
Did raising kids ever get easier for you? By the time you were on the fifth baby, did you feel like you had a handle on things?
I think going from two to three kids was the most difficult, but it does get easier. The older kids start to behave and help out, and we are more experienced as well. We don’t stress out over small things that may have freaked us out in our first couple years as parents.
What’s your best advice for busy parents out there?
From my perspective, it’s important for parents to set a good example for their kids, and impart on them that they should think about and help others.
Why is the Hunger-Free Summer Program particularly important to you?
I was shocked to learn that one in five children in the U.S. faces food insecurity—and that the situation only becomes more worrisome during the summer months. It can be an invisible issue, so as a father of five, I want to do something to help.
Want to help O’Donnell and the Hunger-Free Summer initiative? Check out www.ChildHungerEndsHere.com and watch O’Donnell’s message below. For every video viewed and shared, ConAgra will donate one meal to Feeding America, the country’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization.
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My brother, due to become a first-time father this month, got one baby item that is his and his alone: A Steelers diaper bag. He’s pretty psyched to carry it. And I’m a little jealous!
We’re a football family but, this being baseball season, I want to give an shout-out to one of my favorite dad-inspired companies, Diaper Dude, which just debuted a Major League Baseball line. Getting Dad a diaper bag that he likes not only makes him a part of the whole “nesting” phenomenon, it helps ensure that he’ll actually take the baby on outings without you. In other words, it’s pretty key!
And you know, you can totally take one of these bags to a ballgame long after your baby is out of diapers.
I’m just going to have to ask the Diaper Dude owner, Chris Pegula, shown here with two of his kids, why I’m not seeing the Pirates as one of the team choices. Hey! We’re not all from LA or NY!
What’s your favorite baseball team? Leave a comment below, up to one a day between now and the end of the day on Thursday, June 20th, and you can win a Diaper Dude MLB bag, worth $78. If you win, you can pick your team! (Though you may be limited to the ones they show on their site.) Because our comments below use Facebook technology, you’re going to want to check your “other” Facebook message folder on June 21st to see if you’ve won. I’ve included a picture of what it looks like; it’s the gray word “other” next to your message inbox. We’ll also try and post the winner’s name as a comment to help you all out. Here’s where you can read all the official rules. Goody luck!
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Want your kid to eat broccoli and brussel sprouts? Paul Lindley, a British father of two, created Ella’s Kitchen in 2006 to do just that. His goal was to encourage his daughter to explore new foods and, hopefully, banish picky-ness. The organic baby food creator just released The Cookbook: The Red One, which just might get your kids to like their veggies, too.
Q: Why did you write this cookbook?
A: Involving children with cooking and food at an early age can help shape their future relationships with food. The Cook Book: The Red One features fun ideas and creative activities that allow little ones to experience healthy foods outside of mealtimes, from getting creative with vegetable prints to playing at a “Cool Kiddie Café.” We offer ways for children to learn more about fruit and vegetables using all their senses, to help them develop healthy eating habits that last a lifetime.
Q: What is Ella’s Kitchen? What products do you offer and how did you get started?
A: I launched Ella’s Kitchen in 2006 to help babies and toddlers enjoy eating healthy food. I had an understanding of what makes children tick from being a parent myself, as well as from my experience working at Nickelodeon.
I was inspired to set up Ella’s Kitchen by my own experiences in weaning Ella. I passionately believe that all kids should have the opportunity to discover that healthy food can be fun, tasty, and cool.
At Ella’s Kitchen we believe that little ones eat using all of their senses, and therefore it was important for us to produce foods that not only taste great, but are bright, tactile and fun. We always approach healthy eating from a child’s perspective and take simple, natural ingredients to create foods and packaging that really connect with kids and their parents – helping them through the entire weaning process.
Q: There is a large element for children in this book. The illustrations are playful and fun and there are drawings to color. Why was this important to include?
A: We always approach everything we do from a child’s perspective and our cookbook is no different. The book is for the whole family and the easy instructions, clever shortcuts and fun activities allow little ones to engage with healthy foods outside of mealtimes. It’s all about getting children hands-on and messy in the kitchen from a young age.
Q: Why is organic, fresh, and homemade so important to you?
A: Organic food is better because it comes from carefully monitored sources with high standards in quality but habits—both good and bad—are formed in the earliest years of a child’s life. It’s crucial to start a healthy diet from a young age. Develop healthy eating habits by getting your little one involved in food; let her help during the cooking process and make yummy homemade dishes together.
Q: How and why did you get into food and cooking?
A: I’ve always loved cooking. Even as a child of 6 years-old, I used to help my mum make surprise birthday cakes! Then when Ella was born, I—like any parent—struggled at times to get her to eat certain foods. So I designed games to make mealtime fun. In our home, meals have always been messy, noisy, interactive events. The whole family enjoys the experience of creating dishes together. Sitting down to enjoy them always makes me smile.
Q: Your personal inspiration came from your children, Ella and Paddy. Did they help in the creation of the book? Did they create any recipes?
A: Two of the recipes in the new cookbook are my family’s own, including Ella’s Dad’s Sweet + Sour Prawns and Ella’s Mum’s Easy Chicken Curry. We first made the chicken curry when Ella was just three years old and she’s loved it ever since, as it’s mild, sweet and creamy. Ella and Paddy were involved in tasting lots of recipes when we were experimenting with ideas!
Q: Ella, now 13, wrote the book’s Foreword and has been in the kitchen since age 4. Does she have goals to pursue cooking professionally in the future?
A: Ella’s favorite school subject is Food Technology, so you never know! At this stage in her life she’s busy having fun with her friends. All we wish is that when she grows up, she does something that she’s passionate about and believes in.
Q: Your recipes are family-friendly, but some have unexpected flavor combos—do you have certain chefs or books that you look to? Where do you find culinary inspiration?
A: The inspiration for our recipes came in lots of different forms; from real mums and dads, friends and family, and our ever-so-clever recipe developer Emma Jane Frost. Our team of nutritionists selected and approved every recipe to ensure that kids have balanced meals to help them grow.
Q: You have tips on preventing picky-ness, but what advice do you give parents who already have picky eaters?
A: Help your kids use all of their senses when exploring new foods—this will teach them to love healthy food from the start! The key is to be patient and persistent. Little ones have three times as many taste buds as adults, which leads to a taste intensity of up to 10 times that of an adult. As a result, both sweet and bitter tastes are exaggerated, often leading to immediate rejection of brussel sprouts and broccoli. It can take 10 separate experiences of a new taste before it’s accepted, so don’t give up after the first couple of times! Keep going and your little one will eat up their vegetables in no time.
Q: Growing up, who did most of the cooking in your family? What was a typical weeknight meal like?
A: I grew up in Sheffield, England and it was my mum who did most of the cooking. Her crispy Yorkshire puddings were a big favourite in our house – whether filled with sausages and gravy during the week or as part of a family roast with meat and loads of veg at the weekend. I can still hear the crunch they made when I close my eyes now!
Q: If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life what would it be and why?
A: It’d have to be my mum’s Yorkshire puddings now that it’s in my mind – Mmmm! There are so many different things to fill them with that I’d never get bored. Ella and Paddy love them too and I’m sure we’d have fun experimenting with new things to put in them!
Q: What other important things should our readers know about you or the book?
A: At Ella’s we always try to look at life from a child’s point of view: with an open mind and with all our senses. My strong belief is that the more a young child is involved with his or her food, whether that’s choosing it, preparing it, playing with it or eating it independently—the more likely he or she is to give it a try and go on to enjoy it!
Interview has been condensed and edited.Add a Comment
Tags: author, baby food, cookbook, Ella's Kitchen, Food, healty eating, interview, Paul Lindley, picky eaters, The Red One, toddler food, toddler meals, vegetables | Categories: Babies, Food, GoodyBlog
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After having my third baby, our apartment in the city officially moved into the “way too small” category. A bathroom became a closet, the main hallway became a putting green, the living room transformed into a makeshift castle fort, and my closet obviously was repurposed as the “dress up adventure/let’s open all of mommy’s shoe boxes because we’ve run out of places to play” area. So we have moved to the ‘burbs.
To my great surprise, it has not been the longer commute, nor the friendly neighbors delivering ample cupcakes, nor the increased amount of storage space that has been the greatest change for me. Instead, it has been the way in which I parent. In my apartment, my kids could roam freely and I would pretty much feel secure knowing where they were and what they were doing. After all, I could see into every room, nook, and cranny from the living room, there were no stairs, only one way into and out of the house, and window guards—so basically a New York City fortress. Because of this, I could juggle multiple things at once while the kids ran around and did their own thing. Perhaps that’s why having three kids hasn’t felt too difficult, despite the gasps I always receive when pushing around my triple train of a stroller!
But now in our new house, if the children go into a different room or up the staircase, I have no idea what they are doing. And once I chase after them to take a peek, it turns out they have usually found the most dangerous thing possible to explore. (You know, the usual investigating circuitry or touching some bug not known to us in the far-off lands of NYC!) Ever since the move, we’ve had to work more as a team so we can stick together as we travel around the house. Whether it’s cooking, getting dressed, or exploring the garden together, my little ones are having to be patient with each other instead of wandering off and not waiting for their siblings.
The move has also helped my children learn about independence. I simply can’t keep my eyes on them at all times as I did in the city, so my rules are more strict and their responsibility is greater. There is a sense of freedom, yet there is more order all at the same time. To be completely honest, I’ve been a total neurotic basket-case as I’m learning to let them explore. (Meanwhile, I’m still learning how to make a good cup of coffee for myself because apparently Starbucks doesn’t deliver!) However, even without my regular dose of caffeine, last night as I watched them dig into dinner, truly hungry and tired from a day of fun outdoors, I could see the happiness over every inch of their bodies and knew this was the right move for us…. Even if this mama is going to have to learn a new style of parenting!Add a Comment
I am not a car guy.
There are plenty of shiny, expensive objects I lust after, but I’ve never cared much what my ride looks like or what company’s insignia is on its rear. But as my family stands at the crossroads between old car and new car, I find myself feeling unusually emotional about the transition. I am going to miss the old buggy.
This, after all, is the car in which we brought home both of our babies. It’s the car in which I struggled and eventually learned to install a car seat. And it’s the car that suffered innumerable tire problems after a harrowing drive to the hospital through pothole-riddled streets to get there just in time for #2 to arrive. It’s the car for which I then waited at the shop as my wife cuddled that newborn on her first full day of life. And so on.
So yes, it’s just a hunk of steel and glass and other materials, which I will be glad to see driven away by a buyer who’s just handed me a check. But it’s also a pile of memories, our mobile home of sorts since before we even had kids. And so forgive me my wistfulness. Those tiny creatures whose first precious moments outside of the hospital were spent in that back seat are now on their second and third car seats. One is going to be a first grader, the other will start nursery school come September. Old enough to ask, incessantly, “Are we almost there?” and to seemingly drop more pretzels on the floor than were in the bag originally. Old enough to lobby for specific types of cars and colors and for where they will sit once we get it.
There’s nothing wrong with the old car, and it should have many years of good life ahead of it with its new owners. But as we look forward to a new member joining our family this fall, we’ll have a new tiny creature who will need his or her own seat and will need to find his or her own place—in the car and everywhere else—beside his or her bigger sisters. Bigger family, bigger car.
And so it’s not all sadness to see the old car go, not by a long shot. But as I learn to navigate a big honkin’ car unlike any other I’ve owned, I’ll also need to do the same with my big honkin’ family. Exciting, even thrilling, something I wouldn’t trade or surrender for anything. And also more than a little scary, a jump into the unknown.
Umpteen car salesman have promised me smooth rides and easy maintenance. May it be.Add a Comment