Back-to-school sleep tips

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Summer vacation is almost over, and whether kids break from summer, winter, spring, or even a long weekend, they seem to want to stay up later. Late nights can lead to difficult mornings transitioning back into their normal school routine. It is important for parents to put healthy sleep on the back-to-school list of necessities. Here are some helpful tips to get kids prepared to go back to school.

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  1. First, calculate how much sleep your child needs. Preschoolers need 11 to 12 hours of sleep. Ages 5-10 need 10 to 11 hours, and teenagers 9 to 10 hours.

  1. About 10 to 14 days before school starts, parents should gradually start adjusting their child’s bedtime schedules. Have them go to bed 15 minutes earlier each day before school starts. This will help set their circadian clock to school time. Try to also keep the same sleep schedule, even on weekends, to keep sleep rhythms regulated.

  1. Stick to an age-appropriate bedtime routine to help them wind down. For younger children this may consist of taking a bath before bed, brushing their teeth, or reading a bedtime story. For older children, they may want to read a book to relax or find a relaxation technique such as meditation, yoga, or deep-breathing exercises.

  1. Control the sleep environment by keeping the room cool, quiet, dark, and comfortable. Electronics such as, cell phones, televisions, video games, and computers should be turned off an hour before bedtime.

  2. Limit caffeine intake after lunch or at least 6 hours before bedtime. Caffeine is a stimulant and inhibits sleep. Healthy meals and regular exercise can help promote quality sleep.

  1. Avoid food close to bedtime, especially spicy foods that can cause acid reflux and raise body temperature, both of which inhibit sleep.

  1. Practice what you preach. Studies have shown that parents who set rules and abide by them themselves are more likely to have children follow their example. The right amount of sleep every night can help your child do better in school and help with mood and anxiety. 13717923_10205279444144540_1107853922_o.jpg

    These strategies can help you and your child have a healthy, successful upcoming school year.

Summer Solstice is Here

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Today is the longest day of the year meaning it is the Summer Solstice. So let’s celebrate the start of summer with some interesting Summer Solstice facts:

  1. Solstice comes from the latin words sol, meaning sun, and sistere, meaning to come to a stop or stand still.  Today the sun reaches the northernmost position as it can be seen from earth. At this moment, its zenith does not move north or south as during most days of the year, but it stands still above the Tropic of Cancer. It then reverses direction and starts moving south again.
  2. The Summer Solstice happens when the tilt of the earth’s axis is more inclined towards the sun, directly above the Tropic of Cancer.
  3. Depending on the shift of the calendar, the Summer Solstice can occur between June 20th and June 22nd.
  4. It occurs at the same time across the world. Technically, the Summer Solstice occurs the exact instant the sun is directly overhead the Tropic of Cancer. Today that is at 22:34 UTC.
  5. Today the sun rose at 5:39 am and will set at 8:33 pm giving us 14 hours, 53 minutes and 52 seconds of daylight.
  6. Many think that since it is summer in the northern hemisphere, the earth is closest to the sun during the Summer Solstice. But it is the opposite — the earth is technically the farthest from the sun during this time of the year.The Artic Circle will have 24 hours of daylight today.
  7. This will be the first Summer Solstice with a full moon in decades. The full moon — also known as the Strawberry Moon — will coincide with the Summer Solstice. This is the first time these two events have occurred on the same day since 1967 and will not happen again until 2062.

25 Ideas to Kick Your Summer Off Right

 

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Now that school is out and the weather is hot it’s time to think about what kind of fun activities you can plan to keep the whole family happy. Here is a list of 25 ideas we came up with. Use some of our ideas or come up with a few of your own.

  1. Volunteer at a local animal shelter, nature center, or organization that you support.
  2. Plan a camping trip and head out to the great outdoors.
  3. Visit your local farmer’s market for some yummy produce and local goods.

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  4. Pick berries.
  5. Use the berries you pick or the farmer’s-market finds to make delicious smoothies!

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  1. Have a picnic at a park.
  2. Go canoeing at a local lake.
  3. Have a backyard campfire – with s’mores.
  4. Go biking on a trail.

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  1. Plant a garden of herbs and veggies.
  2. Have an outdoor painting party using huge canvas or cardboard.
  3. Visit a museum.
  4. Learn about stargazing and identify as many constellations as possible.

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  5. Go outside and play. Volleyball, basketball, baseball, badminton- whatever game you love, get out and start playing.
  6. Get a map of the US and mark off all the exciting places you want to visit.
  7. Lace up your skates and go rollerskating.

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  8. Make popsicles with your favorite organic juice.
  9. Visit a flea market.
  10. Pick up a new hobby like painting, writing, fishing, etc.
  11. Visit a national park. The kids can even become Junior Rangers!

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  12. Have a game night with charades, Pictionary, Jenga, Monopoly, etc.
  13. Attend an outdoor festival or concert.
  14. Find a local carnival.
  15. Have homemade-pizza night.

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  16. Fall into a good book.

Whatever you decide to do, enjoy the summer, be sure to stay hydrated and protect yourself from the sun!

 

Plan A Picnic

 

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Memorial Day Weekend is the perfect occasion to pack a picnic and head outdoors to enjoy the beautiful weather. First you have to decide what dishes to bring. Typical picnic foods can include hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad, and cookies, which are not the healthiest choices (though they may be delicious). If you’re looking for better options, here are 10 healthy finger-food ideas for your next picnic outing!

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1. Edamame

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2. Ants on a Log (celery with peanut butter and raisins)

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3. Grilled Vegetables (zucchini, squash, mushrooms, etc.)

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4. Pita Chips with Hummus

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5. Homemade Trail Mix (dried fruits and nuts)

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6. Turkey Sandwiches with low-fat ingredients (whole-grain bread, lettuce, tomato, sprouts, and low-fat cheese)

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7. Shrimp and Lemon Skewers

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8. Yogurt

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9. Fruit Salad

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10. Angel Food Cake (low in calories) with fresh fruit and fat-free whipped cream

Now that your basket is packed with delicious foods, it’s time to head out and enjoy the beauty of nature!

 

Spring is in the Air…

Spring is finally here! After an unusually bizarre winter with the “polar vortex” swirling around the east and the dry skies in the west, we’re all ready to enjoy the pleasures of springtime. The sun is shining, maybe a little rain is still falling, but warm weather is here, hopefully to stay!

 

Here is a list of 10 things to do, get outside… enjoy the weather and your family and friends.

1. Read outside on a blanket in the sun

2. Go fishing with your buddies

images-13. Do some spring cleaning to fun music

4. Make these beautiful spring centerpieces, using simple glass jars and lemons for a touch of color!

20893414909de221e35e3b2d0ff7b1fa-15. Fly a kite on the beach

6. Plan a “staycation” with these cool ideas

7. Take pictures of wildflowers

5847087633_598af01050_z-18. Make this delicious “dirt cake”:

6309663259aac1a07cbdb3f4d3e9cf879. Walk barefoot on cool grass

10. Make a fairy garden like this one!

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Take Your Summer Vacation from Forgettable to Memorable

DSCN0407 Summer weather is finally here, and with the days staying lighter  longer it gives us more time for fun activities.  Planning those activities can feel daunting at times, however here are some ideas that will help you create great summer memories while being eco-friendly.

  1. Take a Hike

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    Bidwell Park – Chico, CA

Connect with nature by taking a walk in local park or nature trail.  Take time to check out the trees, wildflowers and birds.  Allow the kids to get exercise while enjoying the beauty of nature.

  1. Go for a Bike Ride

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Biking is a great exercise, and can be really enjoyable, especially in the evening after dinner.  Work off that meal you ate while peddling along with your family and friends.

  1. Visit a Local Farmer’s Market or Street Fair

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Search for hidden treasures at street fairs, or find great locally grown produce to incorporate into your menus for the week.

  1. Plant a Garden

Work on making a small garden for some fresh homegrown treats.  Gardens come in all sizes from window box gardens to large producing gardens.  Find an area for your garden and plant some of your favorite produce.

  1. Host a Potluck Dinner

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Invite friends over for an evening of fun. Potlucks allow guests to bring a dish, so this cuts back on energy used for cooking.  Pick a theme for the dinner, such as Italian, finger foods, etc.  The themes will keep your dinner options varied and allow for some creative cooking.

  1. Cool Off

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Escape the summer heat by visiting a local lake or community pool.

  1. Volunteer

Find a local organization such as a local food banks or animal shelter, and offer some help.  These organizations are always in need of a few extra hands.

  1. Plan A Mini Vacation

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Just because you can’t get a whole week off this summer does not mean you can’t take a mini vacation.  Plan a weekend trip to an area within driving distance and enjoy being away from home.  You don’t have to stay at an expensive hotel, but you can camp in a campground by a lake or river.  Just give yourself time to relax and “unplug.”

Whatever you decide to do this summer, remember to have fun, make some great memories, and as always, think about what you can do to keep your summer eco-friendly.