It is the height of summer here in Florida, and the mosquitoes are out in full force! At dusk, they seem to hover near our patio door, patiently waiting for anyone who opens the door to step outside! My little guy seems to be their biggest target… his sweet, 2 year old skin seems to be their favorite and tiny mosquito bites appear like chicken pox the second he is outside for more than 2 minutes at that time of day!

To keep those pesky mosquitoes away naturally, I have compiled a list of 3 tips and tricks that we use around our home. I don’t like to spray my children or myself with DEET-based repellents, so have found other, less toxic ways to combat the problem. Here are a few of our favorites!

3 Tips on Keeping Mosquitoes Away Naturally

sand toys image

Eliminate Standing Water Sources

Mosquitoes breed in water, and with heavy rains in FL in the summer, this makes for a terrible combination! If at all possible, drain areas that fill up quickly. Any toys & other items, such as plastic buckets, small wading pools, wagons, etc. should be dumped out at the end of the day after playing so as not to create the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. Yes, those sand box & water play table toys are the ideal place for mosquitoes to breed, so remember to dump them out and cover the table or sand box at the end of the day!

Brittanies Thyme Bug Spray

Apply (and Reapply!) a DEET-Free Insect Repellent

Brittanie’s Thyme offers a safe, effective organic bug spray that is derived from essential oils, not toxic chemicals. The Organic Bug Spray provides floral & woodsy scents that create a pleasing aroma for people, yet the bugs hate it! Brittanie’s Thyme does not contain citronella, and will not stain your clothes. They recommend not spraying the bug spray directly on the skin of babies and toddlers under 2 years old. Instead, spray your child’s clothing, stroller, blankets or grass area around them.

white socks

Dress Appropriately

We know it’s hot, but wearing light colored, long-sleeved pants & tops will deter mosquitoes from those areas of your body! Mosquitoes are attracted to dark clothing, so white or other lightly colored clothing are an optimal choice when planning to spend time outdoors hiking, playing and more! In addition, mosquitoes love feet, so opt for socks and shoes whenever possible!

*Brittanie’s Thyme provided samples for review for this article. All thoughts expressed herein are my own.*

Red, irritated and just downright annoying patches of eczema and and dry skin are a constant struggle for my 5 year old! Of course, it doesn’t help that we live in FL… and like any child, she loves to run and play! After an hour outside, her little face is sweaty… and the red patches flare up in the creases of her elbows and behind her knees. Now that she is older, she tells me when she needs her eczema cream, so we keep many varieties on hand. It’s always amazing to me when we try a new brand that some that claim not to irritate skin, actually sting and bother her, and we have to wash it off quickly!

ClearLotion Spray 2016

We were recently sent Theraplex® skincare to try, and we couldn’t have been more pleased with the line! Not only is the Theraplex Eczema Therapy Moisturizing Skin Protectant creamy and easy to apply, it does not contain parabens, fragrances, phthalates, gluten, or sodium laurel sulfate. Plus, the line is made in the USA without animal testing. Most importantly, it does not irritate my little girl’s skin any further!

If you have children who don’t stop moving (and who doesn’t!?), try Theraplex ClearLotion. It is a light, fast penetrating emollient oil spray, and when applied to damp skin, it uniquely wraps around water on the skin’s surface, sealing in moisture and replacing the natural oils that water and soap can strip away.

As the summer weather heats up, it is not unusual for people to experience a dramatic increase in perspiration, often causing sensitive skin to “flare up.” This is especially true for children who have eczema. To help keep your child’s skin “cool in the shade,” the experts who make Theraplex® skincare offer summer tips designed to keep sensitivities in check.

Eczema Therapy 2016

Summer Skincare Tips

· To help keep your child feeling cooler and drier, avoid the sun when it is at its’ strongest (from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m).

· Apply a sunscreen SPF 30 or higher. Many pediatric dermatologists recommend physical sunscreens as they may be less irritating than chemical sunscreens.

· If your child has been in the ocean or pool, rinse chlorine or salt off with a gentle cleanser and immediately apply a moisturizer such as Theraplex ClearLotion. ClearLotion has earned the National Eczema Association Seal of Acceptance. After towel drying, ClearLotion leaves skin moisturized for hours without greasiness. And, because ClearLotion is a spray, you will be able to apply it to even the wriggliest of children!

· Make sure your child drinks plenty of fluids and stays hydrated.

· For added protection and comfort any time of day or night, try Theraplex Eczema Therapy Moisturizing Skin Protectant with natural colloidal oatmeal. It also has earned the National Eczema Association Seal of Acceptance. This enriched moisturizing formula helps to relieve dry skin with superior moisturization that lasts for hours. It soothes your child’s dry, sensitive skin without parabens, fragrances, preservatives, or lanolin.

To learn more about Theraplex® skincare, or to learn additional skincare tips through their Eczema Resource Guide, visit Theraplex.com.

*Company generously provided samples, images, and expert tips for this article. All thoughts on the product line are my own.*

Credit card bills, short days, plummeting temperatures and maybe even a few extra pounds from all those holiday celebrations and libations. According to a recent article on psychcentral.com, “studies show as many as 25 percent of Americans suffer from low-grade to full-blown depression after the holidays.”[1]. And then there is Blue Monday – the third Monday in January, believed to be the most depressing day of the year.

Oy!

The fact is: the sun is out a bit longer each day and people are starting to think about spring, warm weather and bathing suit season. January is the month to actually take advantage and get ready for a new year.

Crispy Green Apple

It’s also “National Staying Healthy Month,” so here are five simple things everyone can do to feel healthier and spring into 2016:

1. Walk, don’t run.

2. Baby steps – take the stairs.

3. Eat fruit – consider freeze-dried fruit snacks when fresh fruit is not available.

4. Stay hydrated – water is best, but try some of the new natural beverages.

5. Sit less – pace, stand, get a walking desk. Just don’t sit.

*Article and image courtesy of Crispy Green. Exercising image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net  and nenetus.*

Thanksgiving is almost here and while you’re planning that great turkey dinner, don’t forget about sprucing up your home as you welcome friends and family to celebrate the holiday with you.

Designer Robin Wilson, founder and CEO of Robin Wilson Home, who focuses on creating healthy and beautiful spaces for her clients and has products at national retailers, offers these eight tips to create a warm, inviting and healthy home this Thanksgiving:

1. Start with curb appeal: The exterior is the first impression your guests get of your home so you want it to look clean and inviting. Add fresh mulch, trim overgrown trees and shrubs and plant new flowers, and make sure the front door is freshly painted. Always wear a mask to prevent breathing in fumes and goggles to protect your eyes.

2. Make the windows sparkle with newspaper: Yes, you read that right. Spray your windows with non-toxic cleaner and wipe away with newspaper. The high absorbency of newsprint makes it so effective at cleaning windows because it absorbs the liquid instead of pushing it away. Be careful to stay on the glass and not dirty up moldings and trim.

3. Clean the chimney and stove: This isn’t just to help Santa when he descends into your home next month. A dirty chimney is a fire hazard and can release toxins into your home. On a related note, it’s also a good idea to clean your stove before you do any intensive holiday cooking. It’s also a good time to make sure smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working and have new batteries.

4. Switch to LED lighting: If you’re doing a lot of entertaining this holiday season, switching to LED lighting will keep your electric bills down. LED lighting is the most energy efficient lighting source available. And if you have young children, LED lights are cool to the touch.

5. Get your couches and rugs professionally cleaned: sofas and rugs can harbor all kinds of allergens, mold and bacteria. And if you have dogs or cats, removing the dander will help you and your guests prevent the “wheezes and sneezes.” Plus, a good looking couch will attract your company allowing time to catchup and reminisce, or just watch the parade or football games together.

6. Put on fresh bed linens: If out-of-town family and friends are staying with you, new linens are always a nice touch. Hypoallergenic comforters and pillows are a good choice especially if you don’t know if your guests have any allergy/asthma issues. For this reason, also use nylon shower curtains which don’t off-gas like vinyl does.

7. Non-toxic cleaners this time of year: With the cooler weather, most people keep their windows shut for the next five months, keeping everything sealed up and trapped inside. For this reason, it’s especially important in the winter to use non-toxic cleaners as you prepare your home for the holidays.

8. Make it smell like the holidays: To make it feel like the holidays it needs to smell like the holidays. Consider soy candles as a healthy alternative to regular candles, which not only add a visual element and warmth, but come in a variety of scents.

*Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net by artur84.*

Five Tricks for a Healthy Halloween

By Vanessa Chamberlin, author of The Fire-Driven Life

Halloween is such a challenging time for health-conscious parents. Everywhere we turn, people are offering the least nutritious, most sugary food around: candy! From classroom parties to neighborhood and family gatherings—there’s no way to avoid it. But if you are prepared and have some tasty, plant-based recipes in your toolbox, it will be a lot easier to partake in the festivities without overdosing on refined sugar. Plus, there are some easy tips (and tricks!) that can help you have a happier, healthier Halloween.

Always eat a healthy meal first. Whether it’s trick-or-treating or going to a party, make sure your kids go on a full stomach so they’ll be less likely to fill up on sugary snacks. On the day of school parties, make a filling, nutritious breakfast, and send them to school with extra special healthy lunches. Pull out your whole toolbox for this one! We’re talking cookie cutters for fun shapes, carving the fruit—everything. Your kids won’t want to miss out on this lunch, which will help them feel satisfied and loved all afternoon.

Send your own snacks. Whenever possible, send your own snacks. Even if you know that your children are going to be eating candy and cupcakes at their holiday parties, at least you can send them with some more balanced foods and encourage them to get their friends to try.

Enlist the help of some professionals! It never hurts to make sure a trip to the dentist falls before Halloween, and ask their help in making sure to explain to your kids why their dental health is so important, and how candy is bad for their teeth. It doesn’t have to be a big scary lecture, but just a simple reminder that a healthy smile starts with a healthy diet is a nice thing to reinforce.

Plan or attend a party that’s more in line with your lifestyle. Many of us have friends who understand why we’ve shaped our habits and lifestyles for healthy living, and they either do the same or are at least supportive and understanding. You don’t want your kids to feel left out, so if they’re not participating in other events, give them something else that’s fun. You might be able to get some of their close friends and families to join in, too. Not many parents like the idea of their kids getting a heavy dose of sugar either trick-or-treating or going to a party, so I’ve found it’s a welcome invitation when I invite people to celebrate holidays with us and have a nutritious night of festivities!

Finally, just talk about it beforehand. Let your kids know that you want them to have fun, but not eat lots of candy and junk that will make them not feel good. Ask if there is anything they would like to bring as a treat or eat before a party, and see if you can accommodate their requests. It’s so important for children to feel loved and respected as humans who have their own desires and opinions. Asking them to be involved in your holiday planning can go a long way!

For your healthy Halloween toolbox, here is a great recipe that kids love, and would easily fit into any festive party platter spread!

Gone in a Day Cookies

Ingredients

3/4 cup chunky peanut butter

3/4 cup unsweetened coconut

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa

2 TBS maple syrup (add more for desired taste)

1 cup raisins

Preparation

Combine peanut butter and coconut. In a separate bowl, combine cocoa, and maple syrup. Combine the two mixtures and add the raisins. Dough will be stiff. Roll into balls. Refrigerate 1-2 hours before serving.

Article courtesy of Vanessa Chamberlin, a Certified Holistic Health Practitioner and Lifestyle Coach and author of The Fire-Driven Life: How to Ignite the Fire of Self-Worth, Health, and Happiness with a Plant-Based Diet.

For more information, please visit, www.vanessachamberlin.com and connect with her on Twitter, @vkchamberlin.

*Image courtesy of Tina Phillips at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*

Grilling SafetyGrilling is one of America’s favorite pastimes and a popular summer activity in backyards across the country. More than 60 percent of American households will cook kabobs, fresh vegetables, and of course meat on propane grills this summer, according to the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC). PERC is an energy check-off program dedicated to safety and training for the propane industry.

“Summer is a time to enjoy the outdoors with family and friends,” says PERC President and CEO Roy Willis. “And with the onset of warm weather, it’s also a good time to review outdoor safety tips, including safe grilling techniques.”

Willis offers families some simple reminders for preparing and maintaining safe cooking conditions while using propane grills.

Before using the grill, he recommends reviewing and following all grill manufacturers’ instructions.

“If you buy a propane-powered grill and assemble it yourself, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter,” Willis says. “Better yet, have the grill assembled before you bring it home. If you’re planning a more elaborate outdoor kitchen, be sure to get in touch with your nearest propane professional for tips on products and access to qualified installers.”

Next, the location of the grill is an important consideration. PERC reminds families that the only safe location for any grill—including propane cooking units—is outside in a well-ventilated area and a safe distance from the home.

“Grills should never be placed in a confined area,” Willis says. “Make sure your grill is at least five feet from your house on a level surface away from siding, outdoor furniture or anything else that could be a fire hazard. It’s something that you don’t always think about when you’re grilling, but it’s a basic safety measure that’s easy to implement.”

Whether the grill is equipped with an automatic ignition or needs to be lit manually, the manufacturer’s instructions should be followed precisely.

“Always use caution when lighting the grill and never stray from the grill manufacturer’s instructions,” says Willis. “If the flames go out for any reason, turn the grill and gas off and wait 15 minutes before relighting it.”

PERC also encourages families to keep the top open when lighting the grill. This allows for ventilation and ensures that propane vapors are not being released into the confined grilling area.

Finally, proper storage of propane cylinders is an essential safety step when using propane-powered grills.

“Be sure to store propane cylinders upright and outdoors, and keep cleaning fluids, oil-soaked rags, gasoline or other flammable material away from cooking areas and gas appliances,” Willis says. “Removing combustible materials from any heat source is always a good idea.”

PERC reminds families that propane is a safe fuel when handled properly, and encourages grillers to learn about additional resources on www.usepropane.com.

“Grilling is an enjoyable way to prepare food and celebrate warm weather,” Willis says. “Enjoying warm weather throughout the summer can be easy with safe, efficient propane grills.”

*Recipe and image courtesy of NAPS.*

Strange MagicCapable, strong and confident women are in the news with increasing frequency these days-from politicians and movie stars to women making strides in sports, business and the military. Parents are becoming more aware that helping their children—particularly girls—build skills that lead to empowerment is important for success in life. But many parents may be wondering just how to go about it.

Child and adolescent psychotherapist Katie Hurley, a parenting expert and author of the upcoming book “The Happy Kid Handbook: How to Raise Joyful Children in a Stressful World,” notes that empowerment begins at home with day-to-day activities.

Here are some easy tips Hurley recommends as effective in helping your daughter to be her best self.

Communicate, communicate, communicate. One of the most important things parents can do is open the lines of communication. Listen before you respond. Allow your child to vent and articulate her emotions, while letting her know you’ll just listen, without judgment. Showing empathy is important (“I hear you” and “How can I help?”). Give lots of love, acceptance and support. This will help her know that what she thinks and how she feels is important and that she is a priority for you.

Help identify good models. Watch what she’s watching and discuss it together. Kids today are often plugged into their own world and tuned out to their parents. But that doesn’t mean you have to sit back and remain in the dark. Watch her—or your—favorite shows or movies together. The subtle lessons in a film can be the impetus for discussing issues and providing role models. One such film is “Strange Magic,” Touchstone’s newest animated tale from George Lucas, now on DVD. A key character is Marianne, a female whose journey to empowerment includes learning to see people not for how they look, but for who they really are. George Lucas notes, “The point of the film is that everyone deserves to be loved and true love goes much deeper than just infatuation or looks…It’s about finding true beauty in someone’s soul regardless of how they look.”

Encourage girls to aim high. Remind them that hard work and dedication are part of what it takes to reach goals and dreams. The key to building girls up is to help identify and then support their strengths so you can encourage them to reach their goals.

Resist jumping in to “fix” things. Rather than solving your daughter’s problems, try stepping back so she can work through conflicts and find solutions on her own. When you empower your daughter to problem-solve, you show her you have confidence in her ability to handle her life. This allows her to enlist your participation in a discussion and show your support through the process.

Success is a team sport. Healthy competition is good. When young girls learn to stick together and lift each other up, they internalize the valuable lesson of teamwork. Whether your daughter is athletically, artistically and/or academically inclined, help her find ways to join with others and learn how to be a team player. Let her know it’s OK to compete by using her strengths to the best of her ability.

Build empathy by volunteering together. Helping others is a great way to spend quality time together and learn to focus on other’s needs, which is a great leadership skill. Search for monthly volunteer opportunities and choose one that appeals to both of you. Spend some time doing good to feel good together.

Learn More

For more tips from Katie Hurley, visit http://practicalkatie.com.

• Disney’s “Strange Magic,” http://strangemagicmovie.com, on DVD and Digital HD.

• Pre-order Hurley’s “The Happy Kid Handbook” on Amazon.

*Article and image courtesy of NAPS.*

Summer SafetyA few precautions can help your children enjoy warm weather fun in safety and good health. Known as “trauma season” among public health and medical professionals, summer is a time when serious injuries and unintentional deaths increase dramatically among children. Statistics show that 40 percent of all injury-related emergency room visits happen between the months of May and August. Fortunately, many of these injuries can be prevented with a few simple precautions.

“Sustaining a serious injury can be a life-altering event for a child,” said Dale Stauss, chairman of the Board of Directors for Shriners Hospitals for Children®. “We see patients every day with injuries caused by accidents, and we are committed to raising awareness about how to stay safe this summer.”

As experts in the treatment of pediatric orthopaedic conditions, spinal cord injuries and burns, Shriners Hospitals for Children provides critical, surgical and rehabilitative care to children, regardless of the families’ ability to pay.

Shriners Hospitals encourages families to take these simple precautions to enjoy a safe, injury-free summer.

Playground 101

• Choose playgrounds that are appropriate for their age and offer shock-absorbing surfaces.

• Teach children that pushing and shoving can result in accidents and injuries.

• Remind kids to use the slide one at a time and to wait until it’s completely clear before taking their turn. Teach them to always face forward with their legs straight in front of them and to never slide down headfirst.

• Remind children to swing sitting down. Encourage them to wait until the swing stops before getting off and to be careful when walking in front of moving swings.

Make A Safe Splash

• Teach children to never swim alone or go near water without an adult present.

• Give children your undivided attention when they are swimming or are near any body of water.

• Always jump in feet first to check the depth before diving into any body of water.

• Never dive in the shallow end of the pool or into above-ground pools.

Fun On The Water

• Always have children wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved, properly fitted life jacket while on a boat, around an open body of water or when participating in water sports.

• Educate yourself. According to the Coast Guard, 86 percent of boating accident deaths involve boaters who have not completed a safety course.

• Always check water conditions and forecasts before going out on the water.

Mowing Matters

• Teach children to never play on or around a lawn mower, even when it is not in use. They should never be permitted to walk beside, in front of or behind a moving mower.

• Children under 6 years of age should be kept inside the home while you are mowing.

• Children should be at least 12 years of age before operating a push lawn mower and at least 16 years of age before operating a riding lawn mower.

Fire Safety Simplified

• Teach kids to never play with matches, gasoline, lighter fluid or lighters. Make a habit of placing these items up and away from young children.

• Do not leave children unattended near grills, campfires, fire pits or bonfires. Always have a bucket of water or fire extinguisher nearby.

• Take your child to a doctor or hospital immediately if he or she is injured in a fire or by fireworks.

Should an injury occur, the physicians and staff of Shriners Hospitals can help. To find out more about the treatments available, visit www.ShrinersHospitalsforChildren.org.

Visit www.ShrinersHospitalsforChildren.org/SafeSummer to find more tips for preventing injuries this season.

*Article and image courtesy of NAPS.*

Soothe Baby Naturally PicIt’s not something any new parent wants to anticipate, but the reality is, infants and toddlers sometimes don’t feel well. Upset stomachs from gas and runny noses are common among youngsters and can happen at any time of the year. When children are not at their best, there are several easy, tried-and-true remedies that are safe for parents to learn to help kids start feeling better quickly.

Upset Tummies

Burping is best: Gently burping your infant or toddler is the easiest way to relieve discomfort from gas during and after feedings and meals. If your little one does not burp immediately, this is normal—just lay him or her down on his or her back for a few minutes before trying again.

Keep on moving: An active infant or toddler is a less gassy one! Supervised tummy time and keeping your little one’s legs and arms moving is another simple technique to keep the flow of oxygen steady to prevent discomfort from gas.

Experiment with food: Certain foods your infant or toddler enjoys eating, such as broccoli, beans and cauliflower, may cause extra gas. Because of this, products such as Little Remedies® Gas Relief Drops and Little Remedies® Gripe Water are ideal for liberating pains from excess gas. Little Remedies® believes “less is more” and strives to make sure that each of its products contains just what is needed for fast, safe relief—nothing more. With no artificial colors, flavors, alcohol, saccharin or preservatives, these remedies provide a comforting relief to upset stomachs due to gas.

Stuffy Noses

Fluids, fluids and more fluids: Plenty of fluids, especially water, are a little one’s best friend when it comes to stuffy nose symptoms. For older children, warm broths, soups and other drinks can also work wonders.

Just add moisture: A little moisture goes a long way! Room humidifiers and saline nose drops such as Little Remedies® Saline Spray/Drops moisten the nasal passage and flush out unwanted mucus from little noses. This non-medicated product can be used as often as needed without the worry of any harmful side effects or drug interactions. Its specially buffered formula is alcohol free, will not sting or burn delicate nasal membranes, and has a baby-size applicator tip.

For more information on Little Remedies® and the full line of products, visit www.LittleRemedies.com, or join them on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/LittleRemedies and @LittleRemedies on Twitter for updates.

*Image and article courtesy of NAPS.*

ID-10020857Have Yourself a Healthy Thanksgiving with Tips from THE DOCTORS

It’s that time of year again! The holiday season is fast approaching and days are becoming filled with holiday planning, shopping and preparation. This time of year gives you the opportunity to gather with friends and family, cook festive meals and give thanks for your many blessings. But this jolly time of year can also have extreme implications on your health. THE DOCTORS share the following tips to ensure a happy and healthy holiday season:

Three Quick Tips to Avoid Overeating on Thanksgiving

· Eat Walnuts: Eat a handful before your meal. They will help fill you up, and the antioxidants can improve your artery function and reduce inflammation.

· Limit yourself to two alcoholic drinks: Alcohol removes your inhibitions, so if you drink before you eat, you’re going to overeat.

· Sit down and chew your food: You will enjoy your food more if you chew it slowly.

Healthy Holiday Snacking Tips

• Beware of foods loaded with butter and cheese: Steamed broccoli is healthy and low in fat, but when smothered in cheese and butter, it can pack an additional 215 calories and 16 grams of fat in just one cup!

• Watch out for salads: Leafy greens and salads seem like a healthy choice, but when loaded with high-fat, high-cholesterol cheeses and dressing, such as a Cobb salad, these verdant concoctions contain more than 1,000 calories and 71 grams of fat!

• Avoid saturated fats and fried foods: These are guaranteed to heavily increase the calorie count. Opt for baked options, rather than fried and reach for lean meats such as white turkey.

Beat-the-Bloat Tricks for Feeling Less Full

· Wear a watch: Keeping track of time and eating slower will help you notice when you’re getting full. Wait a couple minutes before returning for seconds – this will give your body the chance to digest food intake.

· Drink Water: This may seem like a no-brainer, but drinking a glass of water before a meal can help you eat 20% few calories. If you feel bloated, have a glass of peppermint tea instead, which helps prevent the feeling of being extremely full.

· Incorporate papaya and pineapple: These super foods have digestive enzymes that assist with digestion and help you feel less full after a large meal.

About THE DOCTORS

Featuring real doctors discussing topical health and wellness issues in an entertaining and engaging fashion, season six of THE DOCTORS launched September 9, 2013. The Emmy® Award-winning one-hour, daytime syndicated talk show continues to be hosted by physicians who are among the best in their respective field, including ER physician Dr. Travis Stork, plastic surgeon and reconstructive surgery expert Dr. Andrew Ordon and pediatrician Dr. James Sears; and recurring co-hosts, OB/GYN Dr. Jennifer Ashton, urologist Dr. Jennifer Berman, family doctor and sexologist Dr. Rachael Ross and physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist Dr. Ian Smith.

THE DOCTORS sets itself apart from the competition through its wealth of experts – each of the co-hosts brings a specialized and unique background to the show including decades of experience, in order to provide viewers with well-rounded and easily understood prescriptions for health and wellness.

*Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.*