Friday, August 12, 2016

August is Family Fun Month

As parents prepare to send the kids back to school, make time to enjoy some family time together during August, celebrated as Family Fun Month. Enjoy backyard kickball or pull out the sprinkler for some family water fun. These 10 suggestions will help you celebrate Family Fun Month with your little ones.

Go Fishing. Grab your fishing poles, head to the nearest lake or river and spend a lazy day fishing together. It doesn't matter if you catch anything or not -- it's all about making memories.

Take a family bike ride. Check the air in the tires and hit your favorite bike trail. Don't forget to wear helmets for protection.

Visit a children's museum. Hands-on fun and learning go together at children's museums. Your kids will love being able to touch everything. You'll love to see them learn as they play.

Bake cookies or cupcakes. A little treat now and then is fun for all ages. Find a kid-friendly recipe on my Pinterest Cupcakes board or pick up a box mix.

Play a board game. It may be old school, but the kids will love playing a family game of Monopoly, Life, Candy Land or Chutes & Ladders. Begin a game night tradition in your family.

Go camping. Head to your nearest state park for a camping adventure. All you need is a tent, sleeping bags and a cooler filled with food. Add a lantern and deck of cards for fun after dark.

Visit a park or playground. It's free to enjoy your local park or playground. See who can swing the highest, slide down the slides together and enjoy fresh air family fun.

Go skating. Many skating rinks offer beginner classes for all ages. Our local skating rink also rents Skate Mates that make it easy for the little ones to skate "all by myself."

Enjoy a last blast of summer water fun. Head to the beach and bring the buckets. Visit the ocean or a nearby lake. Spending a day at the beach is a great way to bid summer farewell.

Take a family road trip. Visit your favorite amusement park, your state's capital, a nearby zoo or relatives who live out of town. Bring along some kid music to listen to in the car and play travel games while you're on the road.

Whether you hit the road or stay close to home, enjoy family fun with your little ones during August and celebrate Family Fun Month.

Friday, August 5, 2016

10 Tips to Help Your Child Succeed in School

As another school year begins in school districts across the country, parents everywhere hope their children will enjoy success in the classroom this year. Being an involved parent will help your child be successful in school. Here are 10 practical ways parents can help their children succeed in school. 

Visit the school's website to be prepared for registration day. In Central Virginia, Lynchburg CitySchools will hold registration on Aug. 9 with the first day of school on Aug. 15. Your school's website probably lists documents you need for registration, supplies your child needs for school and other important information parents and students need to know. Attend registration and read all of the paperwork you receive. 

Discuss the school's policies and rules with your child. The most important contribution every parent can make to their child's education is to encourage their child to learn. Provide opportunities for your child to learn outside of school hours, not just be entertained. Take your child to the library, museums and other places where he will learn new information or skills. Provide reference books and educational computer programs for your child to use.

Talk to your child about expectations and setting goals. Help your kids plan academic goals for the new school year. Put your child's goals in writing and hang on the fridge in the kitchen or in your child's bedroom. Just as your child's skills in sports improve with practice, your child's academic skills will also improve with practice. 

Reading is one of the most important building blocks your child will use in school. Kids who can read well perform better in the classroom and on standardized tests. Encourage your child to read at least 15 minutes each day. If your child is too young to read alone, read aloud each day. Even after your child can read alone, spend time reading aloud as a family to improve reading skills.

Pick up a math activity book and encourage your child to work a few pages each day. This is a great tool for days when there's no math homework. Pick up math flash cards and work on addition, subtraction, multiplication or division skills with your kids. There are many websites suitable for kids where your kids can practice math skills at all levels. The more your kids practice, the more prepared they will be.

Help your kids decide the best time of day to get homework done. Some kids prefer studying right after school. For other kids, a little break after school before starting homework works better. In some families, more difficult homework waits until after dinner when parents are able to help kids if needed.

Set up a quiet place where your child can work on his homework. Stock the homework area with school supplies, reference books and everything he will need. Turn electronics off while your child works on homework. Although homework is your child's job, offer your guidance and assistance as needed.

Adjust your child's bedtime during the last week or two of summer. Moving bedtime 15 to 30 minutes earlier each night will give your child time to adjust to the school year schedule. Wake your child up earlier each day and practice your school-year morning routine. Set bath or shower schedules if there are more people in your family than bathrooms in your house.

Stay in touch with your child's school and teachers during the school year. Sign up to volunteer in the classroom if you can. Getting to know your child's classmates and teachers will make it easier to relate to your child's day. If you work during the day, ask your child's teacher how you can help at home. 

Attend conferences and voice concerns about your child's education with the teacher. Send requested supplies to your child's classroom. Volunteer for big events at your child's school and chaperone field trips, parties or other school activities.

These tips will help your child prepare for success in and out of the classroom. Being a supportive and encouraging parent will help your child succeed now and in the future.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Cool Down in the Dog Days of Summer with Peanut Butter

The steamy, sultry days of July and early August are known as the "dog days" of summer. If you're looking for a creative way to cool down this summer, Southern Peanut Growers wants to help with your favorite ingredient: peanut butter.

Yup, PB is more than just something to add to bread and jelly. Your littles will love these yummy recipes and you'll delight in knowing that they're getting extra nutrition in every delish bite.

From Veggie Sammies with PB Satay Sauce to Creamy PB Banana Popsicles, there's a recipe to curb every craving. Start with your favorite brand of PB, add a few ingredients and create a new family favorite.

Creamy PB Banana Popsicles 
These smooth, and sweet, dreamy popsicles will melt in your mouth on a hot summer day.

4 large very ripe bananas
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
12 oz. frozen whipped dessert topping
1 tablespoon lemon juice


Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Pour into popsicle molds. Freeze until firm.

Serves 12.

Peanut Butter Strawberry Pineapple Smoothies 
These fabulous smoothies combine the deliciousness of peanut butter with the sweetness of strawberries and pineapple to create a healthy and yummy mid-day treat.

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Makes: 2 to 4 servings

1 1/2 cup fresh or frozen strawberries
1 cup plain, fat free Greek yogurt
1 cup milk
1/4 cup pineapple juice
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tbsp honey (approx.)

Place the strawberries, yogurt, milk, pineapple juice, peanut butter and honey in a blender. Puree until very smooth. Adjust honey to taste. Serve immediately. Make 2 to 4 servings.

Calories per serving: 236, Fat 12g, Cholesterol 3mg, Sodium 159mg, Carbohydrates 20g, Fiber 3g, Sugar 16g, Protein 13g

Peanut Butter Ice Cream Sandwiches 
Skip the ice cream parlor and make your own super sweet ice cream sandwiches to help you cool down after some fun in the sun.

Makes 12 ice cream sandwiches

24 fresh baked chocolate chip cookies, cooled (about 3 inches in diameter)
1 1/2 quarts vanilla ice cream, slightly softened
1 1/2 cups creamy or crunchy peanut butter
Toppings of your choice (ie. chopped peanuts, mini chocolate chips, toasted coconut)

Spread layer of peanut butter on 12 cookies and add a scoop of ice cream. Create a sandwich by topping with the remaining cookies. Roll edges of the ice cream in toppings of your choice. Place on a baking sheet and freeze until firm. Serve slightly frozen.

Veggie Sammies with PB Satay Sauce
Put a nutty twist on your picnic lunch. Pile fresh summer veggies onto your favorite bread and top with creamy PB sauce.

4 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
3 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons water
4 teaspoons hoisin sauce
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sriracha
2 six-inch French baguette rolls
1/2 cup sliced cucumber
1/2 cup white onion
1/2 cup red bell pepper
1/2 cup purple cabbage
1/2 cup fresh cilantro


Combine peanut butter, lime juice, water, hoisin sauce, soy sauce and sriracha in in a small bowl. Mix well.

Spread sauce on both sides of bread, then layer with cucumber, onion, and bell pepper. Top with cabbage, and cilantro leaves.

Serves 2

All too soon, school buses will be making the rounds in your neighborhood. Before summer slips away, whip up some tasty and nutritious peanut butter treats and keep it cool.