5 Fabulous Reasons to Get Outside for “Fall” Fun

By: Martianne Stanger
Although summer is not technically over for about another month, most people are considering it done as back-to-school sales scream, “Fall!” Regardless of whether you consider early September “fall” or the final days of summer, there is plenty of fun to be had outdoors in the next few weeks.  I encourage everyone to take advantage of the great weather — so good for the body as well as the soul!

Need some ideas for making the most of this spectacular season? Why not look into: 

Beautiful Spots and Butterflies
Image Credit: Training Happy Hearts
Beaches are less crowded.  Trails are perfect for wandering.  Weather is ideal for catching sunsets and even butterflies!  Indeed, all it takes to enjoy this season for FREE is to step out into any park or conservation area.  Not sure where to go?  Check out Wildlands Trust or Mass Audobon to get ideas.  Places like the Audobon’s Allen’s Pond even offer free butterfly tagging programs.
Apple Picking
Photo Credit: Training Happy Hearts

Like to connect fun with food?  Try apple picking!  There are orchards right here on the South Shore where you can enjoy this timeless fall tradition. Or, if you don’t mind a little driving, you could head out to Honeypot Hill in Stowe.  It is my family’s favorite apple picking spot and offers cider donuts, hay rides, a petting zoo, a hedge maze, a box maze, low-picking and picking that includes ladders to climb.  Plus, if you pick up on the back hill, you can take in gorgeous, sweeping views!

Festivals and Fairs


Image Credit: Training Happy Hearts

Every September weekend, local businesses, community groups and others seem to offer both free and paid fairs.  If you have some entertainment money in your budget, I’d recommend King Richard’s Faire.  My family has been going to this local renaissance faire for several years and the kids have already asked to go back again when it opens on Labor Day weekend.

Image Credit: Martianne Stanger, Signature Moms
Elephant Appreciation Day is in September and makes a perfect time to go visit local zoos.  For a few years running, my crew enjoyed the festivities over by elephants Ruth and Emily’s exhibit at Buttonwood.  There, we did crafts, made elephant enrichment and played a super-sized game all about elephants.
A-Maze-ing Corn
Image Credit: Training Happy Hearts

Keep an eye out for local corn mazes.  Our family has thoroughly enjoyed the maze, sensory bin, cow carts, games and more at Saucheck Farm for the past several and cannot wait to go join friends for fun there this year, too!

Of course, there are plenty more ways to enjoy outdoor “fall” fun in the next few weeks, too!  I’d love to hear about some of your favorite venues and locations for enjoying the September shoulder season outdoors.

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BBQ Sent Me to the ER Part 2

By: Kathy T 

You can read Part 1 of Kathy’s Post here

Jessica, an AMT (Assign Medical Transport) came over and did a body check. She got me up and, because I couldn’t walk, two people helped me in to a cool camper.   I was dizzy and dry heaving and couldn’t breath every well.  Jessica and an EMT named Francis took vitals and determined my blood pressure was dangerously high- 200 over 120. I couldn’t see and I felt so ill.

They decided to call an ambulance and they reassured me I did nothing wrong! Sometimes heat stroke cannot be prevented.  I had done all the right things. I ate and drank enough for the day . The heat at the cook off was over 115 on the field with cookers and my body could not handle it.

I started to cry. I was upset, mad and worried all at the same time. I was upset because we tried so hard to have a good weekend. I was mad because I didn’t want to get sick and I was worried because our things would be left behind.  Jessica and the others from the Brookline Fire Department reassured me it would be ok and someone would help my husband get to the hospital.

I then was to be moved to the ambulance. My husband was near me telling me that another fire fighter from Brookline Fire Department would ride along in our van to show him how to get to the hospital.   I was crying even harder. I felt like I had made a scene. I had taken all the people who help Brookline Fire Department away from their major fundraising  event.

When the ambulance door closed another EMT kept me stable. I then hit the lowest point of my day, I PEED in an ambulance.   The upside to this was my blood pressure dropped after that point. By the time I got to the hospital it was my normal 118 over 72. I was still sweating and very warm.   I was flushed with IV and then given  medication to prevent vomiting.

Once stable and rehydrated I was able to leave. My husband and I took the long ride back. My head was hanging low, I was sad and tired. My husband was just focused on getting back, packing up and going home.  We knew we wouldn’t need to be there for awards since we didn’t cook anything.

We arrived on the bright green field. We exited the car to a standing ovation from all the cooking teams at our site. Our site was completely cleaned up and we found out 4 people jumped in to cook the rest of our ribs and chicken wings and turned them all in. Some of these people were from the Brookline Fire Department themselves. We then had a small team of fire fighters and BBQ cook teams pack our car.

I got to see Jessica and hug her for helping me and sitting with me, I sat with her for a while and her family. It was so humbling to see my whole day and how everyone pulled together to help out. We sat through awards and will be back next year to the Brookline Fire Department BBQ cook off.

We truly learned why Brookline Fire Department and all fire departments are family and BBQ folks are called brothers and sister. We will be forever thankful to the Brookline Fire Department and NEBS for all the help.

Signs to watch for for heat stroke should you ever feel sick during the heat. Information taken from the Mayo Clinic .

Heatstroke symptoms include:

  • High body temperature. A body temperature of 104 F (40 C) or higher is the main sign of heatstroke.
  • Altered mental state or behavior. Confusion, agitation, slurred speech, irritability, delirium, seizures and coma can all result from heatstroke.
  • Alteration in sweating. In heatstroke brought on by hot weather, your skin will feel hot and dry to the touch. However, in heatstroke brought on by strenuous exercise, your skin may feel moist.
  • Nausea and vomiting. You may feel sick to your stomach or vomit.
  • Flushed skin. Your skin may turn red as your body temperature increases.
  • Rapid breathing. Your breathing may become rapid and shallow.
  • Racing heart rate. Your pulse may significantly increase because heat stress places a tremendous burden on your heart to help cool your body.
  • Headache. Your head may throb.

When to see a doctor:

If you think a person may be experiencing heatstroke, seek immediate medical help. Call 911 or your local emergency services number.

Take immediate action to cool the overheated person while waiting for emergency treatment.

  • Get the person into shade or indoors.
  • Remove excess clothing.
  • Cool the person with whatever means available — put in a cool tub of water or a cool shower, spray with a garden hose, sponge with cool water, fan while misting with cool water, or place ice packs or cold, wet towels on the person’s head, neck, armpits and groin.
Posted in Brookline Fire Department, fuggs and foach, heat stroke, Kathy Trainor | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Back-to-School Tips

Summer is quickly winding down and families everywhere are preparing to go back to school. While the thought of carpool schedules, new school supplies, and upcoming homework battlers, this can seem like a stressful time for everyone. That’s why we’ve put together a list of tips to ensure a smooth back-to-school transition for the whole family.

  • Start a sleep schedule- About a week before your child’s first day, begin a bedtime and wake up schedule that mimics their weekday routine. Not only is it important to institute a bedtime and wakeup time, but to ensure your children receive the recommended amounts of sleep. The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention offers these guidelines
    • Newborns: 16-18 hours of sleep/day
    • Preschool aged children: 11-12 hours/day
    • School-aged children: at least 10 hours/day
    • Teens: 9-10 hours/day
    • Adults: 7-8 hours/day
  • Don’t skip breakfast- While mornings during the school year tend to be pretty hectic, it’s crucial that breakfast doesn’t get overlooked in the rush. In fact, research has shown that breakfast is the most important meal in relation to academic achievement, children’s health, cognitive development and mental health.
  • Schedule checkups- Back-to-school time is the ideal time to make sure your child is in good physical and mental health, so children and teens should have annual medical and dental checkups. You should make sure you share any concerns you have regarding your child’s physical or physiological development; your pediatrician will be able to help you determine if these concerns require additional evaluation.
  • Set after school rules- Before school starts, sit down as a family and establish the after school rules, including: when and where homework will be done, the amount of time that’s allowed for watching TV and playing games, and how many extracurricular activities, like sports or scouts, can be juggled. Once you have them set, write them down!
  • Create a family calendar- Stay on track as a family by posting a calendar in a central area, like the kitchen, that lists each family member’s appointments, activities, upcoming projects, due dates and test dates. In addition to a family calendar, help your child develop a personal organization system to stay on top of assignments, tests, and other important dates.
  • Provide summer closure- Ending the summer on a good note can help lay the foundation for starting the school year off on a good foot. This could be something simple like a backyard family barbeque or a end of summer trip.
  • Involve the teachers – At the start of the semester, drop your child’s teacher a short note introducing yourself, and letting them know you are interested in receiving regular feedback on your child’s progress.
  • Take time to listen- Invite your child to talk to you about his or her day and then practice active listening to their thoughts and feelings to show interest and curiosity, rather than judgment, about their social experiences.

Whether you can’t wait until your kids are back in school, or are dreading the more regimented days ahead, there’s one thing you can count on: going back to school is always a big transition!

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Hidden Treasures at Boston’s Arnold Arboretum

By: Sandra L. Churchill

SChurchillSummertime offers a lovely opportunity to tour local parks and enjoy nature’s best treasures. I recently visited the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University in Boston with my son and a couple of his friends. The site was featured recently as part of the Highland Street Foundation’s Free Fun Fridays program, which included additional programs and demonstrations on tree-trimming, the fabulous tree-themed museum, and insect specimen collections.

sch2sch4The kids were invited to view dragonflies, beetles, and other insects under magnifying glasses and then sketch their specimens, scientific-style, with attention to detail. A winched and harnessed tree-trimmer demonstrated the fine art of safely cutting branches above the mesmerized crowd on the grounds, and educated students on the manual talent of raising and lowering himself to higher and lower branches.

Sch1The real plus for us was the sheer beauty of the grounds—featuring blossoming, fruited, and evergreen trees from all over the world. Rose gardens in every shade of pink, peach, white, yellow, and red flanked forestry of sun and shade, and the trails were glorious with nature’s best guardians at every turn.

A delightful bonsai garden offered glimpses of gorgeously trimmed miniature trees—some as old as 300 years! The kids gloried in exploring small brooks and streams, searching for insect treasures, scanning seed pods up close, and reading tree IDs which plated many trunks along our journey.

sch3There was ample room to walk, explore, picnic, learn, and savor nature’s beauty—all sans iPhones, video games, TV, and other technology. I thoroughly enjoyed the pace of the day—letting the kids explore and appreciate the wild and wonderful beauty of gorgeous trails and gardens.sch5
The Arnold Arboretum in Boston is a botanical treasure that sure to be as lovely in all four seasons. We can’t wait to go back and explore this treasure, come autumn!

Posted in Arnold Arboretum, Children's activities, Free activities for kids, Free Fun Fridays, Sandy Churchill | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Have Toddler, Will Travel

By: Jessica Aldred 

I get car sick-really really car sick-but other than the fact that I have to be the driver on our road trips, nothing stands in our way of travel wherever, whenever and with whomever. airplane-698539_640That said, I’m approaching my first airplane ride with a toddler. I’ve flown with my kids at 6 months, 2 ½ years and older, but never a wiggling giggling toddler. We specifically picked this age to take him to meet Mickey Mouse because a.) he’s free in Disney Parks and can eat off my plate for free and b.) I don’t need a seat for him on the plane while he’s under 2. Here’s the inherent problem, he’s going to be 18-months old when we fly and while he’s a totally happy and friendly guy, he likes to be free. Don’t get me wrong, he certainly enjoys cuddling but when he wants to run wild he can throw a pretty standard toddler tantrum and I’m a bit concerned within the confines of an airplane.

I refuse to take anything but direct flights period, let alone with my kids. I’ve adopted the mentality that we need to get in there, shut the doors, hunker down and get through it. My little guy is a pretty tall, and strong, little bugger so I’m a bit concerned on how he’s going to handle it. Did I mention that I also have a 5 and 7 year old, as well as a husband to keep in check. My normal concerns combined with the uptick in media coverage on families being kicked of planes due to unruly toddlers has me on the hunt for tried and true tips and flying failures of other parents out there.

I’ve started a list of some of the most common recommendations/ideas I’ve run into. I’ll include them below but I’m certainly looking to expand on my list if you’ve got additional tricks in your back pocket.

  1. Benedryl (don’t judge)
  2. Snacks-but low sugar snacks
  3. Lay off the fruit juice or sugary drinks before flying
  4. Don’t pre-board
  5. New toys, App’s, movies, etc.
  6. Save lollipops for take-off/landing
  7. Time flights during naptime
  8. Passenger favors/pre-apology notes
Posted in children, family trip to disney, Jessica Aldred, tips for flying with a toddler | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

BBQ Sent Me to the ER

By: Kathy Trainor 

BBQ is something that we love and do almost every weekend from March to November. Everything from pork butts to ribs, and chicken wings to brisket. We fire up our smokers rain or shine.

BBQ is something we like to do to relax . My husband works long hours each day and I work a job that can be stressful. Together we kick back fire up the pits and cook. We found out a few years ago that we could actually compete in BBQ competitions. We tried our hand and our first competition, and despite the face that it RAINED all day, it didn’t make us stop. We placed 4th and knew we wanted to sign up for more.

This weekend was no different than any other. We were at a new competition and it had 7 meats to turn in over 2 1/2 days.  It was longer than what we usually do, but we were up to the challenge. We wanted to go to support the Brookline Fire Department in NH.  We arrived Friday to set up camp and start prepping for Saturday. Saturdays competition included pizza, shrimp, beef, dessert and a mystery event where we had to BBQ a turkey, but include swedish fish, craisins, a lemon grass oil and a spicy pepper flake vinegar.

As per usual, we loved the whole day. We won 2nd place in the shrimp category, 2nd place in the chopped event, and 5th in beef.  We didn’t place well in Pizza or Dessert. Oh well, you can’t win them all. We really were there to support the Brookline Fire Department. They did so much to make it a fun day. The Brookline Fire Department also fed us a lovely chicken dinner after the awards were completed.

Sunday morning started just like another event we had done. Pits were started, we went to our meeting for the day, which is called the cooks meeting. During the meeting  I started to feel off, I was not feeling well and my stomach was nauseous. Despite the two bottle of water with breakfast, I thought I maybe I needed more fluid since it  had been 95 and very humid for the 2 days prior. I drank a sports drink in an attempt to try and rehydrate.  It was about 9:30am and I was sweating, and couldn’t stop. I drank another water and then around 10 am I sat down in a law chair because my heart wouldn’t stop racing. I knew something was wrong and I was very ill!

My husband got the Brookline Fire Department, who was all around us because it was their event…. To Be Continued.

Check back on 8/26 for the second part of Kathy’s post!

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Drowning: It Can Happen in an Instant

Every summer we all hear horror stories about children drowning, whether it be in a neighbor’s pool, in the ocean, or even in the bathtub. Most parents think water safety is first and foremost on their minds whenever they are enjoying summer activities with their kids. But when the unthinkable happens and a child drowns, parents and caregivers have been known to say, “I only looked away for a second.” But it only takes a second for a child to get into trouble as most parents know all too well.

The National Safety Council does a great job offering some insight on keeping your little ones safe:

The Younger the Child, the Greater the Risk

Not including boating incidents, about 10 people die from drowning every day in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control. While drowning is a risk for every age group, National Safety Council statistics point to drowning being the No. 1 cause of death for children ages 1 to 4. Deaths in this age group are mostly due to a child falling into a pool or being left alone in the bathtub.

swim-422546_1280Of the 3,600 drownings in 2010, more than 14 percent were children under age 4, according to Injury Facts 2014, the annual statistical report on unintentional injuries produced by NSC. These statistics are in line with Consumer Product Safety Commission reports, which state more than 200 children ages 1 to 14 drowned in pools and spas during summer 2013. Bathtubs, toilets and even buckets also can pose a danger for very young children.

Distractions Make for Tragedies

Parents are cautioned all the time about water safety, but drownings still occur. Always be aware and be in the present moment with your children. Following are a few water safety precautions:

  • Never leave your child alone; if you have to leave, take your child with you
  • Enroll children 3 and older in swimming lessons, but remember that lessons don’t make your child “drown-proof”
  • Lifeguards aren’t babysitters; always keep your eyes on your child
  • Don’t let children play around drains and suction fittings
  • Never consume alcohol when operating a boat, and always make sure everyone is wearing approved life jackets
  • Don’t underestimate the power of water; even rivers and lakes can have undertows
  • Always have a first aid kit and emergency contacts handy
  • Get training in CPR
  • If a child is missing, check the water first

The following rules apply to all swimmers:

  • Never swim alone
  • Don’t dive into unknown bodies of water
  • Don’t push or jump on others
  • Be prepared for an emergency

Every pool, every lake and every warm summer day holds the possibility of new, fun summer experiences. All you need to add is your undivided attention.

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