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Our Great State

Compiled by Michelle Talsma Everson Fall in Arizona – the perfect time of year. It’s the reason so many of us in the Valley of the Sun power through months of triple digit temperatures. With the temps just right – and fall and holiday breaks just around the corner – it’s time to start planning some sightseeing adventures right in your own backyard. Whether you’re going up north for a long weekend or day trip or are looking for something fun to do in-town, we’ve compiled some great family-friendly destinations to consider. We hope you enjoy exploring everything our great state has to offer! Northern Arizona Educational Bearizona: Voted by USA Today as one of the country’s top 10 drive through wildlife parks, Bearizona provides a great drive through park experience in addition to animals you can see when you get out to stretch your legs. Catch the Birds of Prey Show now through December. Williams; bearizona.com. Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary: With the motto “conservation through education,” Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary provides an up-close experience with animals big and small. Visit for “Breakfast with the Wolves” on October 10. Prescott; heritageparkzoo.org. Lowell Observatory: The place where Pluto was discovered, Lowell Observatory offers a variety of educational activities for space enthusiasts of all ages. There are nighttime and daytime viewings and tours available, including using the impressive Clark telescope. Flagstaff; lowell.edu. Out of Africa: Out of Africa Wildlife Park is a replica of a real African Bush Safari with “wild-by-nature” animals from all over the globe and presentations/attractions scheduled throughout each day. Camp Verde; outofafricapark.com. Museum of Northern Arizona: Known...

Halloween Party Games

By Pam Molnar Halloween has always been an exciting holiday for kids. They get dressed up, hang out with friends and know that a simple “Trick or Treat” means free candy. As our kids hit middle school, costumes are no longer cool and their days of trick or treating reluctantly come to an end. In an effort to keep the holiday fun for teens, why not throw a party? I know what you thinking – “How am I going to come up with entertainment that is not lame and that will keep everyone amused?” Simple! Check out these ten teen approved party games that will challenge, gross out and deliver hours of good times and laughter. But beware, if the kids have too much fun at your party, they will want you to host again next year! Go Fishing – Fill a small swimming pool with water and live goldfish. On the bottom of the pool, place several marbles. Set as many chairs around the pool as will fit. Ask your guests to sit in the chairs and remove their shoes and socks. That’s right, they are going fishing for marbles with their feet. Add a little fear and anticipation by blindfolding the participants or turning off the lights. Pumpkin Face – Have the kids put a layer of Vaseline on their face. Pour several cheeseballs on a long table. On go, each person has to cover their face with cheese balls without using their hands. Set the timer for one minute and the person with the most cheeseballs wins. This is a great photo opportunity! Plastic Wrap Mummy...

Halloween Safety Tips

by Alexa Bigwarfe Ready for some Halloween trivia? Do you know who produces the most pumpkins in the United States? The top six pumpkin-producing states are Illinois, California, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan. According to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center, in 2011, those six states harvested $113 million dollars’ worth of pumpkins. As of 2010, California had the most amount of establishments manufacturing non-chocolate candies, with 49 of them (U.S. Census Bureau). Halloween can be a really fun and enjoyable evening but not all Halloween facts are fun. The harsh reality is this: on Halloween, children are two- four times more likely to be hit and killed by a car than any other day. That’s a scary fact. (Pun not intentional.) There is potential for injury through Halloween activities. Follow these tips to ensure everyone has a safe Halloween. Trick-or-Treating Safety – Children under twelve should not be out alone. They should be supervised by an adult, and if at all possible, traveling in a group. Older children should plan a route with their parents and have an established return time. – Walk on sidewalks or other paths and make sure to check before crossing any streets. – Only visit homes with the porch light on. – Ensure your children are carrying glow sticks or flashlights so that drivers can see them better. A note to drivers: most children trick or treat between 5:30 and 9:30, so slow down and be vigilant if driving during those hours. Costume Safety – Select a costume that fits well. If their costume is too big, there’s a good chance they will...

Kids & Cooking

By Nora Heston Tarte Teaching children to cook at a young age opens the culinary doors for them later in life. Not only will they have the foundation needed to pursue a career in food, the skills they learn also play into many other career choices as well as academics. Cooking with kids gives them a wealth of information about proportions, healthy options and other tidbits that can help them stay fit later in life. However, cooking also bolsters universal skills such as following directions and completing math equations. At Dobson Montessori School, cooking is a part of the curriculum for all children ages 6 through high school-aged. It is part of the “practical life” classes they offer and has been included since 1980 when the school first opened. “All very young children want to do what the ‘big people’ in their lives do. It is the natural way every child learns-by imitating those around them,” explains Suzanne Woodford, principal and owner of Dobson. “In Montessori there is a motto: ‘Help me do it myself.’ Even a 2 or 3 year old loves to wipe off a table, sweep the floor or spread peanut butter on a cracker. This natural desire to learn is encouraged through cooking activities.” “We are inventors, scientists, adventurers. We’re creating, testing and exploring all with our eyes, hands and most importantly bellies to see what great thing we can create next,” says Lauren Cassidy, teen development supervisor at McKee Branch Boys & Girls Club of Scottsdale. “By learning to cook at a young age, you are creating positive habits for the rest of your...

Back to School Substance Abuse Prevention

by Shane Watson Manager of Parent and Faculty Education for notMYkid Summer vacation is over and kids are now returning to school. With the new school year come new possibilities, new experiences, and even new classmates and friends. It’s important for parents to be aware that a return to school can also bring about some new temptations for their kids as well. That’s why “Back to School” is an important time for parents to have a dialogue with their kids about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. However, many parents are unsure how to begin the conversation. “Where do I begin? At what age should I start? What should I say? What should I not say?” Don’t panic. The fact that you’re asking questions is a good thing, because it means you’re paying attention and understand the importance of the subject. The willingness to approach the topic of substance abuse is the first key to any prevention plan, and the earlier you get started, the better your chance for success. Start the discussion at an early age to allow you to lay the groundwork for future conversations. Even children as young as three to five years old can understand basic early lessons about making healthy choices and not ingesting anything that isn’t given to them by a parent or caregiver. By the time they’re a few years older and attending school full time, it’s essential that you begin giving them concrete information about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. Be direct with them about your feelings regarding substance abuse, and set very clear guidelines and rules. Be consistent...

Safer Sports

Protecting young athletes from injuries By Malia Jacobson Sports injuries are sidelining more young athletes than ever before, a trend that concerns doctors, coaches, and parents. According to the STOP Sports Injury Campaign, 2 million sports injuries strike high school students each year. Doctors are seeing serious injuries in children as young as 5; kids under 14 account for forty percent of sports-related injuries treated in hospitals. For some, injuries are a temporary setback. When high school basketball player McKenzie Heaslet was 18, she missed only two days of practice after a wayward elbow shattered her nose during a game. One month later, she played in her third straight state championship game, winning the title with her teammates. Her mom, Dianne, knows the injury could have been much worse. “We got really lucky,” she says. Many others aren’t as fortunate. Sports injuries can stop budding athletes in their tracks, leading to time away from school and other activities, says Richard Geshel, DO, clinical assistant professor with Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine at Midwestern University. Doctors point to several reasons for recent increases in injury rates: greater recognition of some types of injury (like concussions); year-round training for athletes; and more intense training at younger ages. But fear of injury shouldn’t stop kids from participating in sports. Organized sports boost fitness and teach important skills like cooperation, perseverance, and team building. Help ensure that your budding athlete stays on the field and out of the emergency room with the right safety measures. Focus on Fun Enjoyment is the key to safe sportsmanship, so make sure kids truly want to participate....

Sleeping Baby Myths

By Nicole Johnson, Founder and Lead Consultant at The Baby Sleep Site® Before I get into this list, it’s important to define our terms. ‘Sleep through the night’ is actually a bit of a misnomer. Many of us (including pediatricians, authors of baby sleep books, and other baby sleep experts) use the term ‘sleep through the night’ to mean 8-10 (or maybe even 12!) straight hours of sleep, with no wakings. Technically, though, babies are sleeping through the night when they can sleep for a 5 hour stretch without waking. Big difference, right? I’ve found, over the years, that most parents use the first definition. When parents come to us for help with their babies’ sleep, what they want is a solid 8 (or possibly more) hours of uninterrupted sleep. So, for our purposes in this article, we’ll use ‘sleeping through the night’ to mean 8 or more hours of uninterrupted sleep. Okay, now — on to the myths! 1. “All babies can sleep through the night by 4 months.” Yes, a small percentage of babies will be sleeping 8 hours or more at 4 months old – but in my experience, most babies can’t do this. The truth is that it’s normal for a baby to feed at night up to 6-12 months, depending on the baby. What’s more, this kind of blanket statement fails to account for lots of important factors, like health history (babies with reflux tend to wake for feedings longer at night, for example), developmental delays, feeding (formula-fed babies may sleep for longer stretches than breastfed babies, for example), family situations, and temperament. If...

Unhealthy Relationships

By Evan Espinosa, Pfy. D. Unhealthy relationships can be hard to define because they encompass many actions and behaviors. A good working definition for unhealthy relationships is, “Relationships that contain behaviors which are dangerous, risky, injurious and unconducive to one’s health.” This is an important definition as it helps shed some light on what families should be mindful of when it comes to detrimental behaviors within a relationship. Actions that fall within the umbrella term of unhealthy relationships include acts such as: assault (physical or verbal), battery, intimate partner violence, domestic violence, rape, bullying, intimidation, coercion, hazing, and extreme discipline. When you think of these negative behaviors, the first things that come to mind may be relationships between intimate partners. However, unhealthy relationships are not limited to romantic relationships. Unhealthy relationships can form between your child and anyone they know. It is no surprise that actions like slapping, hitting, shoving, yelling, and insulting each other within any of the previously stated relationship variations are unhealthy. It is also beneficial to look at more subtle behaviors that can happen, which people sometimes overlook. Actions like denying affection, financial control, negative comments, blaming, hovering, and unfound accusations can be just as impactful within a relationship. It’s a myth that someone has to be physically harmed in order for it to be unhealthy. Yes, arguments and disagreements will happen within any relationship, but it speaks volumes about the strength of a relationship when each individual can control their actions and emotions, and work collaboratively to resolve a dispute in a caring and loving fashion. This is extremely important for parents to be...



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