Goal: This week, sit down as a family and plan out your holiday vacation. Plan to make healthy food and time choices over the holidays.
Now, after the holiday season, sit down as a family and talk about how the plan worked. Were you less stressed during the holiday vacation? Do you feel healthier? Hopefully, because you did some planning, your family had more time to have fun together.
Carol Frazey is the author of The Fit School Newsletter, a 36-week newsletter with the goal of educating you and your family about nutrition and exercise.]]>
Audience members join Starfleet Academy only to be unexpectedly whisked into an adventure steeped in the grand tradition of Star Trek itself. Star Trek Live, combines cutting-edge special effects, unmatched audience interaction, and cool science to create an exhilarating and unforgettable theatrical experience
Eager to learn from Starfleet’s best and brightest, Captain James T. Kirk and Vulcan science officer Spock, our cadets assemble, anxious to prepare for their first day at the Academy and an exploration of the legendary U.S.S. Enterprise. As we are introduced to the proud legacy of the most powerful and most advanced ship in the fleet, the Enterprise and Earth itself come under attack from alien forces, leaving the fate of the Federation in the hands of our cadets. Our cadets will have to quickly learn the intricacies of living and working in space, modern space travel and the latest in communication and technology as they draw on the achievements of science in the 21st century. It will require all our knowledge, ingenuity, logic and an exploration of science to discover what is happening and how to set things right before it’s too late!
Star Trek Live, is a thrilling, 60-minute journey for audiences of all ages! Awesome special effects, unrivaled audience interaction and an exploration of real space-age technology takes everyone on an unforgettable journey through the Star Trek universe.
Join Star Trek Live, and boldly go where no one has gone before! Call 360-734-6080 for tickets or information.
This program is part of the Wade Bennett King Education Series sponsored by the Wade King Family. The Mount Baker Theatre receives support from a Tourism Facilities Grant from the City of Bellingham. The Mount Baker Theatre is also supported, in part, by grants from Whatcom County, the Washington State Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts.]]>
Homemade Pumpkin Puree
Pie, bread, muffins, cookies, scones, soup—there are limitless tasty treats to enjoy with the yummy flesh of America’s favorite autumn squash. Halve pumpkins, scoop out the seeds and pulp, roast (cut side down) at 350˚ F in an ¼ inch of water for at least 60 minutes, scoop out pumpkin from shells, mash in a food processer, strain excess liquid, and use the result for all your baking needs this fall.
Carving jack-o-lanterns can be a lackluster activity for little kids who can’t yet wield a knife. Instead of carving pumpkins, get a few small pumpkins and use acrylic paint to make fun faces and designs on the pumpkins. Make sure the pumpkin’s surface is clean, but don’t let the blossom end get wet or the pumpkin will rot quickly. Another idea is to use a black Sharpie, after the paint has dried, to outline your faces for a cartoon-like look.
Building a man out of pumpkins might not be quite as fun as rolling snow, but a Jack-o-Lantern Man will make your Halloween porch display a little more memorable. You’ll need a large, a medium, and a small pumpkin to stack; cut holes in the top and bottom of the large and medium pumpkins and secure them together by putting them over a stake in a bale of straw. You can just carve the face on the top pumpkin and dress the rest of the pumpkins like a scarecrow, or carve clothes and shoes on the lower pumpkins too. Use a strand of white holiday lights in each pumpkin, rather than a candle, to light it up.
What are your plans for pumpkins this fall? Leave a comment and let us know?]]>
Amy’s Place for Youth, a not-for-profit organization that serves homeless youth in Whatcom County, is feeling the financial strain. Without an increase in donations from our community, Amy’s Place director Heidi Unick says that the organization will be forced to close before the holidays this year.
Amy’s Place opened in late 2006 as a drop-in center for street-involved youth. They’ve helped over a thousand different kids during the past four years.
“We’re open every Friday and Saturday from 6 to 11 PM,” Heidi said in a phone interview. “We offer kids a meal and there’s also a food pantry so they can take food with them. We have hygiene supplies, sleeping bags, clothes, and shoes for kids too.” The young visitors can also hear a presentation from various local agency representatives to learn about other support programs available in our community.
Their evening programs are segregated by age. The Friday night program is open for youth ages 18 to 24, while Saturday night is open for youth age 17 and under. On average, about 25 kids visit Amy’s Place during each session; about half are new to the program and half are returners. Of the 330 youths that have attended an Amy’s Place program this year, about 80 are in a homeless situation.
“Many of the youth have left abusive home situations, but are often abused on the streets as well. Our volunteers provide mentorship for the kids, so they know that we care about what happens to them,” Heidi said.
Heidi went on to explain that many of these kids are afflicted with an illness or a chemical dependence, so it’s difficult for them to get a job or stay in school. For awhile, Amy’s Place offered a Tuesday program that provided educational support, but a lack of funding and volunteers forced them to discontinue the resource.
“Securing consistent funding for Amy’s Place has been a great challenge,” said Heidi. “We are grateful for tangible donations from organizations like St. Luke’s Foundation, which donated shelving, furniture, floor coverings, and more, but if we don’t have the money for next month’s rent, we cannot continue this program.”
The community is invited to learn more about supporting Amy’s Place at an Open House on Thursday, October 28, 2010 from 7 to 8:30 PM. Visitors can take a tour, listen to a presentation about Amy’s Place, and meet the volunteers and youth of Amy’s Place. The fun and informative event will also include a Dessert Auction.
To learn more about supporting Amy’s Place with your money or time, please visit their website or call (360) 671-5567 or (360) 920-0615.]]>
With the change from summer to fall, you might be looking for more kid-friendly indoor activities. A trip to the bowling alley on a rainy afternoon is a great way to get kids off the couch and enjoying time together as a family.
Variations of bowling have been played for centuries with the common goal of rolling a ball along a flat surface to knock over pins or reach some kind of target. According to United States Bowling Conference, the rules of the game as we know it were standardized in New York City on September 9, 1895.
Bowling leagues and tournaments are popular group activities for adults, but playing a few games as a family is an enjoyable pastime too. Bowling is an awesome location for a birthday party as well; many bowling alleys have special rates and options for parties too!
On the next rainy day, check out one of these Whatcom County bowling alleys with your family. Contact them directly to find hours and rates!
20th Century Bowling
1411 North State Street
Bellingham, WA 98225
Family Perks: Café, Birthday Party Packages, Youth Lessons, Cosmic Bowling
Bellingham, WA 98226
Family Perks: Restaurant, Birthday Party Packages, Youth League, Cosmic Bowling, Billiards and Arcade Room
Mt. Baker Lanes
1788 Labounty Drive
Ferndale, Washington 98248
Family Perks: Restaurant, Birthday Party Packages, Family Day (Sundays)
What’s your family’s favorite part about a trip to the bowling alley? Leave a comment to let us know!]]>
And what’s more fun than simply purchasing locally grown fruits and vegetables? Picking it yourself! A family trip to a local farm allows kids to get up close and personal with their food, and it might make them more willing to try different vegetables.
Lots of Whatcom County farms have “u-pick” options for fall favorites during the autumn season. Check out this list from Sustainable Connections of Whatcom County U-Pick Farms.
Apple Creek Orchard: U-pick Jonagold, Melrose, and Mutsu apples. Farm-fresh eggs, honey and organic Armes Farms garlic also for sale.
Bellingham Country Gardens: U-pick vegetables. This is a no spray farm.
BelleWood Acres: U-pick pumpkins, stream walk, watch apples being harvested, packed, and fresh cider being pressed. Apples, pears, cider, peanut butter and more BelleWood products available at the store.
Boxx Berry Farm: U-pick pumpkins. Corn, peaches, squash, frozen berries, carrots, potatoes, garlic, onions, and other no-spray veggies are also for sale.
Cloud Mountain Farm: U-pick pumpkins. Asian pears, hazelnuts, aronia, quince, table and wine grapes, heirloom and beefsteak tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, melons, squash, pumpkins, gourds, apple cider, and fruit and ornamental plants also for sale.
Stoney Ridge Farm: U-pick pumpkins and apples. Enjoy wagon rides, a corn-maze, seeing farm animals, and ready-made treats like cider and caramel apple pie during your visit as well!
What’s your favorite “u-pick” farm? Leave a comment to let us know!]]>
Like many parents, our first “babies” were our cats and dogs. Now that our family has grown and our children are growing up, we’re suffering the loss of those pets as they age. Last Halloween, after a long illness, we said goodbye to our quirky 21-year-old black cat, Buddy; last week, our loveable thirteen-year-old dog Kharma passed away unexpectedly.
Thankfully, our six-year-old twins handled the losses fairly well. To help your family through this transition, here are a few things that worked for us, both before and after the loss of our beloved friends.
Read and Discuss
When Buddy turned 20 and began to lose weight, we talked gingerly but frankly with the boys about the fact that, someday, our pets would die. Then I went to the public library. I searched the subject keywords pet(s) and death and found more than ten picture books about losing a pet. Here are a few stand-bys to look for at your local library:
There are many appropriate ways to say goodbye. Use your best judgment about what is fitting for your child’s age, maturity, and attachment. Should the child see your pet after it has passed? Will you have a funeral or memorial?
Release a balloon in their honor. Have the kids draw pictures and dictate farewell statements to their pet and hang or scrapbook them with photos. Make a donation to your local humane society in your pet’s name. Select, as a family, a photo of your pet to hang in your home. Whatever you do to honor the passing, be sure to include the kids on each step of the way.
Remember the Stages of Grief
Losing a pet might be a child’s first experience with death. Some kids go through the stages of grief (shock, denial, bargaining, guilt, anger, depression, and acceptance) more quickly (or slowly), or skip certain steps altogether. Others experience these stages in ways so subtle that their astute parents don’t even realize how the children are coping.
Accept whatever state your child falls at any given moment, and be a sympathetic ear to hear their feelings. Be honest, and let them see how you handle grief in a healthy manner. Muster some extra patience for any temporary behavior changes your child might experience.
If you’re not sure what to expect, check out Peoples-Health.com’s Developmental Grief Stages. Adolf Moser’s book for kids, Don’t Despair on Thursdays! The Children’s Grief-Management Book, might come in handy during this tough time as well.
Resist Getting a New Pet for a While
Predictably, many children will wonder when you will get a “replacement.” Although a new pet might provide a temporary distraction, The Humane Society of the United States recommends first giving your family time to grieve and to consider carefully the responsibilities of pet ownership (“Coping with the Death of Your Pet”).
A new pet will never fill the hole left by the previous one, but with patience and thoughtfulness, your family will be able to move on in a healthy way.]]>
My life was forever changed on February 4, 2003 and March 20, 2010. The former was the day that my son Brandon was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor; the latter was the day he passed away. The years in-between were filled with fear and hope, courage and humility, love and compassion, and pain and sorrow.
September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and I want to share my story with you so that you will become just one more person better educated about this deadly disease.
Brandon was almost four years old when an emergency room doctor told us that he had a mass in his brain. I was not aware that children could get brain tumors. I spent most of that night watching my child sleep. We went to Children’s Seattle Hospital in the morning for an MRI and to meet with a surgeon.
On February 10, 2003, Brandon underwent a 12-hour surgery to remove half of the tumor. We were told that Brandon would not survive with 50% of the tumor remaining, and that we should enjoy our time together.
This scenario was unacceptable to us, so we found the best medical team in the country to treat our son. We spent the next three months in Memphis, Tennessee so Brandon could receive care from Dr. Tom Merchant. This decision gave Brandon two wonderful years of remission.
During that period of remission, Brandon had seven MRI checkups and each one showed that he was cancer free. Every MRI was preceded with loads of anxiety and feelings of elation for the following months.
Brandon was back in school and recovering well. He did have numerous deficits from the treatment. He had a left facial palsy, ate from a feeding tube for nine months, was unable to run like he used to, and lost his hair. The list goes on.
What I was thankful for was the gift of slowing down and seeing what is important: time with Brandon, sharing experiences, and enjoying the privilege of being his mom. Even though my life was horribly changed on February 4th, it also became filled with more love and feeling. I turned my cell phone off after work, left my laptop in its bag, and didn’t try to clean house while talking to my son. I would sit down and play with him, completely engaged in what we were doing.
During these seven, years, I educated myself about pediatric brain tumors. I didn’t know that cancer was now the #1 killer in children. I didn’t know that of those cancers, brain tumors killed more children each year than any other. I was shocked at these statistics. I felt so fortunate that Brandon’s life had been saved that I wanted to help others. We started a non-profit, Brandon’s Goal, to help other families, and we formed a support group for parents. Unfortunately, Brandon’s cancer returned and it became very aggressive. Brandon underwent several more surgeries, numerous radiation treatments, and painful chemotherapy. His life was full of doctor’s appointments, IVs, stitches, physical and mental deficits, and more.
Brandon started to feel isolated from his friends and was uncomfortable in large social settings. His friends would invite him out to a movie, but he would decline. Brandon wanted to stay home with his parents in the safety of his home.
It was heartbreaking to watch this disease take my child’s life away from him. What did make Brandon feel better was time with his family. During the last year of his life, we spent our time together by taking long drives, reading books, listening to music, drawing, watching movies, and inviting our family over for dinner.
Brandon suffered a severe brain event and seizure on March 15, 2009, one day after his tenth birthday. After this setback, it was clear that Brandon was losing the battle against his cancer.
Brandon’s goal was to beat his cancer and to help cure other children. He participated at fundraisers, spoke on the radio and at events, gave gifts to other sick children, and even organized a toy drive at Children’s Hospital during Christmas.
My goal was that he would survive to see his next birthday; he passed away at 8:29 AM, six days after his eleventh birthday.
Brandon’s celebration of life was attended by more than 850 people. His battle with cancer, his courage and humility, touched the lives of so many people. I have received letters and phone calls from all over the world about how Brandon changed their lives.
When someone says you can’t understand how it feels until it happens to you, nothing is truer than when you lose a child than in any other situation. I’m sharing my son’s story with you so that more people in our community will be aware of this deadly disease. By bringing awareness to childhood cancers, especially brain tumors, I hope that the support for finding a cure will increase. Pediatric cancers are the least funded cancers when it comes to research. I don’t wish my journey on any child, parent or family, so please help us find a cure for all pediatric cancers.
Visit CaringBridge.org to learn more about Brandon Brauns and the foundation created in his memory. The Brandon’s Goal website, www.brandonsgoal.com, will be up and available to visit on September 25, 2010.]]>
Autumn has arrived in Whatcom County. Kids are getting back into the routine of school and parents are wondering how they’ll keep the family occupied during the months of cold and rain ahead.
But before the weather gets too tumultuous, you’re invited to celebrate the start of harvest season with local organizations and farms! Check out a few great, family-friendly events that will educate your kids about the abundant harvest that they can enjoy in our county.
Whatcom County Farm Tour –
September 11, 2010
Sustainable Connections invites you to visit 11 local farms to learn about agricultural practices in Whatcom County. From Twisted S Ranch bison to Bellingham Country Gardens U-Pick vegetables, it’s amazing to see all that our community offers. You can even ride your bike from farm to farm! Download the Farm Tour Map to find your way to the farms.
Whatcom Harvest Dinner – September 26, 2010
Celebrate the abundant harvest season, the talented farmers and food artisans, and our amazing community at the Whatcom Harvest Dinner at Boxx Berry Farm. The Whatcom Harvest Dinner is a collaborative effort of local food, farming, and sustainability focused nonprofit organizations that are passionate about good food, community, and sustainable living in our beautiful home. Tickets are $45, available at Brown Paper Tickets.
Cloud Mountain Fruit Festival – October 2 & 3, 2010
You and your kids can sample over 200 varieties of fruit at Cloud Mountain Farm in Everson during their annual fall festival. Open on Saturday, October 2, from 10 AM to 5 PM and Sunday, October 3, from 11 AM to 4 PM, you can try all kinds of fruits that can grow in Northwest Washington while listening to live music by Giant’s Causeway and Polecat. There are activities for kids too! Admission is $2.50 to support Western Washington Fruit Research Foundation.
How does your family celebrate the harvest season in Bellingham and Whatcom County? Leave a comment below!]]>
Friday, September 3, 2010 – Downtown Art Walk
Take an evening stroll through downtown Bellingham to see work by local artists. Participating businesses keep their doors open late from 6 to 10 PM to display artwork that the community can enjoy. Maps are available at the Downtown Bellingham Partnership and participating venues. Make sure to stop by Center for Expressive Arts to see a living art installation!
Saturday, September 4, 2010 – Float Your Model Boat Show
Bellingham International Maritime Museum presents a remote control and scale model boat show. Here’s a chance to display your own model boats or just come to see models by others! Admission is by donation, $5 per person or $10 per family suggested. This show is open on Saturday from 10 AM to 4 PM and on Sunday from 11 AM to 3 PM.
Sunday, September 5, 2010 – Community Pancake Breakfast
The Rome Grange’s monthly community breakfast is back! Every Sunday from 8 AM to 1 PM, families are invited to enjoy made-from-scratch pancakes, French toast, sausage, scrambled eggs, juice and coffee for just $5 for adults and $2 for kids ages 6 to 10; kids under five eat for free! To get more information, call (360) 671-7862.
Monday, September 6, 2010 – Lynden FFA Corn Maze
Head to Lynden to journey through a corn maze, sponsored by the Lynden High School FFA. Special Labor Day hours are 2 to 6 PM. Cost is $6 for adults, $4 for students K-6th, free for preschoolers, or $18 for two adults and three kids. Bring a flashlight after dark! For details, call Lynden High School at (360) 354-4401.
For more local fun, visit Neighborhood-Kids.com Activities!]]>