Across Litchfield and Fairfield counties, several family-owned farms and orchards offer pick your own fruit opportunities. Most offer many other attractions, as well: other kinds of fruits or vegetables, a neat, little farm store stocked with delicious goodies, farm animals, playgrounds or a variety of farm-themed programs. Some are especially good if you have toddlers in tow. Whichever place you choose to visit, you are guaranteed to find tasty, fresh fruit and memorable experiences appealing to everyone in the family.
We've barely gotten through the back-to-school rush (doesn't August seems like a 1000 years ago?) but the air is getting crisp, the sun is setting a little earlier and the leaves are just starting to change from green to orange and yellow. Fall is upon us, friends, and that means I need a pumpkin on my porch VERY soon. Even if you aren't into Halloween, picking a pumpkin is an autumnal ritual for many, and the perfect excuse to get outside on a crisp afternoon. Fairfield County has more than a few great spots to seek out your jack-o-lantern-to-be, and most places offer activities like corn mazes and hayrides as well as cider donuts and other seasonal goodies. Check it out!
If you have children, you know the hours between 4pm and 6pm are particularly difficult. Referred to as "the witching hours" by many parents, this stretch of time (after naptime, but before dinner and bath time) can be hard to fill, leading to bored, whiny kids and grouchy moms and dads. If you're tired of wracking your brain for late afternoon activities, it might be time to take advantage of your local eateries Happy Hour specials. Enjoy a cocktail and some kid-friendly appetizers with a few friends. The kids will love the change of scenery and parents will enjoy the discounted treats and time to socialize. We've put together a great list of family-friendly restaurants where you can turn the "witching hour" into a happy hour for the entire family.
New Jersey has fairs and festivals galore this August. Flutter over to Pennington for a Butterfly Festival, hang out with the firefighters in Manasquan or indulge in carnival rides and games at a classic county fair. With so many options, the family calendar will be super packed all month long. Read on for our top picks, and squeeze in as many as possible—Labor Day is just around the corner! For more summer fun, visit our Summer Activities Guide.
What kids eat is very important and having the right snack can actually improve a child's ability to learn. Our school occupational therapy consultant, Casey Halper, put together a list of sensory smart snacks just in time for back to school. That means that they are snacks that help kids stay alert and focused in school without making them hyper and restless. These are great snack ideas for children in school, but would be equally great snack choices for toddlers too. Some of the themes for healthy sensory snacks are:
Crunchy and chewy foods help make kids more alert by engaging their senses.
Sipping or sucking can help organize and calm children.
And of course fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and calcium rich foods make them healthy overall.
It's back to school time and so we are thinking about all those little details of preparing for the school year. Making healthy school lunches and snacks is a big one. We asked the moms of Mommy Poppins what their best tips for easy healthy snack options and school lunch recipes were and they came up with a bunch of really original school lunch box ideas, as well as some old standbys.
Read on to find out what we're putting in our kids' lunch boxes for school lunch and snacks:
Eons ago (OK, just five years) we did a post on family meal planning. In fact, it was one of the very first things we blogged about here at Mommy Poppins. But a lot's changed since then, and the rise of smartphones, social networks and a gazillion new websites gives us many new options to chew on when it comes to making meals.
You can't overestimate the importance of sitting down to family meals. Studies show that eating as a family benefits everyone, especially children, who are then less likely to become obese, fall into substance abuse or have low self-esteem. Of course preparing dinner (and breakfast and brunch and lunch) isn't always easy to pull off. Happily, there are a slew of online meal-planning sites, mobile apps and meal swapping tools to help get healthy, budget-friendly meals on your table. Here are some of our current favorites.
Granola bars are a snack that kids love and parents can feel good about giving their kids - or so the ads say. But many granola bars aren't much better than candy bars and are loaded with sugar, fat, trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. I found a really easy recipe for granola bars on AllRecipes and I've been making our own ever since. We whip up a batch every weekend for the upcoming week - perfect for back to school time. You could also make more and freeze them. The kids love them and love making them. It's fun for them to eat healthy snacks they've made themselves.
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