HOW TO PICK A NATURAL BUG SPRAY

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Living in the lush landscape of the Northeast has it advantages.  While summer activities abound, so do the insects.  Every summer, parents ask me if there are any bug repellents that I recommend.  For my family, I use bug repellents that are made of natural oils.  Oils of citronella, soybean, peppermint, lemongrass, eucalyptus, and geranium are effective for small periods of time.  Being particular about smells and fragrances, I find that Citronella and Peppermint ones smell less overpowering than others.  If you are going for a heavy-duty hike with the kids, then use insect repellant lotion or spray that contains 5-30% DEET (not for kids under age 2 months).  The higher DEET concentration does not mean that it is more effective, rather it just lasts longer.

Wearing loose and light-colored clothing, which provides good coverage is important.  I prefer application by hands, rather than spraying because I do worry about fume inhalation from sprays.  Avoid hiking during dawn and dusk, which increases one’s chances of being bitten.

Hope this helps.  Happy hiking!!

Featured photo courtesy of digitalphotos.net

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MR. SMITH (AND FAMILY) GO TO WASHINGTON D.C.

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Forget Mr. Smith.  I think the whole family should go to Washington.  Why?  Because it is awe-inspiring.  By the way, Mr. Smith goes to Washington is an old Hollywood classic (yes, I do watch AMC and TCM in the middle of the night).

If you look beyond the politicking and lobbying that occurs in Washington D.C., and just look at the city itself, I gotta say it is amazing.  There is no better way for school-age kids to jump into learning history than to visit the presidential memorials.  Standing at the foot of the Thomas Jefferson memorial and reading excerpts from the Declaration of Independence is, unquestionably, inspiring.  “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men all created equal…”  Also, reading the Gettysburg Address out loud, while Abraham Lincoln’s statue smiles serenely near us, is great fun.  At the FDR memorial, the depiction of the Great Depression offers many teachable moments about humility.  And there is so much more…

Speaking of U.S history, recently, I watched an interview of David McCullough on 60 minutes.  Mr. McCullough is a Pulitzer prize-winning historian (by the way, I highly recommend reading his biography of John Adams.)  During the interview, he talked about early American thinkers and politicians who shaped the country’s past and present.  At one point, he talked about today’s college students saying they lacked fundamental knowledge of U.S. history.

His comments got me thinking, especially since July Fourth is approaching.  This holiday is more than backyard barbecues, pool parties, and fireworks.  I think Fourth of July is about reminding us (the older generation) to teach our children about our country’s history.  Traveling to Washington D.C. is a great way to develop their interest.  Watch a group of people protesting in front of the White House and your kids will recognize the true meaning of free speech.  Tell me which historical sites (local or national) you have been inspired by and why?

THE SUMMER PARENT TRAP

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Summer is here.  Let the camps and play-dates begin.   After all, the busier the kids are, the more accomplished they will be as adults, right?   Wrong.  Every summer, I become adept at chauffeuring rather than PARENTING, scheduling rather than TEACHING, the future rather than the PRESENT.

Well, not this time.  Summer presents a unique opportunity for parents to do major life-planning (for their kids).  Not the getting-into-the-Ivy-Leagues kind of planning. Parents…this summer…let’s plan to foster good habits in our children.  Keep the bed and wake times structured.  Don’t let them sleep into the late morning.  Teach them to pick up after themselves.  No more clothes or games all over their bedroom during vacation.  Let’s plan to foster independence.  Get them used to doing chores and duties during the summer.  Let’s plan and teach them the true meaning of friendships, so that they stand up for friends in need.  Let’s plan to teach them thoughtfulness, kindness, and respect.  I could go on and on.

These are just some of the habits and values that will guarantee their success in life.  The music, the arts, the sports, and the camps are all wonderful and important.  But, they are poor substitutes for what we REALLY need to teach our children.

What do you think? Let me know your thoughts on this topic.