• May 26, 2020 — Cooking With Kids

    Posted by West Linn-Wilsonville on 5/26/2020 9:00:00 AM

    These are unprecedented times, for sure! Many of us have found ourselves sheltering at home and cooking more than usual. Have you invited your kids into the kitchen? There are many benefits for children and teens when they are able to help in the kitchen. Even the smallest toddler can lend a hand by washing fruits and vegetables or stirring batter. Older children can take on larger tasks of chopping, sautéing, and baking under the observation of an adult. Teens, with a little bit of practice, can complete an entire meal.  

    Cooking provides children with a learning opportunity that stimulates all of their senses. Not only does cooking help with math and language skills, but it can help build self-confidence and empower children to make healthy choices. Learning to cook influences food choices and behaviors, and has been shown to increase children’s consumption of fruits and vegetables, contributing to their overall well-being. Even a choosy-eater may be more willing to try a new food if they are involved in the cooking process. If tasting a new food is challenging, encourage your child to smell or touch the food, which can serve as a bridge to later tasting that new food.

    Exploring a recipe encourages children to be autonomous and independent, it also teaches them to follow directions and develop problem-solving skills. Cooking and baking integrates math concepts in a real world application with fractions, weighing, counting, and measuring. Science unfolds as you watch a food change as it is baked, boiled, refrigerated, or frozen. Lessons on safety abound in your kitchen when using a hot stove or sharp knife.   

    Perhaps the best part of having the kids in the kitchen is the memories you’re creating. Sure, it might be a little messier, a little slower, but what a joy in seeing your child’s sense of accomplishment when they make a new creation for your family to share! And it’s an activity they’ll never forget. 

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  • May 18, 2020 — Water Safety

    Posted by West Linn-Wilsonville on 5/18/2020 9:00:00 AM

    With the warm days upon us and summer nipping at our toes, we are all looking forward to getting back into the water. Whether you are out on a boat, kayaking, or swimming, it is important to be safe while in or on the water. 

    Drowning is one of the three leading causes of unintentional injury death among children ages 0-19. It is quick and silent and can happen to any family. It often occurs when an unsupervised child is near water. Children can drown in just an inch of water left in a bucket or wading pool. The most common setting for children to drown in is open water – oceans, rivers, and lakes.

    Playing in the water – whether you are swimming or boating – can be fun, but it can also be dangerous, especially for children.  Although most people don’t think much about water safety, being safe and following the rules will help prevent injuries and drowning

    So, before you or your child hits the water this summer, here are some tips to keep you safe:

    • Get water smart: learn to swim from a qualified instructor, choose safe places to swim, learn to recognize hidden obstacles and rip currents.
    • Younger children should be closely supervised while in or near the water – use touch supervision, keeping no more than an arm’s length away.
    • Never allow your child or teen to swim alone or hang out by the water without an adult watching. Even good swimmers need buddies!
    • Do not swim at beaches with large waves, a powerful undertow, or no lifeguards.
    • Do not rely on inflatable rafts or floaties as life preservers.
    • Do not let your child dive unless you know the depth of the water and it is at least 9 feet deep.
    • Teach children that swimming in open water is different from swimming in a pool.
    • Never push or jump on others around the water.
    • Never swim during a storm or if you can see lightning. Seek shelter. Get out of the water.
    • If you get caught in a rip current, don’t panic and don’t fight the current. Try to swim parallel to the shore until you can get out of the current. 
    • Never go in the water after drinking alcohol.
    • Children should wear a life jacket at all times when on boats, docks or near bodies of water. Adults should also wear a life jacket when in a boat.
    • If you have a pool, install a fence at least 4 feet high around all four sides of the pool.

    Keeping these tips in mind when you venture out or into the water, will hopefully keep you and your family safe this summer. Have fun and remember your sunscreen!

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  • May 11, 2020 — Tips for a Model Morning

    Posted by West Linn-Wilsonville on 5/11/2020 4:00:00 PM

    Have you ever had great intentions for your day, but the morning starts off completely differently than you had hoped, and suddenly your plans feel like nothing more than wishful thinking? I think we have all been there! During this time where our habits are more important than ever, we wanted to pigtail off of last week’s sleep hygiene tips to give you some practical guidance to create your own Model Morning Routine.

    Creating structure is key to the success and well-being of all of us, parents, and students alike. However, creating morning routines that aren’t frantic and rushed may seem new to some of us. So, here are the key areas that you can focus on each morning to ensure that your day has the best chance at success:

    • Awake Time: As we are focusing on intentional sleep and rest, waking up 1 hour before the rest of the world needs us or tasks that need to be started on is a huge step toward a model morning. This time allows you to mentally and physically prepare yourself for the day.
    • Calm Time: Taking anywhere from 1-10 minutes for personal reflection, meditation, or prayer, whatever it is that YOU need. This centers your mind and grounds you for the day. You can choose to spend time focusing on gratitude, deep breathing, or simply calm and silence.
    • Desired Outcome/Goal Setting: A failure to plan is a plan to fail, so give yourselves 10-15 minutes to set intentions for the day. What’s most important to complete today? What do you need today or what do your kids need today to feel successful? Visualize your day playing out in the way you desire and write down specifics of what you want to see take place.
    • Motion: Even just 5-10 minutes of intentional motion (stretching, yoga, jogging in place) is going to wake your body up, get the blood pumping to your brain which allows for clearer thinking and planning, and will start your day off with a win in your own personal health.
    • Self-Care: As silly as it may seem, simple things like getting in a shower, brushing your teeth, or sipping on a hot cup of coffee without interruption are all forms of self-care. Put on your favorite outfit (even if you aren’t going anywhere) so that you feel taken care of!
    • READY: Now, you are ready to take on the world! Whether that’s working from home while supporting your students in distance learning, or working the frontlines, you are now more ready and prepared than ever to create an amazing day!

    Now, you may or may not implement these all at once. In fact, we’d encourage you to just start with ONE aspect that you want to implement into your morning. Take the baby step of implementing one new rhythm and do it consistently to see the massive impact it will have on your days. Despite the current circumstances, you can create new ways of thriving during this time and we want to support you in that journey!

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  • May 4, 2020 — The Importance of a Good Night's Sleep

    Posted by West Linn-Wilsonville on 4/30/2020 4:00:00 PM

    We spend approximately one-third of our lives sleeping, yet sleep often seems to fall to the bottom of our priority list even during the best of times.  Our current situation of physical distancing has brought about stresses and anxieties that didn’t exist just a few months ago.  Unfortunately, these new concerns can have negative impacts on our sleep at a time when we need it the most.  Getting enough sleep allows our body to fight inflammation and infection, increases brain function, and improves mood and mental health.  Who couldn’t benefit from these positives, especially right now? 

    So, how much sleep is enough?  While we are all individuals, experts with the American Academy of Sleep Medicine generally recommend the following:

    Preschool (3-5 years):            10-13 hours per 24 hours (including naps)

    School Age (6-12 years):        9-12 hours per 24 hours

    Teen (13-18 years):                8-10 hours per 24 hours

    Adult (18-60 years):                7 or more hours per night

    These numbers may seem like lofty goals with the stresses of daily life.  What can we do to help ensure that we are getting enough sleep?

    Just as we have physical hygiene measures such as bathing, brushing teeth, and washing hands to help keep us healthy, there is also something called “sleep hygiene.”  Sleep hygiene consists of helpful practices and habits we can adopt to encourage a better night’s sleep.  They include the following:

    • Create a sleep schedule. When do you need to go to bed and get up?  Create a plan and stick to it.
    • Make sure your sleep environment is optimal. Use comfortable bedding, make sure your room is at a comfortable temperature for sleep, and get rid of distractions. 
    • Limit screen time before bed. Screens emit blue light, which inhibits the body’s production of the melatonin--a natural sleep inducer.  Try to turn off screens at least one hour before bed.
    • Limit napping during the day. A nap of 30 minutes or less is best.  However, if you are having issues with sleep, skip the naps altogether.
    • Increase exposure to natural light. Daily exposure to natural light is important for regulating our sleep.  Get outside at least once a day while observing appropriate physical distancing guidelines.  While inside, open up the blinds/curtains to let in as much natural light as possible. 
    • Stay active! Even as little as 10 minutes of daily aerobic exercise can help improve sleep.   

    In addition, during this time of COVID-19, there are specific things that we can do to assist with getting a good night’s sleep which focus on decreasing stress and anxiety:

    • Create a daily schedule. Get up and get dressed even if not leaving the house.  Schedule time for work, eating, exercise, and play.
    • Stay socially connected. Finding appropriate ways to stay socially connected is so important for lifting our spirits and keeping our moods positive!
    • Develop a toolkit for relaxation. Each person has their own ways to relax--maybe calming music, meditation, reading, writing, yoga, a special hobby, etc.  Take time to relax every day. 
    • Limit news media intake. News about coronavirus is anxiety-producing on the best of days.  Try limiting yourself to one or two sites or one news show per day for a set period of time--and not right before bed. 

    If this seems overwhelming, don’t stress!  Just try one of the recommendations above and see what benefits you notice.  In a time when we may be feeling a loss of control in certain areas, this is one part of ourselves and our self-care that we can choose to improve.  Your body and mind will thank you for it! 

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  • January, 2020 — The Flu

    Posted by West Linn-Wilsonville on 1/16/2020 1:00:00 PM

    Flu season is here!  It typically begins in October and continues into May. Everyone is susceptible to getting the flu. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) each year millions of children get the flu, thousands of children are hospitalized with the flu, and some kids even die. Children are the most likely population to get sick with the flu.

    What is the flu?

    The flu is caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat and sometimes the lungs. These viruses change or mutate frequently, meaning we are exposed to new types of the virus each year. It is highly contagious. Some people may have a mild case of the flu, some people may have a severe case, and occasionally someone may die from the flu. Unlike the common cold, the flu comes on suddenly.  People may complain of a fever or feeling feverish/chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue (tiredness), or vomiting and diarrhea, which is more common in children. A person does not need to have all these symptoms to have the flu and not everyone with the flu will have a fever.

    How is it spread?

    The flu is usually spread via tiny droplets that are dispersed when a person with the flu coughs, sneezes or talks. People nearby may get these droplets up their nose or in their mouth. A person could also contract the flu by touching something with flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or eyes. A person is contagious 24 hours before the flu symptoms start and continues to be contagious until about day 7 of the illness. Most people recover from the flu in a week, but they may continue to feel tired for 3-4 weeks after the illness has ended. It is especially important during flu season to be washing your hands frequently and to not touch your face.

    How can I prevent the flu?

    You can protect yourself from contracting the flu by getting the yearly flu vaccine. The vaccine is available to everyone 6 months of age and older. Children 6 months to 8 years of age will need to get two doses of the vaccine the first time they get it. In addition to getting the flu vaccine, you can protect yourself and your child by limiting contact with sick people and practicing frequent hand washing.

    When should students and staff stay home from school?

    Stay home when you are sick. If you have a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) that is a fever and you should stay home. Remain home until you are fever free (100 degrees Fahrenheit or 37.8 degrees Celsius, measured by mouth) and/or have no signs of a fever (chills, feeling very warm, flushed appearance, or sweating) for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medicine. If you have vomiting or diarrhea, again remain home for 24 hours from the last episode. Finally, if you have a cough that won’t stop or any changes with your breathing, see your doctor. Following these guidelines will help prevent others from catching your illness. 


    CDC.gov (Center for Disease Control and Prevention): Influenza (flu) 9/2019

    HealthyChildren.org: What’s the Latest with the Flu? A Message for Caregivers 10/2019

    Harvard Health Blog: The 4 symptoms that mean your child must stay home from school or daycare; Claire McCarthy, MD 10/2019

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  • December, 2019 — Healthy Eating During the Holidays

    Posted by West Linn-Wilsonville on 12/17/2019 2:00:00 PM

    Eating healthy during the holiday season is difficult for everyone.  With all the festivities and parties, food is everywhere.  Unfortunately, most of it is not healthy. During the six weeks from Thanksgiving to New Year’s, people gain anywhere from 1-3 pounds. This may not seem like a significant amount, but extra weight over time puts you at risk for: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, increases in blood sugar, increases in insulin levels, and diabetes. With a few tips and simple strategies, eating over the holidays, need not be an issue for you and your family.

    Tips for eating healthy

    1. Keep to a normal schedule — If you usually eat three meals and snacks, stick to that schedule. Eating light throughout the day, so you can go all out at a holiday meal or party, will only result in overeating. Sticking to your normal meal schedule will prevent you from being hungry, and allow you to enjoy your holiday meals without overeating.
    2. Choose wisely — Don’t eat everything. When you get to a party look at the options. Be choosy and select the foods you really love and don’t get to eat very often.
    3. Take smaller portions — By selecting small portions or just a bite, you can sample more foods and not feel like you are missing out.
    4. Offer plenty of fruits and vegetables at holiday meals — Fruits and vegetables make great snacks and are usually high in fiber. Choosing high fiber foods will help to reduce the amount of calories you consume.
    5. Take 10 — Before going for seconds, give yourself 10 minutes to see if you are really still hungry. It takes a few minutes for your brain to get the signal you are full. Talk with family, play a game, go for a quick walk. Then reassess your hunger status.  You may realize you are full or only want a tiny portion of seconds.
    6. Organize a family activity — Planning physical activities during the holiday season not only provides quality family time but helps to maintain healthy habits. At a family gathering suggest a walk after dinner or before dessert.  And if you are at a party, put on your dancing shoes and get moving!
    7. Keep in mind what really matters — Food is undoubtedly a big part of the holidays, but remember to put the focus on family, friends and holiday cheer. 

    With balance, moderation and these healthy tips as your guide, hopefully eating during the holiday season will not be too overwhelming for you and your family.  Indulging and overeating once in a while is okay.  Don’t beat yourself up.  Just remember to get back to your healthy eating habits as quickly as possible. 

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