My Son’s Camper Achievement Award

My 12 year-old son is in his element when he’s at camp. Running around, getting muddy, hiking, swimming, skipping stones and catching frogs with a bunch of kids is pretty much a dream come true for him.

He always comes home with stories about the adventures they’ve had and new camp songs he’s learned. His arms are covered with dozens of friendship bracelets. Apparently, the rule is that the bracelets have to fall off naturally, and you can’t TAKE them off no matter how dull and tattered the once brightly coloured bracelets become.

The first year he went to camp, he’d never been away from home for a two-week stretch before. His big sisters were there so I knew they’d help him out if he got homesick. I also knew that they’d probably keep an eye out for any of his lost belongings.

Last year, he went solo, which made labeling all the more important. We went with the Limited Edition Camp Combo clothing labels for kids and had him choose the icon. We played a game by laying out all his clothes into piles, labeling them and taking pictures (Okay, it was mostly a game for me!) Clothes and hats were labeled with Tag Mates (my favourite!) and Skinny Minis were on all his toiletries. The beach towels got labeled (Tag Mates on the care tags), flashlight and water bottle got Sticky Labels, running shoes got Shoe Labels and his duffle bag and guitar case got the metal Bag Tags.

At the end of each camp session, funny, personalized camp awards for kids are given to each camper to recognize one of his or her most well known achievements. When we picked Eric up at the bus stop last year, he came down the steps of the bus, beaming with pride as he displayed his special award. It was the “Most Items in the Lost and Found” award!

When we got home, I dug all the sandy clothes out of the duffle bag and threw them directly into the washing machine. Fresh from the dryer, we laid them all out and compared them to the “before camp” photo.  And you know what? Almost everything made it back home. I think we were missing one water shoe and a t-shirt.

Without Mabel’s Labels’ camp clothing labels, I doubt Eric would have been reunited with his stuff and he would have missed out on winning that cherished award. Pretty soon he’ll be heading back to camp on that bus, everything labeled, and totally prepared to defend his title!

Have you got your Limited Edition Camp Combo yet? Hurry! It’s available until June 30th!

 

About the Author:

Karen Pearson is one of the friendly voices you’ll hear on the other end of the phone when calling Customer Service at Mabel’s Labels. She enjoys writing about her family, which includes a husband, 3 kids and a rescue dog from Greece.

- See more at: http://blog.mabelslabels.com/index.php/2014/05/page/2/#sthash.Dz5uGm1E.dpuf

Fuel for Fitness

Whether you are training a young Olympian or supporting your own fitness, food is the only thing that fuels a body. I ran my first 10 K, slightly reluctantly and ever so slowly but, you know what? I got hooked.

I know how crucial it is to support any exercise regime with the right workout foods, and the older you get, the more important it is. Filling your tank well and ensuring that your exercise is actually doing you more good than harm can’t be stressed enough. The day before and on run day (yoga day, spin day, zumba day, weight day, cardio day…), it is all about the fuel. The day after, it is also critical to nourish cell recovery with the right food. So what is that?

10 hours before exercise:

Do:

  • Have a meal of low GI, easily digestible carbohydrate like lentils or beans which will allow your muscles to take up as much glycogen as possible. The protein/carb balance of beans is perfect.

Don’t:

  • Drink alcohol, it’s dehydrating
  • Eat a heavy protein or fat laden meal, it will weigh you down and interrupt your sleep
  • “Carb Load” with spaghetti and bread, they will let you down too quickly

2 to 4 hours before:

Do:

  • Eat Breakfast – It is true that you will burn more fat if you exercise first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. But you will tire too quickly and may run the risk of burning the very muscle you are trying to build.

Here are some breakfast suggestions:

Don’t:

During workout:
Around the 1 hour point, your glucose and blood sugar levels will drop and you may become fatigued or lightheaded.

Do:

  • Drink 4-5 big gulps of water
  • Consider coconut water over sports drinks
  • 2 pitted medjool dates – Dates are a fresh fruit high in the all important glucose with the added benefit of recovery minerals http://naturaldelights.ca/about.html#faq and anti-oxidants. They are just as easily digested and portable as a “power pack”.

Don’t:

  • Slurp a commercial energy gel which is a highly processed, often corn syrup based packet. They don’t contain the antioxidants or minerals of a real food that will support you in recovery.
  • Drink sports drinks unless you are exercising for more than 2-3 hours and coconut water isn’t available.

Recovery:

Do:

  • Drink lots of water.
  • Within an hour or two after exercise, your muscles will be calling for replenishment. Feed them the highest quality post-workout foods you can find. (If you are going to “cheat” with a treat, now is the time, your body can use the extra calories quickly and efficiently).
  • Have a full meal with lots of vegetables, lean protein, preferably fish, and a good whole grain carb (like brown rice or quinoa or whole grain bread)

Don’t:

  • Drink alcohol before you eat. Since your muscles are primed for more fuel, and they can’t use the calories from booze to do so, those calories will be converted to fat. Give your body the kind of calories it needs to recover and then have a drink if you are going to. Remember, alcohol is also further dehydrating. Water up.

The daily grind of making meals becomes even more critical when young athletes are under your care. You barely get one day done and the next is on your door. Making the process systematic is the best way to hit the mark.

 

About the Author:

Theresa Albert

Theresa Albert is a Food Communications Specialist and Toronto Personal Nutritionist. She is @theresaalbert on twitter and found daily at www.myfriendinfood.com

How to Light up your Backyard Party

Every year, we host a big Victoria Day fireworks party. For my American friends – this means that yes, we celebrate the birthday of a long dead English Queen, but we’ll take our holidays where we can get them. This past Victoria Day we hosted one hundred of our closest friends and neighbours (an annual event at our place) and even managed to relax and enjoy it ourselves!
With July just around the corner and firework celebrations preparing to light up the sky once again, I thought I’d share a few tips on how to host an easy (and epic) stress-free, fireworks party at your home.

Fireworks Party, Fireworks party ideas, How to put on a fireworks show, Firework celebrations

things that go BOOM in the night

Here are some tips on how to plan and enjoy the day:

1) Put a sign on your front door that says “go around to the back”. That way, you don’t have to clean. No one is going to walk through your house to get to the backyard. A party you don’t have to clean for is the best kind of party.

2) Have a few glasses of wine, because the first point is a bit of a lie. The time will come in the evening where there will be people in every single room of your house. But if you’ve had a couple of glasses of wine, you won’t care that they see that you actually have a very messy house.

3) Tell people to bring ONE firework with them, but theirs is the one to finish the show. That way everyone brings the most amazing firework they can find and the entire show is fantastic. No little junky disappointing fireworks at my party!

4) Tell people to bring a bag of chips. Then, make chips the only food you serve. The party is at night. Everyone has had dinner. Keep it simple.

5) Delegate to a dad. We’ve got a dad in the neighbourhood who is a bit of an amateur DJ. He puts together a playlist, brings his fancy speakers, and suddenly our backyard show becomes a “symphony of fire”.

6) Don’t clean up. I let the local raccoons take care of any food that is left out. I’m a bit like Cinderella that way. The next morning put your kids and any neighbourhood kids still hanging around on the job. They can clear up drink cans and perform a general yard tidy up. The kids had loads of friends over, and part of hosting a party is cleaning up after your guests.

Do you plan on blowing things up with firework celebrations in your backyard in July? Be sure to do it safely, and if you follow these simple tips, you’ll enjoy hosting a fun and stress-free event.

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