Fourth of July Safety Tips

Independence day. Liberty enlightening the world

For millions of American’s the July Fourth celebration of our nation’s independence includes cookouts, splashing at the pool or beach, and enjoying dazzling, colorful firework displays.

Whether you’re traveling out of town or keeping your celebration local, it’s important to take a few moments to know some common Fourth of July safety hazards and how to ensure that you and your family stay safe.

Swimming Safety Tips:
If your Fourth of July plans include swimming in the pool or ocean, make sure you, and your family, have certain safety plans in place.

  • - Always keep a watchful eye on everyone in the water- don’t assume other people are watching the kids
  • - Make sure your children know basic water safety tips before letting them swim
  • - Never swim alone
  • - Know where “throawable” flotation device are located

Grilling Safety Tips:
A cookout out wouldn’t be complete without burgers and hot dogs, but to be sure nothing (or no one) gets burned, here are a few tips for grilling safety.

  • - Make sure your grill is a safe distance away from your home and deck railings, and out from low hanging branches
  • - Keep children and pets away from the grill area
  • - Never leave your grill unattended
  • - Only use your grill outdoors

Firework Safety Tips:
Fireworks are a great way to celebrate the holiday, but they can be dangerous. Leave lighting them to the pros. Inexperience with fireworks is an easy way to get burned or worse.

If fireworks are legal in your community, know how to store and use them safely.

  • - Keep kids away from fireworks at all times and spectators at a safe distance
  • - Never use fireworks indoors
  • - Know your fireworks and read all instructions and caution labels before lighting them
  • - Always have water handy to douse a fire
  • - Soak spent fireworks in water before throwing them away
  • - And most importantly: Obey local laws! If fireworks are not legal where you live, do not use them.

When using sparklers:

  • - Always remain standing.
  • - Never hold a child in your arms.
  • - Never hold or light more than one sparkler at a time.
  • - Never throw sparklers.
  • - Sparkler wire and sticks remain hot long after the flame has gone out.
  • - Be sure to drop spent sparklers in a bucket of water.
  • - Teach children not to wave sparklers or run while holding them.

General Safety Tips:

  • - Lakes, waterways and oceans will be crowded with boats. Know safe boating practices, ensure everyone has a proper fitting life jacket, and never drink and drive your boat.
  • - Apply sunscreen constantly
  • - Cover and store food outside properly. Covering your food will help keep insects at bay. Decrease your risk of food poisoning by properly storing your food and throwing it away if it has been sitting outside in the heat for more than an hour.
  • - Drink plenty of water. Drinking plenty of fluids before, during, and after time spent in the heat will decrease your risk for heat-related illness.


Becoming knowledgeable about safety measures will help make the holiday more fun for everyone involved.

Mom the Pharmacist

By: Sue Anganes

Any time your child is prescribed a medication it’s always an important task to keep track of administering it properly. Over the years I’ve developed my own method to be sure that my kids got their medication in the correct amounts and on time.

My two older sons, who are grown men now, had asthma, which is common for many kids. There were often times when the boys were on antibiotics, prednisone, nebulizer treatments, and inhalers all at the same time, and often both boys at the same Notebooktime. If I didn’t have a method to keep track of who got what and when, I risked improperly medicating them.

To keep track of what medications and when they were taking them, I made charts in a permanently bound notebook. I’d head the top of the charts with the name of the medication and the doses they were to take. I’d checked off each dose and often wrote in the exact time they were given a breathing treatment. If a medication was to be taken three times a day I’d make three places on my chart to check off when the boys took their doses. If they only needed one dose a day, I’d make one column and check off the dose each day. There was never a doubt as to whether or not the boys had their medication. Either my husband or I could look at the chart and see what they needed and when. I’d also bring my notebook of charts to my doctors’ and specialists’ appointments. That way I could always answer the doctors accurately as to what was prescribed, by whom, and when it was prescribed. It was all there right in the notebook!

My two youngest sons have a rare genetic disease. They are on a whole list of medications, and now that they are in their teens I have developed a method for them to start taking responsibility for taking their medications by themselves. They will be on their medications their whole lives, and hopefully by developing proper habits and self discipline now, it will allow them to manage their own health by themselves when they as they get older.

My method now for my teen boys is for me to prepare their medications in pill cases ahead of time for the whole week. Since they take their medications three times per day, I had my husband cut up some seven compartment weekly pill containers into three-compartment boxes; that way the boys have their morning, afternoon, and evening doses of medications all together and measured out and in one daily container.  They can take the containers with them as needed. Once a week I prepare the boxes with all their medications, and they are put in the kitchen cabinet on a special shelf. My boys have timers set on their iPods, and their alarms go off three times a day- that’s when they take their medications. I also have my alarm set on my phone for the same times, but it is rarely the case that the boys ever need me to remind them to take their medications.

I’ve also made a list of the medications, with the exact dosages that they take, and the times that they take each dose. I want them to be sure that if I was ever unable, for whatever reason, to prepare their medications for them, that they could prepare them on their own. Of course they could read the labels on the pill bottles also, but I wanted to make it as clear and easy as possible. At this point, I still want to take most of the responsibility for their medication, and I feel that having them responsible for taking their medication on time is enough for now.

Weekny Prep

Most pharmacies now have on-line access to your prescriptions. I find this extremely convenient to use, especially while managing multiple prescriptions for multiple kids. I can log onto my account and see what needs to be refilled, when the prescription can be refilled, and how many refills I have left.  I can refill right online and designate a pick-up time at the pharmacy. I rarely have to wait for anything to be refilled anymore. What a time saver!

I also have a random secret trick to teach a young child how to swallow a pill. I actually trained my kids with tic-tacs! I taught them to gulp them down with water. Since they don’t taste badly and was obviously the same size as many pills, it wasn’t a traumatic experience to learn to swallow pills. Out of necessity, my three year olds could swallow their medications effortlessly. Of course I was always aware that I did not want my young children to confuse tic-tacs with actual medicine. I was always careful to explain the difference, and I kept all medication out of reach of my children when they were young.

I’m sure most moms have already developed their own methods to keep track of their kid’s medications, but if you haven’t, hopefully I’ve given you a couple of ideas that may help. With the ultra busy lives that we moms lead now, there’s no room for error in something as important as medication in our kid’s healthcare.

Flourless & Gluten Free Chocolate Torte Recipe

By: Michaelene Koskela 

This is a tried and true, crazy good, decadent Chocolate cake. The ingredients will surprise you and the ease and versatility of this foolproof desert will amaze you! This cake is delicious plain, dusted with confectionary sugar topped with fresh berries, or frosted. I found this to be a very forgiving recipe so you can feel confident in substituting your preferred ingredients. The pictured birthday cake is frosted with chocolate butter cream icing and topped with local picked strawberries. Bonus this cake is GLUTEN FREE.



  • - 1 ½ c Semi-sweet Chocolate chips or Cacao chips
  • - 5 T Butter or Coconut oil/Dairy free alternative/Organic Apple sauce
  • - 1 t Organic Gluten Free Vanilla
  • - 19 oz of Organic Garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • - 4 Organic Eggs
  • - ¾ c Sugar, Stevia, or Coconut Sugar
  • - 1 t Baking Powder
  • - ½ c Berries to garnish


  • - 2 c Organic powdered sugar
  • - ¼ c (1/2 stick) Softened organic butter or dairy free alternative
  • - ¼ c Organic whole milk, Coconut milk or Almond milk
  • - 1 oz melted Semi-sweet chocolate
  • - ½ c Organic unsweetened Cocoa powder
  • - 1 t Vanilla 


Marissa Bday cakePre-heat oven to 350 degrees F (175 C) Grease an 8 or 9 inch round cake pan. I spray with coconut oil, then place parchment paper in the bottom of the pan, then spray again before dusting with cocoa powder. The parchment makes for a smooth top and easy release from the pan.

Place your chocolate into a microwave safe bowl with butter. Cook in the microwave for about 2 minutes, the first minute I cook at 50% power then stir every 20 seconds after the first minute until chocolate is melted and smooth. Stir in your vanilla then set aside.

Rinse your Garbanzo beans in warm water; frequently my pantry has the organic 13.4 oz boxes of beans so I use two. Garbanzo beans have a thin hull (You can keep the hulls or remove the hulls from your garbanzos the cake turns out less fibrous but either way will work, I prefer de-hulling to do this: soak in warm water then just pinch the hull off each one, toss the hull) Either way with or without hulls measure out the beans to equal 19 oz.

Combine the beans and eggs in the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth. Add the sugar and baking powder, pulse to blend. Pour in the melted chocolate and blend until smooth, scraping down the corners to make sure the chocolate is completely mixed. Transfer the batter to the prepared cake pan.

Bake for 40 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes before inverting onto serving plate. Cool completely before frosting.


In mixer, cream butter until light and fluffy. Add in milk, melted chocolate, vanilla and 1/2c of the powdered sugar mix on low, add in cocoa powder mix again on low then slowly add in remaining sugar once incorporated beat on high scraping down sides for 2 minutes until desired consistency.

Frost cooled cake. Refrigerate any remainders, this cake also freezes well.

Happy 20th Birthday Marissa! This Auntie loves you!


*Be certain to read all labeling on chocolate chips, baking powder etc. make sure all ingredients are truly gluten free

10 Summertime Activities for Kids

As parents we like to think that summer is a time to relax and rejuvenate after a long school year, however it always seems that kids have a different idea. In an effort to keep your kids from bouncing off the walls and complaining of boredom every five minutes, we created a list of 10 great ideas for keeping your kids entertained, active and out of trouble all summer long.

1. Stage an A to Z scavenger hunt
All the participants have to find something that starts with every letter. If that doesn’t sound like fun, here are 8 more scavenger hunt ideas.

2. Write a book
Get your kids’ creative juices flowing and let them write and illustrate their own book. You can then use IlluStory and have it turned it into an actual hard cover book.

3. Plant a garden
Encourage your little ones to play in the dirt by helping with the garden! Dedicate a corner of the garden just for them, and let them pick what they want to grow. All these plants are great for kids to grown. Your kids will love seeing (and even eating) the results of their work!

4. Plan a picnic at a local park — or in your backyard.
Have your kids plan the menu and then take them along to the grocery store to pick up the ingredients. They will love helping prepare all the different foods for the picnic!


5. Slip n’ slide 
Make your own slip n’ slide by heading out to your local hardware store and picking up so
me large plastic sheeting. Use something heavy, like some rocks, to hold the sheeting in place. Use your hose to wet it down and you and your kids are ready to enjoy this for hours!

6. Break glow sticks into bottles of water for some nighttime lawn bowling action.
Find some empty 2L bottles, fill them up with water and drop the glow sticks into the water bottles. Create a bowling lane, arrange the water bottles into a standard triangle pattern, grab a ball and enjoy!

7. Science Experiments 
Who says learning has to stop in the summer? From ice volcanoes to rain clouds in a jar, this site has lots of great ideas!

8. Squirt Gun Painting
This classic summer art activity requires a little planning, but the results are worth it! You will need some squirt guns, watercolor paper, an easel, and liquid watercolors. After the easel is set up and the squirt guns are filld with the paint, everyone is free to go to town and create their own unique painting. Just remember- no squirting each other!

chalk-438068_12809. Create a 2-D Obstacle Course using sidewalk chalkThis is a great way to get the kids outside and moving! Using the sidewalk and colorful chalk, you can create various obstacles for the kids to complete. Challenge them to see how many times they can go through it or see if they can come up with their own obstacles!

10. Go on an excavation
To prepare this activity, fill a plastic container with small toys, marbles, and/or gems and then filled it with water. Once it’s frozen, dump the ice block out on a pan (or another surface you don’t mind getting wet), hand over some salt, water droppers, a small hammer, spoons, dull children’s knives, and some water and get chiseling!


What are some of your favorite summertime activities that your kids enjoy?

An Unscheduled Summer

By: Jacqueline Koutsoufis

As a parent I find myself having mixed emotions about the school year winding down and coming to an end.  I feel like I’m riding a roller coaster waiting for the drop and quick turns. As I climb the high hill of excitement that comes with not having to rush out the door early in the morning, pack lunches for school and fight the dreaded homework battle. I know this excitement will only be short lived and the first quick turn will bring the new battle of camp and settling into a new less planned and structured schedule

Screen Shot 2015-06-18 at 9.47.59 AMAdd in a few surprise trips and hopefully some time spent relaxing with the family, you’ve got the makings of a fun summer ride.

My children are used to having a somewhat busy schedule. From the time my son was two we have had therapy appointments or services in the home. Literally 40 hours of services a week and after years of hard work he no longer needs all these services. No more long appointments, or special services in or out of the home. We have gone from 40 hours a week to a slim 8 hours a week of ABA.

He is free to be a normal kid we are free to be a normal family. And how do I plan to do this? By planning nothing! Just do what we feel like. I’m not going to worry if my kids say they are bored. I will have a pile of new books to read or puzzles to build and even a list of household chores. I will have my list of secret activities and destinations, but I refuse to stress myself out over keeping my children on a tight schedule and busy for the summer.

On to new memories, adventurous unscheduled days, relaxing times, and probably a few tantrums and cries of boredom. I could not be more excited to see what this summer has in store! It has been worth it to see my boy grow and become the little person we always knew was there just stuck in his shell waiting and working so hard to come out. After years of hard work we are free to explore what we have missed out on because of hours of intense therapy.

Father’s Day Sentiments

By: Danielle McFadden 

My father has always been a man I look up to. He’s patient, levelheaded, generous, kind and has a great sense of humor. He has a demanding career but I’ve never once heard him complain – even when traveling after week after week for work. Family has always been his priority and growing up nothing came before my mother, my two brothers and I.

155469_825698222483_49705313_nNow that I’m a mother, I get to appreciate him on a whole new level, as Zoe’s Papa. Zoe adores her Papa and their special relationship was evident even when she was an infant. Finally, I figured out what I could give the man who has everything… a grandchild.

In honor of Father’s Day (and my father), here are some great quotes that epitomize how influential Dads are in our lives.

“My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person: He believed in Me.” – Jim Valvano

“A father is someone you look up to no matter how tall you grow” – Unknown

“Any man can be a father, it takes someone special to be a Dad.” – Unknown

“Dads are most ordinary men turned by love into heroes, adventurers, story-tellers, and singers of song.” – Pam Brown

“A truly rich man is one whose children run into his arms when his hands are empty.” – Unknown

“A father is a son’s first hero and a daughter’s first love.” – Unknown

And last but not least….

“The only thing better than having you as my Dad is my children having you as a Grandpa.” – Unknown

Happy Father’s Day!

Ziggle-Zaggle June

By: Michaelene Koskela 

The month of June holds so much excitement. The beginning of summer, Father’s day, school graduations, garden peonies in bloom, weddings, and cook-outs to celebrate family birthdays most listed are 98% enjoyable….

However, I usually dread the 24-48 hours prior to VACATION. I do not mean the at home vacations. Assuredly the vacations that I am referring to are those that are 4-10 days in length and require a plane to reach your destination or a car that’s so heavily packed car, your neighbors interrupt you to ask if you are moving.

Gone are the impromptu vacations of youth of rolling your swimsuit in a beach towel and tossing a toothbrush into your purse moments before jumping into the family pre-packed car.

IMG_20150611_195032Those were the carefree times, no responsibilities or worries. Now, as a Mom, I have learned to plan for the worst and hope for the best. As parents we know there is a 110% chance that an illness will occur on vacation, and the likelihood that the remote beach community will have a 24 hour pharmacy is pretty slim. Our next vacation starts TOMMMOROW and leading up to this wonderful event we have also had what my daughter calls “ziggle-zaggle” days. What is a ziggle- zaggle day? According to my 5 year old, it is a normal day that does something unplanned or different from the routine.

My week included and was not limited to these ziggle-zaggles.

For example, I made 40 chocolate cake pops using a new recipe for teacher gifts. It takes roughly 4 hours from start to finish. While packaging, ½ of the batch of pops were cracked and I was forced to make 40 more with my tried and true method.

A field day at school was postponed the evening before, due to impending inclement weather. The day of the original schedule did not hold a drop of rain and my daughter only asked every 15 seconds why they changed the date, as she saw no signs of rain or thunder.

Wednesday my daughter had an end of year show at her pre-school. This being a first for me, I had no idea what to expect. Basically, it is a show where the students put on a skit, sing, and receive certifications of completion. The ceremony ends with a video presentation played to music that highlights the children and moments throughout the school year. I kept it together until Trace Adkins hit the refrain in “You’re Gonna Miss This.” My husband had to squeeze my knee in an effort to quiet me down.

Two nights this week I forgot to take meat out of the freezer to defrost for dinner. Sometimes life happens and we have to have breakfast for supper, but twice in a week back to back, in my opinion, is pushing it just a bit. This evening, after our dinner of omelets and toast, rather than packing for our trip, I sit writing this blog. The dishes are piled in the sink, the dryer just signaled it’s time to fold, and the suitcases are still in the closet under the basement stairs, yet I am at peace. Tomorrow I will celebrate my last birthday in my 40’s at the OCEAN! All will get organized and packed, the dishes will get washed, the beds will get made, and our vacation will happen. The giggles of my daughter playing with her father echo through our home and I’m reminded that sometimes it’s important to stop and just take it all in.

Trace: I already miss this.IMG_20150611_194904

Budgeting for New Parents Workshop

This FREE workshop, put on by Lowell General Hospital, introduces money saving tips for new moms, including coupon websites, diaper and grocery rewards programs and the value of blogs. We will also explore the importance of goal setting and budgeting for new parents and comparing the cost of food. This includes analyzing the cost of dining out vs. home cooking as well as a taste test to compare name brand vs. store brand foods! There will also be a discussion on the importance of saving and forming a banking relationship.

To register visit: Budgeting for New Parents