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In November, we often think of the ideal family Thanksgiving meal with everyone sitting around saying what they are thankful for, just like in the movies.  Most people probably have everyone saying the same things (family, friends, etc.), copying each other, or they say nothing at all.  How about a new twist on this lovely old tradition?

Starting now, prior to the busy day, get your thinking caps on and begin to reflect on some fond memories.  Notify everyone that they will be asked, so they have time to think as well.  The memories you choose can be from earlier this year, or from anytime in the past.

Some ideas might include:

  • What is the funniest thing you remember doing as a family? Or as a child?  Why?
  • What is your favorite memory and why?
  • When were you the happiest and why?
  • When did you feel the most special and why?
  • What do you love the most about your family and why?
  • What do you love the most about the holidays and why?

Once you have your ideas, you and the children can make a leaf rubbing craft to keep the memories forever.  Gather crisp leaves from outside, plain paper and crayons.  The beautiful fall colors of red, orange and yellow crayons will put you in the spirit!  Place the leaves under the paper and rub/trace over them with crayons.  Then write/draw your answers on the paper.  Either writing along the edges or using a sharpie is the easiest.  On Thanksgiving Day, the family can take turns showing or telling about his/her memory.  Use the family’s artwork as table or wall decorations for the big day!

To learn about Thanksgiving traditions from around the world, visit


Nina Solomon, Development of Living Skills Instructor, Ohio State University Extension, Butler County

DLS Helps to DIY

Parents, October often brings to mind pumpkins and yummy treats!  October is also National Eat Better, Eat Together Month, so let’s plan a healthy snack for the whole family to enjoy together.  The operative word here is “together.”  We may think about family meals and have learned how important they are for healthy families; how a parent being available to their child/teen creates the environment to provide emotional support and healthy connections.  All of that can be overwhelming with our busy schedules, but what about having a family snack?!  As long as the family is sitting together and enjoying each other’s company and conversation, you can have the same impact.  You can plan those throughout your week as your schedule allows.

There are literally thousands of recipes and ideas for pumpkin-flavored everything, but below is a simple idea many of us have thought about, but many have never tried ourselves:  Roasted Pumpkin Seeds.  After you have the family fun of carving the pumpkins, you can use the seeds inside to create your own delicious snack!


  • Seed the Pumpkin: Preheat the oven to 300 Degrees F. Using a spoon, scrape the pulp and seeds out of your pumpkin into a bowl.
  • Clean the seeds: Separate the seeds from the stringy pulp; rinse the seeds in a colander under cold water; then shake dry. Don’t blot with paper towels; the seeds will stick.
  • Dry the seeds: Spread the seeds in a single layer on a greased baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes to dry them out.
  • Season the seeds: Add seasonings to your liking. Suggestions include either a pinch of salt, or cinnamon and sugar.  (But not both!)
  • Bake: Return to the oven and bake until crisp and golden, about 20 more minutes.
  • Serve and Eat around the table as a family! Talk about your day or your favorite things about autumn!

For more healthy pumpkin ideas visit this website!

Nina Solomon, Development of Living Skills Instructor, Ohio State University Extension, Butler County

DLS Helps to DIY

Parents, September brings a change of seasons to cooler weather and we tend to turn inward and inside.  September is also National Child Obesity Awareness Month, Healthy Aging Month, and Pain Awareness Month, among other things.  With that focus in mind, we can improve the entire family’s health by doing some simple stretching or, dare I say it, family yoga.

Before you groan and swipe out of this tip, please bear with me and read on.

Yoga often has a negative connotation to it, so let’s just use the term stretching.  There are many benefits to stretching such as reducing stress, toning muscles, weight management, protection from injury, increased flexibility, and improved sleep just to name a few.

Tips to keep in mind:

– Laugh and have fun!

– One stretch may take only one minute!  Take as much or as little time as the family decides.

– You do not need any expensive equipment; just an open space.

– Music sets the mood.  Choose songs that match the mood you wish to create.  If you want to be more active, play a peppy song; for more calm, play a soothing song such as a lullaby or nature sounds.

– Ask the children for suggestions about what stretch they would like to do; don’t worry about the names.  Perhaps they have seen one online or in gym class.  (For example, bending at the waist, toe touches, windmills, etc.)

– Everyone gets a turn to demonstrate and everyone copies each other.

– If you experience pain of any kind, stop.

– There are videos to check out from the library or view online to use as a guide.

Furthermore, any physical activity completed with other people has been proven to burn more calories than doing it alone!  It builds a sense of comradery which can motivate someone to do more than they would on their own.  And, if you laugh and enjoy the time spent together as a family, you burn even more calories.  It is a win-win!

For additional information about the benefits of yoga, please visit https://osteopathic.org/what-is-osteopathic-medicine/benefits-of-yoga/.  And about yoga for beginners, see https://www.verywellfit.com/how-to-get-started-with-yoga-4165462

Nina Solomon, Development of Living Skills Instructor, Ohio State University Extension, Butler County

DLS Helps to DIY

Parents, ah, August: it signals the beginning of school, which means we often hustle back into a routine after relaxing all summer.  Simply by their nature, these cycles we go through in life help establish necessary patterns to guide our days.  There are times we may feel constrained with the thought of having to follow a routine, but it is very beneficial for everyone, not only the children.  Stop for a moment and visualize how you feel when your morning goes smoothly, or when the children go to bed without a fight.  In the morning, you are on time without needing to rush or bark orders; in the evening everyone knows what to expect and cooperation is achieved!

Tips for Creating Daily Routines:

-As a family, identify the steps needed for the routine.  Begin with morning and evening plans.  Allow the children to provide input into what they view as important; their ideas may surprise you!

-Limit the number of steps to a maximum of 6 steps.  If there are too many steps, it may become overwhelming for the children.  You will find an example below.

-Use a chart or list with pictures for each step or task.  Post the list in a family-friendly spot to encourage your children to “read” them.

-Review the list with the children until they cooperate on their own a majority of the time.  Be prepared that children may need continued support and reminders even after they perform tasks independently.  (In the same way traffic signs are posted as reminders for us even after we “know” the rules and obtain our license, we are more comfortable with them and rely upon them often.)

-Be consistent with following the routines because that will reinforce them.  Children thrive on predictability because it helps them to feel empowered when they know what to expect.

Sample Bedtime Routine:

Steps: Put on pajamas; brush teeth; get in bed; read; hug and kiss; lights out.

-Lay the children’s clothes out at night.  Include socks, shoes and backpacks in a designated place.

-Begin your bedtime routine 30 minutes before your ideal time for the children to be in bed.  On average, it takes about that length of time for the children to complete all of the tasks necessary to be ready for bed.

And finally, you can transform a routine into a ritual by incorporating a family-bonding moment during the task.  For example, give eye contact and smile or hug your child during the routine and bonding is enhanced!  The positive attention will become a natural reinforcement for the entire family.

Nina Solomon, Development of Living Skills Instructor, Ohio State University Extension, Butler County

For additional tips on routines see http://washington.cce.cornell.edu/home-family/parent-pages/challenging-behaviors/the-importance-of-bedtime

DLS Helps to DIY

Parents, it is already July and that means summer is here in full force!  July makes us think of being outside, beach balls, and fun-in-the-sun.  How can we make common summer activities become family bonding time?  Below are some ideas to help you:

  • Beach Ball Bonding: Get a beach ball and a sharpie marker.  On the ball, write questions in each stripe.  Have the family stand in a circle and pass the ball to each other.  When you catch the ball, answer the question your hand lands on.  Answer the question aloud for the entire family to hear.  Suggested questions include: What is your favorite color and why?  If you could have any super power what would it be and why?  What is your favorite thing about yourself and why?  What is your favorite thing about summer and why?  When you woke up this morning what was the first thing you thought about and why?  What is your favorite family memory and why?  There is no limit to the questions you can ask.
  • Bubbles With Baby: Blow bubbles with your baby nearby and encourage him/her to reach for them, and crawl or toddle after the bubbles.  In between blows, encourage your baby to look at you and engage in joint eye contact and smiling.  But be cautious about blowing into your baby’s eyes or face.  While keeping eye contact, enunciate the word “bub-ble.”  When repeating the word, touch your baby gently while talking and your child will learn the word quicker.  You could also make silly faces or stick out your tongue and have your baby copy you.
  • Balloon Toss Tango: Make some water balloons and play some lively music in the background.  Before the typical balloon toss begins, choose a partner to dance with.  Instead of holding hands, you and your partner both hold onto the balloon but try not to pop it!  Get creative about where to place the balloon while dancing such as back-to-back, hip-to-hip, etc.  While dancing, see who can go the longest without laughing.  In pairs, race with your balloon to a designated spot.  For the typical balloon toss, yell out some of your favorite things when it is your turn to toss, or say one thing you love about your partner.

Several of the ideas above can be used to enhance family bonding for other routine activities such as while riding in the car or sitting around the dinner table.

For more fun summer ideas visit:  https://www.familyeducation.com/activities-crafts/the-ultimate-summer-bucket-list-for-kids-and-families

Nina Solomon, Development of Living Skills Instructor, Ohio State University, Extension, Butler County

Come to the Farm Zone at the Butler County Fair!

The Farm Zone is a great place for KIDS!  This year, we have exciting activities and special events every day of the week.  Butler County’s Master Gardener Volunteers will have a fun, interactive display on pollinators throughout the week and the “I’m a Farmer” area will run all day, every day:  Sunday, July 21st through Saturday, July 27th from 11:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m.  This area, where kids can experience life on a farm by picking produce and milking a pretend cow, is always a favorite!  Kids of all ages will have fun trying new things in the Farm Zone at the Butler County Fair.

Sunday, July 21st  –  For the opening day of the fair, our theme is Farm Bureau Day.  We will have agriculture displays, coloring books, and story time, a special Farm Safety Interaction Demonstration, and a lamb tasting.  Reily Township Fire Department also will be here to showcase their Large Animal Rescue unit, which is the only one in Butler County!  These special displays run from 1:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.  To top off our farm fun, be sure to stop by to see the results of our Cabbage Contest at 1:00 p.m.!

Monday, July 22nd  –  Today in the Farm Zone, The Ohio State University Extension is showcasing their many programs!  Come explore the 4-H CARTEENS and after-school programs, learn about sun safety and drug safety, and watch a cool 4-H robotics demonstration. There will be canner testing to ensure your canning equipment will safely seal your food.  The OSU smoothie bike will also be in the Farm Zone.  Make sure to stop in to try a delicious smoothie powered by you!  All of these events will run from 1:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Tuesday, July 23rd  –  Have fun with Butler County Soil and Water Conservation District Day at the Farm Zone.  Learn about soil and the environment with displays on soil profiles, and stream testing.  Check out the NRCS display, Boy Scouts exhibit, electric tree stump, and soil trailer!  Then, sample some tasty food with our soil profile pudding cups activity and a beef tasting.  All of this will happen from 1:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m., or while supplies last, so don’t hesitate to stop by!

Wednesday, July 24th  –  Come on down to the Butler County Fairgrounds to see our Cloverbuds race their fruit and veggie cars!  This event will take place from 12:00 noon until 3:00 p.m. in the Swine Show Barn.  Remember to stop in the Farm Zone too, because today is Master Gardener Day!  In addition to their daily activity, there will be displays of the Master Gardener’s projects, a representative from the Butler County Beekeepers, and a Farm Zone Scavenger Hunt, all from 1:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.!

Thursday, July 25th  –  It’s Farm Day at the Farm Zone, and you don’t want to miss it! Jason Jackson will have a fantastic interactive display of pedal tractors and farm equipment.  Kids will be able to ride these tractors around the Farm Zone in an event bigger than we have ever had before!  The Edgewood and Talawanda FFA members will also have their SAE projects on display today, so be sure to come by and see what America’s future farmers are busy doing! These groups will be at the Farm Zone from 1:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Friday, July 26th  –  To celebrate Natural Resources Day, come and learn about nature with Butler County Metroparks, Girl Scouts, and Three Valley Land Trust.  A naturalist from Hueston woods will have an incredible display about birds of prey, which is always a highlight of the week!  And finally, kids will make invisible ink and use a surprising natural material to reveal their hidden message.  Come on down between 1:00 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. to be sure you don’t miss out.

Saturday, July 27th  –  Remember to visit the Farm Zone on the last day of fair!  We will be running exciting crafts from 1:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m., or while supplies last.  Come on down to see what is going on and be sure you don’t miss your last chance to visit the Farm Zone until next year!

Please contact the OSU Extension Office with any questions at (513) 887-3722.

News Release provided by Emily Waldron, Summer Intern, OSU Extension, Butler County.

CFAES provides research and related educational programs to clientele on a nondiscriminatory basis. For more information, visit: cfaesdiversity.osu.edu.  For an accessible format of this publication, visit:  cfaes.osu.edu/accessibility.  Butler County / July 12, 2019