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Fun Labor Day activities for the family


For many, Labor Day marks the official end of summer. Even though warm weather will likely carry on into September, Labor Day is often a last hurrah before students head back to school and routines get a bit more structured. Make the most of this three-day weekend with healthy, active ideas that the whole family can enjoy!

  • It’s state and county fair season, but you can skip the lines and deep-fried foods by having a backyard fair for your family. Set up tables in the backyard with healthy treats, games, a coloring contest and “livestock” exhibitions with pets or stuffed animals. Get out the washable paints for a face-painting booth, or host your own bake-off!
  • Another fun yard activity for a full free day is hosting lawn Olympics. Set up lawn darts, bag toss, badminton or other favorites and compete for the gold! Color in paper circles for the medals and hang them off of string or ribbon—you could even stack something safe to climb on for a podium for your closing ceremonies.
  • If you want to be active but don’t have yard space, check your local community calendar or do a search for 5K run/walks in your area.
  • Pack a snack, fill a water bottle or two and head to your nearest state or local park. This is a great opportunity to get outside and be active while enjoying nature.
  • Cool down by setting up a sprinkler or filling up water balloons.
  • Get some sidewalk chalk and have a Labor Day drawing contest. Make it more interesting with a patriotic theme or a recap of the other activities you’ve done that day!
  • Rainy Labor Days can still be fun! Have a Food Network-style cooking competition in your kitchen. Pick teams if you have enough people and choose one or two people to judge your culinary creations. Set up workstations just like they do in cook-offs on TV and have fun making dramatic commentary as you go.
  • See if your favorite local non-profit, church or other organization needs volunteers—the long weekend is a big fundraising time for some organizations but also a time when many volunteers are out of town or busy, making it a great time to get involved in a cause you care about.
  • When you’re tired out, set up camp in the backyard or living room! Grab your flashlights and set up a tent in the yard or a blanket fort in the living room. Snack on trail mix, grilled treats or s’mores (made over the fire or in the microwave!) and tell silly or scary stories or play music.

Does this seem like enough to fill a three-day weekend? Let us know what you plan to do in the comments, and if you try any of these ideas let us know how they turn out!

What’s the difference between heat stroke and heat exhaustion?

What’s the difference between heat stroke and heat exhaustion?

Even though many of us welcome warm temperatures and the chance to be outside in the sun, summer heat isn’t all fun and games. If you plan on being outdoors, and especially if you’re planning on being active, it’s important to know the signs of heat-related illnesses like heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Both conditions occur when the body becomes dehydrated in hot or humid environments, but the combinations of symptoms differ between the two.

Heat exhaustion happens when the body is overheated, usually with a fever of up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. One of the differences in symptoms between heat exhaustion and heat stroke is sweat; heat exhaustion is characterized by heavy sweating, while those suffering from heatstroke experience decreased sweating. Other symptoms of heat exhaustion are:

• Agitation
• Cool and clammy skin
• Confusion or anxiety
• Dizziness
• Excessive thirst
• Fainting
• Headache
• Muscle aches and cramps
• Nausea
• Slow heartbeat
• Weakness and fatigue

Heat stroke occurs when the body’s temperature rises so much that the cooling system stops working altogether. This typically happens at body temperatures of 104-106 degrees Fahrenheit, but keep in mind that it can occur suddenly. It is possible for your body to overheat so quickly that it skips past the symptoms of heat exhaustion and goes straight to heatstroke.

As mentioned above, heatstroke is characterized by decreased sweating, as well as hot, flushed skin. Other symptoms include: Continue Reading »

What is motion sickness, and how do you prevent it?


Summertime often means traveling, be it by plane, train, car or boat. For people who suffer from motion sickness, these trips are not a part of vacation they look forward to.

Experts say that motion sickness is caused by a sensory mismatch—a disconnect between the body’s systems that gauge the motion we sense and the motion we visualize. The symptoms typically start with sweating, dizziness and a general feeling of uneasiness, followed by nausea and in some cases vomiting. Different remedies work for different people and instances, so consider the following tips for relief:

Avoid anything that could cause or exacerbate nausea. Don’t travel on an empty stomach, but avoid greasy or spicy meals that could cause discomfort, as well as excessive alcohol and foods with strong odors. Try protein-packed snacks that will travel easily. You want to keep your stomach as calm as possible when going into a situation that might upset it more.

Sit where you’ll experience the least motion. If you’re traveling by car, driving can decrease that sight/feel disconnect that causes motion sickness. If that’s not possible, the next best option is the passenger seat so you can have a full view of the road. If you’re in an airplane, try to get a seat in the middle, over the wing, as this is the calmest area. If you’re sailing, you’ll want to be in lower level cabins near the center of the ship. Regardless of the vehicle, sit facing the direction of travel and take advantage of fresh air through vents or windows if possible. Continue Reading »

All about fennel


If you are eating seasonally, you are in luck because there are many foods grown in Wisconsin that are in season this time of year. One of my favorites is fennel.

Fun fact: fennel is a flowering plant that belongs to the same plant family as carrots. Fennel is a hardy perennial plant, considered both an herb and a vegetable. It has yellow flowers and beautiful, soft, feathery leaves similar to dill. It typically grows in the Mediterranean, but it is also grown in Wisconsin.

Smelling fennel is an experience in and of itself! It is very aromatic with a deep pungent aroma that resembles anise, similar but much richer smelling than licorice.

Fennel is also a very flavorful herb. Almost every part of the plant can be used in cooking. The dried fennel seeds are aromatic and taste like anise. Green seeds are best for cooking, having the most flavor. The leaves can be used to finish off a dish to produce a delicate flavor, and the bulb can be used as a vegetable by putting it in salads and soups. It is crisp and can be sautéed, baked, grilled or eaten raw.

Many Indian and Middle Eastern dishes call for fennel in their recipes. It is also found in some Chinese spice powders. Fennel is often used to make Italian sausage, and it is also found in breath fresheners. It can be used to make tea, which tastes much like licorice or anise tea.

All in all fennel is a wonderful food that can be used in many ways. Look for it in the grocery stores or at your local farmer’s market.

Summer sun safety: protect your skin and eyes from the heat


Cool shades and a stylish hat aren’t just summertime accessories—they can also keep you healthy in the hot summer months. It’s always important to protect your skin from the sun, and equally important to properly protect your body during hot weather.

  • Stay shady—While you might be tempted to bask in the sunshine, limit your time exposed directly to rays. Seek shaded or air conditioned areas such as libraries or malls and, whenever possible, schedule outdoor events for the cooler, early parts of the morning. The sun’s rays are at their strongest at midday, making that an ideal time to not be outside. No matter what time of day it is, wear sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher.

Sunscreen should be applied 30 minutes prior to exposure and needs to be re-applied every two hours or immediately after swimming, toweling off or sweating a great deal – many people put it on once and forget that it needs to be reapplied!

  • Stay hydrated—treat yourself to water and juice, but stay away from alcohol and caffeine, which actually dehydrates your body.
  • Stay light—if you’ve ever felt the heat rising from blacktop, you know that dark colors retain heat. Keep your summer clothes light-colored to reflect heat and lightweight to avoid getting overheated. Wear a brimmed hat or sunglasses to protect your face and eyes. In addition to preventing squint-induced wrinkles, protecting your eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet rays helps prevent cataracts from forming.
  • Stay sweaty—when your activities do put you out in the sun, be aware of the signs of heat stroke: altered mental state/confusion, nausea and lack of sweat. If you are experiencing these symptoms or see someone else experiencing them, seek medical attention immediately. Remember, if it’s hot and you’re not sweating, something might be wrong.

Summer fun can still be safe and include sunshine, as long as you keep the above tips in mind. What are your favorite ways to stay safe and beat the heat? Let us know in the comments.

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