50 Ideas To Get You Through The Summer!

We have challenged you to turn your box off! Now what? Here are a few ideas to replace screen time. A great idea is toprint our list, cut each item out and fold it up in a jar and let the kids pick an idea for the day.

  1. Go Roller Skate at Skate America
  2. Play in the sandbox
  3. Collect and paint rocks
  4. Decorate bikes with ribbons and streamers and have a little parade down the street.
  5. Go Bowling
  6. Go to a u-pick farm for fruits/veggies or just go to farmers market
  7. Go Swimming try Texarkana College, Minton’s or St. Michael’s Fitness Center
  8. Beat the heat with Jumping Apes
  9. Make an alphabet journal– go around town, taking photos of each letter somewhere and then document it (good for toddlers)
  10. Miniature golf
  11. Chuckie Cheese’s
  12. Make your own Popsicles
  13. Water balloon fight
  14. Lemonade stand
  15. Kids Summer Movies with Cinemark
  16. Arcade at Central Mall
  17. Make cookies for neighbors and surprise them.
  18. Create an obstacle course inside or outside
  19. Scavenger Hunt
  20. Campout in your backyard
  21. Draw a mural on the driveway with sidewalk chalk
  22. Build a bug collection
  23. Have a pretend “hair shop” with dolls, a spray bottle of water, doll brush, pretend money and lots of hair clips.
  24. Plant a garden
  25. Take a bike ride
  26. Create a legos masterpiece
  27. Build a domino’s chain reaction
  28. Have a board game day
  29. Play Hide’n seek
  30. Make a music video and send to grandparents.
  31. Have a “take your kid to work day”
  32. Jump rope
  33. Make your own bubbles and then have fun with them
  34. Roll out paper on the driveway, put paint on paper plates and let the kids walk on the paper.
  35. Take lessons on a musical instrument
  36. Go play tennis
  37.  Fashion show with music. Everyone gets 3 outfit changes.
  38. Spa day, paint fingernails and toenails.
  39. Have a sprinkler day, and maybe even include a slip’n slide
  40. Grab musical toys/instruments and have a parade
  41. Make doll blankets with fabric scraps and scissors.
  42. have a pajama day & read books, play games
  43. Backwards day–wear shirts backwards, eat dinner for breakfast and vice versa
  44. Ice cream sundaes for dinner
  45. Make homemade ice cream in a Baggie (recipe can be found online)
  46. Draw a pretend street with sidewalk chalk for bikes and scooters, have a race.
  47. Build a fort inside with sheets & chairs
  48. Put on music and make your own dance party
  49. Make a scrap book of your summer adventures
  50. Make a homemade pizza

July 6, 2012 at 2:12 am Leave a comment

Build a First Aid Kit

By Jennifer Jordan

The pictured first aid kit for a family can be purchased on the Red Cross web site:

Every household should have at least one first aid kit in an accessible place. Consider a kit for your

vehicle, too. Treatment can go smoother with a few character bandages on hand for the little ones.

The American Red Cross recommends that a kit for a family of four contain the following items.

Check for expiration dates and replace used items routinely.

  • 2 absorbent compress dressings (5 x 9 inches)
  • 25 adhesive bandages (assorted sizes)
  • 1 adhesive cloth tape (10 yards x 1 inch)
  • 5 antibiotic ointment packets (approximately 1 gram)
  • 5 antiseptic wipe packets
  • 2 packets of aspirin (81 mg each)
  • 1 blanket (space blanket)
  • 1 breathing barrier (with one-way valve)
  • 1 instant cold compress
  • 2 pair of nonlatex gloves (size: large)
  • 2 hydrocortisone ointment packets (approximately 1 gram each)
  • Scissors
  • 1 roller bandage (3 inches wide)
  • 1 roller bandage (4 inches wide)
  • 5 sterile gauze pads (3 x 3 inches)
  • 5 sterile gauze pads (4 x 4 inches)
  • Oral thermometer (non-mercury/nonglass)
  • 2 triangular bandages
  •  Tweezers
  • First aid instruction booklet

July 3, 2012 at 7:10 pm Leave a comment

Fertility Facts and Considerations When Trying To Conceive

By D’Andrea Bingham

For pregnancy to occur, an egg is released from the ovary, fertilized by sperm as it travels from the ovary to the uterus, and then implants into the uterine lining. Women can have trouble getting pregnant if there is a problem with any of these steps.

Sometimes these steps all appear to be normal, and a woman still may have problems conceiving. Certain things such as age, cigarette smoking, obesity, and excessive caffeine or alcohol intake in both women and men can decrease fertility.

Most couples will not conceive immediately when they start trying. You should see your doctor if you do not get pregnant after having unprotected intercourse for one year. If you are over 35 years old, see your doctor if you do not conceive after 6 months of trying. This is because a woman’s fertility begins to decline after age 35.

A general obstetrician/gynecologist can do initial testing for infertility. At the first office visit, it is helpful to bring a menstrual calendar from the last 6-12 months, which is a calendar that indicates what days your period starts and ends. This can be written down, or recorded with one of several apps available.

Ovulation predictor kits can also be useful. These are available overthe- counter and test for a hormone in the urine that precedes ovulation by about 24 hours. They can be used to time intercourse when chances of conception are highest. It will help your doctor if you also record results of theovulation predictor kits on your menstrual calendar.

At the initial visit, your doctor will usually do a detailed history on you and your partner, and a physical exam. Evaluation includes testing of the male and female. For a man, this usually starts with a semen analysis to see how many sperm he makes and how healthy those sperm are. For the woman, tests may include:

• blood tests to check hormone levels

• ovulation tests to see if eggs are being released from the ovaries

• Tests to check the uterus and fallopian tubes- These can include ultrasounds, x-rays to see if the fallopian tubes are open (hysterosalpingogram), or even surgeries to look at the inside of the uterus and/or the tubes and ovaries.

After the tests are done, your doctor may or may not be able to identify a problem. Treatment is usually aimedat fixing whatever problem is identified. Even if a problem cannot be identified (unexplained infertility) there are still treatment options available that can help a woman get pregnant.

Many initial treatments can be done by your local gynecologist. For patients that need more advanced treatments, referral may be made to a reproductive endocrinologist, which is a doctor that treats infertility. In Texarkana, we usually refer to specialists in Shreveport, Dallas, or Little Rock.

Fortunately, the majority of couples who desire pregnancy do end up conceiving. However, it can be very stressful and frustrating when it takes longer than normal. It may be helpful to talk to a counselor or support group for couples who are having trouble getting pregnant. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine has an excellent website that provides additional resources and information for patients about infertility (www.asrm.org).

July 3, 2012 at 2:35 pm Leave a comment

The What, Why, Who & When for HPV Vaccinations

by Dr. Annie Baker

What is HPV?

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a virus that is spread by skin-to-skin contact, usually including sexual intercourse, or any other contact involving the genital area. Over one hundred different types of HPV have been identified; more than fifty of these are known to infect the cervix and approximately fifteen are known to cause cervical cancer.

Researchers have labeled the HPV types as being high or low risk for causing cervical cancer. HPV Types 6 and 11 can cause about 90 percent of genital warts. These types are low-risk because they do not cause cervical cancer. HPV Types 16 and 18 are the high-risk types that cause most cases of cervical cancer. HPV types 45 and 31 are also high-risk types, causing about 5 to 10 percent of cervical cancers.

Why The HPV Vaccine?

It has been estimated that 75 to 80 percent of sexually active adults will acquire HPV infection before the age of 50. That’s over 250 million in the U.S. alone, with the majority of those occurring between the ages of 15- 26. Most people who are infected with HPV have no signs or symptoms, therefore they don’t realize they have it.

Cervical cancer is the third most common female cancer worldwide and HPV types 16 and 18 cause approximately 70 percent of cervical cancers and 50 percent of precancerous cervical lesions. HPV types 16 and 18 are also found in 72 percent of anal cancers and 69 percent of precancerous anal lesions. Although it remains an uncommon cancer, the incidence of anal cancer is increasing in the United States and other countries.

HPV types 6 and 11 also cause 90 percent of genital warts. Genital warts are associated with physical and psychological morbidity and have a high rate of treatment failure. Remember that males also acquire HPVrelated disease including genital warts, and less commonly, penile and anal cancer, which are similar to cervical cancer in their strong association with HPV infection. Note: Although condoms may help prevent other sexually transmitted diseases, condoms do not provide complete protection from HPV infection because condoms do not cover all exposed genital skin. Most HPV infections have no signs or symptoms and are usually unrecognized.

HPV Vaccine WHO & WHEN:

HPV VACCINES Gardasil, a quadrivalent HPV vaccine, targets HPV types 6, 11, 16, and 18 [11] while Cervarix, a bivalent vaccine, targets HPV types 16 and 18. HPV vaccine is indicated for girls and boys BEFORE the onset of sexual activity.

Either vaccine can be administered to girls aged 11-12 years and can be administered to those as young as 9 years of age (15-16); girls and women ages 13-26 years who have not started or completed the vaccine.

The quadrivalent (Gardasil) HPV vaccine can also be used in males aged 9-26 years to prevent genital warts. Administering the vaccine to boys before the onset of sexual activity is optimal.

Remember HPV vaccine efficacy and safety in boys and young men helps prevention of genital ulcers and anal cancer, but also possibly prevents decreased transmission of HPV infection to female sex partners and potential for prevention of oral cancers.

Both HPV vaccines are administered as a three-dose series of IM injections over a six-month period, with the second and third doses given 1-2 months and then six months after the first dose.

Again, the clinical trial data of vaccine efficacy in men and women suggest that immunization with HPV vaccine is most effective among individuals who have not been infected with HPV. Thus, the optimal timing of HPV immunization is before sexual activity occurs. Therefore, vaccinate earlier rather than later!

July 3, 2012 at 2:32 pm Leave a comment

Be By My Side: A Healthy Soul, For A Healthy Life

“the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” Galatians 5:22-23 NAB

my husband, david, grew up in the Texarkana area on a farm as his father did before him. His teenage days started early with many chores: feeding the cattle, weeding the garden, bush hogging the hills and pastures. He also enjoyed the freedom of exploring their hundred acres for hours and hours. Life had a rhythm that flowed with the seasons: the early spring was for planting, summer for tending and the late fall for plowing the gardens to let them lay fallow for the winter. Harvest took place in each of the seasons depending on what had been sown: onions in spring, tomatoes in summer, pumpkins in fall, turnips in winter. On the farm, he lived the truth that “a person will reap only what he sows.” Gal 6:7

We are each made of body, mind, and spirit. Planting and tending to the seeds of health in all three areas will bring about the harvest of a balanced and purposeful life. The fruits of the Spirit and spiritual health, as described above in Galatians 5:22-23, are each characteristics I desire for myself and my children.

Through his example, Jesus gives us many exercises to boost our spiritual health: worship, solitude, prayer, fasting, silence and service. Each of us has different ways in which we can work these into our lives. Our family worships with our church community on a weekly, and sometimes daily, basis. Most days I combine my spiritual exercises of solitude and prayer with my physical exercise by taking a long walk while listening to a daily podcast from http://www.pray-as-you-go.org.

Just 12 to 15 minutes long, it includes a Bible reading, evocative questions, and quiet music. Alternatively, a corner of your home with a comfortable chair, Bible and a candle might provide a place for prayer for you. Fasting and silence can be combined by fasting from electronic devices for a half an hour before bedtime and listening to the quiet of the house, the quiet of your heart. It is in that quiet that God speaks.

It is easy to think that you can’t possibly fit something else into your busy schedule.

Being spiritually active is as easy as taking a moment to be really aware of your surroundings. This would be a positive way to spend time driving or waiting for the kids after school. The color of the sky, the sound of your child’s laughter, and the smell of fresh coffee brewing can remind us to be grateful for our many blessings.

Each of us is gifted with the same 24 hours every day. What we choose to do with these precious moments speaks volumes about who we are and what we hope to harvest. Spiritual health ultimately is a matter of deepening your personal relationship with God.

Growing up on the farm, David learned what needed to be done and how to do it just by observing his dad who was working in the fields with him. Kids tend to pick up their parents’ habits, be they good or bad.

“Let us not grow tired of doing good, for in due time we shall reap our harvest, if we do not give up.”

Galatians 6:9

July 3, 2012 at 2:30 pm Leave a comment

Hosting Guest During The Holidays, Then and Now

By Chris Thomas


“Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son,

and they shall name him Emmanuel” which means “God is with us.”

Matthew 1:23


The season of Thanksgiving to Christmas has always been a special time for us, full of family and traditions. My mother in law always had a Birthday Party for Jesus, baked mountains of cookies and put together goodie sacks for each of her twenty two grandchildren. My mom always made oyster stew for Christmas Eve, decorated every room in the house, and hosted parties each week in December for various friends, family and business associates.


When our sons were young, we lived six hours away from Texarkana. Choosing to be part of the gatherings and traditions meant taking vacation days, spending gas money and “camping out” at Grandma’s or at “Thomasville”. For our folks, it meant extra food preparation, cleaning spare bedrooms and bathrooms before and after our visit, and the noise and energy of young children in the house. Though each of these might be seen as a burden, when offered with love they became a gift. Hospitality was joyfully given and gratefully received.


In his book Virtues for Ordinary Christians, James Keenan points out that hospitality is the virtue that God practices. He observes our needs and our vulnerabilities and provides for them. Even though the world was inhospitable to Jesus, he welcomed the world. In Bethlehem, Jesus, Mary and Joseph extended hospitality to the poor shepherds and the rich magi. Jesus instructed his disciples in this virtue through his parables and through his actions by welcoming the children, feeding the multitudes and accepting all invitations that were extended. His final action in the book of John was to prepare breakfast for his disciples. Truly Jesus fulfilled his role as Emmanuel by being fully present both as host and as guest.


This Thanksgiving and Christmas will be our first as grandparents. It is a privilege and a joy to welcome our son and his family to Texarkana when they now travel six hours to be here. There will also be a deep awareness of their need to share time with our daughter in law’s family. Sometimes the gift one is called to give is graciously accepting that the visiting family may need to come and go or

just desire quiet time. We have been fortunate that our daughter in law makes sure we know when they are available for meals or gatherings. When they return home, she always sends notes with thanks and photographs which lighten a gloomy January day.


Even in their poverty, the Holy Family extended hospitality to the shepherds who then returned to their flocks, glorifying and praising God. In the book of Luke, we are told “Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart”. During this season of giving thanks, take a few moments of reflection to praise the God who is with us in our loved ones and our guests.

May 10, 2012 at 3:29 pm Leave a comment

Encouraging Your Children In Faith

by Chris Thomas


“…that you and I may be mutually encouraged by one another’s faith, yours and mine.”  Romans 1:12


    When I was invited to write a column of spiritual encouragement for parents and families, I spent time remembering how I have received encouragement.  I remember David, my husband, standing by my side, holding my hand, his eyes twinkling above the surgical mask as each of our three children were born by c-section.  I remember my mom giving Andrew, our oldest, and Catherine, our youngest, their first baths in the bathroom sink and showing me how to hold this wet, slippery baby and still test the warmth of the water with an elbow.  I remember a time when David couldn’t get home, so a dear friend, Cathy, took me to the hospital and held my hand through the testing and diagnosis of appendicitis.  She kept close by and reassured me, sometimes with words, always with her presence.

    When have you been encouraged by a loved one?   Did they offer instruction, words of encouragement or just their presence?  Was it a time of crisis or just an ordinary day?

    The word encouragement is derived from three roots:  the prefix, en-, which means to “cause to be in”, the Latin word “cor” for heart and the suffix -age, which in English means “the outcome of”.  To encourage could be said to be the result of holding in the heart.  Definitions include to stimulate spiritually, to revitalize and galvanize, to fortify and to console.    

    In the sixteenth century, the mystic and holy woman, St. Teresa of Avila once wrote, “Christ has no body now on earth but yours; yours are the only hands with which He can do His work. Yours are the only feet with which He can go about the world; yours are the only eyes through which His compassion can shine forth upon a troubled world.”

   I believe Christ encourages us through His presence found in loved ones and even in strangers.  Often, he uses us to console and fortify others with our words, our presence and even our questions.  Sharing concerns, questions and prayer requests gives others the opportunity of realizing they are not alone on this journey and more than likely that others have the same needs and desires.

    Just for today, notice the others whom God has placed in your life:  spouse, children, co-workers, strangers.  What is the result of being held in their hearts?  How have you held them in your heart?  How has Christ looked through your eyes or worked through their hands?

    Texarkana Parent Magazine has the goal of promoting a balanced and healthy life for our community’s families; physically, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually.  One way to encourage others and find encouragement for life’s big and little obstacles is to share with our online community.  You are invited to join the discussion at my blog, www.be-at-myside.blogspot.com  to share, to ask, or to encourage.

May 10, 2012 at 3:26 pm Leave a comment

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