Preparing for Cold & Flu Season with Elderberry Syrup


Preparing for Cold & Flu Season with Elderberry Syrup

Lyndsay McLeod, Respect Your Elderberries

August 26, 2019

Well y’all, we made it. Summertime is coming to an end and (hallelujah) the kiddos are making their way back to school. Parents rejoice as normalcy returns to schedules. Incessant snack requests have slowed down, giving our grocery bills a much needed break. But just when we
think the madness has ended, someone wakes up with a fever. It’s inevitable. Less time in the sun, resulting in less vitamin D, and closer quarters usually means equals more illnesses. Thankfully, there are things we can do to our family’s immune systems working at top performance.

Elderberry. Perhaps you’ve heard of it? Referred to as “nature’s medicine chest” by Hippocrates, the elderberry plant is one of the oldest and most effective natural remedies around. Here’s the good news. You don’t have to be a hippie or a philosopher to experience the benefits of the mighty elderberry. Recently, it has earned some mainstream attention for its effect on cold and flu viruses. One double blind, placebo controlled study conducted in Norway on 60 patients (aged 18-54 years) showed impressive results for the effectiveness of elderberry’s antiviral properties. “Patients received 15 ml of elderberry or placebo syrup four times a day for 5 days, and recorded their symptoms using a visual analogue scale. Symptoms were relieved on average 4 days earlier and use of rescue medication was significantly less in those receiving elderberry extract compared with placebo.”

“What our study has shown is that the common elderberry has a potent direct antiviral effect against the flu virus.” 

-Dr. Golnoosh Torabian

A recent study conducted as part of the ARC Training Centre for the Australian Food Processing Industry showed that “compounds from elderberries can directly inhibit the virus’ entry and replication in human cells and can help strengthen a person’s immune response to the virus.” 

As you can see, the recent attention elderberry has been getting is for good reason and we so are excited to see it catch on. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, elderberry can also be helpful in reducing the symptoms of season allergies and even arthritis. 

For a local option, check out Respect Your Elderberries. Our syrup is made with the juice from the elderberries, as opposed to the dried berry. This allows all waterborne compounds to stay in tact that would typically be lost with dehydration.  We also use raw and unfiltered Round Rock Honey, which we never exposed to heat, preserving the beneficial live enzymes.  Find us every Saturday at the Round Rock Farmers Market from 10:00-2:00 and the Sunset Valley Farmers Market from 9:00-1:00. Keeping your family healthy has never been so easy or delicious. 

For more information check out www.RespectYourElderberriesATX.com

How to Help Your Child Be a Successful Student


How to Help Your Child Be a Successful Student

Krista Anderson-Hill, Senior Parent Correspondent

August 19, 2019

It is hard to believe that summer is winding down and our children will soon be out the door and off to school.  Amidst the fun of shopping for school supplies, mapping out routines and squeezing in the last bit of summer, it is helpful to spend some time thinking about how you can help your child succeed this year. Some of these strategies are straightforward and simple, but they are can make a BIG impact and are often overlooked.

1. Get and Stay Involved

 Over and over, research reveals that children do better when parents are connected to and involved in their child’s academic lives.  This does not mean that you need to be school volunteer of the year or know every detail of your child’s school day; there can be too much of a good thing.  Healthy involvement looks like the following:

Attend Back to School Night and parent teacher conferences: Attending these events allows you the opportunity to get to know your child’s teacher, classroom expectations, school resources, learn how your child is doing, and explore strategies to support your child at home.  It is just as important to attend these events as you child gets older.  Teachers in middle school and high school highly encourage parents to attend these events and take note of who attends.  

Make attending school events a family priority: Go to school events like the book fair or family movie night, attend concerts and athletic events.  These efforts show your child that you value school and care about the school community. 

 Volunteer: Schools are a wealth of volunteer opportunities and you do not need to be a stay at home parent to participate.  There is a perfect volunteer fit for every parent and every schedule.  Some of those opportunities include:  joining the PTA, going on field trips, helping in the library, being a classroom or office volunteer, decorating teacher classrooms, hanging art, serving on an athletic or band booster club, doing cut and paste projects for teachers at home.  Check out the school’s website for volunteer opportunities or ask your child’s teacher.

 2. Take Attendance Seriously

 Sick children should absolutely stay home. But planning vacations and events that cause your child to miss more than a day or two of school can have a negative impact, especially as your child gets older. As a parent this is hard; much of the world does not revolve around the school calendar.  Flights are cheaper during the week, vacations are less expensive during off times and family time is important.  But there needs to be balance and consideration for your child.  Having to catch up on missed classwork and homework can be stressful and can interfere with learning. And, when a child misses school, it also impacts the teacher.  Teachers need to set aside assignments, tests and time to help a child catch up.

 3. Help Your Child Learn Organizational Skills

 When children big or small are organized, they can spend more of their time and energy on school work vs. hunting down lost assignments, looking for supplies and getting side tracked.  In elementary school, help your child go through his or her take tome folder, sorting papers that need to stay home, those that need to be signed and homework that needs to be completed. After doing it together for the first month or so, encourage your child to do it on their own. 

 Establish a routine for after school and before school.  For example, after school:

– Unpack lunch box

– Unpack backpack

– Sort through take home folder

– Snack

– Homework

– Pack Backpack for next day

 Also, dedicating a homework space that is quiet, comfortable and stocked with needed supplies (pencils, markers, glue) models organizing your physical space for productive work.

Go to school events like the book fair or family movie night, attend concerts and athletic events. These efforts show your child that you value school and care about the school community.

4. Send Your Child to School Ready to Learn

We are talking about good quality nutrition and sleep here.  This may seem obvious, but I have been in classrooms from the most underserved children to the most wealthy communities and across the board I have seen tired and hungry children.  It is so hard to learn if your are hungry and tired. Good sleep and nutrition boost a child’s attention span, improves memory, concentration and stamina.  Spend some time thinking of breakfast, lunches and snacks that are fast, easy and contain a protein and a carbohydrate.  Some things as simple as a frozen waffle with nut butter and cheese stick will give your child a huge advantage in learning that day.  In addition to providing the right kind of food, making sleep a priority is essential to success.  Depending on the age, children need between 10 to 12 hours of sleep, even big kids.  Having a consistent bedtime and bedtime routine can help achieve this sleep goal.

5.  Teach Children That It is Important to Ask For Help When Needed

Asking for help is often a challenge whether you are a child or a grown adult.  But the practice of recognizing when you need help and knowing how to find help, is a lifelong skill for success.  Early on, if your child is struggling with a homework assignment, try to resist the urge to help them.  Instead, work with your child to formulate a plan to get help from his or her teacher. Role play when and how to tell the teacher that he or she does not understand the assignment or is stuck.  Getting in the habit of asking for help and  experiencing positive outcomes, will go a long way when your child is older.  There will come a time when you will not be able to help with homework, and a child who has practiced asking for help will feel confident and comfortable doing so. 

6. Make Time Each Day to Talk About School

Some children love to talk a mile a minute about their school day as soon as they walk in the door, others need time to chill and relax and want to talk about their day at bedtime.  Find a consistent time and routine that works with your child’s own rhythm to touch base about their school day.  In my house, we do Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down or Thorns and Roses, at the dinner table.  We go around, parents included, and say one positive (thumb up/rose) that happened and one challenge (thumb down/thorn).  Taking time and establishing a routine to talk about your child’s day, shows that you care, that you value school and that their experiences are important to you.

7. Allow Your Child to Fail

This last strategy is really one of the most important lessons you can learn as a parent; failure and mistakes lead to success.  This is so much easier said than done, but it critical to a child’s success.  Failure can come in the form of forgetting a homework assignment or actually failing a test.  What is critical is how we coach our children to respond to failure; failure is an opportunity to pick ourselves up, receive feedback and learn how to do better next time. Allowing children to fail, helps them learn to deal with disappointment, become effective problem solvers (how to fix it or do better) and promotes risk taking (not being paralyzed to be wrong) At home and at school we really need to give children permission to be wrong and make mistakes and reframe failure as a learning experience not a negative end.  Many, many highly successful adults say that past failures and mistakes taught them how to be better and do better in life, business and higher education. 

5 Tips for Maintaining Your Sanity This School Year


5 Tips for Maintaining Your Sanity This School Year

Laura Standefer, Senior School Readiness Correspondent

August 12, 2019

As the new school year approaches, many of us set goals to get off to a great start. But how do we make sure that we stay calm and prepared throughout the school year? Creating habits and routines can allow us to stay organized and avoid future frustrations. Here are five tips for maintaining your sanity throughout the school year. 

1. Prepare as Much as Possible the Night Before 

Mornings can be so unexpected. The kid that’s usually an early riser decides he’s going not going to get out of bed unless he is dragged out. It takes you longer than normal to find everyone’s shoes. Then, all of a sudden, there’s construction on your commute. By the time you drop off the kids at school, everyone is tense and stressed and the day hasn’t even started. Packing lunches and backpacks the night before can help you get out the door quicker and make mornings a lot less hectic, because who knows what’s going to come up?  

2. Visit the Classroom or School’s Website Regularly

Fortunately, we no longer have to completely rely on our children to tell us when a project is due or when a special event is coming up. Sure, they should carry most of that responsibility, but let’s face it: kids are bad at remembering things. Visiting the classroom website regularly can help parents prepare for projects or special events and allow them to prepare ahead of time, which means less stress for everyone.

3. Amazon Prime

Is there anything that Amazon Prime can’t do? We already use it for everything from birthday presents to toilet paper, why not use it for your school year needs as well? As soon as you get word of an upcoming project, order the necessary materials and supplies off of prime ASAP. It will be at your door the next day and you get get started without running around town shopping for glue sticks and pompoms. 

“Creating habits and routines can allow us to stay organized and avoid future frustrations.”

4. Keep a Calendar on the Fridge

Sure, there are several apps and features on our phones and laptops that help us with reminders, but try keeping a good old-fashioned calendar on the fridge. This way you and your children can get a visual representation of what is due and how many days are left until the deadline. Organization and scheduling can provide kids and parents a clearer path to accomplishing tasks and, therefore, reduces stress and chaos in the future. 

5. Set up a Carpool

Multiple kids means multiple start times for school and multiple extra curricular activities. Even if you have just one kid, transportation can conflict with schedules and eventually becomes a struggle. That being said, why not find someone that you trust to help with pick ups and drop offs? If your kid’s friend’s mom can drive them to soccer after school, that’s one thing off your plate! You can also offer to pick up after practice is over, that way you’re helping another parent out as well. Setting up a good carpool plan can be beneficial for everyone involved. 

How to Motivate Your Kids to Do Chores


How to Motivate Your Kids to Do Chores

Krista Anderson-Hill, Senior Chores Correspondent

August 05, 2019

No one really likes chores. They are not exciting or super fun but they are important. Chores keep the household running and every family member can play a role. Chores illustrate on a daily basis that we all need to pitch in, work together and help each other. So, from feeding the dog, doing dishes and taking out the trash, how do we as parents motivate kids to do chores without the moans, groans and endless questions? Here are five tips:

1. Start Early

Like many things, starting early helps.  Expose young children to household tasks you would like them to do independently when they get older.  For example, if you would like your children to fold their own laundry in early elementary school, invite your toddler to help you fold clothes.  Show them how it is done, allow them to practice. One of the best things about little ones is that they are eager to help. If a child can’t remember a time when they didn’t do household chores, chores will become a normal part of family life. As a mom, I know all too well that it is often easier to do a chore myself and just get it done. But the investment in involving small children in household chores will pay off; a messy toddler today, is a helpful kid later. 

2. Give Choice and Autonomy

Here is a pearl of wisdom that I often need to hear myself: bossiness is NOT motivating. Being on the receiving end of someone barking orders and reading a list of chores does not spark joy or engage helpfulness.  Children want to be part of the process and give input. The more independent children feel, the more motivated they will be to take on a task and do it well. A fun idea is to write chores on popsicle sticks and have your child pick two chores sticks blindly and then two chore sticks where they can see the chores. Siblings can also swap chore sticks. Or, make a list of chores with your child and ask your child to pick his or her top three that he or she would like to do, then you assign three. 

One of the best things about little ones is that they are eager to help.

3. Work As A Team  

Doing your household chores while the children do theirs, fosters a feeling of teamwork; a feeling that we are all in this together. In my house we create a list of chores and do a “Power Hour”. We blair the music and all try to do as many chores as we can in one hour. After that hour, we have a hard stop, and do something fun as a family. For families of smaller children, a Power Fifteen Minutes, might be more appropriate; set the timer and go! Another family I know does after dinner clean up with a family dance party. Even the most mundane chores can be fun if you work as a team and make it into a game, dance or race.

4. Don’t Use Chores as Punishment 

The most productive way to view chores is as an expected responsibility that needs to be done to keep the household running.  As family members we do chores to take care of each other. Chores should not be framed as negative or a consequence. The aim of chores is to develop a child’s own initiative, desire to help and be a contributing member of a family team. 

5. Use a Reward System

Rewards help motivate and inspire. They provide positive reinforcement and recognition for a job well done. We all like rewards. Rewards for chores can be a weekly allowance. Many families use the allowance system with great success. But, if the allowance reward is not your family’s thing, there are many more ways to praise effort: your child can pick a movie, choose what is for dinner, choose a family activity, a special playdate or earn 30 minutes extra of screen time.  Rewards can also be as simple as a high five and words of praise.  

Children want to feel needed and important. When parents include them in household chores, there might be some complaining and resistance, but the underlying foundational message is: you are needed, your work contributes to the running of the home and your are an important member of the team.