Summertime Family Fun – Part 2

Summertime Family Fun Pt 2.jpg

In Part 1 of this post, we talked about the importance of family activities and how to ensure their success with ground rules. We also shared five activity ideas. As promised, here are 10 more ideas to get your family out and having fun this summer.


10 Summertime Activities for Families

  1. Get sporty. Play basketball, tag, catch, Frisbee, croquet or try something new like pickleball, boccie balls, etc.
  2. Treasure hunt. Whether you are a beginner or an expert, there are literally millions of geocaches hidden around the world. Use the GPS on your cell phone or GPS unit to find geocaches near your house or wherever you may be traveling this summer. See https://www.geocaching.com/play for more information.
  3. Go global. Attend a travel show or request travel brochures from places you want to visit and then create a poster of fun places to visit someday. Pick one of the places you want to go and do something you might do if you were there (eat gelato, talk with an accent for the afternoon, have a family tea party, etc.)
  4. Join the community. Check out community calendars for free concerts or movies in the park or library.
  5. Get artistic. Get out the colored pencils and paint or get crafty with glue and glitter, beads or any other craft supplies you have. Share your talents in a family art show. For younger kids, finger paint with pudding or play with edible Play Doh.
  6. Eat the fun. Have a fondue party, invent your own new smoothie or pizza flavors, make ice cream sundaes or create other food items where everyone can participate.
  7. Find the “best of” your community. Try out different playgrounds, ice cream shops, swimming pools, etc. (whatever your family enjoys), then rate each one to find the “best” of each category.
  8. Get wet. Spend the day at a local pool, splash pad or water park. Or, play with water in your own backyard. Don’t forget the squirt guns, water balloons and painting the sidewalk with water.
  9. Become a tourist in your own city. Although you probably avoid tourist places in your own community, take a day to pretend you are tourists and go to the places they would go. Dress and act like tourists. Be sure to take pictures.
  10. Learn something new. Providing educational experiences in the summer will help to keep your kids sharp. Have a read-a-thon, go to educational summer programs at the library or start at 4-H club (FREE and easy to use curriculum available at http://utah4h.org/discover/).


The Challenge

Take action! Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to brainstorm three ideas that would be fun to do with your family this summer (yes, right now!). Now text, email or write it down and share it with your family in the next 24 hours. Then have them share ideas of their own.


Read Summertime Family Fun- Part 1.

This article was written by Naomi Brower, USU Extension associate professor, Weber County

Summertime Family Fun – Part 1

Summertime Family Fun Graphic

Spending time with family is important, but it can also be fun! We’ve got some great ideas to make your family time fun and memorable in this two-part Summertime Family Fun article. Check out Part 2 for 10 more ideas for family activities.  


Family Time

What are your favorite memories from your childhood? Most likely they revolved around spending time with those you love.

Because it is so easy to get caught up in the busyness of life, it is important to be intentional about creating time and experiences together (or it may not happen). According to family expert, William Doherty, families that are intentional about connecting with each other through traditions, special occasions and everyday rituals (such as having family dinnertime) are more likely to create and build strong bonds with each other that will last a lifetime. What fun things can you do with family members this summer to connect and create memories?

Ground Rules

Start by creating ground rules as a family such as:

Make a plan. Pick an activity and set a date and time to do it. If you like to be a bit more spontaneous, just plan the date and time and then randomly select ideas from a jar of fun activity ideas that you have chosen together. Be sure to take turns selecting the activity so everyone can participate.

Focus on each other. This is about connecting with each other; friends, work and other distractions can wait. Having a no electronics rule may help to reinforce this.

Keep it simple. Spending time together doesn’t have to be elaborate or require a lot of time or energy. For those with small children, going to a park together or writing on the sidewalk with chalk can be just as much fun as doing something that requires far more effort.

 Get ready…get set…play!

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  1. Pick a theme and do activities related to the theme. For example, go to a museum to see unique rocks, then go on a hike and collect some of your own. Or go to a car show, then set up a race track at home for matchbox cars.
  2. Get outdoors. Have a picture nature scavenger hunt, track the phases of the moon, go on a hike, have a picnic in the backyard, fly a kite, blow bubbles together or anything else to get outside and enjoy the fresh air.
  3. Share your talents. Write new lyrics to familiar tunes, create your own dances to favorite songs or host your own Olympics with unique events such as an obstacle course, miniature golf or javelin (foam noodle) toss. Award prizes.
  4. Get board. Have a board game party or put a puzzle together.
  5. Camp in your backyard. Find constellations, tell stories or make shadow puppets on the side of the tent or house. If you have a fire pit, light a fire and roast marshmallows and make s’mores. If not, improvise using a gas stove, barbeque or microwave.


Check out Summertime Family Fun – Part 2, and see 10 more great ideas for summertime family fun!

This article was written by Naomi Brower, USU Extension associate professor, Weber County

Reference: Doherty, William (1997). The intentional family: Simple rituals to strengthen family ties. HarperCollins: New York, NY.

Tips for Tackling Summer Cleaning

Tips for Tackling Summer Cleaning

Summer is a great family time and also a great time to teach kids cleaning skills. These tips will help jobs move along smoothly. After cleaning, plan a fun activity as a reward for participation. Your family will love it!

  • Always clean top to bottom. When you dust, start at the top and work your way down.
  • Take all your cleaning tools with you into each room to avoid unnecessary trips back and forth.
  • Turn off the phones and TV.
  • Eliminate clutter. An uncluttered home looks better than one that is dust-free, but strewn with odds and ends.
  • Clean as you go! It takes a lot less time to remove new dirt than old and to put things away as you use them than it does to clean and store the piles that accumulate.
  • A house that smells fresh will give the impression of cleanliness. Leave baking soda on carpeting for the night to absorb musty odors and vacuum in the morning.
  • Keep a doormat or big astro-turf mat on the porch to cut down on tracked in dirt.
  • Keep a basket in the kitchen for mail, newspapers, car keys, etc. to help reduce clutter.
  • Keep a laundry hamper in every bathroom.
  • Put family members in charge of making their own beds and picking up after themselves.
  • Always pick up the TV room before bedtime, and start the dishwasher.
  • Prioritize and decide what is most important.
  • Delegate by getting the entire family involved.
  • Make a checklist, and when a job is completed, check it off so you can see how much you’ve accomplished.

This article was written by Carolyn Washburn, Utah State University Extension associate professor,carolyn.washburn@usu.edu.

Ask an Expert: Four Tips for Summer Safety

4 tips for summer safety graphic

Stay safe this summer! Check out these four ways to keep yourself and your family safe. 

Now that school is out, many families are heading outdoors for recreation and activities. Whether in the water or hills, the ballfield or backyard, precautionary measures should be taken so kids and all family members are safe from sun, insects and injuries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a portion of their website dedicated to family health. A summary of their tips for family summer safety are included below. For additional information, visit http://www.cdc.gov/family/kids/summer/.

Tip 1. Master water safety.

Swimming in the pool and playing in the sprinklers are favorite summer activities. However, drowning is the leading cause of death among children ages 1 to 4. Water safety tips from CDC include:

  • Always supervise children in or around water. A responsible adult should constantly watch young children.
  • Teach kids to swim. Formal swimming lessons can protect young children from drowning.
  • Learn CPR. Knowing this skill can be critical in a time of need.
  • Install a four-sided fence around home pools.
  • When boating, always wear a properly fitted life jacket.

Tip 2: Beat the heat and sun.

Overheating and sunstroke can occur in healthy children, youth and adults if they participate in strenuous activities during hot weather. If someone shows signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, move him or her to a cool location and seek medical help. A list of specific signs is included on the CDC website. To avoid over-heating:

  • Never leave infants, children or pets in a parked car, even if the windows are cracked open.
  • Dress infants and children in loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Schedule outdoor activities in the morning and evening hours.
  • Keep cool with cool showers or baths.

Also, just a few serious sunburns can lead to skin cancer in the years ahead. Tanning is the skin’s way of trying to protect itself from harmful UV rays from the sun. To prevent sunburn:

  • Cover up. Clothing that covers the skin helps protect against UV rays.
  • Use sunscreen with at least SPF (sun protection factor) 15 and UVA (ultraviolet A) and UVB (ultraviolet B) protection every time you and your child go outside.

Tip 3: Keep ticks and mosquitos from causing harm.

Protect yourself and your family from bites and diseases. Zika, West Nile Virus and Lyme disease can all be transmitted by insects. To help with protection:

  • Use an effective insect repellent. Products containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535 as well as some natural oils provide long-lasting protection.
  • Some pesticides (acaricides) can reduce the number of ticks, but these should not be relied on for providing full protection.
  • Check yourself and your children for ticks after being outdoors, especially if you have been camping or hiking. Instructions for effectively removing ticks are available on the CDC website.

Tip 4: Prevent injuries.

Nearly everyone is more active and spends more time outdoors this time of year. Falls at home and on the playground are common sources of injuries and visits to the emergency room. To avoid injury:

  • Make certain playgrounds are well maintained and have soft landing spots underneath.
  • When participating in summer sports, be sure appropriate protective gear is used.
  • Parents and teens should be able to perform basic first aid.


Enjoy fun in the sun, but remember to make safety a top priority so that summer is incident and accident free.

 By: Kathleen Riggs, Utah State University Extension family and consumer sciences professor, kathleen.riggs@usu.edu or 435-586-8132

Summertime Sun Safety

Summertime Sun Safety

Don’t let the risk of sun exposure keep you indoors this summer. Find out how to adequately protect your skin so you can enjoy all summer has to offer – including the sunshine!

It’s warming up outside and everyone is anxious to be out enjoying the sunshine.  The trails, paths, parks and mountains are very inviting and it is time to be outside!  But if you are planning to be out in the sunshine, you need to take precautions.

We all need some sun exposure; it’s our primary source of vitamin D, which helps us absorb calcium for stronger, healthier bones; but it doesn’t take much time in the sun for most people to get the vitamin D they need.  Unprotected exposure to the ultraviolet rays from the sun can cause skin damage, eye damage, immune system suppression and skin cancer. Even people in their 20s can develop skin cancer.

Most children get between 50 and 80 percent of their lifetime sun exposure before age 18, so it’s important that parents teach their children how to safely enjoy fun in the sun. With the right precautions, you can greatly reduce your child’s chance of developing skin cancer.

  • Use sunscreen whenever you will be in the sun.
  • Apply a generous amount of sunscreen about 30 minutes before going outside so that a good layer of protection can form. Don’t forget about lips, hands, ears, feet, shoulders and behind the neck.
  • Reapply sunscreen often, approximately every 2 to 3 hours, as recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology. Reapply after sweating or swimming.
  • Apply a waterproof sunscreen if you will be around water or will go swimming. Water reflects and intensifies the sun’s rays, so we need protection that lasts. Waterproof sunscreens may last up to 80 minutes in the water, and some are also sweat-and rub-proof. But, regardless of the waterproof label, be sure to reapply sunscreen when coming out of the water.
  • Keep in mind that everyone needs extra sun protection. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that all people – regardless of their skin tone – wear sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher. A sunscreen with SPF 15 is usually good for 2 hours; SPF 30 is good for 4 hours.  The SPF is an indicator of the length of time it will provide protection in the sun.

Next, encourage children and adults to stay in the shade during the hottest part of the day, wear protective clothing, hats, sunglasses and even carry a sunbrella when walking during the sunlight hours.  Don’t forget that you can still get a sunburn through light and sheerer materials, and if you get one, know that pure Aloe Vera gel is the best soother.

The sun doesn’t need to be an enemy.  You can enjoy the sunshine and participate in the great outdoor activities, but be sure that you take the necessary precautions to protect yourself and your loved ones.

This article was written by Carolyn Washburn, Utah State University Extension associate professor, carolyn.washburn@usu.edu.

No More School

School's Out

“No more teachers, no more school, summer time will be real cool.” Yes, your kids may be feeling this way as the school year finishes up.  Kids are excited to leave their books behind and look forward to a “lazy” summer of fun.  Waiting for summer to come is much like waiting for Christmas; you just can’t wait until it gets here.

Keep Your Kids Busy

Now that summertime is here with longer days, what are the kids going to do?  Research shows that kids who have learning projects, reading activities and group involvement activities run a much lower risk for education regression or involvement in risky behaviors.  All of us want our children to be successful, productive and happy, but it won’t just happen. Parents need to provide direction for summertime activities.  Making summer plans with your youth will create positive relationships and positive growth during the summer months.

Family Activities

There are many opportunities for youth during the summer months.  Most families do plan for recreational activities, some traveling and day activities.  Summer outings are excellent opportunities for families to enjoy one another.  Picnics, games, sight seeing and road trips make memorable experiences that have lasting effects. Camping is considered one of the best family activities, as it encourages all family members to work together to set up the camp and the experience.

Learning Activities

Learning activities are always encouraged for summer growth.  Summer camps and youth programs offer a wide range of activities and excellent opportunities for youth and adult relationships.  The world’s largest youth group is the 4-H organization.  The 4-H organization is strong world wide, nationally and certainly in Utah through Utah State University Extension.  All Utah counties provide strong 4-H youth program with clubs, camps, youth development and leader involvement.

Play Together

However you choose to spend this summer, take the time to do some quality family activities.  Families that “play” together, stay together.  It’s as simple as that.  Try to plan for 5-6 hours of quality time together a week and you will keep your family relationships strong.  Yes, “school is done, books are put away, and it is time for family fun today.”

This article was written by Carolyn Washburn, Utah State University Family Consumer Science Professor, carolyn.washburn@usu.edu.

Taking a Minute to Win Your Relationship


With these relationship tips, you and your partner will both come out winners!

Win-Win Situation

Experiences in my life have led me to appreciate the moments I have with those I love. I’m especially grateful for my husband who I had to search long and hard for. I can’t say that I don’t EVER take him for granted, but I know how hard it was for me to find him; and I want to make sure that he’s around for a long time. So, besides encouraging him to replace fast food with veggies and to exercise with me, I also try to keep the love alive by doing little things that are easy and don’t take much time but that let him know how much he means to me. I thought I’d share a few of the ideas I’ve tried (or plan on trying) to help keep the relationship spark.
• Take silly pictures of each other and laugh together.
• When he/she is sharing something with you, give him/her your undivided attention (I admit I need to work on this!).
• Give a silly gift at an unexpected time.
• Flirt with each other.
• Leave a sticky note or note card somewhere that tells about how much you love and appreciate your partner.
• Share one thing you are thankful for about each other before going to bed each night.
• On a trip somewhere in the car, kiss at every red light or stop sign.
• Stop whatever you are doing to enjoy the sunset together.
• Send a text or email just to say hi.
• Surprise him/her with a favorite treat.
What are the small things you do to keep the spark in your relationship? What new idea are you willing to try this week?
Check out some other ideas on how to make every moment you have together count at http://extension.usu.edu/files/publications/publication/Marriage&Relationships_2013-01pr.pdf.

This article was written by Naomi Brower, Weber County Director/Extension Associate, Weber County

Food Storage Factors


Make sure your food storage is safe and ready to use so you can utilize it in any situation-even in an emergency!

Food for Thought

Storing food is a traditional domestic skill that has been used for thousands of years in times of plenty to prepare for times of famine or when food is in short supply. Wheat found stored in vessels in the tombs of Egypt was still edible after 4,000 years. Food is preserved and stored to be eaten from harvest to harvest as families strive to be self-sustainable. Maintaining a food supply often ensures savings of time and money and provides safety and security in time of need. Storing food has several main purposes:
• Preserves harvested and processed foods for later use
• Provides a balanced diet throughout the year
• Helps prepare for disasters, emergencies, and periods of food scarcity or famine
• Religious reasons
• Peace of mind
• Self-sustainability

Factors that affect food storage:

Temperature: The temperature at which food is stored is very critical to shelf life. The best range for food storage is a constant temperature between 40-60 degrees. Avoid freezing temperatures.

Moisture: It is recommended to remove moisture when storing foods. For long-term storage, foods should have a 10 percdent or less moisture content.

Oxygen: Foods store best when oxygen free.

Light: Light transfers energy to the food products causing them to degrade in nutrition and appearance. Store food in dark areas.

Container: Store foods in food-grade plastic, metal or glass containers indicating that the container does not contain chemicals that could be transferred to food and be harmful to your health.
For best storage life, use containers with a hermetic (air tight) seal. Containers with air-tight seals are:

• #10 cans
• Sealable food storage buckets
• Sealable food quality metal (lined) or plastic drums
• Foil pouches
• PETE bottles (for dry products such as wheat, corn, and beans)

Infestation: Insects can damage your food storage. Prevent these with cold treatments and proper storage conditions.

Shelf date is the “best if used by” date. The “life sustaining shelf life” date means the length of time that food is still edible. “Sell by” means the store should sell the product by the printed date. “Best if used by” means the consumer should use the product by the date listed for best quality and flavor (not for safety reasons).

Utah State University Extension: http://extension.usu.edu/foodstorage/htm/storage-conditions

This article was written by Carolyn Washburn, Extension Agent, Washington County

Ask an Expert // 7 Ways to Identify Money Wasters

Money Wasters Blog

Have you ever been caught in the trap of wasting money? Find out how you can escape!

A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned

In a recent article, financial guru Dave Ramsey identified the Top 10 things Americans wasted money on in 2015. His list includes: student loans, Ziosk tablets at restaurants, gym memberships, daily coffee trips, car payments, car leasing, car wash upgrades, name-brand household paper products, timeshares and shipping charges.

While this is his personal perspective, assessing our own personal money wasters over the year is a worthwhile activity. Here’s how to do it.

*Get out receipts or go online to your bank account (or bank statements if you have them) and start adding up expenses in specific categories such as clothing, food, entertainment, gas, etc.

*Total each category for the entire year. This will take some time if you have not been tracking through the year, but it is critical if you want to change the way you handle money.

*This last part is the most useful, and that is to ask yourself some key questions to identify money wasters:

1) Did we need to spend this much?

2) What traps did we fall into?

3) Did we get into loans that, with some planning, we could have saved for to avoid the interest costs? Could we have put more money down or found a better interest rate? (Or avoided a loan altogether?)

4) Did we enter into contracts for products or services that we didn’t realistically think through? (The long-term implications can get us in trouble.)

5) Do we currently have little habits that add up to a considerable dollar amount when multiplied by the frequency?

6) Are we guilty of the “I earned it, I deserve it” mentality?

7) Is the price of convenience being forgotten in our budget and dollar equations?

It can be helpful to assess where we are financially, based on current habits we may have gotten into, then determine if there are better ways our resources could be spent in the coming year. Ramsey’s list provides us some great things to consider for our own budget as well as a path to step down some of our own expenses.

This article was written by Teresa Hunsaker, Utah State University Extension educator, teresa.hunsaker@usu.edu, 801-399-8200

5 Ways to Use a Bonus, Gift or Tax Refund

5 ways to use a bonus, gift or tax refund

It’s that time of year again. Many people will be getting tax returns (or already have) and are looking for the best ways to use that money as well as other “extra” money they have received.

Many of us hope for a windfall or a large gift or bonus. However,  more than likely, most of us will be hoping for a tax refund this time of year.  Here are five ways to consider using your tax refund (or gift or bonus).


  1. Add it to your Savings.  Whether you are saving for a particular item or event such as a vacation, new baby or retirement, your savings account is a great place for any extra money you receive.  Powerpay.org can help you set savings goals, help you with steps to reach them and also find resources to help you with overall  financial goals.
  2. Reduce Debt.  If you have any debt, this is also an important category to pay attention to.  Powerpay.org can be an especially useful tool to help you power your way out of debt.  There is also an iOS app for PowerPay.  These tools will help you determine which debts should be paid first and outcomes if you pay different amounts on each debt.
  3. Contribute to your Posterity’s Future.  Set up or contribute to a college fund, wedding plans or other event for your children or grandchildren. The Utah Educational Savings Plan can be a tool for college savings.  Be sure you understand the details before participating.
  4. Charitable Giving.  If you decide to contribute to a charity, be sure to check a website such as Charity Navigator or Charity Watch before donating.
  5. Create or Add to an Emergency Fund.  If you don’t have one, do what you can to get one started. This can be a useful tool to help keep you out of debt.  Any amount can be helpful to start with and add to.  A minimum to aim for should be $1,000, and recommended is three to six months of your income.