Summer Challenge #4: Explore a New Playground

This week the summer challenge is to find and explore a new playground.

5 Reasons to explore a new playground:

  1. Promote language skills: The playground is an easy way to build language practice into your day. Check out this link for how to have fun with language at the playground.
  2. An inexpensive way to spend the day: Playgrounds are free!
  3. An exciting way to burn off some energy: A new playground means lots to see and explore, so hopefully the kids will constantly be on the move and ready for a nap.
  4. Visit a new place and meet new people: Exploring in a new place will take you out of your comfort zone. Finding a new playground is a great way to see what other communities have to offer and meet some new people along the way.
  5. Contribute to a good cause: By using and reviewing playgrounds, you can encourage others in the neighborhood to make use of play spaces.

My hope is that each and every adventure will be different and exciting. Please connect and share your experiences using #saynplaythesummeraway.



Take a Taste Tuesday with BeetBox

Hello! We are Sara Burkhart and Christina Saluke, Co-Creators of BeetBox, a subscription service designed to get kids ages 3-10 excited about eating fruits and vegetables. As moms to young children, we have a passion to teach kids how essential these tasty foods are and to help set the foundation for a lifetime of healthy eating. We create boxes packed with original content and carefully curated items intended to make fruits and vegetables appealing. Children will discover information, recipes, snacks, activities and products highlighting the fun and flavor of produce. BeetBox encourages children to experience hands-on involvement: shopping for, learning how to properly store and prepare and most importantly tasting produce! BeetBox strives to make fruits and vegetables a delicious and approachable part of everyday life while motivating children to learn through play. BeetBox is a local Columbus company that delivers monthly subscription boxes and one-time gift boxes nationwide.

We both enjoy shopping with our kids and have seen how involving them in the process of choosing foods and talking about options has a positive impact. Going to the grocery store or farmers market is an interactive and hands-on learning experience for our children. We embrace the sights, sounds, tastes and smells as talking points. When we get back home the kids are involved in unpacking the groceries and in food prep when it’s time to cook. The more immersive the practices are the better understanding our children have of nutrition, kitchen safety and proper food handling. It may take twice as long and be twice as messy but it’s also twice as fun!

Other guidelines that we each follow in our homes are that everyone eats the same meal at the same time and we don’t incentivize with sweets or withhold them in exchange for eating other foods first.

These strategies make meals a no-pressure experience which eliminates the stress on the children and parents. Mealtime is something to look forward to and is a chance for conversation instead of a battle. When every bite a child takes or doesn’t take is not scrutinized over they are more comfortable experimenting with foods and often end up as more adventurous eaters. Additionally, when the children see parents and caregivers enjoying food in a healthy way they will be more likely to pick up on those behaviors.

Something to try: Thank You Bites

Have your child take at least one bite of whatever is served to them as a way of saying “thank you” to the person who prepared the food. Kids often find they like the item! A simple, no pressure way to offer new foods with the bonus of reinforcing manners.

Something to keep in mind: Research has shown that it takes up to ten tries of a new food for a person to decide if they like it or not. Keep giving your kids new foods prepared in a variety of ways to make sure they have a solid sense of their preference for it.

Something to make: Kid-Friendly Green Smoothie.

Perfect for the warmer months and very simple to blend and enjoy outside in the sunshine or while on the go to the next summer activity. Kids welcome the sweet treat that is packed with iron and Vitamin C, which helps the body absorb the iron. Be sure to make one for yourself!

Kid-Friendly Green Smoothie

1 cup frozen strawberries

1/2 banana

1 cup baby spinach
1/2 cup apple juice

Connect with BeetBox:

@beetboxkids (Instagram account) (website)

Each Tuesday for the next several weeks a fellow mom/friend/community member will be sharing a fun recipe, tips to include kids in the cooking process, or a great family restaurant for “Take a Taste Tuesday.” If you are interested in sharing your eating and/or cooking fun be sure to connect with me via email!




Summer Challenge #3: Join the Kindness Rocks Project

This week the summer challenge is to join the Kindness Rocks Project – The Art of Connection. This project was created to spread inspiration and motivation for unsuspecting recipients through random inspirational rocks dropped around the community. The world is in need of a little more peace, love and understanding, so join us by contributing in a small way by painting and dropping inspirational rocks around town.

How to Join In:

  1. Gather Some Rocks
  2. Write an inspirational message on the rocks
  3. Leave your rock across the community for others to find

“In a world where you can be anything… Be Kind!”

If you do paint and drop rocks around town, be sure to add #thekindnessrocksproject to the back of each rock you paint. We will be spreading rocks around this week so be sure to share if you find one!

My hope is that each and every adventure will be different and exciting. Please connect and share your experiences using #saynplaythesummeraway.



Take a Taste Tuesday: Lemonade in a Bag

For this Take a Taste Tuesday, I wanted to share our recipe for Lemonade in a Bag. When making this with my daughter, I gather all the ingredients and supplies on a tray. All this activity requires is a lemon cut in quarters, sugar, water, and a sandwich bag. It gets pretty sticky, so I like to make it outside. I prepared a recipe to use as a visual that helps sequence the steps as we go (there is a printable PDF at the end of the post).

While preparing the lemonade, I give my daughter simple directions while pointing to the pictures in the recipe. I use first/second/then/last and put in.  The majority of the activity I really let her have control. Her scoops might not make it entirely into the bag and she might take a bite of the lemon, but it’s more about the process than the product!

Lemonade in a Bag:


  • 1/4 lemon
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 heaping spoonful of sugar


  1. Place all ingredients in the bag and close
  2. Squeeze the juice out the lemon
  3. Pour into a cup or insert a straw into the bag
  4. Drink!

Once we are done following the recipe, my daughter turns into a kitchen scientist by transferring, mixing,  and tasting. Luckily, since we are outside, I can hose her off when we are done!

Print the recipe and take a shot at making your own lemonade in a bag. Let us know what you think!

Lemonade In a Bag

Each Tuesday for the next several weeks a fellow mom/friend/community member will be sharing a fun recipe, tips to include kids in the cooking process, or a great family restaurant for “Take a Taste Tuesday.” If you are interested in sharing your eating and/or cooking fun be sure to connect with me via email!

Summer Challenge #2: Try a New Food

This week the summer challenge is to try a new food. Join us on our journey to become a little more adventurous when it comes to eating. Trying new foods expands palates, introduces different cultures through cuisine, and provides opportunity for language development.

How new foods can promote language use:

  • Provides opportunity to expand vocabulary
  • Provides opportunity to make a choice
  • Provides opportunity to place an order
  • Provides opportunity to describe what the new food looks like
  • Provides opportunity to describe how the new food smells, feels, and tastes

Why it’s important to expose children to new food:

  • If you want your child to eat differently you have to feed her differently
  • Children establish food preferences and dietary habits during the first six years of life
  • Positive exposure to multiple foods help children develop a taste for more foods
  • Consistently offering a variety of foods to children helps the majority of children overcome the natural tendency to reject new foods and leads to more healthful eating habits
  • Up to 10 to 15 experiences may be necessary for a child to try and then accept a new food

Ways to expose your child to a new food this week:

  • Pick out a new fruit or vegetable from the local farmers marker and give it a taste
  • Try a new ethnic restaurant. Think Indian, Somali, Mexican, Chinese. The options are endless!
  • Pick a new recipe and cook it up together
  • Pick a restaurant that doesn’t have a kids menu, and share a new dish
  • Are you growing a vegetable garden? Pick your veggies straight from the garden and give it a taste

My hope is that each and every adventure will be different and exciting. Please connect and share your experiences using #saynplaythesummeraway.

Summer Challenge #1: Join a Summer Reading Program

According to the School Library Journal, “Based on the findings of a recent three-year study by Dominican University’s Graduate School of Library and Information Studies, we can confirm what many librarians have long suspected: students who take part in their local library’s summer reading program significantly improve their reading skills. In fact, we found that kids who participate in these programs are 52 Lexile points ahead of their peers who do not. Summer reading programs are also an antidote for learning loss. So instead of losing knowledge and skills during the summer months, kids who attend reading programs actually show gains.”

This week be sure to stop by your local library and join a free summer reading program. If you are in Central Ohio there are a number of programs to join. Will you be joining one of the following?

Bexley Public Library: “”Build a Better World and READ!” Starting on May 31, join Bexley’s Summer Community Read by signing up at the library. Kids, teens, and adults are invited to read, attend exciting and engaging programs, and enter to win amazing raffle prizes Zoo passes, tickets to The Wilds, Zoombezi Bay tickets, COSI passes, Shadowbox Live tickets, King’s Island tickets, Columbus Landmarks tours, a Kindle Fire, and much more!”

Columbus Metropolitan Library: “”Be a Hero. Read” is the theme, inviting participants of all ages to read and earn great prizes while completing reading and library activity goals. The nine-week Summer Reading Club runs Saturday, June 3, through Saturday, Aug. 5. All participants will need a CML library card to sign up.”

Upper Arlington Public Library: “Build a Better World” begins Monday, May 22 and runs through Sunday, July 30. “The annual Summer Reading Club has begun! Register your whole family — from babies through seniors — for a summer full of books and maybe even some prizes. Kids earn prizes for reading 5, 10 and 15 hours, while teens and adults earn chances in weekly drawings for gift cards.”

Westerville Public Library: “Build a Better World” runs Tuesday, June 6, through Thursday, August 6. Reading can reduce stress, increase empathy for others and keep your mind sharp. And it’s fun! Challenge yourself to a summer of reading and win prizes along the way.

Worthington Libraries: “The Artful Summer” runs Tuesday, May 30, through Sunday, July 30. Worthington Libraries thinks you’ll “Louvre” how fast you can turn fun stuff like reading, creating and exploring into free stuff like food, toys and more this summer!

Check-in each week this summer for adventure ideas in your community. My hope is that each and every adventure will be different and exciting. Please connect and share your experiences on the weekly adventures using #saynplaythesummeraway. 

Take a Taste Tuesday with Alison Gutwaks

My name is Alison Gutwaks. I am a mother, wife, daughter, chef, recipe developer, blogger, entrepreneur and love anything made with lamb or waffles!

I have a personal chef company in Columbus, OH called AliBabka. I focus on each client, individually. Many clients come to me because they are busy and don’t have time to cook, or do not want to cook. I excel at designing specialized meal plans for individuals with dietary restrictions. Catering on a small scale is another area I enjoy, typically less than 50 individuals. I have been hired to accompany families on their vacations and cater to them as their personal chef.

One of my favorite recipes to make with my child comes from the book, “The Pediatricians Guide to Feeding Babies and Toddlers,” for which I wrote the recipes.

Almond Butter Bites
Make 20 Bars

1 C. Almonds
1 C. Dried Dates, pitted
1 C. Dried Apricots
1/2 C. Almond Butter
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract

Preheat oven to 350. Spread the almonds on a parchment lined baking sheet. Toast the almonds for 10-15 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally to ensure they don’t burn. Set them aside to cool.
In a food processor, chop the almond until they turn into the consistency of coarse flour. Add the dates and pulse a few more times to finely chop. Add the apricots, almond butter, and vanilla and pulse until the mixture is smooth doughlike consistency and does not contain any large pieces of dates or apricots. Flatten the mixture into an 8X8 inch parchment lined baking pan. Refrigerate or freeze for 1 to 2 hours then carefully cut into 20 bars. Keep the bars stored in an airtight container int eh fridge for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to one month.

My baby eats virtually everything. I have found kids by nature, copy their parents. If you eat it they will eventually try it, but it might take a few times! My son is only 1.5, so I don’t’ cook with him often. When I do, I’ll give him a plastic dull knife and we can chop together. He also loves counting with me as we measure out ingredients.

I reside in Columbus, OH with my loving and talented husband, Matan and wonderful 1.5 year old son, Azriel (Azi). I started a blog in culinary school and continue writing recipes at Check out the website for more on my experience as a kosher chef in a non kosher culinary school and for fun recipes to try at home. If you are interested in hiring me for any occasion or trip, either locally or abroad, please contact me through my website, by email, or phone.

My dreams for the future are to continue making people happy through food and continue working on growing my skills and my business. I also hope to go on an African Safari one day…maybe as a personal family chef?

Each Tuesday for the next several weeks a fellow mom/friend/community member will be sharing a fun recipe, tips to include kids in the cooking process, or a great family restaurant for “Take a Taste Tuesday.” If you are interested in sharing your eating and/or cooking fun be sure to connect with me via email!

Say-n-Play the Summer Away with Local Adventures

I am one for a big adventures. I love booking trips to far off destinations and then dreaming about the trip for months in anticipation. Sometimes, however, big trips just aren’t possible when juggling the multiple responsibilities of parenthood. Fortunately, there is so much to see and do right here in Columbus. So, to encourage families to find new places and new experiences in town, I am putting together 10 weeks of local adventures this summer.

Check-in each week this summer for specific guides for our local adventures and ways to encourage language development while completing them. My hope is that each and every adventure will be different and exciting. Please connect and share your experiences on the weekly adventures using #saynplaythesummeraway.

Toddler Water Safety with Goldfish Swim School

May is “Water Safety Awareness Month.” According to the Centers for Disease Control, drowning is the leading cause of accidental-injury death among children ages 1 to 4. Goldfish Swim School aims to educate families during lessons by teaching steps that can be taken to prevent accidents from occurring.

When it comes to water, my daughter is fearless. She jumps right in with the expectation that we will be there to catch her. We talk to her about water safety and pool rules (“use walking feet,” “hold mommy’s hand,” etc.), but she is not yet grasping how powerful water can be and the caution she needs to demonstrate when she is in and around it. For this reason, I want her little body to know what to do if she were to fall into water. This is one of the major reasons I have had her enrolled in swim lessons from such a young age. If she were to fall in, I want the safety skills that we practice in our weekly lessons to kick in from motor memory.

Goldfish Swim School recently presented a free Water Safety event where we had the opportunity to get in the water and practice some of the important safety skills to build upon her muscle memory. The following skills were reinforced:

Back Floats: Teaching my daughter to float on her back was the first skill we went over during our water safety course. It was stressed that it is important for a child to know how to float on her back in preparation for if she were to fall into the water and drift away from the ledge.

Preparing to Go Under Water: We practiced “catching a bubble” and preparing to go underwater. “Catching her bubble” helps her practice closing her lips together and catching her breath in preparation for putting her head underwater. The “bubble” was modeled and once my daughter imitated the motion, she was prompted to jump into the water.

Climbing Out of the Pool: Once my daughter was in the water, we practiced turning towards and reaching for the wall in order to climb out. It was reinforced to us that staying safe in the water is knowing how to get out of the water quickly and safely.  She practiced the technique of climbing out of the pool using the “elbow, elbow, tummy, knee” method. (One elbow first on the ledge, then the next elbow, followed by pulling herself up on to her belly, and finally up on her knees.)

Click Clacks on the Wall: The final skill we practiced were “click clacks” along the side of the pool (walking her hands along the pool ledge). This helps her little body learn what to do if the water is too deep or she can’t swim to a ladder. She is also completing one heck of a bicep workout!

The emphasis that Goldfish Swim School places on water safety is so important to help keep these little humans safe. As we move into the summer months, and water activities become even more prevalent, it is important as a parent to be vigilant around water. We are thankful Goldfish put on this Water Safety event to provide my daughter with additional practice for what to do to stay safe in and around water.

The Details: We are currently in the Goldfish Mini 2 class at Goldfish Swim School. We attend lessons at the Goldfish Swim School in Dublin, Ohio. Check out the link for location, address/telephone details and how to sign up for lessons.

Disclaimer: We were provided free swimming lessons by Goldfish Swim School in exchange for collaborating blog posts. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Take a Taste Tuesday with Megan Pollock

Hello! My name is Megan Pollock, and currently, I have many different identities these days. A wife. A Speech-Language Pathologist. A mother. A dog enthusiast. A feminist. Oh yeah, and a Bobcat. (OU Oh Yeah!) Of all these titles, the mother title is the newest. 11 months new to be exact. Motherhood has been one of the most rewarding and challenging roles I have ever taken, as cliche as it sounds. It amazing how you can have so many different feelings at once in a day when you become a mother. Ranging to utter joy, to doubt, to frustration, to anxiety, to sadness and then back to pure happiness. This range of emotions and change has caused a totally different dynamic and added a new challenge to my “wife” title. It is a new balance, that my husband and I are still trying to learn. It has brought us closer, of course, and there are times without realizing it, we find that we are further apart. I often work in the evenings, which is wonderful because I get to spend more time with my son, but it can also be difficult because I spend less time with my husband who works a 9-5 job. This change has made us realize that the time we do spend together is extra important. Dates don’t happen frequently, because we don’t have many sitter options. Therefore, we have learned which may sound silly, to take the “chore” of grocery shopping (that we have always enjoyed doing together even before we were married) and “turn it to eleven.” In other words, make it a family date. To be honest, this wasn’t something we consciously came up with. It happened naturally after I gave birth to my son and soon became a tradition.

Now, if you are wondering, “How the heck do you turn your grocery shopping into a date?” I have two words: Whole Foods. Now I know you might be thinking, “Oh, you mean Whole Paycheck?” Well…we only make our trip there a special monthly treat. Otherwise we spend our time at Lucky’s. (In my opinion, the best. grocery. shop. ever.) I like to think Whole Foods is the “fancier” version of Lucky’s. So once a month, we will do our grocery shopping at the Whole Foods in Dublin and end it with a lovely meal at The Trattoria.

The Trattoria, is an Italian restaurant in the center of the store, and has all the fixings of a really really nice restaurant: amazing food, a huge selection of wine, friendly service, and even white table cloths! The best part is….your infant can join you because it’s a grocery store! AND….it is reasonably priced! I promise.

Here’s why:

  • No corking fee. You can pick any wine off the shelves in Whole Foods and you only have to pay the cost of the wine. Our favorite choice is the Trinity Oak’s Cab. For every Trinity Oak’s bottle you buy, they plant a tree!
  • The food. You can pick any steak OR cheese in the store departments too…and again, you only pay the amount it is in the store. They will cook the steak exactly how you like it right in front of you! Also, the main courses on the menu range from 14 dollars to 24 dollars and you can always get small plates or appetizers too, which range from 10 dollars to 16 dollars.
  • They don’t take tips. (Now, I still leave a small one since my son began eating solids, and often leaves a mess.)

Here are some reasons why it is the best for babies and toddlers.

  • The variety of options you have for your child if they are eating solid foods. If your babe doesn’t love the food on the menu, you can always head over to the buffet and pick out the food, pay for it and eat it when you get to the restaurant.
  • If you forget something, remember…you are at a grocery store. They are likely to have it! (We forgot a bib once!)
  • The carts conveniently fit perfectly up to the tables at The Trattoria. No high chairs needed!
  • If your babe cries, you can always push them around or entertain them elsewhere in the store. Plus, it isn’t the end of the world if they cry, because you are in a noisy grocery store!
  • They have white paper on top of their tables. This makes me feel better when my son makes his usual disaster while he eats.
  • The floors are tile, which also make it for an easier clean up.
  • You are not making a mess in your home. For some reason, I don’t mind cleaning up messes when I am out to eat versus when I have to do it in my own home.

We recently went this month with another couple who are new to being parents. It was such a fun and productive double date as you can see from our pictures.

Thank you Signe for including me on your Tasty Tuesdays, and thank you to all the mothers out there in Columbus who took the time to read my write up. Cheers to being creative to maintain our sanity in this new way of life!

Each Tuesday for the next several weeks a fellow mom/friend/community member will be sharing a fun recipe, tips to include kids in the cooking process, or a great family restaurant for “Take a Taste Tuesday.” If you are interested in sharing your eating and/or cooking fun be sure to connect with me via email!