Happy Fall, Y'all!!

     Can you feel it?  Fall is FINALLY in the air.  It's refreshing, to say the very least.  Fall is one our absolute favorite times of year.  Unfortunately, down here in LA (Lower Alabama, for all you folks not familiar with the Southern vernacular), we don't get to enjoy much of a Fall season.  Our seasons are mainly "hot as blue blazin" followed by a couple of weeks of nice, crisp air that flow right into "colder than a ___ (insert your favorite comparative, often inappropriate, analogy here) ".

     But when that little bite in the air appears, you know that Fall is officially here.  Football is in full swing.  Pumpkins begin popping up all over, and the gorgeous colors of autumn mums decorate many a door step.

     Fall is a great time to take a walk or jog through your neighborhood.  Not only can you enjoy a decent temperature for your activity, but the beauty of the scenery around you is a great incentive.  The kids can still be found out in the yards after school and in between soccer, football, or fall baseball practice; enjoying the last weeks of evening sunshine before time changes and takes away their late-in-the-day light.  It's that time of year when the fair comes to town and if you live in just the right place, you can smell the peanuts coming out of the ground.  

     Unfortunately, for some of you, those peanuts and the ragweed in the air only mean torture for you and your allergies.  Fall allergy season can be brutal on allergy sufferers.  A daily oral antihistamine is a good option for most people with fall allergy symptoms.  Those chronic allergy sufferers may need something in addition to a daily antihistamine.  A steroid nasal spray (there is now one over-the-counter) added with the daily oral antihistamine can often be just the ticket.

     Unfortunately, there is a lot of concern with much more serious health issues these days.  The Ebola virus and Enterovirus-D68 have been making headlines and have everyone concerned.  We want you to have the best information possible, so we've added great information sheets from the CDC and Alabama Department of Public Health to our website.  Go here to view those:

     Also, the CDC website and ADPH website have great information.

     Now that school is back in full swing, your kids are exposed to more and more.  Unfortunately, head lice has made a resurgence among school-age children.  It seems that head lice has become resistant to many of the over-the-counter products out there these days because people aren't following the directions properly.  Most cases will require a second treatment to kill any newly hatched lice from eggs that did not get removed with the first treatment.  It is important to follow instructions on packages or doctor's directions very closely.  Prevention is important.  Children need to be instructed not to share hats, scarves, hair brushes, or any other items that touch the head.  Also, they should avoid head-to-head contact with other children during play.  Also, when a person has become infected with lice, all bed linens, clothing, furniture, and brushes must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.  Learn more about treatment and prevention at: http://www.headlice.org/

     The end of October is always a fun time for kids and a stressful time for parents.  All the Fall Festival and Halloween activities are sure to keep the kids all hyped up.  Just make sure that you are diligent when it comes to inspecting any candy your child gets.  If it is opened or appears altered in any way -- THROW it away!  Any homemade treats should only be enjoyed if you are well acquainted with the person who made them and trust them implicitly.  Your kids' health is not worth risking politeness.  If your child has food allergies, make sure they know what they can and can not have.  The best policy is to tell them they can not have any treats until  you have looked at them first.  Remember costume safety is important, as well.  All those cute costumes may look nice, but if they aren't safe -- STAY AWAY.  

     Whatever fun things await you this fall, remember to be safe and stay healthy.

Sliding into Summer

     The way the weather has been in Pike County lately, some days feel like the middle of July, while others feel like we're back in February.  That sounds about right around here.  I think, however, that our summer-like days are soon to be more plentiful than not.  Spring has begun fading into those hot, humid dog days we are accustomed to from summer in Pike County.

    Fortunately, the pollen counts are dwindling, too.  Soon, all the beautiful flowers of spring will wither under the scorching June heat.  But that means, sunscreen is ESSENTIAL to heading outside for any length of time.  Only a few minutes in the summer heat can damage your skin.  More than just painfully red, sunburn indicates damage.  In addition to increasing the risk of skin cancer, unprotected sun exposure can increase aging, making skin appear "older" and more wrinkled AND contribute to dehydration.

Get the facts on sun exposure here:
 Sun Safety Alliance
Remember to protect children from the sun, especially.  Their sensitive skin is much more prone to damage if not protected.  Use sunscreen with at least SPF of 30 or greater and hats, shirts and/or cover-ups whenever possible.  And just because a sunscreen says waterproof does NOT mean it lasts all day!!  Reapply sunscreen at least every 2 hours while exposed to the sun, and directly after sweating a good deal or swimming.

Get more info on Skin Cancer Facts from the American Cancer Society here: 
 American Cancer Society Skin Cancer Facts

     Summer can be a busy, crazy time, just like any time of year, but for me it gets a lot less hectic without going to and fro with my kids.  If you have young ones, you can probably relate.  So for me, summer is a great way to get back on that exercise plan I've been too busy to maintain throughout the school year.  While the weather outside is getting less conducive to outdoor recreation, it doesn't mean workouts are impossible.  The best times of day to go for a walk or run are the early morning or late evening hours.  With the sunlight lasting longer, there's an even greater chance to involve the whole family.  Get the kids out of the house after dinner and stroll around the neighborhood.  A brisk walk at least 3 times a week will make a HUGE difference for everyone in the family's health.  Eating healthier is easier, too.  Use the added daylight hours to grill.  The kids can play outside while you cook up the evening meal.  

     Vegetables are ever plentiful right now, so you can get them fresh and provide a variety of healthy options for you and your family.  Don't have your own garden?  Why not start one?  In addition to the exercise benefit from working in a garden -- the tasty rewards you get when it's harvest time are hard to beat.  It's not too late to get some plants in the ground now for a summer harvest.  Others need to wait to July or August for a Fall harvest, but that gives you plenty of time to prepare between now and then.  Check out this very handy information sheet from the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service: http://www.aces.edu/pubs/docs/A/ANR-0063/ANR-0063.pdf

     And don't worry -- even if you are like me and have whatever the opposite of a green thumb is -- there's hope for a fresh veggie summer.  Pike County has no shortage of vegetable growers who are happy to help you out!  Check out the Pioneer Farmer's Market behind First Methodist Church (the corner of Oak and Academy Street) for home-grown produce from folks you know right here in Pike County.  What a win - win that is -- supporting your local growers and getting a healthy meal for yourself and your family!

     Need some ideas on what to do with those fresh vegetables (and fruits) you have now?  No problem!  Here's a few recipes to try this summer!

For Starters:
     Try this fiesta-inspired salad with beans, corn, and avocado

Pinto, Black, and Red Bean Salad with Grilled Corn and Avocado

Put the veggies on center stage with this yummy dish:

Refresh yourself with a delicious and nutritious drink:

Blackberry Limeade

Finish it off with this yummy treat that even the kids can pitch in to help make: