Ready, Set, Deliver!

For years, Leslie Warren of Bethlehem had been an avid gardener and motorcyclist. That is, until sharp pain in his hip started interfering with his activities. “Getting on and off the bike started to bother me,” he recalls. “Then it became painful just going up and down stairs. I consider myself to be a tough old bird, so I just sucked it up and kept going.”

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Bucket List: 5 Fun Things to Do With Everyone in Your Family This Summer

Most of us have packed schedules, so a week-long getaway to a vacation spot hours away is unrealistic. But you don’t have to sit at home either. Instead, consider grabbing your family and day-tripping to one of the Lehigh Valley’s many adventure- and culture-filled destinations. There’s something for absolutely everyone. Who said a staycation had to be boring?

For the Water Lovers:

Dutch Springs
Bethlehem

Starting May 26th, you can splash the day away at this giant lake-top water playground, featuring crazy inflatable attractions like the Aqua Jump. The 50-acre lake is also perfect for swimming or cruising around on rented kayaks and paddle boards. You can even take a close-up look at fish and sunken attractions, like a Sikorsky H-37 helicopter, during a snorkeling tour. dutchsprings.com

For the Science Nerds:

DaVinci Science Center
Allentown

School may be out, but you can still keep your brain engaged with a visit to the DaVinci Science Center. Over a dozen interactive exhibits mix scientific principles with just plain fun. One of our favorites: Tunnel Vision. Crawl through the twists and turns of this pitch black 72-foot-long tunnel, relying on your other senses to find the exit! davincisciencecenter.org

For the Adrenaline Junkies:

Camelback Mountain Adventures
Tannersville

There’s no snow on Camelback Mountain, but that doesn’t mean there’s no fun! Soaring zip lines can hit 60 MPH as you rocket from Camelback’s peak to its base. Want something closer to the ground? Then try the Appalachian Express Mountain Coaster. Its 4,500-foot steel track snakes through the trees and trails. camelbackmountainadventures.com

For the Music Lovers:

ArtsQuest
Bethlehem

Everyone knows that ArtsQuest runs Musikfest in August. But they also offer free music, dance performances, popular films, and stand-up comics all summer long at SteelStacks—so you have plenty of opportunities to get your culture and entertainment fix. In fact, Levitt Pavilion sponsors 50 free family-friendly concerts throughout the season! artsquest.org

For the Car Lovers:

Das Awkscht Fescht
Macungie

Now in its 55th year, this festival
will feature 42 acres of antique and classic cars, trucks, and motorcycles from August 3-5. But the Fescht is way more than just wheeled vehicles. Enjoy a toy show, a barbecue cook-off, arts and crafts, a flea market, live music, and fireworks. Kid-centric activities include jugglers, magicians, and a moon bounce.
awkscht.com

Raise Sharp Kids With Music

We hear so much music in a day—on TV, at restaurants, blasting from car stereos—that we often take it for granted. But from time to time, it’s good to remind yourself just how amazing it is. After all, no other species on the planet makes music! 

“Music-making is one of the activities that make us distinctly human,” says Paul Murphy, PhD, chair of the music department at Muhlenberg College. “We do it for what we get out of it—enjoyment—and that’s what makes us special.” Beyond just enjoyment, listening to music and playing it can have a profound impact on a child’s social and intellectual development.

The Benefits

Music allows children to express themselves without even speaking, and helps them stretch their minds just by listening. “They might not know what a piece of music is about, but they can ponder it and try to make some sense of it,” says Murphy.

Budding musicians also develop a real-world sense of space and time as they explore the differences in pitches and varying durations of notes and rests. Self-discipline and teamwork come into play, too—first in learning the instrument or vocal part, and then by working with other musicians to create something unique and beautiful.

The social benefits are also impressive. “We host jams at our stores, mainly with adult players, but kids are welcome,” says Paula Taylor, co-owner of Meadowood Music in Blandon, PA. “Your age, background, and education don’t matter, because everyone’s there to make music.”

When to Start

Public schools typically begin teaching instrumental music to students ages 6 to 10 years old. “By that time, even the less-mature kids have the tools they need to succeed, including  hand strength, appreciation of abstract concepts, counting, and attention span for lessons, says Taylor.

But some kids want to start playing music earlier. “This tends to happen in families where the adults already play music,” Taylor explains. “We recommend private lessons in those cases. Younger kids really benefit from the personal attention and guidance.”

Choosing an Instrument

Parents sometimes try to impose their choices on the child, but that’s not wise. “The best instrument is the one they’re excited about,” says Taylor.

Even if the instrument seems too big, don’t automatically disregard that choice. “Drum kits, guitars, and stringed instruments in the violin family come in fractional sizes for children,” says Taylor. “They’re scaled to the size of the player.”

4 Unexpected Things You Should Put in Your Birth Bag

If you’re an expectant mom, you’re probably doing everything you can to prepare for your little bundle of joy. But don’t forget to plan for yourself, too! One of the most effective ways to do this is by strategically packing your birth bag.

Here are 4 surprising items that can make your experience that much more calm and enjoyable.

Earplugs: These can drown out hospital noises, help you to focus on your labor and delivery, and help you sleep.

Spray Bottle: During labor, if you start to feel hot, you can spray some water on your face and neck to cool down.

Preggie Pops: These lollipops were created to ease morning sickness, but they’re also great to suck on during labor—especially if you aren’t able to eat anything else—to ease nausea and moisten the mouth. Buy them at threelollies.com.

Pen and Paper: Yes, you’ll have your phone. But sometimes it’s nice to go “old school” and actually document an experience on paper. You’ll appreciate the memento later.

Parenting is Hard – The MD Guides Can Help

Back in 2009, I found myself wishing I could phone up my kids’ pediatrician during every moment of parenting confusion and panic.

After a while, an idea hit me: I should create a book series featuring tips from doctors who are also moms, but only tips that they’d actually use themselves. I decided to call the books, and the experts in them, the Mommy MD Guides.

To make these books a reality, I first joined forces with Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH, a family physician in Lexington, KY. Today, we’ve grown to a team of 150 physicians, including several Lehigh Valley doctors such as Eva Mayer, MD, a pediatrician at St. Luke’s University Health Network.

“When I first learned about the Mommy MD Guides, I thought, what an amazing idea!,” says Dr. Mayer. “A doctor may need to guide a patient based on set scientific guidelines, but with issues like behavior and sleep, there’s a lot more wiggle room.”

And often, what patients really want is tried-and-true, mom-to-mom advice. “Parents will often ask me, what would you do if it were your own child?,” says Dr. Mayer. “Being a mom of two teenagers has made me a better pediatrician because I learn from them just as I learn from the scientific journals. The Mommy MD Guides brings that all together.”

Buy the Guides

There are six books in The Mommy MD Guides series (and more in the works!), which you can buy on mommymdguides.com or amazon.com:

The Mommy MD Guide to:

• Pregnancy and Birth

• Your Baby’s First Year

• The Toddler Years

• Losing Weight and Feeling Great

• Surviving Morning Sickness

• Getting Your Baby to Sleep

Saving for College: Why You Need a 529 Plan

Is college on the horizon for your kids? If so, you’ll probably face some extreme sticker shock when confronted with the bills.

The average cost of a four-year private college was $35,260 for the 2017-2018 school year, according to the College Board. But on the priciest end of the spectrum, you could pay up to $60,000 per year.

You should obviously be saving, but simply socking money away can be counterproductive. “Historically, tuition costs have increased five percent each year,” says Jeffrey J. Febbo, CFP, president of his Easton-based wealth management firm. “If you put money into an ordinary savings account that pays one percent every year, you’ll lose ground.”

Fortunately, there’s a way to accumulate a substantial amount of money for education expenses and get a break on taxes: a 529 Plan. This is a special college savings account in which you deposit money that’s then invested into a portfolio, which can grow your money significantly over time.

The best part: “As long as you use the money in a 529 Plan for educational purposes, the withdrawals are federal tax-free,” says Febbo. If you use the money for anything else, the withdrawn funds will be taxed and you’ll have to pay a 10% penalty.

In the past, the money in a 529 Plan could only be used for college. Now you can use up to $19,000 per year to pay for private elementary and high schools. You can also apply the funds to public schools outside of your tax district. If there’s still money remaining in the account after your first child graduates, that balance can be assigned to another child.

Of course, many factors come into play when saving for college, and Febbo urges parents to always discuss their particular situation with a qualified financial professional.

Breast Cancer Prevention is Better Than Ever

For years, Leslie Warren of Bethlehem had been an avid gardener and motorcyclist. That is, until sharp pain in his hip started interfering with his activities. “Getting on and off the bike started to bother me,” he recalls. “Then it became painful just going up and down stairs. I consider myself to be a tough old bird, so I just sucked it up and kept going.”

Read More »

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