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Archive for July, 2016

Mindfulness for the Family

Posted on: July 29th, 2016 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

practice yoga

Living a balanced life seems nearly impossible with all of today’s stress. Whether the kids are crying, your cell phone won’t stop buzzing in your purse, or your email inbox is full, slowing down doesn’t seem to be on the menu. However, there is one way that families can slow down together and balance all of the stress of everyday life: mindfulness.

You may be thinking: “I don’t have time to sit around and meditate. I need to pack the kids’ lunches and later on I have to help everyone with their homework! The only ‘om I get to do today is in the phrase ‘oh my’.” But, if you get the kids to practice mindfulness with you, it will not only help you, but it will help them too. Not to mention, it is easier than you might think.

Many of us think that mindfulness is full-blown mediation, but it actually just means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings and environment. Mindfulness can be as simple as focusing on taking deep breaths.

One way to get the kids to practice mindfulness is to have the kids lie down and close their eyes. Then, pass something fragrant, like an orange slice or an essential oil under their nose and have them think about each part of what they are smelling. Tell them to focus all of their energy on that one smell, and then guess what it was. This can not only help with anxiety in the long run, but can also help them, and you understand how easy mindful thinking can be.

Another way to practice mindfulness with the kids is to turn off everything in the house and have everyone sit or lie down comfortably with their eyes closed. Then, taking deep breaths encourage everyone to focus their thoughts on how their toes feel, then their legs, their tummies, arms and finally their heads. Encourage them to point out sounds that they might not have noticed before, or smells that they pick up. This is a great way for not only the kids, but for you to clear your mind and focus on the here-and-now. If your kids are slightly more wiggly, while they are brushing their teeth, encourage them to think about the toothbrush and how it feels on each one of their teeth.

Looking for more of an activity for your restless bunch? Color! Adults are discovering what kids have known for years: Coloring is fun. Whether you choose a simple children’s coloring book or a more intricate design, coloring steers your attention to the present and can alleviate anxious thoughts.

Doing yoga is another great way to teach the family mindfulness together. Yoga is good for the body and the brain. Counter the time kids (and adults) spend hunched over computer keyboards or phones and boost energy and focus with simple yoga poses. Yoga Journal offers a 10-minute “homework break” routine that includes side bends done from your chair, seated twists and three to five rounds of cat and cow, inhaling and exhaling as you alternately raise your chest and then round your back.

Remember: taking time to slow down together as a family can increase everyone’s overall happiness and wellness. It takes as little as 10 minutes to practice mindfulness and even your most wiggly little one will love it.

For more information on mindfulness click here.

Give Yourself a Boost

Posted on: July 29th, 2016 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

We all need a little pick-me-up. Even if you get a full night’s rest and you spend the day thinking mindfully, chances are you will still hit a little bit of a slump. Of course, you could always enjoy a nice hot cup of coffee, but chances are you will be tempted to add sugar, which gives your body not only the caffeine jolt but the slight sugar high (and dependance). Since sugar is more addictive than cocaine, this can lead you down a slippery slope.

Cup with black tea on blue wooden background

Instead of giving into the temptation of sugary coffee, try these healthier ways to give yourself a little boost:


    1. Flavored herbal energy tea
      There are lots of energy teas out there that will promise unlimited energy without jitters, however, not all of them deliver on their promise and you find yourself wanting to dump sugar into them just like you would coffee. However, if you get a tea flavored with fruit that contains energy as well, like Zest Tea or Teavana’s Rev Up Wellness Tea (loose leaf), not only will you taste natural sweetness of fruits, but you can also control exactly how much and how strong you want your tea to be. These sweet teas deliver all of the energy of a cup of coffee without the crash (and sugar).

    2. Maca Powder
      Maca powder is a root from Peru that is known to boost energy and elevate your mood. It also is known to balance hormones and can relieve symptoms of PMS as well as increase fertility in men. It can be easily added to juices, smoothies and desserts. It is also great to add into breakfast foods because it will help boost your mood and keep you going all day.

    3. Pineapple Ginger Juice
      Get your energy from natural sources with this yummy recipe. The enzymes in this juice will also help your digestion and keep your family’s tummies on track. Not only does the natural sweetness keep you from adding sugar, but it is also very refreshing and gives you enough of an energy boost that you won’t need the coffee.


To read more about healthy eating and staying away from sugar, click here.

For more information on herbal teas, click here.   

Trash Talk

Posted on: July 29th, 2016 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

Empty plastic bottle use as a container for growing plant

With all the recent reports coming out about climate change, and having just come out of the warmest winter in Florida’s history, I’m sure I’m not alone in hoping to make a difference in the state of our planet.

The average person generates over 4 pounds of trash every day and about 1.5 tons of solid waste per year, and Americans make more than 200 million tons of garbage per year, according to Even sadder: Although 75 percent of American waste is recyclable, we only actually recycle about 30 percent of it. Not only can recycling cut down on waste, but it can also create energy to help power our homes.

We want our children and our children’s children to have long, happy lives on this planet, so it is time to put the effort in to take care of it. Studies have shown that the habits that you teach your children earlier in life can lead to their habits as adults, which is why it is so vital that we teach kids to take care of the earth early. There are a quite a few simple and fun ways your family can help at home that will get the kids motivated and excited to help the earth.

  1. Teaching Kids About Different Garbage Bins

In our home, we have two separate garbage cans; one black and one white for easier distinction, although you can get recycle logo stickers for as little as $3 online, or you can print or draw your own for even cheaper. We use one can we use for our trash items and the other is for general recyclables. When throwing anything away, our children have to ask themselves, “Can this be recycled?” before choosing which trash can it belongs in.

One great way to teach kids which can to use is to make it a game. For example, you can decorate the top of the recycling can with a robot so the kids can feed the robot aluminum, paper and other recyclables. Teach the kids to feed the robot and if they help make the robot recycling can full, they get a special prize.

Most counties’ Solid Waste programs will pick up your recycling for you at the curb and will accept basic items: plastic, glass, newspapers and cans. A full list of Hillsborough County’s recyclable items can be found at

If you don’t live in a Curbside Collection neighborhood, there are still ways to ensure your items make it to a recycle facility. You can bring your recyclables to the county recycle center to drop them off. A list of locations are on each county’s websites.

If you don’t have time for that, there are other options. The Green Can places recycle bins in residential neighborhoods that do not have pre-existing pick-ups. They also collect used clothes and shoes to be recycled, and proceeds go to a charity that you select.

  1. Ditch the Plastic Bags

Are plastic bags killing the environment? There’s been much debate on the subject. Most people reuse plastic shopping bags; in my own home they double as cat litter bags and bathroom trash can liners. Even after I reuse some, I’m left over with bags stuffed full of more bags. But did you know you can bring them back? Most supermarkets like Publix and Wal-Mart have recycle bins set up either outside of the store or just inside the entryway to return bags. They don’t only accept plastic bags, many also accept plastic sleeves from newspapers and dry cleaning. Plastic bags can be reused not only for their original purpose, but companies such as Trex also recycle them into building materials.

To get the kids to understand and have fun with recycling those pesky plastic bags, make it a scavenger hunt. Have the kids fan out and find as many plastic bags as they can, and whoever can find the most before your trip to the grocery store wins. Whether the prize is bragging rights or getting to choose a new reusable tote at the store, kids will love the competition and it will help them understand the habit of going to the grocery story with their own bags.

  1. Recycle Pill Bottles

Your child had an ear infection, you had a bottle of aspirin, your spouse had a toothache, and suddenly before you know it there are empty pill bottles peppering your medicine cabinet. Whether it’s over the counter or prescription, they can stack up fast. Before you toss them in the trash, remember, these are recyclable too! Some pharmacies accept their prescription pill bottles back so that they can be repurposed or reused.

Have you ever noticed that on the bottom of your container there is a little recycling symbol with a number inside? That number is the grade of plastic that the item is made of. While some recycle centers only accept 1 and 2 plastics, Hillsborough County will take anything between 1 and 7, which means you can put any plastic items in your recycling bin. Prescription pill bottles are a grade 5 and over the counter are 2, so be sure put these items in your recyclables trash can. Just remember to peel the prescription label off first.

To teach this to the kids, show them how to find the numbers on various plastic bottles. Let the kids look at the empty pill bottles and tell you which number it is, and see if they can tell you whether it should go in recycling, trash, or back to the store. The more you involve the kids, the better.

It may be tough at first to get everyone in your family to remember to recycle, but it can be done. Have the kids keep you in check by reminding you of which bin to use, and remind them if they forget. With these small steps, we can make a huge difference for our planet.

4 Easy Essential Options

Posted on: July 29th, 2016 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

aromatherapy treatment with mortar and medicinal plants

“Put some tea tree oil on that, it’ll clear right up.”

“Take a bath with lavender for your nerves.”

For years, families seeking holistic health options have heard the benefits of essential oils and aromatherapy. It is no wonder that so many people swear by oils, after all, your sense of smell is one of the most primal senses and can control your mood, emotions, and even your memories.

Aromatherapy and essential oils have been around for years. Dating as far back as 4500 B.C. and used originally by the Egyptians for perfume and medicine, essential oils are now used for a variety of purposes. In India, essential oils have been used for 3,000 years for healing— some of the most popular for healing include ginger and sandalwood.

With all of the options surrounding essential oils and the various ways to use them, it can seem a little bit overwhelming if you are considering trying to incorporate the oils into your life. Making sure you use the essential oils correctly is vital– certain oils should never be swallowed and some oils should only be applied sparingly to the skin, so research is key before you begin using them. The best way to start using oils is by starting small and simple. To help you begin your oil use, and to help you use them correctly, here are my four favorite uses for essential oils:

Before you begin to make your oil blends, it is helpful to get a few roller-ball containers (like the ones shown here, which are available on Amazon and through most reputable oil sellers) and a carrier oil. I like to use Sweet Almond Oil as my carrier, but coconut oil is a great alternative. These are used to dilute some of the oil so that it will not harm the skin.



It is also important to make sure that you are using only the most pure oil available. Some great brands are DoTerra and Eden’s Garden. In the case of essential oils, you get what you pay for and what might seem like a bargain can actually be quite the opposite. Once you have your oils and containers, you are ready to begin.

  1. Bug repellent and bite healer
    When your children are playing outside during the hot summer and even the cooler fall and spring months, bug bites are inevitable. However, spraying the kids with harmful chemicals in bug spray can do more harm than good. There are several oils that can repel bugs, including:  Citronella, Clove, Lemongrass, Lemon Eucalyptus, Cedarwood, Rosemary, Tea Tree, Eucalyptus, Cedar, Catnip, Lavender, Peppermint, Basil, Rose Geranium, Cinnamon Oil, Thyme, Lemon, Orange, Pine– however it is important never to apply these oils directly to the skin.Each oil repels a different type of bug, so if your children are getting frequent mosquito bites, they should use citronella, lemon eucalyptus, peppermint, lemon, eucalyptus, catnip, basil, clove, thyme, lemongrass, geranium, lavender. If they are getting flea bites around their ankles while playing in the grass, they should use cedarwood, citronella, eucalyptus, tea tree oil, lemongrass, lavender, orange, and pine.The blend that I use repels bugs and helps to heal existing bites. All you do is fill the rollerball container 2/3 full with a carrier oil or distilled water. Then add 5-10 drops of eucalyptus, citronella and lavender to repel the bugs. To help cleanse bug bites, add 3-5 drops of tea tree oil. The lavender and tea tree also work together to heal bites and stop itching. I also apply this to my pet’s collars so that bugs will leave them alone as well.If you choose to create your own blend based on the different bugs in your area, be sure to use a carrier oil and a few different oils (for example, if you want to kill mosquitos, use both peppermint, eucalyptus and lavender).IMG_2078
  2. Easy laundry, furniture and carpet spray
    Essential oils are great for creating calming and relaxing environments. One of the easiest and most no-fuss ways to use essential oils is in your laundry and as a spray for your carpet and furniture. Lavender is known for its calming properties, so I love to put a few drops (between 5-10 depending on the load size) into the laundry. This is especially nice when you are washing bedding because the lavender can help you relax at night. You can also mix up 10-15 drops into a spray bottle with distilled water to spray on carpet and furniture for relaxing scent all over the house. A bonus: lavender repels fleas, so if you have pets this is a safe way to prevent fleas from feeling at home inside the house.
  3. Healing bath
    Another great way to use essential oils to both heal any bites, cuts or rashes, as well as to relax and cleanse your emotions is through an oil bath. Draw a bath and put 3-5 drops of tea tree oil in for cleansing– this is especially helpful to clean out and sanitize sores, cuts or rashes. Put in 5 drops of eucalyptus for a calming bath, or a few drops of peppermint if you are looking for an energizing bath. Soak in the bath and try to be mindful of each scent. Before you know it, your skin will feel and smell great and you will feel better. (For quick cleaning of a cut or scrape, roll diluted tea tree on the area. It has a cooling feeling and will cleanse and sanitize.)
  1. Oils for mental health
    One of the best ways to use essential oils is to boost your mental health and wellness. Aromatherapy can make a huge difference if you are suffering from frequent anxiety attacks and have even been known to help comfort children with autism.You can purchase pre-mixed bottles to help you with different types of emotions, or you can make your own. My favorite pre-made blends are from include Breathe Easier, Hope Synergy Blend and Stress Synergy Blend. Make sure to dilute it with carrier oil if you plan to roll it onto the skin when making your own blends.If you prefer not to use a pre-made blend, using them as a calming agent is as simple as training your brain to associate a smell with a feeling. For example, when you in a calm, relaxed state, rub the oil into your hands and smell your favorite aromatherapy scent, breathing in deeply. For me, that is lavender. Continue to breathe deeply while smelling the scent and repeat the process every day for at least a week. Keep a small container with you, and when you begin to feel anxiety or stress taking over, rub the oil into your palms and breathe deeply. Because smell connects so deeply with emotions, this can help you feel the centered feeling that you experienced when you were at home and calm.

Remember, these tips are not intended to replace the advice of your healthcare provider. For more wellness articles, click here.


Brief History of Cannabis

Posted on: July 29th, 2016 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

medical pot

Cannabis has been used for medicinal purposes since at least the time of ancient China. Cannabis and its therapeutic benefits, specifically gout, rheumatism, constipation, and senility, were first described in ancient Chinese texts. Chinese Emperor Shennong, who was also a pharmacologist, wrote about using cannabis for treatment purposes in a book published in 2737 BC.

With regard to the United States’ pharmacological system, medical cannabis was long included as a viable treatment option. It wasn’t until 1937 when, in defiance of the American Medical Association (AMA), the U.S. passed a federal law banning cannabis. According to Americans for Safe Access, from that point on cannabis was only legally available to a small number of patients through a federally organized program called the Investigational New Drug (IND) compassionate access research program. In effect, the IND program allowed patients to receive up to nine pounds of cannabis from the government each year, in 1976.

Despite the IND program, the vast majority of Americans found themselves shut out of access to medical marijuana. Then, in the late 90’s, voters began to demand legalized medical marijuana. California was the first state to establish such a program with a voter initiative that passed in 1996. In the 20 years that have followed the historic passing of California’s proposition 215, other states followed California’s lead, establishing medical marijuana laws that allow patients access to legal cannabis with a doctor’s recommendation.

Today, 25 states and the District of Columbia allow patients to legally obtain and use medical marijuana, bringing potential access to over half of all American citizens. Despite the fact that cannabis continues to remain federally illegal, in October of 2009 the U.S. Department of Justice announced that they would not pursue medical marijuana participants or distributors who comply with state laws.

Up until the late 1930’s, cannabis based oils, tinctures and medicine were routinely used by American doctors and physicians all around the world. That all changed when, in 1937, the Marijuana Tax Act was passed, which ended the use of marijuana of medicine. With the passage of the United Nations Single Convention of Treaties of 1961 and 1971, cannabis (which included hemp) was prohibited in many parts of the world.

Although marijuana had formerly been part of the US Pharmacopeia, it was withdrawn as an accepted medicine.

In 1937, under the direction of Harry Anslinger, Prohibition Commissioner of the newly formed Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN), cannabis became a banned substance in the US. In 1938, Anslinger convened a meeting of 23 individuals, each of which had some expertise in ‘marihuana.’ This was a planning meeting to implement prohibition, and an information session to learn more about the plant. There were experts on psychological effects, on hemp crops, and on ‘marihuana’ chemistry.

From this group came a Dr. Roger Adams, a Harvard educated, renowned organic chemist with several published papers. Dr. Adams, from University of Illinois and group from 1940 – 1949 carried out 27 studies on cannabis, published in the American Journal of Chemistry. Dr. Adams isolated:

• Cannabinol (CBN)

• Cannabidiol (CBD)

• and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)

• Dr. Adams synthesized these cannabinoids.

• Original wholesale formula for CBD 1940

In 1964, with the assistance of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectroscopy, Dr. Raphael Mechoulam also isolated THC then further determined its chemical composition / chemistry. Thus Dr. Mechoulam is credited with the discovery and “isolation” of THC – nonetheless Dr. Roger Adams “inferred THC’s structure” and basically got it right. Further Dr. Adams applied for a patent on CBD isolation going back to 1940 and it was awarded in 1942. Although he was awarded and highly recognized for his work, he was placed on an FBI watch list which impacted his ability to gain security clearances during WWII. He was eventually able to complete areas of research involving how medical marijuana effects several areas of the body.

Because of Adams significant contributions, in 1959, the Roger Adams Award was established as an ACS National Award to recognize outstanding contributions to the field of organic chemistry. The award is given every other year where the award address is provided at the National Organic Chemistry Symposium, which is organized by the ACS Division of Organic Chemistry.

Roger Adams was inducted as a Laureate of The Lincoln Academy of Illinois and awarded the Order of Lincoln (the State’s highest honor) by the Governor of Illinois in 1967 in the area of Science.

Dr. Adams US Patent on the Isolation of Cannabidiol – # 2,304,669– Dr. Adams great works included a US Patent on the Isolation of Cannabidiol, US Patent # 2,304,669. Applied for August 16 1940 and awarded Dec 8 1942.

Dr. Adams found several things about CBD oil, which were described in the Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS) in detail. For example, “The isolation of cannabidiol from red oil obtained from hemp is described in detail in J. A. C. S. (Journal of the American Chemical Society) 62, 196 (1940). This process which includes the treatment of purified red oil with 3,5-dinitrobenzoyl chloride and the formation of cannabidiol bis-3,5-dinitrobenzoate has been found of particular value for the isolation of the desired product. Ammonolysis of the benzoate, i.e. diester, yields cannabidiol in pure form.”

“It has been found that from the extracts of hemp (Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica) that a red viscous oil can be obtained, commonly known as red oil, from which a pure crystalline compound, cannabidiol, can be isolated (Adams, Hunt & Clarke J.A.C.S. 62, 196 1940). Through a chemical study (J.A.C.S. 62, 196, etc.) it has been shown to have the chemical formula: With the exception of the position of the double bond in the left hand cycle of the above formula, the structure of cannabidiol is well established. Investigations show this left hand cycle to be a tetrahyrdo benzene ring.”

To read more about the history of medical marijuana click here.

Historical information re Dr. Adams from:

Who Discovered THC?  Setting the Record Straight

To get CBD oil, email

Extraordinary Woman: Stevie Morgan

Posted on: July 29th, 2016 by Angela Ardolino No Comments


About three years ago, Stevie Morgan was a soon-to-be single mom trying to figure things out. She had just moved from Miami back to Tampa where she (and her father and grandmother before her) had been born and raised, and was pregnant and unemployed.

“I didn’t have a job and I was like, ‘OK, what now?’ I had been playing around with delivering food to my dad—cooking food and keeping my family healthy. He didn’t even like carrying a lunch box so I started to deliver meals to him and he loved that. He was a busy executive and had gained 100 pounds—he wasn’t eating breakfast or lunch and was just eating dinner. After I started delivering his meals, he started losing weight and having increased energy.”

This was in 2014. Today, Cater Me Fit, the company that was born from her daughterly service, has become a lifesaver for busy professionals looking for healthy home-cooked meals delivered to their homes.

“I remember the day it became a real business,” recalls Morgan, 26. “I was sitting around the kitchen with my friends and we came up with a name, Cater Me Fit, and it’s all history from there. I never expected that it would do as well as it is and it’s exciting.”

Morgan now has a team of more than 30 employees. They cook every meal and deliver three days a week, although they are in the kitchen every day. They tailor to a variety of tastes and lifestyles, including traditional, paleo and vegetarian. Cater Me Fit is also available at two locations in Tampa International Airport to bring healthy food to travelers. “I think there was just a need and we went to the top of Google really quickly. We started getting more and more calls and now we deliver thousands of meals a week.”

Starting and maintaining a successful business is in itself a remarkable thing. What might make Morgan’s story even more inspirational is that she was pregnant when she started the business, and despite the demands of 2-year-old Jourdan, was able to grow the business rapidly.

Not only does she run her own business and take care of Jourdan, but she is also passionate about mentoring young girls and giving back to the community.

Cater Me Fit, Jourdan and mentoring are not her only passions: the indefatigable Morgan is also training to become a professional boxer in her “spare time.”

What do you think is the secret to your family’s success?
Work ethic, passion and staying disciplined. Those three things really have made all the difference for us.

What advice would you give to other women?
No excuses—just do it. It really truly works for me. You just can’t make excuses for yourself. I also think it’s important for women to know that being emotional is okay.

What is your proudest moment?
I think my proudest moment was having my son, Jourdan. I think there are a lot of things to be proud of, but my proudest moment is definitely when I had him.

Can you tell us about some of the awards you have won?
Since starting Cater Me Fit, I won the Startup Scholar Program with the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce and I also won an award for Best Starup Idea as well. I have also been nominated for Small Business of the Year which was pretty exciting.

Is there anything as a single mom that you would want to share with other single moms?
Being a single mom is definitely tough—and I just have one kid. I have learned that I have to be tough. I can’t play victim and sit around feeling sorry for myself because there are people who have a lot more kids who still have their stuff together and who are juggling way more things than I am. I just have one child, and that reminds me to stop having a pity party.

The biggest thing I have learned is that single mom or not, you just need to keep going. Just do it. There’s no excuse, you can take a baby anywhere—I used to bring Jourdan into the kitchen with me in the beginning so that I could start my company and keep it growing. So just keep going and don’t give up.

What is your biggest achievement?
I don’t even know if I have achieved it yet! I think am still working on that.

What makes you happy?
That is tough to explain. But really, life makes me happy. The quality of life makes me happy. Life with my son makes me so happy. Helping others makes me happy as well.

What are some of the things Cater Me Fit does in the community?
We do a lot of work with the homeless ministries and we cook for them every Sunday. We do two big events every year: The Great Egg Race and Operation Christmas Gifts. We also do a toy drive and a food drive as well with feeding Tampa Bay so there is always something we are working on.

How do you relax and take time for yourself?
I go to the gym every day. I have to—that’s my “me” time. I am working to become a professional boxer as well. I also like fishing. I like to read, and I stay active in the church, which keeps me on track.

How did you get into professional boxing?
I started boxing seven or eight years ago. It just takes time, training and discipline and I love it. It is addicting, and I feel like boxing helps so much with life. You may not be great at it, but it exposes things about yourself and you have to work through things by yourself because it is only you. You don’t have a team to help you, so it is all you.

What kind of message would you like to give women in the area or the community?
I don’t want people to see me and think ‘oh wow, she did it, she made it,’ but if I can do it, anyone can do it.

I don’t believe in excuses. There’s no excuses allowed. If you want to do something then just do it. There is not an excuse that you can come up with that can possibly mean anything.

Is there anything you want the young women you mentor to take away from their time with you?
I feel very strongly that because I am a young successful business owner, I can help girls. There are a lot of young women and girls that need that example to be strong and to make it happen, whatever it is. So I try to help them realize that they truly can do anything.

Getting into the Back To School Routine

Posted on: July 27th, 2016 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

Kids all over Tampa Bay are clinging to the last few days of summer but as the new school year approaches parents should be thinking about how to transition their kids back into the school schedule. Easing them back into a routine will help parents and kids alike avoid the anxiety that comes along with a new year.

The key to a stress free transition is starting early. Don’t wait until the first day of school to start a routine. If you start early, this will give your family time to get accustomed to the new schedule.

Night Before

As school starts, establish everyone’s bedtime for the school year and implement them with a wind down period one-hour before their bedtime. The wind down time is a perfect time to pack book bags, make lunches, turn off electronics and settle in for the night. It will also ease the morning rush if everything is prepared. Keeping the house quiet and calm during wind down time will also ease the transition into bedtime.

Making sure your kids are getting enough sleep is very important. On average, school-aged children need at least 9-hours of rest. Any less, and they’ll be tired during the school day, making learning and retention almost impossible. Here’s a bedtime chart to use as guidance when establishing bedtimes in your home.

Bedtime Chart

0 – 2 years of age: 7:00pm

3 – 5 years of age: 8:00pm

6 – 8 years of age: 8:30pm

9 – 12 years of age: 9:00 pm

12- 15 years of age: 9:30pm

15+ years of age: (Your child, by this age, should be able to decide when they need to go to sleep and prioritize their after school responsibilities accordingly.)


Morning time should only be for getting ready. Doing anything more (like packing bags, making lunches, finishing homework, etc.) will make morning stressful for kids and parents alike. Once your kids are in grade school try giving them each there own alarm clock, making each one responsible for getting up and dressed for the day without mom or dad.

Eating a healthy breakfast will also energize the kids for the first half of the day. Families often resort to cereals or other quick fixes that are high in sugar and have little or no nutritional value. Here are some fun, simple breakfast ideas for school days that involve little or no prep.


Most of your kids will have homework on a daily basis and encouraging them to complete it right when they get home will leave the late afternoon and early evening for play time, bath time and family time. When the kids get home, snack time is the perfect opportunity for you to sit with them, talk about the day and what they learned as well as give them a short break before heading into homework. Giving too long of a break between snack and homework time might cause your kids to lose focus making it more difficult to complete homework later in the evening.

Their homework will hopefully be assigned to re-enforce what was learned earlier in the day. Find a quiet, well-lit area of the house where everyone can sit together to do homework. If you have older children, they can be the designated homework helper for your little ones. Of course, mom or dad is always around to answer questions but allowing your teens to take a leadership role will instill confidence in them.

After school activities are also a fun, great way for kids to learn new things outside of the classroom and make new friends during the week. Discuss with your kids what sort of activities they might be interested in doing after school (karate, performing arts, etc.) and find one day a week where afternoon time includes these activities. If any of the activities involve and change of clothes or other prep work, make sure it’s done the night before and loaded into the car. You can find a full list of after school programs and classes online that might interest your kids at

The new school year is an exciting time to start fresh and learn new things. Creating a schedule that everyone can follow will help create a regimented and consistent school schedule.

Pack your Child’s Back for Success: Backpack Safety Tips for the School Year

Posted on: July 25th, 2016 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

by Dr. Lou Romig, Assistant Medical Director;  After Hours Pediatrics Urgent Care

When shopping for your child’s school backpack, there are important factors to consider. Carrying too much weight in a backpack or wearing it the wrong way can lead to unnecessary pain and strain for your child. Parents can take these steps to help children load and wear backpacks the correct way to avoid potential health problems.

Loading a Backpack

  • A child’s backpack should weigh no more than about 10% of his or her body weight. This means a student weighing 100 pounds shouldn’t wear a loaded school backpack heavier than about 10 pounds.
  • Load heaviest items closest to the center of the child’s back (the back of the pack).
  • Arrange books and materials so they won’t slide around in the backpack.
  • Check what your child carries to school and brings home. Make sure the items are necessary for the day’s activities.
  • If the backpack is too heavy or tightly packed, your child can hand carry a book or other item outside the pack.
  • If the backpack is too heavy on a regular basis, consider using a book bag on wheels if your child’s school allows it.

Wearing a Backpack

  • Choose a backpack with wide, padded shoulder straps and a padded back.
  • Distribute weight evenly by using both straps. Wearing a pack slung over one shoulder can cause a child to lean to one side, curving the spine and causing pain or discomfort.
  • Select a pack with well-padded shoulder straps. Shoulders and necks have many blood vessels and nerves that can cause pain and tingling in the neck, arms, and hands when too much pressure is applied.
  • Adjust the shoulder straps so that the pack fits snugly on the child’s back. A pack that hangs loosely from the back can pull the child backwards and strain muscles.
  • Wear the waist belt if the backpack has one. This helps distribute the pack’s weight more evenly.
  • The bottom of the pack should rest in the curve of the lower back. It should never rest more than four inches below the child’s waistline.
  • School backpacks come in different sizes for different ages. Choose the right size pack for your child as well as one with enough room for necessary school items.

Information cited from American Academy of Pediatrics and The American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc.

Behind the Scenes: July Extraordinary Woman Photoshoot

Posted on: July 25th, 2016 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

Every month, Tampa Bay Parenting features a woman who is truly extraordinary. This month, we featured Dr. Tracey Delucia, M.D., Ph.D., is a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital. Amy Pezzicara from Pezz Photo photographed the incredible Dr. Delucia. Below are some of our favorite shots as well as a few behind-the-scenes peeks.







To read Dr. Delucia’s story, click here.

Legalizing Medicine

Posted on: July 22nd, 2016 by Angela Ardolino No Comments



She was only 2 when the doctors gave up hope.

The same small head that Moriah Barnhart had planted hundreds of kisses on would soon undergo surgery, creating a crown of scars. The same tiny arms that Barnhart had marveled at and rubbed with sweet-smelling baby lotions would be poked and prodded and would wear IV’s like puppet strings. The soft round belly that Barnhart had blown raspberries on to hear a chorus of giggles would soon shrink in hunger and pain.

Dahlia Barnhart was only 2 when she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer, and she had little hope for full recovery. Her mother, Moriah Barnhart, did as the doctors instructed, bringing her in for chemotherapy in doses that could kill a fully grown man.

Weeks went by and her condition deteriorated. Barnhart was faced with seeing her child suffer, not eating or drinking. Her once energetic child became a shell of her former self.

But, Barnhart believed what doctors didn’t: that her daughter could get better, even if it was just better enough to feel less pain.

“It breaks your heart to see your child suffering like that. I knew that I would do whatever was humanly possible to help my child,” says Barnhart.

Barnhart began researching supplements to try to find something to help her daughter through the chemotherapy. She took her daughter to St. Jude Research Hospital for treatment, but sought answers from alternative sources.

After meeting with experts, including top medical professionals, Barnhart decided that there was only one option to which she could turn: medical marijuana.

She packed her and her daughter’s bags and moved to Colorado for six months, where she was able to obtain CBD oil.

CBD oil stands for cannabidiol, which is an extract of the marijuana plant that contains little to no THC. THC is the chemical in marijuana that creates the “high” that traditionally comes to mind when thinking of the plant.

CBD is non-psychoactive, and can actually counteract many of the properties of THC. Using specific breeding techniques, marijuana can be grown with little to no THC and higher levels of CBD.

Currently, Florida law allows the production and use of CBD oil, however those who produce it must pay a $5 million bond to the state of Florida. This makes it increasingly difficult to obtain the oil without leaving the state.

Within the first days of giving her daughter the oil as a supplement to her chemotherapy and radiation, Dahlia began to eat and sleep again. Barnhart started to see signs of her daughter coming back to life right before her eyes.

Not only did the CBD oil bring Dahlia’s appetite and sleep back, but it actually helped the chemotherapy work more effectively, says Barnhart. It also helped to stop the seizures that she was having as a result of her cancer.

Dahlia’s doctor was amazed at the changes he began seeing. Tumors were shrinking rapidly and there was finally hope that Dahlia would live, says Barnhart.

“He [the doctor] told me that once you have seen it with your own eyes, you can’t go back,” says Barnhart.

Today, Dahlia has a smile that lights up the room. She giggles and wiggles and asks her mother for sweets. She is now 4 years old, her smile lighting up every room she enters, and she is no longer on chemotherapy.

Dahlia’s journey caused Barnhart to look around and see the lack of education and awareness of medical marijuana, so she decided to form a group called CannaMoms. Along with several other mothers with similar circumstances, CannaMoms focuses on creating a community that can educate others about the benefits of medical marijuana.

While the road to helping Dahlia was a difficult one, it is one that many families are forced to take. Parents, like Barnhart, are frustrated that there is a natural way to help their children but instead are told to give their children addictive medications like morphine and Oxycontin.

Last year, Floridians voted on amendment 2, which would have legalized medical marijuana. It required a 60 percent vote to qualify as a majority and to pass, but reached only 57.62 percent.

Groups like CannaMoms and United For Care are not taking the defeat lightly however, and are fighting to have medical marijuana added back to the ballot as early as next year.

“The goal of United For Care is to pass a sensible comprehensive medical marijuana law in the state of Florida,” says Ben Pollara, spokesperson for United For Care. “Last year the biggest roadblock for us was that $7 million in out-of-state money was spent opposing medical marijuana.”

United For Care is currently petitioning to get medical marijuana on the ballot. The petition needs 683,149 signatures, and is almost to the halfway mark at 400,000. However, to account for potential voter registration issues, 1 million signatures is a more realistic number that is actually needed. As of Aug. 31, enough petitions have been signed to trigger a Florida Supreme Court review of the petition.

“There are hundreds of thousands of people in Florida who are sick or suffering and medical marijuana is something that could possibly help them,” says Pollara.

Because of CBD oil being allowed in Florida, many groups, like Informed Families, feel that legalizing medical marijuana is unneccessary.

“The public, as a whole, also does not know that there is a law in Florida that allows for “medical necessity” defense,” says Peggy Sapp, president and CEO of Informed Families. “So, if a person truly is seriously ill and all viable medical treatments have failed, they can apply for an exemption to the law that could protect them from criminal prosecution for possessing small amounts of marijuana for “medical” purposes.”

However, the fight for medical marijuana goes beyond CBD oil.

“Doctors who are allowed to prescribe dangerous addictive narcotics should be allowed to prescribe the use of medical marijuana, which is not totally benign but in the history of human civilization not a single person has ever died from a marijuana overdose,” says Pollara.

Every day in America, an estimated 44 people die from an overdose of prescription pain killers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Even more than the number of people who die from drug overdoses every day is the number of people who become addicted. Every day, almost 7,000 people are treated in emergency departments for abusing prescription drugs, according to the CDC.

“The war on drugs has caused more deaths than actual drugs have,” says Barnhart. “We don’t have a drug problem in this country; we have an addiction problem.”
While medical marijuana has been pushed aside, addictive drugs have been approved for kids as young as 11. On August 14, the FDA approved the use of OxyContin for kids ages 11-14. While this can be helpful for children going through surgery or another traumatic injury, the drug is highly addictive and frequently abused, and it is estimated that the drug earns big pharmaceutical companies upwards of $3.1 billion a year, according to Purdue Pharma.

“I think it [OxyContin] is something people take a look at and say, ‘Oh that’s so outrageous,’ but we in Florida have gone through this horrible pill mill crisis already and now we are expanding usage of these dangerous narcotics to children,” says Pollara. “So my belief is that to the extent that we can use anything in replacement of dangerous narcotics like OxyContin than that is a good thing.”

Morphine is another drug commonly used to treat pain that is also a highly addictive (and costly) substance used for kids who have chronic pain.

“Morphine is from an opiate and only treats the symptoms and pain, but it doesn’t actually treat the problem. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we had something that not only treated the pain, but also solved the problem?” says Barnhart.

While marijuana seems to be a miracle drug, groups like and are skeptical of the benefits.

“The public is being bombarded with propaganda that marijuana is a miracle drug that cures illnesses from headaches to glaucoma to cancer,” says Teresa Miller, an antidrug advocate from and “People should ask themselves …if marijuana were truly a miracle drug, why aren’t the pharmaceutical companies promoting the already legal prescription cannabis-based medicines the way these companies have marketed narcotics? The answer is simple: It isn’t the best available drug AND the risks far outweigh any benefits perceived or actual.”

While medical marijuana continues to be a public debate, groups like Informed Families and are pushing for scientific research to put an end to the debate.

“Medicine should be determined through science, not popular vote,” says Sapp. “Policies involving medical issues should be rooted in scientific research, not just anecdotal stories. It’s important for the public to understand that this issue is not about someone who is on their deathbed looking for any form of relief. It is about opening the floodgates for investors to come into Florida and create a Big Marijuana business, where for the right price anyone can get a so-called medical marijuana card to obtain a joint, a spiked brownie or a tincture that is labeled ‘medicine.’”

To families on the fence about voting or signing the petition for medical marijuana, Barnhart urges you to think of your own kids.

“We have been through this, so we know, but unfortunately this is one of those situations that, until you’re in it, you might not understand. So consider your kids and your family,” says Barnhart. “You want these options to be available if your child is ever hurting like mine was.”

To sign the petition, volunteer, or donate, visit To connect with other parents and to read more about the benefits of medical marijuana, visit