MOPS coordinator Tricia Shindle is shown with her husband Fred and her two children, Frederick, 4, and Mandie, 6. (Courtesy photo)

Cutline: Studies confirm that children do better in school when parents are actively involved. It can be as simple as engaging in a conversation with a child about his or her school day, or utilizing technology to remain up to date with what is going on in a child's classroom. (File art)

By Rebecca Maxwell

With summer officially over, the school year is now well under way. Children and teens are hopping on the bus each day to go to school, and, hopefully, keeping up with their homework.

Cutline for Mindy Plumlee —
Mindy Plumlee has been the executive director of the Idaho Ronald McDonald House for 12 years. Here, she sits on the bench near the entranceway to the House at 101 Warm Springs Ave. in Boise. (Photo by Gaye Bunderson)

Cutline for the Dowdys —
Harold and Mardene Dowdy just launched into their seventh year as volunteers at the Ronald McDonald House. Mardene answers phones in the reception area, and Harold serves as a handyman. (Photo by Gaye Bunderson)

By Gaye Bunderson

Cutline: There are many farms in the area that allow people to select for purchase their own pumpkin by walking through a patch and picking out their favorite. (File art)

By Heather Robson

In our fast food culture, we often overlook the importance of being connected to our food. The stronger your connections with your food and where it comes from, the more likely you are to eat healthy, wholesome meals … the more likely you are to feel gratitude and even wonder over where those foods came from … and the more likely you are to build a strong family culture.

By Amy Larson

Editor's note: The Starlight Mountain Theatre is located in Garden Valley. Plays are performed in an outdoor amphitheater that sits on the bank of the Middle Fork of the Payette River. Last performances of the year include “You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown” on Sept. 13-14. More information is available at www.starlightmountaintheatre.com. Below is a first-person account of a recent family outing to the theater.

We, the parents, are stressed to the breaking point. We never see our teenaged daters and drivers anymore, and our youngsters are bored and restless.

Cutline: Joel Lund, his teenage daughter Jessica, and his wife Janet gather around their adopted dog Bronx. The Lunds formerly owned a dog named Watson. When Watson passed away, Joel and Jessica teamed up to write a children's book about him. (Photo by Jennifer Oates, O2 Photography)

Cutline: A mixed breed dog named Watson meant so much to his adoptive family that he prompted the writing of a book about all his great traits. (Courtesy photo)

By Gaye Bunderson

Fred Gipson wrote about Old Yeller and Elvis Presley sang about Old Shep. Family pets have been the subject of songs and stories for quite a while. The fact these songs and books — and movies — are sometimes tearjerkers is witness to the effect a dog can have on its owners. They're members of the family: enjoyed and much loved.

Cutline: Mary Schmidt teaches family and consumer sciences part-time at Eagle High School. Above, she experiments with a muffin recipe at her Boise home. (Photo by Gaye Bunderson)

By Gaye Bunderson

Mary Schmidt has many irons in the fire, along with pans in the oven and pots on the  stove. She is the owner of Home Arts Studio at 4219 W. Franklin in Boise, where she has “a work table, sewing machines and a commercial kitchen.”

Cutline: First Tee of Idaho, with the help of many volunteers, provides golf instruction to children throughout the area. The organization offers classes in the fall, including some indoor instruction on equipment called SNAG: Starting New At Golf. (Courtesy photo)

By Gaye Bunderson

Pete Stickney used to coach and teach math. He's still pretty handy with numerical information when telling anyone about his current occupation as executive director of First Tee of Idaho.

Cutline: Cancer survivors who all attended Camp Rainbow Gold announce their good fortune — they all survived their bout with the serious illness. (Courtesy photo)

Gaye Bunderson

Ten is both a good number and bad one for Boise's Tamara Scribner.

Cutlines: Mrs. Idaho America Kaley Sparling, left, sits on a hay bale during a holiday event last year. With her is daughter Madison, husband Jimmi and son Jack Danger. (Courtesy photo)

AND —

Mrs. Idaho America Kaley Sparling rides a wave at Lucky Peak. She and her husband Jimmi are avid wakesurfers. The sport entails riding the wave created by a wakeboard boat. (Courtesy photo)

By Gaye Bunderson

By Gaye Bunderson

Brad Warr has taken a few lumps for the team.
“I've been banged up a little bit,” he conceded.
In 2006, a ceiling collapsed on the 15-year veteran captain of the Nampa Fire Department, leading to shoulder surgery and neck problems. Then, the 44-year-old firefighter also underwent Achilles tendon surgery as the result of another job-related injury.
Warr crawled out from beneath the roof debris.

By Gaye Bunderson

The Idaho Food Bank doesn't just hand out food to people in need. It also works to educate them on how to wisely stretch a limited food budget while preparing healthful family meals.
Jessyca Tyler, nutrition education coordinator for the Food Bank, said many mothers take the course to help ensure their children eat better.

Rhonda O'Brien, a registered and licensed dietitian/nutritionist in Boise, says parents' eating habits influence children's eating habits.

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