EdTech, education

8 Google Sheets Add-Ons For Educators

Below is a collection of Google Sheets add-ons that I believe every teacher and educator should at least be aware of. These are tools that provide you with tons of functionality hacks to enhance your productivity and facilitate your workflow. Some of the things you can do with these add-ons include: creating forms of various types (e.g., quizzes, assignments, surveys, etc), generate PDFs and documents from Sheets’ data, grade and analyze digital assignments, create a class website from spreadsheets, and many more.

FormsCreator

An easy way to generate Google Forms to use for various educational purposes including for surveys, quizzes, assignments, feedback, etc.

Doctopus

Enhances teachers workflow by providing teachers with the ability to “mass-copy, share, monitor student progress, and manage grading and feedback for student projects in Google Drive”.

Autocrat

“Flexible, easy to use document merge tool that creates PDF or shared Documents from spreadsheet data”.

Wikipedia and Wikidata tools

This add-on is great for mining data for your classes. You can use Wikipedia and Wikidata tools to do a ton of information gathering, instantly. The add-on provides you with a host of custom lookups such as WIKITRANSLATE and WIKIGEOCOORDINATES. These functions pull live data straight from Wikipedia into a spreadsheet, enabling teachers to compile an up-to-date and accurate database of facts.

Flubaroo

A Google Spreadsheets Add-on that helps educators quickly grade and analyze online assignments and assessments, as well as share scores with students!”

Sheet2Site

Allows you to create a website for your class using Google Sheets.

Form Publisher

Allows you to generate documents (e.g., Docs, PDF, Sheets, Slides, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) from data on Google Forms and Google Sheets.

Flippity

Originally, Flippity was designed to help you create online flashcards from Google Sheets, but the range of templates now includes everything from quiz shows and crossword puzzles to spelling and typing tests. The add-on has recently been discontinued but all the same great templates are available directly via the Flippity website.

E-Learning, EdTech

The 7 Components of TPACK For Successful Technology Integration

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At the heart of the TPACK framework, is the complex interplay of three primary forms of knowledge: Content (CK), Pedagogy (PK), and Technology (TK). The TPACK approach goes beyond seeing these three knowledge bases in isolation. The TPACK framework goes further by emphasizing the kinds of knowledge that lie at the intersections between three primary forms: Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK), Technological Content Knowledge (TCK), Technological Pedagogical Knowledge (TPK), and Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK).

Effective technology integration for pedagogy around specific subject matter requires developing sensitivity to the dynamic, transactional relationship between these components of knowledge situated in unique contexts. Individual teachers, grade-level, school-specific factors, demographics, culture, and other factors ensure that every situation is unique, and no single combination of content, technology, and pedagogy will apply for every teacher, every course, or every view of teaching.

May be an image of text that says 'TPACK P (or Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge) is a framework that highlights the interdisciplinary relationship between teaching, learning, and technology.'
May be an image of text that says 'Contexts Technological Pedagogical Knowledge (TPK) Technological Knowledge (TK) Technological Content Knowledge (TCK) TPACK Pedagogical Knowledge (PK) Content Knowledge (CK) Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK)'
  • Content Knowledge (CK) – “Teachers’ knowledge about the subject matter to be learned or taught. The content to be covered in middle school science or history is different from the content to be covered in an undergraduate course on art appreciation or a graduate seminar on astrophysics… As Shulman (1986) noted, this knowledge would include knowledge of concepts, theories, ideas, organizational frameworks, knowledge of evidence and proof, as well as established practices and approaches toward developing such knowledge” (Koehler & Mishra, 2009).
  • Pedagogical Knowledge (PK) – “Teachers’ deep knowledge about the processes and practices or methods of teaching and learning. They encompass, among other things, overall educational purposes, values, and aims. This generic form of knowledge applies to understanding how students learn, general classroom management skills, lesson planning, and student assessment.” (Koehler & Mishra, 2009).
  • Technology Knowledge (TK) – Knowledge about certain ways of thinking about, and working with technology, tools and resources. and working with technology can apply to all technology tools and resources. This includes understanding information technology broadly enough to apply it productively at work and in everyday life, being able to recognize when information technology can assist or impede the achievement of a goal, and being able continually adapt to changes in information technology (Koehler & Mishra, 2009).
  • Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) – “Consistent with and similar to Shulman’s idea of knowledge of pedagogy that is applicable to the teaching of specific content. Central to Shulman’s conceptualization of PCK is the notion of the transformation of the subject matter for teaching. Specifically, according to Shulman (1986), this transformation occurs as the teacher interprets the subject matter, finds multiple ways to represent it, and adapts and tailors the instructional materials to alternative conceptions and students’ prior knowledge. PCK covers the core business of teaching, learning, curriculum, assessment and reporting, such as the conditions that promote learning and the links among curriculum, assessment, and pedagogy” (Koehler & Mishra, 2009).
  • Technological Content Knowledge (TCK) – “An understanding of the manner in which technology and content influence and constrain one another. Teachers need to master more than the subject matter they teach; they must also have a deep understanding of the manner in which the subject matter (or the kinds of representations that can be constructed) can be changed by the application of particular technologies. Teachers need to understand which specific technologies are best suited for addressing subject-matter learning in their domains and how the content dictates or perhaps even changes the technology—or vice versa” (Koehler & Mishra, 2009).
  • Technological Pedagogical Knowledge (TPK) – “An understanding of how teaching and learning can change when particular technologies are used in particular ways. This includes knowing the pedagogical affordances and constraints of a range of technological tools as they relate to disciplinarily and developmentally appropriate pedagogical designs and strategies” (Koehler & Mishra, 2009).
  • Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) – “Underlying truly meaningful and deeply skilled teaching with technology, TPACK is different from knowledge of all three concepts individually. Instead, TPACK is the basis of effective teaching with technology, requiring an understanding of the representation of concepts using technologies; pedagogical techniques that use technologies in constructive ways to teach content; knowledge of what makes concepts difficult or easy to learn and how technology can help redress some of the problems that students face; knowledge of students’ prior knowledge and theories of epistemology; and knowledge of how technologies can be used to build on existing knowledge to develop new epistemologies or strengthen old ones” (Koehler & Mishra, 2009).
The TPACK Image (rights free). Read below to learn how to use the image in your own works. Right click to download the high-resolution version of this image.
Photo Courtesy of TPACK.org

EdTech, Technology

4 Types of Cloud Computing Services

“The cloud” refers to servers that are accessed over the Internet, and the software and databases that run on those servers. Cloud servers are located in data centers all over the world. By using cloud computing, users and companies don’t have to manage physical servers themselves or run software applications on their own machines.

Cloud technologies have transformed how organizations procure and manage infrastructure. With every organization today entering the cloud world, it is essential to understand the different types of services cloud computing offers. Although there are many types of cloud computing services, all these services have a few basic features and advantages in common and can be categorized into four basic cloud service offerings. Organizations can fly their business, small or big, to the cloud with these four different types of cloud computing services.

1. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

The lower end of managed cloud computing services where hardware resources are provided by an external provider and managed for you. IaaS provides users access to computing resources such as networking, processing power and data storage capacity. The lower end of managed cloud computing services where hardware resources are provided by an external provider and managed for you. IaaS provides users access to computing resources such as networking, processing power and data storage capacity.

Examples of IaaS: Amazon EC2, Windows Azure, Rackspace, Google Compute Engine.

2. Platform as a Service (PaaS)

This cloud computing service is an advanced version of IaaS. Apart from just providing the IT infrastructure, PaaS also provides the computing platform and solution stack as a service. PaaS is a cloud computing service that provides developers with a framework that can be used for building custom applications. Platform as a Service lets software developers build custom applications online without having to worry about data storage, data serving, and management.

A typical Platform as a Service offering consists of – 

  • Hosting Solutions
  • OS
  • Software tools for design and development.
  • Environment for server-side scripting
  • DBMS
  • Network Access
  • Storage
  • Server Software
  • Support

Examples of PaaS solutions include Microsoft Azure, AWS Elastic Beanstalk, Force.com. by Salesforce, Google App Engine, Rackspace Cloud Sites, OpenShift, and Apache Stratos

3. Software as a Service (SaaS)

A special cloud computing service that incorporates both IaaS and PaaS service offerings. SaaS is a cloud computing service that provides application-level services tailored to diverse business needs such as business analytics, CRM, or marketing automation. SaaS is a cloud computing service offering that provides web-based software applications to customers on-demand. SaaS providers host a fully-functional application through a browser-based interface and make it accessible to the users through the Internet.

SaaS offerings allows the cloud to be leveraged for software architecture thereby reducing the overhead of support, maintenance, and operations as the applications run on systems belonging to the vendor. SaaS is the most familiar cloud computing service offering as users most often interact directly with SaaS applications like Netflix, Gmail, JIRA, Dropbox, or Salesforce.

Examples of SaaS solutions include SAP Business ByDesign, Zoho CRM, AppDynamics, Microsoft Office 365, Pardot Marketing Automation.

4. Functions as a Service (FaaS)

Before we understand Functions as a Service, it is important to understand the most popular tech term associated with FaaS – serverless computing. Serverless computing is a cloud computing model that takes away low-level infrastructure decisions and server management from the developers. The application architect need not deal with the allocation of resources as it is managed by the cloud service provider. 

FaaS is a brand-new and very young cloud computing service acting as a game-changer for many businesses. It is a serverless computing concept that lets software developers develop applications and deploy an individual “function”, piece of business logic, or an action without maintaining a server. It increases the efficiency as developers need not to consider server operations because they are hosted externally. 

Examples of FaaS include Google Cloud Function, Microsoft Azure Functions, Webtask.io, Iron.io , Open Whisk, and AWS Lambda.

E-Learning

Gamification In E-Learning and Training To Improve Retention

Gamification is a technique used in e-learning to enhance user participation. Gamification techniques are intended to leverage people’s natural desires for socializing, learning, mastery, competition, achievement, status, self-expression, altruism or closure. Gamification strategies use rewards for players who accomplish desired tasks or competition to engage players. Types of rewards include points, achievement badges or levels, the filling of a progress bar or providing the user with virtual currency. Making the rewards for accomplishing tasks visible to other players or providing leaderboards are ways of encouraging players to compete.

Retention also improved when gamification was used in the workplace. In the future, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) may also become a regular part of gamification in business. These two types of gamification put the user in an entirely different place (VR) or augment their surroundings (AR) to offer just-in-time training simulations and problem-solving situations. Read about ways to include gamification into e-learning programs.

1. Stories

Create a compelling storyline to captivate your users and take them on a journey. Create a story that embeds users in the plot as they tackle each section of the content. This is a great way to create immersive content and keep learners engaged throughout. Incorporating characters or avatars to represent employees can add an extra layer of fun to this.

2. Visual design

Eye-catching visuals and aesthetically pleasing designs can make your elearning more appealing and draw your users in. Combine bright colours and graphics for a visually-stimulating learning experience.

3. Competitions

Who doesn’t love a bit of healthy competition? Allow users to compete against others in their team or anonymous players, or even against themselves to keep motivation levels high. Consider including leaderboards so learners can see how they’re performing against their peers.

4. Challenges

Reward your learners with smaller, more frequent tasks and then ramp up the difficulty level as the session progresses. This will not only help them get into the swing of things, but leave them primed and ready for more difficult, rewarding challenges using what they have learnt along the way.

5. Rewards

Incentivizing your users in the way of rewards such as badges, medals or unlocking new levels can help to boost their motivation and keep them engaged for longer periods of time.

6. Leader Boards

They are dashboards that are used to provide a pictorial view of the overall progress—including against others. The analytics keeps learners connected to the learning journey and aligned to meeting their terminal objectives.

7. Instant Feedback

Providing instant feedback when a learner completes a task or quiz is a great way to keep them focused and engaged as it allows them to track their progress as they move through the different stages of the game.

Will gamification truly help learners learn?

The fact remains that the success of any learning strategy is determined by the effectiveness of its application. Remember, gamification can help create not only extrinsic motivation through rewards and competition, but can also be helpful in providing intrinsic motivators like skill development and autonomy for students.

Use Of An Avatar

An avatar allows employees to place themselves in a game. This type of game can be very helpful when everyone in the company needs to undergo a new training at different levels.

Simulations

As discussed above, gamification using VR and AR are great ways to teach hazardous situations without placing employees in harm’s way. First responders in the early stages of their training can use gamification in this way to make decisions or react to emergencies, but simulations are also effective for training in call centers and engineering and retail.

Task-oriented approach

This type of gamification in eLearning uses a specific, task-oriented approach to teach employees a specific process. This could be something as simple as teaching a new plumber how to hook up a water heater or as complex as developing a new system of resource management.

Gamification in Assessments

For companies that need a quick overview of what their employees know, either in theory or in practice, gamified assessments can provide a snapshot in a low-pressure setting. Some of these applications can be developed in such a way that employees don’t even realize they are being assessed. This is not to be done in a “gotcha” way; rather, managers can use this data to structure relevant future trainings and clarify anything that is widely misunderstood.

Click the link below for more information on integrating your organizations content into gamification software from The Training Arcade:

EdTech

Moodle Vs. Google Classroom

These two platforms serve a similar purpose, which is online learning. A comparison of Google classroom vs Moodle helps us understand the different approaches towards online learning using different platforms.

Moodle

Moodle is preferred by many teachers and professionals as it is an open-source. Moodle also has many collaborative tools such as Chat, Forum, and Discussions. The Learning Management System facilitates efficient course and user management to allow for easy integration with 3rd party applications. It is based on a modular design that allows educators to design their curriculum using plug-ins to serve various purposes.MoodleCloud comes in two packages: Moodle for Free and Moodle for School.

Moodle does everything that Google Classroom is capable of. But the vice versa is not true. Moodle is huge, vast, and offers a lot more features than Google Classroom. Simply because Google Classroom is not officially an LMS. Teachers can design the entire curriculum right from scratch as Moodle supports plenty of content authoring tools. Moodle also provides parents with access to the grades of their children.

Moodle provides multilingual support, attendance tracking, videoconferencing through BigBlueButton, plenty of gamification modules, enables gamification of tests and quizzes, etc. To make sure learners stay on track and do not drop off, viewing trends of participation, submissions, and other data is incorporated. As a result, it improves the overall e-Learning experience, vastly helping retention rates and student successes.

Tip: Make sure you use more clickable activities, gamification, audio, and video-based learning instead of going for text-based learning. Also, students love learning through games, points, badges, puzzles, crosswords, treasure hunt, and embedded videos.

Google Classroom

Google Classroom is part of the G Suite for Education. It provides a simple and straightforward interface and is accessible via Google account. It encourages collaboration between students and teachers to foster better communication. This tool is a free promotes free collaboration that allows instructors to create online classrooms, invite students, and conduct classroom discussions. For teachers and students to be able to use the platform for e-Learning, their schools must be first registered with Google Classroom. It simplifies the process of creating, distributing and grading assignments. Grading, class organization, and administration can all be managed in its interface.

When working within Google Classroom, it is important to know that you cannot design your own curriculum in the LMS but it is fairly easier to set up classes and assignments. You can even reuse tests or assignments for future classes, set access rights, export grades to Google Sheet, share study resources in the form of videos, links and images with the students. With Google Classroom, you can easily manage classwork and homework assignments into one simple thread. It has everything top-down in one fluid thread for students and teachers to be able to easily find and access.

Google Classroom is a cloud-based platform that integrates Google Apps for education and helps teachers co-ordinate day-to-day training activities.

Major Differences

Pricing– Google Classroom is a free service for teachers and students. However, they can’t sign up unless their school has registered for Google Workspace for Education. The Google Workspace for Education Fundamentals platform is free for qualifying institutions and includes many basic Google features. There are three paid plans:

1. Google Workspace for Education Standard – This plan costs $3 per student, per year and includes all of the features of the Fundamentals platform, plus a security center and other features.

2. Teaching and Learning Upgrade – This plan costs $4 per license, per month and includes all of the features of the Google Workspace for Education Standard, plus advanced Google Meet features (e.g., meetings with up to 250 participants, interactive Q&As, breakout rooms).

3. Google Workspace for Education Plus – This plan costs $50 per student, per year and includes all of the features of the other plans, plus live streams with up to 100,000 in-domain viewers.

Pricing– Moodle’s open-source platform is free to download and install. However, its cloud-based deployment, MoodleCloud, has five paid plans:

  • Starter: $120 per year for 50 users and 250 MB of storage
  • Mini: $210 per year for 100 users and 500 MB of storage
  • Small: $380 per year for 200 users and 1 GB of storage
  • Medium: $840 per year for 500 users and 2.5 GB of storage
  • Large: $1,490 per year for 1,000 users and 5 GB of storage

Features- Some of Google Classroom’s key features include platform branding with school colors/logos, along with the ability to reuse tests, assignments and other content for future classes; share videos, links or images with other students; schedule postings of assignments. Moodle provides many features, such as a mobile app, content authoring tools and support for multiple languages. Some of the features include the BigBlueButton for video/web conferencing, Quizventure for gamification with quizzes and tests, another gamification module called LevelUp that includes progressive checkpoints. Google also has the ability to export grades to Google Sheets and set permissions for student access/commenting. Some new features introduced recently include the ability to send assignments to individual students, email and mobile notifications of assignments’ due dates, and the ability to customize the types of notifications received. Moodle also has Word Count for writing assignments, Chemistry Editor for chemistry assignments, Group Choice for group projects, and Checklists and Attendance tracking.

EdTech

10 Podcast Tools You Should Know About

Podcasts are a great way to build a genuine connection with your audience. Instead of the fractured connection you make through social media, podcasts allow you to engage your audience with unique long-form content. Podcasts are more convenient than blog posts; people can listen to podcasts while driving, working out, or just doing chores around the house.

There is a lot of unexplored space in the podcasting industry. There are at least 600 million blogs, 23 million YouTube channels, but only 800,000 podcasts in Apple Podcasts.

That means for every podcast, there are 750 blogs and 29 YouTube channels.

1. Zoom

Zoom is an excellent free option. You can easily record right in the program, by clicking the “Record” button and choosing where you’d like to save your audio file. Zoom splits both sides of the call, giving you two separate audio tracks. This is helpful when it comes to cutting and editing in post-production.

Zoom recording a podcast interview.

2. Skype

Recording a podcast using Skype offers both pros and cons. Of these pros includes the ability to record using the built in call recorder feature. Also, Skype has become a household name with caters to its popularity in the video conferencing and recording realm of technology. The cons of utilizing Skype is that all users have to have username and password to access the podcast features. The call is recorded over the internet, as opposed to ‘double-ender.’ ‘Double-ender’ call recording has become the default demand of remote podcasters in recent years. It basically means that both sides of a conversation are recorded on separate tracks, locally on the computer of each participant and saved directly to the cloud.

3. SoundCloud

Although this service is mainly for music, spoken-word podcasts are welcome here too. Unlike the other hosting types, though, Soundcloud requires listeners to have an account to download material. People will also need to search for your content in order to find it, meaning you need to create awareness elsewhere. 

4. BuzzSprout

Buzzsprout is another great podcast tool to which can be used on mobile devices. To learn more about this tool, check out the How To Get Started video on Youtube by clicking the photo below:

Buzzsprout

5. Audacity

Audacity is an excellent free option for editing your podcast. It’s especially easy if you plan to use only one take, with few cuts. This option is great for beginners because of the simple cut, copy, and paste functionality. It isn’t the highest quality sound, but it gets the job done.

Audacity editing software for podcasts.

6. Ardour

Ardour is a digital workstation software suitable for marketers working within tight budgets. All you have to do is arrange for a quality audio interface, plug in a microphone or keyboard, and record an audio track. Besides, if you already have an audio file, import it from your hard drive.

7. Podbean

An all-in-one FREE podcasting solution, Podbean is ideal if you don’t have any programming knowledge but still want to build a profitable podcast. Incorporate your corporate branding and customize the theme of your podcasting site.

Distribute-everywhere

8. Facebook LIVE

Free online recording session. Facebook is easily accessible through Android and Apple mobile devices. Podcasters will need to create an account to access the online recording feature.

How to Create Facebook Live Videos that People Actually Want to Watch

9. Garage Band

Garage Band is a free editing software that is available on and comes with most Mac computers. It’s mostly used as a beginner editing program, but is capable of mixing up to 255 audio tracks. It comes with basic editing features including volume levels, cut, copy, and paste. It also features a sound library with effects that you can include in your podcast.

Garage Band for Macs editing podcasts.

10. Podomatic

Podomatic allows you to play your podcast directly from Facebook and Twitter feeds, and you can embed your episodes on the website or share it on social media to maximize visibility. Besides, you can attract listeners to fund your podcast via Patreon, and add your podcast to AdvertiseCast’s marketplace and run ads on Advertisecast. If you don’t have a podcasting site yet, you can make one using a drag-and-drop website building CMS, Weebly or Blogger.

Listening apps
#Budgeting

National Ice Cream Day- Freebies and Discounts

National Ice Cream Day is Sunday, July 18, 2021. Check out the deals and freebies being offered through nationwide and local ice cream shops and parlors.

Baskin Robbin

It’s the perfect time to try the new Creature Creations, a magical lineup that includes a Dolphin, Shark and Sea Turtle with their own unique personalities that come to life through a playful cup design, edible white chocolate topper and a colorful explosion of sprinkles. On Sunday, July 18 Baskin-Robbins will serve up a free Kinetic Sand Scented Ice Cream Cone container with any purchase of $10 or more, while supplies last. Customers will discover one of two delicious scents, Mint Chocolate or Strawberry Banana, inside the ice cream cone container that doubles as a mold.

Dairy Queen

For this one day only, participating DQ stores nationwide are offering fans $1 off any size Dipped Cone (excluding kid cones) with the DQ mobile app.

Insomnia Cookies

Insomnia Cookies is celebrating National Ice Cream Day all week long, which means you can get a free ice cream scoop with any purchase with promo code ICECREAMDAY. This offer is valid for local delivery and in store.

Godiva

BOGO 50% off on soft serve and sundaes at participating reopened locations.

Monkey Joe’s

Join them for National Ice Cream Day at Monkey Joe’s on July 18 for a sweet day of jumping, sliding and bouncing fun. Get out of the summer heat and visit any Monkey Joe’s location on Sunday, July 18 and get one free ice cream.

Burger King

BK is celebrating Ice Cream Month by giving away a free vanilla soft serve cup or cone with any purchase of $1 or more. All you have to do is sign up for their rewards program on the app.

Dreyer’s

Dreyer’s is having a giveaway on their Instagram for National Ice Cream Day for a pint of one of their new Rocky Road Collection.

7-Eleven

7-Eleven is offering a free slurpie for the month of July. Stop by to celebrate National Ice Cream Day.

Door Dash

Order from The Ice Cream Shop on DoorDash Sunday and get a free pint of ice cream on orders more than $20. To qualify, add any pint of ice cream to your grocery or convenience store order more than $20 and use promo code ICECREAM at checkout.

McDonalds

Check the fast-food chain’s app for coupons and freebies. And with the new rewards program after making your first purchase you will have enough points to get a free cone.

Pressed Juicery

Get a size 1 plant-based soft serve (freeze or mini-frozen) with up to three toppings for $2 Sunday. Limit of three per customer.

Wendy’s

Through July 31, the chain is offering a small Frosty-ccino or brewed coffee with a purchase and an exclusive in-app offer through its Wendy’s Rewards program. There also are other deals on the app.

Whole Foods

Through July 20, get 35% off all ice cream and frozen treats, plus Prime Members save an extra 10%.

Carvel

Visit Carvel on Sunday and try one of their new churro products, and you’ll get a treat next time you visit. Or use this coupon for $3 off their products at a grocery store. You can also enter for a chance to win free ice cream for a year.

Enlightened

The healthier frozen dessert option is offering 20% off all products on the EatEnlightened.com site from July 1 through July 18. This also covers non-ice cream dessert options, like dough bites and cheesecakes.

16 Handles

Get three free ounces of soft serve with toppings when you scan the 16 Handles app in-store.

#Healthy, Cooking

Air Fryer Apple Fries

Apple Fries Ingredients:

  • 3 large Gala apples
  • 1 Cup of flour
  • 3 large eggs beaten
  • 1 Cup of graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 Cup of sugar

Caramel Dipping sauce Ingredients:

  • 1 container of caramel sauce
Photo credit: Amanda’s Cookin

Directions:

  • Preheat air fryer to 380 degrees.
  • Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  • Prep the apples: peel, core, then cut the apples into 8 wedges.
  • Add the flour into a medium size bowl. Set aside.
  • Beat the eggs, pour into a shallow dish.
  • In a second shallow dish combine the crushed graham crackers and sugar. Stir to blend.
  • Line the flour bowl first, second put the beaten eggs, and crushed graham crackers, and sugar combination.
  • Begin by tossing each wedge of apple in the flour.
  • Dredge the floured apple pieces in the beaten eggs.
  • Third, roll the apple pieces in the sugar/crushed graham cracker mixture.
  • Put each prepared apple pieces on the prepped cookie sheet.
  • Toss the apple slices and flour together in a large bowl. Set up a dredging station by put Dip each apple slice into the egg, and then into the graham cracker crumbs. Coat the slices on all sides and place the coated slices on a cookie sheet.
  • Coat the bottom of the air fryer basket with oil.
  • Do not overlap the apple pieces in the air fryer. Air fry the apples in batches. Spray the apple pieces with a light coat of oil. Air fry at 380 degrees for 5 minutes then turn the apple pieces over and for an additional 2 minutes.
  • Pour the caramel sauce into a serving bowl. Transfer the bowl to a microwave. Heat until the caramel sauce is warm and ready to serve with the apple fries.

PREP TIME: 25 min

COOK TIME: 7

SERVINGS: 8

Animal Facts

4 Different Types of Bees To Look For This Summer

Common bees that you may be familiar with include honey bees, bumble bees and leaf cutters. Did you know that there are over 4,000 different types or species of bees? All bees belong to the insect or Super-family ‘Apoidea’. Apoidea also includes ‘sphecoid wasps’, from which bees are believed to be descended.

There are currently seven different bee families.

Super Bee Family

  • Apidae- Large group of around 6000 species. Includes social and solitary species. Some cleptoparasite bee species belong in this group.
  • Megachilidae- Around 3,000 species. Includes the world’s largest known species, Megachile pluto. Some members of this family are cleptoparasties.
  • Andrenidae- A large family of bees, with around 2,700 species. There are no cleptoparasite species in this family.
  • Colletidae- Believed to consist of around 2,000 species. Bees belonging in this group line their nests with a waterproof cellophane-like substance.
  • Halictidae- A group of around 3,500 species. Some are metallic in appearance. Some tropical species may be called ‘sweat bees’ due to the attraction to sweat. Some cleptoparasite species are included in this group.
  • Melittidae- A small family of bees with around 160 species.
  • Stenotritidae- Small bee family with around 21 species. Found in Australia. Originally part of the ‘Colletidae’ family.

Honey Bee

Honey bees are super-important pollinators for flowers, fruits and vegetables. This means that they help other plants grow! Bees transfer pollen between the male and female parts, allowing plants to grow seeds and fruit. Honey bees live in hives (or colonies). The members of the hive are divided into three types including the Queen, Worker, and Drones. One queen runs the whole hive. Her job is to lay the eggs that will spawn the hive’s next generation of bees. The queen also produces chemicals that guide the behaviour of the other bees. The queen can live up to five years. She is busiest in the summer months, when she can lay up to 2,500 eggs a day! The worker bees are all female and their roles are to forage for food (pollen and nectar from flowers), build and protect the hive, clean and circulate air by beating their wings. Workers are the only bees most people ever see flying around outside the hive. The average worker bee lives for just five to six weeks. During this time, she’ll produce around a twelfth of a teaspoon of honey. Drones are the male bees, and their purpose is to mate with the new queen. Several hundred live in each hive during the spring and summer. But come winter, when the hive goes into survival mode, the drones are kicked out!

Bumblebee

Bumblebees are large, fuzzy insects with short, stubby wings. They are larger than honeybees, but they don’t produce as much honey. However, they are very important pollinators. Without them, food wouldn’t grow. Two-thirds of the world’s crop species depend on animals to transfer pollen between male and female flower parts. Bumblebees are the leaders in pollination. Their wings beat 130 times or more per second. The the beating combined with their large bodies vibrates flowers until they release pollen, which is called buzz pollination. Buzz pollination helps plants produce more fruit. There are over 255 species of bumblebees. The largest is the queen of the Bombus dahlbomii, which can grow up to 1.6 inches (4 centimeters) long. Bumblebees usually build their nests close to the ground, under piles of wood, dead leaves and compost piles, or even below ground in abandoned rodent tunnel. A dominant female called the queen rules the colony. The other bees serve her or gather food or care for developing larvae. During the late fall, the entire colony dies, except for the queen. The queen is the mother of all the bees in a colony. After waking from hibernation, the queen finds food and looks for a good location for a nest. Once the nest is found, she lays her eggs and stores up food for herself and the babies.

Bumblebees are larger than honey bees and generate more heat. This allows them to work during cooler weather. Bumblebees don’t die when they sting like honey bees.

Carpenter Bee

Carpenter bees are the largest in statue in the bee family as many can be measured over an inch long! Often mistaken for Bumblebees, Carpenter Bees are different with a black shiny tail section. Carpenter Bees are not active year-round. They hibernate in the winter. Females do have a stinger but will rarely sting. These bees will sting when caught or squeezed. Since Carpenter Bees’ stingers are not barbed, they are able to sting over and over again. Homeowners find carpenter bees seasonally as they like to burrow within wood surfaces. This bee truly is a “carpenter,” tunneling into the wood of a tree limb, beam, deck, porch rail, or bench. The tunnels are built with the Carpenter Bee’s strong jaw as it vibrates itself through the wood. The bees do not eat the wood but reuse the particles to build individual cells or discard them.

Stingless Bee

If you’re in North America, you might not have heard of stingless bees because well, we don’t have them here. Stingless bees are found only in special places of the world. These bees are tropical. You can find them in Central and South America, Africa, South East Asia, and Australia. In these warm climates, the bees are often active year round. Stingless bees, like honey bees, are social and live in colonies. They have a queen, workers and drones, but some species have another member called soldiers. These specialized nest defenders are given extra food during their larval state. As a result, they develop physiological differences, like a larger body or bigger legs, that aid them in their role of protecting their colony. Stingless bees have many similarities to honey bees, but when it comes to queens, they may have a better plan. Honey bee colonies often rely on a single mated queen to sustain their population and if she dies, they rush to make a new one, but if they fail, they face collapse. In contrast, stingless bees keep unmated “back up” queens in their hives in case their active queen fails. These virgin queens just keep out of the way until they are needed. Swarming for them is a gradual process. When it comes to swarming, scout bees and worker bees often travel ahead of the queen to the new location and begin building the new nest before she arrives. The bees will sometimes transport materials to their new nest site from the old for weeks before the process is complete.

#Literacy, Preschool

July’s Book List- A Positive Representation of African American Children

It’s July 1st! If you have started to read to your young child, or deciding to begin this month, this list will be extremely beneficial to you.

Carmin Cares

Age Group: 2-5

Author: Karen Kilpatrick

When Carmin gets gum on her shoe while playing on the playground, she decides it’s time that someone did something about the mess and that “someone” may as well be her! But Carmin’s not old enough to clean the whole park by herself, so what can she do? It turns out that even the littlest kids can find ways to encourage people to take care of their community — and their environment. This cheerful picture book with a positive message is a fun read and a great way to prompt discussions about how kids can help.

When Grandma Gives You A Lemon Tree

Ages: 3-7

Author: Jamie L.B. Deenihan

Sometimes, even if you give Grandma a very careful list of electronic gadgets you’d like for your birthday… she’ll give you a lemon tree instead. If that happens, you should be polite and say thank you, and you definitely should not try to get rid of it (even if you do come up with some clever ideas.) Instead, put it somewhere sunny and give it just enough water, and with a little time, you might just have some delicious home-made lemonade (recipe included)! This wry and clever book about the joys of tending a growing plant is sure to make kids giggle, and give them a new appreciation of all the good things that can come from a little patience.

I Love My Hair!

Ages: 3-7

Author: Natasha Anastasia Tarpley

Kenaya is a little girl with a big imagination. Every night, she and her mother sit down for the dreaded ritual of combing Kenaya’s thick hair. But as Kenaya’s mother tells her all the wonderful and different ways she can wear her hair, Kenaya imagines those styles in fantastic ways, from thread on a spinning wheel to rows of plants in a garden to her favorite style, two ponytails that become wings that let her soar high above the world. This tribute to the beauty of naturally textured hair is sure to delight.

Who’s Knees Are These?

Ages: 2-5

Author: Jabari Asim

A vibrant, multicultural board book that celebrates a baby’s sweet knees, for fans of Ten Tiny Fingers and Ten Little Toes. Parents and children will enjoy this interactive board book full of toddler appeal that is perfect for celebrating a baby’s adorable knees.

Crown, An Ode To The Fresh Cut

Ages: 3 and up

Author: Derrick Barnes

A fresh cut makes boys fly. The barbershop is where the magic happens. Boys go in as lumps of clay and, with princely robes draped around their shoulders, a dab of cool shaving cream on their foreheads, and a slow, steady cut, they become royalty. That crisp yet subtle line makes boys sharper, more visible, more aware of every great thing that could happen to them when they look good: lesser grades turn into As; girls take notice; even a mother’s hug gets a little tighter. Everyone notices. Read this book to boost the esteem of your young son.

Not Quite Snow White

Ages: 4-8

Author: Ashley Franklin

Tameika loves to perform on stage and whether she’s acting, singing, or dancing, she always puts on a great show. So when her school decides to put on a musical version of Snow White she can’t wait to audition… until she hears her peers talking behind her back about how she’s too tall, too chubby, and too brown for the role. Fortunately, Tameika’s parents give her just the right reassurance she needs to nail the audition and show there’s no one right way to be a princess. Text that emphasizes Tameika’s passion and drive and images that highlight the joy she takes in acting combine to create an empowering story of self-confidence and individuality.

#Healthy, Parenting, Technology

10 Types of Cyberbullying Parents Should Know About

Jack Prommel– Upsplash

Stay informed to protect yourself and children!

Cyberbullying is best defined as the use of electronic communication to bully a person, typically by sending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature. Over the past decade or so, cyber bullying has become more and more common due to the constant increase in technological use. To help parents stay informed about Cyberbullying, a list of common types of cyber bullying is provided below:

Harassment

Harassment occurs when the bully sends offensive and threatening messages via electronic forms of communication to his or her target. Multiple people may even gang up to send thousands of messages to the victim at once.

Impersonation or Fake Profiles

Impersonation is when someone creates a fake profile in another person’s name or hacks into another person’s account. The cyber bully pretends to be his or her victim online, and tarnishes the victim’s reputation.

Flaming

Flame wars involve the repeated exchanges of “angry, rude, or obscene [electronic] messages” between individuals.

Denigration

Denigration is an attempt to damage the victim’s reputation or ruin the friendships he or she has, by spreading unfounded gossip or rumours online.

Exclusion

Exclusion occurs when someone has been intentionally excluded or singled out from online group activities such as group conversations and multiplayer games.

Outing

Outing occurs when the cyber bully uses technological means to publicly “[share] private information without permission with the intent to hurt” the victim.

Natasha Hall– Upsplash

Dissing

Dissing is the act of sending or posting cruel information about your child online, to damage their reputation or friendships with others.

It can also include posting material online such as photos, screenshots or videos. The cyberbully wants to put your child down, so draws attention to what they are saying about them to make other people think they’re not cool. The cyberbully is usually someone your child knows. This can make it really upsetting.

Trickery

The cyber bully may employ methods to trick his or her victim into believing “they are speaking in confidence with a close friend so that they share sensitive information”, such as secrets or humiliating information. Once the cyber bully has obtained the information, he or she will use it against the victim by publicly disseminating it to others, “in an attempt to shame the victim.” The two forms of cyber bullying – outing and trickery – often go hand-in-hand.

Cyber stalking

Cyber stalking is a form of harassment. Victims usually receive threatening and intimidating electronic messages from cyber bullies. Victims may often start to believe “the intimidator can move offline and harm them physically,” causing them to be overly suspicious of their surroundings as well.

Cat fishing

Catfishing is when another person steals your child’s online identity, usually photos, and re-creates social networking profiles for deceptive purposes.

A catfish is someone who wants to hide who they are. They will look at your child’s social networking profile and take any information they want to create a fake persona. Sometimes they will only take your child’s photos and use fake names and information.

Nathana Rebouças– Upsplash

The Cyberbullying Problem

What you can do

Problem: If has been a crime or someone is at immediate risk of harm.

Solution: Call 911.

Problem: Someone is feeling hopeless, helpless, thinking of suicide.

Solution: To talk to someone now:

For Spanish speakers:

For deaf/hard of hearing:

Free and confidential support resources are available to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Problem: If someone is acting differently than normal, such as always seeming sad or anxious, struggling to complete tasks, or not being able care for themselves.

Solution: Find a local counselor or other mental health services

Resource: StopBullying.Gov

#Healthy, Cooking

8 Healthy Alternatives to Ice Cream

Who doesn’t love ice cream, especially on a hot, summer day? Ice cream comes in many different flavors and assortments. To name a few, ice cream lovers can find the following flavors at their local grocery store: chocolate chip, strawberry, cookies and cream, vanilla, M&M’s and even brownie flavored.

While the frozen milk snack has so many wonderful flavors and varieties, for some the high sugar content can pose a health concern to consumers. Listed below is a list of healthy ice cream alternatives. Enjoy!

Frozen Banana and Almond Butter Bites

For the recipe to this treat, click the link!

Strawberry Banana Ice Cream Sandwiches

Get the recipe for this three ingredient healthy snack here.

Greek Yogurt Fudge Popsicles

These popsicles can be easily made at home. Click the link for the recipe.

Pumpkin Rice Pudding

For this cozy, fall treat click the link.

Chocolate Chia Pudding

A chocolatey delectable! For this recipe, click here.

Banana Ice Cream

Banana Ice Cream can be made into many different flavors! For ten flavor ideas, click the link.

Snow Monkey Ice Cream

Non-dairy, vegan, nut free, plant based, paleo-friendly. To learn more click here.

Vegan Mango Ice Cream

For this super easy, three ingredient treat, click here.

#Literacy, Animal Facts, Clever Kids Corner, education, Preschool

10 Rabbits You Should Consider As A Pet

As pets, dwarf rabbits are becoming increasingly popular. Larger and larger pets are becoming more popular as animal companions also, which might lead to health issues later in their lives. Dwarf rabbits, on the other hand, are believed to live longer than larger rabbit types. They are also very adorable, as well as, intelligent and capable of forming strong ties with humans.

1. Mini Lop

Despite its youth, the Mini Lop, also known as the dwarf lop rabbit, is one of the most popular dwarf rabbit breeds. They have a short and wide body shape with a rounded shape. They have a strong musculature for a small rabbit breed, and their head is relatively large in comparison to the rest of their body. The name ‘lop’ refers to their ears which hang down the side of their head. They have a rounded tip, but are not as long as some lop rabbit breeds.

mini lop

They have a high proportion of guard hairs, which make up their outer coat. When showing Mini Lop in rabbit shows, a wide range of colors are acceptable, which is agouti, broken, pointed white, self, shaded, ticked, or wide-band color groups. In adults, their body weight should range between 2.5 and 3.5 kg.

2. Netherland Dwarf

Even among little dwarf rabbit breeds, the Netherland Dwarf rabbit is the smallest. Their body weight ranges from 0.5 kg to 1 kg. Despite their small size, they are robust and muscular, allowing them to move with incredible flexibility. Their head is also large in comparison to the rest of their body, but they have an extremely short neck.

netherland dwarf

The roots of this rabbit breed can be traced back to the Netherlands, as the name implies. The examples we know today may be very different from their ancestors, which were produced at the turn of the twentieth century. Today you can find them in many colors such as self-group, shaded group, agouti group, tan pattern group, fawn, Himalayan, orange, steel, and tortoiseshell.

3. Jersey Wooly

Another unusual and little-known rabbit is the Jersey Wooly rabbit. The breed originated in the United States, notably in the state of New Jersey, from where their name derives. Their appeal as a pet extends far beyond their lovely look with wide variety of colors and also long wooly coat. They are also naturally gentle and affectionate.

jersey wooly rabbit

The Jersey Wooly is regarded as “the rabbit that does not kick” in its native land. They have a fairly balanced temperament and rarely show symptoms of hostility, making them quite friendly in their daily lives. This dwarf rabbit breed was created in the 1970s through crossbreeding between the French Angora rabbit and the Dutch Dwarf rabbit. The Jersey is characterized by their compact and muscular body, small erect ears on a square head. These ears only measure around 2″. Adult individuals can weigh up to 1.5 kg 

4. Holland Lop

During the 1940s, Adrian de Cock developed the Holland Lop rabbit breed by selectively crossing the English Lop, the French Lop, and the Netherland Dwarf rabbit breeds. The Holland Lop weighs between 0.9 and 1.8 kg and has a compact and sturdy body covered in profuse smooth and silky fur.

holland lop

The breed now has the color of agouti, broken, pointed white, self, shaded, ticked, or wide-band color groups. The head is noticeably flattened with their lopped ears being medium length and giving them an adorably cute appearance.

5. Lionhead Rabbit

One of the most eye-catching miniature rabbit breeds is the Lionhead rabbit. Its name relates to its most distinguishing feature, a mane of long, fluffy hairs on its head resembling those of a lion. However, many people lose their manes as they grow older. The dwarf rabbits’ ears, which can grow to be more than 7 cm long, are another distinguishing trait. This causes them to be big in comparison to the rest of their body, though their fuzzy mane can sometimes disguise them. There is, however, a Lionhead rabbit variety with shorter and more upright ears. 

lionhead rabbit

Lionhead rabbits are a miniature rabbit breed that can weigh up to 2 kg. They are tough, but the fluff, which can come in a variety of colors, makes them appear larger than they are. The eyes are rounded and nicely spaced from one another. They have a rounded skull and a snout that is slightly extended. This breed can be traced back to its Belgian origins, but it was finished to the standard we see now in England.

6. Dwarf Hotot

dwarf hotot

Mme Eugenie Bernhard raised this rabbit in France, notably Hotot-en-Auge, from where it gets its name. Since their introduction in 1902, these dwarf rabbits have received worldwide acclaim for their stunning look and kind, friendly demeanor. The contrast of totally white fur and brown eyes encased in a dramatic black ring is the dwarf rabbit’s most distinguishing trait.

This color contrast draws attention to the Dwarf Hotot’s gorgeous eyes, making them appear much larger than they truly are. We must not, however, overlook their adorable little ears that perch atop their head and are relatively uncommon.

7. Lagomorphs

These little lagomorphs from England have a broad, compact, and muscular body with an equally broad and slightly curved skull (when in profile). They have wide, brilliant eyes that give them a captivating appearance. Their longest, densest, and most plentiful trait is their long, dense, and plentiful fur.

Mini Satin

This can have a variety of solid and distinguishing color patterns. Its long, drooping ears give it a soft appearance. Their delicate coat is quite pleasant to the touch, but they require meticulous upkeep to avoid knots, filth buildup, and digestive issues caused by hairballs in the gastrointestinal tract.

8. Britannia Petite Rabbit

The Britannia Petite is another rabbit breed that originated in England from rabbits brought over from Poland. It is one of the oldest dwarf rabbit breeds, with origins dating back to the nineteenth century, owing to the popularity of animal exhibitions at the time. Its most distinguishing trait is its arched body, which has earned it a favorite in rabbit displays.

This arch is almost as curled as a quarter of a circle and spans from the base of its neck to its tail. The belly button is also somewhat elevated, adding to the arching appearance. Its head is shaped like a wedge, and its eyes protrude slightly. Their ears are short and pointed, and they tend to stand upright.

These tiny rabbits are notable for their high level of energy. As a result, they require a significant amount of daily exercise to maintain both physical health and stable behavior. Because of their small size, they do not require a large hutch to keep them in, but they do require a huge run in which to expend their energy. It is recommended that kids have access to open area where they can run, jump, and play with their families whenever feasible.

9. Mini Angora

The English Angora rabbit is a popular rabbit breed due to its sensitive looks and dense coat. Originally, its breeding was devoted to exploitation of its fur for wool, which is why you may have heard of them from the famous angora jumpers created from its wool. They are, nevertheless, becoming increasingly popular as pets. They require a lot of care and grooming due to their thick coat. This is to avoid knots, hairballs, and other hygienic issues.

Not all Angora rabbis are diminutive. The Giant Angora rabbit, contrary to popular belief, is everything but. Despite being smaller than most rabbits, the English Angora is not a dwarf rabbit. Norma Spencer, a breeder in New Zealand, has bred the Mini English Angora rabbit. They gained their small stature by breeding with Netherland rabbits, but they are very rare, even in their homeland.

10. Columbia Basin Pygmy

The Columbia Basic pygmy rabbit is one of the tiniest dwarf rabbit breeds. Adults weigh no more than 500 g.

During the 1990s, the breed was on the verge of extinction. Unfortunately, there are no purebred Columbia Basin pygmy rabbits, but the breed is still alive and well. Nonetheless, they remain one of the world’s rarest rabbit breeds.

Animal Facts

All About Ladybugs

Ladybugs are not bugs at all, but are soft shelled beetles. Lady bugs are most known for their graceful ways and attractive outer appearance or their shell casing. In comparison to other bugs, ladybugs are the least harmless to humans and are often considered good luck, by even those who do not like bugs.

There are about 5,000 species of ladybugs in the world. These much loved critters are also known as lady beetles or ladybird beetles. They come in many different colors and patterns, but the most familiar in North America is the seven-spotted ladybug, with its shiny, red-and-black body.

Physical Features

Did you know? Ladybugs are small and usually quite round in shape. The color on the wing covers (elytra) can be yellow, orange, or red and often has small black dots on it. Ladybugs also have black legs, head, and antennae. Its body has three parts: head, thorax, and abdomen. Each of the three body parts has a different function.

The head houses the ladybug’s mouthparts, compound eyes, and antennae. The thorax has three pairs of legs and two pairs of wings. The first pair of wings is the hardened elytra that protect the flight wings underneath. When the ladybug takes flight, the elytra open, and the thin, veined wings unfold. The abdomen contains organs for digestion, respiration, and reproduction.

The Lady Beetle

The name “ladybug” was coined by European farmers who prayed to the Virgin Mary when pests began eating their crops. After ladybugs came and wiped out the invading insects, the farmers named them “Beetle of Our Lady.” This eventually was shortened to “lady beetle” and “ladybug.”

Ladybugs as Prey

When threatened, the bugs will secrete an oily, foul-tasting fluid from joints in their legs. They may also play dead. Birds are ladybugs’ main predators, but they also fall victim to frogs, wasps, spiders, and dragonflies. Potential predators may be deterred by the vile-smelling mix of alkaloids and equally repulsed by the sight of a seemingly sickly beetle. Ladybug larvae can also ooze alkaloids from their abdomens.

Insect-eating birds and other animals learn to avoid meals that come in red and black and are more likely to steer clear of a ladybug lunch.

Farmers and Lady Bugs

Farmers use ladybugs to control other insects. Because ladybugs have long been known to eat the gardener’s pestilent aphids and other insects, there have been many attempts to use ladybugs to control these pests.

Farmers often see a mass of ladybugs when the season changes. Also, ladybugs are known to wash upon the sea in large numbers. Fall infestations of these beetles is more a sign of winter’s approach. As the temperatures begin to cool, these bugs love when a sunny day beckons to them to come out and soak up the rays. They will do anything or go any place for a bit of warmth. In fact, if there is a tiny opening around a window or door, they find their way in and seem to invite all of their relatives.

In June 2019, a group of ladybugs moving through San Diego was so big, it showed up on the National Weather Service’s radar.

Ladybug Fast Facts

1. Lady bugs lay extra eggs as a snack for their babies.

2. Adult ladybugs fly with hidden wings.

3. Ladybugs survive the winter as adults.

4. A single lady beetle may eat as many as 5,000 aphids in its lifetime.

5. There are over 450 species of lady beetles are found in North America.

#Healthy, Cooking

Cheesy Garlic Parmesan Spinach Spaghetti Squash

Cheesy Garlic Parmesan Spinach Spaghetti Squash

This crazy delicious garlic parmesan spaghetti squash is one of the most popular recipes on Peas and Crayons — and for good reason too!

PREP TIME: 10 MINUTES

COOK TIME:1 HOUR

TOTAL TIME: 1 HOUR 10 MIN

Ingredients

  • 1 medium spaghetti squash(approx. 2-3lbs)
  • 2.5 TBSP minced garlic
  • 1 tsp avocado oil or olive oil
  • 5 oz fresh spinach chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 TBSP cream cheese (optional but delicious!)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese plus extra for topping
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • grated or sliced mozzarella for topping to taste

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Slice your spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.
  3. For easy cutting, feel free to stick your squash in the microwave to soften it up just a tad. Pierce it a few times with a knife (to help vent so it doesn’t burst) and cook for for 3-5 minutes. The knife slides through way easier this way! Smaller squash will need about 3 minutes while larger ones will be good to go at 4-5 min.
  4. Next grab a lipped baking sheet or a rimmed baking dish.
  5. Rub the cut side of the squash with a teeny bit of olive oil and place on your baking dish/sheet cut side down. Roast for about 40 minutes, or until tender and easily pierced with a fork. Cooking time will vary a bit depending on the size of your squash, and larger squash will need to roast a bit longer to tenderize. Once ready, the once rock-hard exterior of the squash will be visibly softened with a tender interior.
  6. The squash can be roasted and stored in the fridge for a few days if you’d like to meal prep and plan ahead for a speedier dinner.
  7. While the squash roasts, start on the sauce.
  8. In a medium pot or skillet, bring a drizzle of olive oil to medium-high heat and sauté garlic until fragrant.
  9. Next add the spinach and stir until wilted. Add your cream, cream cheese (totally optional but totally tasty) and parmesan cheese and stir well.
  10. Season with salt and pepper to taste and remove from heat.
  11. Once squash is done roasting, allow to cool until easily handled or pop on an oven mit and use a fork to separate and fluff the strands of spaghetti squash.
  12. Pour your sauce over each squash boat, stir to mix, and top with a little mozzarella cheese and additional parm cheese, if desired.
  13. Bake at 350 degrees F for around 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
  14. For a golden cheesy topping, flip your oven to broil on high for just a minute or two until lightly browned. Dive in while it’s HOT!
#Healthy, Cooking, Gardening, Grocery Shopping, Parenting, Self-Care

10 Super Herbs and Spices for Ultimate Health Benefits

Many spices hold cultural meaning to them in households throughout the world. Did you know, these same herbs and spices can improve your well-being in countless ways? The addition of herbs and spices to your diet is the simplest way to boost your immune system and fight off diseases and conditions such as inflammation.

Ginger

Ginger is used to treat nausea caused by morning sickness, chemotherapy, and even sea sickness. Ginger can also be used as a pain management remedy as 2 grams of ginger a day fights colon inflammation the same way as aspirin.

Other research found that a mixture of ginger, cinnamon, mastic, and sesame oil decreased pain and stiffness experienced by those with osteoarthritis.

Rosemary

Rosemary been shown to suppress allergic responses and nasal congestion due to an active ingredient called rosmarinic acid.Rosemary is considered a cognitive stimulant and can help improve memory performance and quality. It is also known to boost alertness, intelligence, and focus.

Peppermint

Peppermint is known for its aromatherapy benefits however, this spice also has benefits when consumed through food. Many studies have shown that peppermint oil can improve pain management in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Peppermint helps to relax the colon and reduces abdominal bloating.

Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne Pepper is a type of chili used in many dishes around the world. Known for its spicy taste, cayenne pepper is also a remedy for those looking to reduce their appetite and increase fat burning.

Garlic

Garlic has an in-depth history for its medicinal uses. Garlic supplementation is well known for combatting sickness, including the common cold. It is advised that those who experience symptoms relating to the common cold should increase their intake of garlic.

Studies have also found garlic to cause significant reductions in blood pressure in people with high blood pressure.

Turmeric

Turmeric is a good source of curcumin, an antioxidant that eases inflammation. Research suggests that curcumin may help ease pain. And other research shows that eating even small amounts of turmeric regularly may help prevent or slow down Alzheimer’s disease, possibly by helping prevent the brain plaques that lead to dementia.

Cocoa

The cocoa bean is chock-full of flavonoids, which are antioxidants that have been shown to boost heart health. Flavonoids seem to play a role in lowering cholesterol and blood pressure and helping keep your coronary (heart) arteries healthy, among other things. Also, studied suggest that daily intake of cocoa flavanols can improve mental performance in people with and without mental impairments.

Nutmeg

Nutmeg is found to have health benefits, including its ability to relieve pain, soothe indigestion, strengthen cognitive function, detoxify the body, boost skin health, alleviate oral conditions, reduce insomnia, increase immune system function, and prevent leukemia, and improve blood circulation.

Cardamom

This sweet, pungent spice is in many pumpkin spice mixes. It’s known to soothe an upset stomach, and lab studies show it may also help fight inflammation. Cardamom may help fight bacteria in the mouth, a common cause of bad breath, cavities, and gum disease.

Oregano

Oregano has many nutrients, including vitamins K and E, calcium, iron, manganese and fiber. Also, oregano is high in antioxidants. Antioxidants prevent cell damage caused by free radicals, helping fend off heart disease, stroke and cancer. Plus, oregano has phytonutrients that help fight infections.

#Literacy, Animal Facts, Clever Kids Corner, Virtual Learning

The Rosy Boa

The rosy boa is a wonderful pet. It’s a small, hardy feeder that’s easy to breed, and rosy boas are normally very docile and handled well. This species thrives as a beginner pet with the right snake supplies and a focus on reptile conservation and wellbeing.

rosy boa

Care Requirement

When it comes to keeping rosy boas as pets, simple cages perform wonders. Most significantly, every cage must be escape proof; if a rosy boa sees even the tiniest opening in its enclosure, it will most likely escape. There are several (better) escape-proof cages on the market, and it’s a good idea to get one. As a suggestion, have an enclosure with a non-abrasive top, such as filtering.

Otherwise, due to rostral abrasion, the snake could need medical attention. Rosy boas are known for rubbing their snouts on cage surfaces in an attempt to avoid their confinement.

Hatchling rosy boas may be kept in deli cups or other small containers of equivalent scale. It’s important to provide enough airflow, which you can easily accomplish by punching tiny holes in the cup’s side or lid. Your rosy boa’s enclosure can expand as well. Shoebox-sized enclosures are ideal for medium-sized rosy boas. Make sure to keep adults in 10-gallon reptile terrariums. These enclosures are easy to clean and are great for setting up thermal regimes that are beneficial to the captive rosy boa.

Heat

Placing heat tape under one side of the cage is the simplest way to do this. A good pulse-proportional thermostat is needed to keep the heat tape at a steady temperature. Pulse-proportional thermostats keep the cage bottom at a steady temperature (plus or minus 1 degree Fahrenheit), protecting it from overheating.

A temperature gradient of 65 degrees at the cool end to 90 degrees at the warm end of the enclosure is a decent place to start. If your rosy boa is continually jumping around the cage, adjust the selection.

Light

Snake lighting isn’t needed for rosy boas unless you choose to use it to help you see your pet.

Humidity

Provide a humidity retreat, which uses a sealed jar with an entry hole lined with damp sphagnum moss or paper towels to provide moisture in a similar way (a water dish is still provided outside the retreat).

Make sure you have a good enough dish for your snake to soak in. During sheds, soaking is particularly necessary. Some owners choose to have a covered dish with a hole in the lid to provide protection for the snake and allow it to soak for longer if needed.

Substrate

Snake beddings such as newspaper, paper towels, and wood shavings may be used as rosy boa substrate. A substrate depth of 1 to 2 inches makes for quick upkeep and allows the snake to burrow, adding to its sense of protection. Spot clean at least twice a week, and adjust the whole substrate six to seven times a year with reptile cleaning materials.

A gallon of water mixed with a few tablespoons of soap and a few tablespoons of bleach makes an excellent cleaning solution.

rosy boa

Behavior

Rosy Boas are sluggish snakes who only emerge from their rock crevices on special occasions. They reach three feet in length and need little maintenance, making them ideal for beginners. Rosy Boas are shy snakes who seldom leave their burrows in the wild. As a result, much of their irrational action is understudied.

Most owners stated that they don’t bite. Instead if they feel threatened they release a foul smelling liquid from their vent or ball up and hide their heads.

Adults are docile, well-tolerated, and seldom bite. It’s possible the young Rosy Boas are afraid of humans and being treated. Allow at least two weeks for them to adapt to their new environment before treating them. Working with your Boa to socialize them because they love handling is a good idea. Keeping the snake for 10 to 15 minutes per day for two weeks will do this.

Health Treatment

Respiratory infections and scale rot are typically caused by poor substrates, incorrect humidity, or low enclosure temperatures. This allows for bacterial growth and is easily prevented with correct husbandry.

Internal parasites are typically diagnosed with a fecal exam by a vet. Some snakes may stop eating due to parasite overload. External parasites (e.g. mites) are often treated with increased cage cleaning and anti-mite products.

Animal Facts, Technology, Virtual Learning

Top 10 Most Interesting Foxes in the World

Foxes are adorable, amusing, and cunning little escape artists. You may know that some people already kept them as pets! They have a close attachment to their owners. They resemble domesticated dogs as part of the canine family. Their nature is more aloof than that of a cat. They are the only canine species that can climb trees with ease.

If you adore foxes and believe they look better in the wild than on a person’s neck, you’ll love seeing all of these fox photographs.

Top 10 Most Interesting Foxes in the World

1. Fennec Fox (Vulpes zerda)

Fennec fox

The big ears of fennec foxes, which are native to North Africa and the Sahara desert, help to dissipate their body heat. They have such excellent hearing thanks to these ears that they can detect their prey running under the sand. Their cream-colored hair helps them keep warm at night and deflect heat during the day.

Fennec foxes are privately bred throughout the United States and can be purchased for several thousand dollars. It’s a smart pick for a pet fox because of its compact size, long lifespan, and friendly personality. It may not be ideal for families with young children or other pets, since they can be nippy. It is fragile and needs to be protected from other pets as the world’s smallest fox breed.

2. Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes)

Red fox

The red fox is the largest, most widespread, and therefore most diverse of all the fox species. They can be found all over the Northern Hemisphere, as well as in Australia. They are nimble hunters who have been able to leap over fences as long as 2 meters. They are not domesticated and have a few drawbacks. Perhaps their worst offense is that they have the smelliest urine of the fox breeds.

3. Silver Fox

Silver fox

The silver fox is the same breed as the red fox; the only difference is in their pigmentation. The silver fox was one of the most desirable fur foxes available at the time. This foxes are a domesticated red fox breed that has only been bred in Russia. The foxes’ urine odor has been minimized, and their general disposition has changed, thanks to this domesticated fox initiative.

These foxes have a dog-like behavior and emit very little odor. Tail-wagging while pleased, shouting and vocalization, and ear floppiness were among adorable dog habits bred into silver foxes.

4. Arctic Fox (Vulpes lagopus)

Arctic fox

Throughout the Arctic Circle, the arctic fox can be found. In temperatures as cold as -70 degrees Celsius, their dense fur prevents them from shivering (-94 Fahrenheit). These foxes have small legs and snouts, which helps them save heat by reducing their surface area. Arctic foxes are overbred in the United States due to a limited breeding population, and others have genetic issues.

5. Gray Fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus)

Gray fox

The grey fox has a “salt-and-pepper” upper coat and a black-tipped tail. It can be seen all over North America. One of the only canids capable of climbing trees is this fox. Human encroachment and deforestation have caused red foxes to become the most dominant species over the centuries. Gray foxes are the friendliest and calmest of all the fox species. Usually, most foxes are wary of strangers, however, gray foxes are amiable and affectionate with most people. 

6. Marble Fox

Marble fox

The coloration of the “arctic marble fox,” which is also a red fox breed, is not natural; it was bred for its fur by humans between red fox and silver fox. Marble fox coats are mainly white with delicate stripes of grey, black, or tan artistically arranged throughout, as their name indicates. Their coloration is a genetic alteration known as a “color process” in scientific terms. Usually, the highlight color runs down the neck and over the forehead. All of them seem to be wearing vintage burglar masks.

7. Cross Fox 

Cross fox

A long dark line runs down the back of the cross fox, intersecting another stripe to create a cross across the shoulders. It is more common in northern Canada than in the rest of the country, and it is rarer than the common red fox, but more common than the much darker silver fox.

They may be a little bigger, with a bushier tail and more fur under their paws. The vertical dark band running down the back intersects with another horizontal band around the shoulders, giving the cross fox its name. The back and sides are yellowish rufous, with the flanks and sides of the neck becoming more vibrant.

8. Bengal Fox (Vulpes bengalensis)

Bengal fox

The Bengal fox, also known as the Indian fox, is a fox that is native to the Indian subcontinent, ranging from Nepal’s Himalayan foothills and Terai to southern India, as well as southern and eastern Pakistan to eastern India and southeastern Bangladesh.

The Bengal Fox has a more delicate build than the red fox, and its bushy, black-tipped tail, which is about 50–60 percent of the length of the head and neck, is easily distinguishable. The insides of the ears are white and the tails are dark brown with a black border. The ears are the same color as the nape, or even darker, but they don’t have a dark spot like red foxes. It has a nude rhinarium and black lips.

9. Simien Fox (Canis simensis)

Simien fox

The Ethiopian Highlands’ Simien fox is a canine endemic to Ethiopia. Its size and build are comparable to those of a coyote, but it is characterized by its long and thin skull and red and white hair. The Ethiopian wolf is an extremely specialized feeder of Afroalpine rodents with very particular habitat needs, unlike most large canids, which are widespread generalist feeders. It is Africa’s most endangered carnivore and one of the world’s rarest canids.

10. Darwin’s Fox (Lycalopex fulvipes)

Darwin's Fox

The Darwin’s fox is an endangered canid belonging to the Lycalopex family. It lives in Nahuelbuta National Park (Araucana Region), the Valdivian Coastal Range (Los Ros Region) in mainland Chile, and Chiloé Island, and is also known as the zorro chilote or zorro de Darwin in Spanish.

The Darwin’s fox is darker, has shorter legs, a wider, narrower skull, smaller auditory bullae, a more sturdy dentition, and a distinct jaw shape and type of premolar occlusion than the grey fox.

#Healthy, Boundaries, Parenting, Positive Home Environment, Teachers

Setting Boundaries to Achieve A Healthy Lifestyle

People will wear you out! As a parent and individual, setting boundaries is necessary to sustain a healthy life. So much time is devoted to your work-life, children, family, spouse, and extracurricular activities. Strength is found in setting necessary boundaries and being prepared to say, “No.”

As an individual, there are many boundaries you can set to ultimately achieve a healthy life. Elizabeth Earnshaw- LMFT provides 6 boundary types and how to maintain them.

The statements provided within this article are for factual purposes, only. If you are seeking additional help in the realms of setting boundaries and maintaining relationships, please consult with your local therapist.

What Are Boundaries?

Boudaries are not a reason to be unkind or build a brick wall. Establishing healthy boundaries are essential to healthy relationships. Without healthy boundaries, relationships do not thrive—they result in feelings of resentment, disappointment, or violation. Boundaries are your personal limits.

Types of Boundaries

Physical Boundaries

Physical boundaries center around physical proximity. This includes personal space and attending to your physical needs. If you are not a hugger, it is OK to let people know you do not like to be touched that way.

Healthy physical boundaries might sound like:

  • “I am really tired. I need to sit down now.”
  • “I am not a big hugger. I am a handshake person.”
  • “I need to eat. I am going to go grab something.”
  • “I am allergic to [insert here], so we can’t have that in our home.”
  • “No. I don’t want you to touch me like that.”
  • “Don’t go into my room without asking first.”

Physical boundary violations feel like receiving inappropriate or unwanted touch, being denied your physical needs (told to keep walking when you are tired or that you need to wait to eat or drink).

Emotional Boundaries

Setting clear emotional boundaries includes knowing how much emotional energy you have and how much you can give. Also, this includes knowing when and how to respond emotionally. If you know someone will react poorly to your emotional energy, limit how much you share with this individual. If there is a healthy emotional relationship between you and another individual, you may be more comfortable with sharing information.

Healthy Emotional Boundaries may look like this:

  • “When I share my feelings with you and get criticized, it makes me totally shut down. I can only share with you if you are able to respond respectfully to me.”
  • “I am so sorry you are having such a tough time. Right now, I am not in a place to take in all of this information. Do you think we can come back to this conversation later?”
  • “I am having a hard time and really need to talk. Are you in a place to listen right now?”
  • “I really can’t talk about that right now. It isn’t the right time.”

When the boundary line is crossed, you can expect the following:

  • Dismissing and criticizing feelings
  • Asking questions that are not appropriate for the relationship
  • Reading or going through personal and emotional information
  • Asking people to justify their feelings
  • Assuming we know how other people feel
  • Telling other people how they feel
  • “Emotionally dumping” on people without their permission
  • Sharing inappropriate emotional information with your children

Time Boundaries

Time is non-refundable. There is great value in protecting your time. Setting time boundaries means understanding your priorities and setting aside enough time for the many areas of your life without overcommitting. Setting time boundaries encompasses the ability to say, “No.”

Healthy Time Boundaries look like:

  • “I can’t come to that event this weekend.”
  • “I can only stay for an hour.”
  • “Do you have time to chat today?”
  • “I would love to help, but I would be overcommitting myself. Is there another time?”
  • “We have family time on Sundays, so we won’t make it.”
  • “I am happy to help with that. My hourly rate is…”

When these boundaries are crossed, it looks like the following:

  • Keeping people in conversations longer than intended.
  • Cancelling on people because we have overcommitted
  • Demanding time from people
  • Asking professionals for their time and not paying them

Intellectual Boundaries

Intellectual boundaries refer to your thoughts, ideas, and curiosity. Healthy intellectual boundaries include respect for the ideas of other people, and they can be violated when your thoughts and curiosity are shut down, dismissed, or belittled. 

Healthy Intellectual Boundaries look like:

  • “I know we disagree, but I won’t let you belittle me like that.”
  • “I would love to talk about this more, but I don’t think talking about it during Thanksgiving dinner is the best time.”
  • “When we talk about this, we don’t get very far. I think it is a good idea to avoid the conversation right now.”
  • “I can respect that we have different opinions on this.”

The presence of intellectual boundaries does not mean the acceptance of all ideas, concepts, and perspectives. Recognizing the differences between you and others and choosing to maintain a healthy relationship and discourse is the direction to take for achieving healthy intellectual boundaries.

Material Boundaries

Material possessions include your car, home, furniture and money. It is important to understand the items you can and cannot share with others. Having healthy material limits include the following:

  • “I can’t lend out my car. I am the only person on the insurance.”
  • “We can’t give any more money. We would be happy to help in another way.”
  • “Sure! I am happy to share my dress with you. Just a heads-up, I do need it back by Friday.”

Material boundaries are violated when your things are destroyed or stolen or when they are “borrowed” too frequently. Another material violation is the use of materials (money and possessions) to manipulate and control relationships.

Content provided by Elizabeth Earnshaw- LMFT

Click Here to read more!

Housing, RentAssistance

Homelessness and Families

Photo provided by UNICEF

Homelessness is lacking stable and appropriate housing. People can be categorized as homeless if they are: living on the streets; moving between temporary shelters, including houses of friends, family and emergency accommodation; living in private boarding houses without a private bathroom or security of tenure. Homelessness is a major issue in the United States. Moreso, this is an issue for those living in poverty. There are three types of homelessness.

Photo provided by the National Research Foundation For the Homeless

Primary homelessness – living on the streets, in parks, in deserted buildings.

Secondary homelessness – living in temporary shelters such as refuges, emergency accommodation or sleeping on a friend or families couch.

Tertiary homelessness – living in a boarding room.

As stated, homelessness and poverty are interrelated. According to data collected by HUD, 17 out of 10,000 people experienced homelessness every night. HUD’s Point in Time (PIT) count identified 567,715 homeless people on a single night, in January 2019. About 63% of individuals counted were sheltered, and 37% were unsheltered. They are associated with every region of the country, family status, gender category, and racial/ethnic group. Some groups are more likely to become homeless, according to data. Groups that are most at risk include the African American population and Hispanic population. In fact, the pandemic brought shown a light on the number of homeless families in America.

When governors and mayors delivered stay-at-home orders, many Americans—likely more than one million—had nowhere to go.”-Bloomberg

As a result, those living on the streets became linked to the well-being of others, given the risk of spreading coronavirus. While many could quarantine inside their homes, homelessness brought about another level of exposure for those without adequate shelter for themselves and families.

The National Coalition for the Homelessness defines why people are experiencing homelessness as the following:

  • Housing- A lack of affordable housing and the limited scale of housing assistance programs have contributed to the current housing crisis and to homelessness. Recent evictions and foreclosures have increased the number of people experiencing homelessness.
  • Homelessness and poverty are inextricably linked. Poor people are frequently unable to pay for housing, food, childcare, health care, and education. Difficult choices must be made when limited resources cover only some of these necessities.
    • In many situations, if housing absorbs a majority of income, you are essentially homeless.
  • Lack of Employment Opportunities- With unemployment rates remaining high, jobs are hard to find in the current economy. Even if people can find work, this does not automatically provide an escape from poverty.
  • Decline in Public Assistance- This includes loss of wages, benefits, and unstable employment.
  • Lack of Affordable Healthcare- Families with children or family members with a disability, the struggle to maintain rent payments and insurance coverage can result in homelessness. One event, such as losing a job can create this decline.
  • Domestic Violence- Victims of abuse are often made to choose between abusive relationships and homelessness.
  • Mental Illness- Approximately 16% of the single adult homeless population suffers from some form of severe and persistent mental illness.
  • Addiction- Those individuals battling with addiction often face homelessness too as the addiction takes precedent over adequate housing.

Homelessness is often categorized in urban communities such as metropolitan cities. However, homelessness also occurs within rural areas such as small towns and districts. The risk of becoming homeless is much higher in non-metropolitan areas compared to metropolitan cities. The rate is 1-2 times higher. The demographics of those experiencing homelessness in rural communities include white, female, first time homeless, married individuals living in rural communities. This group tends to experience homelessness for a shorter period of time. African Americans experience homelessness at a rate five times greater than whites.

Photo by National Alliance to End Homelessness

People who identify as LGBTQ are another over-represented demographic among the homeless. About 40% of unsheltered youth nationwide identify as LGBTQ and in need of adequate housing.

Pregnancy can increase a woman’s risk of becoming homeless, and pregnant women face significantly greater health risks while unstably housed. Homelessness and unstable housing during pregnancy are associated with low birthweight and preterm delivery. Learn more here.

Veterans have seen a decline in homelessness in the recent years due to support of government funded veteran housing associations.

Cooking

National Peaches N Cream Day – June 22nd

Photo and recipe provided by Homemade In The Kitchen

INGREDIENTS

COOKED PEACHES

  • 1 cup chopped peaches
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

CHEESECAKE

  • 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs plus more for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup cold heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup chopped almonds plus more for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. For the peaches: In a large saucepan, bring peaches, sugar, lemon juice, and cinnamon to a boil. Boil for 5-10 minutes or until the peaches are soft. If there isn’t enough liquid from the peaches, add a little bit of water. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Cool to room temperature.
  2. For the cheesecake: In a small bowl, mix together the crumbs and melted butter. Press into the bottom of two glasses or ramekins. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes or until firm.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl on medium-high speed (with whisk attachment if using 5 quart stand mixer), beat the heavy cream until it starts to thicken, about 1 minute.
  4. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla then continue beating until stiff peaks form, about 2-3 minutes (when you pull the beaters up, peaks will form and not fall over).
  5. Transfer to another bowl and reserve 2 tablespoons whipped cream for garnish. Keep both cold in the refrigerator.
  6. In the same mixing bowl (no need to clean bowl – switch to paddle if using stand mixer), beat together the cream cheese, granulated sugar, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon vanilla until smooth and creamy, about 1-2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl.
  7. Fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture until fully incorporated.
  8. Add some of the cheesecake filling on top of each chilled crust then add some peach filling and almonds. Finish layering with the cheesecake, peaches, and almonds.
  9. Garnish with the reserved 2 tablespoons whipped cream. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving. Keep cold until ready to serve.
Animal Facts, Clever Kids Corner, Preschool, Toddlers, Virtual Learning

All About The Fennec Fox

The fennec fox is the smallest fox in the world!

The average height of a fennec fox is about 8 inches for a full grown adult. This is in addition to a length span of about 12-16 inches for an adult without the tail included in the measurement. The fennec fox can weigh between 1.5-3.5 pounds. The fennec fox has distinctive features as this small creature is known for their small statue, smaller heads, and large ears. Most fennec foxes have a long black tipped tail that takes about 3/4 of their body length.

Native to desert regions, the fennec fox descends from sandy deserts in Northern Africa ranging from Western Sahara and Mauritania to northern Sinai. Fennec fox can thrive in desert environments as it is capable of inhabiting the remotest sand seas. While foxes are normally solitary creatures, the Fennec Fox forms groups. These small communities consist of around 10 individuals. Stable sand dunes are believed to be ideal habitat for this fox. This fox may share a burrow system with up to 10-12 other fox individuals. This fox has experienced a decline, population wise. However, they are most common throughout the Sahara.

These foxes are nocturnal.

The fennec fox hide from heat in sand burrows during the day. At night, expect this fox to roam.

The fennec fox coat of fur provides camouflage and protection from cold desert nights. The hair on the soles of their feet protect them from hot sand. To communicate with one another, the fennec fox project a high pitched yelp and quiet growl.

Facts About Fennec Foxes

  • The Fennec Fox has uncharacteristic behaviours compared to other foxes.
  • Fennec fox have amazing hearing and use this ability to hear animals underground even small insects.
  • Their ears are about 4 to 6 inches long are used to dissipate heat on hot days.
  • This fox consumes a diet of rodents, birds, eggs, lizards and insects.
  • Fennec fox reach maturation age at 9 months and can reach a full life span of 14 years old under human care.
  • The fennec fox appears to be the only carnivore in the Sahara Desert able to live without freely available water. Their kidneys are specifically adapted to conserve water. They can obtain moisture from the food they eat and by licking the dew that forms in their dens.
  • Fennec Foxes have sharp, curved claws which help them dig their burrows.
  • Their fur reflects the sun during the day and conserves heat at night.

Pet Ownership of the Fennec Fox

Photo provided by Kids Feed

Fennec foxes behave a bit like active, playful little dogs. However, it’s important to for owners to remember these are still animals with wild instincts, even if they were bred in captivity. Fennec fox love to roam. Pet owners are advised to give this animal enough space to explore and behave as though it were still in the wild. Since this animal is nocturnal, pet owners are advised that it may be difficult to manage their high energy during sleeping hours. The combination of a proper diet along with enough space for activities can keep your fennec fox happy and well maintained.

Parenting

Father’s Day Gift Guide 2021 (DIY, Online, and Retail)

man in black leather jacket carrying boy in black leather jacket
Photo Credit- Kelly Sikkemma from Upsplash

With Father’s Day around the corner, its time to consider which gift would make the perfect gift for Father’s Day. To help eliminate any confusion, Here is a compiled a list of gifts on this Father’s Day Gift Buying Guide to get your brain spinning on ideas.

Amazon.com

Fathers Day Nut Gift Basket in Wooden Tray + Red Ribbon

Best Dad Ever Custom Blanket with 4 Photos Personalized Picture Blanket Customized Gifts for Daddy/Grandpa for Birthday Father’s Day

Neck Shoulder Back Massager with Heat

Father’s Day Gifts, Personalized Dad Cutting Board

Picture Frame

D.I.Y. Gifts Children Can Make For Dad

Grill Master Handprint Platter

Click the photo to visit- Intersweetz.com

Yoda Best Dad Hand Print

Click the photo to learn how to create this craft!

Best POP in the World Popcorn

Click the photo to learn how to create this craft!

Dinosaur Card

Click the photo to learn how to create this craft!
  • Fathers Day Lego Jar- Click Here
  • You Rock Dad Art- Click Here
  • Teenage Survivor- Click Here
  • Golfing Art- Click Here

  • Your Little Peanut- Click Here
  • O-Fishally Awesome- Click Here
  • We’re Nuts About You Dad- Click Here

Retail Stores

  • Strap Sandals- Click Here
  • Safari Hat- Click Here
  • Pajama Set- Click Here
#Healthy, Nighttime Routines, Parenting, Sleep

Types of Common Sleep Disorders in Children

Annie Spratt from Unsplash

When thinking about the topic of healthy sleeping patterns for children, there is a lingering question of ‘how’ and ‘why’ are sleeping patterns potentially unhealthy for children? As a means of providing factual information, a general background to common sleeping disorders is provided.

As always, parents are encouraged to consult with a medical professional if there is a concern. The evidence within this article are for factual purposes only and not intended for medical advice.

At times, children experience discomfort before and during bedtime. This is normal. However, sleep disorders are generally diagnosed when there seems to be a lot of problems in bed.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep Apnea is best defined as when a person stops breathing for a specified amount of time during sleep. This is usually due to an obstruction or blockage in an airway. The medical term is obstructive sleep apnea. Over time, sleep apnea has a long term effect on learning, growth, behavior, and heart problems. When children experience sleep apnea, their oxygen levels fall. In turn, this causes the child to experience discomfort in sleeping due to the inability to breathe.

Common signs of obstructive sleep apnea in children include the following:

  • Snoring, snorting, or gasping for air, breathing heavily
  • Bedwetting
  • Restless sleeping and sleeping in unusual positions
  • Sleepwalking and waking from nightmares

What is Restless Leg Syndrome?

Restless Leg Syndrome is a sleep disorder that can affect children and adolescents. Restless Leg Syndrome occurs when a child is uncomfortable and resists the ability to stop moving his or her legs. Although this can occur throughout the day, when the symptoms occur during sleep, it can then be considered a sleeping disorder.

When experiencing these symptoms, children generally get up and walk around, toss and turn and kick. As a result, the child misses a significant amount of sleep when restless leg syndrome occurs, due to this discomfort. When attempting to fall asleep with restless leg syndrome, children may need to get out of bed to stretch and move around. Children with this sleeping disorder are often sleepy during the daytime and may require additional sleeping time or naps.

Restless leg syndrome may also cause moodiness, irritability, hyperactivity, and difficulty concentrating at school.

What Are Nightmares?

Leo Rivas from Unsplash

If you have children, I am sure you have been awaken in the middle of the night to re-tuck them into bed due to a bad dream or nightmare. Nightmares cause children to wake up crying and can lead to stress at bedtime. Nightmares are scary dreams. Nightmares tend to happen when children have reached another level within their REMS (Rapid Eye Movement Sleep) cycle. The longer a child stays asleep, the more intense the dream tends to be due to the increased stage within the sleep cycle.

Once a nightmare occurs, children experience difficulty with going back to sleep. When a child is experiencing a nightmare, parents are cautioned to look out for the following: crying, shaking, kicking, screaming, disorientation, sweating and breathing fast. Nightmares can have an effect on children during the day, as they may have lost significant hours of sleep the night before.

What Is Hypersomnia?

Annie Spratt from Unsplash

Hypersomnia is narcolepsy. Narcolepsy is the inability to stay awake during the daytime hours followed by hallucinations and loss of muscle movements. Children that experience hypersomnia are expected to need additional naps, to get through the day. This condition is stated to be rare in children. Children that experience hypersomnia will require additional sleep after waking from 10 or more hours of sleep. Common symptoms associated with hypersomnia are disorientation, a need for naps, slow speech, and loss of appetite.

#Healthy, Cooking, Gardening

Benefits of Superfood- Spinach

Spinach Nutrition - Cooked and Raw Spinach Nutrition Facts
Photo provided by Good Housekeeping

Leafy green spinach is a superfood that can be prepared a number of ways due to its versatility. Spinach can be used within green smoothies aa a source of fiber. Spinach can also be baked into casseroles and fried into breakfast entree’s such as eggs. Spinach (Spinacia oleracea) is a leafy green vegetable that originated in Persia. It belongs to the amaranth family and is related to beets and quinoa. Did you know spinach offers major benefits to those who choose consume this superfood?

Spinach is Rich In Nutrients

Spinach is a source of Vitamin K which aids in bone support. Vitamin K works to enhance a protein called Osteocaic that is responsible for stabilizing calcium in bones. Spinach also provides a source of calcium, Vitamin D, fiber, potassium, magnesium, and Vitamin C. The combination of these nutrients all aid in bone health.

Spinach is high in Vitamin A which eliminates viruses and bacteria. Vitamin A helps our skin and mucus membranes. Vitamin A is also known to be good for growth in bodily tissues including skin and hair. To help reduce the loss of hair and infections, the consumption of spinach is the solution.

Rich in Vitamin C, spinach supports heart health. There is a rumor that spinach helps with facial wrinkles. Pregnant mothers are advised to consume spinach to help with prenatal and cardiovascular diseases. Spinach is rich in lutein which helps prevents heart attacks and cures heart diseases.

Spinach is Low in Calories

Spinach is mostly made of water. One cup of cooked spinach is 41 calories. Spinach provides 160% of the daily goal for Vitamin A and about 40% for Vitamin C.

Spinach is a Source of Energy

Through magnesium, spinach is able to help generate energy throughout a days span. Spinach is a excellent source of folate. As you navigate through the day, the consumption of spinach helps turn your body into usable energy. Spinach is alkaline in nature. This is why spinach is a number one choice for many athletes.

Spinach Supports Brain Health

Spinach contains anti-inflammatory effects that aid in brain health. One study shows that when older adults consume one to two servings of spinach daily, that person had the same cognitive abilities as someone 11 years younger in comparison to those who did not consume greens.

Spinach Vs. Kale

Nutrition Faceoff: Kale vs. Spinach | HealthCastle.com
Photo provided by Health Castle

Spinach and Kale are similar in a number of ways. For starters, both vegetables are leafy greens that are high in fiber. Which is better for you? Let’s look at the facts and you can determine which route to take.

  • Kale has more calories per 100 g serving than spinach. It should be noted that both vegetables are still very low-cal choices.
  • Both contain fiber and several other important micronutrients in varying amounts, including vitamin A, riboflavin, and calcium.
  • They’re both high in vitamin K — a key vitamin involved in healthy blood clotting and bone formation.
  • They’ve also each been shown to positively impact heart health by improving several heart disease risk factors, such as high cholesterol and blood pressure.
  • Add kale or spinach to a salad topped with vegetables and a good source of protein.
  • Both are linked to improved heart health, increased weight loss, and protection against disease.

The Best Sautéed Spinach

Crunchy Creamy Sweet provides a recipe for the best sautéed spinach and it looks delicious!

Prep Time- 2 mins

Cook Time-7 mins

Total Time- 9 mins

A fresh spinach sauteed with garlic and onions in olive oil and butter. This easiest and fastest spinach side dish is healthy and low-carb diet friendly.

Course: Side Dish

Servings: 4 Servings

Calories: 85 Calories


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium white onion chopped
  • 4 teaspoons minced garlic see note
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 8 oz fresh spinach
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

  1. In a large skillet, heat up olive oil. Add onion and saute for 4 minutes. Add garlic and butter and saute until the onion is starting to brown.
  2. Add soy sauce and stir well. Add spinach and gently toss to mix with sauteed onion.
  3. Cook until spinach is wilted. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Serve immediately.
#Budgeting, #Healthy, Exercising, Outdoor Activities, Self-Care, Traveling

10 Inexpensive Weekend and Daytrips from West, TN

Southern Living Experience

Living in the South brings its own perks. We have the opportunity to experience soul food and southern hospitality. The environments are always filled with a welcoming, laid back energy to all that are here to stay and those that roam. In fact, most natives of the southern states would not trade their experience for any other location in the United States. For those seeking a little adventure, living in the Mid-South has one perk in particular, it is literally driving distance or a day-trip from many landmarks and attractions. On this list, the hope is to gather new places to explore each weekend with your family.

Cincinnati, Ohio

Cincinnati is a city in Ohio, located on the Ohio River. The Over-the-Rhine district is known for its 19th-century architecture. There are also well known locations such as the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. Google Maps lists this trip to be under 8 hours, driving distance from Memphis, TN.

Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky

The longest cave system in the world, Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky offers cave tours based on skill level. These tours range from novice to expert. Google Maps lists this trip as approximately 4 hours and 40 minutes from Memphis, TN.

Orange Beach, Alabama

Orange Beach is a small city in Alabama. Spend the weekend skiing, kayaking, and paddleboarding. Also, Orange Beach offers parasailing, dolphin cruises, fishing, and diving. Google Maps lists this trip as approximately 7 hours from Memphis, TN.

Hardy, Arkansas

The small town of Hardy, AR has three museums, summer musical shows, bed and breakfast inns and several festivals each year. Cherokee Village, the state’s first resort/retirement settlement, is just southwest of town, offering lake activities and two championship golf courses. For those interested in fishing year round, this is your place. Google Map lists this trip as approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes from Memphis, TN.

New Orleans, Louisiana

“The Big Easy” is situated along the Mississippi River and is known for its heavy cultural influence in the South. Nightlife includes vibrant live music, French cultured cuisine, and Mardi Gras related festivities. Google Maps lists this trip as approximately 6 hours from Memphis, TN.

Destin, Florida

Destin is known for its white beaches and emerald green waters. Originating as a small fishing village, it is now a popular tourist destination. Destin calls itself “The World’s Luckiest Fishing Village” as there are claims of this city having the largest fish in Florida. Google Maps lists this trip as approximately 8 hours from Memphis, TN.

Reelfoot Lake, Tennessee

Located in Northwest, TN, Reelfoot Lake is known for fishing, boating, and eagle viewing. Reelfoot lake is a flooded forest. Tourists can find beautiful greenery on the shorelines and eagles high above the Cypress trees. Google Maps lists this trip as 2 hours from Memphis, TN.

Tupelo, Mississippi

Tupelo is the birthplace of Elvis Presley. You can tour the Elvis Presley museum and reminisce at the statues of the late great performer. Tupelo also houses the Buffalo Park and Zoo where you can view bisons, zebras, and giraffes. Google Maps lists this trip as approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes from Memphis, TN.

Falls Creek Falls, Tennessee

Hike the trails to reach this magnificent waterfall in Tennessee. Fall Creek Falls is a 256-foot tall sheer-drop waterfall located in Fall Creek Falls State Park near Spencer, Tennessee. For those seeking to stay the weekend, this state park offers cabins and RV parking. Google Maps lists this trip as approximately 6 hours from Memphis, TN.

Clever Kids Corner, Movies, Parenting, Toddlers

12 Movies From Your Childhood That Will Cause Nostalgia- Your Children Must See!

Grab a bag of popcorn and watch these movies with your children!

Monsters Inc

Monsters Incorporated is the largest scare factory in the monster world, and James P. Sullivan is one of its top scarers. What happens when one of his clients (a toddler) gets out into the factory?

Hercules

In Ancient Greece, the gods Zeus and Hera have a son named Hercules. While the other gods are joyful, Zeus’ grumpy and jealous brother Hades plots to overthrow Zeus and rule Mount Olympus. As a teenager, Hercules showcases his strength and inability to control it.

Flubber

Mad and whimsical scientist works to create a new creation and hold on to it. However, he finds this much harder than expected.

Tarzan

A man raised by gorillas must decide where he really belongs when he discovers he is a human. He meets a female human companion along the way.

Toy Story

Woody, a good-hearted cowboy doll who belongs to a young boy named Andy sees his position as Andy’s favorite toy jeopardized when his parents buy him a Buzz Lightyear action figure. The two battle it out throughout the movie. Who will win?

The Parent Trap

Two identical twin sisters meet for the first time at summer camp. These two plot to reunite their divorced parents.

Finding Nemo

Marlin a clown fish, is overly protective with his son, Nemo, who has a foreshortened fin. When Nemo swims too close to the surface to prove himself, he is caught by a diver. Marlin and a fellow fish, Dory, must set him free. The thing is, Dory suffers from short term memory loss. Can they do it?

101 Dalmatians

The Cruella De Vil finds a litter of cute dalmatian puppies and decides that their skins will make her the perfect new coat. The parents Pongo and Perdy seek to rescue them.

Hocus Pocus

After moving to Salem, Mass., teenager Max Dennison, explores an abandoned house with his sister Dani and their new friend, Allison. After downplaying a story Allison tells as superstitious, Max accidentally frees a coven of evil witches who live in the house. What will happen next?

Ratatouille

Remy dreams of becoming a great chef, despite being a rat in a definitely rodent-phobic profession. He disguises himself to pursue his dream.

Cool Runnings

Four Jamaican bobsleighers dream of competing in the Winter Olympics, despite never having seen snow. With the help of a former Olympian, this group sets to break a record!

Holes

A boy, wrongfully accused, is sent to a juvenile camp. There, the warden forces the group to dig holes all day. They make a discovery while digging.

#Budgeting, Positive Home Environment, Traveling

Apartment Vs. House – Why You Should Live In An Apartment Instead of A House

Photo credit- Click here

Savings Account

Depending on the location of the apartment, this lifestyle can allow for an increase in savings on the renters side. Apartment renters have the option to save on monthly costs such as lawn care, maintenance and property taxes.

Maintenance

Who doesn’t love a good maintenance worker? Apartment living brings yet another benefit, on-site maintenance. Whether you experience a broken washing machine or a loose door knob, the apartment company will have maintenance fix this error with a simple request. This allows for peace of mind for apartment renters.

Flexibility

Apartment living brings its own flexibility including the option to move with short notice. In comparison to home ownership, apartment living allows renters the option to move without the hassle of putting a house on the market. Depending on the location of the apartment, some landlords will allow the tenant to move and sublet the unit to another renter.

Increased Safety

Many apartment complexes have gated communities, controlled access, security cameras, and extra fire protection. Apartment hunters should look for an apartment with increased safety measures to ensure their family is kept safe at all times. These measures include access cards, apartment alarms, smoke detectors and on-site security.

Amenities

One major benefit of apartment living is the included amenities. Before renting an apartment, check with the company to see exactly what amenities are included in the deal. Many times, these include a pool, onsite fitness center, basketball and sports gym, and walking trails. Some apartments also come with a built in dog park and clubhouse for renters.

Apartment Vs. House

Overall, owning a home isn’t a bad idea. However, many millennials have opted for apartment living for many of the listed reasons above. Whatever the case, make sure you make your apartment a home for your family.

#Budgeting, #Healthy, Cooking, Grocery Shopping, Parenting

What is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)?

What is SNAP? SNAP is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Needy Families. As a 90’s baby, I grew up calling this Food Stamps. However, SNAP is formal terminology.

SNAP provides nutrition benefits to supplement the food budget of needy families so they can purchase healthy food and move towards self-sufficiency.

SNAP is a national program that is there for families in need of food. To receive SNAP benefits, you and your family must qualify in your state.

To learn how to grocery shop on a budget using your SNAP Benefits, click HERE.

USDA provides a breakdown of eligibility guidelines for families to follow. There is certain criteria to qualify including meeting income limits. SNAP benefits are updated yearly for recipients.

There are special rules for households with elderly or disabled family members. To learn more about these rules, click here.

SNAP Benefits in Tennessee can be used online at the following stores:

  • Aldi
  • Amazon
  • Walmart

To learn more about applying for SNAP in Tennessee, click HERE.

#Budgeting, #Healthy, Cooking, Grocery Shopping, Parenting

How To: Grocery Shopping On A $4 Daily Budget

There are many joys to raising one big happy family. But, let’s get real, feeding one big happy family is another story. Parent’s of one or multiples can relate to this blog post. There are many ways to maintain a daily, weekly, or monthly grocery shopping budget. We are going to explore some of these areas as a means of learning more options when it comes to grocery shopping for your family.

Meal Planning

One strategy is to meal plan. If you’re anything like me, your car wheels are spinning from sun up until sun down, most days. Meal planning eliminates the temptation of stopping at local fast food restaurants and provides a health meal alternative for you and your family. To successfully meal plan, it is suggested that the “planner” and “meal prepper” arrange all of the meal items on Sunday prior to the week.

Now let’s look at Meal Planning On A Budget. This simply involves the core components of a meal- the protein, vegetable, and carbohydrate. The simplest and cheapest way to accomplish this is by sticking to one protein (chicken, fish, broccoli-for vegan families), one choice of carb (rice, sweet potato), and mix up the vegetables throughout the week. Boring right?! You’re encouraged to get creative when fixing these items for your family. Change up the spices blends and cooking styles. Instead of grilling the chicken, place a few pieces in the oven or boil them.

Tips for Meal Planning On A Budget

  1. Create a menu in advance
  2. Purchase meals around sale items
  3. Plan one meatless meal a week
  4. Check your inventory at home, first
  5. Make a meal that your family loves
  6. Utilize those leftovers
  7. Integrate grains and veggies
  8. Make extras-when possible

Keeping Your Grocery Bill at $120 and Under

Living on a Cheap provides some very reasonable solutions to maintaining a $4 day grocery bill. This averages to about $120 a month. For larger families, the budget might need to be adjusted, however, the same concepts can be applied. These tips, along with my personal experience tips will be given:

  1. Eliminate Bottled Water- Purchase a water diffuser pitcher or faucet attachment one time versus constantly purchasing a $4 case of bottled water weekly.
  2. Eliminate Fruit Juices and Sodas- Fruit juices tend to cause dental health. Sodas are packed with sugar. Eliminating this item will help your pockets in more than one way.
  3. Eliminate Coffee- One cup of coffee at Starbucks ranges from $4-$6. Making coffee at home can add up as well. There is creamer, sugar, coffee grains, and filters. This one will be hard for coffee drinkers.
  4. Eliminate Alcoholic Beverages- Eliminate or save these items for a special occasion.
  5. Purchase Fresh or Frozen Fruits- Many times, the frozen fruit are much cheaper than fresh fruit. It may not be a first preference for most, however, it gets the job done.
  6. Purchase Fresh or Frozen Vegetables- The same concept applies to vegetables. However, frozen store brand vegetables are significantly cheaper. One bag of Great Value brand (Walmart) broccoli is $.99 compared to other $2.99 brands.
  7. Keep Snacks Simple- Snacks need to stay simple, plain and simple. At most homes, snacks go FAST. I suggest keeping these items simple when possible. Rather than purchasing an already made cheese and cracker for $3.29, purchase a $.99 cent box of crackers and $.99 cent cheese. This is just an example. All families have their own favorite snacks. See if you can re-create them cheaper!
  8. Purchase Beans and Grains in Bulk- I always, always, always have some sort of rice on hand. Rice is a simple go-to and easily purchased in bulk. The same for beans. When searching, purchase these items in larger bags and portion them out when cooking for the week.
  9. Purchase Raw Foods Over Already Prepared- This goes for chicken, fish, beef, steak, and even some vegetables and pastry’s. Kroger is currently selling a “Meal Kit” for a family of 4 for $19.99. This only feeds your family for one night versus purchasing raw items and portioning them out for much cheaper.
  10. Focus On Nutrition- Focusing on nutrition while shopping will eliminate MOST of the store items, trust me.
  11. Milk, Milk, Milk- I tend to find myself buying two gallons per week. That’s a lot of milk! When possible, replace the milk drinking with water.

Grocery Shopping Tips

  1. Shop On A Full Stomach- Yes, everything looks delicious when you’re hungry. Just don’t do it.
  2. Create a List and Be Prepared to Say No- Your children will go find the largest box (64 OZ) of cereal when you already have some at home. Just create a list and be prepared.
  3. Buy Non-Grocery Related Items at Dollar Store- This includes laundry detergent, washing powder, soap, and bleach, etc. These items are much cheaper outside of the grocery store.
  4. Shop Store Brands- Not all store brands are created equally, I know. Shop around. There are some really great buys in store brand.
  5. Don’t Fall for the 10 for 10- Only use this purchase, if you are truly going to use 10 items of the same thing. These sales are a quick way to rack up you total.
  6. Learn to Bake or Cook- When in doubt, just cook it at home. The frozen chicken alfredo lasts one night versus purchasing the items at and cooking 2 days worth.

#Healthy, Exercising, Outdoor Activities, Parenting, Self-Care, Teachers, Weather

The Benefits of Walking or Running in The Rain

When it starts to rain, typically, the first instinct is to run and take cover inside. However, after reading this today, you may change your mind. This is because you will learn the health benefits of going out into the rain.

1. The air is purer.

After a heavy rainfall, the air is purer because as raindrops fall through the atmosphere, they have the ability to attract hundreds of particles of pollutants like dander, soot, sulfates and bacteria before hitting the ground.

2. Rain is good for your hair and skin.

Rain water is high in alkaline which is good for your hair and skin and does not contain harmful minerals. High levels of humidity in the air help keep your skin fresh.

3. Walks in the rain burn more calories and build more muscles.

Much like walks on the beach, walking or running in muddier surfaces forces you to use more muscle strength to move your legs and feet.

4. Chemicals released in the rain are stress reducing.

When water molecules crash together, as they do in falling rain, they create negative ions. Some researchers believe when these negative ions are inhaled, they create a chemical reaction that can reduce stress and anxiety. Read more on The Pyschology of Rain by clicking the link.

5. Running in the rain can increase metabolism and performance.

When performing any kind of exercise, your body’s temperature tends to increase, if you are working out in colder temperatures, the environment is helping cool your body and maintain a more stable temperature. This allows you to work harder for longer due to a lesser risk of overheating. As always, consult your Physician before trying a now workout regime.

6. Boost Your Immune System

This is done by exposing yourself to various different temperatures and life outside of the house. As a result, you will develop a stronger immune system for the future.

7. Connect with Nature

This is another way to connect with nature and it’s elements. Typically, we are indoors when it rains. It is a nice concept to embrace all of nature’s elements.

Read more here

Tips to Successfully Run in The Rain

1. Stay safe and inside if it is a severe storm or produces thunder, lightening, hail or tornadoes.

2. Dress appropriately in rain gear that will keep you somewhat dry. The goal is to enjoy the rain but not develop hypothermia or any other related illness.

3. Seal off electronics such as your iPhone or watch in a waterproof case.

#Healthy, Gardening, Self-Care, Weather

10 Beautiful Houseplants You Should Consider

POTHOS
Epipremnum aureum

If you tend to forget to water your plants, this one is for you! Pathos are the easiest houseplants to maintain. This plant has heart shaped leaves differing in colors green and yellow. Thrives in bright, indirect light, but can tolerate medium to low indirect light. Not suited for intense, direct sun. Water this plant every 1-2 weeks.

PARLOR PALM
Chamaedorea elegans

The parlor palm is one of the most heavily sold houseplant palms in the world. It’s adapted to relatively low light, can handle lower temperatures, and grows in attractive clumps with light-textured foliage cloaking thin trunks. Water every 1-2 weeks. This plant grows in bright indirect sunlight but not intense sunlight.

WATERMELON PEPEROMIA
Peperomia argyreia

Watermelon Peperomia are incredibly easy-going, low-care houseplants–great for beginners! Water the Watermelon Peperomia when the top 50%-75% of the soil is dry. Watermelon Peperomia will grow in medium to bright indirect light.

POLKA DOT PLANT
Hypoestes phyllostachya

Warm temperatures and humidity are key to growing polka dot plants. To prevent overgrowth, pinch back the top two leaves on each stem on a weekly basis. For the polka dot plant, bright, indirect light is ideal for growth. Water this plant moderately and keep soil moist.

SPIDER PLANT
Chlorophytum comosum

For the spider plant, bright indirect sunlight is ideal for growth. Water roughly once a week spring to fall, occasionally in winter, average warmth.

ALOE VERA
Aloe vera

Aloe vera is a succulent plant species of the genus Aloe. The name comes from two root words: “aloeh” is an Arabic word meaning bitter, and “vera” is Latin for “truth.” Place in bright, indirect sunlight or artificial light. Water aloe vera plants deeply, but infrequently. In other words, the soil should feel moist after watering, but should be allowed to dry out to some extent before you water again.

JADE
Crassula ovata

Allow the soil to dry out between waterings, and water only sparingly in the winter months. This plant is toxic to cats and dogs. The jade plant flourishes in good health with plenty of light.

KALANCHOE
Kalanchoe blossfeldiana

Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana) is a popular houseplant. It is often available for sale during late winter and spring months. As an indoor plant in cooler climates, kalanchoe grows best in full sun or bright indirect light. Water this plant every 2 weeks.

AFRICAN VIOLET
Saintpaulia ionantha

African Violet originates from Africa and the flowers look like violets. Never place an African Violet in direct sunlight. Keep soil moist when watering.

ZZ PLANT
Zamioculcas zamiifolia

ZZ’s one major drawback is that all parts of the plant are poisonous. Situate a ZZ plant in low to bright indirect light, and water when fully dry. Water this plant once a month. Read more here.

#Literacy, Clever Kids Corner, Outdoor Activities, Virtual Learning, Weather

Different Types of Rain

Did you know that there are different types of rain?

Rain

Drops larger than drizzle (0.02 inch / 0.5 mm or more) are considered rain. Rain is liquid water that falls from a cloud in the form of droplets. Rain is one of the six main types of precipitation. One droplet of water spends on average around eight days in suspension before falling back to Earth as rain.

Drizzle

Drizzle is light rain falling in very small droplets. Drizzle drops have a diameter of usually less than 0.5 mm. The drops appear almost to float, and so make even slight movements of the air visible. The clouds that produce drizzle have low bases, usually less than 1,000 feet in altitude.

Ice Pellets or Sleet

Ice pellets form when a layer of above-freezing air is located between 1,500 and 3,000 meters (5,000 and 10,000 ft) above the ground, with sub-freezing air both above and below it. Ice pellets are a form of precipitation consisting of small, translucent balls of ice. Ice pellets originate as raindrops or snowflakes (less common) that generally fall from Altostratus or Nimbostratus. They fall into a subcloud layer of warm air where the snowflakes melt or partially melt, and then fall into a cold layer of air (below 0 °C) where they freeze and reach the ground as frozen precipitation.

Hail

Hail is pellets of frozen rain which fall in showers from cumulonimbus clouds. Hail is a form of solid precipitation. It is distinct from ice pellets, though the two are often confused. It consists of balls or irregular lumps of ice, each of which is called a hailstone. Certain parts of the world receive more hail than others. China and Midwestern United States experiences frequent hail storms. In fact, the Great Plains region of the United States and Canada is called “Hail Alley.” Hailstones can cause extreme damage to buildings, vehicles, and crops.

Snow

Snow is precipitation in the form of ice crystals. Once an ice crystal has formed, it absorbs and freezes additional water vapor from the surrounding air, growing into a snow crystal or snow pellet, which then falls to Earth. Snowflakes are clusters of ice crystals that fall from a cloud. Snow may also crunch and creak. A layer of snow is made up of many tiny ice grains surrounded by air and when you step on it, you compress the grains.

Snow Grains

Snow grains are a form of precipitation. Snow grains are characterized as very small, white, opaque grains of ice that are fairly flat or elongated. Their diameter is generally less than 1 mm. Snow grains fall mostly from Stratus or from fog. Snow grains usually fall in small quantities in the mountains.

Ice Crystals

In very cold regions, they are falling crystals of ice in the form of needles, columns, or plates. Ice crystals are solid ice exhibiting atomic ordering on various length scales and include hexagonal columns, hexagonal plates, dendritic crystals, and diamond dust.

Thifting

Thrifting 101- How to Find the Highest Quality Items On A Dime.

As someone who has grown up in thrift stores, I have grown to absolutely love thrifting when all things align. Let’s be honest, not all thrift stores are alike and not all thrifting days are the same.

When thrifting, it’s important to set your goal before entering into the store. If you are looking for pants, I suggest only going to the clothing portion of the store. If you are furniture shopping, veer straight to that particular section upon entering the store. Your pockets and your precious time will thank me later.

Thrifting is in fact an art.

It takes creativity, patience, and diligence to sort through gently used clothing and household items. One way to organize your thoughts and closet ahead of time, is to print the pictures off of “potential outfit ideas.” This will eliminate any frustration as you roam the shelves. Let’s face it, there is no guarantee that you will find all of the items on your mental or physical list. Remember, not all thrift stores are the same and not all shopping experiences are the same.

Beware of Overly Used or Malfunctioning Items

There are some items you should either avoid or exercise extreme caution before purchasing. These items include electronics (toasters, radios, blenders, televisions). Some thrift stores will allow you to test these items out before purchasing (DO IT!) Most thrift stores have a no return policy.

Learn the Donation Days and Sales Events

Some thrift stores have a specific day to which the items are placed on the shelves. Regulars know these days and show up faithfully on these days. This is when ‘new’ gently used items are re-stocked. I suggest showing up early, preferably before the lunch hour!

Call or visit your favorite or local thrift store to learn about the weekly sales events. If you’re lucky, you can catch the buy one get one for half off. Some events even include all items half priced. Word of advice on the sales days: The lines will be long and the competition will be HIGH for some items.

Buying secondhand is a mindful way to help decrease pollution from production, waste, and use of resources while still getting your fashion fix.

Check The Zip-Code

As stated, not all thrift stores and experiences are the same. Yes, that’s right. There are some thrift stores that are basically overpriced used items. Within these stores, you can find $75 purses and $35 belts. This is not O.K. The purpose is to locate used items that are used and still usable for a reduced price. Be sure you are not being taken advantage of for the sake of thrifting!

Experiment and Have Fun!

Create your own thrifting experience and have fun doing it! When you leave with all of your new items, you should feel a sense of accomplishment and happiness! Happy Thrifting!

#Healthy, Cooking, Parenting, Self-Care

Super Fruits You Should Add Into Your Diet Today

Cherries

Cherries are low in calories. Cherries are full of vitamins C, A, and K. Cherries are also a good source of fiber, which helps keep your digestive system.

Blackberries

Blackberries boost brain health and are packed with vitamin C, K, and fiber. Blackberries also support oral health.

Pomegranates

Pomegranates improve memory, reduce blood pressure and combat heart disease. Looking to hydrate your skin? Pomegranates are known to serve as a moisturizer due to the high source of vitamin C.

Mangoes

The “King of Fruits,” mangoes, containing Vitamin A, fight oral cavities, promotes healthy heart and skin.

Goji Berries

Goji berries are known to protect the eyes from eye diseases and damage from UV lights. Also, Goji berries protect against cancer and provide immune support. Goji berries also improves anxiety and depression. A group given the goji berry juice reported improved energy, ability to focus, enhanced athletic performance, mental acuity, and feelings of calmness and contentment by day 15.

Watermelons

Watermelon is 92% water, making it a delicious way to rehydrate. Watermelon contains antioxidants which can remove free radicals from the body. These can develop through smoking, air pollution, stress,and other environmental pressures. Watermelon improves the brain and nervous system including memory, muscle movement, and early brain development.

Raspberries

Raspberries are packed with fiber and Vitamin C. Raspberries are said to prevent known and common diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Raspberries aid in weight loss and reduces inflammation.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes contain fiber, vitamin K, C and potassium. Tomatoes have lycopene which is known to promote skin health.

Açaí Berries

Thanks to their high antioxidant content, acai berries have many potential health benefits. They’re loaded with powerful plant compounds that act as antioxidants and have benefits for your brain, heart and overall health. They also deliver healthy fats and fiber, making them a healthy food.

Apples

Apples are high in fiber and are linked to lowering the risk of diabetes. Apples promote good gut health and can be good for weight loss. Apples also are good for your heart and fight asthma.

Cantaloupe

Cantaloupe has 100% value for Vitamin C. Cantaloupe also promotes eye, skin, and bone and your immune system. Cantaloupe is high in Zinc, Calcium, and Iron.

#Literacy, Animal Facts, Clever Kids Corner

All About Artic Foxes

Artic Foxes are native to the Artic tundra areas within the Northern Hemisphere.

Artic Foxes thrive in some of the coldest conditions on earth due to their thick and dense coats of fur. Their thick fur coat keeps the foxes body at a toasty 104°F. Their feet also have a layer of thick fur, like built-in snow boots. Arctic foxes also have fur-covered paws that work to keep their bodies warm in the winter.

Arctic Foxes are meat and opportunistic eaters.

Artic Foxes are known to hunt and eat small rodents called lemmings. They even eat fish, birds, and large predators such as polar bears and wolves.

Artic Foxes seek shelter in burrows known as fox den’s.

These dens are built by the fox family and passed down each generation. Yes, Arctic fox dens are used for many generations—some are as old as 300 years. The Arctic Fox’s den has several entrances for security.

Artic Foxes are solitary animals.

During the Fall months, Artic Foxes are solitary animals and preserve fat but do not hibernate. In the Spring months, these Foxes live as families and breed and raid Fox puppies.

Click the photo for a video on Artic Foxes by The National Geographic.

These foxes are fast!

The Artic Fox can sprint up to 50 kilometers or 31 miles per hour!

Artic Foxes live 3 to 6 years.

The mortality is much higher during the cub years and ranges as high as 75%. The oldest Fox recorded was 16 years old.

Artic Fox Activity

Visit IHeartCraftyThings for instructions on this simple craft.
#Healthy, Nighttime Routines, Parenting, Sleep, Toddlers

18 Tips For Parents- Establishing Healthy Sleeping Patterns For Children At Home

The Sleep Foundation describes the role of a healthy sleeping pattern is a key contributor to the development of young minds. Also, there is a direct relation to healthy sleeping patterns and overall happiness, as sleep has an effect on cognitive performance, mood, resiliency, learning and memory. To learn more about Healthy Sleeping Patterns for Young Children and The Effects of Not Receiving Enough Sleep, click the link here.

18 Tips For Parents- Establishing Healthy Sleeping Patterns For Children At Home

1. Turn off computer screens and lights well in advance. It is suggested that children “power down” well enough in advance so that children have enough winding down time.

2. Establishing a bedtime routine with the help of your child. Let them decide which thing you both should do first (such as taking a bath, reading, and brushing teeth). 

3. Allow your child to choose their favorite bedtime bear or stuffed animal

4. Take a bath, read a story, or sing a song. For more information on bedtime story book lists, read 90 Of The Best Bedtime Stories. To help your child relax, read The Best Bedtime Stories To Relax Your Child Before Bedtime for an age by age guide to bedtime stories for children. 

5. Stay positive and keep practicing! It is suggested that parents do not punish their children for getting up during bedtime. Avoid negative associations with bedtime and reward your child when he or she stays in bed and falls asleep.

6. Newborns do not have a set bedtime. Children this age sleep on demand and it is important that parents keep this in mind, as it is part of their development.

7. Start a quiet time, such as listening to quiet music or reading a book, 20 to 30 minutes before bedtime.

8. After the scheduled time, children should follow up with brush teeth. This time can also be used for changing diapers, toileting, and bath time.

9. Allow your child to take security items to bed, where age appropriate. These items sometime includes stuffed animals and security blankets.

10. Never allow an infant to fall asleep with a bottle. This will reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).

The CDC recommends the following tips for parents seeking to establish a bedtime routine:

1. Set bed and wake-up times at the same time each day, including weekends.

2. Keep the bedroom quiet and a comfortable temperature.

3. Remove electronic devices from the bedroom.

4. Avoid large meals and caffeine before bedtime.

5. Make sure kids are active during the day so they can fall asleep at night.

6. Model good sleep behaviors for kids.

7. Have a bedtime routine like taking a warm bath, brushing teeth, and reading a bedtime story.

8. Turn the lights out at bedtime.

Check out this visual from the CDC- Do Your Children Get Enough Sleep?

#Literacy, Animal Facts, Clever Kids Corner, Preschool, Toddlers

Amazing Ducks Around The World

Ducks, an animal that we are used to seeing at lakes, ponds and even crossing the road. These aquatic birds can usually be found around swamps, oceans, rivers, ponds, and lakes. All ducks can live wherever there is water and on every continent except Antarctica.

In addition, ducks belong to the same family as geese and show wide interspecies variation. Some stand out because of their stunning fur, uniquely shaped beaks, or calls that are able to grab people’s attention.

1. King Eider (Somateria spectabilis)

King Eider

This unique duck lives along the Arctic coast of the northern hemisphere in Europe, North America and Asia. The King Eider duck has a body size of 50 to 70 cm in length and weighs 1.6 kg. They are able to form large flocks in suitable coastal waters, with some groups exceeding 100,000 birds.

Furthermore, King Eider ducks can dive as deep as 180 feet to feed on marine life.

2. Mandarin Duck (Aix galericulata)

Mandarin Duck

These brightly colored ducks are native to East Asia. However, now you can find them in England, Ireland, and California. In history, Mandarin ducks were captured and escaped that caused extensive breeding. The male Mandarin duck is highly admired, as it has brightly colored fur and a pink beak.

Right now, Mandarin Ducks are facing population decline in Asia due to widespread logging activities and have lost habitat. These ducks have managed to avoid hunters because they are known to have a bad taste. This species has been the subject of art, poetry and other Oriental literary forms for centuries. In ancient literature, they were known as symbols of marital fidelity, largely due to the strong bond of their spouses.

3. Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)

Wood Duck

The Wood Duck is the cousin of Mandarin Duck. You can identify both of them easily by just looking at their color and pattern. This is one of the most colorful species of ducks in North America. As listed above, it also experienced a serious decline and almost became extinct in the late 19th century due to poaching and the loss of large trees where it nestled. Forest conservation efforts, including the preservation of its habitat, namely providing thousands of nest boxes as well as curbing widespread hunting, have brought the population of this species back to normal.

4. Baikal Teal (Anas formosa)

Baikal Teal

Baikal Teal duck also has a pretty interesting appearance, as well. From the green color pattern on the back of the male’s head to the golden yellow feathers that adorn his body. This species stands out from other teal species with its unique green and yellow facial pattern. It is native to east Asia, as well as in Alaska.

5. Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus)

Hooded Merganser

Hooded Merganser gets its name from the top of its foldable head. Both males and females have it and can develop it. However, only males have bright black and white markings. Males will perform head -shaking stunts when trying to attract females during the mating season. These small ducks can be found in ponds and in rivers.

6. Surf Scoter (Melanitta perspicillata)

Surf Scoter

Surf Scoter has another name, “skunk-head coot” or “old skunkhead.” This is because of it’s unique black-and-white pattern from other species. The pattern and shape of its body resembles that of a harlequin duck, as well as an Eider Duck. It can be found in the Pacific coastal waters of North America and the Atlantic. You can find this group of species in abundance in the summer. After nesting or mating, a female will migrate to southeastern Alaska, Puget Sound in Washington, Quebec, or New Brunswick. Upon reaching it’s destination, the feathers will fall out and it will lose the ability to fly.

7. Spectacled Eider (Somateria fischeri)

Spectacled Eider

Another Eider Species with a distinctive face is the Spectacular Eider. The pale green feathers on the back of his head and the clear masculine orange color help exaggerate the more spectacular eye marks. These beautiful ducks are found on the coasts of Alaska and Siberia. Also they can be found nesting in the tundra during the summer. This species is not very famous or common. The population of western Alaska has declined by 96 percent since the 1970s.

Its wintering area was recently discovered in the unbroken ocean of ice between St. Lawrence and the St. Matthew Islands in the Bering sea.

8. Smew Duck (Mergellus albellus)

Smew Duck

It is another species of Merganser, which you can find in Europe and Asia. As for appearance, a male has snow white feathers combined with black on the wings and chest. It has black eye marking, like a panda and also a black line on the top of their head. They use woodpecker holes to raise their children.

9. Long -Tailed Duck (Clangula hyemalis)

Long tailed Duck

This species is able to defeat the King Eider with its ability to dive as deep as 200 feet, in the sea in search of food. If you want to know it is able to spend the day looking for food underwater. What is the function of a long tail? This is actually a characteristic of a male who has two long tail feathers and a female without these tail feathers.

10. Harlequin Duck (Histrionicus histrionicus)

Harlequin Duck

Not all ducks have greatness like this species. It can be found diving to capture aquatic life in fast -moving mountain waters, rivers, rocky beaches, and even water pools. Males have a unique fur pattern with a chestnut brown appearance and a cast of white spots on the head and body.

#Budgeting, RentAssistance

Rent Assistance in West Tennessee

Did you know Tennessee offers rent assistance to families in need?

There is an online directory for families to utilize when in need of rental assistance in emergencies. The directory also offers guidance for utility payments.

To visit the site, click here.

What to Expect

When you visit the site, there is a list of cities to which provide this assistance through varying programs and non-profits. Some of the cities on the directory are listed below for reference:

West Tennessee Rent Assistance

Somerville, TN- Fayette Cares Inc.

Jackson, TN- Regional Interfaith Association

Memphis, TN- Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association (MIFA)

Memphis, TN- Neighborhood Christian Center Rent Utility Assistance- North Center

Memphis, TN- Shelby County CSA

Cordova, TN- Society of St. Vincent DePaul

West Memphis- Good Neighbor Center West Memphis

#Healthy, Cooking

The Incredible Edible Apple

An apple is a fruit that you can prepare a number of ways. Grown on apple trees, the apple originated in Central Asia. Unlike many other fruit, apples are around every season.

Types of Apples

Apples come in many varieties and can be found at most grocery stores. There are at least 25 different types of apples. A few are listed below:

  • Granny Smith
  • Fuji
  • Honeycrisp
  • Envy
  • Gala
  • Jazz
  • Red Delicious
  • Opal

When selecting apples, be sure to have a keen eye for those plump and bruise free apples. The heavier the apple, the fresher and juicer it may be.

Sweet apples are generally the following types: Honeycrisp, Fuji, or Gala. Sour tasting apples are the following types: Granny Smith, Empire, or a Braeburn.

Health Benefits of Apples

Apples are low in sodium and high in fiber. They have pectin, a fiber that breaks down in your gut.

Apple peels protect against blood vessel and heart damage. Apples are also known to lower your risk of Type 2 Diabetes. Research and medical doctors have also given apples credit for increasing lung strength, bone health, aid in weight loss. Apples are high in fiber and water — two qualities that make them filling when it comes to weight loss.

In one study, people who ate apple slices before a meal felt fuller than those who consumed applesauce, apple juice, or no apple products.

Nutrition

Apples are made up of fiber, sugar, and carbohydrates. One apple is about 100 calories, 25 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber. Although apples contain many health benefits, be aware that too much fruit can result in weight gain due to sugar.

Ways to Prepare Apples

Grilled Cheese with Apple
Apple Butter
Candied Apples
#Healthy, Cooking

The Pescatarian Diet Lifestyle

From vegans to vegetarians, there seems to be many different diets with stipulations of their own. What makes Pescatarianism any different? I’m glad you asked!

Pesce means fish. Pescatarian diets resembles a vegetarian diet, however, fish is allowed. No worries, this diet is high in fruit and vegetables. Let’s explore some of the benefits of the pescatarian diet and lifestyle.

The information given are strictly facts and not medical advice. If you are looking to change your diet, please consult with your medical provider prior to doing so.


Photo courtesy of Janeris Marte from Unsplash

Benefits of The Pescatarian Diet

Pescatarianism is basically vegetarianism with fish and other seafood added. One major benefit is the high consumption of vegetables and fruits. As a result, those pursuing this diet receive the same benefits as a vegetarian.

The American Heart Association recommends the consumption of fish twice a week, minimally. Fish contains Omega 3’s, which are anti-inflammatory and fight against chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. Those who consume fish are found to have lower blood pressure and fewer heart attacks. This is in addition to having a lowered blood sugar.

Photo courtesy of Travis Yewell with Unsplash

Choosing a pescatarian diet is also an avenue for people concerned about animal welfare. There aren’t as many animals killed for human consumption of fish. Some scientists have stated that fish do not feel pain when captured and prepared.

Cons of The Pescatarian Diet

There are two major cons to the pescatarian diet. The first con is the cost of fresh fish. Obviously, most grocery stores offer a frozen and fresh fish section. This comes with a price tag, as the costs of fish is generally a few dollars more expensive than its counterparts, beef and chicken. New pescatarians should be aware of a potential changes on their grocery receipt.

The other con is the higher risk of mercury consumption. Certain fish have mercury, which can have a negative effect on health, long term. Larger fish with longer lifespans tend to have higher levels of mercury. To learn more about fish with mercury, click here.


What Do Meals Look Like?

Here is a beautifully prepped recipe from Stay Snatched. Click the link to follow the entire recipe.

Baked Parmesan Salmon with Garden Greens

20 Pescatarian Dinners to Make Right Now

Photo courtesy: The Kitchn

Want to learn how to make simple pescatarian meals at home? The Kitchn has complied a complete list for reference and step-by-step guide as you navigate though your pescatarian journey. Visit their site to learn more.

The Types Of Fish To Look For At The Grocery Store

  • canned sardines
  • canned salmon
  • canned tuna
  • fish sticks
  • frozen salmon, trout, and herring
  • frozen shrimp
  • fresh fish, such as salmon, pollock, catfish, and sardines
  • fresh shellfish, such as shrimp, clams, and scallops

Other Foods To Include In Your Diet

  • fruit
  • vegetables
  • cereals and whole grains, including oats, bulgar wheat, amaranth, corn, and rice
  • food containing grain products
  • pseudo grains, such as quinoa and buckwheat, which are gluten-free
  • legumes, including kidney beans, pinto beans, and peas
  • legume products, including tofu and hummus
  • nuts and nut butters
  • seeds, such as flaxseeds, hemp seeds, and chia
  • eggs and dairy, if lacto-ovo-vegetarian

In a Nutshell

Pescatarianism is definitely a lifestyle worth adapting to. The longterm health benefits outweigh the potential cons. Good luck to you if you decide to go this direction!

#Healthy, Exercising, Parenting, Self-Care

Benefits of Exercising

Regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Exercising plays a major role in your overall well-being including happiness. Exercise is known to increase your mood and decrease anxiety and depression. Exercise increases endorphins and help produce positive feelings and reduce perception of pain. Exercise also improves mental health by improving relationships.

Exercising Releases Good Chemicals

Exercise causes the body to produce endorphins and trigger happiness.

Exercising can improve brain function and protect memory and thinking skills. Physical activity increases the flow of blood and oxygen to your brain. Exercising has shown to increase the functions within the hippocampus part of the brain which serves as the vital component in memory and learning. Studies have shown that physical activity can create new brain cells and improve overall brain performance.

Exercising Helps With Sleep Quality

Since exercising requires a certain level of energy, the quality of sleep increases as the body seeks to replenish the energy lost. Some studies have shown where exercising at night can have a reverse effect on sleeping for early birds but not night owls.

Exercise and Chronic Pain

When someone exercises, it is found to reduce their chronic pain. Physical activity can increase overall pain tolerance and decrease ones perception of pain.

The act of exercising is also known to improve skin health by increasing the body’s natural antioxidants that help protect cells. Physical activity stimulates blood flow and this can help delay the appearance of skin aging.

Enjoy Nature

For those that are outdoorsy, exercising allows you to enjoy nature when you choose to exercise outside. Outdoor exercises can range from running, hiking, rock climbing, and canoeing. It is advised to remember to protect your skin and eyes when exercising outdoors.

#Healthy, Exercising, Outdoor Activities, Parenting, Traveling

7 Unique Bicycle Designs

Bird of Prey Bicycle

Photo credit: Bird of Prey

Talk about focusing on hamstrings! If you’re looking for an intense leg workout, grab this bike and go for it! However, it is on the pricy side ranging just under $5,000. To purchase this bicycle, click here.

Modular Cargo Bicycle

Photo courtesy of World Design Guide

This bike was created with the purpose of carrying cargo to a desired destination with ease, while cycling. The steering by cables provides exceptional maneuverability, allowing the fork to turn over 75° to the right and left.

Electric Bicycle

Photo courtesy of Lopifit Walking Bike

This walking bike, named the Lopifit Walking Bike, is a treadmill and walking bike combination. This bike takes major coordination and balance from riders. The bike is propelled by a 350W motor, powered by a 48V 20 Ah Lithium-Ion battery.

Elliptical Bicycle

Photo courtesy of StreetStrider 7i

This 7-gear bike allows the rider to cruise, sprint, and even climb steep hills. This bicycle can cruise up to 20 mph while holding up to 300 lbs. To learn more, click here.

Four-Wheel, Two-Seater Bike

Photo courtesy of Parbikes

According to Parbikes, this bike is much safer given the design. The rationale is that 4 wheels are safer than 2 or 3. This bike is sure to get attention and can even have attachments included to the rear! This quad bike is great for couples. To learn more about it, click here.

No Seater Bike

Photo courtesy of Viks

No seater bicycle. Sounds cool right? In fact a beautiful bicycle, however, it does require another level of skill. To learn more about this unique bike, click here.

No Pedals Bicycle

Photo courtesy of Fliz

Flintstones have competition! This bike is sure to work your legs out as it requires fast pace walking to work! You’re essentially pacing (half-walking, half-running) but traveling faster and further than you would normally, thanks to the two wheels. To learn more, click here.

#Healthy, Parenting, Positive Home Environment

Creating a Stable, Structured, and Supportive Home Environment for Children

Photo courtesy of Jimmy Dean via Unsplash

“Fill your house with stacks of books, in all the crannies and all the nooks.” ― Dr. Seuss

Children thrive in consistency, predictability and follow through. Creating a stable, structured, and supportive home environment is the goal. Stable homes produce successful children.

Safe, stable, nurturing relationships and
environments are essential to prevent
early adversity, including child abuse and
neglect, and to assure that all children
reach their full potential
.
The CDC

If you want to raise a child who is caring, organized, goal-oriented, and successful, you must provide a stable environment in which he can experience a childhood filled with both love and bonding experiences. Dr. Gail Gross, Human Behavior, Parenting, and Education Expert, Speaker, Author. Ph.D., Ed.D., M.Ed.

Dr. Gross provides insight on how parents can focus on providing a stable and supportive home environments. As parents, centering on the child helps promote wellbeing and positive experiences in the child’s life. The CDC states that child abuse and neglect are top public health problems being faced in the United States. Child abuse ranges from physical, emotional, sexual and neglect. Providing a safe, stable, and supportive environment prevents these types of abuse from happening in the home. According to science, children who experience instability in the early years are under stress. When a child experiences stressors relating to poverty, abuse, divorce, or insecurity, he or she produces stress hormone cortisol. This changes the architecture of the child’s brain and affects their impulse control. These same stressors also have a profound effect on a child’s ability to navigate through school successfully and the ability to interact with peers positively. In fact, stress can be a central cause for both emotional and physical illness, impacting your child’s overall health, school attendance and school performance.

What Are Safe, Stable, and Nurturing Relationships?

All definitions are provided by the CDC.

Safety: The extent to which an individual is free from fear and secure from physical or psychological harm within their social, physical, and work environments.

Stability: The degree of predictability and consistency in one’s relationships as well as the social, emotional, and physical environments.

Nurturing: The extent to which parents and children have access to individuals who are able to sensitively and consistently respond to and meet their needs.

The experiences of children are centered around the three elements listed. Moreso, children experience the world through their relationship with nurturing and caring adults. Parents that are looking to strengthen the relationship between themselves and their children are encouraged to focus on understanding, helping, and enjoying them. Parents are also encouraged to devote uninterrupted attention to their children, everyday. This allows for serve and return interactions and for the child share their new ideas, thoughts and feelings. When children experience their feelings being validated, they are more comfortable with sharing with the adults in their life. Children need to know that their parents will respect, accept, and not minimize their feelings. As a result, children are more prone to demonstrate healthy serve and return interactions with their parents.

Raising a Healthy and Happy Child is The Ultimate Goal

“Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.” — Dr. Seuss

Yes, that’s right. I don’t know one parent that does not want their child to be happy and healthy. This is the ultimate goal for most parents. Many times, parents focus on providing a home and the other elements (nurture and support) are overlooked. Children who consistently receive stability, support and structure are more likely to grow into successful adults. Parents are encouraged to focus on follow through when considering the aspect of consistency. For parents seeking to establish consistency, predictability and follow through, see the definitions of each below:

Consistency means that you respond to your child’s behavior the same way every time no matter what is going on or how you’re feeling. Consistency is doing the same thing every time.

Predictability means your child knows what will happen and how you will respond. Predictability is expecting or knowing what is going to happen.

Following through means that you do what you say you will do in response to your child’s behaviors. This is often called the “say what you mean and mean what you say.”

Parents can create structure and predictability at any age with their children. However, it is advised to start in the early years. Parents can begin with routines for important activities of the day, like meals, bedtime, or in the morning. Structure allows children to feel safe and secure, simply because they know what to expect. Children are able to be within the established rules and routines.

Creating a Positive Home and Positive Atmosphere

Alright, I’m not saying be overly positive. That’s not genuine and your children will be able to tell the difference. However, creating a positive home does allow for genuine and supportive interactions. Parents set the tone. Here are a few tips for parents looking to create a positive home and positive home environment:

Provide Praise and Encouragement

Children need to know when they have done something good! Praise them! Reward their efforts. Balance is needed with providing praise, as children need to feel supported when they struggle. Maintaining positivity is one way to support children during this time.

Instill a Positive Mindset

Build the mindset of your children up through positive affirmations. Children quickly learn “I” statements by doing so. “I CAN”, “I WILL,” “I AM”

Model the Behavior You Would Like to See

Using soft words and demonstrating soft actions demonstrates positive behaviors for your child. Children should not witness harse language and tones as this makes it okay for them to use.

Encourage Confidence

When children see their parents acting in a confident manner, they are likely to pick up the behavior. Parents are also encouraged to support your child’s confidence.

#Healthy, Parenting, Self-Care, Uncategorized

Surprising Health Benefits of Coffee

Coffee is one of the worlds top rated beverages. For many, coffee is viewed as a guilty pleasure due to perspectives on sugar and caffeine intake. However, did you know coffee holds many positive health benefits for those who choose to consume this beverage? Yes, that’s right! We are going to dive into the major health benefits on your health that can happen from drinking a cup of coffee.

The statements within this post are for factual purposes, only. If you are interested in changing your diet, consult with your medical provider.

Vitamins and Minerals

One cup of coffee holds a significant amount of vitamins and minerals. Black coffee contains a number of micronutrients, potassium, magnesium and niacin. The sodium level is very low. The data below provides the micronutrient nutritional profile of 100ml of medium strength black coffee.

Image provided by Coffee And Health

In fact, the type of water used in preparation of coffee can determine the number of nutrients in a cup. This is due to hard and soft water having different effects on coffee once prepared.

Coffee and Energy Levels

One well known fact about coffee is its ability to shift your energy levels. Coffee is known to help people feel less tired and increase overall energy levels due to a main ingredient, caffeine. Once a cup of coffee is consumed, the caffeine absorbs within your blood stream and travels to your brain. This stimulant (caffeine) blocks adenosine, an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain that makes you sleepy.

Coffee has been shown to improve overall brain function. Most of these functions include memory, mood, vigilance, energy levels, reaction times, and overall mental function. Some studies have found that caffeine may enhance short-term memory. There is not a definitive answer regarding the effects of caffeine and long term memory functions.

Lowers Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Research has shown where coffee drinkers have a lowered risk of contracting Type 2 diabetes. Studies observe that people who drink the most coffee have a 23–50% lower risk of getting this disease. One study showed a reduction as high as 67%.

Researchers with Harvard University tracked over 100,000 people for over 20 years. The results were that people who reduced their coffee drinking by one cup cup developed an increase in developing diabetes by 17%.

It’s not clear why coffee has such an impact on the development of diabetes.

Coffee Makes You Happier

Yes, a caramel macchiato can make you happier in the morning. However, research shows that drinking coffee daily can lower your risks for developing depression and can also cure depression symptoms. As of today, coffee, cocoa and tea are being actively investigated because they contain polyphenolic compounds that may have beneficial effects on mental health, including behaviour, mood, depression and cognition.

Another study with Harvard found that participants who drank 20 cups of coffee a day had a 20% chance of becoming depressed. Research into coffee and depression has found that people tend to experience less severe symptoms when they drink coffee. Coffee appears to lower your risk of developing depression and may dramatically reduce suicide risk.

Lowers Risk of Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s Disease is a condition that impacts the central nervous system and impacts movements and causes tremors. In the early stages of Parkinson’s disease, your face may show little or no expression. Your arms may not swing when you walk. Your speech may become soft or slurred. Parkinson’s disease symptoms worsen as your condition progresses over time. It typically occurs due to low levels of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a chemical that plays an important role in movement and coordination. Coffee consumption appears to reduce or delay the development of Parkinson’s Disease and caffeine is most likely the causal factor.

A 2010 review of previous research found that the more caffeine people regularly consumed, the lower their risk of developing Parkinson’s”- Medical News Today

During another study, those individuals diagnosed with Parkinson’s had lowered caffeine levels of 76%. It is suggested that coffee does in fact, lower the risk of Parkinson’s Disease, given the findings.

Coffee Manages Weight and Speeds Up Metabolism

Are you still looking for a reason to drink coffee? Coffee aids in weight management and speeds up overall metabolism. As mentioned above, coffee contains stimulants. These stimulants are caffeine, theobromine, theophylline, and chlorogenic acid. The most effective stimulant is once again, caffeine. Caffeine fights to make you stay awake and controls energy levels.

Caffeine increases your metabolic rate making it easier to lose weight. The higher your metabolic rate, the easier it is for you to lose weight and the more you can eat without gaining weight. Caffeine increases your resting metabolic rate. This increases the number of calories you burn while resting.

There is a potential downfall to this concept. The body can become immune to the effects of caffeine, causing it to have a reverse effect.

#Healthy, Cooking

Cooking With An Air Fryer- The Top Air Fryers On The Market

Before talking about the best rated air fryers or best air fryers to purchase, we need to ask one important question, do air fryers really have health benefits? The majority enjoys that crunch and crispy moistness in a plate of French fries or fried chicken.

However, with the suiting appetizing taste comes with huge price related to oil used in cooking these delicious foods. The risk according to experts, are linked to health problems like heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and cancer.

The good news is that you can still enjoy your fries and plate of fried chicken, without the risk of compromising your health. This is the purpose of the use of air fryer technology. Air fryer technology promises the same taste, same texture, and same golden-brown color of oil-fried foods, without compromising your health with all the fat and calories.

Cooking With An Air Fryer

Air fryer technology is a major breakthrough in the food and cooking industries, as it shifts the cooking mode from deep frying with oil, to frying with lesser oil and still getting the same result.

This is a huge milestone for those that love fried food and are still concerned with cholesterol level.

For you to really enjoy your cooking expedition with this amazing air fryer, here is a compiled a list of The Top Rated Air Fryers. These are the best air fryers to buy according to what is trending in kitchen gadgets and appliances.

Top 10 Air Fryers

Listed below are our top 10 air fryers you can invest in to start preparing a healthy and nutritious meal for you and your family members.

#1. COSORI Air Fryer Max XL(Digital Control) Cooker with 100 best air fryer recipes

The Cosori Air Fryer is one of The Top Air Fryers on the Market. It cooks your food quickly with a huge reduction in the amount of oil and fumes that comes with traditional deep frying. With the Cosori Air Fryer, you can make your favorite fried foods with the same crispy, delicious flavor using little or no oil.

Cosori Air Fryer can easily air fry your food in any form, be it fresh or frozen. You can easily air fry chicken wings, chicken breast, sweet potatoes, steak, fresh fries, and many more at the touch of a button.

  • Large Capacity of 5.8-quart perfect amount of food for 3–5 serving.
  • 13 Cooking Functions, 11 presets, Preheat, and a ‘Keep Warm’ function
  • Dishwasher safe, PFOA free, and BPA free.

Model Name : COSORI Air Fryer Max XL(100 Recipes)
Capacity : 5.8 Quarts
Color : Black/Red/White
Power : 1700W
Voltage : AC 120V

SEE MORE DETAILS

#2. Instant Pot 5.7Qt Vortex Air Fryer

This is Number 2 on the list of Top Air Fryers on the Market. The Instant Pot Vortex Air Fryer creates your favorite crispy french fries with 95% less oil. This is one of the best rated air fryers that can make a delicious and tender chicken breast or roast your favorite veggies.

best air fryer recipes

The size of this best air fryer oven is perfect for growing families as well as compact enough to fit any size kitchen. The air fryer has built-in smart features that make it simple to operate with customizable programs for easy cooking and overheat protectiom for safety.

The Instapot Vortex Air Fryer is fast, versatile, and convenient. This makes it so easy to make all your favorite fried foods with less oil and no mess.

The size of this best air fryer oven is perfect for growing families as well as compact enough to fit any size kitchen. The air fryer has built-in smart features that make it simple to operate. With customizable programs for easy cooking and overheat protection for safety.

The instantpot vortex air fryer is fat, versatile, and convenient which makes it so easy to make all your favorite fried foods with less oil and no mess.

SEE MORE DETAILS

#3. Ultrean Air Fryer, 4.2 Quart

The Ultrean air fryer is the number 3 on the list The Top Air Fryers on the Market. This amazing kitchen appliance brings to you the solution of healthier and easier cooking. Fry, roast, grill with no mess! One mane benefit is you can enjoy splatter free cooking!

Ultrean air fryer you can enjoy the same with fried and crispy foods with less fat and grease. This Hassle-Free Operation provides you with accessible buttons and an easy cooking set up. It comes with an auto switch off timer (0-30mins) and adjustable temperature setting (180°F-400°F).

This is one of the top rated air fryers with a multifunction cooker that saves your time and money. Aside air frying, you can also grill, roast, and bake your favorite food with its innovative heating system-rapid air technology. This air technology is designed to cook your food evenly without the hassles of using hot oil or a thermometer.

Enjoy the following features:

  • Advanced Rapid Air Technology
  • LCD Display
  • Detachable cooking pot
  • Adjustable Timer and Temperature
  • Accessible Buttons
  • Scratch Free Modern Design

Brand Name : Ultrean 4.2 Quart Electric Hot Air Fryers
Capacity : 3.97 Liters
Color : Black, Blue, Red and white
Item Dimensions LxWxH : 13.21 x 11.26 x 12.42 inches

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#4. GoWISE USA 8-in-1 Digital Air Fryer with Recipe Book, 5.0-Qt

GoWISE air fryer is one of Top Air Fryers on The Market. With the GoWISE air fryer, you can cook a delicious healthy meal in less than 30 minutes, similar to other air fryers. This best rated air fryer can fry, bake, grill, and roast with little to no oil.

This is one of the best air fryer ovens with a modern and advanced touch screen tech and incorporated start/stop button which allows you to change your program mid-cycle. This fryer also as has a built-in alarm function to remind you to shake your ingredients in 5, 10, and 15-minute increments.

air fryer oven

With this large air fryer, you’ll enjoy 8 pre-programmed cooking functions including fries/chips, pork, chicken, steak, shrimp, cake, fish and pizza. Or, use the manual controls to customize to your needs.

This air fryer is equipped with a wide temperature range from 180F to 400F and a timer for up to 30 minutes. And, it also has the ability to cook 2 meals at once with the basket divider accessory
This air fryer is PFOA-free and comes with a non-stick and PFOA-free air fry pan and basket with a cool touch handle and removable crisper tray for easy clean-up.

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#5. TaoTronics Air Fryer, Max XL 6 Quart

Tao Tronics air fryer is one of the Top Air Fryers on the Market with its brand as the “Calorie Killer” and welcoming slogan for weight loss. This is the most reliable kitchenware in your daily life.

This is a perfect appliance for everyone, from student/white collar/housewife/vegetarian. No matter if you’re cooking breakfast/lunch/dinner, you will find the air fryer is always your kitchenware with the highest attendance rate for its omnipotence.

 large air fryer

This air fryer oven offers 11 preset menus, with precise time settings for maxi full control. This fryer takes the place of the deep fryer, oven, frying pan, toaster, sandwich maker, defroster, microwave oven. It’s time to release kitchen space with the multifunctional air fryer.

Easy Cooking Ideas from 50 Recipes

  • Muffin Breakfast Sandwich: 12 mins + 320℉
  • BBQ Bacon: 10 mins + 320℉
  • Honey-Sriracha Wings: 35 mins + 380 ℉
  • Cajun-Style Shrimp: 8 mins + 370℉ Chocolate Soufflé: 23 mins + 330℉

TaoTronics TT-AF001 11-in-1 Smart Air Fryer
Technical Specifications
Voltage: 120V – 60Hz
Power: 1750W
Capacity: 6 qt / 5.7 L
Temperature Control: 150-400°F / 65-200°C

Cooking Time Setting: 1-60mins
Dimensions:
Item Dimension: 11.73 x 11.73 x 13.39 inches (L x W x H)
Packaged Dimensions: 15.24 x 15.24 x 15.24 inches (L x W x H)
Item Weight: 13.8 lb / 6.26 kg

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#6. Ninja AF101 Air Fryer

Ninja Air Fryers are best known for its 4 in 1 ability, air fryer, roasting abilities, reheat and dehydrate functions, just to name a few. Visit Air Fryers with Up to 75 Percent Less Fat.

With a wide temperature range of 105 degree Fahrenheit to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, this allows you to gently remove moisture from foods or quickly cook and crisp foods with convection heat.

cheap air fryer
Four In One Functions
  • Air Fry: Get the crispy, golden textures you crave without all the fat and oil.
  • Roast : Make your favorite casseroles, roasted veggies, and more. No oven required.
  • Reheat: Reheat and revive leftover pizza, fries, wings, and more back to crispy perfection.
  • Dehydrate: Remove moisture from ingredients to make homemade dried fruits, veggie chips, and jerky.

Brand Name : Ninja Air Fryer
Capacity : 3.79 Liters
Color : Black/Gray
Item Weight : 4.9 Pounds

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#7. Chefman TurboFry Air Fryer

Explore the delicious, healthy culinary possibilities when you cook with the Chefman Turbofry Air Fryer. With this sleek, versatile cooker, you can fry up your favorites in minutes without worry about the extra fat and calories from oil. Use up to 98% less or no oil and achieve the same crunchy, satisfying results.

 best air fryer oven

The Chefman Turbofry allows you to create culinary masterpieces in minutes without the mess and stress of traditional frying methods. Plus, the included frying basket and tray make for versatile meals with a simple cleanup process, as both are dishwasher safe.

Brand Name : Chefman TurboFry Air Fryer
Capacity : 2 Liters
Color : Black/Grey
Item Weight : 1.5 Kilograms

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#8. Cokunst Air Fryer 6.6 Quart 1500-Watt

This is one of the best air fryer with large capacity for your family. The Cokunst Air Fryer oven with 6.6QT/ 7 Liter capacity is enough to supply a family of 5~8 members. The air fryer has 8 cooking presets, allowing you to air-fry extra crispy chicken wings or delicious kebabs without any difficulty.

best buy air fryer

This amazing kitchen appliances can make a delicious food with up to 80% less oil than traditional deep frying methods. Temperature controls from 104℉~392℉, timer up to 60 minutes and automatically shuts off and provides a ready signal after cooking.

Brand Name : Cokunst Air Fryer
Capacity : 4.92 Liters
Color : Shiny Silver
Wattage : 1500.00
Control Method : Touch

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#9. Secura Air Fryer

The Secura Air Fryer is a 3.4 Qt Electric Hot Air Fryer and uses hot air in combination with high-speed air circulation (rapid hot air) and a top grill to prepare a variety of tasty dishes in a healthy fast and easy way.

top rated air fryer

Large 32 liter basket (7 5″ diameter x 4 25″ high) provides enough capacity to cook snacks for the entire family or a main entrée. Create Healthier food by using less grease in your cooking with the “Hot Air Cooking” method.

This fryer offers rapid circulating, hot air technology for fries, roasts, grills, reheats, and bakes. For the greaseless and efficient countertop cooking, 3.4 quart locking large fryer basket cooks dinner for one or a family feast, perfectly.

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#10. COMFEE Air Fryer

This is one of the best rated air fryers in the market. It’s a 5.8Qt digital air fryer just like others. This toaster oven & oilless cooker, 1700W with 8 Preset Functions, LED Touchscreen, Shake Reminder, Non-stick Detachable Basket, BPA & PFOA Free.

best rated air fryer

This air fryer is easy to use. Also, the Comfee Airfryer can replace a deep fryer, microwave oven, fryer pan, toaster and grill. This is an amazing approach to a healthier life!

Brand Name : COMFEE Air Fryer
Capacity : 5.8 Quarts
Color : Black
Item Weight : 11.3 Pounds

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#Healthy, Clever Kids Corner, Cooking, Nighttime Routines, Outdoor Activities, Parenting, Toddlers

13 Ways to Spend Quality Times With Your Children

Morning Routines

Our morning’s are extremely fast. Extremely. As I was thinking about how to spend more time with my children, it dawned on me that I was already doing that in the morning’s. In the morning’s when they brush their teeth and forget to mouthwash. In the morning’s when they lose one shoe or cannot find their homework. That’s the time. But I had to figure out how to make it quality. So I started asking questions. I’d ask questions like, what are you looking forward to most today? My oldest tends to give me an answer about hanging with her friends at recess or how she’s excited to discuss a recent TikTok with her classroom best friend. My youngest almost always looks forward to seeing her teacher. On the drive to school, we talk. Some days, they talk and I just turn the radio down and listen. They hop out and that’s it. It seems so little but that’s the quality time needed for them to start their days, everyday.

Nighttime Routines

Nights are a little different. This is because we’ve all had the chance to go into the world and come back home with the results of that day. Nights are not as rushed. They are calm. Nights are our moments to decompress and reflect. Again, they talk and I listen. They talk about their friends and who got into trouble. They talk about who burped in class and who tripped them at daycare. They talk and I listen. Sometimes I’ll ask a question and I almost always get a response. I accept both the good and bad responses. Some of the not so good responses are followed by a question by one of my children. They want to know ‘why.’ They eat dinner and talk and I listen. They get ready for bed and talk and I listen. Bedtime stories and bedtime videos on YouTube happen, sometimes by request. We all sit in bed and read or listen to a video and it’s calm. They search for sleep music on their TVs (yes, they have to sleep to sleep music every night). We hug before bed and off they go to dreamland to begin again the next morning. And that’s it. That’s the quality time.

Take Videos and Pictures Everyday

I am the mom with the camera aimed and ready 365 and 24/7. I have been taking pictures of my little ones for a decade and I don’t see that changing one bit. Take pictures. Take videos. Strangers will look at you strange. Do it anyways. You will look back at every picture and think of the good times. Both of my daughters absolutely love the camera! They have been in front of it since birth and it has become our version of quality time. We pose in strange locations and take pictures. We make silly faces. We make funny videos. We crack up at each other and that’s our quality time.

Movie Nights and Days

Lazy days. We all need them. We have our days when we just lay around and watch movies. They love it and I love it. The days turn into nights and we spend lots of time together on those days. I learn all about their new interests and ideas. I witness all of their new artwork. We watch movies and paint nails. They wash their dolls hair and they borrow my brush and comb to do the hair. We take naps. That’s the quality time needed. They are able to just be and still be accepted for the little children they are.

We Go To Church

We go to church. We sing and laugh and listen. Sometimes they sit with me and sometimes they visit the kids church. When they sit with me, they just listen. They absorb. They sometimes ask questions and listen more. We take pictures afterwards. We eat lunch and they laugh. My oldest makes jokes and the little one laughs hysterically. Most church days, they are full of energy!

Shopping and Ice Cream

Weekends! We get up and GO! We go shopping or browsing. We ride around and go into different stores. We walk around and they bring me random items they want or are curious about. We talk and laugh. My oldest pushes the basket and runs into shelves and people (sometimes). My youngest almost always gets in the basket (although, we all know she’s a little tall for the front part). They sneak stuff into the basket. My youngest hides under clothing racks and giggles. My oldest picks stuff up and plays dress up in the middle of the store. They both do cartwheels in the frozen food aisles. Sometimes, I just push the basket cluelessly because I know they are okay and they are just being children. We check out and they always fight over who will pull my card from the machine. My youngest loves putting groceries away and she’s quite good at it. I just let them be and that’s our quality time.

Game Night

We have game nights. I always lose. But both of my girls are very good! I’m not sure if I lose because I’m helping them each turn but somehow they manage to beat me, and that’s okay. We play Candyland. We play MyLife. We have karaoke competitions-for hours. They make jokes and laugh. When one of them starts the pout over losing, I pep talk them and they are okay again. They argue over turns. Sometimes tears. But then, we always end the night peacefully, somehow.

No Technology

Yes, that’s right. We have blackouts. No TV’s, no laptops or tablets. Even if it’s only for a few hours. Most times, this happens when tensions are high and I can tell we all need to decompress. Their first response is, ‘ahhhh nooo.’ After about 30 minutes, they are settled into the quiet. I might find one doing a crossword and the other washing her dolls hair. During this time, they are calm and present. My oldest tells me all kinds of facts, stories and ideas on her mind. My youngest likes to cuddle and tends to nap off and on.

I Cook, They Eat.

I’m not the best cook but they eat happily. They put their requests in early in the morning and I attempt to make it. It’s not always a winner but it’s a chicken dinner! Ha. They almost always compliment dinner. We talk and laugh. They waste food on the floor and on their clothes and on the table. They clean and keep talking my ear off. We laugh when someone burps or when it comes out the other end haha. Quality time.

1 On 1 Time During Dance Classes

Both of my girls have separate dance classes on separate days. This means one on one time! We go get our nails painted. We ride around. We jam out to music. Most importantly, we talk.

Going to Nana’s

Off to Nana’s we go! Nana always has the good snacks so they (and me) are always happy. They run around aimlessly. They play with bubbles. We play with water guns. We talk and laugh. They play outside and run away from bugs. My youngest cries. My oldest runs faster. We play with the baby cousin, neighbors and with dogs and house birds. We record videos. We eat. They talk and laugh.

Laundry and Clean Up Days

We have clean up days where we have to get everything back in order. They groan. I play music..loud, when needed. Sometimes, they jump right in. We compete to see who finishes first. My oldest always wins. They dance and clean. They sing and clean. They sometimes cry and clean. They complain and pout and clean. When it’s all clean, we relax. Everyone is back at peace when it is clean and all is well again. My oldest apologizes for pouting most times. My youngest could care less. Ha!

Park Days

On park days, they bring their bikes while I exercise. They play on the playground and sometimes asks to be recorded as they do flips. I record. They race on the track with their bikes and zoom past me. I challenge them to go faster by passing them on the track and they always pass me. I help my youngest on the monkey bars. My oldest pretends to climb across the monkey bars. They introduce me to their new buddies that they meet on the playground. We have picnics. We play with bubbles. We leave before dark, tired and wore out but happy. This is our quality time.

In a Nutshell

Hopefully you’re able to leave with new ideas to spend quality time with your little ones. Or maybe you could just relate to this post. Did I leave any out?

Comment below!

Animal Facts, Parenting, Positive Home Environment

5 Reasons to Own a Cat

Cats are cute, lovable animals and they make great house pets! House cats are the smallest cat within the cat family. However, that does not mean they are less curious! For cat owners, there is a special bond between the house kitty and the family. We recently adopted a new house cat from the animal shelter. As a previous cat owner, the goal is to create a loving environment for our new family member using prior experiences. Let’s explore 10 Reasons to Own a Cat.

Cats Are Cozy Creatures

Yes, that’s right. Cats love to snooze on and off all day. Cat owners can find their beloved feline sleeping in almost any location within their home. However, cats thoroughly enjoy sleeping in the sun or on a window sill facing the sun. Potential cat owners should be aware of cat claws when seeking to snuggle with their cat. Cats enjoy calm and relaxed environments. I am quickly learning that when adopting a new, fully grown cat, it takes the pet a little longer to get acclimated to their new home environment. With that, don’t expect your kitty to snuggle immediately.

In reality, cats sleep for an average of 12 to 16 hours a day, and older cats will nap for up to 20 hours a day. That’s a lot of time than your cat spends sleeping!

Cats Will Keep Insects and Rodents Away

Becoming a cat owner has another benefit, they are known to kill rodents and insects! Do you hate mice and lizards around your home? Cat also are not fond of these rodents. Once the hunt is complete, expect your sweet and lovable pet to bring home their catch!

Cat Are Fuzzy Stress Relievers

Stressed from work? Cat owners are encouraged to pet their cats head or stroke their fur, as a means of reducing stress. When you’ve had a hard day, coming come and spending some time petting a fuzzy feline can cause your body to produce stress reducing hormones. When you do so, your heart rate and blood pressure decrease and your anxiety levels normalize.

A cat purrs within a range of 20-140 Hz which is known to be medically therapeutic for illnesses in humans. A cat’s purr can not only lower stress it can also help labored breathing, lower blood pressure, help heal infections, and even heal bones. 

Cats Are Eco-Friendly

Kitten Dies After Catching Covid As Study Uncovers More Evidence Of  Human-To-Cat Transmission

There are many ways that pet owners can sustain an eco-friendly cat. Read more below:

  • Spay and neuter your cat
    • This will help with population control of stray cats.
  • Choosing to adopt a cat
    • Why not adopt a new kitty? These cats are just as lovable as purchasing a new cat from a breeder. Check with your local animal shelter about the cat’s history and medical records before adopting your new pet.
  • Purchase eco-friendly cat food and cat litter
    • There are many different types of cat litter for cat owners. Research before purchasing a new cat litter to ensure it is eco-friendly.
  • Keep cat indoors
    • Keeping your cat indoors once again helps with population control. Also, keeping your pet indoors helps with the potential of getting fleas and tics from the outdoor environment.
  • Search for sustainable cat toys
    • Cat owners are encouraged to search for cat toys that can be re-used.
  • Cats Are Low Maintenance

    While cats tend to have lots of fur, their overall care is low maintenance in comparison to other house pets. Cats can bathe themselves and are very aware of their personal pet hygiene. Potential cat owners do not have to worry about bathing their cat for many reasons. Generally speaking, cats bathe themselves for a number of health reasons including: elimination of parasites, stress management, and the distribution of natural oils throughout their fur.

    • Grooming not only removes mud and grime from cats’ fur, but it also helps predators and prey from identifying them. How do they do it? Some odors that have been absorbed within their skins are removed by the cat licking them.
    • Grooming distributes the oils created naturally by a cat’s skin and hair. As a result, this keeps her coat smooth, lustrous, and hydrated.
    • Isn’t there anything more soothing than a massage? Cats, on the other hand, are in the same boat! Instead of going to a masseuse, they groom themselves to relieve tension and relax.
    • To establish and reinforce their relationship, cats groom each other and their humans. Cats grooming each other in hard-to-reach areas are common.
    • Humans perspire. Dogs have a tendency to pant. Cats lick their own fur. When it’s really hot outside, cats wet their hair with saliva to keep cool.