Ever wonder how you ended up with so much stuff? The answer is... life happens. You need things; things to take care of you and others. You need things to help you earn a living. You need things to clean your home. You need things to prepare and eat food. You need things to decorate you and your living spaces. The list of things you need can seem endless, especially when you're just starting out.
You acquire things as you discover that you need them. Then as time goes by, you find that you need less and less but you keep on acquiring things. Maybe some things seem like a good idea at the time but then you learn that you really have no use for them. Or your situation changes so that thing is no longer needed. Or maybe something bad happens in your life and you decide to go shopping to lift your spirits.
How you manage your things as they come and go can have an effect on your life. What you do with your things is not always a priority at the time you bring them home. Those things start piling up because you don't have a strategy to manage your things, and they become clutter. As I've mentioned before, clutter is stagnant energy that can have a negative impact on your life. You may think you're keeping your things in order then, BAM! Life happens. Someone gets married or has a baby. Someone else gets divorced, or becomes critically ill, or any number of life changing situations that you need to confront.
Developing a strategy to manage the things in your home can keep your things proportionate to your living spaces. This strategy doesn't need to be complex. Simple things to consider when you bring things into your home, is a good start. Having an overall strategy to manage things as they come and go, will maintain your peace. Read on for some ideas to develop your strategy.
· Next time you are going to acquire something, ask yourself if you really need it, if you will use it, if you have space for it, if you have something similar, if you love it.
· Find a home for it when you bring it into your house, and label the space or container, so you know where to put it when you're done using it - this also helps you see what you have so you don't buy duplicates.
· Give yourself permission to discard a gift or inherited item that you don't love, won't use, or have space to store. You can always take a picture of the item, and perhaps voice record the story behind it to keep with the picture; digital storage is the best option for this concept.
· Ask the person how long they need to store it in your home, then, decide if you want to keep it for that long. Label it with an expiration date. Contact the person a couple of weeks or so before the expiration date to remove their thing(s).
· When you bring in a new thing, remove another thing - one in, one out rule; teach this rule to everyone that lives in your home.
· Make the decision to purge your things on a regular basis, then decide how often to do it. Everyone in the home needs to be onboard with this concept.
· When purging, ask the same questions above that you ask yourself when you are acquiring something new.
· Determine allotted space for each item category. When the space fills up, it's time to purge.
· Make purging your things part of your cleaning regimen.
Our goal is to de-clutter & organize your living spaces, by creating solutions based on your natural habits and routines, so you can stay organized & regain your peace of mind.
Be well. Live with Purpose.
Studies have shown that children can lose between 10 and 25% of their reading skills over the course of the summer. This is directly due to the lack of work, skills, or drills in which the student should be engaged over the break from school. This manifests itself in a very slow start in the fall and difficulty with coursework when school resumes. Additionally, a child's ability to write effectively is hindered because the writing process has not continued over the summer. Below are several ideas to help your child maintain and improve his or her abilities over the summer months.
1. READ, READ, READ. Reading is without a doubt the most important facet to a child's education regardless of age or grade in school. Even math tests are becoming more challenging as word problems are nearly impossible to answer correctly without an understanding of the task at hand. Although many schools have summer reading assignments, more often than not a child sees this as a punishment since the book was chosen for them and not by them. Most students read the summer book assigned three to four days before school begins in September. I suggest purchasing a $15 gift card from the local bookstore and allowing children to choose ANY book they feel like reading. (Of course, it must be appropriate) This does NOT have to be a book that they will be reading for school. It will have extra meaning for them since it will be a book that they have chosen without parental or teacher input.
2. Write, Write, Write. Journals or diaries are an excellent way to keep students in the "school mode". While reading is important, writing and reading work in concert and you really can't have one without the other. Children will not want to do long writing assignments but journals based on what they read and how they feel about the readings can be brief and assist them in moving forward once school begins.
3. Fun Study Groups: Kids get together all the time to play video games, watch movies, and just plain "hang out". An exciting book or magazine article that all have read can spark some additional interest. This is a bit more difficult because it does require some parent input. You might want to find an article on the internet about a video game the kids play and challenge them to create a test for you based on that article. This way, you have to read the article as well. The culmination is to see if they can stump you on a question. Bet them a trip to their favorite ice-cream store once they have completed their test regardless of how well you do on the exam. (Pizza works too!)
4. Movie Reviews. Take your child and a friend to the movies and offer to buy EXTRA surprises at the candy counter if they promise to write a movie review afterwards.
5. Letters. The arrival of computers and improved technology has been a double-edged sword in society. Our children rely on spell check and other such programs to provide them with a product that is well written. Have them write to their grandparents via "snail mail" and NOT e-mail in order to continuously maintain and sharpen their skills.
While it is difficult to have children complete arduous assignments over the summer, it is important and necessary to engage them in activities that will keep their brains active. This will make the transition from one school year to the next more positive for them on a variety of levels. Let's turn the summer brain drain into the summer BRAIN GAIN!
Be well. Live with Purpose.
These days we live in a society of use and abuse. We use and abuse the environment. We use and abuse our natural resources. We use and abuse our belongings. We use and abuse our bank accounts. And we use and abuse ourselves.
We just throw things out and replace them at whim. We think nothing about the huge mountains (or islands, in the case of the oceans) of waste which are growing not all that far away from us. We don't care that each and every of our actions has a profound and echoing reaction.
The topic of waste is a book unto itself. I want to look at just one tiny aspect of it: Food. Or food and drink, to be more precise.
I want to ask you something, and I would like you to think about the answer and be open and honest about it. You do not need to share your answer, not unless you want to, but be honest to yourself about it.
What do you do with leftover food and drink?
If it is food or drink which you have cooked or bought at a restaurant, do you store it appropriately to be eaten at the next convenient time or do you throw it out? If it is food or drink which you have bought and have not prepared or eaten, do you find a use for it before it goes off or do you throw it out? When you do eat out, do you ask for a doggy bag for your leftovers or do you just leave them on the plate to be thrown out?
There is so much which we can do with leftovers. Indeed, there are whole cookery books which cover the subject on the market. Leftovers are sometimes inevitable. Even if you plan your meals to cover the amounts everyone normally eats, you might well find that every now and then there is a small portion of rice, potato, pasta, meat, vegetable or other item left over. These are normally easy to combine with another meal within a couple of days, or they can be labeled and frozen to make into a larger meal later on.
Have you ever heard of a pot luck party? That's an event where each person brings part of the meal - sometimes themed (e.g. Mexican, Indian, Vegetarian, Tapas), sometimes free choice. Sometimes you'll find that the contributions mix wonderfully, other times you really are facing the luck of the pot. Leftovers can work the same way. Collect the bits and pieces and store them safely. Once a month pull them out, add a small extra dish if necessary, and serve it up. You might occasionally end up with some wild combinations, but normally the foods do blend fairly well with each other. Many families find this kind of event fun.
I think my wildest combination was a quarter spiced up ham pizza; mild vegetarian chili; beetroot salad; butter rice; Thai inspired catfish and prawns in a coconut milk sauce; and broccoli. I added a few slices of ham and cucumber plus a handful of cherry tomatoes to the offering and everything got eaten up with gusto. There was something there for everyone in the family.
But if you are dealing with just a small portion of something, you can use it up for yourself or someone else in your family the next day easily. The variety of tasty sandwich combinations you can make is amazing. Even boiled potato and poached salmon mashed together with a bit of mustard or mayonnaise can be turned into a great sandwich - or add an egg instead and form it into fish patties for a quick and easy warm meal. Last night I combined a slice of French Toast, the remainder of a tin of baked beans, some boiled carrots, lambs lettuce and a beetroot salad together. It made a very pleasant meal which I normally would not have considered.
And now a quick look at the drinks side. Have you ever thought about how much liquid you pour down the drain in a day or a week? Maybe your child(ren) didn't drink the milk at breakfast or dinner. Maybe a glass of juice was left standing. Maybe you brewed too much coffee or tea. There is no need to throw it out (unless, for example, the milk or juice has been exposed to very warm temperatures AND sunshine for several hours). Just put it in the fridge and bring it out next mealtime. Pour it into a fresh glass if necessary, but keep it. Tea can be made into ice tea - or frozen as ice cubes for a later date or treat (the best mulled wine has strong black tea in it!). And coffee. Many people immediately throw out a cup or pot of cold coffee. Yet many others prefer day old coffee to freshly brewed. Try it. Drink the coffee later - just warm it up and sip it. You might well be surprised at how much you still enjoy it.
What if you just bought too much, or bought something to try which in the end you decided was a bad idea? There are still plenty of ways to use it rather than to abuse it.
If you have a load of vegetables in your fridge which are starting to look like they have seen better days then grab yourself a pot and half an hour and make up food for a day when you might not have time or inclination to cook. Turn it into a stew or a soup and freeze individual or smaller portions. Cook the various ingredients separately and freeze them ready to use later. Prepare it and store it. Grab the meat which is about to go off and cook it up quickly. It doesn't need to be fancy, you can just throw it in the pan with a tiny bit of seasoning. But get it stored to use later as quickly as you can. If you bought an item in bulk because it was cheaper, but it is now going bad and you cannot store it to use later, then consider paying the extra for less next time. (By the way, you can also freeze milk, cream, yogurt and butter!)
But why is all this so important?
If you think about it, we have been conditioned to always want more, have more, find more. Somewhere along the line we became conditioned to just throw out the things which were left over or no longer totally optimal and to replace them with something new. But if we carry on like this, we will strain our planet and our reserves past coping point. Population growth is exploding. The west has mountains and rivers of waste while people in other places are starving due to lack of food or due to the pollution we are creating. And, if that isn't reason enough, think of your wallet and your bank account. The saying 'Look after the pennies and the dollars will look after themselves' is very true. If you save some of your food then you buy less food. If you buy less food then you spend less money. If you spend less money then your wallet or bank account will be fuller. If your wallet or bank account is fuller then you can use the money for something else.
So, before you opt for WASTE next time, stop and think about it for a moment and then turn it into WAIST for a later meal.
Be well. Live with Purpose.
Perhaps you think that outdoor living design specialists are the only ones who know the best strategies to create beautiful, functional outdoor spaces. Well it's time you knew the secrets! From the simple touch of stylish patio furniture to the trendy outdoor kitchen and outdoor bar, there is something you can do on any budget to make your backyard perfect for outdoor living!
A Perfect Outdoor Living Space
You can create a beautiful outdoor living space without spending too much money. The key is to use some creativity and repurpose things you already own.
Define your space.
Create and define your outdoor living space by arranging potted plants of different heights to create a "green wall" for an intimate sitting area.
Get creative with patio furniture ideas.
Think creatively when it comes to patio furniture and seating. A piece of lumber can convert into a bench, tree stumps can be topped with weather-resistant cushions to become stools, and unused pavers can be topped on to planting pots to become end tables. Anything's possible!
Get more intimate.
A lovely sitting area or outdoor dining area isn't very relaxing if your neighbor can see your every move. Consider creating bright, budget-friendly privacy screens by stringing bright outdoor rugs between patio posts, which then become a source kinetic art as the breeze blows.
Heat it up.
When you want intimacy, nothing beats a roaring fire. Buy a fire pit or build a modular outdoor fireplace to serve as the centerpiece of your outdoor living room.
Extending your home into the outdoors by prepping, cooking and eating amid the calm of nature without the worry of leaving the sliding glass door open. An outdoor kitchen is the ultimate for entertaining with everything in reach-from refrigerators and sinks to storage and even kegerators! But keep in mind that the style of your outdoor kitchen should be influenced by the architecture of your home and your personal style.
Drink Up Outside
Speaking of kegerators, it's time to consider a full-on outdoor bar. Location is important when planning an outdoor bar. It should be conveniently located adjacent to an outdoor dining area or where people like to gather near your patio furniture. You have to decide if you want a wet bar or dry bar. A wet bar is great but you'll need access to water and electricity. A dry bar requires storage space for coolers to keep drinks chilled. And again, the décor of your outdoor bar should be designed around the rest of the outdoor living space.
Get it Done Right
If it takes an expert's skill and experience to turn your basic backyard into an outdoor living oasis, consider hiring out the task. Make the most of your space with precise planning, an artistic vision and the expertise of a professional design team. A professional designer with a keen eye for style and detail can expertly plan your patio furniture, outdoor kitchen, outdoor bar and more offering advice on appliances that will last. And most of all, you'll need a professional will know how to give your home the most dazzling entertaining space on the block!
Be well. Live with Purpose.
In today's fast paced and chaotic world, you can create a home that will provide a feeling of peace and comfort as well a beauty for your family. It doesn't have to cost a lot of money if you use your creativity.
Organize and Declutter:
No matter the size of your home be grateful for that space that you call yours! Look around.
Make the Room Smell Yummy
This step is easy because there are many inexpensive ways to accomplish this! Smell can add to the peace in a home.
At times adding soft music, can make your home feel more peaceful and inviting.
Take time to sit down and organize your meals and meal time.
You can achieve some fun family time in several ways. This not only helps you to bond, but it creates an atmosphere that your children will want to be a part of. They may want to hang around the home a little more instead of always asking to go to a friend's home.
Set House Rules
There is a song that says that your home can be a heaven on earth. Why not? It can be a refuge from the storm for your family members.
It is important to be home if you can when your children arrive home from school or work. With a few thoughtful ideas, your home can be a magical place for your family to be.
However you choose to decorate and create your house of beauty and peace, follow your heart and make it a special place for your children and spouse to come home to. Then long after your children leave to start their own families, grandma and grandpa's home will still be the best place to visit! You can have peace and beauty in your home if you are willing to try!
Be well. Live with Purpose.
Pure essential oils can be costly, but are they worth the added expense when compared to fragrance oils? To answer this question, you have to understand the differences of not only how they are made, but what the intended purpose is.
Fragrance oils are oils that are made specifically for scent. They are created to provide a nice aroma to your environment. They are typically long lasting and can smell very delicious, appealing, or whatever they were formulated for. The molecules of the fragrance oils are larger and tend not to evaporate as readily. If your only concern is sprucing up the environment for your olfactory nerve then fragrance oils are the route you most likely want to take as they last longer, come in hundreds and thousands of scents, and they typically are considerably less expensive.
The latter, on the other hand have many other uses and are created entirely different. They do not use synthetic ingredients. They are the essence of the plant they are obtained from. Typically they are steam distilled, although most of the citrus ones are cold pressed. There are other methods to achieve the essential oils from the plants but those are the most common.
Pure essential oils are costly because unlike fragrance oils they come from plants in limited quantities. The essential oils are grown in the plant to help it survive. Certain oils are produced to help ward off pesky and hungry insects that would otherwise consume the plant if it did not have the oil. The same oil that protects it, is what we distill and then use as a natural insecticide. The process can take years depending on the plant. The plant needs to be the proper age. If too young, it may not have enough oil, and the same goes with a plant that is aging and not producing nearly as much. Then it has to be harvested and extracted. Then bottled, and shipped often across entire continents since some plants grow better in different climates. Pure essential oils are believed to have therapeutic properties that fragrance oils do not have. They contain phytohormones which can bind to the receptors that humans have and create an actual effect. Certain oils have phytoestrogen that may bind to human estrogen receptors as an example. Although essential oils have potent and powerful scents often, the scents were not created for human enjoyment in a laboratory like fragrance oils can be. They are simply natural. They often are smaller molecules, so they tend to evaporate more quickly. In aromatherapy, essential oils are used extensively due to their therapeutic effects.
In regards to cost, essential oils can be much more expensive. There are certain oils that can cost hundreds of dollars for a 1/3 of an ounce of oil. While that is not the norm and only a tiny percent are that costly, there are still common essential oils such as Sandalwood that retails for $82 for 1/3 of an ounce (10ml) although it can be purchased online for $41.00. Even the lower priced pure essential oils are typically more expensive than average and even high priced fragrance oils.
Is it because the quality is better? Not necessarily. Again, what determines if one is better than the other is the purpose you plan to use it for. If you are looking for therapeutic benefits then you would most likely not want the fragrance oils.
Be well. Live with Purpose.
There's really few things more exciting than rounding up the gang together for a fun family trip. As summer takes a tighter grip on the days, one of the best (and certainly kid approved) ways to celebrate is with a road trip. As a classic way to gather the whole crew up for a week or so of bonding, the road trip is often overlooked as an activity that needs planning because the destination will offer up the fun. However, as it's often said: Getting there is half the fun!
Keep these awesome 10 things in mind when your family adventure rolls around.
1. Pack fun car games to keep the family entertained
Keep a variety of giggle inducing games that are car friendly to keep boredom away. You'll never have to hear another "Are we there yet?" from your squirmy kids in the backseat. A few ideas for games for your family fun trips are CatchPhrase, Mad Libs, Car Bingo, and Name That Tune.
2. Pack yummy (and nutritious) snacks for the road
Don't rely on the roadside stores to satisfy your snack attacks. Having prepared snacks is a great way to keep any tummies from rumbling with the peace of mind that you know what exactly is going into your family's bellies. Wouldn't you rather feed your family wholesome cut veggies, sandwich squares, and juice than the sugary sodas and questionable hot dogs you'll find in a gas station?
3. Book an awesome hotel
Ensure your fun family trips go smoother than a jar of creamy peanut butter by carefully booking your hotel. You want to make sure that it has something that the whole family can enjoy like swimming pools, breakfasts, cable, and all sorts of other awesome goodies.
4. Go on adventurous tours
Skip the boring tours and opt for ones that offer a more memorable experience like ghost tours, dollhouse museums, or safari rides at a wild life center.
5. Do your research
Wherever your final destination is pinned, make sure you have a list of things to see and do before you get there.
6. Take a camera
With all of the excitement of the pending trip, cameras are sometimes forgotten. Be sure you won't miss special moments of your fun family trips by remembering to pack your camera, charger, and spare battery.
7. Get some fresh air
When you're planning out your days, don't forget to add a few trips that will offer outdoor fun and sunshine to give the little ones room to run around and stretch their legs.
8. Check out cheesy landmarks
Every city has cheesy landmarks. Go to each one and snap a silly photo.
9. Have some littles time
Carve out a very special day that's all about the kiddos. Maybe you decide to head to a n amusement park or museum that you know they'll love.
10. Have some grown up time
Don't forget to have some special grown up time too, though! Whether it's a nice dinner with wine or a flea market, be sure to include fun for the grown ups too.
Hi there, does your family really have to eat every day?
I don't know about you but my family seems to think they are supposed to eat EVERY DAY! You would think I would get on board with this idea and actually plan out what I was going to make. After being on this earth for many years, I still don't have a system for meals/menu planning. Why is this? Would it really reduce my stress when the question is asked, "What's for dinner?"
Why have I resisted for this long? My nature has me rebelling before I have even thought of the situation, this happens in all aspects of my life. Someone tells me, "You should wash your clothes every week." Instantly I'm thinking, "NO, I shouldn't! I should do what I want! You can't boss me around!". But what if...
What if we could develop a simple menu planning system that would reduce our stress, inform everyone what's for dinner & even save us some cash at the store? We wouldn't have to tell anyone that we developed said system. Hmmmm...
If we were to hypothetically develop a simple menu planning system, how would we go about doing that? What if we set a timer for 5 minutes and start writing all the main dishes our family has on a regular basis. Then set it again for 5 minutes and do sides. We'd have a list of typical meals for our house, and we didn't have to over think anything. Alrighty! Let's add an element of fun. Gather 2 containers, cut "mains" into individual strips and put into one container. Do the same for the "sides" and put in the other container. Now have the kids choose one of each and write it down for each day of the week.
We now have a week's/month's/couple days' worth of meals! We can then set the timer for 5-10 minutes and write out our grocery list. A little bit of work, but the time spent with the kids may be worth it! After we go to the store we'll have everything on hand that we need to make said meals & we are free to choose any one that we want!
What do you think? Do you think this is worth the effort? Does the timer create more stress or less stress for you? Do you have any creative ideas to accomplish the same mission of knowing what's for dinner, having everything on hand & maybe just maybe not cringing each time you hear, “What's for dinner?"
Do you feel children are eating too many sugary snacks and sweets and eating less real food? From an early age children are given candy as treats, as rewards, or used as bribes. Special events are celebrated with cakes, ice cream, and other sweets. Sugar is part of life from an early age. Some believe that when children get exposed and hooked on candy, junk food, and soft drinks at a young age, it can set up a pattern of sugar craving.
As parents, are you frustrated on how to help them cut down or eliminate their sugar cravings?
Some view the never-ending "need" many have for sugar as a powerful addiction not unlike that of alcohol. With sugar addiction, individuals are no longer able to use their body's natural abilities to control their food intake. Reportedly, some parts of the world still keep sugar under lock and key believing it to be a narcotic.
There is conflicting evidence over sugar-producing mood altering swings in children. But many parents have seen the changes in their child from a sweet, fun-loving child to one of a hostile, out-of-control "brat". Too much sugar causes different reactions in different people.
Studies have shown that high sugar intake not only adds pounds but plays a role in a wide range of health problems such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and obesity. Long-term sugar addiction can also produce a weakened immune system, chronic fatigue, hormonal problems, and gastrointestinal issues as well as anxiety and depression.
Just as with any other addiction, sugar craving needs to be controlled. This includes cutting out artificially sweetened foods as well as natural sugar foods. Getting the sugar habit under control is especially important for children for health reasons as well as weight control.
How can parents help their sugar-craving kids?
-Help make candy and other sweets less readily available. Often "out of sight, out of mind" helps. Stock cabinets and refrigerator with fruits and vegetables that are within easy reach.
-Start your kids off with a good breakfast. This could consist of a vegetable omelet or oatmeal with chopped almonds or quinoa flakes and fresh fruit. It could also include last night's meal of chicken or roast beef with veggie sticks.
-If you are the chief meal planner and preparer, eliminate sugars and any sugar derivatives (honey, molasses, corn syrup, high fructose syrup and the like) from the menu. Plan meals in advance, shop intentionally, based on what you need, and prepare the meals at a set time.
-Pack the meals with plant-based foods from the vegetable group, the fruit group, and high-quality protein sources from animal or plant protein sources such as seafood, poultry and lean meats.
-Set a good example by not eating foods with sugar. This means eliminating any "diet" soft drinks and other processed, sugary foods as well.
-Take your kids shopping and ask them to help you make dinner or prepare their school lunch. Praise them for their good choices.
-Have pitchers of water handy so your kids can drink this anytime. Kids should drink water rather than any soda or other sweetened drink.
One of the biggest helps is to teach kids the value of staying active and exercising. When they are playing baseball, hiking or biking they are not as apt to want a piece of candy. Then, have some healthy snacks when they are through, such as nuts or peanut butter sandwiches on whole wheat bread, rice cakes and peanut butter, carrot sticks, apples, bananas, grapes, etc.
Your child may be tempted to eat sweets, just as you, perhaps, are tempted. Try to get past the temptation by focusing on another activity. Perhaps on some hobby you have, or a pleasant experience you had.
Some like to use visualization when this happens. They imagine and visualize how much healthier they will be without the sugar, or they will see a firm, slender body if they don't indulge.
Getting past the sugar craving is not easy. Having candy and other sweets out of sight is the first step. Stocking up on healthy foods is the second. What your children eat or don't eat relates to how they think, act, and feel so it is in everyone's best interests to help them eat healthy.
Since the warm months are here many families visit playgrounds as a fun outdoor activity. While playgrounds are an excellent place to let kids run around and be kids, they can also learn something here. It never hurts to combine physical and mental learning while at playgrounds.
Here's what kids can learn at Playgrounds broken down by age since different ages have different capabilities.
1 Year Olds:
*Moms of one year olds who are walking know that all they want to do at this age is show off their new found ability. Go with it! Actually, run with it. Let them walk or run in wide open areas.
*Baby swings - if your park has a baby swing, this is the perfect age to buckle your child in and let them experience the wind on their face.
*Wildlife - at this age it's still about narrating what you are doing. If you see any wildlife, name it for your child. Talk to them about that animal.
2 and 3:
*Children in this age group are still all about running around so let them burn off as much energy as possible by running and jumping.
*This age will enjoy swings too but may or may not fit in the "baby swing" depending on its size. Sing songs while you swing or imagine you are pumping your legs to reach a destination. Three year olds have great imaginations so encourage it while swinging.
*This age group will love to run and hide from you. Make a game of it. Or pretend you're in a castle with hidden doors and rooms.
*If you spot any wildlife (birds, bunnies, squirrels etc) have your kids identify the type of animal and make the coordinating noise if there is one.
4 to 5:
*This age group has mastered gross motor skills so now they can easily move on to higher slides, "fire fighter" poles, hand-over-hand ladders etc. Look for a park with more activities to keep this age group occupied.
*Parks with creeks will also interest this age group. There is so much to explore in creeks from different types of plants to squishy animals.
*Challenge this age group in a large open space by skipping, hopping on one foot etc.
6 and Older
*As with the last age group, look for a park, perhaps a city park, with more equipment and activities. This group is very agile and sure of themselves. You'll probably hear lots of "Look, Mom!" as they boast of their new skill.
*Parks with creeks are also good for this age. Now you can take it to the next level in learning and apply science to what you see along the creek.
*Bring a ball - many older kids are involved in sports. Now's the time to bring the soccer ball and kick it around for pure fun. Or if the park has a basketball goal, shoot some hoops.
*If you're kids are getting bored with the playground equipment, find a park with lots of room to run and play "tag" or other games.
Next time you're at the park for some summer fun, parents, slip in a little bit of learning. The kids will be having so much fun they won't even know what you're doing!
The hectic and fast-paced modern world is making it increasingly harder for families to spend quality time together. Unfortunately, this change in how people relate to and function with one another is also under-mining family values. Fortunately, there are several things that you can do to ensure that the bonds that you and your loved ones share remains strong. Following are several tips for planning an incredible family night.
Value Quality Over Quantity
The reality is that family night can happen every night. You do not need a special occasion to spend quality time with your loved ones. People overlook the importance of these gatherings simply because they feel impossible. Most consumers are simply too overwhelmed by their work responsibilities and their living costs to make this a priority. Never underestimate the benefits of prioritizing quality over quantity, especially in this area. You can start by making dinnertime a chance for everyone to come together and update their lives.
When you do, be sure to:
- Have everyone turn off their mobile phones and tablets
- Turn off the television
- Set the mood by formally setting the table
- Give everyone a chance to list out the things they're grateful for and to talk a bit about themselves.
Moments like these will keep you connected and up to date on everything that is going on. This is especially important to do if you have small children in the home. With regular, daily meetings, families can have a clear understanding of how everyone is doing and can offer support and help to those who are most in need of it.
Eliminate Stress And Tensions
Have a running family rule that people are to resolve their problems as soon as they arise. Gossip has no place in these circles and thus, if there are issues that need to be discussed, have the affected parties discuss them directly with each others. While relatives should be allowed to vent from time to time, they should move beyond this to purposeful, meaningful discussions that are action-oriented. This way, no one's feelings get hurt, problems are resolved and everyone can enjoy each other without there being any underlying currents of hurt and distrust.
Keep Things Simple
Do you best to avoid making these ornate affairs. Don't feel as though you need to invest in special, costly linens, floating votive candles or a decorative punch bowl. Make sure instead that the living environment has a comfortable and homey touch. Also, avoid feeling as though you need to take care of everything yourself. Set a date and a time and get everyone together.
Make Food Preparation Easy
Meal preparation is a chore in and of itself. You don't have to spend hours laboring over your oven in order to bring these events together. If you plan on inviting extended relatives for a large group, have everyone bring a dish to share. You can even order in from a local pizza shop and make this an entirely relaxed affair. Your ultimate goal is to make everything as easy and stress-free as possible. When feeding large groups of adult relatives, you can even take up a small collection to cover the costs of catering your next affair.
Down a supermarket aisle, a frazzled mom pushes a cart full of disposable diapers, plastic water bottles, and screaming kids. Being a parent is hard enough. Modern conveniences like big-box stores, prepackaged snacks, and disposable Tupperware seem make life easier. But do they? It's not easy being green. But being a conscientious consumer just might make life simpler in the long run.
As parents, we want the best for our planet because our kids will inherit the earth. The extra effort we take to live more sustainably is our small gift to future generations. Being a conscientious consumer means we think about what we bring into our lives and how we use the items we already have. There are several schools of thought on the subject of minimal living (Project 333, The Minimalists, The KonMari Method, etc.). The main goal in all of these is to intentionally select a small number high-quality items to have in your life and let go of the rest. In this post, we will look at how to live simpler and be a conscientious consumer through: purchasing thoughtfully, minimizing responsibly, and managing resources wisely.
Make thoughtful selections when buying new products. The deliberate curation of durable clothes, kitchenware, and home goods combats the "throw-away culture" of modern society. When objects last longer, less goes to the landfill. When we reduce consumption overall, less stuff is manufactured and less packaging is used.
Even when purchasing thoughtfully, there still comes a time to get rid of stuff. With this simple living principal in mind to "use what you have, and have what you use," think about what you truly need, and let go of the rest. When minimizing clutter, do so responsibly. Try to limit stuff that winds up in a landfill. Remember that someone else may find value in the object your getting rid of. For example, our automatic coffee maker stopped working, and I listed it for free on our local Facebook "trading post." Another mom came and got it because her son liked taking apart and tinkering with appliances. The coffee maker stopped being useful to me, but it still served a purpose for someone else.
Purchased items is only one form of consumption. Consider other resources we use such as transportation, energy, and water. How can individuals and families reduce their consumption of our planets valuable resources?
Making these lifestyle changes into habits isn't easy. Maybe you are already doing many of them. But being a conscientious consumer is better for your family and the environment. As the great Albus Dumbledore said, "There will be a time when we must choose between what is easy and what is right." As for me, I'll take the challenge head on. I want to be the mom chasing my kids around the farmer's market while carrying a reusable bad of fresh, local produce.
Outside of retirement and purchasing a home, there may be no more important financial goal that requires preparation than your children's higher education tuition. While saving for college may seem daunting, planning early and saving thoughtfully can make the goal more attainable for many parents.
Here are four steps that can help along the way:
1. Estimate college costs
Take a realistic look at what higher education costs are likely to be once your child is ready to attend. Even if your son or daughter is still learning to walk, you're able to estimate your college bill. Historically, the cost of college has risen faster than the standard rate of inflation. According to The College Board's Trends in College Pricing 2016 report, the average tuition and fees at public four-year colleges increased at an annual rate that was 3.5 percent beyond the broader inflation rate between 2006 and 2016. Check out free online college savings calculators to estimate tuition and fees at public or private institutions, such as the website SavingforCollege.com.
Use the estimate as a guideline for a conversation with your spouse about how much you'd like to contribute to your child's education. Do you wish for your child to contribute? Will you cover the cost of books, room and board, and extracurricular fees? If you have multiple children, what will your financial strategy be if your children choose different college paths (e.g. private school vs. public, 2-year vs. 4-year, graduate school, etc.)?
2. Start setting money aside as soon as possible
There is no substitute for saving. Your future self - and your child - will thank you for starting early. Craft a habit-forming strategy, such as saving a set amount each month, putting aside a regular bonus or raise, or saving your tax refund. Remind yourself that even a modest amount will make a big difference in tackling your child's tuition.
When you're ready to put your money to work, choose a savings vehicle that is right for your financial situation, risk tolerance and goal amount. One of the most popular options is a 529 plan, which is specifically designed to help families save for higher education. Money invested in a 529 is run by a state or educational institution, although you have a choice of investments. When money is withdrawn for qualified education expenses, no taxes are due on earnings accumulated in the account.
Other tax-advantaged savings options include Uniforms Gifts to Minors Act (UGMA) accounts, Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (UTMA) accounts, tax-exempt savings bonds, and Coverdell education savings accounts. There are also taxable account options, allowing you to choose the vehicle that works best for your family.
3. Research financial aid options
It may be difficult to save enough to cover every education expense, particularly for families with multiple children or if you're balancing other financial goals. Scholarships, grants and loans may help you fill potential gaps. The U.S. Department of Education allows you to forecast your family's eligibility for federal student aid before you fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) when your student applies for college. Even if you don't anticipate needing federal aid, completing a FAFSA may be required if your child wants a work-study job or to qualify for merit-based aid through the institution. Many scholarships are available to high schoolers of all grades, so encourage your child to research local opportunities.
4. Revise your savings plan as your child ages
Periodically revisit your strategy, to make sure it's on track to meet your financial goals. Remember, you can re-prioritize and save more as college move-in day approaches. As your child ages, bring him or her into the conversation. Discuss the level of support you will provide. Help your child consider various career paths and higher education options, evaluating them to see if they are realistic and within your budget. While other factors will play a role in determining the school that is the best fit for each student, it is important to factor in the cost as one of those considerations.
While Higher Education may not turn out to be the right choice for everyone, being as prepared as possible when that time comes will help ease the financial obligations. Overcoming the challenge of paying for higher education starts with a plan. Understanding the real costs of college tuition and fees helps you craft an effective strategy to reach your financial goal.
Children, like seasons, should be enjoyed in the moment. Isn't it funny how fast time seems to go by? With kids, it seems like we just keep waiting for them to do the next thing, like going from a baby to a toddler, from playing in the park to playing in the schoolyard. The seasons seem to follow this same pattern. We keep waiting for the next holiday season to roll around before we've even enjoyed this one! I refuse to be pulled into this. I want to enjoy each stage and each season while I'm in it.
We start seeing commercials on TV in September for Christmas tree lights! We have the two major holidays of Halloween and Thanksgiving in between there before Christmas rolls around. I absolutely love the fall season and I am going to continue to enjoy it without thinking about Christmas. I'm going to enjoy the colors, the smells, and the beautiful changes of each season while it's here, without thinking about the next holiday coming up.
Similarly, when you have a baby and you're sitting in the dark silence of the night, you're waiting for the time when he sleeps through the night. Once that happens, you're waiting for him to crawl, then to walk. Stop, though, and take a moment to enjoy each one of those stages of his life. It doesn't seem like the middle of the night crying or exhaustion would leave much for you to appreciate, but you will never be that close to your baby again. It's just you and him. Nothing else in the world matters but that. Enjoy that time. Very soon, you will be just a part of their world, not their entire world. Hug him, love him, and appreciate those quiet (and loud) moments between just the two of you. Keep doing that through every single stage. Enjoy each and every season of his life for what it is.
To me, it seems like the holiday season is a lot like children going from your arms to going to school; it seems like it happens so quickly! Take the time to appreciate each and every step. Try not to rush it along or let it pass you by while you wait for the next milestone. I liken the long, cold, dark stretch of winter between Christmas and Memorial Day to the adolescent stage of kids. If any of you have had teens, I think you'll know why. That time seems like it will never end! Have faith; just like the seasons this, too, will pass and continue on as it has forever. Try not to rush it along; work to create some of those moments that you will want to remember for years to come. This season is just as important, if not more so, than any other.
Celebrate it with them and enjoy the moments because this season, too, will pass.
Those who don't enjoy cooking find it a chore or too challenging. One reason may be they are intimidated by the recipe. The list of ingredients and/or the actual instructions may be lengthy.
To start, browse through the recipe from beginning to end. While it may appear long, the list of ingredients frequently itemizes very common items like butter, cooking oil, salt, pepper, various spices, etc. The instructions may look complicated but, again, simply detail basic procedures like setting the correct stove top or oven temperature are detailed. Get familiar with the methods or processes and get a feel for how easy or difficult they may be based on your abilities. You want to be comfortable and try to cook the dish or you may pass for feel of the dish not coming out just right. If you're uncomfortable, try cooking it just for yourself and experiment/practice your skills. Even the best chefs have burned toast or cooked a hard boil egg to long... so to speak. Remember, recipes are used by the best cooks around the world.
Now that you've read through the recipe, you know what's involved and the ingredients you'll need. You want to have all the ingredients when you start. It will be very frustrating to start cooking and run out of something simple. You'll lose your enthusiasm and interest.
Next step... prepare the ingredients.
Make sure you have the right ingredients... and the correct quantities. While you can generally substitute Dijon mustard for spicy brown mustard, you can't use dry mustard. You don't want to find out you need 3 cups of chicken broth when you only have a half a cup. As you get more experience with cooking, you'll learn how easy it can be to substitute and/or adjust quantities.
Now... make sure you have the right cookware and utensils.
Most recipes will call for a specific type of pot or pan, but rarely is it "exotic" and not something you already have in your kitchen. Basic large spoons, ladles, tongs and "flippers" usually cover what you need. A tip... if you're using "non-stick" or enamel coated pots and pans make sure you use wooden rubber type utensils so you don't scratch the coated surfaces.
Some time ago I decided that if you have to do something several times a day, why not make it a hobby and enjoy it. Cooking can be fun and give you a sense of accomplishment... not to mention a very enjoyable meal for your family or friends.
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