MommyMandy l Texas Mom Blog

How to Protect Your Child from the Emotional Negatives of Divorce

With 40-50% of all U.S. marriages ending in divorce, you can guarantee that at some point a child is going to be involved.

Whilst younger children usually bounce back and quickly get used to mommy and daddy having separate houses, older kids tend to be more aware. However, no matter where they currently are in terms of developmental stage, you won’t be able to hide your divorce from your children forever.

So, the priority here is making sure that your child’s emotional health remains intact – after all, they are the innocent party in this. We’ve listed the five top ways to protect your child from the negative effects of divorce.

1. Encourage Communication

You might not want to talk about your divorce right now, but some day the nitty-gritty details are going to come out and staying silent will set the wrong example to your little one; teaching them to keep their feelings bottled up can have awful long-lasting effects.

If you hire a good divorce lawyer, they may be able to help you explain the process to your child objectively. This can be a good way to start the flow of communication between you two.

2. Compartmentalize

Dividing the various parts of their life and boxing them off in mental ‘compartments’ comes easily to some people; for others, it can seem impossible. But, when your child is around, it’s so important to file thoughts about the divorce away in your mind for another time.

Remember that your spouse is also your child’s parent; your little one doesn’t want to hear bad things about mom or dad. Unless it’s an extreme situation such as abuse where your child can’t see their parent again, don’t be that parent who shares the details. Doing so can lead to a strained relationship between your child and ex-spouse for years to come. And, it will affect your own parent-child bond.

3. Stay Positive

It can be hard to think positive thoughts when the marriage you’ve worked so hard to build is being demolished in front of your eyes. But, striving to see the bright side will encourage a culture of underlying happiness and contentment in your home, no matter what.

From a child’s perspective, there’s some pretty good perks of having divorced parents; two birthday parties, two bedrooms, and in some cases, new brothers and sisters to play with. Remind them that it’s not all bad.

4. Get Support

Finally, in some cases, you will need to get extra support for your child. Some children are particularly hard-hit by a divorce; perhaps they share a close bond with your ex-spouse and not having them around is breaking their heart.

Therapy with a good pediatric psychologist can help your child to deal with the changes in their life. Additionally, encourage your child to remain friends with your ex; let them visit as often as they need and encourage them to stay in touch by calling or texting.

Did divorce affect you as a child? Did you hire a great divorce lawyer? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Snapology LEGO® Themed & Robotics Classes, Camps & Birthday Parties near Montgomery, AL *Giveaway closed*

LEGO® Themed & Robotics Classes, Camps & Birthday Parties!

Snapology offers parties, classes & camps in The River Region, including Montgomery, Prattville, Wetumpka, Millbrook and surrounding areas. In addition, we are now mobile! Snapology is proud to offer school field trips, workshops, scouting events, anti-bullying programs, and customized events all at your convenience and location.

Robotics For All Ages!

Snapology provides interactive Robotics programs for children ages 3-14 using LEGO® bricks. Students in the robotics programs learn pseudo-coding, coding, robotics and engineering principles. Using fun topics and themes, such as animals, games, space and battle machines, we embrace children’s interest and curiosity to guide them through robotics and engineering principles. Our programs provide the best mix of fun and education for your child. In fact, most kids have so much fun in our programs, they don’t even realize how much they are learning.

LEGO®- Themed Classes, Camps & Workshops

Snapology’s themed programs are designed to promote creative play, teamwork and social skills. Through the use of popular topics like Minecraft, Star Wars & Superheroes, students are engaged a variety of theme-focused activities while learning engineering and math principles. Snapology’s goal is to put purpose to their building through blueprinting and idea sharing.Our themed programs use LEGO® bricks, K’Nex  and other interactive building toys to engage children and spark their creativity.

If you are looking for  Montgomery kids activities near you check out Snapology!

Parents! Right now Snapology is currently enrolling for their summer camps! You can find a local camp near you here.

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ONE winner will receive a LEGO® brick set of the Snapology Mascot Sebastian Gator

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Snapology LEGO® Themed & Robotics Classes, Camps & Birthday Parties near Montgomery, AL *Giveaway ends May 20th*

Note: This giveaway is open to US shipping addresses only.

This giveaway will end on May 20

*A product was provided.

Great Second Careers for Over 40’s

More people than ever before are choosing to take a career break or make a change in their 40’s, 50’s, and even 60’s. One of the reasons for this is that the growth of online study means it’s much easier to learn new skills and gain qualifications while working. Courses such as an online doctor EDD program have grown in popularity in recent years, which means those who are perhaps bored of their careers or want to take on new challenges are no longer stuck. They have options. Here are just a few.

Consultancy

If you have been working in one industry for the last 20 years there is a good chance you know what you are doing. Becoming a consultant in that field would allow you to use your skills and knowledge to help others just starting out. Spend time assessing their business, spotting problems and coming up with solutions. Then move on to the next firm. Consultancy is a great way to use your skills to help others while meeting a range of different people.

Starting a Business

As well as opening the door to further education, the internet gives people the opportunity to start their own business. You could set up many different services including those in hair and beauty, painting and decorating, catering, or removal services, and use the internet to promote and advertise to a wider audience. Starting your own business is both challenging and rewarding. Use your experience of working for other people. Take their strengths and learn from their mistakes.

Freelancing

Freelancing can be a great way to turn a hobby into a career. If you enjoy writing, photography or web design, advertise your skills on a site such as Upwork to get your first clients. You could then set up your own website or blog to sell your skills, show off your portfolio, and build your own client base. With work like this, experience and passion are much more important than qualifications.

Teaching

Teaching makes a fantastic second career. Your skills and experience are invaluable, it’s a growing industry always in need of new staff and there is plenty of room for progression. Once you are a qualified teacher studying for an online doctor of education, this could see you go on to become a dean, head of department, chief academic officer, or an education administrator.

Nursing

Nursing is another career path where your life experience and skills could be exceptionally useful. Many people choose a job in healthcare as their secondary career as it allows them to help others and give something back to the community. Like teaching, nursing is a growing industry with room to grow and develop.

Remember, it’s never too late to learn or to make a change. Don’t feel trapped in an unhappy career. If there is a new path you are interested in, whether it’s on this list or something different, look at what skills you need and try to find courses and experiences that would fill any gaps in your knowledge and qualifications before applying. Good luck.

Craft Ideas for Mother’s and Father’s Day

Do you dread shopping for Mother’s and Father’s Day gifts? The search for items that demonstrate your love feels like the quest for the fountain of youth: hopeless.

This leads many to procrastinate shopping at all. Then at the last minute, people spend more money than they intended on a gift they aren’t that happy about.

In 2016, Americans spent over $35 billion on Mother’s and Father’s Day gifts. That’s a lot of ties and flowers!

On average, people last year spent $125.92 on Father’s Day gifts and $172.22 on Mother’s Day presents.

But here’s the thing: you don’t need to spend a lot of money to show your parents you love them. And maybe by spending less money, you’ll make Mom and Dad feel even more special.

Sounds like magic, right? It is, but you don’t need to be a magician to achieve it. Check out these 10 DIY crafts ideas that could make this Mother’s and Father’s Day season extra special.

1. DIY Photo Transfer to Wood

Parents love family photos. Rather than putting pictures into store-bought frames, try transferring your photos onto wood for a unique, rustic look.

With the magic of Mod Podge, you can imprint the color from a laser-printed picture onto a block of wood. You won’t need a lot of expensive supplies to make this craft, but you will need some patience and care.

Once you’re done transferring the image, get as creative as you want by adding embellishments like letters and words to the finished product.

2. Classy Silhouette Brunch Cookies

Food brings families together, and these silhouette cookies will add a special twist to your Mother’s Day brunch.

Put a spin on the classic silhouette by using your kid’s profiles on the cookies rather than a random artistic portrait. Don’t have kids? Mom will love your silhouette too!

While these cookies take some extra effort to make, you’ll create personalized works of art that make Mom feel special.

3. Tee-Time Cupcakes

Not to be outdone by Mom’s brunch cookies, check out these fun golf-themed cupcakes for Dad.

Maybe your father needs a new set of clubs or golf shoes, but there’s so much to consider when making purchases like those. It’s too easy to buy the wrong things.

So make these adorable golf cupcakes instead. And while you’re getting crafty, make a card online too!

4. Painted Cork Coasters

Dads will appreciate these colorful, fun cork coasters. And you’ll appreciate how fast and easy they are to make, with minimal materials.

Use tape to create triangular patterns on the cork for painting. But get as creative as you want with the designs.

You could paint other shapes like polka dots, hearts, and stars, or even a special message for Dad.

These coasters will score some points with Mom too. Help protect her beloved coffee table from those dreaded water stains.

5. Homemade Facial Scrubs

Your mom deserves some pampering. Spa visits are a nice luxury, but why not give Mom her own spa at home?

Here are 16 luscious homemade scrubs you can make for your mom using sugar, salt, oatmeal, and other ingredients you probably already have in your pantry.

You really only need some mason jars and food ingredients for this craft. Then get as creative as you’d like in making labels for the scrubs.

6. Aromatherapy Neck Pillow

Speaking of pampering, here’s a gift that both Mom and Dad will enjoy.

After a stressful day, aromatherapy neck pillows will help your parents relax and ease into the evening.

If you’ve got a pair of long socks, rice, lavender oil, and a needle and thread, that’s all you need to make this simple craft. It doesn’t get easier than this.

7. Paper Flower Corsage

Flowers are so lovely but they fade fast. And corsages made with real flowers, precious as they are, can only be used once.

So why not make a corsage or boutonnière out of paper? Mom will treasure and wear this beautiful gift for years to come.

This tutorial will guide you through each step with highly detailed and colorful pictures.

8. Retro Personalized Food Labels

Jazz up your dad’s favorite foods—like nuts, barbecue sauce, or pickled vegetables—with this personalized retro clip art labels.

This tutorial has downloadable designs you can print. Other than paper for the labels, all you’ll need are jars or bags for the food, plus some double-sided tape.

Cover up that boring pickle jar label with “Daddy-o-Brand” and put a smile on Dad’s face.

9. Baby footprint art

Who doesn’t adore newborn baby feet? People without souls—that’s who.

But Mom or Dad will treasure this precious snapshot in time. Check out these 10 DIY baby footprint crafts that your parents will love.

Be sure to use non-toxic paint or clay when making any baby footprint projects.

10. Vintage Teacup Candles

Does your mom love antique teacups? And what about candles?

Combine both elements in one with this classy DIY teacup candle project.

You could also use these candles on your Mother’s Day brunch table! And similar to the silhouette cookies, this is a delicate project that takes some effort.

But vintage teacup candles make a charming addition to any home’s decor.

Summing It Up

With so many crafty DIY projects on the web, there’s no need for anxiety this Mother’s and Father’s Day season. Choose the craft that most inspires you, roll up your sleeves, and get started.

And if you’ve got kids, be sure to include them in the crafting process too. You may even start a DIY family revolution that goes beyond these holidays to birthdays and other special occasions.

While store-bought items are nice, homemade gifts convey a thoughtfulness that transcends picking something off a shelf or browsing Amazon.

Taking time to make something with your own hands is a physical demonstration of love. And it’s a gesture Mom or Dad won’t soon forget.

As a bonus, you’ll spend less money on making a homemade gift than you’ll spend on buying one.

Affordable and thoughtful? Sounds like a win to us.

11 Ways to Encourage Your Child to Drink More Water

With a huge assortment of fruit juices, fizzy drinks and more tasty beverages for children available from your local grocery store today, getting little ones to drink more water can be difficult. But, staying hydrated is especially important for children; even more so if they are regularly active since our bodies quickly lose water through sweating, digestion, and even breathing.

Thankfully, there are many things that parents can do to make drinking enough water fun and easy for children. We’ve put together some top tips to help you encourage your child to stay hydrated, energized and healthy.

Tip #1. Water Filtration

If you tend to drink water from the faucet, your child might be turning their nose up at the taste. Using a good water filter will purify your home’s water supply, making it perfect for drinking without the metallic taste that unfiltered water tends to have.

Having a water filter at home will encourage your whole family to drink more water. See www.waterfilteranswers.com for more information.

Tip #2. Fruit Infusion

If your child prefers the fruity taste of juice, you can get a special fruit infusion water bottle to add some flavor to their drink. These bottles can be obtained quite cheaply online or from a homeware store, and have a small compartment inside where you can place any fruit of your choice.

Alternatively, you can leave a jug of water with fruit pieces in it in your refrigerator overnight to infuse. Or, instead of ice cubes, freeze berries or fruit pieces in an ice cube tray then add these to the water to keep it extra cold. If your child is a fan of soda, opting for sparkling water infused with fruit is a far healthier alternative. And, it’s much more appealing to little ones.

Tip #3. Mini Water Bottles

If your child finds it difficult to drink a lot of water in one go, then it’s a good idea to invest in small water bottles that are easy for a child to hold and use.

Tiny water bottles of 4 or 8 ounces can be purchased in multi-packs from most good grocery stores; some will even be specifically aimed at kids, with fun cartoons on the packaging to encourage them to drink more.

Tip #4. Set a Good Example

When a child sees mom or dad doing something, chances are they will want to do it too. By demonstrating healthy habits to your child, they are more likely to follow in your footsteps.

So, make sure that you are also drinking enough water in the day. Ideally, you should be aiming to drink around eight to ten glasses per day. Not only will this set a good example to your little one, you’ll also improve your own health and energy.

Tip #5. Use a Reward System

Providing incentives for your child can make drinking more water a fun and exciting experience for them. For example, you could start a chart, where your child is given a star each time they drink the recommended amount of water in a day.

Simple rewards, such as allowing your child to have an extra half an hour before bed on the weekends or taking them for a trip to the park can be effective.

Tip #6. Carry Water

When you are out and about with your child, carry a bottle of water with you in your bag. When they are thirsty, this will mean that you’re less tempted to give in and buy them juice or a fizzy drink.

Keep water bottles in places that your child can access easily when they aren’t at home. For example, make sure to always have one ready in your car, and have one ready for your child’s school bag every morning.

Tip #7. Healthy Eating

Although drinking pure water is the best way for your child to stay hydrated, they can also get some water from the foods that they eat.

Ensuring that your child gets their recommended five portions of fruit or vegetables per day will help to increase their water intake, since these foods have a higher water content than others.

Tip #8. Choose Water When Eating Out

If you eat out as a family regularly, getting into the habit of ordering water will encourage your child to also do the same.

In addition, drinking water with your meal at a restaurant is usually far cheaper, so you can save money on family entertainment and activities.

Tip #9. Freeze Water

Cold water is always nicer to drink than water at room temperature. So, keeping the water in your home ice-cold may encourage your child to choose water over other beverages when they are thirsty.

It’s a good idea to invest in some freezer-safe water bottles that you can leave in your freezer for cold, refreshing water available all day long. Alternatively, you might want to consider investing in a refrigerator with a dispenser that keeps water nice and cold.

Tip #10. Drinking Accessories

Today, you can purchase a huge range of accessories that make drinking water more fun for kids. For example, you might want to get some curly straws, decorative cups, or ice cube trays in the shape of their favorite cartoon character.

Let your child pick out a special cup that they are only allowed to use when they are drinking water. Then, make sure that it’s readily available for them whenever they are thirsty.

Tip #11. Allow Some Treats

Of course, drinking juice or soda in moderation is fine, if your child makes up for it by drinking plenty of water in between.

You might want to consider using a cup of juice or soda as a reward for your child drinking enough water. For example, if your child drinks water during the week, you can treat them to some of their favorite fruit juice at the weekend.

How do you encourage your child to drink more water? We’d love to hear from you; share your top tips in the comments.

Title: Pest Control and Children

When you begin to notice evidence of a cockroach, rodent or ant infestation in your home, your first thought may be to grab a trap or the largest can of bug spray you have in your home. These infestations can occur during any time of the year, but most people report home infestations in the spring and summer. However, before you begin spraying your home, take a breath and rethink your options. Although these store-bought pesticides will more than likely kill the uninvited guests who have invaded your home, these products may also cause harm to your family as well.

Your children are more susceptible to harm from these types of pesticides than the safer pest control services offered by companies like Go-Forth Pest Control. Children have a higher chance of becoming sick by exposure to these products because their immune system is still developing. Younger children are at greater risk because they crawl around on the floor while playing and they place objects from the floor directly into their mouths.

On the other hand, left to roam in your home, these pests could pose a danger to your entire family. Mice and rats leave droppings behind that can trigger asthma and allergies, and cockroaches also produce unhealthy allergens that can cause respiratory problems. And, in recent headlines, we have seen that mosquitos living in the southern states are carrying a host of diseases including the Zika and West Nile viruses.

The good news is that you can control pests and protect your family at the same time. You can consider implementing IPM (integrated pest management) to prevent pest infestations. Contacting pest control companies that offer eco-friendly solutions is also an option.

What are Pesticides?

When you take a quick glance around your home, at first you may not see anything that stands out as a pesticide. However, upon closer inspection, there is a chance you may actually have a few of these chemicals in your home and around your children.

According to the NIH (National Institute of Health), pesticides can also be referred to herbicides, fungicides and rodenticides. They can be found in products like:

  • Flea shampoo for pets
  • Rat poison
  • Weed killers
  • Bug sprays
  • Insect repellent

All of these products are designed to do only one thing: kill pests.

Which Group is at the Highest Risk?

As previously discussed, these products are very strong and the chemicals in them can be also be harmful to people, especially young children, the elderly, those with compromised immune systems and pregnant women. If you or someone you know falls into one of these categories and you have a pest problem in your home, do not attempt to use these products to eliminate the pests. Contact a professional pest control service that can offer you several alternatives that will not place you and your family in danger.

How are You Exposed to Pesticides?

Exposure to these chemicals generally occurs in one of three ways. The three ways are inhalation, skin contact and ingestion. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has stated that pesticide use is such a big problem in the United States that over a billion pounds of the chemical is used every year. This extreme use poses a problem for children who have less natural defenses against chemical exposure than adults.

Theories are still out on whether some of these store-bought pesticides are linked to certain childhood cancers, asthma and even learning disabilities. Because the lasting effects of these products are not known, pest control experts advise that parents limit their children’s exposure to them.

Labeling

Some parents feel as though they are caught in a catch-22. There are pests in the home they need to get rid of, but the products they need to use can harm their children. Fortunately, parents do have options. One option is if they are going to bring these types of pesticides in the home, the products should be labeled properly and stored out of the reach of their children. These products should be placed in the garage, basement or a locked cabinet.

They should also be stored in their original containers. Sadly, too many parents have had to face the consequences of placing pesticides in soda or juice bottles. Children are naturally curious, and they will sip something out of these bottles because they associate these bottles with a beverage. One small sip of a toxic substance can lead to serious, if not deadly, consequences.

The other option is to hire a professional pest control company to safely eliminate the pests from your home, and also perform regular maintenance services to prevent another infestation of your home.

Prevention

Prevention is always the best way to avoid a pest infestation in the first place. The number one way to do this is to make your home so unattractive to them, they decide not to stay. Just like humans, pests only need a few things to survive, and those things are shelter, water and food. If they are not able to find all three of these things in your home, they are likely to exit the same way they entered.

So, let us look at what steps you can take to discourage pests from invading your home. The first thing you want to do is immediately clean up all food and drink spills. Food crumbs and drops of water are very appealing to a cockroach or ant, and once there is one in your home, others will soon follow.

The next thing you want to do is keep your kitchen and dining areas clean. After you finish eating or cooking, clean the dishes, counters, sink, tables and floors. Always wash and dry your dishes after every meal and snack.

Never leave open food on the stove or counter. If you have leftovers, place the food in an airtight container and place the container in the refrigerator. Where you have food in an open cardboard box, like cereal, be sure to completely seal the box if you are leaving it in the pantry. Cockroaches eat cardboard, and will eat through the box to get to the food.

Take your trash out every night. Do not allow piles of trash to accumulate anywhere in your home. The trash can serve as food and makes a good nesting area for some pests.

Finally, make sure that you repair all water leaks, and make sure all excess moisture is wiped away. Not only do cockroaches love water, they are excellent swimmers.

How to Choose a Pesticide

If you have tried everything and there is still evidence of pests in your home, you may still be inclined to use a store-bought pesticide before calling a professional pest control company. If so, you will need to know what type of pest is in your home so you can choose the best product that will cause the least amount of harm to your family. For example, if you are not sure whether there are termites or carpenter ants in your home, you should contact a reputable exterminator for further assistance.

The next thing to do is choose a pesticide that will do what it was developed to do without hurting you and your children. One option is a bait trap. These are generally plastic cups that are filled with insecticide and food and placed in areas where the pests have been seen to lure them into the trap. These types of traps will confine the pesticide to one area of the home instead of spreading it throughout the entire home. Choose bait traps that are tamper proof as this will help to reduce your child’s accidental exposure to the pesticide.

Try to choose a product that is already premixed. You want to avoid buying a product that you must mix with another chemical because you want to limit your exposure to the product.

When applying the pesticide to the area, make sure you are properly covered to minimize skin contact. You should wear a pair of gloves, long sleeves and pants, a pair of safety goggles, and a nose mask. After you are finished, wash the clothes you were wearing and shower.

Never pour unused pesticide down the drain, in the toilet or in the trash. Read the instructions on the label so you will know how to properly dispose of the product.

Before applying any pesticide, make sure that your children, food, toys and pets are removed from the area. The label on the packaging should tell you how long it will take before the area is safe for humans and pets to re-enter.

No matter what type of pesticide you choose to use, you may not successfully eradicate the critters from your home. Even the strongest product on the market will not deter them forever if they still have access to water and food. However, by practicing prevention tips and having your home regularly maintained by a professional pest control company, you should start to see results.

Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Food Expiration Dates

There’s been a lot of debates regarding food expiration dates, with some people strictly abiding by the date printed on the packaging while others insisting that this date is flexible. Often, consumers incorrectly assume that the date on food labels indicate food safety, and that ingesting something that has “expired” can lead to food poisoning and other illnesses.

 

Here’s what you might not have known about food expiration dates:

 

  1. Understand labels.

The “Sell Before” date is intended for the retailer to know until when the product should be on display. In other words, the product should ideally be sold before the date printed.

The “Use Before” date is decided by the manufacturer and indicates the peak quality of the product.

The “Best Before” date is not the date at which the food product should be thrown out, rather, it is a recommendation for the product’s best quality or taste.

The “Expiration” Date, on the other hand, is a clear indication of the last date that a food product should be consumed.

 

  1. There are still some foods to watch out for.

Most meats, shellfish, and fresh fish have shorter “shelf” life than other food items, so it’s best to avoid eating these items after their “Best Before” date has passed. Dairy, too, has a short shelf life, and should be taken off of grocery shelves on the date of expiry printed on the packaging. On the other hand, food products that don’t require being kept in refrigerators might not necessarily cause illnesses if consumed after their “Use Before” printed dates.

 

  1. The “Best Before” date is only applicable to unopened packages.

Regardless if the “Best Before” date on the food package shows a date that’s over a month away, if you open the food package today, that date is no longer valid. This is because food has a higher chance of contamination once the packaging is opened, hence, the “Best Before” date is only really used to gauge product freshness while the food item is still at the grocery store.

 

  1. You can still consume food past the best before date.

As mentioned earlier, the “Best Before” date is only a recommendation for the food product’s best quality, so you still can consume them even past the “Best Before” date, just that the quality might not be the best by then. Yogurt and milk, for example, can be consumed safely for up to a week after the listed “Best Before” date. The key here is to use your common sense to avoid food items that have doubtful quality.

  1. Expiry dates are only required on infant formula and baby foods.

The federal government really only necessitates expiration dates on infant formula and baby food. For these items, you really have to use them up before the expiry date printed on them.

Incorrectly understanding food dates on labels contributes wasted food every year – in the range of millions of kilograms, at that. Educating ourselves about these expiry dates and similar other labels can help greatly in minimizing the amount of supposedly usable food items that we throw out.

 

Hobbies From Home: Fun, Productive Ideas for Busy Moms

In life, it’s important to have hobbies. Not just for the enjoyment factor- hobbies can help you to relax, boost your confidence and can help you to maintain your identity. They help you maintain a good work/ life balance, and can give you a much-needed break from the stress that life can sometimes throw your way. But fitting in hobbies can be a struggle, when you’re a busy mom, you don’t have all the time or money in the world to indulge in frivolous things. However, that doesn’t mean to say you can’t still have fun and do something productive. There are loads of things you can do right from your own home, maybe it’s an hour in the afternoon when your little one is having a nap or later in the evening when they’re in bed. Hobbies can help you maintain your identity after having kids, and is something just for you. And let’s face it, a bit of time just for yourself is as precious as gold when you’re a busy parent! Here are some hobbies to consider.

 

Blogging, Writing or Journaling

Blogging is completely free to start, simply open an account with Blogger or WordPress. No special equipment is needed, just a laptop or computer which chances are you already own! Blogging allows you to improve your writing skills and vocabulary, as well as introduces you to things like graphic design, coding and photography. Plus you also learn about social media networking and promotion, which is a useful skill to have. If you set up your own business at any point later down the line, these skills are all transferable. Many people have been able to make blogging their full time job, due to things like sponsored posts, advertising and affiliate marketing. So later down the line, you might even make a little cash with your hobby. If you like the idea of writing but don’t want it to be a public thing, how about journaling or creative writing? You could write stories for your kids or just for yourself to hone your skills.

Music

There are many reasons why you should learn to play an instrument- even if you’re new to it all as an adult. It teaches you discipline and patience and boosts your brain. Research suggests that adults who can play an instrument have better cognitive, motor and physical abilities than adults who don’t. Basic instruments aren’t too expensive to buy, or you could hire one and try different ones to work out which is the best for you. Youtube is full of tutorials and there’s sheet music online so this side of things would cost you nothing. If you were a complete beginner, you could hire a tutor to come to your home and show you the basics. At least from there you have some techniques you can build from.

 

Arts and Crafts

There are so many ideas on sites like Pinterest to inspire you when it comes to crafts. You could make your own candles or jewelry. You could draw, paint or sew. You could get into card making, you could use an online card maker or create something using paper and decorations. You could knit or create decorative homeware items. If you sew things like cushions curtains even clothes, you could save yourself quite a bit of money as well as have fun in the process. Another fun crafty thing to try is upcycling furniture. You can give a new lease of life to an old piece with some paint and new hardware- perfect for saving money on new furnishings in the home. Another fun craft is making items to sell, like matt oilcloths which are really popular both for on tables and under high chairs for baby messes. The world really is your oyster!

 

Baking

Baking is a fun hobby and something that will surely go down well with family and friends! With a few simple store cupboard ingredients, you can make all kinds of cakes, cookies, pastries and savories. There are loads of recipes online which you could follow along to until you’re confident enough to create your own. If you’re conscious of fat and sugar, there are healthier alternatives you could make too. Wholegrain spinach and cheese muffins, for example, make a healthy grab and go breakfast or snack. You could make vegan or gluten free goodies if you or any of your family member has special dietary requirements. It would certainly be cheaper than buying from a store, and you know exactly what’s gone into it too. If you want to bake but also want the convenience factor, a bread machine is a good investment. You get to flavor it however you like, but the kneading, proving and baking is all done in one machine. As long as you have a good dough recipe, it will work every time.

Gardening

Watching something grow from seemingly nothing into something amazing is incredibly rewarding. You could plant a variety of bulbs and seeds and watch your flowerbeds and pots flourish all throughout the year. You could create a little herb garden, or even section out an area of the yard to grow vegetables. If you wanted to take the hobby a step further, a greenhouse would allow you to extend the growing season. It will keep you fit and save you money on your grocery bill too. If you’re new to gardening, look online to find out what’s easy to grow in the place where you live. As you get more knowledge, you can attempt to grow different things. A few hand tools, a bag of compost and some seeds or bulbs wouldn’t cost much and is a great way to get you started.

 

Having a hobby that’s inexpensive and accessible, that you can dip into for an hour or two at a time is useful when you’re a busy parent. If you’re hoping to make the most of the little free time you have, give one of these a try!
Do you have any hobbies that you really enjoy? What hobbies from home would you recommend to busy parents?

New Baby Checklist: Here’s Exactly What You Need to Buy

Congratulations, you’ve just had a baby!

While this is an exciting new chapter in your life, you’re probably also overwhelmed.

Baby advice is coming at you a mile a minute, and you’re still trying to figure out how to fit all your baby’s items in your house.

But wait, you have to buy those items first.

With so much information being thrown at new parents, it’s often times too much to handle.

Starting with baby necessities is a daunting task when the store shelves are loaded with ten different types of bottles, wipes, and diapers.

Where do you start?

Here we’ll give you an easy checklist to help you purchase all the important items you’ll need for your new baby.

Clothing

Unlike the days of the cavemen, your baby can not rock a leaf diaper in the first couple years of its life.

So, you’ll need to make sure he or she is clothed and comfortable.

All of the cute baby clothes in baby boutique can make any new parent want to buy every single item.

But you should make sure you start with the basics:

  • Onesies. A huge wardrobe statement for newborns is the ever loved onesie. Make sure you choose enough long sleeve and short sleeve options, depending on the season. These easy go-to’s are perfect for keeping baby comfy – and they’re super convenient for new parents.
  • One-piece sleepers. Zip-up sleepers are ideal for changing baby’s diaper in the middle of the night. On and off in one zip, and they’re warm for a good night’s rest.
  • Socks & Mittens. Make sure your little one’s toes and fingers are warm by investing in plenty of baby socks and mittens. Mittens also prevent baby from scratching his or herself while they sleep.
  • Stretchy pants. Boy or girl, your baby will look adorable in the ever popular stretchy pants. These can be fit over onesies, and they’re easy for diaper changing. They come in a variety of colors and prints and will ensure your baby is comfortable and stylish.
  • Jackets/Coats. Depending on when your baby is born, you’ll definitely need a jacket and/or coat to keep them warm in the cooler months. Don’t forget to add a hat to keep their head warm.

Once you’ve gotten the basics in your baby’s closet, you’re all set to get them the cute clothes in the boutiques that always melt a new parent’s heart.

Feeding Essentials

Whether you’re nursing or bottle-feeding, you have to make sure your baby is equipped with the feeding essentials.

  • Bibs
  • Burp cloths
  • Nursing pillow
  • Bottles
  • Bottle cleaning essentials (cleaning tools like a bottle brush, thermal bottle bag)

Other essentials

Aside from feeding and clothing your baby, you’ll need to make sure you have the following essentials:

  • Diapers. Whether they’re disposable or cloth, these will be a necessity.
  • Bathing items. A baby tub, baby shampoo and soap, and tons of washcloths and towels to make bath time easy.
  • Crib or bassinet. Depending on how you plan to have baby sleep, their own place to rest their head is ideal.
  • Stroller/car seat. Keep your baby safe while on the go.

Bringing home a new baby is an exciting, and sometimes challenging, journey.

Make sure you’re ready with all of the essential items.

Are there any other items you think are necessities?

So Close Yet So Far: How To Maintain Long Distance Friendships

When you’re young, it’s easy to maintain friendships. You don’t have any of the responsibilities of adulthood, and you can just dedicate all of your time to spending it with the people you care about. Sadly, as you get older, it’s just not as easy to do that. Work, family, and all the other things that come along with adult life make it increasingly difficult to take the time to spend with friends. This is only made more difficult when you end up living far away from someone important to you. There are some friends who move far away, and you simply accept that you’re not going to be a big part of each other’s lives anymore. But then there are the people who are so important to you that you don’t want to lose them no matter what. Well, the good news is that it’s absolutely possible to keep that relationship going, but it does require some extra effort from both of you. Here are a few simple ways that you can maintain a long distance friendship.

 

Schedule time for each other

 

A lot of the time, when you’re near to someone, you can just make plans on a whim whenever you feel like it. Sadly that’s not really possible over long distances, especially if you’re living in different time zones. The best way around this problem is to schedule time for each other on a regular basis. Pick a time when you’re both going to be available once a week to talk through something like Skype and stick to it no matter what. It might seem a little rigid, but it’s just part of the extra effort that you have to put in if you really want to keep a friendship alive over long distances.

 

Remember the important days

 

Don’t let things like birthdays and Christmas fall by the wayside. It might not seem like much of a big deal, but there’s something wonderful about letting someone know that you care on those important days, no matter how far away they are. There are plenty of places that can help you save money if you want to send gifts internationally since postage can often be something of an issue. Don’t worry if it’s not something grand or expensive, it might be a cliche but remember, it really is the thought that counts.

 

Call spontaneously

 

Thanks to smartphones and instant messaging, there’s one thing people very rarely do anymore: actually, call each other. Why not just take the time to call your friend, apropos of nothing, just to talk. Not only will it be a nice surprise for them, but it’ll give you a chance just to sit down and talk to each other without any distraction. Texting and messaging are great because they allow you to keep in constant contact but, at the same, it means that you’ve often got lots of other things going on at once. By actually sitting and talking to each other you can give your friend your full attention, even for just a little while.

 

Happy Easter 2017

Texas has been a lot of fun so far and we are celebrating our first Holiday here (minus Sam), I took the kids to Bass Pro Shop for their Easter egg Hunt,then we dyed some eggs and woke up to our Neighbors putting Eggs in our yard!!

 

Teaching your teen to drive in different traffic and weather conditions

When your teen starts to learn to drive there will be different requirements, depending on which state you live in. For instance, Iowa has a system of graduated licenses which starts when the driver is fourteen. The system includes the requirement for your teen to take certain standard training; you can click here for more information. It also includes the requirement for your teen to undergo a mandated number of hours of supervised driving. This is a standard requirement for teens wherever you live; although the instructions and number of hours may vary.

This supervised driving is where you come in. It’s your opportunity to instil a sense of responsibility from the outset, and be a good influence. Of course, you need to make sure that your teen is able to drive in different types of road and weather conditions. So, what is the best way of doing this?

Start with the basics

Although your teen will eventually need to be able to drive in different conditions, you should never rush their learning. Before you start to teach them you should:

  • Ensure you are on the same page as the certified instructor. Mixed messages will only be confusing for your teen.
  • Plan the lessons so that you know what you want to be achieved by the end of each one.
  • Know the routes and conditions yourself, so that you can give clear and timely instruction.
  • Get some experience of sitting in the passenger seat. It’s a whole different perspective to driving. You need to be able to judge positioning and distance.

Doing all of these things before your take to the road helps lessons to go well when they start.

How to approach different conditions

Once you have started teaching your teen to drive, you obviously need to help them progress; but take your time. It’s useful to start teaching them in a parking lot, in good conditions, then progress from there. Once they are confident driving in quieter traffic, in good weather, you should start to introduce them to other conditions. It’s a good idea to try and introduce these conditions one at a time.

  • Night time driving – the use of lights and how to adjust to seeing things differently.
  • Driving in heavy traffic – how to safely enter and leave a line of traffic and how to overtake.
  • Driving in heavy rain – the use of wipers and the need to keep a safe distance.
  • Driving in ice and rain – the use of lights and wipers, how to keep a safe distance and how to brake effectively.

These are just examples of what you need to cover. You need to make sure that the advice and information you provide is as comprehensive as possible.

It’s important that your teen knows how to drive in different conditions; including potentially dangerous ones. The trick is to make sure you do not rush them and that you show them all of the basics first.

The evolution of coffee grinding

Getting your regular cup of Joe is either through your kitchen or at a coffee shop near you. Coffee has definitely become a regular part of the day, for most people, that is. And as the years have gone by, coffee has also been taken up a notch, from a hot beverage into something cold and sweeter.

Coffee brewing will not be complete without the grinding process. The beans that have been roasted should be ground on demand, to ensure that it is fresh. Grinding also produces various coffee ground sizes (coarse, medium, fine, extra fine, and Turkish) that will affect the overall flavor and quality of your cup. Coffee brewing is basically a lot easier with a coffee grinder on hand. Let’s take a look at how coffee grinders have evolved over the years.

Hammer. The early days of coffee brewing simply consisted of breaking the beans into smaller pieces. A flat rock or a hammer served this purpose.

Roll grinder. A roll grinder, used in grinding grains, produced a more consistent grind and was later used for grinding coffee beans. Although an old technique, this is still used in Turkey to produce a finely powdered grind called Turkish coffee.

Mortar and pestle. The mortar and pestle have long been used in cooking as well as in medicine. It has also found its way to coffee grinding. The coffee beans are placed in the mortar and then are crushed and ground using the pestle. This grinding tool is typically made from wood or stone so that it would not absorb the flavors and scents of whatever was ground.

Mechanical grinder. The mechanical grinder made grinding a lot easier compared to the earlier methods. This became popular because you didn’t have to exert much effort to be able to grind coffee. Plus, the output is a lot more consistent. The typical design had a grinding handle on top, a box-shaped body that contained the holder for the coffee beans, and a drawer at the bottom for the ground beans. The grinders also had elaborate designs on the outside, making them a wonderful addition to your kitchen counter or shelf.

Spice grinder. The spice grinder was used to grind coffee because of its availability in most households. It had the same functionality as that of a mechanical grinder.

Wall mounted grinder. The wall became a great tool for holding the grinder in place that is why the coffee grinder was attached to it. This was also the time when the coffee grinder became adjustable and was able to produce different sizes of coffee grinds.

Electric coffee grinder. The demand for coffee grew and so coffee grinders became electric operated. This also gave rise to large commercial grinders.

If you’re going shopping for a grinder today, you’ll surely find different types and models on the market. But if you come across a classic grinder, you should go and get one. And should you ever find yourself without a coffee grinder, you don’t have to fret since you can still enjoy that cup of coffee. All you have to do is know what tools you can use to grind coffee even without a grinder. Find out more here.  

 

5 essential items to take on your next vacation

If you are planning a vacation with your family or group of friends, it is recommended to pack your luggage as early as three days before the date of departure. Preparing early for the things that you need to bring does not only save you from the hassle and the stress, but it also lets you make the most out of your trip. Whether you are planning to spend the next holiday at the beach, in the mountains, at ski camps, or wherever you want to go, remember to take these 5 essential items with you.

 

  1. First Aid Kit

 

While we want our vacation to be full of fun and excitement, there are some things that we can’t avoid; like catching an annoying cold or sustaining a wound. First aid kits should be the number one priority when packing our baggage. Remember to bring personal medications for twice as many days as the duration of your vacation. This lessens your worries even if there are unexpected delays in your return trip.

 

If you are traveling with small children, be sure to bring lots of medication for treating wounds. These include iodine solution, ointment, antibiotic wipes, and bandages.  A couple of pain relievers, antihistamines, antacids, fever reducers, and decongestants can be of help too. Depending on the area and the weather of the place, you may also want to include sunscreen lotion and insect repellant in your medicine pack.

 

  1. Camera

 

To capture the greatest and memorable moments of your vacation, be sure to bring a camera with you. If you are going to be on a trip for more than a day, prepare an extra battery and a spare SD card too.

 

  1. Flashlight

 

Flashlights, headlamps, and lanterns are not only important for overnight outdoor camping. They are also useful for navigation in dark roads and alleys as well as for simple tasks such as inspecting your car’s engine. and looking for something in your baggage. Don’t forget to bring spare batteries too!

 

  1. Pocket Knife

 

Also known as a Swiss army knife, this highly-functional camping tool can help you in different tasks such as opening cans and bottles, removing corkscrews, and cutting fruits and vegetables. If you will be using public transportation, be sure to always check with the rules and regulations in bringing sharp items including a pocket knife. Usually, small pocket knives are allowed by the airport security if they are placed inside the check-in baggage.

 

  1. Inflatable Air Lounger

 

An inflatable air lounger is a must-have for travelers who are into adventure sports, hiking, mountain climbing, camping, swimming, and other outdoor activities. It weighs just over a kilogram and can be inflated in less than half a minute. An air lounger is a perfect alternative to chairs, couches, airbeds, and floating mattress which are often too bulky and very stressful to assemble. This light and compact air lounger is made from high-quality and durable nylon materials for maximum relaxation. Learn more about what other things can an inflatable air lounger offer by reading this article.

 

6 Signs You May Be Depressed: How to Get Help if You Are

Depression is among us, whether we like to admit it or not, and although we live in the 21st century, people suffering from mental health disorders still find themselves the subject of stigma. However, there has been a small burning revolution, with individuals banding together to bring justice, help and acknowledgement to mental health issues, meaning people suffering can finally get the support they need.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 350 million people worldwide suffer from depression and is the leading cause of disability. Depression has many causes, from environmental to genetics, and can either last a lifetime or a few months once the trigger is determined and removed.

With statistics revealing that over one million people die by suicide worldwide each year, and as the global suicide rate is 16 per 100,000 population, depression recognition and prevention is vital. People needing to become aware of the symptoms.

Symptoms

Continuous Low Mood and Sadness

Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness can trigger overwhelming emotions, causing a string of low moods and sadness which never seem to shift. Due to sadness, you may find yourself tearful and unable to see a future.

Low Self-esteem

Depression makes you doubt yourself, whether it’s over your appearance, skills or if your friends/partner like you. It holds no prisoners and makes you dislike every inch of yourself.

Lack of Motivation and Little Interest

If you used to participate in hobbies, but no longer have the energy to partake in them, then this is a common sign of depression and shouldn’t be overlooked. Of course, tastes change, and people fall out of love with things they once adored, but if you lack the motivation to get up in the morning and play your guitar, or sit in front of the TV instead of horse riding, then it may be something to consider.

No Energy, Disturbed Sleep and Low Sex Drive

People suffering from depression will usually find it difficult to fall asleep, or find getting up in the morning incredibly enduring. This goes above and beyond the usual hardship of getting up, ready for work. You will also find performing the simplest of tasks hard and may find you have no want or need for sex due to numbness.

Avoiding Contact with Friends

Usually, people suffering from depression will rarely want to interact with their friends. This can be because of the symptoms listed above, with people fearing their friends will judge, think there’s something “off” about you, and no longer be your friend.

Suicide Thoughts

Suicide is always tough to hear, but it can be one of the many outcomes for someone suffering from depression. If these symptoms speak to you, or remind you of a loved one, reach out to them to help prevent any harm they may bring to themselves.

Get the Help

Depression tends to isolate its captors. However, there are many organizations such as Smart Brain and Health TMS Los Angeles, who want to help people overcome this awful illness. Make sure to tell your doctor, friends and family, because most importantly, you need the support of others to win this battle.

Additionally, read the personal experiences of others, whether you suffer or not.