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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Healthy Living

How to avoid mistakes at dinner
Dinner is an extremely important meal to get right, and it is also the one where the most mistakes tend to be made. One of the largest and most common errors is making dinner the biggest meal of the day. Generally speaking most people will need more calories earlier on in the day and yet most people make dinner their primary source of food for the whole day and then indulge a little too much.

Putting serving dishes on the table is another big no-no as it practically encourages people to overeat. Another problem is what happens after the big meal, with many people then tending to snack while sitting on the couch in the evening. Another problem is going out for a meal too often, as restaurant food tends to be much higher in calories than the food eaten at home and often comes with hidden fats, salt and sugar, while fast food should really be out of the question entirely except on very rare occasions.


Protect your vision
One way to protect our vision in today’s world is to keep screens at a distance. Screens are not just belonging to desktops or laptops, they are prevalent throughout society with MP3 players, tablets, e-readers and smartphones, as well as movie screens and the screens we encounter at sporting events, on the train and on subways and in airports.


The glare and contrast from an electronic screen can result in eyestrain and computer vision syndrome, causing symptoms such as blurred vision, headaches, dry or red eyes, neck pain, double vision, difficulty refocusing and dry or red eyes.


Experts say that screens should be kept at least at arms’ length away from eyes for computer screens and 16 inches away from screens on handheld devices. If the text is hard to read at that distance, increase the font size. Soft lighting which does not cause glare will also minimize eyestrain with all such devices, while an antiglare filter can be used for desktop computers.


Reducing your sodium intake
Americans are recommended to take no more than 1500 milligrams of sodium per day, but the truth is that the great majority of us consumes far more than this and do not even know it. Even just an ordinary homemade ham and cheese sandwich can feature 1300 milligrams of sodium. The reality is that much of the sodium we intake is hidden, with around eighty percent being present already in restaurant meals and processed foods when we eat them.


Diets that are high in sodium increase the chance of high blood pressure, which in turn can cause strokes and heart attacks. This means that cutting down on the amount of sodium that we consume is very important. One good tip for doing so is to cook with fresh foods from scratch so as to avoid hidden salt, and using tasty replacements for salt such as fresh garlic and chili powder.


There is often a big difference between different brands so be sure to compare them and always check labels. If you dine out, go to restaurants that offer healthier options for children and order smaller portions.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Finding the Right Parenting Style to Fit You and Your Needs

When we become parents or if we’re planning to become parents, we develop our own concept of what the “right thing” is when it comes to parenting. We may opt to be the strict disciplinarian or maybe we’ll opt for being more relaxed and even care free and still others may opt for something more in the middle of both styles.


Two children raised by the same parents will likely give very different answers when they are asked about how they feel about their parents because they perceive things differently. While one may believe they were disciplined enough or appropriately, the other may feel that they were over-disciplined or even abused. When we become adults, many of the decisions we make when it comes to parenting are based on our own experiences and upbringing. We may choose to follow our parents’ style or go in the opposite direction.


Here are a few things to consider when you are trying to decide on the right style of you:


  • Remember that your choices will affect your children’s future happiness, outlook on life and even their future relationships. We all want what’s best for our children but sometimes we don’t always make the best choices or decisions. Evaluate what you are doing and how you are communicating with your children; if you don’t like the results it’s time to change.
  • How much time have you spent reading information on different parenting styles? Obviously not every book is right and not every “expert” is really an expert. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t something to be said for learning something from others – especially when it comes to things like potty training advice or dealing with a biter. If there is legitimate advice at your fingertips, there’s no point in reinventing the wheel.

In the end it all comes down to: if you like the way you parent, then you’ve picked the right style of parenting for you. You will never find two parents that agree on everything and you will never find a child who agrees with his or her parents about the way they are disciplined. In a nutshell – when it comes to parenting, one size does not fit all.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Surviving The In-Laws

According to a recent survey more than sixty percent of wives feel that they have been caused long term stress because of friction with their mother-in-law. Many of us struggle to get along with family members, particularly our partners, so it is important to know how to defuse potentially inflammatory situations.


One of the most common complaints is how wives are made to feel that everything they do, from housework to decor to child rearing, is wrong by their mother-in-law. It is important to think about why this behavior may be taking place. Sometimes the mother can feel vulnerable and pushed out because of her son’s new priorities, while sometimes this criticism is a result of generational or cultural differences.

It is crucial to not take such criticism personally. Many critical people are desperate for recognition and attempt to use such behavior to get attention. A good method to cope with them is to remain friendly and non-defensive, and perhaps even agree with what they say. Sometimes critics are looking for an argument and are confused and bewildered when one does not eventuate. It is possible that a consistent use of this tactic might even eventually cause them to change their behavior if they do not get the response they are hoping for.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Getting Your Kids to Reach for the Stars

When we were children, we had big dreams and our whole lives ahead of us to make them come true. We wanted to climb a mountain, be a fireman, a ballerina or be a movie star. Nothing was in our way and nothing was going to stop us.


And then we became adults. The dreams vanished as life got in the way. Those dreams we had seemed silly and we let them fade into the distance. As parents, it’s important to not let this happen to our children – but how? Here are a few ways to teach them how to keep reaching for the stars:


  • Teach them that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neil Armstrong didn’t wake up one morning and decide he was going to walk on the moon that day. Reaching for the stars doesn’t mean making one giant leap – it means taking lots of small steps in the direction of your goal.
  • You aren’t going to learn everything you need to know to reach your goal in one sitting. The knowledge you need to learn to will come with each tiny step you take forward. Slowly but surely you will build up your bag of tricks to get where you need to be.
  • When the going gets tough – keep going. Perseverance is key to getting where you want to go. There will times when they will feel that their efforts are pointless or they aren’t seeing any progress. That’s the exact time to hunker down and keep moving forward.
  • Just do it! Don’t over-plan yourself right out of your dream. Yes, plans are important to have an idea of what you’re doing and where you’re going, but you don’t have to know every step of every path you’re going to take. Planning and then planning some more is a surefire way to kill your dream.

It’s ok to dream the impossible dream. It’s ok to reach for the unreachable star. It will hurt sometimes and it will take time to get there but you can pursue your passion and live your dream.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

How to Improve Your Vacation

When it comes to travel, advice can be invaluable and sometimes even be the difference between a good holiday and a better one.


One thing to consider is space. A compact piece of luggage is something that will always come in handy, both when on the plane and when transporting it on the ground. Make out a list of all the essential items you will need to take with you and include different lists for particular destinations. While travel-size toiletries often seem like a good idea, ones that are sample sized and fairly small will travel better than the ones with huge tubes, which may end up not even being allowed through security anyway.

The start of a trip can be made or broken by the flight. To ensure a good flight bring a few items to make the flight go smoother, be it a couple of good books to read or a pillow or blanket to make it easier to relax. It is also a good idea to make sure that midway through the flight you take a break and walk around in order to stretch your calf muscles and Achilles tendons.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Facts and Myths About Sunscreen

Sunshine is vital to our existence. It provides us with important vitamins and gives us a little color to make us look healthier. But as with anything, too much of a good thing isn’t always a good thing, especially for babies and children.


Unfortunately, when it comes to choosing sunscreen or sunblock we’re all a bit under educated about which is the right choice – or if there is even a difference in the two. Let’s take a look at some facts – and myths – about sunscreen and see if we can’t help sort it all out.


First of all, if you’re not sure of what SPF means – simply put it’s the Sun Protection Factor and it lets you know how much protection you are getting from the sun. So – if you purchase a sunscreen with an SPF-15 and you normally start to burn after fifteen minutes, you’re going to be able stay in the sun for fifteen times longer – or three hours and forty five minutes. However, even with that amount of protection, you should re-apply more often than that especially if you are swimming or sweating a lot.


Now that being said – if a sunscreen with an SPF-15 protects you for fifteen times more, an SPF-30 doesn’t double that amount and products with extremely high SPF numbers are nothing more than a misleading marketing ploy. A product with an SPF range of 15-60 is more than sufficient.

And speaking of misleading marketing ploys: sunscreens and sunblock that are “made for children” tend to be more expensive – you can purchase the adult version (as long as it falls within the 15-60 range) is perfectly fine to use.


Finally, as you take the kids and head to the beach or lounge by the pool, keep these facts in mind:


  • Sunscreen/sunblock is even necessary on cloudy days as 80% of the suns UV rays can penetrate clouds.
  • Sun can damage any skin type so even if you already have a tan or dark skin, you still need sunscreen.
  • Waterproof does not mean water resistant. Re-apply your product every two hours or if you’ve been in the water, after you dry off.
  • Sunscreen does NOT prevent cancer. Yes, the product can reduce your exposure to the sun’s harmful rays but it will not prevent cancer.
  • The sun’s rays are most damaging between the hours of 10:00 and 4:00 – do your best to limit your exposure during those times.

Be smart when it comes to exposing yourself and your children to the sun and remember a little really does go a long way.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

How to Keep Your Kids Busy and Happy During the Summer

If you’re like most parents, summer vacation can be both a blessing and a curse. Yes, the early morning struggles of getting the kids ready for school are gone, but finding ways to keep them happy and entertained can be stressful.

Here are just a few tips to keep grumpy kids at bay:

·       Theme parks and water parks are summertime favorites. Plan to arrive early and beat the crowds (and the heat) and when the temperature starts to rise – hit the water rides for a quick cool down. Pack a cooler with drinks and snacks to help save a little money.

·       Indoor rock climbing is becoming popular everywhere. These indoor, air-conditioned places are a great way to stay cool and get some exercise while having fun at the same time. There’s nothing boring about hanging off the side of a “cliff!”

·       Visit a local garden. If you are fortunate enough to live in a city that has a botanical garden center, load up the kids and take on the sites of these beautiful gardens. These are beautiful and serene locations that have popular summer blooms. And you may just spark an interest in gardening and spawn a new hobby to share with your children.

·       Local museums and science centers. Even if you don’t live directly in a big city that has a local museum or science center, chances are good that you live within a reasonable driving distance from one or the other or both. These are great places to keep your kids learning over the summer and are a perfect indoor activity on a rainy day or an extremely hot day.

So you see, there are plenty of summer activities for the kids without relying on trips to the pool every day. These ideas are great alone or combine them into a “staycation” and do them all during your family vacation time – get creative!