Teaching Your Kids to Navigate the Streets Safely

A major life skill you need to teach your kids is how to navigate the streets safely as a pedestrian. Accidents can happen quickly, but a child armed with the right information has a better chance of staying safe.

Set the Example

Words don’t go as far as actions. If you truly want your child to learn how to be safe while walking near a street, you have to set the example. According to the Maryland Department of Transportation, you should put away your phone to show your child that distractions aren’t a good idea when you’re a pedestrian. Practice safety at every crosswalk and follow the rules you want your kids to follow. Exercise caution and teach your kids not to take unnecessary chances. Waiting an extra minute is better than taking a risk and getting hit by a car. They need to see you model patience and safe behavior so they will learn to do the same.

Teach Them the Rules

There are the official and the unofficial rules of being a pedestrian, and you need to teach your kids all of them. Make sure they know what is expected of them by law when they are a pedestrian. Make sure they also know that even a pedestrian signal telling them they can cross the street doesn’t always mean they can go safely. They need to know how to look for turning cars that could hit them even if they have the right to cross. Crosswalk safety is essential, but it’s not the only thing you need to teach your kids. According to WB&T, many accidents involving pedestrians happen outside of a crosswalk. Kids need to know which side of the sidewalk to walk on so they can see traffic and move with the flow of other pedestrians. They also need to understand the danger of darting off a sidewalk and in between cars. Drivers can’t see them until they are on the road and this can lead to major accidents.

Be Visible

Teach your child to wear a bright colored jacket or another article of clothing that will draw a driver’s attention to him. Make sure they only walk during daylight hours when they can be easily seen. According to Imperial Motion, you should teach your children that if walking at night is truly necessary, they need to wear reflective clothing or carry a flashlight. Staying visible to busy and possibly distracted drivers is important for any pedestrian. Even if your child is on the sidewalk and not crossing the street, he needs to be easy to see to anyone driving on the road.

Walking offers kids independence and physical exercise, so make sure they know how to navigate streets safely. By following these tips, you can help them to be safer when they go out on their own.
Here’s another article you might like: 4 Hidden Health Hazards Threatening Your Home and Family

What You Need to Know to Protect Your Piano from Pests

When it comes to cleaning an older or wooden piano, it can be a little intimidating and challenging for most people. This is largely due to the fact that placing the wrong chemical or rubbing too harshly on a component can not only change the sound of the piano but may even ruin it entirely. Sure, we can live with a little dust but what a piano can’t live with is pests within it. Pests not only cause a hazard to the piano itself but to the well-being of the people residing within the home as well. The following list details what you need to know in order to protect your piano from these critters.

Close Points of Access

Depending on the time period in which the piano was built, it will have different access points. For example, a pre-WWII piano will contain a top lid that can easily be lifted to inspect the pipes within. Having this lid removed or opened regularly can invite small critters, such as spiders, to camp out within the pipes. The spiders will eventually create webs and even lay their eggs and—trust us—nobody wants that. Another area that most older pianos tend to have is on the bottom panels that are placed to access the bottom area of the piano. This one is a common access point for pests as people tend to accidentally push the panel open during use.

Regular Cleaning

Like most things in the home, pianos can attract dust, moisture, and—yes—pests. This is why regular cleanings are a must. While dusting and wiping off any dirty pipes, always make sure to avoid cleaning with strong chemicals. Adding chemicals to the interior of your piano can deter the quality of sound and damage the piano beyond repair. You should clean any spills immediately, as many kinds of ants are attracted to even the faintest hint of sugar.

Keep an Eye on the Legs

Wood floors attracting pests, such as termites, are a more specific circumstance, but it is one that is constantly glanced over. Too often the interior of the piano is what gets the most attention, but owners forget that the piano does not produce the pests itself—homes with wooden floors are a direct line to termites finding their way into your piano. Consequently, you should keep an eye on the legs of your piano. You can prevent termites from reaching the piano by adding a layer between the floor and the piano. If they are already present, using borates as a cleaning solution may be necessary. 

Understandably, people want to keep their pianos in the most pristine condition possible. Pianos are not only musical instruments but a gateway to the past—a past that many families hold very dear to their hearts. Adhere to the list above to begin improving how you protect your piano and keep the pests away.

Choosing the Best Daycare for Your Child

So it’s time for your little one to head off to daycare? The transition from home to a full-time care facility can be a challenge for both you and your young one. If you choose the right place, however, that transition can proceed much more smoothly. How do you know what to look for to ensure that your child has the best daycare experience possible? Continue reading for three things you need to consider when searching for quality childcare.

Consider Your Child’s Age

Your child’s age should be one of the greatest determining factors when choosing an appropriate daycare facility. Daycare programs are structured according to children’s developmental stages, and educational activities within each group are also structured to target specific ages. When scoping out facilities, it is important to look for one that offers age-appropriate learning activities for each stage of your child’s early cognitive development. Ideally, children will be segmented into groups according to age or developmental stage and educated accordingly. Your child’s social interaction with other children in his or her age group is a critical component in fostering relationship building and teamwork skills.

Consider Cost

Daycare costs have risen considerably, and that climb only continues. Annual childcare costs for an infant at a licensed daycare can run in excess of $10,000 USD (£7783.00) per year—and often well above that. As your child begins to learn, explore and require dedicated education, your childcare costs will climb even more. Depending on your location, annual costs may surge as high as £15,500 (about $20,000 USD) per child. When considering daycare facilities, the cost can often be an indication of the facility’s strengths. At the base level, which is generally the most affordable cost tier, education and developmental activities may be included, but highly affordable programs are typically focused on supervision alone. As you move up in cost tiers, additional services beyond simple supervision are included in the price. In-depth educational time, foreign language teaching, team-building activities and even advanced physical education like gymnastics and yoga may be offered at the more expensive centers. Additionally, many higher-cost daycare centers offer after-hours programs designed to accommodate children whose parents work until later in the evening.

Consider Employee Education

If you’re looking for a childcare facility that offers a well-rounded education and knowledgeable care, you’ll want to verify the center’s employee education requirements. Many facilities only require the completion of state-mandated education hours, yet others require employees to possess, at a minimum, an associate degree in early childhood education. Some places even require a bachelor’s degree in an education-related field for employment consideration. If you want your child to receive a quality education delivered by trained professionals who are well-versed in early cognitive development, take employee education seriously. Selecting a daycare facility is very similar to selecting a quality school for your child, and employee training and education matters.

Selecting a quality daycare center for your child can be a confusing task. Before you settle on a facility, make sure you do your research. Meet with the facility director, learn about educational options and determine if the center’s offerings justify the asking price. You might even consider sitting in with your child for a class or two to get a feel for how the facility operates. If you do your due diligence, you should have no problem finding a center that provides quality care and education, and one that fits your budget, too.

Here’s another article you might enjoy: How to Keep Your Nursery Clean Without Toxic Chemicals

Are We There Yet? What to Keep in Mind When Road Tripping with Little Ones

Road trips can be a lot of fun, especially when you take them with the family. However, when you have small children, going on a long road trip may be a bit much for them to sit through. Here is a list of tips and tricks that can help make your next road trip with the tykes a pleasurable one.

Snacks and Entertainment

The main reason that taking a road trip with little ones can be a trying experience is that kids often get bored very fast. To keep children occupied in the car, you’ll need plenty of snacks, kid-friendly activities, games, and electronics. While they may get tired of the games after a while, if you have plenty of snacks for them to munch on, that can keep them distracted for a long while. You might also consider playing road trip games together like “I Spy” or trying to find all the letters of the alphabet outside while driving. Games like these can keep kids occupied for hours and are fun to play as a family.

Take Breaks

Of course, if you have lots of snacks, then you would need to take lots of bathroom breaks as well. However, don’t just stop merely to let the kids use the restroom and then to hop back on the road. Allow them time to run around a bit and to stretch out their legs while letting off some steam at the same time. This also helps to wind them down so that they aren’t so restless during the remainder of the trip.

Drive Through the Night

If your road trip is more for purpose than for a joy ride, then taking the trip at night is a good idea when you have small children. By driving at night, the children will more than likely be asleep for the majority of the trip. By the time they do wake up, you shouldn’t have much longer to drive and the games, snacks, and other items you brought along can keep them content until you arrive at your destination.

Have an Emergency Kit

When driving, there is a possibility of breaking down or getting into an accident. This is hard enough to deal with generally, but having children with you can make an incident that much more difficult. Make sure you pack an emergency kit with things like blankets, frozen juices, extra water, and food as well as whatever emergency numbers you may need. This way the little ones are taken care of while you wait for help to arrive.

Remember, the best way to keep kids from becoming aggravated, from pestering, or from being teary-eyed in any situation is to distract them. Having lots of distractions, whether that be food, games, or songs, can help make for a smooth trip and a happy parent.

Here’s another article you might enjoy: 3 Best Tips for Amazing Family Travel with Your Kids

Enjoy the Ride: Bicycle Safety Tips to Teach Your Kids

So much of our childhood memories revolve around riding our bikes. Depending on where you grew up, you may have ridden your bike to the store, in the woods or around your neighborhood. If you have a child of your own now, you may be concerned with how you can make sure your child is safe while riding their bike. You want them to enjoy this time, but you also want to make sure that your child isn’t going to get hit by a motorist or injured while riding their bike. Let’s look at some bicycle safety tips that you can teach your kids.

Set Boundaries

Your child needs to understand where they can safely ride their bike. Teach your younger children that they should ride on the sidewalk where they are away from traffic. Older kids can learn to ride in the street, but they need to learn how to be aware of their surroundings. You should also let your child know where they are and are not allowed to ride. For example, you could set the nearest corner as a boundary. They could then progress to going around the block once they have earned your trust for closer distances.

Be Seen

It’s important for kids to always be seen, so they should use flashing lights or wear something that is bright or reflects light. It’s a good idea to have your child head home before it gets dark. This will make them more visible to drivers. Teach them not to ride their bike right into a street from behind a vehicle. It’s important that a car or other bike will see them coming from a good distance away. It gives everybody time to react.

Always Have Adult Supervision

Regardless of how old your child is, they should be riding their bike with an adult until you feel you can trust them. They should have the ability to put their own helmet on, keep their balance and watch what is going on around them. Even if you’re letting your child ride a short distance down the street, make sure you are outside to keep an eye on things. This will give you peace of mind, but this is also a good way to make sure that your child is practicing good bike safety.

Being Aware of Surroundings

Some children will ride along on their bike, not noticing what is going on around them. It’s important that they know where to be riding their bike, but they should also be able to look over their shoulder and listen for a car coming. There will be hazards everywhere that they should take notice of. Have them learn to keep an eye out for toys on the sidewalk, vehicles overlapping the sidewalk and large rocks that could cause them to lose control if they go over them. Being aware of your surroundings is a great skill to learn in all walks of life.

It’s important that your child understands the safety aspect of riding a bike. You wouldn’t put your child behind the wheel of a car and expect them to know what to do. Take the time to teach your child what they need to know. This will ensure they come home safe and sound after a fun day of being outside.

Here’s another article you might enjoy:

How to Keep Your Nursery Clean Without Toxic Chemicals

Protectors of the Roblox Universe | Lifting Simulator

Lifting Simulator on Roblox

The family that plays together, stays together… or so I have been telling myself as I have spent untold hours playing Roblox lately. Yes, I know, not really a suitable occupation for a 40 something but when your little one is obsessed by it and you want to make it as safe as it can be, you do what you can. I have to be honest here, the games become strangely addictive after a while and when your husband joins in and all of your immediate family is playing it can be quite fun.

This is therefore a review of the Roblox game, Lifting Simulator.

What does my son think?

He loves the game. In fact, he was the one who found it. He was even playing it before Denis Daily added it to his Roblox YouTube channel. We joined maybe a day later. He’s not a fan of the constant clicking and I am worried about RSI a little but it does teach him that success isn’t instantaneous. Of course, he is now asking us to click for him!

What do I think?

I am enjoying it. I like the way the game has several layers. You want to upgrade constantly to be the biggest and the most powerful using weight, genetics, and body alter but there is also the enforcement and criminal element of the game, which can be the most addictive.

When you start out you begin as a skeleton and you are weight lifting a pencil. You click your mouse to move the pencil until you have 30 coins. At this point, you have to sell your coins as you have run out of room in your wallet. You can spend or collect the money depending on your goal.

You can spend your money on three things. The first are weights and on the first run through, (I will explain this later), you have to buy each weight in the list before the next shows up. If you are fed up with emptying your wallet every couple of minutes, you can better your DNA (if only this was possible in real life). This has the effect of increasing your wallet so you don’t have to sell so often.

The third element of game play that you will spend your lifting simulator earnings on is called body alter. You can give yourself power and speed by buying this when you have enough money. The trick here is to buy enough weights to get the alter but no more in the first round. As soon as you buy the first power (freezing) then you will revert to the smallest body type and have to work your way up again. You will also lose all your money so there is use getting more than you need. For example, one on the weights cost around 100,000 but the first body alter costs 150,000. If you can reach 100,000, you may as well hang on and get the body alter and get the expensive weight later when it will be easier to get it. Otherwise, you will end up saving for the 100,000, spending it on the weight and then having to save a further 150,000. It is quicker to just save the one lot.

The next run through whether with the freezing, fire or any of the other powers, you can skip weights to get through it a lot quicker. While you could not see the entire list before, after you have bought them once, you can see them again but you will have to buy them after each and every upgrade.

Ranks

As you go through the game and do plenty of weight lifting, you will gain a rank. This is fluid and will change as you play. This is a game with no judgement you can be good or bad and there are an equal number of ranks to go through until you reach the pinnacle of your chosen side. On the good corner there is Nice Guy, Bodyguard, Protector, Guardian and Superhero. If you are neither one way of the other you may end up as Neutral or you could go to the dark side and become a Bully, Jerk, Thug, Criminal or Godfather.

You get to be these ranks by killing other players who have a better or worse rank than you … and sometimes randomly. I have been minding my own business lifting the odd motorbike when someone kills ME and then demotes me from Nice Guy to Bully. Ooh, I was annoyed. I had to go around killing other bullies and jerks to get my status back until eventually I became a Protector. Sometimes you get to keep your status but other times not. I have left a Protector but come back as a Bodyguard. Another time I left as a Nice Guy but returned as a Bully.

When we started, we were constantly killed as soon as we spawned so when we had enough clout to get ‘em back we tried to be protectors. There are a few player who pride themselves on being the sheriff and kill all the bullies and worse around. However if you get stuck with a bully rank but you didn’t deserve it they don’t know this and they will still try to kill you. Also, some good guys will be good for an hour and take the other side so you can’t trust the other players! Still, you can still make alliances and it’s a sweet thing when there’s a bunch of you keeping the peace.

You get to keep your normal character during this game and unfortunately, my little one is obsessed by a YouTuber and will model himself on him. He’s too young to understand that people can be offended by that and I think (hope) that the guy is nice enough to understand that. We have already seen him in a previous gaming video so he’s come across him before when he was still Kindergarten age and he was sweet about it in the video.

This game is good for the whole family. There is nothing ominous about it. Our son’s chat has been disabled so he can’t talk to any dodgy people if they are on it so it’s just good clean fun. He’s learning to save and the concept of sticking up for people who can’t protect themselves because in this case they can only weight lift a pencil and he can carry a piano.

Definitely recommended for children with supervision. The supervision is for the horror stories you hear on the internet about the internet.

Happy lifting!

How to Keep Your Nursery Clean Without Toxic Chemicals

When you have a baby, you become much more aware of how clean your home is. The nursery where your baby is sleeping should be clean. This will help keep your baby happy and healthy. Frequently dusting and wiping down areas where you change your baby’s diaper is beneficial. Unfortunately, many chemical cleaning products can be dangerous to your baby’s health and yours as well. Let’s talk more about how to keep your nursery clean without using toxic chemicals for the job.

What Are Chemicals and Which Ones Are Toxic?

Chemical cleaners, if properly marked, come with diamond-shaped hazard pictograms that show what kind of hazards they pose. You’ll want to keep an eye out for ingredients such as ammonia, bleach, hydrochloric acid, isopropanol and sodium bisulfate. All of these chemicals can irritate the skin, irritate the eyes, make your baby cough and there are dangerous long term effects to worry about as well. If you see an ingredient on a product that is very hard to pronounce, chances are it’s not a good one to use. Do a bit of research on harmful chemicals before you purchase items for the nursery.

Stick With Natural Options

There are a lot of cleaning products on the market right now that use only natural ingredients to get the job done. Things like citrus oils can be just as effective when it comes to disinfecting and killing germs. Not to mention, the smell is pleasant and safe. Look for organic and natural cleaning products that advertise they are safe and chemical-free. You can even come up with your own cleaning products that you make yourself. A mixture of 50/50 vinegar and water can be quite effective for cleaning up messes. Not to mention, it’s incredibly affordable to make. You can even add your own essential oils for fragrance.

Stick to Unscented

Scents tend to be very irritating for a small child. You’ll want to keep your cleaning products as unscented as possible. Even a natural smell of orange peel or pine can be overwhelming. Just because a product doesn’t smell, doesn’t mean that it isn’t going to do a good job at cleaning things up in your child’s nursery.

You can find a number of natural cleaning products at your local grocery store or health food store. There are also a number of products available online. Just be sure to check the ingredients before making a purchase.

Parenting can be overwhelming. If you need more help, check out some of our other articles.

How to Navigate These 3 Challenges of Family Planning

The challenges faced by families in the modern era can be enormous, especially the process of planning. Balancing work life, managing interpersonal relationships of all family members and overcoming health issues related to fertility can all place burdens on parents-to-be and their children. Fortunately, with the right amount of planning and a bit of mental toughness, these challenges can be overcome. Here are a few of the most common issues facing families and some tips on how to deal with them.

Children Who Don’t Want Another Sibling

There can be several reasons why a young child may not want a little brother or sister. One of the most common of these might be the expectation of loss, which includes loss of attention, loss of access to resources, etc. Jealousy is, in fact, one of the most prevalent human emotions and is not limited to children. Research has shed some light on the psychological factors that cause jealousy in children who may be wary of another sibling joining the family. Ways to prevent this include a focus on increasing the connection between parent and child prior to and after introducing a new family member, encouraging laughter, which releases feel-good hormones in your child, and taking the time to assure your older child that he or she is needed and appreciated.

Infertility

Women in the western world face fertility issues frequently. This can be due to age, health conditions, diet, stress and other factors. Many health professionals specialize in helping couples struggling to conceive. Strategies such as tracking ovulation and lifestyle modifications, as well as taking medication, can help. Sometimes, though, naturally conceiving a child is simply not possible. In these instances, couples may consider procedures such as egg donation. This refers to the process of taking an egg from a donor and implanting it into the mother’s ovaries. Although egg donation is an involved and often expensive process, it is a viable alternative to natural conception. According to Baby Steps, egg donation can be a six-month process or more, so couples should take time constraints into consideration if they are interested in this option.

Balancing Work Life

Women who have established careers often face difficult choices. Choosing between a career and a new family can be a tough decision. Increasingly, families rely on dual incomes to make ends meet, and personal accounts of work-life balance struggles are well-documented. Many people report that managing time throughout the day is a major contributor to stress and burnout, which can be even more difficult to manage with a new baby. Communication between members of the family is essential to maintaining harmony and a sense of common purpose. Proper financial planning is a major tool for preventing conflict and reducing stress in a new family. Discussing priorities in terms of family life versus career can go a long way in protecting the long-term mental health of all family members. Creating and sticking to a family schedule can also help organize time and prevent conflict.

Many resources are available online to help cope with the challenges faced by parents and their children, and counseling with a trained professional is sometimes necessary. However, these obstacles can be overcome with dedication and perseverance when everyone is on the same page.
Parenting is no easy task. If you need more advice, check out some of our other articles!

Need to Make Your Home More Handicap-Accessible? Start With These Changes

Your ability to age in place while enjoying full use of your home may be a challenge if you have stairs. In fact, in many homes, the only place to shower is on the second floor. If you’re in a cast, a wheelchair, or simply no longer comfortable on the stairs, you may need to move quickly to be able to reach your bathroom and bed. Consider making changes to your home now so you won’t be in a rush or have to make hard decisions.

Convert Front Steps Into a Wheelchair Ramp

Removing the front steps on your home and building a wheelchair ramp can make your home accessible no matter the injuries or health concerns you may face. When designing your wheelchair ramp be sure to work with a licensed contractor to stay within code and to make sure your ramp will stand the test of time. In addition, consider how the person most in need of the ramp leaves or enters the house. Does the move from the house to the garage to get into their vehicle in climate control, or are they picked up on the driveway? You may need to invest in a driveway update, so the wheelchair user has a friendly surface when they leave the ramp.

Install a Stair Lift or Elevator

When you or a loved one are no longer safe climbing stairs, it may be time to install a stair lift. These tools hug close to the wall and may require you to take out the handrail. The person in need of transport simply belts themselves in, rides up the stair lift and is able to swivel and stand on the second floor. Stairs are a common cause of trip and fall injuries, especially for senior adults. Because such a stumble can be catastrophic to their ability to stay in their homes, investing in a stair lift can be a great investment. Elevators are also an option, but the renovation to install an elevator is quite invasive and expensive; stair lifts are the more affordable option.

Doorways and Bathrooms

If you’re ready to install a stair lift, it’s probably time to think about widening doorways and renovating bathrooms. While both of these repairs can be costly, messy and invasive, creating beautiful and accessible bathrooms is a repair that can greatly benefit your disabled friends and family. If you’re thinking about a renovation, consider adding a no-lip shower so a shower chair can be rolled in later.

You may be thinking about downsizing into a house where everything is on one level. However, if you love your home and your neighborhood, it is possible to make changes to your existing home that will make aging in place a better option.

Parenting is no easy task, so let us help you with some things we have learned!

Got a Hot Date? Here’s How to Pull Out All the Stops for an Up Market Night Out

Dating, especially when it’s for the first time with someone new, can be terrifying. That’s because you don’t know this person very well yet. You’re unaware of their likes and dislikes. That’s what dating is, after all, getting to know someone and finding out if they’re interested in you. In order to land a second date, you’ll need to pull out all the stops. You’ll want to be stylish and charming and show that you put some effort into the occasion. Women love to see that a man is invested. Here’s how you impress her.

The Clothes

Being nicely dressed for a date is crucial. That’s because it shows a woman you put time and thought into getting ready. You don’t have to pull out a suit and tie. According to Art of Charm, you should let her know you put some effort into your appearance because you wanted to look good for her. The clothes you choose will depend on where you intend to go, but even if you’re just grabbing drinks at a pub, you need to dress stylishly. A woman will look at every aspect of your outfit from your shoes to your sunglasses, so don’t skimp on any part of it. Either a nice pair of slacks or jeans is a suitable look for a first date. Combine that with a good shirt. If it’s chilly, a denim or leather jacket (unless she’s vegan!) is appropriate. Better yet, consider a sports coat. You should also pay attention to the little things like shoes, cologne, and accessories. Small added touches like a nice watch or a pair of sunglasses can make a big difference.

The Transportation

Women love to be treated like a princess by the man who is courting them. You can enhance a date is by paying special attention to the transportation. A limo service will help you impress the lady. According to Callahan’s, limos can be safer than other transportation options. You can show her that you truly put some planning into the evening by finding a chauffeur to safely drive you both to your destination. You also won’t have to worry about walking around at night to retrieve your car or locate a taxi. Having someone else drive also gives the two of you time alone to get to know each other. Limos are comfortable and private. They will take you directly to the front door of your destination. They’re perfect if the two of you are going to a play, an opera, or an upscale restaurant. When you’re ready to say goodnight, your limo will drop your companion off at her front door, assuring she arrives home safely and in style.

Above all else, a woman simply wants to see that a man made an effort. It shows that he cares about her and about the date. Dressing stylishly and renting a limo are two ways to let her know you’re invested in the courtship.

Another way to impress a woman is to show her how you can cook. Check out these other articles on food for inspiration!

3 Amazing Gift Ideas for a Child Who Loves Star Wars

The Star Wars franchise has fans of all ages and interests. You can make your child smile from ear to ear by incorporating their favorite Star Wars characters into a special gift perfect for any occasion. Here are three gift ideas for the child who loves Star Wars.

Celebrate the Stars Wars Way  

What better way to celebrate a special occasion than with a Star Wars themed party? The possibilities of fun are endless with this versatile theme. Party games involving lightsabers are always a hit with the younger kids. Or create a unique balloon bouquet designed to resemble lightsabers. It is easy to plan a menu with Star Wars food and drink. For example, a little blue food coloring in almond milk helps recreate the famous milk from the movies.

Disneyland

Taking your child to Disneyland to visit the new Galaxy’s Edge land will be a dream come true for any Star Wars fan. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens May 31st, 2019, and is expected to have a large crowd. Be sure to get a jump start on the planning so that you can secure your reservation. For the first few months of its opening, Disneyland will require a separate entrance ticket with a window of time in which you can visit. The new addition is designed to be a truly immersive experience. This new area boasts two new attractions, interactive shopping opportunities, fun activities, and special food and drinks options. Stepping into this land will make your child feel as if they entered an entirely new galaxy of fantasy and fun.

Star Wars Room Makeover

A bedroom makeover that incorporates the Star Wars theme is an ideal present for any occasion. Part of the fun is getting your child involved in the decision-making process. Together you can scour the internet for ideas and then make your list of ways that you want to carry the theme through the room. There is an abundance of fun ways to turn any bedroom into a galaxy far far away. This is a gift that your child will truly enjoy for years to come.

This expansive theme makes it easy to celebrate in a big way. Your little Star Wars enthusiast will be delighted in any of these three ideas, designed to make them feel special by incorporating all of their favorite characters into the celebration.

Looking for the perfect book to give to your child for their birthday? Children of the Elementi is the perfect middle grade novel for sci-fi lovers!

5 Parenting Tips to Keep Your Kids Away from Drugs Forever

Keeping a child drug-free begins in the home, yet many parents don’t know how to keep their children away from illicit substances. Today’s parents probably grew up with the “Just Say No” campaign that was a part of the war on drugs, but that didn’t take into account how complicated drug abuse and addiction can really be.

You obviously know your children better than anybody else, but you can still keep these five tips in mind if you need some extra help.

Model Positive Behavior

You can tell your children that drugs are dangerous and why they should stay away from them, but that doesn’t do a lot of good if you have a substance abuse problem yourself. Having an addiction isn’t entirely your fault, but you should still seek treatment for yourself if you don’t want to look like a hypocrite. The same goes for any other potentially risky behaviors that you might engage in. Your children will do as you do and not as you say, so make sure that your behavior remains positive.

Source: https://www.allprodad.com/

Open Your Home to Your Child’s Friends

Young people often begin using drugs because of their peers, but you cannot control who your child keeps as friends all the time. What you can do is open your home to them and be involved in their lives. This will not only allow you to keep track of which ones might lead your child to risky behaviors, but you might become a positive role model to someone besides your own children.

Source: https://www.betterhelp.com/

Don’t Let Kids Self-Medicate

When we tell you not to let children self-medicate, we mean more than just allow them to take medicine on their own. Self-medication can take many forms, from staring at a smartphone at all times to playing too many video games in order to escape from school stress or bullying. Anything that can be used as a coping mechanism has the potential to become an addiction. It can lead to substance abuse problems for those with an addictive personality.

Encourage Extracurriculars

Children and teens who participate in extracurricular activities such as sports are less likely to engage in substance abuse. Not only does it keep them busy enough to prevent them from seeking out drugs and alcohol, but it gives them an outlet for their energy and creativity and allows them to better socialize with their peers. Speak with your child about any sports or other activities they might find interesting. If their activity of choice isn’t offered through their school, there is bound to be an opportunity to get involved with it elsewhere in your community.

Source: https://www.therecoveryvillage.com/

Be Open and Honest

Part of the reason why so many anti-drug programs fail is because they aren’t always honest with children and teens about what substance abuse is about. They often try too hard to scare children away from drugs simply by saying how bad they are, but they don’t always go into details about their effects. If you really want your children to stay away from drugs, let them know what happens when they are used, both the “good” and the bad. If you don’t know, then take some time to educate yourself.

Source: https://childmind.org/

Overall, the best way to keep children away from drugs is to keep on communicating with them. Some of them may make the wrong choices occasionally, but they will stand a much better chance if they are provided with knowledge from an understanding adult.

Here’s another article talking about parenting we think you’ll find interesting.

Why We Stopped Using Amazon Prime Video

Child watching television

We’ve been having a bit of a problem with the old television lately. It’s not that it’s gone kaput or anything although it does have a few gremlins, (it seems to be crashing a lot). However, this is not what this post is about. Our adorable little six year old has discovered narrated video games on Amazon Prime Video.

I have made my peace with him playing games. I see a lot of benefits from him playing these on the PlayStation. From his hand-eye coordination, his problem solving, strategic thinking and even his reading but I see no benefit from him watching other people playing games on the television. There is one caveat, I don’t mind him watching the Minecraft Videos with Stampy Cat as there is usually some science angle to them.

Now whenever he is given the tablet or PlayStation time he is constantly narrating what he is doing. His social skills have taken a dive and I’m a little worried. This has prompted us to ban Amazon Prime Video from our house. To be honest we don’t tend to watch it anyway. We buy Amazon Prime for the postage not the streaming service. The only thing I watched it for was Lucifer and that’s gone to Netflix so there is no point in keeping it.

Should he be having screen time at all?

Imaginative Play
Imaginative Play from Pexels.com

I’ve read some articles in the past that advocate cutting screen time altogether but I genuinely believe that everything is good in moderation with the obvious few exceptions, (poisons, playing chicken walking across the road etc). I really don’t mind him watching television as long as there is some educational aspect to it. This could be social or science or problem solving. It has to be something. The Stampy videos show how to program using Minecraft, Ninjago shows team work and social skills, his games are all about problem solving. These are things I can get behind. The whole video game narration thing? – not so much.

How is the absence of Amazon Prime Video going?

So how is it going? I’ve upped the reading time and I swear the tantrums have gone down a bit. My nerves are a lot better. Listening to the same inane description of game play for the fiftieth time really made me tense up with frustration. This was followed by Mario Cart and my stress levels went through the roof. It is all banned now and we are finding new ways to entertain ourselves which is leading to a happy mummy and better behaved little boy.

Should we cancel Amazon Prime?

We won’t do this simply because we need it for the postage. If Amazon were ever to unbundle the streaming service from the postage then we would stop it. We’ve removed the icon from the menu on our television so our little one can’t find it. We’ll obviously still have it but we will have to jump through a couple of hoops to get to it. By the time our son works out how to do this hopefully he will have grown out of the phase.

Takeaway Thoughts

While I honestly believe that our son should be able to do what he wants, it has to be within limits, I have to be the dragon on occasion and ban things which are unhealthy. We won’t be using Amazon Prime Video for the foreseeable future as it will be too much effort. We will probably start watching it if some amazing show comes on and our friends rave about it but apart from that the choice that comes with it appears dire (for us) and in my eyes, inappropriate for my child at least.

Annus horribilis – My 2018 year in review

I am not saying that 2018 was the worst year in my life but it was way up there for me. In an attempt for a bit of catharsis, I am going to write down what I achieved (or didn’t) last year. This was my annus horribilis!

Health

It started off great. Sure, there was the old sniffle but hey, this is me, that is always going to happen. My eczema was behaving itself, my asthma was giving me the cccasional problems but all was going well.

Until, cue dramatic music, dum dum duuuuum! My adorable son caught chicken pox. He spent a few days at home, one day wrapped up in a duvet in front of the television and he was up and ready for school. Phew, one childhood disease out of the way, or so I thought.

A few days later I started to feel unwell, then the spots started to appear. I immediently rang my mum who assured me that I had chicken pox in primary school. Fine it can’t be that, except it was. Long story short, I was plastered in sores and ended up at my doctor’s who sent me to hospital. I then spent a week rested up in isolation treated for two types of nasty bacteria in my blood. Thanks chicken pox!

Ill and hiding. Public domain from Pexels.com

You’d think that would be that but for the next few months, I was in agony. Eczema and chicken pox do NOT mix. The damage was so bad it wasn’t until November that my skin cleared up. I feel as if all I did last year was feel sorry for myself which is not strictly true but this is what this blog post is all about. I’m going to see if I can turn a fail into a win!

Career

Some of my books published in 2018

As you may have guessed from the rest of my site, my chosen and actual career lies in books. I used to be a librarian and now I create them. I do several types from fiction, to manuals, a few colouring books and now diaries and journals. All of which are helping me to keep afloat on the financial sea. So here are the books that I have published in 2018.

Children’s Activities

  • Jumbo Animal Letter Tracing (age 3+)
  • Multiplication Drills (age 8+)
  • Pocket Multiplication Drills (age 8+)

Christmas

  • The Christmas Checklist

Budget Books

  • The 2019 Busy Lady’s Budget Journal
  • The Busy Bee Budget Planner 2019

Colouring Books

  • Bible Stories Coloring Book
  • Treasure Island Pirates Coloring Book

Diaries

  • Meownificent Cat Diary
  • It’s a Dog’s Life 2018-2019 Diary
  • Daily Diary 2018-2019
  • Daily Diary 2019
  • 2018-2019 Masonic Diary
  • Masonic Diary 2018-2019
  • Gratitude Diary
  • 2018-2019 Dyddiadur Academaidd (Welsh language diary)
  • 2018-2019 Dyddiadur Addysg
    (Welsh language diary)
  • Get organized! (A paperback time calculator to find spare time)

Food Related

  • Cool Cats Recipe Journal
  • Family Recipe Journal
  • Pocket Food Allergy Diary

Journals

  • Cocky: The Cocker Spaniel Journal

Manuals

  • A Simpler Guide to Gmail

Password Books (Disguised as other books)

  • Cocky: The Cocker Spaniel Rebellion
  • Hold Your Horses
  • For Those Goldfish Moments
  • History of Wales
  • Hogs and Kisses
  • Horsing Around
  • Made in Germany
  • Made in the USA
  • Monarch of the Glen
  • Permanent Rainbows
  • Shit I’m Always Flockin’ Forgetting
  • UK Made
  • Wolf

So there you have it 36 books in 2018. I honestly did not realise how many I made in 2018 until I collated this list for this blog post. Suddenly, 2018 doesn’t seem to be such an annus horribilis after all. Still, could have done without the chicken pox though!

What have I got planned this year?

What will 2019 bring? Who knows? I will definitely rewrite A Simpler Guide to Gmail, I have a couple of fiction books in the mix and I will have to update all the books like diaries for next year. My health is now good. I have done a clear out of my house, (more on that in a different blog post) and I really have no more excuses. This year will be a productive year. I can feel it in my bones. Let’s hope it’s not arthritis. Ahem.

So what do you think guys? Is 2019 going to be your year?

Vegans! When is a Vegan not a Vegan?

Veganism can be an emotive topic for many. There are a few definitions floating around the internet but the Vegan Society says it is:

“Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.”

Vegan Society

I do notice the words ‘as far as possible and practical’. The reason I am writing this blog post is that I now identify myself as a Vegan. Some may take umbrage at that because of the way I got here and the reasons I stay vegan.

Duck photo from Pixnio.

I am inherently selfish. There I said it. I am not a vegan for the animals but by being a vegan, I help the animals from exploitation. If it quacks like a duck, talks like a duck, walks like a duck … you know the saying.

Why am I a Vegan?

I have lived with eczema and asthma my whole life. I have been very ill up to the middle of this year in fact. I have been making gradual changes to my life and I have been improving but it wasn’t until five weeks ago that I saw dramatic change. That is when I switched to a plant based diet. It’s not all about a plant based diet though. I wash in olive oil soap (even my hair), my creams consist of coconut milk and I don’t own a leather jacket. I don’t even have a pet! …because you guessed it, I’m allergic to them.

Since I became vegan, my skin has cleared up and I take my asthma pump less. There has been only one hiccup which when I accidentally drank something with lemon in, (I am still very allergic to citrus fruits – veganism can’t help with that one!). I’m unfortunately still recovering from the lemon incident but the effects would have been a lot worse prior to becoming vegan.

There are certain things that vegans believe in or do. I’m going to say where I fit into these categories and I’ll let you see whether you think I qualify for the term vegan!

Beauty

I’ve never agreed with animal testing. It’s not about hurting the animals (although I don’t like it) but I don’t see the point of it. It is illogical. Animals are (obviously) animals and we are humans we are going to have different reactions. On the couple of times in my life that I did check out dubious cosmetics from big brands, I have been allergic to them. Testing on animals is just pointless and cruel for no reason. To be extra, especially honest, I don’t actually wear cosmetics anyway these days. I used to wear it for a job interview or a special night out but since I usually get an allergic reaction regardless of how ethical it was made I tend to avoid it for the most part unless I really, really need to. Those situations are rare.

Some soaps are based on animal products. I just think that’s yucky. You are meant to be washing with it not putting remnants of dead corpses on your bits. I use olive soap for everything. Also, when I clean the house, a far as I know, bleach and vinegar haven’t been near animals either.

Medicines

The Vegan society, say we shouldn’t worry about that one, so I’m not.

Fashion

Let’s be frank here, no one would ever accuse me of being a fashionista. I’m a jeans and long sleeved t-shirt gal. I have never owned a fur coat in my life and I never will. The only thing that might have animal products in, might be my trainers and they feel man made to me. Plus they were bought before I made the decision to be vegan.

Entertainment

I’m not sure how this would apply. I think circus animals have been banned but I haven’t been in a circus since I was 12 anyway. I haven’t been to a zoo since I was a kid but I have been to a safari park (not the hunting kind). I think zoos and safari’s have their place as long as the animals are treated well. In a lot of cases they are dying out in the wild and while I still think they would be better off in their natural habitat, I’d rather they existed than become extinct – with the caveat that they are well looked after.

I think the conservatives aim of bringing back fox hunting is abhorrent and I’m not keen on horse racing. I may have tried my hand at gambling a few years ago but I mainly bet on football teams and they get paid enough to play their games!

Vegan Food

People who eat a plant based diet are called dietary vegans according to Wikipedia. Take off the dietary and you have the word vegans – so I’m laying claim to it. I have been going vegan for a very long time. I used to joke I was either a meat eater or a vegan, there was no middle ground. This is because I am allergic to dairy. There was no way I could become a vegetarian. So, 5 weeks ago I completely eliminated all animal products from my diet. It wasn’t actually hard and I don’t miss it. It was easy at the beginning. I just switched burgers to vegan burgers, sausages to Linda McCartney sausages etc. Now, it is getting harder because I am trying to be more healthy as well as not eating meat, dairy or eggs. I used to like the odd salmon sandwich but that is out as well. Still I am learning every day and there are recipes out there to help us newbies and I’ll get through it. It has helped I’ve been dairy free since I was a child. I can still have my scrumptious raspberry ripple cheesecake.

Christmas as a vegan will be the true test but there is so much food out there that is ready made like Fry’s vegan sausage rolls and I’m dying to try out a nut roast. I’ve known vegetarians who are s-o-o strict the rest of the year but have the ‘end of the roast beef’ during Christmas dinner. I definitely won’t be doing that!

The benefits of being a vegan have been good. My health has improved and my hair is getting thicker. I did lose a bit of weight at the beginning but it has stabilised now which is boring. I think that possibly cutting back on the vegan chocolate might be an idea!

So what do you think, do I qualify? I might not be doing it for the animals but the effect is the same.

Nothing Found

Entering the world of picture puzzle books

register to join launch group

I’ve reached, gulp, that age where most of my friends have children, This is actually great as three years ago my own little boy was born and my friends all seemed to have babies at the same time.

He’s now three and a little too energetic for me but we get along. He runs around me and when I catch him, he gets cuddles.

He has now started to like puzzles and I want to give him some practice with counting, reading as well as tracing letters and numbers. I have been buying him puzzle magazines and realised I could do the same thing but wouldn’t it be nice if there was a story running through it?
Minkie 1 reduced size front coverWhile playing with a drawing app on my tablet, I came up with a little blue monster called Minkie. My son loved him so much, I did some more designs and came up with some stories. I’m not sure if this is TMI, but he got so fond of dear Minkie that he refused to put his ‘night-time pants’ on unless we drew a Minkie Monster on them. He then danced around the bathroom singing, Minkie on my winkie, Minkie on my winkie!

Anyway enough of my son’s strange habits. He will get me back for this I’m sure several times before he grows up (I’m easily embarrassed). I have finished one of the stories, tested them and I’m starting the launch phase of the picture book. To this end, I am looking for some friends who will help me launch this book in style.

In exchange for a review on Amazon during launch week, I am giving away free PDF copies of the book. These can be instantly downloaded when you register and select Launch Friends from the register page. I am also giving away an Amazon gift card to one reviewer chosen at random and a few other goodies.goodreads cover minkie space coloring book

As an added bonus, anyone that registers at my site, (you don’t even need to be a Launch Friend) can download a free MInkie Monster coloring book based on Space Puzzles: Minkie Monster and the Birthday Surprise.

Go on what are you waiting for? If you have kids of up to 6, visit https://minkiemonster.com/ to get the freebies!

Raspberry Ripple Cheesecake – No Dairy, no Citrus and No Bake!

The coconut, raspberry ripple cheesecake that tastes nothing like coconuts!

cheesecakes

Are you allergic to dairy? Have you been craving a squishy dairy-like pudding? No fear, this desert was designed for you. This recipe is also suitable for vegans.


Ingredients

For the base

  • 125g Vitalite (or butter if you are not allergic to dairy)
  • 150g Chocolate Chip Cookies (I used Foxs Chunkie Cookies Dark Chocolate)

For the Raspberry Puree

  • 200g Frozen raspberries
  • 60g icing Sugar

For the Cheesecake

  • 1tsp Vanilla extract
  • 400g Cream Cheese substitute (I used Vialife made from coconut cream but you can use Tofutti)
  • 200g Caster sugar
  • 320g Coconut cream

Anything else

  • You will also need lots of mixing bowls, measuring scales, rolling pin, whisk. sieve.

The Base

Step 1: Put your biscuit of choice in a plastic bag and whack it like it’s an ex-boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife.

Step 2: Melt the Vitalite (15 seconds in the microwave) and mix it with the cookie crumbs.

Step 3: Add the base to your individual dishes and put them in to your refrigerator until you are ready to fill with cheesecake.

The Raspberry Ripple

Step 4: Defrost the raspberries if they haven’t already done so and mix in the icing sugar until they look like pigeon poo.

Step 5: Push the raspberries through the sieve to remove seeds and put to one side.

The Cheesecake

Step 6: Empty the Cream Cheese into a bowl and give it a stir. If you can fit in a few gym sessions before doing this step all the better.

Step 7: Add the caster sugar and vanilla into the cream cheese and mix thoroughly. If your toddler hits your arm while you are pouring in the vanilla don’t worry it will still taste fine.

Step 8: Take out the coconut cream from the fridge and whip until there are soft peaks or you are seriously bored with beating it.

Step 9: Fold the coconut cream into the cream cheese mixture. Tip, don’t accidentally get your finger in the mixture. It is seriously distracting how awesome it tastes at this stage.

Step 10: Take out the dishes you are putting the cheesecake in and add three quarters of the mixture on top of the base you put in earlier.

Step 11: Dribble some raspberry puree in each of the dishes.

Step 12: Add the remaining cheesecake mixture to the dishes.

Step 13: Drizzle some more raspberry puree on top and add a raspberry for decoration,

Step 14: Put the dishes back into the refrigerator to set for at least a couple of hours. Get some handcuffs and cuff yourself to something away from the puddings until the time you planned to eat them.

Step 15: Eat and enjoy!

Q&A: Organising hard and paperbacks in the home.

qandasmallQuestion:  Home Design: What is the best way to organize books if I don’t have a bookshelf?

I don’t have money to invest in a bookshelf, but would like to better organize my books! I have perhaps 3 bookshelf worth of books, and would like to be able to browse them.

You could always box them up out of sight and use software called Calibre to catalogue your books. You could then browse them like a library catalogue but on your home computer. 

Calibre is very versatile and you can not only catalogue your ebooks but also your paperbacks, hardbacks, CDs, DVDs etc. Pretty much you can catalogue anything using the software.

I did something similar to this when I ran the English Audit Commission library. All our books were boxed up in temperature controlled underground caves near Bath. If anyone requested a book, I would look up the book’s location in the library catalogue. If it was in the boxes, stacked up in Bath, I would request that it be sent direct to the client. I had a very tidy library!

Calibre is very like a library catalogue. I love the ability to flick through the covers of my books or browse through genres, authors etc.

You can even use the isbns on the back of the books to get Calibre to automatically catalogue the books for you. All you need is a barcode reader, which an Android phone and probably an iPhone could do for you. You wouldn’t even need to buy a dedicated barcode reader.

A Simpler Guide to Calibre 0 catalogue ebooks and paperbacks
A Simpler Guide to Calibre has a chapter on cataloguing paperbacks and other physical media

While cataloguing, just type in the notes (or tags ) fields the box number and/or location where you put your paperbacks and you will easily find the book again in the future, just by browsing or searching your collection.
I have a chapter in A Simpler Guide to Calibre which goes into detail on how this can be done.

see question on quora
ceri's q and a

Q&A What is it like to have loss of eye sight?

ceri's q and aThe question: What is it like to have loss of eye sight?

see question on quora

ceri's q and a

 

Toys are taking over my life!

Spiderman faces off with Darth Vader

Spiderman faces off with Darth Vader
Copyright Ceri Clark 2015

I have a confession. I seem to be becoming a toy hoarder. My toddler sees a toy and I just ‘have’ to get it.

The latest additions to our toy family are the potato head family.

Now you may think one potato head is enough. Well I agreed with you but I wanted some extra bits to promote our toddler’s creative side. So bought the tub. This comes with an ‘extra’ potato head. The cynical side of me says they do this to fill the tub but give you fewer accessories which means you want to buy more.

…so I bought more. We are now the proud owners of no less than eleven of them. How? you may ask. Well it was an eBay auction to good to miss. So we not only have the standard potato heads but we now have baby, a carrot and a sweetcorn potato head.

The challenge this month, is not to buy any more toys. This should be easy as the school term is about to end and so will the toddler groups. I’m less likely to see a toy that I know he’ll love. …or so I hope!