Category Archives: Family

How to Help Your Child Keep Up in School

Students fall behind in school for a number of reasons. Even the most intelligent students can struggle at times, but what do you do to help your child during this time? First and foremost you want to make sure there is not an underlying cause. If there is something going on at home or outside the classroom, you’ll want to take care of your child emotionally first. However, as school gets more challenging, many students just need a little extra help understanding certain concepts. Here are some ways you can help keep your child from falling behind.

Hire a Tutor

Hiring a tutor is a great way to keep your child on track. You can either hire someone to work one on one with your student, or you can try out small group tutoring. These usually take place at a learning center where students are grouped according to grade level. It is a good idea to check with your child’s teacher first to find out what they need the most help on. Reading programs often focus on reading comprehension, while math programs go over everything from addition to order of operations. This way you can find somewhere that can follow along with the school’s curriculum and focus on the concepts your child needs the most help on.

Give Extra Practice

It is never a bad idea to give your child a little extra practice at home. You want to make sure they have time to play and go to different activities, but try to set aside some time for school work as well. This is especially beneficial during the summer when children tend to forget what they learned throughout the school year. You can visit your local learning or book store to find workbooks for your little one to do. You can also print off worksheets online.

Use Online Programs

If you look online you will find plenty of websites that provide additional help for your student. You can also download apps for your child’s tablet. These are often fun and interactive, so you may even end up having a hard time pulling your kid away from them. You’ll just want to make sure that these sites and apps are safe and secure for your little one. Read reviews and do some research beforehand. You can even ask your child’s school or teacher for the ones they recommend the most. School’s often have a list of apps and sites that they approve, so you know these will be safe.

If you see your student struggling, it is best to intervene as early as possible. Concepts, especially in math, build on themselves, so if your child doesn’t understand one thing, they may have a very hard time getting anything after that. It is never a bad idea to give a little extra practice at home even if your child isn’t behind. Students often forget a lot of what they learned over the year during the summer break, so this is a great time to provide your student with some extra work at home to get them ready for the next school year.

4 Tips for Hiring Your First Babysitter

Even though most parents look forward to some free time away from the little ones, leaving children can be a stressful experience for moms and dads. Whether you are looking for regular care or just an occasional babysitter to call as needed, there are a few important steps you can take to ensure your child’s wellbeing and give yourself the peace of mind you deserve.

Make a Stress-Free Introduction

It is always a good idea to introduce a potential babysitter to your child before leaving them alone together. Invite the sitter to your home and allow individual playtime with your child or infant. You can use this time to relax or get work done, ut remain in the house, and occasionally observe how the sitter and your child interact with one another. The sitter should be calm and gentle while maintaining control of the situation. This is a good opportunity for your child and the sitter to get to know one another and for you to be easily accessible in case the sitter has questions or concerns. You should also familiarize your sitter with the layout of the house, and show him or her where to locate any necessary items.

Check Background and References

Talking to references and running a background check is a crucial step before you entrust anyone to care for your child. It is a quick and simple process to run a criminal background check online. This is the best way to obtain verified information on a sitter’s history. Also, be sure to ask any potential caretaker for multiple references. Get a first and last name for all references, and take the time to contact each one.

Set Clear Expectations

Defining your needs and expectations upfront can save you and the babysitter a lot of hassle and stress down the line. It is important to be clear about little things, such as wanting the sitter to give the child a bath before bed or clean up any toys used during the day. Things that may seem obvious to you may not be obvious to the new caregiver. As you establish a list of rules and guidelines, try to walk yourself through a typical day in the shoes of someone who is unfamiliar with your home and your child’s routine.

Consider Training and Experience

Any qualified caregiver should have CPR and First Aid Training. It is also a good idea to match your sitter’s age and experience level with your individual situation. If you simply want someone to play with the child while you are nearby, a younger sitter may be a good choice. If the babysitter will be doing a more extensive parenting routine, an older teenager or adult may be more appropriate. Similarly, a sitter who only has experience caring for older children may not be the best fit to watch a newborn infant. Assess each potential babysitter according to your needs.

The right babysitter can make a world of difference in the lives of both parents and children. Parents can find time for social activities and date nights, while their child builds a fun relationship with a caring sitter. It is best to begin your caregiver search early, and follow these tips to create a safe and smooth transition for everyone.

Strategies for Optimizing Your Child’s Education

All parents hope that their children grow up to be happy and successful in life. Of course, one of the most important factors for a successful life is a quality education. The right education will help your child gain the skills, social experiences, and knowledge necessary to excel in the professional world. Here are some key strategies for optimizing your child’s education.

1. Consider College Preparatory Schools

One great way to optimize your child’s education is by sending them to a college preparatory school. This step is important because a preparatory school will provide your child with the instruction and resources necessary to ready them for college material. When you start your search for the ideal college preparatory school, be sure to consider Landon School. A Landon Education will provide your student with the knowledge, extracurricular activities, social experiences, and teacher guidance necessary to promote optimal learning outcomes.

Teach Study Skills

In addition to considering the value of sending your child to a college preparatory school, make sure that you are teaching your child study skills. Taking this course of action will empower your child to learn how to master material so that they can perform well on exams. There are numerous study skill strategies that you can teach your child, including the value of creating flashcards that can be reviewed during spare moments of free time. Another study skill you should teach your child is the value of underlining or highlighting key passages so that they can be quickly referred to. Also talk to your child about why cramming does not work and how attempting to memorize information at the last minute prevents the data from being absorbed optimally and properly.

3. Emphasize Good Health

Another strategy you should implement to ensure that your child remains on the road to excellence in the academic sphere is emphasizing good health. This technique is incredibly important because practicing good health enhances memory, improves self-confidence, and boosts energy levels. All of these factors can contribute to your child performing well in school, so make sure you’re teaching them the value of healthy behaviors such as regular exercise. Talk to your child about how exercise helps boost metabolism and facilitate the weight management process that will decrease their susceptibility to obesity. Some of the exercises your child may want to engage in include:

  • Basketball
  • Weight-lifting
  • Softball
  • Football
  • Cycling
  • Running
  • Yoga
  • Tae Bo
  • Pilates

In addition to emphasizing the value of exercise, make sure that your child knows the importance of eating well. Talk about the different vitamins, minerals, and nutrients found in certain foods. Also provide your child with healthy alternatives to energy-zapping junk foods like candy bars and soda. One delicious, nutritious snack that many children love is trail mix. Pack this type of snack as a healthy alternative to the foods that your child might purchase from the vending machine in school.

Don’t Delay: Prepare Your Child For Academic Success Today!

If you’re serious about ensuring that your child does well in school, now is the time to implement the techniques that will make success possible. Use some or all of the techniques outlined above to get your child on the road to academic excellence immediately.

4 Human Foods You Can Safely Share With Your Dog

As a pet owner, you do everything you can to ensure that your four-legged family member lives a long and happy life. That includes feeding them a healthy diet. Your dog would be happy to lap up anything that falls on the floor while you are enjoying a meal, but did you know that many of the foods we humans eat are actually harmful or even toxic to dogs? Here are four human foods you can safely share with your dog the next time they’re begging for your snack.

4 Human Foods Dogs Can Eat

Whole Grains

Whole grains, such as oats, barley, and brown rice, are good for both you and your dog. Cook them so that they are easily digestible and leave them unseasoned to avoid causing digestive issues. So if you make yourself some oatmeal for breakfast in the morning, feel free to make a little extra for your most loyal breakfast companion.

Keep in mind that dogs are carnivores. Grains should make up no more than 7 to 10 percent of their total diet. If you use a commercial dog food, check the grain content to make sure that you aren’t accidentally giving them too much.

Lean Protein

Of course, you already know that dogs love meat. That does not, however, mean that all meat is good for dogs. Fatty cuts like bacon and rib eye should be avoided. Raw or under-cooked meat can be just as bad for dogs as it is for people, so stick to fully cooked meat, cut or ground into small chunks that is easy for them to chew.

Non-red meats like poultry and fish are also great for dogs. Salmon is an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which help keep your dog’s coat shiny. Chicken is a good occasional substitute for your usual dog food. Just boil it and add it to some plain white rice for a wholesome dinner your dog will eat right up.

Fresh Vegetables

Vegetables like carrots, broccoli, cucumber, and green beans add crucial fiber and vitamins to your dog’s diet. Serve them raw or lightly steamed with no added oil, salt, or seasonings. If your pooch has trouble chewing big pieces of vegetables, shred or cut them up into smaller chunks. Keep in mind that these are general guidelines and suggestions. Every dog is unique, so keep an eye out for veggies that may lead to tummy trouble.

Peanut Butter

This is one tasty treat you can feel good about giving your dog. A tablespoon of raw, unsalted peanut butter delivers healthy fats and vitamins. A quick warning: be sure to check the label for xylitol, a natural sweetener that’s toxic to dogs.

Now that you know which human foods dogs can eat, it’s also important to know which human foods to keep away from dogs. Beef and chicken bones can splinter, causing serious injury. Chocolate, grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts, avocados, onions, garlic, yeast dough, artificial sweeteners, coffee, and alcohol are all harmful if ingested. If your dog gets a hold of something dangerous, find a vet right away. If you’re away from home or it’s after regular business hours, Kuddly can help you connect with a veterinarian from anywhere and at any time of the day or night.

By keeping a variety of dog-friendly foods on hand, you can prepare meals that everyone in the house can enjoy — and feel good about slipping your beloved furry friend an occasional treat under the table.

Petco Repeat Delivery Makes Stocking Up on Pet Essentials Easier Than Ever #PetcoDelivers

This blog post is part of a paid Megan Media and Petco Repeat Delivery blogging program. The opinions and ideas expressed here are my own.

There are a number of unspoken rules you come to live by when you have a pet in the family. If you happen to have four cats like I do, they include keeping your cool when you’re abruptly woken up by them running over you during 5 a.m. playtime; adjusting to the early morning breakfast demands that come with bops on your head, whiskers against your nose, or when that doesn’t work, having your eyelids licked (always a fun time!); and the one-sided agreement that you are responsible for doling out pets and cuddles on their schedule, never yours.

cats

And then there’s knowing that you are almost always, without fail, running out of something.

Four cats go through a lot of food and litter, and I can’t tell you the number of times I have gone to scoop a litter box or groggily walked to the kitchen still half-asleep after being woken up by a cat demanding breakfast to find that I was running low or was completely out of the supplies I needed. When you live in a rural area about 20 miles away from the nearest pet supply store, it isn’t always easy or even possible to quickly run out and grab something you need. That is precisely why I was so thrilled to find out about Petco’s Repeat Delivery service, and instantly became a loyal customer.

Petco makes stocking up on pet essentials easier than ever by delivering everything you need to keep your pets happy, healthy, and taken care of right to your front door. You don’t need to go into a Petco store to get started, or even have a Petco near you. Simply navigate their website to shop for your pet’s favorite products, like litter, food, treats, catnip, and more, choose how often you would like your supplies delivered (anywhere between every two weeks to 12 months), check out, and wait for your delivery. Talk about a better system than realizing you’re out of something your pets need last minute and having to drive 20 miles to the nearest store and back!

So Phresh Dual Odor Guard Scoopable Cat Litter

Petco Repeat Delivery

The process is so easy and takes just a few minutes, plus Petco stocks a wide assortment of brands, including specialty brands, so you can rest assured knowing that you will still be able to give your fur babies the very best, which is what we all want for our pets. Repeat Delivery also offers savings that really add up, with discounts of up to 20% off select items and everyday free shipping on purchases of $49 or more.

There are a few exclusions to scoring free shipping — for instance, it doesn’t include cat litter, namely because have you ever had to lug around a bulk-sized box of cat litter? It is heavy! However, by planning our delivery schedule accordingly, it can still be an awesome savings, plus I won’t have to pick up those heavy boxes or pails more than from my front door to the litter box, which is great. And if you realize you need something sooner than the schedule you had originally set your deliveries up for or wanted to put off a shipment, you can do so easily by accessing your Petco account.

Would Petco Repeat Delivery make your life as a pet parent easier?

Win the Ultimate Mother’s Day Prize Package in From You Flowers’ Wind Down and Relax With Mom Sweepstakes

Whether they are reading us bedtime stories, helping us stay focused on schoolwork, or providing wisdom as we become parents ourselves, one thing is sure: mothers are irreplaceable. As Mother’s Day approaches, the E-commerce gift retailer From You Flowers is celebrating moms with the launch of their Wind Down and Relax With Mom Sweepstakes. The sweepstakes invites and inspires you to spend quality time with mom by entering to win the ultimate grand prize package worth $749!

One grand prize winner will receive:

  • $139 Hello Fresh E-gift Card
  • $150 Massage Envy Gift Card
  • $250 Williams-Sonoma Gift Card
  • From You Flowers Grand Gathering Gift Basket

Now is your chance to show mom how much you appreciate everything she has done! From a basket of decadent goodies, to three meal’s worth of great recipes, to gift cards for cookware and massages, these prizes are sure to delight. Inspire your inner chef using fresh ingredients delivered right to your door with Hello Fresh, purchase top-quality cookware from Williams-Sonoma, relax while getting a massage or facial at Massage Envy, and enjoy savory treats such as toffee pretzels, roasted nuts, and more, from the Grand Gathering Gift Basket. With a grand prize package as diverse as this, mom — and you — will surely gain unforgettable memories.

For a chance to win, visit the From You Flowers’ Wind Down and Relax With Mom Sweepstakes page and fill in the select fields with your information. The deadline to enter is May 9. For official rules and details, visit From You Flowers’ Sweepstakes Terms and Conditions.

From You Flowers is a leading online retailer of jewelry as well as flowers, plants, and personalized vases, offering hand-arranged, same-day flower delivery for every occasion and sentiment. Shoppers can conveniently make flower, plant, and jewelry purchases 24 hours a day, 7 days a week via the toll-free number 1-800-838-8853 as well as online at FromYouFlowers.com.

How Volunteers are Making a Difference for Animal Welfare

(BPT) – When you come home from work, he’s always there to greet you. When you need extra motivation to work out, he’s happy to join for a walk. When you’ve had a bad day, he can sense it and is quick to give you a loving nuzzle. Pets provide endless joy to their families, but for millions of shelter animals, each day is a test of patience in hopes of finding a forever home.

Approximately 7.6 million companion animals enter shelters nationwide every year, according to the American Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) statistics. Of those, approximately 3.9 million are dogs and 3.4 million are cats. These numbers underscore the massive need for volunteers to provide the necessary care to ensure as many pets as possible can be placed in safe, loving homes.

Volunteers are the lifeblood of any shelter, and it’s a true community effort to keep animals healthy and safe. The Dumb Friends League — Denver’s largest animal shelter dedicated to giving a voice to those who cannot speak for themselves — depended on 1,418 volunteers who donated 211,307 hours of service last fiscal year to help needy animals in Colorado. That’s the equivalent of 101 full-time employees worth $4.7 million in donated time.

This is just one example of the impact volunteers make in the estimated 13,600 shelters nationwide.

In addition to volunteers, support from a variety of businesses and corporations helps keep shelters running strong. Hill’s Pet Nutrition, for example, is one of the largest donors of food to shelters across the country. In fact, Hill’s Food, Shelter & Love® program has provided more than $280 million worth of food to more than 1,000 shelters since its inception in 2002.

Both volunteers and Hill’s share the common goal of transforming the lives of homeless pets. To recognize the vital contribution of shelter volunteers, Hill’s has launched an initiative this year to bring volunteers long overdue recognition. Hill’s has created a contest, Hill’s Shelter Heroes, to recognize the amazing volunteers who continue to go above and beyond in their commitment to shelter pets.

One of the recent winners, Annie Hughes with Wayside Waifs in Kansas City, who has dedicated more than 7,279 hours to her shelter, wanted to express her appreciation to Hill’s for creating a program that “allowed her to share her passion for helping sheltered animals.” Hughes’ submission, along with the rest of the 10 finalists, can be seen at Hill’s Shelter Hero Contest page.

It’s apparent that caring for shelter animals is a group effort, yet one person can make a big difference to help save lives. If you want to change the world for animals in need, here are some tips for becoming a volunteer.

  1. Reach out to local shelters. Call your local animal shelter or rescue group to see if they are accepting volunteers.
  2. Think about your interests and skills. Caring for animals one-on-one is a popular shelter activity, but there are so many more opportunities for volunteers. Whether you’re able to foster in your home, offer professional skills in administration departments, or serve as an adoption counselor to new pet parents, volunteer options are truly endless.
  3. Spread the love. Once you find your volunteer home, spread the love to help pets find homes and encourage friends to volunteer. By sharing posts on social media like the #HillsShelterHeroes contest, hosting fundraising events, and simply bragging about that adorable new pooch to your friends, you’re helping to open everyone’s eyes to the growing need for volunteers at shelters and the importance of pet adoption.

INFOGRAPHIC: What Mom Really Wants for Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is May 8, which means it is only a matter of time before you’re scrambling to find that last-minute gift or seeking a good enough card in an entirely picked-over greeting card aisle.

We have been celebrating Mother’s Day for over 102 years, since it became an official U.S. holiday in 1914. In all that time, we as a society have concluded that the very best gifts for the most influential women in our lives on their special day are greeting cards and flowers. This year, DealsPlus.com, an online community of bargain hunters, did some digging of their own to help us all make better Mother’s Day gift-giving decisions. Their resource concluded with some interesting stats about how people are planning to shop for their Mother’s Day gifts, how much they will typically spend, and most importantly, what moms really want.

The following Mother’s Day infographic is DealPlus.com’s step-by-step resource to going beyond greeting cards and flowers and really impressing the most important women in your life on Mother’s Day.

DealsPlus Mothers Day 2016 infographic

Dressing Baby in Style

The majority of baby clothes you see hanging from miniaturized racks are overwhelmingly pastel and oh so cutesy; they probably have animals printed on them or animated characters you’re already sick of seeing. But believe it or not, there are other options out there and luckily they’re becoming a little more popular. If you want your little darling to look adorable without resorting to designs that make you cringe, try dressing baby in any of these smart styles.

Deep Colors

It’s easy to find baby clothes in pastel color palettes, but deep, vibrant colors are starting to catch on. More department stores are offering clothes in shades of black, navy blue, and jewel tones, making it easy for you to dress your little one in hues you’re going to love.

A Sense of Humor

geek onesie
TheWishingElephant/Etsy

Tee shirts emblazoned with clever sayings have always been on trend, so why not get your little bundle of joy in on the act? You’ll appreciate the humorous quips, and they are guaranteed conversation starters. Honor your favorite movie, super hero, or their general lack of hair. These are the best form of casual wear and they’re perfect for a day out at the park or just relaxing at home.

Early Sports Lover

Sports aren’t just for the boys! Now, say it three times and get your child in on the fun of rooting for the home team. You can find your favorite sports team in outfits for infants, like Yankees baby clothes. Whether you’re dressing baby in an adorable sleeper for grandma’s house or a matching set that’s perfect for the big game, you can find the perfect outfit for your little sports fan.

Ready for Nice Occasions

You never know when you might need a nice outfit. While you don’t need to have a tuxedo in the closet for your three-month old, you can still pick up a little outfit with cute collar and cuffs that will dress them up a bit for a special occasion. For the girls, there are literally countless prints and styles of beautiful dresses for church, a celebration for an older sibling, or their first trip to a nice restaurant.

It is possible for your child to look sharp in their clothes, and you can be proud to show off the great gear you’ve found thanks to some impeccable fashion sense. Have fun with your child’s wardrobe and be sure to take plenty of pictures. While some clothing designs may still make you cringe, it’s easier than ever before to find colors and designs that you’ll love.

Planning a Winter Baby Shower

Spring is a welcomed awakening after a sometimes daunting and seemingly endless state of hibernation, so it makes sense that spring is also prime baby shower season. But for expectant moms who will welcome a new bundle of joy during the winter months, planning a festive party can come with its own unique set of challenges and accommodations.

For moms-to-be whose due dates are more synonymous with snow and cold than the warm rebirth of spring, here is a quick guide and simple ideas that will help you make the most of a winter baby shower — no matter how cold it is outside.

Set a Budget

Before planning anything, it is wise to first set a budget, and then to decide who will ultimately be responsible for the bill. The baby shower could be the host’s gift to the parents-to-be, or funds can be pooled among close friends and family members.

When setting the budget, take into account:

  • Location fees if you are renting a hall or the back room of a restaurant
  • Invitations and thank you cards
  • Decorations
  • Craft supplies if you will be making any custom decor, as well as supplies you will need for games
  • Food costs — don’t forget the cake if you will be ordering it from a bakery
  • Disposable tableware
  • Party favors and goody bags

Decide on a Location

Many spring and summer baby showers are held outdoors, with smaller gatherings taking place in someone’s backyard, or a park to accommodate a larger number of guests. But the great outdoors is no place for a winter baby shower, limiting the number of available and appropriate locations for your event.

If there will be 15 guests or less, the host’s, expectant parent’s, or a family member’s home should provide enough room for everyone to fit and maneuver around comfortably in a relaxed environment. For a larger crowd, as we mentioned above, you can rent a hall, space at the honoree’s favorite restaurant, or even a board or business room at a local hotel. You should be able to rent a space at any location that usually hosts events, so don’t be afraid to look around and price check according to your budget.

Choose a Theme or Color Scheme

The traditional hatching chicks of spring might not be the best fit for a winter baby shower, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t create a lovely and fun party atmosphere. Keeping in mind the tastes of the expectant mother, the shower theme can be traditional, modern, or a mixture of both.

To evoke the spirit of the season, try incorporating traditional pastels with brown or gray to mimic the natural winter color palette. For a more sophisticated look, try a blue color palette with silver accents, or even an all-white color scheme with glitter accents that will remind guests of fresh falling snow.

Plan the Menu

The first step to planning the perfect baby shower menu is to ask the honoree what food(s) she is craving most these days and make those dishes the focal point of your menu. Round out the edible offerings with a selection of finger foods. You may also consider making it a potluck affair so that you won’t be taking on the entire menu by yourself. This will also ensure that any picky eaters in attendance won’t feel like “that person” who brings their own food to a party, and everyone who brings a dish is guaranteed to like at least one thing on the table.

To make things easier on yourself for the dishes you will be making yourself, try to choose dishes that can be made ahead of time and frozen, or can at least be made a day or two in advance. If you will be ordering a specialty cake or cupcakes from a bakery, place your order one month in advance of the event.

Prepare Games and Gifts

If the parents-to-be haven’t found out the gender of their baby, or just aren’t telling, unisex baby shower gifts like a diaper cake, wipes, bottles, onesies, and security blankets will always be used. To accommodate the gifts, decorate a table with linens and decor items that match your shower’s theme and place it as close to the party entrance as possible. This will save the honoree or host from the hassle of having gifts thrust at them whenever a guest arrives and having to walk each gift over to the gift table themselves.

Designate someone to help the honoree with recording the gifts they receive and who it came from. This will help tremendously when it comes time to write thank you cards with sincerity and thoughtfulness for the people who helped share in the excitement of welcoming the new baby into the world.

For a fun winter baby shower activity, buy plain white cotton baby hats and onesies and provide a variety of safe materials to decorate them. Guests will enjoy creating cute items for the new baby, and mom can show them off once baby arrives.

Every new mother needs a little advice, encouragement, or just a good laugh to get them through. Provide guests with pieces of paper or pre-cut stationary that matches your shower theme, like snowflakes, mittens, or baby booties, and have guests write down their most valuable pieces of motherly advice. Place all of the pieces of paper into a vase or jar and put it in the nursery so that the new mama can read through them when she needs to.

You can also give traditional games like “Don’t Say Baby” a wintery twist by having guests wear a snowflake pin and if someone says “baby,” they have to give their snowflake pin to the person who caught them. The party-goer with the most snowflake pins at the end of the shower will win a festive prize or favor.