Summer is here, and it’s time to take advantage of the warm weather and let the summer sun brighten your days.
Feast on a summer dish. Enjoy the fresh fruits and vegetables of the season, like juicy strawberries, sweet cherries and perfectly buttered corn on the cob. Make good use of your grill with classic barbeque foods and eat outside as much as possible. Don’t forget dessert—nothing says summer like a big ice cream cone.
Select the perfect summer tunes. Certain songs just take you back. Create a playlist of songs that remind you of summers past or select an already created playlist from a music service. Search for top “songs of the summer” or turn on some reggae to go straight to the islands!
Get wet. The hot summer days almost beg for the cool relief of water. You don’t have to go for a swim to get wet, though. Have a water balloon fight with your kids, wade through a creek or head out on your boat. Research shows being near water really does make you happy, so go out and find some this summer.
Soak up the sun. We all know the importance of protecting your skin from the sun’s UV rays, but spending time out in the sun can also be good for you. Your skin produces vitamin D, which keeps bones healthy, fights diseases and reduces depression, in response to sunlight. Get out for a walk, read a book outside or have a chat with your neighbors and you’ll reap the benefits of the sun.
Relive your childhood. In a time when your previously planned summer activities may not happen, take time to enjoy the summer as you did as a child. Catch fireflies, drink lemonade, play card games, run through the sprinkler and roast marshmallows. Be thankful for the little joys in life that continue throughout time.
Smart tips for securing your Smart Home!
Nearly 70 percent of homes in the U.S. have at least one smart device—a speaker, security system or thermostat, for example—and about 12 percent of homes have multiple devices. While smart home technology has many benefits, it’s important to remember that these devices are susceptible to security breaches. Cybercriminals can use information from your smart home devices to determine when you are away from home or access your personal information.
To avoid being hacked at home, take the following steps to secure your smart devices.
- Change all usernames and passwords. When you set up a new smart home device, change the username and password, as factory-created settings are easy for hackers to access. Use different passwords for each of your smart devices and keep track of them with an online password manager if needed.
- Use a secure router. Many people use wireless routers that are provided by their internet service provider; however, it may be wise to purchase a router with enhanced security. Your router should have built-in anti-virus software or a built-in VPN to prevent cyberattacks and should be rebooted regularly for enhanced security.
- Utilize two-factor authentication on your smart devices. The two-step authentication process on your smart devices requires you to verify your identification by email, text or PIN number before any changes are made. Multiple steps make it harder for criminals to access your personal data on your smart home technology.
- Update firmware regularly. Firmware updates are pushed out to smart devices over the internet directly from the manufacturer (like when you update your phone with the latest features). Often firmware updates to smart home devices include security fixes; be sure to perform these updates in a timely manner.
- Set up multiple networks. Many routers allow for a separate “guest” network, so create two networks in your home for increased security. Connect laptops, phones, and other devices that store personal information to your main network and connect smart home technology to your “guest” network.
Words Do Make A Difference In The Success of Your Child
With the signs of spring breathing new life into the creation around us, this is the perfect reminder to cherish the good that surrounds us with POSITIVE words and behaviors – and there is no better place to start than as a parent. Parenting is a balancing act that requires control – often tangling with the fine line of encouragement and exasperation. Positive words that you speak over your kids can help instill confidence and control in your WHOLE family in both the short term and long term.
Words spoken can become meaningless when they are not exhibited in an action. However, words alone do have great power – both positive and negative. We can all make a choice to speak in a positive way to everyone around us – especially to our children and all young ones that we encounter throughout the day. This behavior is one that they will begin to imitate – even though they may not recognize they are doing so. You never know how the words of encouragement that you speak today will affect your kids to carry with them for the years ahead.
Be intentional in the morning – and set aside specific words that you are going to speak to kids. Write them down if you have to, or simply use your favorite word of encouragement that brings a smile to YOUR child’s face – over and over again. The more you can follow up these words with actions of affirmation – the more power these words will have. Have fun and spread the kindness beyond your home – you’ll be amazed at the goodness that will follow!
Meet the Animals! Tips for Visiting A Zoo or Aquarium
Taking a trip to a zoo or aquarium is fun for people of all ages. Who doesn’t love watching monkeys swing from branches or seeing sea lions flip and dive in the water? If you’re planning a day with the animals, keep in mind these tips to make the most of your visit.
Check admission information. Before heading on your trip, confirm the operating hours of the zoo or aquarium. Given COVID restrictions, pay close attention to any visitor limits; you may be required to purchase tickets ahead of time. If you plan on visiting regularly, consider a yearly membership that will save you money in the long run.
Wear appropriate shoes. You can be sure that any visit to a zoo or aquarium is going to require a decent amount of walking. Wear sneakers or other comfortable walking shoes to keep your feet happy during your trip.
Pack snacks and water. All of the walking you’ll be doing during your visit is sure to leave you hungry and thirsty. Pack plenty of snacks with you to avoid any meltdowns, especially from young children, and don’t forget to bring your refillable water bottle.
Review safety rules with children. Let kids know that climbing over barriers, banging on the glass walls and feeding the animals is not allowed. Remind young children to stay close to you and have a plan for what to do if they get lost.
Check for daily shows and events. Visit the zoo or aquarium website in advance of your trip to find a list of events you may want to attend, like feedings, speakers or shows. Plan your route accordingly to take advantage of as many as possible.
If COVID is keeping you from visiting the zoo or aquarium in person, try a virtual visit. Strategically placed web cams give you a great view of the animals and staff videos give a unique glimpse behind-the-scenes. What’s more, you can visit zoos and aquariums from all over the country and even the world!
Tips for Maintaining Heart Health
The heart is arguably the body’s most essential organ when it comes to your health. Beating around 100,000 times a day, the heart pumps blood to the entire body, allowing other organs to do their jobs effectively. There are many aspects to keeping your heart healthy, and it’s important to incorporate all of them into your daily lifestyle.
Making good food choices can go a long way in maintaining heart health. Opt for foods that are low in sodium and saturated fat, but high in fiber. Fill your diet with green, leafy vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, nuts and low-fat protein, all of which provide nutrients to keep your heart beating strong. Be aware of your portion sizes and pre-plan your menu to ensure you are eating heart-healthy foods.
Make Exercise a Habit
The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise a week for adults. Find an exercise you enjoy doing—whether it be walking, tennis, dancing, biking or any of the countless other forms of cardiovascular exercise. Schedule time to exercise in your weekly plans; hold yourself accountable by writing it down or taking a class.
Smoking cigarettes can cause long-lasting damage to the heart. Smoking has been found to increase one’s heart rate and restrict major arteries, which makes it harder for the heart to pump blood to the body. Smokers also have an increased chance of having a stroke. The advice here is simple: if you smoke, take steps to quit.
Learn to Manage Stress
Excessive stress can be detrimental to heart health if it isn’t managed properly. People who are over-stressed often make poor choices, like overeating, drinking too much alcohol or being inactive for long periods of time. These unhealthy choices put them at an increased risk for high blood pressure, which can lead to a stroke or heart attack. If you are often stressed, find a stress reliever that works for you (yoga, connecting with a friend, etc.) and use it.
New Year’s Resolutions for a Safe Home
As you plan your resolutions for 2021, keep home safety top of mind! Often home safety to-dos get lost in the shuffle of everyday life and never end up completed. This January, create a detailed plan to tackle inspections and updates to ensure a safe home for your family. Get out your calendar; it is time to make a plan to keep your home safe in 2021.
- Change air filters. Air filters should typically be changed once every three months. If you have one pet, change the filter every two months, and if you have more than one pet or a family member with allergies, change your air filter every month. Since this is a regular task, make a note in your calendar now to remember to change the air filters on time.
- Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors should be tested every month to ensure they are in good working condition. Unless your detectors have long-life batteries, replace the batteries once or twice a year, which is usually recommended around daylight savings time in the spring and fall.
- Clean your dryer vent. Dryer vent pipes should be cleaned at least once a year for both safety and efficiency purposes. Block off an afternoon to complete this project yourself or make a note to call a professional to clean the vent for you.
- Conduct an electrical audit. Once a year, do a thorough check of all electrical components in your house. Look for damaged wires, check outlets and ensure your breaker panel is free of debris.
- Review your homeowner’s insurance policy. When it comes time to renew your homeowner’s insurance policy, do not just write a check and forget about it. Take the time to read the document and make any changes necessary in your coverage.
- Prepare for emergencies. Update emergency contacts restock your first aid kit and make sure flashlights have working batteries. Do not forget to review and practice your fire escape plan with your family as well.
Six Tips To Reduce The Holiday Stress
Give Thanks By Giving Back
Amid the hardships of 2020, there have been shining examples of people putting others first all across the country. Local communities have come together to support each other during these trying times. With Thanksgiving at the end of the month, now is the perfect time to give thanks by giving back.
Treat someone to lunch.
Remember when your neighbor helped you clean up after that big storm? Or a teacher went out of his or her way to help your child? Surprise them with a gift card to a local restaurant or a delivery service to show your thanks. Not only will they enjoy a free meal, you’ll also be supporting a local business.
Send a card or write a note.
Go old school and get out a pen and paper to send a letter to someone for whom you are grateful. You don’t have to write a lot; even a small note of thanks can help to brighten a person’s day, especially when they aren’t expecting it.
Volunteer your time.
Time is the most precious gift we can give. Find a cause that is near to your heart and find a way to volunteer. Many socially-distant volunteer opportunities are available, like packing meals for food-insecure families, providing online tutoring and homework assistance, or checking in on senior citizens in your neighborhood.
Shop local and share on social media.
Small businesses took quite a hit this year, yet many rose above and continued to provide services and goods to their communities. Give thanks to the shops in your neighborhood and buy local this holiday season. Even better, share what you love most about them on social media to show your support.
According to the American Red Cross, someone in the United States needs blood every two seconds. This year in particular, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that we should never take our health for granted. If you are in good health, show your thanks by paying it forward and donating blood for those in need.
Five Habits of Emotionally Healthy Families
In difficult situations, like the current COVID-19 pandemic, it can be hard to manage emotions for both children and adults. By focusing on the emotional health of your family, you can help each individual express themselves in a constructive way and forge a path forward to grow as a family. Incorporate these habits into your daily family life to build a strong emotional foundation.
- Treat each other with respect. While everyone agrees that children should respect their parents, adults should also show that same respect back to their kids. Modeling this behavior at home will set up expectations for how kids treat others—and how they expect others to treat them—in the future.
- Share feelings, both positive and negative. The family home should be a safe space for members to express what they are feeling, from happiness and excitement to anger and sadness. When it comes to the negative feelings, acknowledge them and then work together to find appropriate ways to address any underlying issues.
- Seek out each other’s opinions. For each member of the family to feel valued, they should have the opportunity to express their opinions. This includes expressing their thoughts on mundane things, like what’s for dinner, and on big decisions, like a family vacation. Actively listen to all opinions and consider them (as much as you can) in your choices.
- Celebrate the big accomplishments and small victories. Cheer on your family members as they succeed in their endeavors, whether it be a good grade, learning to ride a bike or a well-earned promotion. By recognizing your family members’ achievements, you can show your support as they build their self-esteem.
- Accept each family member as they are. In a family, you see the best side of each member, as well as the worst side. Everyone has imperfections and makes mistakes. Showing your unconditional love to your family members will fill their emotional buckets and help your family grow in trust.
Set Yourself Up For Success With A Healthy Breakfast
We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but not all breakfasts are created equal. In order to reap the benefits from your morning meal all day long, aim to eat a balanced breakfast that includes whole grains, lean protein, low-fat dairy and fruits or vegetables. Eating all of these foods together in the morning can help set you up for success throughout the day. A healthy breakfast can:
• Aid in weight loss. By eating the recommended combination of food groups in the morning, you’ll fuel up your body for the day ahead. When you skip breakfast, you are more likely to make poor food choices later in the day and overeat. Eating breakfast also boosts your metabolism and gives you more energy, allowing you to burn more calories throughout the day.
• Increase your focus. When you “break the fast” each morning with a balanced meal, your blood sugar levels stay in check, making it easier to focus on tasks at hand. Studies have shown that eating breakfast increases productivity, creativeness and memory, one of the reasons why breakfast is so important for school-aged children.
• Keep your heart healthy. Research shows that people who don’t eat breakfast are more likely to suffer from heart disease and stroke. Skipping breakfast has been linked to obesity, insulin-sensitivity and high cholesterol, all of which are risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
• Ensure you get your daily amount of vitamins and minerals. Eating a balanced breakfast puts you well on your way to getting the recommended vitamins and minerals each day. Breakfast foods typically contain high amounts of calcium, vitamin B, iron, protein and fiber. Those who eat breakfast are more likely to meet their daily recommendations for vitamins and minerals than those who don’t.
No matter how you eat it—rushing out the door in the morning or while leisurely reading the daily paper—be sure to treat your body right by having a healthy breakfast to start the day.