• 7 COMMON NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS (AND WHY THEY ARE GREAT)
  • This entry was posted in on December 29, 2016

  • A lot of us spent Thanksgiving until now indulging in our favorite treats, takeout meals, and Netflix shows. January (and its inevitable healthier choices) was viewed as a chore in the far-off, distant future.

    But guess what? It’s that time again! Take a few moments before the month ends to pick out your New Year’s Resolution, and formulate a plan for how to make it stick. Here are seven of the most common resolutions, with a few reasons why they might work for you.

    Eat a healthier diet. Thanksgiving and Christmas bring out the worst in us when it comes to healthy eating habits. Cleaning up your diet can help you lose weight, feel better, have more energy, and even have better relationships.

    Be more active and get in shape. Regular exercise substantially improves our ability to handle the stress of everyday life, and view our circumstances with a fresh and positive outlook. Physical and mental health benefits aside, finding and enjoying a physical activity that works for you is also a lot of fun.

    Cut back on alcohol. Excessive drinking increases your risk for all kinds of health issues: high blood pressure, liver disease, stroke, cancer, depression, and more. The list goes on and on.

    Spend more time with your family. The holiday season reminds us how much we enjoy spending time with our loved ones. A goal to share more hours with the people who mean the most to you is unmatched in importance.

    Save more money. Cutting back on the money you spend socializing and eating out at restaurants can significantly pad your bank account (not to mention, improve your health), giving you the funds to try new activities, travel, or check out a new art or fitness class.

    Read more. Some studies show people who read are happiest. Escaping into a story tends to put our problems in prospective. Plus, who doesn’t enjoy curling up with an intriguing mystery novel on a Sunday afternoon?

    Reduce your social media time. Social media can help us stay connected to friends, colleagues, and family members, but the constant news updates and messages can sometimes be too much. Getting less “tuned in” might be a healthy goal for you.

    It can be hard to make major lifestyle changes, but it can also be exciting. Don’t get bummed about what you’re giving up – get pumped about what you’re gaining. This is a chance to create a newer, better, and happier you. Here’s to an outstanding – and renewing – New Year!




  • HOW TO RECYCLE YOUR TOYS AND GIVE BACK THIS HOLIDAY SEASON
  • This entry was posted in Toys on December 19, 2016

  • As the holiday approach, many children have a list of toys that they want from Santa Claus, or Mom and Dad. In many cases, they have outgrown or no longer play with some of their toys. This is a good time of year to recycle your children's toys and make room for the new ones that they receive over the holidays. It's also a great way to give back to the community and to keep unnecessary items out of the landfills.

     

    When planning to recycle your kids' toys, survey their forgotten and neglected games, trikes and stuffed animals for gently used or like-new items. Kids' toys that have plenty of wear and love left in them can find a new home for the holidays. Whether it's a charity, the nursery at a local place of worship, a children's hospital or a daycare center, gently used toys and games can be recycled and reborn. Some organizations will help the toys find good homes by giving them to local families, while others put them in their thrift stores to help support the organization financially. If you don't have a favorite charity that accepts gently used toys, consider one of these:

    - Goodwill Industries

    - The Salvation Army

    - Second Chance Toys

     

    Unused Toys

    Every now and then, your child may receive a great toy that is inappropriate for their age or doesn't suit their personality. While these like-new toys can also be donated to the charities mentioned above, Toys for Tots takes new toy donations during the holiday season and throughout the year. These items are given to less fortunate children in the community.

     

    Call Ahead

    Check with your local charity to find out if they are, in fact, collecting gently used toys before you head over. Some, such as the Salvation Army or Goodwill may have a truck pick-up service in your area and you can schedule a donation date.

     

    Cleaning Your Toys

    Most charities that do recycle toys prefer them to be clean and unbroken with no missing parts. Check their policies. Some will clean and fix toys upon their arrival; others won't.

     

    - Plastic and metal toys can be cleaned with soap and water or household cleaning products. Be sure to dry them thoroughly.

     

    - Plush stuffed animals can be laundered by hand or in the washing machine in a zippered pillowcase or mesh laundry bag on the gentle cycle. Put them in with a light load of clothes or linens in cold or warm water. Hang them up to dry using a skirt hanger or clothespins. Check the care labels, if possible. Avoid putting cloth or plush toys with removable parts, lace, flimsy attachments, Styrofoam stuffing pellets or glued-on objects (other than eyes) into the machine.

     

    As the holidays approach, it's a good time to take inventory of the types of toys that your children have and what is age appropriate for them. Recycling toys that they have outgrown can help the community in many different ways.

     




  • 5 SERIOUSLY FUN FAMILY TRADITIONS FOR THE HOLIDAYS
  • This entry was posted in Toys on November 29, 2016

  • From hanging favorite ornaments, to dining on extravagant meals, holiday traditions bind us together and remind us of our roots.

    The holidays put family members who might not see each other often in the same house for extended periods of time. Fun can’t be scheduled, but it’s a good idea to have a mental list of possible entertaining activities ready to go.

    Here are a few of our favorite holiday traditions that will keep everyone - from your niece, to your grandpa, to your cousin’s shy new girlfriend - entertained.

    1. Decorate the house, and take turns picking the music. Share your favorite holiday playlists, while making or unpacking seasonal decorations, like wreaths, ornaments, and strings of lights for the banister.

    2. Bake tasty treats. Have every family member old enough to bake bring a recipe. Make a trip to the grocery store as a group to buy ingredients, then have a bake-off, with whoever isn’t baking serving as the judge. Once the verdict’s been decided, settle down on the couch, with a plate full of delectable goodies, for a viewing of a classic or new holiday movie. Everybody wins.

    3. Move your muscles. A family walk or outdoor group activity is the ideal cure for too many cookies. Take a group bike or scooter ride (It's a full body activity!), or push the kids on the swing set to get fresh air and fun at the same time. Physical health is often neglected during the holiday season, so working activity into your routine is essential. Don’t forget to bundle up in your coziest winter gear first.

    4. Play games! There’s nothing like competition to spice up a family gathering. Life, Candy Land, and other board games are fun for adults and kids alike. From beanbag toss, to hide and seek, there are tons of outdoor games the whole family will enjoy if you’re interested in heading outside.

    5. Unwind. The greatest quality time is unplanned. Take a few minutes this holiday season to sit down with your loved ones, and see where the conversation takes you. Life moves quickly, and the holidays are a rare time we have to scale back, sit still, and enjoy each other’s company.

    One new tradition to consider: try something new every year. What better way to reconnect and bond with family members than to share a fun, new, and crazy experience?

     




  • WAYS TO GIVE BACK DURING THE HOLIDAYS
  • This entry was posted in on November 07, 2016

  • With the holidays coming up, it's a good time to reach out and give back to the community. This is a wonderful way to get your children or grandchildren involved as well. Check around in your local area to see if there are any special causes or charities that need a boost this time of year. You should be able to get a receipt for a tax deduction from most agencies. Here are a few ideas to get you started in your quest to give back during the holidays.

    Volunteer

    Many non-profit organizations are in need of manpower and other forms of assistance. You can donate your time at the local food bank, place of worship or homeless shelter. You can also donate blood at a local hospital or through a local blood drive.  

    - American Red Cross – There are many opportunities to assist with fund raising or by supporting a blood drive at a location near you.

    Recycle Toys

    With a potential visit from Santa Claus waiting in the wings, now is the perfect time to go through your children's toys and set aside the ones they no longer use. These can be donated to a homeless shelter, daycare center or even the nursery at a local place of worship. Here are a few places with national collection that accept gently used toys.

    - Homeless Shelter Directory – Nationwide map to find a shelter near you.

    - The Salvation Army  – Collects gently used clothing, household goods and toys for its stores.

    Donate New Toys

    There are several charities that host toy drives for underprivileged kids. When buying toys for your kids or grandkids as holiday gifts, you might consider picking up one for a needy child and donating it through a local drop-off site. You can also let the kids pick out a special toy they would like another child to have while they're doing their own holiday shopping.

    - Toys for Tots – U.S. Marine Corps Reserve program collects new, unwrapped toys for less fortunate kids.

    - Ronald McDonald House Charities – The Ronal McDonald House network houses families whose children are receiving medical care away from home. It accepts toys such as board games, books, puzzles and stuffed animals. Non-perishable food and daily living supplies are needed as well.

    Charitable Events

    You can also give back to your local community by making monetary donations, organizing an event or participating in a charitable event. If you’re in a warm winter weather area, there are many golf tournaments and walks or runs that support a wide range of charities during the holiday season.

    - Wounded Warrior Project – Support wounded military veterans as an event supporter, or encourage the kids in your family to become Student Ambassadors.

    Giving back to the community is a great way to make the holidays even more special. It's also something you can do as a family year-round. Before making a monetary donation, you may wish to check with your state charitable organization regulation department to verify that they are registered.

     




  • REMINDERS FOR YOUR LITTLE ONES TO STAY HEALTHY AT SCHOOL AND AT PLAY
  • This entry was posted in Toys on October 18, 2016

  • The lifestyle habits learned and developed during childhood often become lifelong habits. This is why instilling healthy habits and safe behavior for your little ones from an early age is so important. The sooner you begin reminding them of what is healthy and safe in their everyday routine, they will naturally recognize right from wrong, safe from unsafe, and healthy from unhealthy. You teach them these lessons and trust them to make the right choices when playing with friends and when they are at school.

    Staying Healthy

    - Brush your teeth at least twice a day, and floss at least once.

    - Make healthy food choices. Have a fruit or vegetable with every meal and choose healthy snack options.

    - Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before and after every meal, after using the restroom, after recess, and more often when you are sick or getting a cold.

    - Drink plenty of liquids. Stay hydrated with water throughout the day especially when playing.

    - Get active. At least 30 minutes of exercise and fresh air every day.

    Playing Safe

    - Look both ways before crossing the street, or crossing in front of a driveway.

    - Use all playground equipment as it was meant to be played on. No going up the slides or standing on the swings.

    When riding a bike always wear safety gear and a properly fitted helmet.

     -Wear sneakers for recess and outdoor playtime.

    - Dress appropriately for the playground. Remove necklaces, purses, scarves or clothing with drawstrings that can get caught on equipment and pose a strangulation hazard.

    - No pushing, crowding or shoving.

    - Limit the time playing video games and watching TV each day.

    Elementary age children are at an extremely important age mentally, emotionally and physically. Giving them these helpful reminders will ensure they are learning and growing into smart and healthy adolescents.