Category Archives: home and family

Keep The Kids Entertained

Hosting a neighbourhood BBQ can be fun, it gives you a chance to get to know those who live in close proximity. It also gives you all a chance to socialize and unwind. Yet finding a way to keep the kids content so the adults can visit and relax can prove to be difficult at times. One way to keep them happy is with a bubble blower. It isn’t expensive but it is a huge hit!

You can place it far away from where the food is being cooked to help keep the kids safe. You can place the bubble blower in a place where adults are able to keep an eye on the children, but also have enough distance that everyone can do what they want to during the event. It can be tough to find something for a span of age groups but this quite a hit.

Set Up

There is nothing complicated with setting up a bubble blower, but the specifics will depend on the product you buy. Many of them just need batteries and then you turn them on once you fill up the product. Keep extra product and batteries on hand though so the kids don’t have a disappointment when there isn’t any more bubbles!

The product used for these machines is non-toxic so it isn’t going to harm the kids, any pets you have, or your lawn. Find a place to put it where the kids will be able to run, play, grab the bubbles, and not be at risk of falling or being limited in space. Keep it out of rocky areas where the terrain is uneven and way from fences or walls.

Remote Settings

Depending on the bubble blower you purchase, you will have the option of various settings. Some of them only have a couple of settings or even one speed you have to take. Those that have several speeds or settings offering more fun for the kids. For example, it can change the sizes of the bubbles for them to chase after.

Others have a remote control that you can allow one of the older kids to use or you can give it to an adult. This enables the settings on the bubble blower to be changed without someone manually going over there and taking care of it. Take your time to explore the various products out there. They aren’t expensive but they can vary in terms of quality and what they deliver.

Look for a product that is well made, easy to use, and will last for a long time. You don’t want it to be something that gets thrown out after a couple of uses because it can’t hold up to your needs. It is also a good idea to get one that is easy to assemble and store. Although it is going to be something the kids ask you to put out for them often!

Huge Hit

Don’t be surprised if other families in the neighbourhood follow your lead and buy a bubble blower after they see what a hit it is for the kids at your BBQ or other event. Some of them may come over and ask to borrow yours until they get one. It is a fun way to entertain the kids so they can be part of the fun.

What to Consider When Visiting a Water Park

A water park is a wonderful way for the entire family to have a lot of fun and get a break from the scorching summer heat. Most parks are packed with rides and attractions to entertain the old and young alike. Here are a few things to consider to get prepared for the trip to a water park:

Check the ticket prices and open times

If visiting a water park with the family it is worth checking the ticket prices to make it easier to budget for the day. For instance, if the tickets are a little expensive and you prefer not to spend much else on the day, taking along a packed lunch may be the right option. Also, the time that you arrive at the park can make a difference on how busy or long the queues are for visiting the various attractions. Typically, the parks will be a lot quieter early in the day. Also, at this time the sun isn’t going to be so strong.

Pack your supplies

The supplies for a day at a water park are likely to include things a bathing costume, a change of clothes, water socks, a padlock for your locker, goggles, a towel or two, lip balm, and sun block if outside. A swimming cap can benefit those with long hair. For the less confident or young swimmers, a life-saving device is a useful thing to include.

Also, wearing a bathing costume under your regular clothes will help to speed up the process of getting ready after arriving at the park.

Invest in express passes

Many parks give the option to buy an express ticket which is a great way to get on a chosen attraction or ride a lot faster by skipping past the long queues.

Plan the tour of the park

It helps to plan the tour of the park to get on the popular rides at the best times. For instance, it can benefit to wait until the off-peak times before queuing for the best rides. During the busy times it can benefit to visit an attraction that is open to visitors and doesn’t rely on queuing, such as a wave pool.

Check on height and age restrictions

For families with small children it is worth checking if any height restrictions are in place before getting in a queue. The rules and regulations can vary with the different rides, so it is necessary to keep checking this as you make your way around the park.

Why Is Parenting So Hard?

Isn’t it true that sometimes we just don’t know what we’re going to get with this 24/7 job called parenting? Sometimes things can work out pretty well. And after years of work, we pat ourselves on our back and say that we did all the right things. Sometimes though, things don’t work out so well. And after years of work, we pound ourselves on our chest and scream in defiance that we did all the right things. Sadly, our input as parents doesn’t always equal the output by our children.

Sometimes our kids will disappoint us. And after all our parenting efforts we’ll wonder what we did to deserve this. However, sometimes our kids will far exceed the energy that we put into parenting them. And after our less-than-maximum effort, we’ll wonder what we did to deserve a kid like that. As you may already know, no parenting manual exists that is truly specific enough for our unique individual family needs. Like it or not, that’s just the way it is. It’s hard. As a matter of fact, all parenting is very hard. And sometimes it seems like the long hard road is never going to end.

Parenting is hard because it’s supposed to be hard. Anything worth doing and doing well is going to be hard. If it weren’t hard, it wouldn’t be worth anything, including the time this writer devotes to this parenting column. If parenting was easy, then anyone could do it, and do it well. And we all know that not just anyone can parent well. So, what’s the answer again? Parenting is hard because it’s supposed to be hard, and that’s because it’s worth the effort. Parenting is the most important job in the world.

Now, as my Granddaddy always said, “Go learn, lead, and lay the way to a better world for all of us.” So, put your parenting helmet back on and never ever forget that parenting is hard because it’s supposed to be hard. And once again, parents, thanks in advance for all that you do, and all that you will do..

Will You Be Alone on Mother’s Day?

There are certain times of the year when being alone, perhaps without your children, can feel especially raw. Mother’s Day, long Bank Holiday weekends, Valentine’s Day, holidays and key social events can be a real struggle if we are by ourselves, separated from our children. It matters little that we usually spend lots of time with them.

Tips for being alone on Mother’s Day;

– Remind yourself that it’s just one day. If you miss out on a Christmas or Mother’s Day it can be all too easy to run with the emotion and get caught up in a cycle of gloom and despondency. Try to detach from the feelings and make sure the next time you see them you have a lovely time together. Focus on making your together times special.

– Yes, by all means, acknowledge that some of your alone time can be a great opportunity to get chores done and catch up on jobs, but also determine to dedicate some time for yourself to enjoy a few treats. Have a leisurely bath, light those lovely scented candles you’ve been saving for a special occasion, read a book, watch a film, listen to some good music, prepare your favourite food. Relish having the place to yourself. Relax, de-stress and treat yourself well on Mother’s Day.

– Avoid guilt-tripping your children or regaling them with details of your distress. Children are not stupid, they’re good at sensing how you’re feeling and will usually be far more aware of what’s going on than you credit. Yes, they’ll allow Dad to bribe them with holidays and expensive gifts – why wouldn’t they! But they’ll also appreciate your daily efforts to feed and care for them, the things you suspect go largely unnoticed.

– Maintain an involvement in other areas of life. Keep your identity and establish some interests away from the home. Keep up to date with the news, popular TV, what’s happening in your locale, so you’re confident enough to participate in conversations, build new social connections and attract new friends.

– Would you be interested in accepting an offer from friends or colleagues to meet someone they know? Might it be time to meet someone new and do something different? Mixing and talking to new people, particularly potential dates, is a great way to improve your confidence and self-esteem, motivate you to dress up, look after yourself and remind yourself that you’re more than ‘just’ a Mum! Plus conversing with new people is an important skill, quickly lost if we’re out of practice and haven’t socialised independently in a while.

– Are you ready to consider dipping a tentative toe into the official dating scene again? Online dating sites are an increasingly popular way to meet new people and offer great practical advice. For example, be careful how much personal information you disclose, limit a first meeting to an hour and in a public place, and trust your gut instincts if you start to feel uneasy.

– Manage your expectations and don’t invest everything in a new friendship/relationship from the outset. Enjoy meeting someone new, practicing your conversational skills, maybe flirting a little and making a new friend even if it doesn’t result in them becoming a lover.

– Make invitations. Take charge of the parts of your life you have some control over, like your social life. Be proactive and join mailing lists. Source free exhibitions, two for the price of one offers and early doors specials on meals. Become the go-to guy for fun and also accept when others reciprocate and invite you along. Keep in touch with what’s happening around you.

– Provide reasonable options. Your friends and inner circle may wish to socialise but may need to be careful about their expenditure. You could suggest a pamper evening at each other’s homes, or supper parties where everyone contributes a dish and/or bottle. Or retrieve your board games and have competition evenings; I know of several people who started games evenings over the winter months and enjoyed them so much that they became a regular part of their calendar.

– Also, make time for some of the things that interest you, if you are able. Volunteer, join a class, walking group or activity you enjoy. Maybe alternate child care with other mums and dedicate some free time to mixing and meeting people with similar interests to yourself. Enjoy sharing conversations, becoming friends and, who knows, maybe meeting someone new too.

Remind yourself that each situation has pros and cons. Being single isn’t the end of the world! Alone doesn’t have to mean lonely. In fact many people in unhappy relationships will envy you your freedom and the fact that you’re now starting out afresh. Have a great Mother’s Day!

Susan Leigh, Altrincham, Cheshire, South Manchester counsellor, hypnotherapist, relationship counsellor, writer & media contributor offers help with relationship issues, stress management, assertiveness and confidence. She works with individual clients, couples and provides corporate workshops and support.

4 Tips to Stop Toddlers From Breastfeeding

The benefits of breastfeeding are numerous, including establishing a bond between mothers and their babies.

Due to varying factors, most women may consider breastfeeding cessation when a toddler attains two years.

Consider the following tips on weaning a toddler from breast milk.

Be consistent
If you decide to drop nursing sessions one by one (preferably, start by dropping the day sessions), make sure that you are consistent with your sessions. This helps in curbing complications like clogged milk ducts and breast engorgement which can be painful. Your toddler also transitions smoothly from breast milk to other sources of food.

Do it gradually
Do not stop breastfeeding at once, but do it gradually to allow your body to adjust to the milk production process. Abrupt weaning may lead to severe complications like mastitis if the clogged milk ducts get infected. Also, remain committed once you begin the process of weaning your toddler.

Wear non-access clothes
In most cases, your toddler will reach out for your breasts when he feels like having a taste of it. This can be quite embarrassing if he decides to pull out your breasts in public. To avoid this form of embarrassment, and to achieve your goal of weaning your toddler, consider wearing non-access clothes. Clothes that provide easy access to your breast by the toddler, may slow the process of stopping your toddler from breastfeeding. Therefore, consider wearing non-access clothes, that make it difficult for your toddler to access your breasts.

Involve your Partner
Bring daddy into the picture, especially when you want to make your toddler sleep at night. In most cases, toddlers have the habit of being nursed before going to sleep. You can substitute nursing at night by offering warm tea, and have your partner take your toddler to sleep. Your toddler will protest for a few days, then afterward, he will get used to it.

To stop a toddler from breastfeeding is a headache for many moms. This is so considering that the toddler has been on breast milk for over 600 days of his life.

To smoothly wean a toddler from breast milk, ensure that you observe consistency once you begin the process, do it gradually, Involve your partner, and consider wearing non-access clothes that don’t provide easy access to your breasts.

Apps For Moms: Easing-Off Daily Struggles in Managing a Household

Who said that the lives of Moms are easy? Even if they are avid homemakers and are not engaged in any corporate life, there are heaps of things to do to ensure that their family members are in absolute comfort. In concern to the hectic lives or daily struggles of Moms, many app makers are bringing out apps that will ease the struggles of mothers and make their every single day productive and more efficient than ever. Not just as task organisers, but apps contain all information that helps them get one job done while planning for their next move. Whether shopping at a supermarket or checking on house’s expenses, apps can help the mothers in every way.

Have a look here at some of the most impressive app ideas that help mothers to turn their smartphones into personal assistants.

Grocery management

Grocery management applications help in planning the purchase of main kitchen items and daily groceries by syncing them with the Mom’s favourite supermarket or online store. They can create permanent lists of the things that they need along the time they can last. So, when a stock is just about to exhaust, the app gives out notifications signalling the Moms to re-order them on the online stores or purchase them from the market.

Bill reminder

With this kind of apps, Moms can remain perfectly on track of their regular expenses and payments by saving up such information in a single location. Moms can save details of payments either by payee’s name or payment dates, and set reminders for the time when it is convenient for them to pay. With more advanced apps, they can even set automatic payments and affirm it later by viewing the bill-paying reports. Thus, moms can never be late again in paying their monthly bills.

Home tasks scheduling

Using an app that helps to schedule the routine tasks, mothers can become much more efficient than ever. Whether it is about preparing the breakfast, cleaning the house or dealing with a pile of laundry, they can note and schedule all in the app. With particular functionality, they can divide all the tasks into different work zones and organise the routines by day or week.

Cookbook for Quick Recipes

The idea of this app is perfect to assist Moms in their cooking chores, especially those who are not much adept at it. Apps must come with an extensive list of simple recipes, meal-wise and ingredients-wise. Not only just instructions, the recipes are also accompanied by videos. So, whenever the kids get hungry, Moms can visit the app, enter the ingredients that they have now at their table and get a quick lip-smacking recipe.

Pocket Pharmacy

Mothers are always too concerned about the health of their members and have to remain completely aware of their health conditions and medications, if they undergo some. Hence, apps that give them unbiased names of top medicines, doctors, clinics and labs nearby will be of great use for the Moms.

While mobile apps are mostly targeted to businesses and enterprises, the sector is diversifying and is coming out with intuitive apps for personal utilities. The above ideas represent some of the promising ones to aid mothers in their daily mundane activities and make their lives easier.

Tips for Taking Care of Your Garden

Everyone likes a well-maintained garden. It looks beautiful and creates a peaceful and tranquil aesthetic. Sadly, in the busy lifestyle of today, most people feel like they lack the time, necessary for it. Little do they know, however, taking care of your garden does not need to take up all of your free time! Just as with any other activity, knowing what to do and how to do it efficiently and effectively is the key. In this article we will go over the basics of garden care, offering you tips and tricks on efficient garden maintenance.

The garden care checklist
Below, you can find the key aspects of garden care which will ensure that your yard looks its best at all times:

Take care of your lawn
Apply Appropriate Fertilizers
Water your plants on a regular basis
Take care of weeds on time
Ensure that your plants get enough sunlight
Prevent and Control Pests

Lawn maintenance – Your lawn is one of the most essential parts of a garden and often challenging to get right. It needs to be frequently mowed, keeping the grass at the appropriate levels, its core needs to be properly aerated, and old turf should be carefully replaced.
Fertilisers – Better soil equals healthier and more beautiful plants. Although this is something that should be considered before even planting anything, it must also be maintained. To promote flower bud production, for example, you want a fertiliser with small nitrogen concentration, higher phosphorous and just a touch of potassium.
Water your plants often – Different plants require different quantities of water. Make sure that you do your research and provide your plants and flowers of choice with just as much water as they need! Too little or too much water and you will risk damaging them.
Take care of weeds in time – Not only do weeds not look pretty but they also use up nutrients that your flowers otherwise should. Furthermore, it is much easier to deal with weeds earlier in their lifecycle rather than later. Between mulching, often weeding and cutting off the tops of weeds, the weeds in your garden will barely stand a chance!
Sunlight – Everything needs sunlight to grow (humans included). Most of the popular flowering plants will want to be under the direct light of the sun for about 6 hours per day. However, keep in mind, that just like everything else, this varies from plant to plant. If possible, move objects around and allow your precious flowers to get as much as they need!
Eliminate pests – Yet another point, based on your particular choice of plants. Depending on what you choose to plant in your garden, you might find yourself under attack by various bugs and pests. Reading up on the subject is essential, as reacting sooner rather than later is what will save you the most time, money and hassles. As a general rule of thumb, however, you should try to stay away from dangerous chemicals and stick to organic solutions, as the latter have a much lower chance of hurting your family members, pets and plants than the former.

Water Garden Ideas and Advice

Water Garden Ideas

Many beautiful and unusual plants can be grown in a water garden, and the making of such a garden is an adventure within the reach of everyone. Almost any receptacle capable of holding water is a potential pool, and there are water-lilies small enough to live and flower in an ordinary sized washing-up bowl.

If a pool is well constructed, if care is taken with the planting, and if the right planting compost material and aquatics (water plants) are chosen, water is easier to manage than grass. But with no other feature in the garden is the margin between success and failure so delicately poised. Great care is needed to hold the balance between clear water and a well-managed pool on the one hand, and smell, slime, green water and rank aquatics on the other.

Ideas for Siting a Water Garden

The position of a water garden is very important, for water-lilies and most aquatics love the sun. The warmer the water, the more luxuriant the growth and the greater the number of blooms will be. The best position for a pool, therefore, is in the open, as far as possible.

The shelter of trees or a hedge to the north or north-east of the water garden can break the force of driving winds and will considerably extend the flowering season, but be sure to build the pool some distance from the trees or hedge, so that dead leaves do not fall into the pool and foul the water. Alternatively, if your water garden is close to trees or a hedge, you can spread wire-netting over the surface of the pool during the few weeks of the autumnal leaf fall.

A very deep pool can be a disadvantage since depth controls the temperature of the water, but the water must not be too shallow or it will freeze up in winter. Fifteen to 18 inches of water above the crowns of plants is shallow enough to induce free-flowering and yet sufficiently deep to safeguard the roots in winter. Rock garden pools are often only 1 foot or even less in depth, and should be protected during very bad weather, but such precautions are impracticable for larger pools.

Water gardens are either formal or informal, and should fit in with their surroundings. The formal water garden is usually the dominant feature of a garden – in a central position or perhaps the key point of an area to which all paths-lead. It is regular in shape (a circle, square, oblong or some geometric form) and its outline is defined with a raised kerb or flat, paved surround. Fountains can be placed in the water garden, but as a general rule running water is not desirable, especially if the water supply comes from a natural spring or similar low-lying source, because it will constantly lower the temperature and also destroy the calm on which water-lilies thrive.

Formal pools look better in conventional surrounds and do not blend with natural features such as wild or rock gardens or alpine meadows. Keep the vegetation in them low, using water-lilies and submerged and floating aquatics rather than marginals and bog plants.

An informal pool should not disclose its origin. The concrete or other material of which it is made can be hidden by keeping the outer edges below the level of the surrounding ground, and by the skilful use of marginal plants – bog and marginal aquatics being used to bridge the gap between the water and dry land. The informal pool blends with any natural setting, and is not, therefore, the best type of pool for a formal rose garden or similar tailored feature.

Whilst the author of this article is now a full-time internet marketer who enjoys the fruits of her labours in the garden, she also has over 30 years of working and training in the fitness and exercise industry, she is now putting that ‘hands on’ experience in this field of work to work for her in a different way – on the internet, writing articles to offer help and advice to others.

7 Practical Tips to Make Gardening Easier

Gardening is no easy task, especially if you have put quite a lot of effort into it. It won’t take you long before tending to the flower beds, pruning and doing all sorts of other gardening chores starts to feel tiring and overwhelming. The purpose of gardening is to make you feel happy, not super tired.
Тo achieve this, you can adopt a few clever tricks that will make the workflow easy. The following techniques aim to keep you sharp on the gardening jobs while helping you conserve your energy.
Raised beds are a blessing
Whether made of wood (manufactured or regular), pavers or concrete blocks, you can bet that they will make your gardening efforts easy. You needn’t worry about building raised beds yourself, as you will most often see kits in large stores. What you have to remember is the height of the raised bed shouldn’t be too great. A maximum of 40 inches is recommended. You also have to make them at least 3-4 feet wide so that access to the middle is not difficult.
Gardening in containers
Containers are also convenient for gardening purposes since you can practically place them at whatever height is appropriate. You can put them on the ground, or a table, if that is more convenient for you. Weeding plants in containers are much easier than in raised beds, and you can also water them without much trouble. Depending on the size of the container, you won’t have much trouble. It is worth it to check for containers with wheels, as those are very easy to move around.
Use only ergonomic tools
There is a wide variety of tools available out there, and you can make a choice to get more convenient ones. For instance, there are tools with smaller handles and such that come with braces to protect your wrists. Some tools feature special handle design with curved handles and indentations for fingers. If you feel the handle of a tool doesn’t feel as comfortable as it should use pipe insulation or tape to make it such.
Invest in a pulley system for hanging baskets
If you find hanging baskets too heavy to move, remember that you can always get a pulley system for them. This reduces the weight by half at least and is quite convenient. You can lower the baskets when you need to water them or tending to plants there and then return them where they need to be with ease.
Tailor the watering can to your ability
If you cannot lift heavy, perhaps a standard watering can prove a bad decision. What you can use is a smaller can that is easier to lift and carry around.
Warm up before initiating work and take breaks
Treat gardening work the same way you would as going to the gym. To prepare your body, you will need to start off easy, as a warm-up before the actual workout. Another important thing is to give yourself regular breaks so that you don’t grow tired quickly after you begin. Take a seat for a few minutes or stand up to stretch your legs if you are working something on the ground.
Succession gardening
If you are planting crops, you should try out succession gardening. What this means is planting crops at staggered dates. That way they will ripe at different times, which means you won’t feel greatly overwhelmed.

Where Is Your Home?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary has several different definitions for the word “home”. One states that it is a place of residence. Another defines it as a familiar or usual setting or congenial environment and a third states that it is a place of origin.

The dictionary goes on to define the term “at home” which includes being relaxed and comfortable, in harmony with the surroundings and on familiar ground.

I think we all recognize the fact that a home is more than just a building, but individuals may conger up very different meanings when they hear or use the term “home”.

For some, it may mean the place where they presently live on their own or with their families. Home may be in the form of a condo, a trailer, house or tent. For others home may be heaven – the place where they are planning to spend eternity.

Some people talk about home as the place from which the family originated. It might be a foreign country, a different province or a family farm.

Emotions are usually attached to words and for many the term home may illicit negative emotions involving hurt, abuse or abandonment. Others may think about home with fond memories and gratitude.

Why am I talking about home this week? Because, after fifty years, nineteen members of my high school graduating class and some of the family members are returning home to Indian Head, Saskatchewan for a reunion.

For weeks a handful of us have been planning and communicating about activities that we can enjoy together during the weekend gathering. The attendees who are arriving by plane and vehicle from various locations across Canada will share meals, decorate and ride on a parade float, tour the high school and talk!

Many of us have not had any contact with each other over the five decades since graduation day.

I think it is always amazing to meet friends or relatives after a long period of time and realize that it only takes a few minutes to update and then the relationship is restored as though time did not pass between meetings.