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Use These Tactics To Make Halloween Less Scary for Small Kids

decorated pumpkins

After a young child watches a scary movie or is frightened by a Halloween costume, parents should reach for a can of anti-monster spray before bedtime, says Theresa Kruczek, a counseling psychology professor at Ball State University.

“Preschool children and those in early elementary school often have a difficult time with Halloween,” she says. “Children this age often struggle with separating fantasy from reality and a result they may get confused and think the scary elements of Halloween are real.”.


 “After a frightening experience, children may have nightmares. They really can’t tell us too much about the dream, but we can take some precautions to ward off those dreams by using a can of air freshener, otherwise known as anti-monster spray, to keep monsters at bay. Monsters don’t like nice-smelling stuff.”

Kruczek also advises:

  1. Limit preschoolers to 30 minutes or less of activities, including trick-or-treating, and only during daylight hours.

  2. Ask friends and strangers to take off masks to show children that there really is a person under the costume.

  3. Parents and siblings should never wear masks around youngsters afraid of such items.

  4. In families with children of varying age ranges, allow each youngster to participate in age-appropriate activities.

  5. Avoid haunted houses unless the facility offers age-appropriate activities.

“Just because you love haunted houses doesn’t mean your 4-year-old will,” Kruczek says. “Parents are in the best position to know what frightens their child and to help them cope with Halloween.  If kids freak out during a scary movie, they’ll freak out at a haunted house or when someone in a scary outfit comes by.”



Delivery Day Countdown: 20 Things to Do Before Baby Arrives

Are you in your last month of pregnancy and flustered about what you need to do and worry if you have the time? No fret, cousin JJ is here to give you a checklist of crap you need to haul ass and get done.

A list should ease the stress:

What to Pack in the Baby Bag:

1. A warm and comfortable blanket but one you don’t mind getting ruined with all the juices, balms and secretions that accompany labor. It won’t be the same after. errrr.

2.  Mint or lollipops – You may be restricted from eating. The sugar in the lollipop can help curb hunger pangs and keep you from stink breath. Stink breath is no bueno.

3. Lip balm – You may get dehydrated. Keep your lips moisturized. I like ESOS!

4. Moisturizer – Get a very thick tube of moisturizer. I recommend Aquaphor because you don’t need a lot to do the trick.

5. Smart phone camera or digital camera – No explanation necessary

6. A couple pair of granny undies – But no more because you will get the mesh disposable undies plenty at the hospital. You can even take home extras the nurses bring in your room. They’re the best!

7. Baby going home outfit – This is the outfit you dress baby in when the hospital photography company comes by.

8. Gifts for the nurses – Some go above and beyond to make your short stay pleasant. Purchase a box of candy, or a mini spa kit or a journal or cards. I love Steep Seep’s Grapefruit Bergamot gift set which costs under $20!

9. Music – have a playlist of soothing music on a CD or on your phone’s portable speaker that you can plug in and help you calm down and get through a long labor.

10. Breast pad – You may leak so breast-pads and some Lansinoh Nipple Cream may come in handy for cracked or sore nipples from nursing.


11. Get the carpets cleaned and get rid of any cat or dog hair and other allergens.

12. Create a music playlist for labor and delivery.

13. Buy all the creams, lotions, medicines, and miscellaneous  items you need for yourself and baby.

14. Buy clear plastic containers to organize baby clothing, accessories, toys and a label maker

15. Organize baby’s clothes and label the bins: newborn, 0 to 3 months, 3 to 6months, 6 to 12 months.

16. Create a “call list” on your smart phone so your hubby, spouse or partner knows who to contact after you give birth.


You have to make sure you are presentable for labor and delivery, photos after baby arrives and just for feeling good about yourself and the end of the 40 week journey. Don’t know who said letting yourself go was okay during pregnancy, but they lied. If you feel fresh, clean, primmed and prepped, you will feel energetic and ready for pushing out that baby.

17. Get your nether regions waxed. You really don’t want doctors and nurses seeing your business looking like the Brazilian rain forest. Opt for a Brazilian wax instead. If it’s out of the budget, consider going with Nair Bikini removal gel which will not require you to use a razor and nick yourself, but be careful.

18. Wax your eyebrows. You’ll feel better and look great in the post birth pics. But if you’re going for the Anastasia the Russian Gladiator look, then no.

19. Get a Mani and Pedi – A mani because your hands will be in pics and you don’t want to cut baby with your hang nail. Not good.  A pedi because your toes may be in the air and/or in stirrups during the pushing stage and you don’t want to be embarrassed by crusty and ashy hammer toes in people’s faces.

20. Get a hair appointment and get your hair in braids and/or cornrows. You need a low maintenance style bc you will not have time to do your hair after baby arrives and braided styles look great in pics.

STUDY: Middle Child Boys Are More Delinquent Than First Borns

A relatively new study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology looked into the impact of birth order on delinquency and found that second-born boys “are substantially more likely to exhibit delinquency problems compared to their older sibling.”

The conclusions were extrapolated from examining data sets from the US state of Florida and from Denmark.

Most striking, it discovered that second-born boys are involved with the juvenile justice system at a rate 40 percent higher than first-borns and what is to blame?

More relaxed parenting and shorter maternity  leave!

“Second-born children tend to have less maternal attention than do their older siblings,” the authors write. They explain that firstborns get the benefit of their mother’s maternity leave following their own births and following their sibling’s birth.

The study also looked into in school suspension and truancy rates when determining the definition of “delinquency” so it wasn’t all all out criminal behavior.

The authors found that when a girl was added to the mix, delinquency in the middle second boy went down.

Interesting study.

My family dynamics are two boys and a girl and the second boy finds himself in more pickles and jams than the first but I think it is because he is more outgoing and has a larger peer group to get in trouble with, and also, his personality.

In my family, which has a youngest girl, the additional female did nothing to impact the boys behavior.

I suppose it is all relative, despite these stark trends in the data!


What do you think?  Hit us up on Bellyitch on  Facebook, Instgram, Twitter and Pinterest!

The 5 Things You Can Do To Beat Cold and Flu Season

As I sit in bed suffering from my first cold of the Cold and Flu season, I thought I’d repost this blog article from a few year’s back on what you, as parents, can do to help your child avoid getting sick.

It’s inevitable that from time to time you and your child will be exposed to people who have a cold or who are spreading airborne germs.  While the odds are that your child will catch the occasional cold, there are certainly a few ways to reduce the number of colds that she gets.

  1. Try to keep ahead of the germs.  Disinfecting wipes or a water and bleach solution can be used for this task.  Make sure that you are regularly cleaning door knobs, handles, cabinets, toys, and anything else that little hands might come into contact with.  For every gallon of water, 1 ½ teaspoons of bleach should be added to create a solution to disinfect surfaces and toys. For diapering and toileting areas, 1 tablespoon of bleach can be added to 1 gallon of water. Let the bleach solution sit for 2 minutes before wiping it down.  If you are worried about your child coming into contact with chemicals, look for all-natural sanitizing solutions.  You’ll also want to make sure that everyone in the house frequently washes their hands with warm water and soap.
  2. Change toothbrushes often.  Toothbrushes can harbor germs and re-infect your child if the germs are not killed.  Dentists recommend that toothbrushes be replaced every 3 months if you are healthy, more often if you are not.  Toothbrushes should also be replaced after an illness. To kill germs soak the toothbrush in antiseptic mouthwash for 5 minutes or run your toothbrush through the dishwasher.  Warning: Boiling your toothbrush or running it through the dishwasher will wear out the bristles faster.
  3. Feed your child a healthy diet.  If your child eats a proper diet it will strengthen his immune system and he will be better able to fight off cold-causing germs.  Make sure he eats plenty of fruits and vegetables, as these contain the proper vitamins and minerals needed to build up his body’s natural defenses.  Eating foods high in vitamins is better for absorption of those vitamins than taking vitamin tablets.
  4. Encourage your child to drink plenty of water.  Water not only keeps your body hydrated during the very dry winter season, but it helps your body flush out unwanted toxins.  Water also helps your lymph system run better, which is part of your body’s immune system, and it fights off illness.
  5. Make sure your child gets enough sleep.  Sleeping is extremely important, and most people don’t get enough of it.  Doctors recommend that children sleep 10-11 hours per night.  A lack of sleep can affect how well your child grows because the body produces a growth hormone during sleep.  Digestion also takes place during sleep.  Bodies need this down time to recover and rebuild after a busy day of being a kid.  By getting enough sleep the body is better prepared to fight off germs.

Also, study this chart or print it out to figure out if you or your child is suffering from seasonal allergies or a cold. I was not sure at first but this chart helped me figure it out:

12 Simple Baby Food Making Books to Add To Your Library

diy baby book collage

There have been a few baby food recalls in recent weeks that have prompted some new moms to consider making their own baby food from scratch for their little ones.

The idea of blending, pureeing, storing, thawing and making batches of baby food or toddler pouches can seem daunting, and time-consuming, but fortunately, in recent years, technology in the form of baby food blenders and scores of new books have cropped up to demystify and simplify the process.


To start, you may want to go out and get a blender with a puree function on it. I like the Magic Bullet for making smoothies and milkshakes for my little ones because it is easiest to clean. The company that makes it also sells a special version just for baby food making called Magic Bullet Baby Bullet Baby Care System which retails for $59.99 on Amazon but is sold in retail stores like Target, Walmart and the like.


Next, you’ll have to invest in tiny containers to store the foods you make. The Baby Bullet comes with its own containers and lids but you can also order storage containers. Sage Spoonfuls Big Batch Storage Set includes twelve 4 Ounce containers for about $20, enough for vegetable, desserts and other purees. They are freezer, dishwasher and microwave safe and durable portable jars with leak proof and easy to use screw on lids.


Then comes the hard part: whipping up yummy recipes. Here are some books with tips, recipes and other suggestions.


The Amazing Make-Ahead Baby Food Book: Make 3 Months of Homemade Purees in 3 Hours ($17.88)

This popular hardback book will give you to tools and tips for making up to three months’ worth of healthy, homemade baby food in just three one-hour blocks of time. It has unique combos like Peachy Strawberry Salad, Coconutty Mango Lassi, Plum-Gingered Brocco-Quinoa, and Purple Papaya Flax Yogurt, blending in a rainbow of nutritious options while expanding your baby’s palate.


Real Baby Food: Easy, All-Natural Recipes for Your Baby and Toddler ($10.79)

The toughest part really is making the time but this book helps new moms create a routine that is easy, fast and flexible. The author starts with the building blocks of solid foods, and shares how to recognize food allergies, and easy ways to cook in bulk. Recipes progress from single-ingredient purées to multi-flavor blends like Salmon, Kale, and Sweet Potato Smash; then move on to finger foods—Turkey Meatloaf Bites, Maple Graham Animals—and finally toddler meals and snacks. Most can be made ahead and frozen, many are easily adapted for grown-up tastes, and all include full nutritional information. Nice!


101 DIY Baby Food Pouches ($10.99) specializes in baby food pouches for older babies and toddlers. This book includes instructions for filling your own pouches for cheaper, healthier, and eco-friendly options for your little one.


Fast & Fresh Baby Food Cookbook: 120 Ridiculously Simple and Naturally Wholesome Baby Food Recipes ($11.87)

This book targets the early stage new mom who “can’t keep up with the laundry” or “can’t fit into anything but yoga pants” and “can’t make your baby sleep through the night.” The book promised to help this mom “make the best food for your baby in 30 minutes or less.”


Little Foodie: Baby Food Recipes for Babies and Toddlers with Taste ($13.59)

This book comes from a certified baby chef and blogger over at Baby FoodE, Michele Olivier.  She offers over 100 food recipes, helpful FAQs and a comprehensive overview.

Baby food recipes include: Apple + Mint + Ricotta Purée / Fennel + Pea + Peach Purée / Pumpkin + Thyme Purée / Sesame Tofu Sticks + Peanut Sauce / Curried Egg Finger Sandwiches + Mango Chutney / Slow Cooker Chicken Tagine + Couscous / Sausage + Kale Over Creamy Polenta / DIY Toddler Sushi Bar, and more.


Super Easy Baby Food Cookbook: Healthy Homemade Recipes for Every Age and Stage  ($11.74)

This book focuses on super simple recipes  with just 5- ingredients each and includes over 150+ nutritious recipes that grow with your developing child. It has time saving sample menus for kids 4 to 18 months.


The Baby and Toddler Cookbook: Fresh, Homemade Foods for a Healthy Start ($15.68)

Packed with over 90 recipes and loads of nutritional information, The Baby & Toddler Cookbook makes cooking healthy meals easy, even for busy parents. By setting aside only a few hours a week, you can make and store an array of nutritious foods to keep baby happy and fed. All along the way, this book will give you helpful hints, guidance, and plenty of recipes to ease your path to nutrition.


Top 100 Baby Purees ($10.52)

Like the other books, you’d learn to wean your baby who is transitioning to solid foods, discover food allergies and how to make  100 Baby Purees  with information tricks on finding the hidden nutrition in everyday foods. Dr. Michel Cohen, New York pediatrician and author of The New Basics: A-to-Z Baby & Child Care for the Modern Parent opens the book with a forward.


Cooking for Baby: Wholesome, Homemade, Delicious Foods for 6 to 18 Months ($12.30)

This book is organized by age and has smart tips on prep and storage with added suggestions on transitioning as baby grows. From celebrated children’s-food author Lisa BarnesCooking for Baby is a fully illustrated, gorgeous, four-color book that takes parents through the basics of preparing nutritious, delicious (and easy!) meals for your child, from six to eighteen months.


The Pediatrician’s Guide to Feeding Babies and Toddlers: Practical Answers To Your Questions on Nutrition, Starting Solids, Allergies, Picky Eating, and More (For Parents, By Parents) ($12.30)

A team of doctors came up with this comprehensive manual for feeding your babies and toddlers during their first crucial yeas of life. With The Pediatrician’s Guide to Feeding Babies and Toddlers, you have the expertise of a team of pediatric medical and nutritional experts—who also happen to be parents—in a comprehensive manual that takes the guesswork out of feeding. This first-of-its-kind guide provides practical, easy-to-follow advice to help you navigate the nutrition issues, medical conditions, and parenting concerns that accompany feeding. With recipes, parenting stories, and recommendations based on the latest pediatric guidelines, this book will allow you to approach mealtime with confidence so you can spend more time enjoying your new family.


201 Organic Baby Purees: The Freshest, Most Wholesome Food Your Baby Can Eat! ($10.25)

When you can have 100 recipes, why not 201?! This book has even more healthy recipes that are organic and blends classic combinations such as turkey, sweet potato, and corn; Superfoods like avocado, blueberries, and spinach; and Puree-based transition recipes including soups, biscuits, frozen desserts.


The Happy Family Organic Superfoods Cookbook For Baby & Toddler Hardcover ($14.54)

This book comes from the organic family-focused food company Happy Family Organics and Cricket Azima, founder and CEO of The Creative Kitchen. Inside, find more than 70 easy-to-prepare recipes made with all-natural ingredients. It includes recipes with ingredient vegetable and fruit purees, including Happy Family’s best-selling spinach, mango & pear recipe, to recipes with quinoa, chia, and kale —Shazi’s and Cricket’s superfood recipes will nourish and please every kind of baby. Recipes for toddlers (1–3 years) include avocado & chicken whole wheat pizza; 3 bean farro risotto; and baked salmon with peas & rice balls; toddlers will love tasty snacks like strawberry-beet pudding with coconut milk and chia; avocado, melon & mint smoothies; banana, chocolate chip & quinoa muffins; and grilled nut-butter sandwiches with smashed berries.

Good luck!

A Secular Family’s Guide to Halloween and Religious Holidays

by Maria Polonchek

I don’t remember how my husband Chris and I ended up with six-month-old twins dressed as vegetables—a chili pepper and a pea pod, to be precise—the first Halloween we were parents. I’ll admit the whole thing sounds very much like the result of a middle-of-the-night-nursing and Internet-browsing session. Regardless, they were pretty cute, as far as produce goes, and we wanted to show them off. At the last minute, we decided to throw on overalls (an article of clothing every good Kansan should own), dress as farmers, and take the veggies downtown, where we’d heard there was annual storefront trick-or-treating.

We did not head out the door that night intending for Halloween to become our family thing. In our Midwestern college town, we discovered, students ranging in age from preschool to graduate school flock downtown to the local businesses, who open their doors after hours and hand out candy from cauldrons and wheelbarrows. Everyone dresses up and the restaurants overflow with happy witches and silly superheroes, nibbling candy, drinking beer, eating French fries. Neither of us had participated in the festivities before becoming parents but realized, at least in this town, you’re never too old to be something for Halloween.

For the next five years, the downtown trick-or-treat tour was tradition, and our family’s passion for Halloween blossomed. While the twins were young, we dressed in themes: the farmers and veggies, Dr. Seuss characters, a family of pirates. Within a few years, though, the boys were ready to fulfill their own costume visions and left Chris and I on our own to coordinate. Halloween became our immediate family’s most consistent annual tradition, the holiday we made our own. The summer we moved to California, I had a harder time thinking of being away for Halloween more than any other day.

Chris and I are raising our children outside of religion, which is not unlike relocating to a new place: it’s both liberating and daunting to be free from constraints that inform our rituals and traditions. On the one hand, the possibilities are endless. We can determine for ourselves what values we want to express, what connections we want to nurture, and when, where, and how we do it. On the other hand, precisely because the possibilities are endless and we can make adjustments, we may notice “tradition” lacking in qualities that help define it: predictability, commitment, endurance.

It’s worth taking on the challenge: a whole body of research points to the fact that rituals and traditions benefit children in a number of ways, including academically, emotionally, and socially.  As I’ve seen first hand, being able to count on a predictable set of behaviors and activities around certain landmark dates brings children a sense of stability and security. Opportunities to contribute to these activities helps kids feel useful and needed, shaping identity and a sense of purpose. Participating alongside family and community members, regardless of differences in age and lifestyle, combats sentiments of self-centeredness and encourages empathy and generosity — all while creating lasting memories of positive emotions. It seems important, then, for all families, religious or not, to find meaningful traditions of their own.

We’d begun our Halloween tradition haphazardly, out of convenience more than anything else, as the logistics—who, what, when, where, how—were already answered for us. We didn’t really need to think about it; we just showed up to a party that had already been planned. Over time we developed an approach that stuck, one we could emulate even after we moved away from our familiar environment near family.

Thus I realized: holidays like Halloween, with little or no religious baggage, are the perfect occasions for creating solid family traditions outside of religion.

Thanksgiving is another great example. It can be tricky to come up with a formula for creating tradition outside of the mainstream. I’ve learned, though, that creating new traditions can be a celebration of creativity and imagination.

Below are my suggestions for how to navigate the ins and outs of creating meaningful traditions for your family, with or without religion:

  • Pick your occasions. Take a look at some of the activities and holidays your family has already established as routine. Ask your children what parts they enjoy and why. Consider what the activity expresses about the group and how each person can participate. Whether it’s Valentine’s Day, the summer equinox, or even Superbowl Sunday, make your picks and stick with them. Ritual and tradition is not so much what you do; it’s how you do it, together: with regularity, intention, and commitment.
  • Own it. Reflect on your values and the things that give your family life meaning so that you are fully behind the actions. Consider the historical and/or philosophical reasons and meanings behind established traditions and create versions of your own to honor those that resonate. If you notice something lacking—an activity that expresses generosity or service, for example—come up with an activity that reflects this value and fold it in.
  • Make room for others. Traditions are connectors; they link us to one another, which requires patience, understanding, and compromise. Remember, just as we don’t always resonate with traditions from past generations, so our children won’t always resonate with ours. Participating in tradition can be a practice in selflessness and acceptance.
  • Allow for flexibility. While a defining component of tradition is its predictability, we also must allow for (and even embrace) change and differences. The level of flexibility needed won’t be the same for every family. Perhaps the location is always different, but the activity is the same. Or the location is the same, but some of the people participating rotate. Families who struggle with differences in worldview or belief can still come together to celebrate shared values in creative ways that work for everyone.
  • Be committed. Because tradition can serve as a touchstone in times of change and difficulty, it’s important to keep it going even when the going gets rough. It can sometimes feel like pressure or burden on the leaders of the group, but if you’re struggling, take a moment to reflect on the benefits, talk to your kids about what they find meaningful, and make adjustments that work for the entire family.

About the Author

Maria Polonchek is author of In Good Faith: Secular Parenting in a Religious World (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, August 2017). Part memoir, part cultural exploration, In Good Faith examines how to raise children with a sense of identity, belonging and meaning outside of religion. Maria holds a BA in English and an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from the University of Kansas. Her parenting essays can be found in outlets such as Brain, Child, Have Milk, Will Travel, The Greater Good Science Center, The Friendly Atheist and Brian, Mother. A Kansas native, she lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and three children. In addition to thinking, reading and writing about parenting, she is passionate about wellness, mindfulness, the outdoors, music, art – and the way all of these things relate to social justice.

5 Tricks for Mastering Nightly Homework Monster

When it comes to homework, teachers have heard every excuse in the book, and for good reason; it’s hard to focus on your homework when there’s so much of it to do.

Students are devoting hours each evening to their take-home assignments, some say to the tune of 17.5 hours per week.

In a survey of 1,000 Brainly users comprised of students in middle and high school, 70% said they have trouble focusing on their homework. Brainly asked respondents to pick any of the following five options that distract them from their homework at least once a week. Here are the results:

  1. Social media (47% selected)
  2. Video/mobile games (39%)
  3. A noisy home environment (39%)
  4. Extracurricular activities (25%)
  5. Job or work (22%)

Changing habits like these takes repetition and dedication. Luckily, there are five actionable habits students can use to make homework more focused, more efficient, and eventually more successful. They can be easily remembered with this simple acronym:

SPARK: Space, Prioritize, Attack, Relax, and Keep at it.

1. SPACE yourself.

Nearly half of the respondents cited environment-related options as a diversion from homework. This included 46% of middle-school students choosing video games, 51% of high-schoolers selecting social media, and 39% overall picking a noisy home environment.

It’s essential to make after-school workspaces as clean, quiet, and distraction-free as possible. Clean means organized and clear of disturbing clutter. Check the writing surface and surrounding area. How much more likely would a student be to grab a device sitting at arm’s reach than if it’s put away?

Another crucial aspect of this process is noise. Separation from attention-grabbing sounds, like TVs and chatty family members, keeps a student’s mind following the pages their eyes are seeing. Another good tip is to put phones on silent (not vibrate) and place it face down, far away from the desk. This ensures students aren’t encouraged to check it habitually and can focus on the task at hand.

Try and keep the designated homework space as consistent as possible. Stick with a repetitive location whenever possible, which will allow a student’s brain to put on its thinking cap more quickly. And just say “no” to homework in bed!

2. PRIORITIZE a schedule.

Colleges take notice of the activities you take on after school, especially when they help you display passion or leadership. However, it’s important to leave time for homework too so that grades don’t suffer.

Balance is critical to keeping a sane, realistic after-school schedule. If students are overloaded with extracurricular activities, they’ll struggle to find time for everything else. At the same time, if they spend too much time on homework they’ll start to lose quality in their answers.

Extracurricular activities proved to be detrimental to homework productivity for 24.5% of respondents. Jobs and work affected 12% of middle-school students, as opposed to 25% of high school students. Of the users Brainly surveyed, those in middle school said they have more time to finish their homework. 40% said “always/yes,” as opposed to 28% of high school students. Only 6% said “rarely/no,” as compared to 13% of high-schoolers.

If students have activities after work, they should make to also schedule in homework time. Furthermore, if a student is finding it hard to fit all their homework into their schedule, it might be time to reconsider chosen activities. The key to prioritizing success is to plan.

3. ATTACK homework problems.

A problem set or multi-page assignment can look insurmountable, especially if someone’s not feeling totally comfortable with the material from class. It’s easy to get lost in preparation.

Don’t waste time trying to understand everything; get hands-on and hit problems one issue at a time. Something started is one step closer to being finished! Break the questions down into what is already known, and use those parts to work towards the answer. Taking a step towards the solution makes a person more invested in getting there.

If a snag is hit while trying to answer the problem or question, that’s a great time to go back into the concepts to try and find the specific resource. Students can use a glossary, textbook, or notes from class for a reminder of what was taught.

4. RELAX and take breaks.

Here’s the good news: As long as they’re scheduled and not abused, taking breaks can actually help a student finish their homework! A quick pause can help to rejuvenate some of that motivation that got them started.

If stress sets in, take the opportunity to relax. Students can close their eyes and take a few deep breaths. If it helps, put on some relaxing music. Another way to take a proactive break is to do something active. Stand up and stretch to get more oxygen flowing to the brain. If this is a more extended break, do some quick physical exercises or walk around outside for a few minutes. Everyone gets through their work a lot faster when their minds are feeling alert!

Even a regulated screen break can help students refocus. Taking a minute to check news feeds, respond to messages, or play a quick game can enable the brain to decompress and ready itself for the challenge ahead.

Be careful to limit these breaks so as not to waste time. To start, keep it at 10 to 15 minutes and try to accomplish at least an hour of work before taking another one.

5. KEEP at it.

Whether it’s a tough question or just a seemingly endless assignment, it’s easy just to give up. But, when a student is equipped with everything they need and keeps their focus forward, they can get through it!

Start by getting equipped with everything needed. Finish by keeping the focus forward and knowing when to move on. Before starting, gather everything that can help with the homework. Textbooks, print-outs, and websites all qualify. This way, when a student gets stuck, they’ve got everything that could help right in front of them. If resources have ran out, it’s best for the student to take their best guess, make a note, and move on.

These are all critical steps to success. Use what is known to make the best possible educated guess, and remember to ask a teacher or mentor about it the next day. And move on quickly, so the brain stays motivated to attack what’s next.

Work out Your Arms Without Getting Bulk


Guest post

Cat Kom, founder and lead trainer of Studio SWEAT OnDemand


I know many women get worried about getting bulky arms! But, I am here to tell you: that’s not a problem sista! With these awesome arm workout tips, you will be able to flash your gorgeous slim and toned arms, worry – and bulk – free!

Beat the Bulk

The key to toning, not bulking, is to not take unnatural supplements. I know what you were expecting me to say… “low weight and high reps”. No, you can lift heavier; just so long as you’re not injecting yourself with testosterone, you likely will not bulk, ladies. Bulking requires super heavy weights AND a high-calorie intake, so unless you’re making a real effort to bulk up, you don’t have to worry! Before I forget to mention it, by the way, those trainers that you ask, “How can I tone-up my arms” that forget to mention diet, have NO clue what they’re doing. You canNOT spot train. What I mean by that is that you cannot tell fat where to leave your body without “intervention” by a cosmetic doc. When you burn fat, your body tells it where to go, not you and not your trainer. But… you CAN make sure the muscle under the fat is rarin’ and ready to show.

So… best way to start toning your arms is by minimizing fat (think healthy diet with plenty of protein, healthy carbs, fruits & veggies) and consistently working those triceps, biceps, and shoulders for the best results. I suggest you work them using resistance training 2 to 4 times per week. Some great upper body exercises can target those soft spots and make them lean and mean instead. So, if you are using weights, you will need enough weight to give yourself a challenge – but, make it an achievable one. And you don’t have to make up workouts on your own.

Find the Fun

Cardio and some weightlifting would definitely work. But let’s try something a little more… FUN!

If you want a great, convenient upper body workout at home, why not try and get those arms slim while you Spin? Nothing’s more motivating than hearing the beat of the music pound in your ears as you sweat the fat away!

You see, an important aspect of toned arms is minimizing the fat to let your toned muscles take center stage. And, a great way to burn fat and gain arm muscle at the same time is through Spin workouts that include arm exercises.

Also known as Spin and Sculpt, these classes are the perfect solution for the busy person who wants to get the most results out of their workout without the hassle of a brick-and-mortar gym membership. Because with Spin Sculpt, you can do push-ups or grab your fav dumbbells and get those arms busy! These workouts target the biceps, triceps, and deltoids during an intense cardio routine to give you the best fat-melting, muscle-toning, action-packed exercises into each session. That means our Spin and Sculpt classes will really show you just how to lose fat, fast! So get on that bike, get Spinnin’, and show the world what your arms are made of!

Workout Without Weights

What about arm workouts without weights? If you aren’t into weightlifting… Try SSoD TRX for full-body sculpting from head to toe! There are even TRX Sculpt Classes that target specific areas like the arms, so you can build your guns while you work on your buns! These bodyweight bicep exercises will tone you up FAST with the added benefit of helping you build strength, balance, and flexibility!

Remember to Relax

Yeah this all sounds FUN right? But we get it, you’re busy, and after a long day at work, sometimes you just don’t want to leave the comfort of your home. That is why SSoD Yoga Classes are a perfect solution to tone your arms while relaxing away the stress of the day. You’re doing double duty here, and it doesn’t even feel like work at all! This is the ideal solution for a busy mom who needs to wind down, a workaholic that needs to get their mind off the office, and everything in between. Yoga is another way to use your bodyweight to help create those toned arms. So, relax, gain strength, and get those sexy arms, all with SSoD yoga workouts.

Start Small

If you’re sitting there reading this and can’t help but think that this seems overwhelming, remember it’s okay to start small with something like arm circles and work your way up to workouts that are a little more intense. The goal is to make it fun and enjoyable! We highly recommend yoga for low impact and low intensity, or a 30-Minute Back to the Basics Spin class for something more upbeat and entertaining!


Trend: College Reveal Parties {Steal These Ideas}

Parents, if you thought the Gender Reveal party was your first and last reveal party you would have to throw when  you have a baby, then you haven’t been keeping up with the social media savvy Joneses!

Apparently, the college reveal is becoming a new trend. In year’s past, we could expect to see filter through our social media streams, photos of admittees in creative T-shirts, viral videos of  a potential co-ed clicking the link to discover if they’d gain admission to their school of choice, or images of teens holding up pennants or balloons in the school colors of their chosen institution while wearing a t-shirt from that school.

Gone are those simple days for some.

After a kid (and parents) endure all the stress of working hard for four years in high school, taking admission exams and advanced placement courses, working internships and being the best student athlete, musician and academic, then to handle the grueling process of making college visits and going on tours, filling out long college applications and drafting compelling essays and the like, it should all culminate at the end with celebration among friends in social and real life who have virtually gone through it all with you.

A BIG announcement or party may be in order!

It’s such a trend that the TODAY broadcast a report on it at the top of the year.

“College reveal posts on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube are growing more and more common, and even entire parties centered on college reveals are starting to become a thing. But like gender reveals before them, the idea does not appeal to everyone,” the article stated before talking to a woman who can only be described as a “hater”.

Heather Doyle, a Florida mother of two current college students and a high school senior, said that when her children decided where they were going to attend college, she made a social media post to congratulate them on the decision, but she cannot imagine posting an entire ‘reveal.’

“I just find it extremely obnoxious when people list every school they were accepted to,” she told TODAY. “Who cares? Yay, you!”

Yeah, hater. (smile)

The news site also acknowledged an opinion writer from the blog Grown and Flown for first posting about this topic and cited the author Marybeth Bock who praised the trend but also took a critical look when she wrote, “it’s also easy to acknowledge that this trend is yet another opportunity for people to be a tad insensitive.

First of all, the indulgence of a college reveal party that is posted online is another in-your-face example of the disparity between the Haves and the Have Nots.”

But Bock also pointed out how adorable the school pick reveals can be.

“It’s hard not to admit that those college-colored cake pops are actually adorable, and that table display with hand-painted letters is very clever,” Bock wrote. “If someone can afford to go over-the-top for this event — that is obviously important to them — who are we to roll our eyes and share that we think it’s just ridiculous?”

I agree.

Do you, hate from the sidelines if you want but let people do what they want.

If you are so inclined to have a big reveal or your kid is, consider one of  these ideas shared by blogger Katherine Carpenter a few  years back. These are the three I like the best:

1.   The Superman Reveal

If you’re holding out till graduation to tell your friends and more distant relatives, there is no better time to make your announcement than right after you receive that high school diploma! One of our favorite ways is wearing your college’s shirt underneath your cap and gown. When you have graduated, dramatically open your robe to reveal the name of your new school! It’s a great transition point and a way to say you’re ready to conquer the next school on your list.

2.   Balloon School Spirit Pop

This one is an idea straight from those uber popular gender reveal parties. If you’re between two different schools with distinct school colors, purchase some neutral colored balloons (such as black, white, gold, or silver). Before filling them with helium, have the store stuff them with your college’s colors. When you’re ready to make your big announcement, gather the family and pop the balloons. Seeing that green and white for Michigan or the blue and gold for UCLA may just make their day!

3.   The Vintage Pennants Hang

We love all things vintage and antique, especially when they’re college related. One of our favorite must-haves are vintage college pennants hung up in our room. As you apply to colleges, purchase a pendant at each school and hang them in a row. When it’s time to tell your parents or friends which school you’ve decided on, one-by-one take away each pennants until you’re left with a winner. The alternative if you cannot find pennants for the schools you have applied to is to create your own pennants with letters spelling out your winning school.

I also like this because I love food:



5 Unique Halloween Treats To Give Classmates

Tired of sending the same old cupcakes or cookies to school for the class Halloween party?  This year try something different.   No trick, these Halloween treats are simple enough to make that the kids can help put them together.

    1. You Rule!- Purchase a ruler for each student.  On your computer type the message “You Rule! Bats Drool!” and then copy and paste it so it will appear 5 times on a page when printed.  The finished strips should be about 2 inches wide and 8 ½ inches long so keep that in mind.  Print the messages on red cardstock and trim the strips apart.  Using an Exacto blade on a self-healing cutting mat or cutting board, cut a slit an inch from each end of the strip that is wide enough to slide the ruler through.  Continue for each ruler.  Stick a bat sticker on one end or draw one with crayons.
    2. Spider Webs- Lay out some waxed paper on the counter or table.  Set up 8 pretzel sticks so they look like the spokes of a bicycle wheel.  Continue setting up more “wheels” all over the waxed paper.  In a microwave safe dish melt some chocolate melts according to package directions.  White or dark chocolate will work for this treat. 
      Transfer melted chocolate into a resealable plastic bag.  Make a tiny snip on one corner of the bag.  Start in the center of the pretzel sticks and cover all of the ends with chocolate so they are sure to stick together when the chocolate sets up.  Then continue around in a spiral pattern making a spider’s web.  You can add a few Halloween sprinkles to the chocolate after you make the webs if you’d like.  If you are in a rush, you can slide the waxed paper sheets onto a cookie sheet that has been flipped over and chill these in the refrigerator.
    3. Ghost S’mores- Gather up small cellophane bags, graham crackers, mini chocolate bars, marshmallow ghost peeps and ribbon.  Place two squares of graham crackers on one side of the bag. 
      On the other side of the bag place 2 mini chocolate bars.  In front of the graham cracker squares place a ghost peep. (Just like Easter peeps, but these treats are white, shaped like a ghost and have a face) Finish the treat bag by tying it with a pretty ribbon.
    4. Spider Pop- Cut up a black trash bag into 4 inch squares – just enough to cover the number of spiders you want to make.  If you cut a 4 inch strip off of the top of the bag you will still be able to use the rest of the bag.  Wrap the black plastic square over a Tootsie pop.  Twist 4 black pipe cleaners over the plastic to hold it in place, then spread the pipe cleaners out to create spider legs.
       Bend the legs once to form ‘knees’ and then again at the bottom to form feet.  Now your spider treats are done.  If you are short on pipe cleaners you can get by using just 3 pipe cleaners per spider, as most people won’t count the legs.  These treats are also great to hand out for trick-or-treaters on Halloween night.
    5. I want my Mummy- You will need full-size chocolate bars, big googly eyes and white crepe paper streamers.  Glue the googly eyes toward the top of the chocolate bar.
      Next, wrap the white streamer around the bar so that it looks like a mummy.  End your strip on the back of the bar and tape down the end so that it doesn’t unravel.

    These festive treats are a little out of the norm and you will look like a rock star for sending in something different than the same old thing.  As schools are getting more and more conscious of what the kids are eating there may be times when you need a class treat that isn’t food related, in which case you can send in the rulers.  So the next time you are on the list for sending in treats why not try something different?