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PARENTS: Here are 18 Healthy Back to School Lunch Ideas For You

Bellyitch Rewind

This school year, parents will be challenged on getting their kids to eat nutritional lunches Check out these creative lunch options I spotted that some have already created. I’m making my grocery shopping list now to accommodate some of these ideas.









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Create A Productive Homework Station With this Guide


Now that most school systems are in full swing, it’s also the the perfect time to get your student’s homework station ready to go for the new school year.

Lorena Canals,  maker of all natural, hypo-allergenic, functional and super stylish machine-washable rugs for bedrooms, playrooms, and beyond, offered some awesome tips for creating a great workstation for your child:

1. Create a homework routine – kids in the first through third grade perform best when they know exactly what is expected.  Have a specific place for storing backpacks and times for doing homework.  Use these formative years to set up good study habits. Kids will raise their performance to the bar parents set.

2. Utilize a homework notebook – track homework assignments in a notebook that goes back and forth between home and school each day.  Use this notebook to communicate with your child’s teachers to address issues with homework, notes that need signed, or praises for a job well done.

3. Stock-up on Homework Essentials—when you’re out purchasing your kids’ school supplies, pick-up extras to keep at their homework station/desk. Include items like pencils, highlighters, scissors, ruler, stapler, post-it notes, paper clips, colored pencils, markers, timer, loose notebook paper, and notebooks. Store supplies, aside from the paper, in Mason jars or a desk organizer.

4. Hang a White Board for Important Reminders—once kids go back to school, fall becomes a busy time with homework assignments, projects, and after school extra-curricular activities. Help your kids stay on track with a place to jot down notes with due dates.  Use painters tape to create a giant calendar to post each day’s activities and homework assignments.


5. Use Magazine Files for Organizing Projects—instead of a pile of papers stacked on the kitchen table, use magazine files for organizing the important stuff. Label the files with “slips/homework to sign” or “homework to complete.” A file system helps to eliminate lost permission slips and homework. Encourage your kids to empty their backpack folders as soon as they get home and file or toss papers right away to keep the mess away.

6. Invest in a Good Chair & Lamp—help make your kids’ homework space one that is conducive to studying. This can easily be done with a simple desk, ergonomic chair, and a good lamp so your kids have plenty of light making it less of a strain on their eyes. Insure the space is free from distractions do your kids can concentrate on homework activities.

7. Add Some Colorful Artwork—if your child’s designed homework spot is decorated in their own personal style they’re more likely to spend more time there doing homework. Create a wall of empty frames that can hold a smaller piece of original art. As your child starts bring home art projects, feature them inside the frames on the wall.  Switch their artwork out monthly and store old projects away.  Surrounding themselves with a collection of their personal work will enhance creativity that will flow into their writing assignments too.

Good luck!

photo: Lorena Canals’ Rugs online and at stores nationwide ($249-$299). Visit their website at www.LorenaCanals.usand check them out on InstagramFacebookTwitterPinterest and YouTube.

QUIZ: Find Out If You Identify as a Man or Woman More


Do you believe in gender fluidity? A hallmark of today’s debates over gender identity is the notion that one’s sex dictates preferences, behavior, dress and attitude. Gender influences the way others see and treat a person. Parents are guilty of dressing and talking to their children based on societal-based construct. It’s natural and artificial. Nature and nurture, I believe.

I recently took an online psychological personality  test which offers to detect your true gender based on answers of a series of questions. I fully expected it to determine that I am all-woman but nope! Apparently, I’ve been a man all these years and didn’t know it! Of course, it was just for fun but it was still an interesting sociological experiment to do on a Sunday evening.

I’ve embedded the contest here. Give it a try.


Labor Day by the Numbers (INFOGRAPHICS)

labor day by the numbers

This weekend, a lot of families will be getting together to grill, chill and celebrate the American worker. Some will be heading to the beach and others catching their fave blockbuster movie.

Budweiser released a national study to ascertain how the nation will be spending the holiday. In its Labor Day USA Survey, the company, via its data resarch partner  Learndipity Data Insights uncovered:

  • Barbecuing vs. movie watching:  Will more Americans light the grill or hit the theaters?
  • Hamburgers vs. hot dogs:  Will burgers or wieners take top billing in 2016?
  • Domestic (Budweiser) vs. Imported Beer:  Which brews will quench thirsty Americans?
  • South vs. Midwest vs. East vs. West:  What U.S. region will bring their BBQ A-game?

Based on a representative survey of 2,000 Americans (ages 21+), asking respondents about their eating, drinking, and leisure plans for Labor Day 2016, here is a summary of the results:


  • A big win for barbecue lovers:  214 million Americans (67%) plan to fire up the grill this year while 115M Americans (36%) plan to watch a movie at a theater or at home.
  • Other top Labor Day activities include having some quiet time (35%), doing an outdoor activity like hiking (27%), attending a party (26%), and shopping (23%).


  • Across the U.S., 150M Americans (70% of barbecue-goers) expect to bite into a juicy burger compared to 109M hot dogs eaters (51%).
  • New trend:  Barbecued chicken (40%), now edges out steak (37%) and ribs (32%) on Labor Day plates.


  • 98M Americans (44% of barbecue-goers) will drink an ice-cold domestic beer likeBudweiser, while only 49M (22%) will drink an imported beer.
  • At a Labor Day BBQ, those drinking domestic beer like Budweiser are perceived as more “genuine and approachable” (70% agree for women, 59% agree for men) compared to those drinking imported beer (36% and 29%, respectively).


  • Surprise!  Eastern states have the highest percentage of Labor Day barbecue plans (70% of all residents).
  • The Western U.S. (67%) tops the South (65%) and Midwest (63%) for second place (email us for state results).

Here are the results simplified in an infographic!


Here Are The Best Labor Day Sales & Deals

This Labor Day Weekend is also a great time to get deals on home goods, like mattresses and appliances. 

WalletHub recently released a pair of reports to celebrate the upcoming holiday weekend. 

WalletHub’s Best Labor Day Salesi report provides a roadmap to savings, if shopping is your preferred form of relaxation. 

And the Labor Day 2016 By The Numbers report helps to educate and entertain consumers with fun facts on all aspects of the holiday – from hotdogs and history to financials and 5Ks. 

You can find a handful of highlights below. 

Tablets, dishwashers and strollers – The best items to buy in September compared with the rest of the year.

 35.5+ Million – The number of Americans who will travel 50 miles or more from home during the upcoming Labor Day weekend (5th straight year travel volume has increased).

 $1.4 Billion – Cost associated with Labor Day weekend travel congestion caused by infrastructure problems.

 16.2 – Average number of vacation days taken by American workers in 2015 (23% of workers earn no paid vacation time). 

10 Best Labor Day Deals: 

  1. Kenmore Built-In Dishwasher – 46.15% off

  2. Samsung Smart TV 55’’ – 50% off 

  3. Celebrity Power Media Chair – 43.80% off

  4. Serta Coralee Queen Mattress – 66.88% off 

  5. Lenovo Ideapad Laptop i3 Processor – 40% off

 6. Kenmore French Door Refrigerator – 42.50% off

  1. Lenovo Flex 4 14” 2-in-1 Laptop – 27.39% off
  2. Haier 4K Ultra HD TV 65’’ – 40% off

  3. NordicTrack E 7.0Z Elliptical – 40% off

  4. Rocker Recliners – 33.33% off  

Good luck deal hunting!

Eco-Friday: 4 Mindful Labor Day Travel Tips to Follow

mindful travel tips

Labor day is supposed to be about celebrating the worker and all of the efforts or organized unions and labor to get worker’s rights. So it is fitting that many the holiday to also relax.
Traditionally, schools return after labor day and therefore, many families will be hitting the road for last minute beach trips and visits to family that are far away. In the interest of do no harm to the planet, Harmless Harvest, the company behind the first ever “Fair For Life” certified coconut water, shared some mindful travel tips that help minimize travelers’ carbon footprint this Labor Day weekend:
Labor Day weekend is an opportunity for families and friends to hop in a car and go on a quick getaway. Opting to take one car (instead of several) significantly reduces greenhouse emissions and makes for an entertaining round of carpool karaoke.
Choose snacks that are close to how nature intended them and produced by companies that care about their ingredients. Harmless Harvest is a coconut water company that practices sustainable farming methods, which have minimal impact on the planet. Choose wisely, stay hydrated and drink up!
You may not realize this, but hotels are large energy consumers when it comes to energy and water use (e.g. lighting, air conditioning, laundry). Instead of booking a room at a hotel, consider packing a tent and going camping instead. You’ll reduce your impact on the environment and be closer to nature.
There are few better ways to sight see than by bicycle. Leave your personal bike at home and rent from a local bike shop. Not only will your ride emit zero pollution, your family and friends will also get a great workout!  Because in the end, what’s good for you is also good for the planet.

Harmless Harvest Coconut Water is constantly thinking about ways to support the environment. The company is revolutionizing the impact the beverage industry has on the planet with its ecosystem-based business model. They produce the best-tasting coconut water around and are leading the efforts in educating consumers on ways they can reduce their impact on the environment.

So gather your friends and family, pack your tents, and plan a “greener” Labor

Want a Smart Child? Eat Fruit While Pregnant


Baby Mozart may be the go-to to give your child an early brain boost, but it might actually be more important for moms-to-be to focus on what they snack on instead. According to a recent study by researchers at the University of Alberta, one food group just might do the trick — fruit!

The findings are preliminary, but they certainly are intriguing: By analyzing data on 688 children who were a part of the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development study, the researchers found that every additional serving of fruit a woman consumed per day during pregnancy corresponded with an increase in her child’s cognitive scores one year after birth, the Wall Street Journal reports. In the past, only one other food — fish — has been linked to a boost in children’s cognitive development.

Dr. Piush Mandhane, an associate professor of pediatrics at University of Alberta and one of the two senior authors of the paper, told the Journal that he was surprised by the strong correlation between a pregnant woman’s fruit consumption and her child’s increased cognitive scores. But even still, this study should only be taken as a mere suggestion.

“We don’t want pregnant women to go out and eat a tremendous amount of fruit,” Dr. Mandhane said. “It’s a single study, and we haven’t looked at the health effects of increased fruit intake.” (As the Journal notes in its article on the study, eating too much fruit during pregnancy might increase a woman’s risk of developing gestational diabetes or lead to excessive weight gain.)

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Nab These School Supplies that Also Give Back to US Schools In Need

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I was doing some last minute back-to-school shopping with my children at Target and I bumped into the Yoobi social good company’s display of products. Yoobi is a company that sells colorful, vibrant home, office and school supplies that give back.  For every Yoobi item purchased, Yoobi donates an item to a classroom in need right here in the U.S. Together with the Kids In Need Foundation, Yoobi has impacted more than 1.5 million kids nationwide.

iam other

The Yoobi x iamOTHER folders I purchased from Target

This Summer, the company announced a partnership with producer, businessman and recording artist Pharell Williams and his umbrella media company called i am OTHER, a creative collective specializing in music, film, television, fashion and technology.

The resulting initiative is called Yoobi x i am OTHER  and according to a press release I received in July, it embodies a positive message about self-acceptance, individuality and motivation to meet one’s potential while giving back to those less fortunate.

Pharrell Williams described the purpose behind the collection, “Being OTHER is knowing that that which makes you different is what makes you special, and that when unique individuals come together, collectively there’s a lot of power in that.  The goal of this Yoobi x i am OTHER collection is to inspire kids and give them the confidence to celebrate their uniqueness.  We also want to inspire kids to take care of others and give back to their communities.  When I think back to my time in school, I realize how important having the right tools were in my life which is why I relate to Yoobi’s mission. It is hard enough for a child in a compromised school and educational system to do well. We need to be able to provide them with the tools they need to succeed because education is everything.”

The items are available exclusively at Target, Yoobi.com and Yoobi’s flagship store.  The collection features over 50 unique items including a wide range of i am OTHER designed notebooks and binders, backpacks, pens and pencils, folders, lunch bags, and more.

Yoobi x iaO Lookbook_LR.pdf556

“This is a complicated time in the world. We wake up every day with a responsibility to make our kids feel safe and to answer their challenging questions.  Now more than ever it is important for them to feel supported and empowered to embrace their differences and sameness, their faults and perfections. Knowledge isn’t just what is taught in books, but teaching tolerance, acceptance, love and most of all, compassion for others. Teachers today have a lot on their plate, and together with

Yoobi x iaO Lookbook_LR.pdf3

Yoobi’s CEO and Co-Founder Ido Leffler chimed in: “Pharrell and i am OTHER, we want to help make a part of their job a little easier – by providing the right tools to ensure everyone starts on the same playing field and has the same opportunities to succeed, while sharing a message that we believe will resonate and inspire.”

Yoobi x iaO Lookbook_LR.pdf

The items were created with the input of children who participated in a focus group. Learn more about the partnership, Yoobi and iamOTHER here:

And at a recent launch this August 10 that I missed getting my invitation to, I noticed that our blog subject alums Christina Milian and Mayte Garcia attended the Los Angeles, California event.

Singer, actress & Reality TV star Christina Milian attends Yoobi x iamOTHER LA launch event

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Mayte Garcia and daughter at Yoobi x i AM OTHER launch event in LA.

Here are some of the items you can get:

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Yoobi x iaO Lookbook_LR.pdf1

When You’re Done Having Kids Why Your Husband Owes You a Vasectomy


After a married or committed couple make the mutual decision to no longer have any more children, the topic usually comes up about long-term strategies to avoid “oopsie accidental pregnancy” moments down the line. Most of us know at least one person who had a surprise baby when they thought they were done raising kids. No one wants that to be them, however, often times, the woman opts to tie her tube and a lot of discussion centers around the woman taking surgically invasive methods for permanent birth control.

One Mode author posits that it is the man’s job to step up and take the big snip and she curated a short list of articles that support the position as well. Check it out:

Check out Why Your Husband Owes You a Vasectomy After the Last Baby

by Helen Brown at Mode

7 Back-To-School Tips for Special Needs Students

Heading back to the classroom this fall is exciting, but it can also be a challenging time for families of children with special needs. The Episcopal Center for Children (ECC), a nonprofit organization serving children with special needs ages 5-14 in the Washington, DC area since 1895, offers tips to help:

Tip #1 – Organize your paperwork and review the schedule. Review your child’s Individual Education Plan (IEP). Do you have any new medical or psychological reports that the school should know about? Talk with the school to make sure their plans for your child match the intentions in the IEP. Ensure the school staff are up to speed on where your child is at now. Make sure you know where your child’s classroom is, any transportation plans, and what he or she will need to bring each day.

Tip #2 – Calm any stress or first day jitters your child may have. Whether it’s a new classroom or familiar surroundings, children may be nervous about starting back to school. Talk with your child about their feelings. Assure your child that going back to school will be a good thing.

Tip #3 – Delay getting new school clothes. You may think a new outfit will help calm first day jitters, but for some special needs children, new clothes may aggravate issues. For children with sensory issues, new clothes may feel itchy, stiff and uncomfortable. If your child needs it, let him or her wear clothes that are comfortable and familiar for the first few days of school.

Tip #4 – Help your child “picture” going back to school. If your child is returning to a familiar school and you have photos showing him or her at school or with friends or a teacher, show the photos to your child. If you visit the school before school starts, take a picture of your child in his or her classroom, and show the photo to your child later at home. Some children visually process information and benefit from visual assurances. Create a visual countdown chart at home, so your child can help move the numbers as you count down to the start of the school year.

Tip #5 – Begin introducing new routines before school starts. Morning and afternoon routines can help your child transition into and out of school each day. You may need to establish an earlier bedtime routine to make sure your child is up on time and ready to go. Start thinking about how you want to approach homework. Talk with your child about when and how homework will be completed.

Tip #6 – Talk to the school staff about any of your concerns. Open communication helps children with special needs. Speak with school staff if you have noticed something new about your child that may impact their education. Open communication with school staff will benefit your child. Because transitions are hard for many special needs children, clarify with school staff how transitions are handled. Who greets children as they get off the bus? How are transitions between classes or activities handled? Tell your child what to expect.

Tip #7 – Go to school events. If the school has an open house, parent-teacher night, or back to school program, attend. Talk with the staff about your child’s progress. If you are not able to go, make a point of calling the teacher at another time and getting caught up on the information.