Thursday, August 30, 2012

How to Ease Teething Pain Without Medicine

Teething is a necessary, albeit painful, rite of passage for your baby. Sprouting her new teeth is hard work, and can leave her irritable, feverish and with difficulty sleeping as those teeth cut through her delicate little gums and break the surface. Because so many parents today are hesitant to use any over-the-counter medications unless they’re absolutely necessary, there’s quite an interest in more natural, chemical-free ways of soothing the screams and the pain that accompany teething. While each baby is different and will respond to each solution with varying degrees of relief, here are some of the ways that you might be able to cut the pain of cutting teeth without reaching for medication.

  • Keep Gums Cool – One of the most cost-effective methods of drug-free relief of teething symptoms is wring a wet washcloth out very well, leaving it only damp, then place it in the freezer. Letting Baby chew on the frozen (or very chilled) cloth not only helps to reduce swelling, pain and inflammation; it also satisfies their innate need to chew, in order to speed the process of the teeth surfacing. The softness of the washcloth versus the sometimes rigid and uncomfortable plastic of a frozen teething aid might be just what your little one needs; remember, all babies are different and will like and dislike different things. Be careful that you supervise her at all times to prevent any chance of choking, and let her gnaw to her heart’s content.
  • Choose Teething Rings Carefully – Older teething rings may freeze into very hard and uncomfortable rings, contain the potentially dangerous chemical Bisphenal A, also known as BPA and may not be compliant with all modern safety standards. Teething rings that are hand-me-downs might save money, but they could present a hazard. The problem of freezing teething rings to boost Baby’s level of relief has been addressed in recent years, with newer offerings hitting the market every day that are designed to be placed in the freezer without losing their pliability.
  • Rub Her Gums – The first-ever teething aid was Mom’s finger, and things haven’t changed so much that they can’t be used in a pinch to massage a teething baby’s sensitive, inflamed gums. Be sure to wash your hands, however; using gel hand sanitizers can expose your baby to chemicals, dyes and fragrances that should never been ingested. Good, old-fashioned soap and water is best.
  • Soothing and Comforting – Sometimes a baby that’s irritable and uncomfortable from the effects of teething just needs to be held, cuddled and soothed to sleep. During particularly rough bouts of teething, it may be necessary to spend more time than usual loving on your little one to get her calmed and feeling secure enough to sleep despite her discomfort.
  • Clove Oil – Many all-natural moms rave about the soothing power of clove oil for teething gums, but it’s important to remember that, in its pure form, clove oil is very strong and can increase Baby’s discomfort. Dilute the oil with food-grade carrier oil and test it out yourself before applying it to her gums via massage, and keep in mind that her gums are far more sensitive than your own. If the mixture feels uncomfortable, is accompanied by a very strong taste or is otherwise unpleasant for you, it’s a safe bet that the same will hold true for your baby a few times over. It’s always a good idea to speak with your child’s healthcare provider before using homeopathic remedies.
  • Teething Biscuits – Traditional teething biscuits tend to be laden with sugars and preservatives that you probably don’t want your little one ingesting, but there are a wide variety of low sugar or sugar-free, organic offerings on the market as well.
  • Cold Spoons – The American Dental Association recommends that teething babies be given a chilled spoon to suck on, to ease their discomfort without presenting a serious choking risk. It’s still important, however, that you supervise her at all times as she gnaws away on the flatware.

Benzocaine and other numbing agents sold over-the-counter and marketed as teething relief ointments do numb your baby’s gums and reduce her pain, but they can also numb the rest of her mouth and her throat. That numbness can greatly increase her chances of gagging or choking, another reason why these remedies should be avoided whenever possible. Also, the drooling that often accompanies teething can cause your baby’s skin to become irritated, so be sure to keep her face, neck and torso as clean, dry and saliva-free as possible to prevent a rash that increases her discomfort even further.

Taken From Newborn Care

12 Things to Give Your New Nanny

Giving your new nanny all the information she needs to do her job well will start her off on a path to success. While talking to your nanny about household and childcare related items is essential, giving your new nanny all the information she needs at once can be overwhelming. Instead of leaving notes on the fridge or simply writing things down in a notebook as you remember them, consider creating a nanny/family binder. A nanny/family binder can serve as a household guidebook, holding all the essential information about your children and home in one place.

As you orient your new nanny to your family and home, create a nanny/family binder. Be sure to include:

  1. Emergency Contact Information. In addition to both parents’ work and personal contact information, include contact information for a neighbor or two, your children’s pediatrician and dentist, the grandparents, a close friend, your children’s school, and any other individuals whom your nanny may need to notify or reach out to if an emergency arises.
  2. Household Information. Be sure to include directions on how to operate the house alarm or the pool filter. Leave a list of home service providers so your nanny knows who to call should there be a water leak or an electrical issue.
  3. Family Calendar. Print out weekly and monthly calendars for both you and your nanny to update. You’ll also want to include a copy of your child’s school calendar and any scheduled vacations, as well as the start and end dates of any of your child’s activities.
  4. List of Local Attractions/Activities. Provide your nanny with a list of local places that the children enjoy. Include information on your local library, museums, farms, playgrounds, and indoor play areas.
  5. Directions to Important Places. Leave a set of directions to your office, the pediatrician’s office, the school, and any other places that your nanny will need to drive your children regularly.
  6. A Contact List. Include a list of your children’s friends and their parents’ contact information so that your nanny can arrange play dates. Introducing your nanny to your children’s friends’ parents should also be on your priority list.
  7. House Rules. If you want your nanny to follow your house rules, be sure to provide her with them. From bedtimes to rules governing screen time to having guests over, be sure to give your nanny a detailed list of your expectations.
  8. Authorization to Treat. Should your child need medical attention and you are unable to be reached, an authorization to treat form will allow your child to receive the necessary care. It’s also a good idea to place a copy on file at your child’s pediatrician’s office.
  9. Copy of Your Children’s Insurance Cards. Often medical care facilities will require proof of insurance at the time medical treatment is rendered. Having an updated copy of your children’s insurance card available to your nanny can ensure that any medical costs are billed and processed properly the first time.
  10. Authorization Letters. Having extra copies of letters on hand that authorize your nanny to pick your child up from school or that allow your child’s doctor to discuss medical information with your nanny can ensure that your nanny has the proper forms on hand should she need them.
  11. Car Insurance Information. If your nanny drives your car, you’ll want to be sure she has proof of insurance available to her. She’ll need this information should she get into an accident or need to contact the insurance agency.
  12. Copy of Work Agreement. Keeping a copy of your nanny/employer work agreement in a family binder will make it easy to review the agreement should questions about vacation days, holidays, or other issues arise.

Help your new nanny manage all the information she needs to do her job well. While gathering all the information you wish to include may take a little time, once you do it, maintaining and updating the nanny and family binder is easy.

Taken From Hire a Nanny

8 Ways Student Debt Has Really Ruined Dating

The economic downturn has taken a particularly hard toll on young adults. College has become a prerequisite for many careers but scholarship money is scarce (just 35% of students received a scholarship in 2012, down from 45% in the previous year) and tuition has skyrocketed, allowing the collective student debt in the U.S. to outpace all other kinds of debt. When you couple that with a dismal job market that has left 50% of grads unemployed, the average debt of $20,000 that many new grads carry becomes a serious financial stumbling block both today and decades down the line. It may stunt careers, push back major life events, and even make retirement harder to achieve.

Unfortunately, student debt has also taken a toll on more mundane aspects of everyday life, like dating. Large amounts of debt, which are increasingly common for college grads, can be an impediment to meeting someone new, sustaining a relationship, and even getting married down the line. Here, we share some of the ways the student debt crisis is impacting the social lives and relationships of young adults, which can make dealing with financial woes even harder for many who feel like they’re going it alone.

  1. Hefty debt can turn off potential mates.

    As unfair as it might be, debt may limit the number of potential mates indebted young adults have to choose from in the dating pool. Many singles don’t want to get into a serious relationship with, let alone marry, someone who carries tens of thousands of dollars in debt. And you can’t really blame them, as many in-debt grads will be paying off debt for the rest of their lives. That’s a tough thing to ask someone else to take on. Additionally, loan payments can drain savings, make it difficult to buy a home, and create financial stress that can be damaging to a relationship and may even increase the likelihood of divorce, something not everyone is willing to live with, even to be with someone they truly care about.

  2. Money trouble equals relationship stress.

    The financial stress that heavy debt puts on an individual can carry over and start causing problems in a relationship, too. Fights over who is paying for what, how money should be spent, or whether it should be spent at all can start to take a serious toll on the stability of any relationship. In fact, studies have shown that the number of financial disagreements a couple has is a key indicator of the long-term success of their union. For many, the stress of everyday finances is enough to have to manage in a relationship without adding tens of thousands of dollars in student debt on top of that.

  3. Bigger loan payments means less money for going out.

    Student debt doesn’t just hang over existing relationships; it can also keep those in debt from meeting potential mates in the first place. More money going toward loan payments and other debt-related concerns means less money for going out on dates, meeting up with friends, participating in sports or hobbies, or even joining an online dating site. That might not seem like a big deal, but for many, it can be a serious roadblock to finding a relationship and a rude awakening after leaving the college dating scene.

  4. Marriages are being put on hold.

    The average wedding in the U.S. costs more than $27,000, according to information gathered by and That’s not chump change for most couples and those without the means to foot that hefty bill may simply put off getting married, or just not get married at all. Loan payments and student debt don’t help matters, leaving less to save each month and forcing many to put off plans to get married indefinitely. Putting off plans for commitment may change relationship dynamics, and for those who don’t want to live together before marriage, may put some serious stress on both parties. Some may not even want to date an individual who isn’t prepared financially to get married a few years down the line.

  5. Many are forced to live at home, which puts a damper on dating.

    Even if your parents are pretty laid back about you living at home, there’s no doubt that it makes things a bit awkward when it comes to dating. Meeting parents may come a whole lot sooner in the dating process and having a boyfriend or girlfriend spend the night can feel a little weird with mom and dad in the next room. And that doesn’t even begin to address the stigma that exists in the U.S. for young adults who live with their parents, which despite becoming more common is still a turn off for many who are looking for someone who is more financially independent.

  6. Dating is pretty difficult for the unemployed or underemployed.

    College grads are entering one of the worst job markets in history, and with nearly half unemployed or underemployed, it’s becoming increasingly common for those in the dating pool to be out of work or unable to support themselves. While some may have sympathy for this, there’s no arguing that it isn’t exactly viewed as a plus to potential dating partners, many of whom might see being unemployed as a pretty glaring negative. Pair that with loads of college debt and living at home and you’ve got the perfect recipe for scaring off most potential partners.

  7. Debt carries a stigma.

    You aren’t what you owe, but sometimes it can certainly feel like debt is one of the most important parts of who you are, especially in the dating world where hefty debt can carry an equally heavy stigma. People often make assumptions about a person’s goals, impulse control, or grasp on money matters based on the level of debt they carry. While not always fair, you can’t always blame them, as some students have made better investments with their college educations than others. Even with student loan debt becoming more common, it’s unlikely that the stigma associated with it will go away anytime soon, leaving many wondering how to approach the topic in the dating world.

  8. Debt poses some tricky questions when dating.

    When you know that your financial situation won’t make you attractive to other singles, it can be hard to decide when to tell them about your financial dire straits. Do you come out up front about it or wait until you’ve got an established relationship? And what if the object of your affection also carries a lot of debt? Is that a good thing or a bad thing? The reality is that there aren’t any easy answers, and the prevalence of high student debt (and unemployment) has only added another layer of complexity to the dating world, which may leave many getting a much later start on major life events like marriage or starting a family, things that could have a ripple effect for decades to come.

Taken From Online Colleges

10 Spanish Phrases Parents Must Learn to Communicate With Their Bilingual Nanny

As an increasing number of workers in the private childcare industry are bilingual, many parents are discovering a need to become passably fluent in Spanish themselves in the interest of simplifying communication. Additionally, learning a bit of Spanish allows parents to reinforce any second language skills that they’ve acquired from time spent with their predominantly-Spanish speaking nanny. If your childcare provider’s Spanish language skills are much stronger than her English ones, here are 10 phrases that can help everyday communication a bit easier.

  1. “Repita, por favor.” – Whether you’re speaking Spanish with your nanny and her speed in her native tongue makes it difficult for you to comprehend what she’s saying, or her accent and pronunciation of a particular English word is hard to make out, there will inevitably come a time when one of you will have to ask the other to “Repeat, please.”
  2. “Yo no entiendo.” – Sometimes one of you will have to say, “I don’t understand,” in acknowledgment of a difficulty in communicating or understanding one another’s intentions. This simple phrase can help to prevent a number of misconceptions or misunderstandings before they start.
  3. “Me olvidé’ – Harried working parents with tight schedules and little downtime can be justifiably absentminded from time to time. Letting your nanny know that something slipped your mind by using the Spanish equivalent of “I forgot,” especially if you’ve forgotten something important, is a great way to get her attention and be sure that she understands your flub completely.
  4. “¿Entiende usted?” – Even if your nanny is strongly bilingual, learning the intricacies and similes of a second language is sometimes tough. Ensuring that she understands her instructions or responsibilities for the day by using her native language to ask the question can help stave off mishaps born from miscommunications.
  5. “¡Escríbalo, Por Favor!” – When pronunciation is garbled or difficult to make out, being able to read what your nanny is trying to say can be very beneficial. If you’re still having trouble deciphering an unfamiliar word after she’s written it down, being able to see the exact spelling can help you look the word up in a Spanish to English dictionary or on an online translating service.
  6. “Regreso En Un Momentito.” – Quick trips to run errands or even popping into the next room for a bit still require some kind of explanation to your kids’ caregiver; if you expect to return momentarily, letting your nanny know that you’ll “be right back” or being able to understand the phrase when she uses it can be helpful.
  7. “Estoy Buscando A Juan” – Kids like to slip away to hide in strange places and to generally strike terror in the hearts of their caregivers and parents. Being able to quickly and confidently share news that you’re looking for a particular child can help you and your nanny speed the process and find the tiny escapee.
  8. “¿Qué haces?” – Every person, regardless of culture or language, has their own way of accomplishing certain tasks. If your nanny’s way is different from your own and you’re curious, or vice versa, being able to ask “what are you doing” without struggle can help you both understand each other.
  9. “¿Qué Quiere Decir ‘___’ En Inglés?” – Learning Spanish is likely to be just as difficult for you as learning English was for your nanny, so you’re sure to have questions from time to time about translations and proper usage. “How do I say ____ in English?” is the quickest way to ask your nanny for help in this area.
  10. “¿Cómo Se llama a Esto En Español?” – Just as you’ll need to know how to translate Spanish words into English, you’ll also need to be able to do the opposite. Asking how to say something in Spanish when you have doubts is an effective way of enlisting the help of your nanny and polishing your second language skills.

Investing in a Spanish to English dictionary, phrase book, or Smartphone app can help you navigate conversational obstacle courses with your bilingual nanny, as the needs and demands of your individual household will likely create the need to refer back to such aides. Keep in mind that speaking more slowly might help your nanny understand you better, but increasing your volume does absolutely nothing productive unless she’s also hard of hearing. Maintain a casual, conversational tone to avoid further misunderstandings or create the impression that you’re angry.

Taken From 4 Nannies

How to Teach a Toddler Spanish

Young children tend to learn a second language most easily when they’re learning the basic rules of their primary language, making it a wise idea for parents with hopes of raising bilingual progeny to start teaching their children early. The benefits of speaking two languages fluently are countless, from increased academic performance and influencing college admissions to boosting the likelihood of landing a choice job once they’ve entered adulthood. Helping your children to gain second language skills is a great way to give them a competitive edge early in life and increase their appreciation for other cultures, with Spanish being a particularly useful choice in today’s world. As the second most studied language in the world, Spanish is becoming increasingly more common with each passing year. Teaching your toddler to speak Spanish as he’s honing his English skills is easier than you might think; here are a few hints and tips to turn your little one into a bilingual bebé.

  • Learn Spanish Yourself – It’s exponentially more difficult to teach your child Spanish if you have no grasp of the language yourself, so take the time to familiarize yourself with vocabulary and verb conjugation. Without basic grammatical knowledge, you’ll have no way of hearing any mistakes in your child’s speech and correcting them. It’s not necessary to speak Spanish as if it was your native tongue, but understanding how to structure a sentence and knowing what common words mean is essential.
  • Books, Toys, and Entertainment – There are an abundance of books, toys, movies, and television shows directed solely at primarily English-speaking toddlers to help them develop Spanish skills. Take advantage of these great tools, as they’ll help your child to become fluent in a second language while having fun. One reason shows like Dora the Explorer are so wildly popular with toddlers and their parents is because they teach basic Spanish vocabulary, turning what could be vapid television time into a learning experience.
  • Music is the Universal Language – Kids love to sing and learn new songs. Simple Spanish children’s songs, especially those that are easily translated into English for comparative purposes, are powerful tools for helping kids grasp concepts, vocabulary, pronunciation, and accents in the Spanish language. There are a wide variety of CD’s and legal MP3 downloads that will bolster your children’s Spanish music collection; integrating those songs with your child’s English favorites can be quite effective in supplementing their growing fluency.
  • Keep Your Expectations Realistic – No matter how hard you work at teaching your toddler a second language, he will only be able to grasp it to a certain level. Remember that your child’s command of any language is limited during the toddler years, and that he’s still trying to learn the fundamentals of speech to begin with. Be patient, and do not get frustrated when he’s not ready for a spot on Telemundo before he starts preschool.
  • Hold Off on Formal Lessons – Formal Spanish lessons can be incredibly effective, but they’re not a great choice for toddlers. At this age any classroom setting is likely to be stifling and boring to enthusiastic, energetic little ones. Save the lessons for later, and focus on giving your child the basic skills he needs to develop his ability to speak a second language at home. If you can find a Spanish playgroup, however, taking part is sure to boost your child’s language development.
  • Integrate Spanish into Everyday Life – Rather than setting a specific period of the day aside for “Spanish practice,” try to integrate both languages into your everyday lives. Immersion is a very effective tactic for helping language scholars of any age develop their skills, so hiring a nanny or other childcare provider that speaks Spanish fluently can increase your toddler’s comprehension by leaps and bounds. Immersion can be somewhat difficult if you’re not confident in your own Spanish language skills, so make sure that you continue to work on developing them whenever possible, as well.

Giving your child the gift of education, whether in the form of second language skills, early reading, or a concentration on music lessons for pint-sized prodigies, is one of the best things that you can do for him. Keep in mind, however, that toddlers learn about the world around them and how it works primarily through explorative play; insisting that they spend these formative years in a rigid classroom or instructional environment to the exclusion of play could be counterproductive. Remember also that you know your child best; adapt your teaching style to suit his needs, tailoring your approach to his abilities and skill level. With a bit of effort and a lot of patience, he’ll be speaking Spanish as confidently as he speaks English.

Taken From Become A Nanny

Pemex Finally Strikes Oil in Deep Waters

President Felipe Calderón of Mexico announced Wednesday that the national oil company, Pemex, had struck oil in deep water, its first success after years of exploration in the deeper reaches along the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico.
The find, deep below the gulf’s floor and more than 8,200 feet below the surface of the water, could add as much as 400 million barrels in potential reserves to Mexico’s overall reserves, Mr. Calderón said at a ceremony at Los Pinos, his official residence.
But perhaps even more important than the amount is the fact that Pemex, a monopoly, found the oil on its own.
Mexican law prevents Pemex, which is officially called Petróleos Mexicanos, from forming partnerships with outside companies. Critics have argued that the company lacked the experience to successfully explore in deep waters.
For Mr. Calderón, the announcement was vindication in the final months of his presidency that the deepwater strategy was worth the gamble. Holding up a vial of light crude from the well, he said: “What a good thing that this effort is crowned today, with a great discovery, with the realization of a goal that we had set for ourselves.”
The find may complicate oil policy for Mr. Calderón’s successor, Enrique Peña Nieto, who takes office Dec. 1, said Carlos Ramírez, a Mexico analyst at the Eurasia Group in Washington.
Mr. Peña Nieto has said that he will propose new laws to allow private companies to invest with Pemex. Opposition from nationalists had shot down a similar change proposed by Mr. Calderón in 2008.
Now that Pemex has shown it can strike oil in deep waters, “it will give ammunition to opponents of reform,” Mr. Ramírez said.
Pemex has spent almost $4 billion on deepwater exploration over the last decade without much success until now. Mexico’s regulator, the National Hydrocarbons Commission, recently argued that Pemex was dedicating too much money to exploring low-profit and risky projects in deep waters and shortchanging exploration elsewhere.
In his announcement, Mr. Calderón suggested that the new find could be part of a much larger oilfield with the potential to produce from 4 to 10 billion barrels of crude oil.
Mexico is the third largest supplier of imported crude oil to the United States, but its production began slipping from its peak in 2004 as its giant Canterell oil field went into decline. It has stabilized production over the last couple of years at about 2.55 billion barrels a day.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Going to the Cloud

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Taken From Online Colleges

How to Host a Birthday Party Without Inviting the Whole Class

Most parents remember the dismay that accompanied being passed over for birthday party invitations during their own school days, but modern standards in schools have changed, with many school systems implementing a rule that effectively bans kids from passing out invitations unless the entire class is invited. There are several reasons why such a large gathering might be less than ideal, but getting around this rule and issuing invitations to selected children can be difficult territory to navigate.

If you’re forced to circumvent the rule and invite only a select few children, you aren’t without your options. Consider these solutions to the logistical problem of inviting the pared down list.

  • Request the Class Snail Mail List – Many schools, especially those of the private variety, hand out class directories along with their school handbooks and supply lists at the beginning of the year. If your child’s school has adopted a similar policy, mailing invitations to the homes of the kids that your youngster wishes to invite should be a breeze. For a more personal touch, let your kids help to create homemade invitations, rather than mass-produced store-bought options.
  • Use the Email or Phone Tree – Phone trees and email lists are generally intended to be used in the event of an unforeseen school closing or emergency; however, they can also prove useful when birthday time rolls around and it simply isn’t feasible to invite the entire class. Contact the parents of just the students you wish to invite; sending out a mass email or text will almost certainly drum up just as much controversy as choosing to hand invitations out to a select few in the crowded cafeteria.
  • Instruct Kids to Pass Out Invitations Privately – Provided that your child is old enough to understand that “privately” doesn’t mean on the playground or in the lunchroom, discussing the importance of being polite and discreet about passing out invitations can help your child learn basic etiquette while also helping you get around the “whole class or no invitations” rule. If there’s any doubt at all in your child’s ability to be discreet, though, this might not be the best route.
  • Keep the Guest List Down to Close Friends – Large-scale parties involving every acquaintance and distant relative that your child has could very easily prove to be more overwhelming to her than memorable, so striving to keep the guest list small and shooting for a more intimate gathering could be wise. As an added bonus, a small guest list comprised solely of close friends means that you’ll be able to easily contact everyone on it; no need to bring invitations to school at all!
  • Take Advantage of Social Media – The Internet has certainly changed the way that adults connect and interact; in no area is this more immediately apparent than social media. If you have the parents of all the children you wish to invite on your friends list, shooting a personal message requesting a mailing address for a physical invite or an email address for a virtual one is the work of a moment.
  • Use Extracurricular Activity Meetings – Extracurricular activities, especially those that are not school sponsored, give kids the chance to meet and befriend others that they might not have even met otherwise. Even if the kids at dance class or hockey practice do attend the same school as your child, the smaller group size and more intimate setting makes it easier to quietly slip an invitation into a child’s hands.

While accommodating rules like this one can be inconvenient, it’s important to remember that the feelings of a child are at stake; be sure to avoid any deliberately exclusionary behavior, and keep the thoughts and reactions of a young child in mind as you plan your strategy. Furthermore, make sure your child knows that holding the lack of an invitation over another child or blatantly discussing the party afterward in front of an excluded child isn’t polite and can lead to hurt feelings.

Taken From Nanny

10 Things to Pack for a Family Weekend Getaway

When it comes to getting away for the weekend, adding kids into the mix always seems to make things much more complicated. While the ages and stages of the children will dictate some of the necessities you bring along, other items will come in handy for kids of all ages. Before heading out for your weekend getaway, be sure to make your list and check it twice.

You’ll want to pack:

1. Extra Clothing. From spills to spit up, and everything in-between, you’ll want to pack more clothes than you’ll think you will need, especially if you won’t have laundry facilities handy. For younger children, allowing two outfits per day should be sufficient. For children who have recently potty trained, be sure to bring several pairs of extra underwear along.

2. Spare Shoes. While older kids may step in puddles, younger kids in strollers may kick a shoe off that is never to be seen again. Having a spare pair of shoes can eliminate the need to find a replacement pair while away from home.

3. Snacks and Drinks. Kids tend to be partial about their favorite snacks and drinks. This is especially true if a child has allergies. Pack a bunch of nonperishable snacks, bottled water, and 100% fruit juice boxes for the car ride. These will also come in handy when you’re visiting the zoo or are out on other excursions. If you have room, packing a cooler with fruits, yogurt, string cheese, veggies, and any other favorites is also a good idea. Don’t forget snacks and drinks for the adults, too.

4. Personal Care Supplies. From baby wash to diaper cream, toothbrushes to hairbrushes, be sure to pack everything you need to take care of yourself and your children. If you typically use lotion or detangler then you’ll want to pack that too. If your baby has sensitive skin, you’ll also want to pack towels and wash cloths that you know have been washed in your usual detergent.

5. Comfort Items. If your child has a pacifier, stuffed toy, or blanket that goes everywhere with him or is a must-have for bedtime, then you’ll want to be sure to have that with you. There’s nothing like being half way to your destination when your child realizes his favorite friend has been left at home.

6. The Camera. While many people use their Smartphone’s to capture memories, don’t under estimate the value of taking along the camera. Using your camera may make organizing, storing, and archiving photos much easier later.

7. Pajamas. For some reason, even when all of the clothing and underthings have been packed, the pajamas end up forgotten. How often you typically swap out jammies will determine how many pairs you plan to bring. Add another set in addition to what you typically use, just to be sure you have a spare pair.

8. Playthings. A few quiet toys, books, and portable items will come in handy while traveling, especially during any downtime. Let children choose a few items to place in a small backpack to take along with them.

9. Age-Appropriate Essentials. The additional gear, like booster seats, strollers, gates, and portable cribs, will depend on the age and needs of your children. Before your trip take inventory of the items you depend on daily. You’ll want to consider if you should pack, ship, or buy those items. Depending on where you’re going and how you’re getting there, it can be easier to purchase perishables, like baby food and diapers, and borrow larger items, like highchairs and cribs, when you reach your weekend destination.

10. Medications. If anyone in the family is on medication, you’ll want to be sure to bring it along. It’s also a good idea to pack a thermometer and pain reliever, just in case. A basic first-aid kit with Band-Aids, blister pads, antibacterial ointment, gauze, and medical tape can also come in handy.

When it comes to traveling with kids, you would rather be over prepared then under prepared. While you can most likely find just about anything you forget, you’re not going to want to spend your limited vacation time going on a scavenger hunt for your child’s favorite brand of fruit snacks.

Taken From Nanny

10 Ways Cartoons Help Kids Learn About Different Cultures

Learning about cultures and ways of life that are different from those that your children are familiar with is an important part of growing up; as he ages and spends more time with people outside of his immediate family and childcare providers, he will encounter an entire world of people whose ideas and customs are different from his own. Though there has been a significant push in severely limiting or eliminating kids’ exposure to television shows, there are some valuable lessons that children can learn from these brightly colored animated adventures.

  1. Focusing on Cultural Diversity Education – Some cartoons, like The Misadventures of Maya and Miguel, are focused primarily on both presenting realistic depictions of different ethnicities to non-minority children and providing children from similar ethnic backgrounds with characters that look, sound, and live the same way they do.
  2. Depicting Everyday Situations – Rather than underscoring every reference to non-minority culture with heavy-handed preaching, cartoons tend to center around characters in ordinary situations (or extraordinary, if the shows are fantasy-based) that simply happen to be from a different cultural background.
  3. Featuring Characters from Various Ethnic Backgrounds and Walks of Life – Cartoons that feature large groups of characters working together, striving for a common goal, or simply interacting with one another regularly tend to do so with a racially and culturally mixed group. The things that make these characters different may be touched upon in specific episodes, but they’re most often simply accepted, as the main focus is on finding adventures or overcoming obstacles together.
  4. Musical Diversity – Music and children’s television tend to go hand in hand, and cartoons that feature diverse “casts” also tend to include music from a variety of cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Kids may be prompted to sing along with their favorite characters in another language, or mimic dances associated with other cultures.
  5. Discussing Cultural Ceremonies and Traditions – Jewish characters may discuss a bar or bat mitzvah, animated Latina girls may get excited about their quinceanera, and Christian cartoon characters often celebrate Christmas or other religious holidays. These frank depictions of cultural ceremonies observed by characters from various backgrounds and ethnicities help kids to see beyond the scope of the ones celebrated in their own households.
  6. Foreign Language Instruction – Cartoon juggernaut Dora the Explorer opened the floodgates for early education in second languages; while she still holds the crown as the undisputed princess of animated language instruction, followers like Ni Hao, Kai-Lan and others of her ilk have created an entire cartoon subculture centered around teaching diversity by teaching basic second-language vocabulary.
  7. Creating Talking Points for Parents and Kids – When kids watch cartoons and are exposed to unfamiliar cultural and ethnic depictions, their natural reaction is to question their parents and caregivers about the things that they don’t understand. By presenting different cultures and diverse groups to small children, cartoons are also presenting parents with a priceless opportunity to discuss such things with them.
  8. Eschewing Stereotypes – In cartoons, a girl might take the lead while a boy shows reticence; stereotypes are broken and disregarded in cartoons today. While this attitude is in direct opposition to the sometimes-racist cartoons with rigid gender roles in the days of yore, kids today are not being conditioned by their animated entertainment to view the world in such ways.
  9. Presenting Diversity to Culturally Isolated Kids – Some kids grow up in rural areas, or fairly homogenous neighborhoods, and have limited interaction with kids from other backgrounds. For these kids, high-quality cartoons provide a glimpse into those backgrounds and expose them to cultural differences that they might otherwise be unaware of.
  10. Direct Imports – It’s difficult to dispute the huge impact that Japanese cartoons have had on the global landscape. Collecting and merchandising crazes spurred by imported shows like Pokemon are the stuff of legend; they’re also chock full of references to Japanese culture, more often than not.

Exposure to high-quality children’s programming, in moderation and paired with a significant amount of physically active play, can help kids form a well-rounded world view at an early age. Screening the shows that your kids watch for any questionable content, like excessive violence or lack of educational merit, can help you find shows that keep your kids entertained as they learn; rather than taking an all-or-nothing approach to children’s television, allowing a limited amount of high quality programming that introduces them to new concepts and ways of life might actually prove to be beneficial.

Taken From National Nannies

How to Make Your Own Baby Food With a Blender

As concerns about genetically modified produce and dangerous farming practices escalate, and controversy surrounding Monsanto become more common, the number of parents committed to – or at least considering the practice of – making their own baby food is also on the rise. There are also parents who would love to provide their baby with organically grown, preservative- and additive-free foods, but are under the misconception that the process is a long and laborious one. In fact, making baby food from locally or organically grown fruits and vegetables is surprisingly simple.

The Price Factor

Any parent who’s seen the expensive systems advertised for making and storing baby food at home could easily be fooled into thinking that the process is not only a difficult or time-consuming one, but also an incredibly pricey option. The truth is, those systems are only more convenient than the tools you already have in your kitchen, if that, and they are by no means necessary to create fresh, nutritious food of verifiable origins for your bundle of joy. With nothing more than a pot, a knife, a cutting board, fresh produce, and a blender, you can be on the path to becoming an in-demand chef for the smaller set. Because saving money by making healthful food for your baby rather than paying more for processed jarred food is one of the many selling points of taking on the task, spending a small fortune on an entire system with all the bells and whistles is unnecessary.


Buying a fully-stocked homemade baby food system brings a set of storage containers to the party, but there are several storage options at your disposal that will work just as well in conjunction with the blender you already have. Rather than purchasing a space-hogging, pricey system, take advantage of the variety of storage solutions available to you for a fraction of the cost.

For frozen foods, simply prepare an item in accordance with your chosen recipe, and allow it to cool. Spoon the pureed food into ice cube trays and freeze them until they’re solid, then pop the cubes out and into carefully labeled freezer bags. Foods can then be defrosted in just the amount you need, eliminating waste and allowing you to make food in large batches when you have free time, rather than scrambling to make baby food every day. Small storage bowls are widely and readily available in the market today, and are also suitable for baby food storage. Just be sure that any plastic containers you purchase are BPA free in order to avoid any potential health risks.

Tips for Making the Most Out of Your Blender

Because small batches of food tend to be pushed to the sides of a blender carafe and missed by the blades, your blender is most effective as a method of pureeing baby food when you’re working with a fairly substantial amount of food. This small drawback is eliminated, however, by setting aside an afternoon to make and freeze enough food for a few weeks. Properly stored in airtight freezer containers, your baby food will have a shelf life of up to three months.

Blenders are also great at liquefying solid foods, which means that it’s important to keep a close eye on food that’s being pureed in a blender, lest it become a very thin soup. Always use the pulse button for maximum control over the texture and consistency of the food; using even a low continuous setting could turn your perfectly prepared produce into something more akin to a juice if you’re distracted from the running blender for a moment. With children in the house, there’s constant potential for distraction, so use the pulse button and watch carefully. Remember to scrape down the sides of the blender carafe regularly as well to ensure a uniform texture with few lumps.

Immersion or Stick Blenders

Parents that are lucky enough to have an immersion or stick blender in their kitchen are in an even better position to make their own baby food with less hassle. Rather than transferring cooked food to a blender carafe to puree and then moving it to containers for storage, food can be blended in the cooking vessel and dished straight into storage containers for easy clean-up. Just be sure to avoid scraping the sides or bottom of a non-stick pot with an immersion blender that doesn’t feature housing or guards to prevent flakes of Teflon from ending up in your baby’s carefully prepared, all-natural organic baby food.

Taken From Newborn Care

30 Blogs for Preschool Activity Ideas

Eager to learn and filled with curiosity, preschoolers can present quite a challenge when it comes to keeping them entertained and out of trouble. During this stage of their life, children are still learning about the world around them through play and structured activities, and having a variety of activities to keep them engaged and entertained is a must; through the virtual village that is the blogosphere, parents and childcare providers have access to a wealth of educational and entertaining activity ideas. The following 30 blogs prominently feature entries covering such subjects, making them a valuable resource for the adults charged with caring for preschoolers.

Indoor Play

Inclement weather and lack of access to safe and open outdoor play space can leave parents and caregivers scrambling for ways to keep housebound kids from going stir crazy. These activities are all structured around the idea of keeping kids engaged indoors, for times when outdoor play simply isn’t feasible.

Outdoor Play

Research conducted by the Seattle Children’s Research Institute and the University of Washington indicates that many preschoolers have few opportunities to engage in supervised outdoor play, which can support creativity, prevent obesity by discouraging sedentary habits, and strengthen developing motor skills. The benefits of getting young children off the couch and into the great outdoors are numerous; here are five blogs with ideas for active and stimulating outdoor play.

Educational Play

Almost any play that a preschooler engages in provides them with hands-on, real-life learning experiences; however, there are some activities that help kids learn important concepts. Bloggers share their ideas for educational activities in the following five links.

Group Play

While keeping a group of preschoolers entertained and getting along can be a struggle, side-by-side and group play are essential for helping kids learn the socializing skills that they’ll carry with them as they get older. Parents and caregivers can keep tantrums and feuds to a minimum by encouraging structured activity during play dates, making the information included in the following five blog entries quite valuable.

Safe Play

During the preschool years, kids are learning safety skills on a large scale, like fire or water safety, and also the basics of safe play in general. Helping pint-sized daredevils learn to play it safe and passing along the basic rules of safety in general can be done through active play, as detailed in these five posts.

Preschool Prep

If your little one is on the verge of beginning a structured preschool program, it’s likely that quite a bit of your energy is dedicated to helping him prepare for this major milestone. From knowing what to expect to perfecting potty training, these five blog entries can help parents and caregivers get a child on the right track and ready for school.

There are a staggering number of blogs on the Internet with a focus on preschool activities and other relevant topics, so don’t stop here! Check the links section in a favorite blog’s sidebar for others that may be similar.

Taken From Babysitting Jobs

6 Business Boycotts That Actually Worked

With the recent Chick-Fil-A boycott (and subsequent appreciation day from the other side of the debate), the effectiveness of boycotts has come under question. When consumers are unhappy with a company’s practices, one of the best potential tools is to rally with other unhappy customers and start a boycott. It’s never a guarantee that the loss of business will hurt the company’s bottom line enough to make a difference, but history has proven that a well-organized boycott can lead to some serious changes. Check out these six boycotts that actually worked.

  1. Montgomery Bus Boycott

    One of the most famous and culture-changing boycotts in American history was the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955, sparked by the refusal of Rosa Parks to give up her seat to a white man on a bus in Montgomery, Ala. Parks was arrested, and the boycott of buses by black citizens began on her court date and lasted 381 days. In the end, the Supreme Court ordered Montgomery to integrate its buses, and the Civil Rights Movement began.

  2. CIW’s Taco Bell boycott

    The Coalition of Immokalee Workers wanted to get better wages and working conditions for the workers (mostly immigrants) in Florida’s tomato industry. After a lot of organization (including raising awareness through fiestas, hunger strikes, and long walks), the group started a boycott that lasted several years, taking business away from Taco Bell, a leader in the fast-food industry. In 2005, they found success when Taco Bell agreed to pay more per pound for its tomatoes and make an effort to improve the working conditions in the fields.

  3. American Family Association’s McDonald’s boycott

    Many boycott battles are waged to push a political or social agenda, and the American Family Association is no stranger to this tactic, with some successful boycotts and some not-so-successful ones. In 2008, the organization spread the word to its 2.2 million members that McDonald’s had given money to and been put on the board of directors of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, and called for a boycott. Just five months later, McDonald’s took their member off of the board and declared itself to be neutral on the issue of same-sex marriage.

  4. FLOC’s Mt. Olive Pickles boycott

    Just like the tomato farmers mentioned previously, workers in the cucumber industry in North Carolina, particularly the foreign workers, were living off of terrible wages and in conditions some compared to modern-day slavery. The Farm Labor Organizing Committee, a trade union, officially started its boycott of Mt. Olive Pickle Company in 1998 because it believed they could only get higher wages for these workers if Mt. Olive pressured the growers. After a decade of organizing and five years boycotting the company, the union was victorious and a collective bargaining agreement was signed by Mt. Olive and its growers.

  5. Delano grape strike and boycott

    Starting with a strike by Filipino American grape workers that was joined by a union led by Cesar Chavez, the unrest among the workers spread into a boycott that reached across the country as strikers traveled the U.S. telling their story and raising support. By 1970, five years after the beginning of the strike, the grape growers had made a deal with the unions for better benefits, pay, and protections, an outcome that affected more than 10,000 grape workers.

  6. India’s Salt March

    Mahatma Gandhi and this boycott of the British monopoly on salt in India actually served as the model for the Chavez-led grape boycott. Gandhi believed firmly in the power of peaceful protest and showed the world how well it could work. Because of the country’s heat and humidity and the need of many workers to replenish their systems after sweating profusely, people couldn’t simply go without salt. So a group of men, organized by Gandhi, marched to the village of Dandi in 1930 to produce salt from sea water and encourage others to do the same instead of buying it from the British. Though tens of thousands of people were arrested for illegally making salt, including Gandhi, the march and boycott was a turning point in India’s struggle for independence, a goal it eventually achieved in 1947.

Taken From Online Business Degree

7 Food Tracker Apps That Will Help You Stay on Your Diet

Can you hear the call of a sizzling hamburger from a mile away? Is the smell of donuts the only thing that can get you out of bed in the morning? If your answer is yes, it might be time to go on a diet. Eating healthy can be a challenge for anyone, but by tracking calories and nutrients, you can lose weight and feel better in no time. Since you always have your smartphone with you, why not put it to good use? These seven apps will help you keep track of what you’ve eaten and what you should be eating.

  1. MyPlate Calorie Tracker by

    With this app from the health and fitness website,, you can track calories eaten and calories burned to keep yourself accountable and lose weight. Fat, carbs, and protein can also be logged if your diet is more detailed than simple calorie limits. Track your water consumption and get daily reminders to keep you headed in the right direction. The best part of this $2.99 app is the huge database with more than 1.3 million food products and restaurant menu items so you can always find what you’re looking for.

  2. Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker by MyFitnessPal:

    This free calorie counter has been featured in the New York Times, USA Today, Marie Claire, and many other publications. It claims to have the largest food database, with more than 1.5 million food items that you can access even without an Internet connection. With the ability to quickly and easily add foods, scan barcodes to find your foods efficiently, and connect with and encourage friends who are also using the app, you’re ready to conquer your fitness goals. And if you’re in the mood for a workout between meals, MyFitnessPal provides more than 350 exercises and a place to track them.

  3. 40-30-30 by Frank Schmitt:

    If you’re bad at math, this could be your computing companion. Many diets recommend that you eat foods whose calories are 40% from carbohydrates, 30% from protein, and 30% from fat, but it’s not easy to calculate those percentages just by looking at a nutrition label. This is a simple, free app that performs the task for you; you enter the grams of each of the three macronutrients, and the app tells you the percentage breakdown of calories in the food you’re looking at. No more excuses just because you never mastered math.

  4. Fast Food Calorie Counter by Concrete Software, Inc.:

    Whether you’re cheating (just a little bit!) or are on the road and have few options, this 99-cent app can keep you from totally blowing your progress. The maker has taken more than 9,000 items from 73 popular fast food restaurants (we’re talking everything from Steak ‘n Shake to Chipotle to Nathan’s) and provided the calories, fat, carbs, fiber, and protein so you can make an informed choice that fits closest to your diet. You no longer have to be stuck at home eating cardboard! Track the calories in this app, or take the information you get here and plug it into your calorie counter of choice.

  5. Fooducate by Fooducate, Ltd.:

    While Fooducate doesn’t keep track of every morsel you put into your mouth, it does help you keep track of what you’re throwing into your grocery cart. The free app is an essential sidekick at the supermarket; it scans barcodes of food products and brings up a simple summary of how healthy that food is. Each product gets a letter grade, with an explanation of why it earned that grade, such as “Made with refined flours, not whole grain” or “A naturally good source of Calcium.” If you don’t like the grade for the product you’re holding, Fooducate will give you healthier alternatives; your store’s sure to have at least one of them.

  6. Lose It! by FitNow:

    The makers of this calorie-tracking app say that the average active user of the app loses more than 12 pounds. And it’s free! Set goals and a daily calorie limit for yourself, and earn badges and share recipes when you also sign up at And don’t worry about forgetting to enter your latest meal. You can sign up to receive reminders if you forget to log your data. Get a leg up on your weight loss journey with this convenient tool and really start to lose it!

  7. Diet & Food Tracker by SparkPeople:

    Many serious fitness and weight-loss buffs swear by SparkPeople, a free online health community where you can make meal plans, personalized exercise programs, recipes, and more. This free app is the companion to the SparkPeople website and allows you to track your food and calories on-the-go. Access your meal plans, log your workouts, and see your progress over time. Soon you’ll be another SparkPeople success story!

Taken From Insurance Quotes

50 Inspiring Audiobooks to Self-Improve While You Work Out

In this era of multitasking, it's only natural that you would want to knock out some reading while at the gym. Why not throw a couple audiobooks onto the old iPod and absorb some ways to improve your life? While you're listening, you probably won't want to tackle any new workout routines that require you to focus on new machines or motions. But for the times you're zoned out on the treadmill or letting your mind wander while you bike, these audiobooks will inspire you to be better while you're perspiring.

Happiness and Well-Being

  1. Perfectly Yourself: 9 Lessons for Enduring Happiness by Matthew Kelly:

    The Rhythm of Life author brings you practical methods for reaching your full potential and transforming your life for the better.

  2. Having It All: Achieving Your Life's Goals and Dreams by John Assaraf:

    Assaraf is living proof that if you dream it, you can be it, having started poor and working his way to millionaire. He shares his secrets for success with you.

  3. Don't Sweat the Small Stuff, and It's All Small Stuff by Richard Carlson:

    This classic by motivational speaking legend Richard Carlson continues to relax stressed-out readers by giving them permission to slow down, calm down, and still live each day to the fullest.

  4. Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being Martin Seligman:

    Leading happiness expert Seligman will change what you thought you knew about happiness, shifting your focus from being happy to flourishing.

  5. The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom by Jonathan Haidt:

    Topics Haidt covers run the gamut from Hinduism and Christianity to child development to neuroscience. It all makes for an excellent happiness book with much to glean for improving your life.

  6. Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert:

    This Harvard prof hates to break it to you, but you have no idea what makes you happy. But not to worry; he's done the research to help you figure out what will.

  7. Become a Better You: 7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day by Joel Osteen:

    Thousands around the country turn to Houston pastor Joel Osteen for uplifting spiritual messages every Sunday. Here he shows you the way to discover how to tap into your hidden resources and excel.


  1. The 10 Commandments of Money: Survive and Thrive in the New Economy by Liz Weston:

    Thou shalt not go on making money mistakes once thou hast listened to what widely-read financial advice columnist Liz Weston has to say.

  2. The Real Crash: America's Coming Bankruptcy – How to Save Yourself and Your Country by Peter Schiff:

    The title doesn't win any points for feel-goodness, but as the only major voice to predict the 2008 collapse, Schiff's got just medicine you need to take to keep yourself financially healthy in the coming days.

  3. Rich Dad's Increase Your Financial IQ: Get Smarter with Your Money by Robert T. Kiyosaki:

    The creator of the Rich Dad series teaches you to protect, increase, budget, and leverage your money, plus how to build your knowledge base of financial info.

  4. The Money Class: Learn to Create Your New American Dream by Suze Orman:

    According to Suze, the American Dream needs a revamp. It's no longer about accumulating wealth, but securing your financial future. And she's just the gal to help you secure it.

  5. Wink and Grow Rich by Roger Hamilton:

    A changeup from the typical financial advice book, Wink and Grow Rich is a short story fable designed to change your thinking about how wealth is created.

  6. The Lies About Money: Achieving Financial Security and True Wealth by Ric Edelman:

    Trusted financial advisor Ric Edelman shoots you straight on saving for college, investing for retirement, and other pressing financial issues each of us face sooner or later.

  7. All Your Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan by Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Warren Tyagi:

    A Harvard law professor and her daughter give you sound advice for getting out of debt and getting ahead, in conversational, down-to-earth style.

  8. The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey:

    America's most listened-to financial guru helps you get your house in order in his trademark straight-forward, no-nonsense way in this book.

  9. The Richest Man in Babylon: The Success Secrets of the Ancients by George S. Clason:

    This one's a throwback to 1955, now brought to mp3 format so that a new generation can hear and appreciate the techniques for accumulating wealth that have stood the test of time.

  10. The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America's Rich by Thomas Stanley and William Danko:

    While Cribs may have you thinking you need an elevator in your house and a Mercedes in your driveway, the rich man next door to you has been quietly building his wealth by practicing that long-forgotten virtue: thrift.

Work and Productivity

  1. The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Timothy Ferriss:

    You don't have to go to Princeton to hear the revolutionary ideas spouting from this 28-year-old visionary. Ferriss shows you how to live the life everyone dreams of living: one free of the 9-5 grind.

  2. Who Moved My Cheese?: The 10th Anniversary Edition by Spencer Johnson:

    The five-year bestseller comes to mp3 form to help you succeed in the midst of change. This version has an exclusive interview with author Spencer Johnson.

  3. Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long by David Rock:

    With a good mix of science and real-world examples, David Rock gives you insight into your gray matter and lets you in on how to harness it more effectively.

  4. The Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki:

    The narration could be better, but Kawasaki's "Great Ideas for Starting Things" could transform you into America's next big entrepreneur.

  5. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink:

    Autonomy, mastery, and purpose are the three vital keys for motivation, as Pink explains in this books based on decades of research on the subject.

  6. The Dip by Seth Godin:

    Lend your ears to 21st-century sage Godin as he explains "the dip" — the low point of any project or job — and how to commit to beating it.

  7. Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion by Gary Vaynerchuk:

    Gary V. brings to life his helpful book about using social networking to create incredible business opportunities for yourself, constantly going off the script and keeping you informed and entertained.

  8. Do the Work by Steven Pressfield:

    Did you decide to go workout to avoid doing work on a long-delayed project? Steven Pressfield's got the cure to spur you into action and stop waiting.

  9. Failing Forward by John C. Maxwell:

    This author claims the only thing that separates the uber-successes from the rest of us is their response to failure, and he makes a very compelling case.

Food and Health

  1. In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan:

    Healthy eating hero Michael Pollan wrote this compelling food manifesto to denounce "food products" and show you how simple eating can and should be.

  2. Drop Dead Healthy: One Man's Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection by A. J. Jacobs:

    The guy who attempted to do everything the Bible instructs for a year in The Year of Living Biblically brings his quirky dedication to transforming his body and mind through nutrition and exercise.

  3. The Food Revolution: How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and Our World by John Robbins:

    If improving your own health isn't motivation enough to change your eating habits, hopefully Robbins can convince you that you can also save the planet by making more responsible food choices.

  4. Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall:

    Although barefoot running had been around for quite a while before 2009, McDougall's book launched the practice into widespread popularity. Hear how his study of the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico introduced him to the idea.

  5. Women, Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything by Geneen Roth:

    Don't let the warm, gentle tone fool you; Roth's book could very well rock the way you think about life, love, and even God by relating it all to food. It's a must-read if you struggle with eating too much (or not enough).

  6. Anticancer: A New Way of Life by David Servan-Schrieber:

    You can cash in on Dr. David Servan-Schreiber's fight with brain cancer, in which he found ways to slow and prevent the onset of cancer. Now that's self-improvement.

  7. Super Immunity: A Breakthrough Program to Boost the Body's Defenses and Stay Healthy All Year Round by Joel Fuhrman:

    Learn how to pump up your immune system from Dr. Fuhrman's book by changing the fuel you put in your engine. Colds and flus will never keep you away from the gym again.

  8. The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love by Kristin Kimball:

    You won't be able to help being inspired to support local farmers by this city girl's moving story of starting a farm to grow enough to feed the community.

  9. Folks, This Ain't Normal: A Farmer's Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People, and a Better World by Joel Salatin:

    Salatin made an appearance in a Michael Pollan book; that should tell you quite a bit. Here he attempts to wake you up from blissful ignorance about where our food comes from and what we all need to do to improve the system.

  10. The End of Food by Paul Roberts:

    The author of the bestselling The End of Oil enlightens you on the state of the global food system so that you can be prepared for the personal and societal choices we will all soon have to make.

  11. Meditations to Change Your Brain: Rewire Your Neural Pathways to Transform Your Life by Rick Hanson and Rick Mendius:

    A psychologist and a neurologist show you how to turn down the volume between your ears with effective techniques for meditating and strengthening your mind.

  12. Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John J. Ratey:

    If you're losing your drive to keep working out, this audiobook by respected psychiatrist John Ratey will inspire you to press on by explaining the wonderful benefits exercise has on your brain.


  1. A People's History of the United States: Highlights from the Twentieth Century by Howard Zinn:

    After listening to this book, you will be inspired, outraged, fired up, and grieved at the realization there will never be another Howard Zinn. Bonus: it's narrated by Jason Bourne.

  2. Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville:

    It took a foreigner to pen one of the greatest critiques of American culture that we have, now brought to life in audio form.

  3. Hopes and Prospects by Noam Chomsky:

    We may have lost Zinn, but at least we still have Chomsky. Here the famed MIT professor delves into America's missteps of recent years but also voices his hopes for a better future.

  4. Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America by Matt Taibbi:

    Rolling Stone writer Taibbi brings his entertaining and provocative talents to this book, in which he flips the light on the dirty deeds that have been going on on Wall Street and whose perpetrators largely remain unpunished.

Free Books

  1. Walden by Henry David Thoreau:

    Over 150 years ago, one man realized that what passes for living in our society is not real life. Even today, some people mark their lives by when they read the resulting story of his trip into the woods to live deliberately.

  2. The Bible:

    Some might call it the ultimate self-improvement book. Even the non-religious can use it to better understand contemporary Christian thought.

  3. The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli:

    Your intellect will get a serious workout with this five-century old masterpiece by Machiavelli. But hey, no pain, no gain.

  4. 50 Things I'm Going to do Today by Brian Johnson:

    Health and wellness site helped make this book of positive tips to live by available for free download. It's a short book you can knock out in a 45-minute workout.

  5. The Sayings of Confucius by Confucius:

    The sage words of one of human history's wisest thinkers will teach you how to live morally and sincerely while you're banging out reps.

  6. The Art of Public Speaking by Dale Carnegie:

    The king of the self-improvement genre gives you the tools to make a toast, win a debate, or give a lecture.

  7. Self Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson:

    Many self-improvement books do not keep their relevance for more than a few years. Emerson's classic is at 171 years and not slowing down.

  8. The Art of War by Sun Tzu:

    For not technically being a self-improvement book, it is cited over and over again as such by people who recommend it for its lessons on winning the battles in your life, whatever form they make take.

Taken From Online College Courses

50 Best Twitter Feeds Follow Educational Gaming

It always seems like the media and parent groups want to rush after video games in a flurry of pitchforks and torches for the allegedly horrendous influence they hold over the youth of today. Debate is great, of course, but in reality, gaming actually holds some amazing, engaging benefits perfect for the educational setting. Game-based learning continues fascinating edtech enthusiasts, who eagerly flock to social media to share their developments, research, designs, and strategies. And a few of them are listed here in no particular order.

  1. Kevin Corbett:

    One of the Web’s foremost elearning experts expounds upon intersections between technology and education — which include plenty of forays into game-based learning, of course.


  2. Top Kids Apps:

    The Fun Educational Apps blog — and, of course, its accompanying Twitter — covers the best applications for edutainment available on the iDevices.


  3. David Miller:

    Kuato Studios’ chief learning architect maintains a fabulous microblog crammed with amazing content about how gaming might very well alter the shape of education forever. And the better!


  4. Gamification:

    It may not update as often as some followers might like, but this microblog still provides excellent, current information about the latest research into gamification in education, advertising, and other industries. Be sure to check out the wiki as well.


  5. Laura Minnigerode:

    This Austin-based education policy expert discusses new media and gaming in both the classroom and the political sphere.


  6. ClassroomAid:

    Follow ClassroomAid for some carefully-curated resources and commentary on technology in education, with special emphasis on gaming.


  7. Jokaydia:

    Exploring Virtual Worlds and other immersive digital realms provides seemingly endless learning opportunities in formal and informal learning environments alike.


  8. Andrew Miller:

    Andrew Miller stands as an expert on edtech, and gaming and gamification both factor heavily into his content and consulting.


  9. EdGamer:

    Check EdGamer’s official Twitter for information about when their latest podcasts on — what else? — educational gaming have been posted, as well as the occasional article and commentary snippet of interest.


  10. Cynthia D’Angelo:

    With a Ph.D. in science education and a love of researching gaming’s classroom potential, Cynthia D’Angelo offers up an intelligent Twitter feed about where things might go from here.


  11. DML Central:

    The Digital Media and Learning Research Hub at University of California might not exclusively look at the gamification of education, but the subject definitely factors into their studies!


  12. GameDesk:

    GameDesk focuses on all components of digital learning, though incorporating play into the mix ranks as one of the organization’s highest priorities.


  13. Games in Education:

    Despite its sluggish update pace, this feed remains an essential follow, as it covers the annual Games in Education symposium.


  14. Tracie Hightower:

    She hopes to bring together educators and developers alike for great discussions about gaming’s potential to nurse classroom success.


  15. Brian McLaren:

    Game-based learning and education technology a-go-go; that’s all anyone really needs to know about this highly informative Twitter feed!


  16. Sara M Grimes:

    University of Toronto assistant professor Sara M. Grimes specializes in harnessing technology, including (especially) games in the interest of teaching younger kids.


  17. MIT Education Arcade:

    Like its name implies, the MIT Education Arcade works tirelessly to explore the hows, whats, wheres, and whys behind the gamification of the classroom.


  18. John Rutherford:

    The co-developer of the what2learn educational gaming initiative weighs in on a wide variety of topics related to technology and learning.


  19. Seann Dikkers:

    Ohio University edtech guru Seann Dikkers loves discussing and sharing all things related to how gaming can engage and educate students of all ages.


  20. For the Win:

    For the Win promotes “serious gamification” and peers into the roles games play in learning and other industries.


  21. Institute of Play:

    Another initiative devoted to cranking out amazing, engaging digital games to keep users learning throughout the experience.


  22. Eric Klopfer:

    This MIT professor loves finding new ways to blend technology and education into one effective system, and that includes gaming.


  23. Diana Dell, Ph.D:

    Consult this microblog for detailed information about all things edtech and game-based learning from an expert in the field.


  24. STEPlab:

    MIT’s Scheller Teacher Education Program encourages MIT students to develop and use gaming and simulation technologies for educational use.


  25. Peggy Sheehy:

    She thinks Blizzard’s popular MMO franchise World of Warcraft (not to mention other games, of course!) possesses some excellent classroom applications, and she’s not afraid to show it!


  26. Greg Toppo/USA Today:

    Hear what USA Today’s K-12 education writer makes of the latest news and views regarding digital learning strategies such as gaming.


  27. Randall Fujimoto:

    Catch up on updated news, research, and commentary regarding game-based learning, augmented reality, and other edtech topics and trends.


  28. Dean Groom:

    Give Dean Groom a follow when looking for more information about his various edtech exploits, which include exploring game-based learning and solving accessibility issues.


  29. S. Johnston-Robinett:

    This mom and game-based learning enthusiast (she hopes to design and develop her own contributions someday!) enthusiastically shares her favorite relevant content and shares opinions on the future of gamification.


  30. Jane McGonigal:

    Jane McGonigal’s research delves deeply into the myriad ways in which games build lives and skills, and that of course includes its educational applications.


  31. Gameful:

    Hit up Gameful, launched by McGonigal up there, and participate in a community wholly devoted to the game-based learning cause.


  32. Second Avenue Learning:

    Check out what this super cool studio is currently cooking up in the name of furthering the educational gaming cause!


  33. Camilla Elliott:

    Game-based learning discussions understandably cover the classroom for the most part, but the library undoubtedly benefits from these strategies as well.


  34. Cooney Center:

    Part of the Sesame Workshop, the Cooney Center researches the best techniques for bringing digital media to eager young minds, and that includes educational gaming!


  35. Melanie McBride:

    Melanie McBride at Ryerson University specializes in pedagogy and game-based learning, particularly methods to encourage independent and outside-the-classroom studies.


  36. Helen Routledge:

    The instructional design manager at PIXELearning weighs in on both her company’s efforts as well as game-based education in general.


  37. Grid Jumper:

    Open, even sandbox-style, digital environments such as Second Life provide amazing and unexpected educational opportunities for those willing to explore their seemingly boundless potential.


  38. Sean C. Duncan:

    As an assistant professor of Learning Sciences at Indiana University, Sean C. Duncan knows a thing or two about gamifying classrooms, and he shares his research and other relevant information here.


  39. Paul Ladley:

    Gain insight into the design and development side of education games through this blogger and all-around useful edtech guy.


  40. Mary Couzin:

    For the most part, this feed only tweets articles about gaming and education from around the web, with very little personal content. Still, though, it remains a popular resource with a lot of interesting things to share.


  41. Filament Games:

    Education and learning science meets game development, and Filament Games hopes to provide today and tomorrow’s students with


  42. Raul A. Mojica:

    Along with games, this digital media lover also believes math activities and virtual environments such as Second Life serve a grand purpose in the classroom.


  43. J Way:

    Because she works as both a teacher and a librarian, Judith Way definitely knows of different creative ways to utilize gaming in multiple educational settings.


  44. Michelle A. Hoyle:

    Another World of Warcraft devotee eager to share and learn all about how MMOs engage students and teachers alike in an immersive environment.


  45. Digital Play:

    Read up on game-based learning strategies in English language classes in 140 characters or less right here.


  46. Mission V:

    Limerick-based Mission V experiments with gamification in 20 primary-level classrooms, chronicling what works and what doesn’t.


  47. Lisa Dawley:

    Give Lisa Dawley a follow when searching for expert advice and opinions about online education, game-based learning, and other edtech strategies catching on in today’s classrooms.


  48. Lucky Kat TV:

    Educational games and videos are the name of the game at Lucky Kat TV, a great site for kids covering numerous subjects and skills.


  49. Epistemic Games:

    Epistemic Games’ core output involves creating digital strategies to help ease the transition between schooling and the workplace.


  50. Simulation & Gaming:

    While not exclusively about game-based learning, this journal’s online presence frequently peers towards current research and possible futures all the same.


Taken From Online Universities