Groovy Lab in a Box Giveaway | Win a One-Year Subscription

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Win a One-Year Subscription from Groovy Lab in a Box!

groovy lab in a box giveaway

We love a GROOVY giveaway – how about you?

Our friends at Groovy Lab in a Box are hosting a sweepstakes where you can win a one-year subscription (valued at more than $250!) All you have to do is type in your email address, and you are entered.

groovy lab in a box giveaway

Click here to enter to win a one-year subscription from Groovy Lab in a Box!

Groovy Lab in a Box, the award-winning educational kits for kids ages eight and up that teach about science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), recently announced a new partnership with Popular Mechanics.

Each month, they send out a themed box filled with investigations that are fun and hands on. The investigations culminate into an Engineering Design Challenge, where your STEMists must apply what they’ve learned from the investigations (and use their critical thinking skills) to complete the challenge. The boxes containeverything you need to complete all of the activities, including a groovy retro-themed lab notebook. The box activities are supplemented with their Beyond…in a Box web portal where your children will find videos, interactives and additional activities. Head over to Groovy Lab in a Box’s website to learn more about this great service!

Good luck! We hope you win!

Kid Friendly Vacation Spots | In The South

I love living in the South. Mostly because it’s all I’ve ever known. So, I’ve adapted to the area. Now that Haley is older, a fun vacation is a must. Looking for a vacation has changed so much since I’m older now. I’m not looking at the “hottest vacation spots.” I’m looking for places where kids are accepted. Where it’s okay if your 9 month old throws a temper tantrum. I’m looking for kid friendly vacation spots. Plus, since I’m such a Southern girl, being in the south is a must. 

It’s finally Summer here in good ole Georgia. The frizzy hair and sunburned skin is a definite sign of a hot, humid Georgia summer. What better way to cool off in this southern heat than take a family vacation? We all know that vacation is huge in the summer. The kids are out of school. It may be easier for you to take vacation from work. You may be a teacher, so you’re enjoying your summer break, too. No matter what reason you need to “release,” you want to make sure you enjoy your vacation.

I have yet to travel out of the South. I’d like to one day. Because, of course, I know there’s a huge world outside of the Georgia/South Carolina border. We just haven’t had the chance. All of our vacations have consisted of local, southern destinations. Minus visits to places like Gatlinburg, Tennessee. But, let’s face is, that’s still the south.

I visited Gatlinburg often as a child. It was my grandparent’s favorite place to visit. So, we at least made a visit once yearly. But, most of the time it was more like 2-3 trips per year. As I got older, my interest shifted. I wanted to go on vacation with my friends. I wanted to visit “hip” vacation spots. Gatlinburg was not considered “hip.”

As a teenager, and into early adulthood, my friends and I were frequent fliers at places like Tybee Island and Atlanta. Now my family and I are still frequent fliers in Tybee. But, we only visit Atlanta for kid friendly attractions. Not to visit bars or go to concerts. Although we still will travel to Atlanta for a good concert. But, now, we’re frequent fliers in Gatlinburg again, too. Due to their high volume of kid friendly attractions.

It doesn’t matter if you live in the South or if you’re visiting for the summer. If you want acceptance from the people around you when your 9 month old starts screaming, these kid friendly vacation spots are perfect.

kid friendly vacation

Riverbanks Zoo

Riverbanks Zoo is located in Columbia, South Carolina. Our family tries to visit the zoo at least once a year. They recently added a 3 acre children’s garden. We haven’t been able to visit since that addition. But, I heard it has a pretty cool splash pad for the kids.

Of course Riverbanks also offers the sight of a zoo. Plus they even have a “Kangaroo Walk.” Where you can walk along a trail that has Kangaroos on each side of you. These Kangaroos are freely roaming near the trail. It’s pretty neat.

kid friendly vacation

EdVenture Children’s Museum

EdVenture is another great attraction in Columbia. They have tons of exhibits geared towards children. From the “Wags & Whiskers” exhibit to “The Cooking Lab” exhibit. If you want to fuel your kids imagination, EdVenture is the place to do it.

They also let you throw birthday parties there, too. How awesome is that?! I want a birthday party at EdVenture!

kid friendly vacation

Ripley’s Aquarium of The Smokies

Whenever we visit Gatlinburg, Tennessee, we always make sure to visit the aquarium. The aquarium has a ton of displays. A lot of the displays you can even get up close and personal with the under the sea creatures.

Ripley’s Aquarium of The Smokies is also in a great location. It’s within walking distance of a lot of kid friendly attractions in the Gatlinburg area. It’s really a fun attraction for the whole family. We enjoy our trip there every year.

kid friendly vacation

Tybee Island, GA

Tybee Island was a favorite of mine even as a teenager. Nothing has changed as I’ve entered into adulthood. Our family still loves visiting Tybee. Tybee has also had a lot of media exposure lately, too. The beach is the scene in many popular movies. Movies like: “The Last Song”, “Baywatch”, “The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water”, “The Conspirator”, and “Dirty Grandpa.”

It’s your typical beach atmosphere. Tons of beach. So, lots of water and sand time. Souvenir shops, ice cream, and candy.

Keep in mind, party goers still enjoy the Tybee atmosphere. So, more than likely during vacation, you’ll encounter a party goer or two. But, police presence on Tybee is tight. I once got a parking ticket because my meter print out wasn’t on the right side of my dashboard. Yep, they mean business.

Tybee is also close to Savannah. Savannah is a beautiful and historic city. There are so many things to discover on River Street. Including River Street Candy which is to die for! Plus, if your kids are adventurous (and probably older) they’ll love the trolley tours. They host quite a few ghost tours. One of their ghost tours is even in a hearse!

kid friendly vacation

Splash In The ‘Boro

We’ve visited Splash In The ‘Boro a few times. Once when the kids were way younger. Haley had just turned two. Then when Haley was 4. They have an area for the younger kids. It has a shallow water area. A lot of splash pad features. Water shooters. It’s a lot of fun.

The times we have been it wasn’t that crowded. But, I’ve heard it gets pretty crowded some days.

It’s a fun place to visit.

kid friendly vacation

Cherokee, North Carolina

Our family loves visiting Cherokee. But, I’ve also heard it isn’t some peoples cup of tea. Cherokee is an Indian reservation in North Carolina. There’s a lot of history here. There’s a neat museum that covers the Cherokee history as well.

Plus, it’s right by the Great Smoky Mountains. A drive through there is beautiful. Right on the other side of the mountains, too, of course is Gatlinburg.

There’s not many attractions in Cherokee. But, the history there makes it worth a stop. Plus, there’s a lot of neat stores to visit. We like visiting in the winter because of the snow. We don’t get a lot of snow here. So, the beautiful snow topped mountains are to die for. The only downside is when it snows most of the shops shut down. Spring is really the best time to go for the attractions.

kid friendly vacation

These are places we’ve visited with our young kids. We still want to visit the Atlanta Aquarium and Disneyworld. But, we haven’t had the chance, yet. Soon, though. Soon. 

Where’s your favorite vacation travel destination for you and your family? Let me know! Especially if it’s in the south. I’d love to add it to this list.

Keep Your Pets Cool This Summer

I love the summer. Well, aside from the mosquitoes. Oh yea, I’m not a huge fan of the humidity here in Georgia either. Aside from that, I love the summer. I love receiving a good dose of “vitamin sea.” It isn’t just the humans I have to keep hydrated during the summer. I also have to make sure our furry trio is hydrated as well.

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It’s quite humid here in Georgia at the moment. I can’t believe the first day of Summer was only two days ago. I feel like we’ve been stuck on summer for months now. You can definitely tell that summer is here in our household. We have your traditional sticky finger prints from popsicles. Then the added muddy paw prints from the doggy pool outside. It’s a hot one out there ya’ll.

During the summer we like to make sure everyone in the house stays hydrated. That means keeping plenty of water available. Not just for the humans in the house. We also have to make sure our four legged friends have plenty water as well. Did you know that almost 80% of your pets body is made out of water?! Compare that to the 55% – 80% that our body is made out of. We have to make sure those four legged creatures have plenty of water, too.

Thankfully keeping my family hydrated is easy. Everyone is my household loves water. Including my dogs. My dogs and children spend quite a bit of time together in the kiddie pool. Especially our Boston Terrier, Pluto, he loves the water. Pluto often empties the water bowl outside. He just really wants to play in it. He’s a character.

There are some pretty awesome ideas out there. There are also creative ideas to keep your pets cool this summer. Make sure they stay hydrated during these hot summer months.

pets cool this summer

Sweet Summertime: Creative Ways to Keep Your Pet Cool This Summer

Cooling Vest – I’m a huge fan of the Thunder Jacket. So, it shouldn’t surprise you I’d recommend a cooling vest for keeping your pets cool. Even the military uses these vests on their military K9 companions. Most of these cooling vest are lightweight. They also keep the sun away from your pets precious skin. Some also have rechargeable cooling inserts.

 


HyperKewl Evaporative Cooling Dog Coat

Dog Suncreen – You bet’cha they make dogscreen for dogs, too! Dog sun screen is helpful in keeping your dog safe against the harmful rays of the sun as well. Make sure you’re applying sunscreen specifically made for animals.  I can vouch for the product below. We use all their products at the grooming salon I work at. I’ve also personally used their sun protector spray. Great product.

pets cool during summer
Epi-Pet Sun Protector Spray for Pets

Kiddie Pool – Kiddie pools are an excellent way to keep your pet cool. Make sure it’s plastic. We know how sharp those nails can be. Regardless of how often we keep them trimmed. A shallow kiddie pool, that has fresh water provided often, is an excellent way for your pet to cool off.

pets cool during summer
5′ RND Wading Pool

Cooling Mats – If you’re here in hot, humid Georgia, you may even appreciate a cooling mat. Cooling mats are a great way to keep your four legged best friend cool. Their convenient and their a great product to have on hand. Especially if where you live tends to get a little steamy.

pets cool during summer
American Kennel Club AKC Cooling Mat

How do you keep your four legged friends cool during these hot, summer months? Let me know. I’d love to add to this!

Kindergarten: Let’s Get Prepared!

I can’t believe it. My 7lb 2oz baby girl starts kindergarten in just a little over a month! Talk about one nervous mama. I can only imagine how I will feel when she begins middle school. I’ll probably feel seriously nuts when she starts high school. But, maybe it will get easier. Because, I’ll know it’s coming. I’ll know what to expect. Who am I kidding?! I never know what to expect. Especially with kids. 

I’m your typical unprepared human. I’m usually late. I’m never prepared. If I am prepared, I feel like superwoman. I need a cape on those days. I wait until the last minute. I’m a horrible procrastinator. A really bad one. My oldest starts real school in just a little over a month. Would you like to know how prepared I am? I don’t know. Probably about 10%. I only say 10% because I ordered her some school clothes. Yes, this little angel is going to kindergarten.

kindergarten

The thought of kindergarten made a light bulb go off. Yep, the kind you see in cartoons. I just know there was one right over my head. With Haley being in school I have to be prepared. See, she’s been around kids. Mostly family. She has went a few times to daycare. She’s also stayed with a few babysitters. But, her real school exposure is almost nonexistent. Don’t get me wrong. She’s smart. Very smart. But, this is the first time I’ve done this. I know a few people who have younger kids. But, they are still years past kindergarten. Their memories are as bad as mine. When I ask about being prepared, I usually get the same response.

“Girl! I can’t remember that far back. Plus, so much has changed since then.”

Now I’m back to square one. Here I go again on my own. But, in reality, I’m never alone. Because I know that Mr. Google will ALWAYS be there to support me. To have my back. To answer my unanswered questions. Also to scare the crap out of me. To make me think that a sore on my leg is a flesh eating disease. It’s a love/hate relationship if you know what I mean.

Thankfully Google also leads me to legit websites most of the time. Websites like our county board of education. As long as I put in the right search terms. Thankfully they have a supply list posted for each school. This was a lifesaver in its self. I didn’t have to make an extra trip to the school. I didn’t have to wait until Open House. Which is only 3 days before school starts!

I was also directed to many informational blogs and websites. These references gave me list after list of important “what to know’s” about kindergarten. I’m telling ya’ll, bloggers are lifesavers! They do the research. You reap the benefits. Support bloggers! 

So, if you have a little one starting kindergarten, I hope this guide I put together helps you out. It’s been my personal reference for about a week now. It has been a lifesaver. I like to see things wrote out. So, having the information right there in front of me, I can check it off as I go.

kindergarten

Kindergarten Supply List (2016-2017)

Keep in mind: these are the supplies that are listed on the supply list for our local county. Your may be different. But, I’m sure some things are the same.

Composition Books (4)

Elmer’s Glue

Bookbag

No. 2 Pencils (1 box)

Crayons (2 boxes)

1″ Economy Binder With Plastic Front Cover (1)

Glue Sticks (4)

Headphones (1)

Wide-Ruled Lined Paper (1 pack)

Student Scissors (1)

The below items were listed as optional items.

Hand Soap

Hand Sanitizer

Dry Erase Markers

Colored Pencils

Assorted Markers

Construction Paper

Baby Wipes

Disinfectant Wipes

Block Style Erasers

White Copy Paper (1 pack)

I did a little scouring on other websites as well. I found some extra supplies that may be on your kindergarten supply list.

Clean Gym Shoes (leave at school)

Yellow Highlighters

Tissues

Sponges

Ziploc Bags

Lunchbox (if they will not be eating school lunch)

 

 

kindergarten

Documents For Kindergarten Registration

When you register your child for kindergarten, there are a few documents you may need. 

Birth Certificate

Social Security Card

Proof of Immunizations

Proof of Dental and Hearing Exam

Proof of Residency (cable bill, electric bill, etc.)

Your Government Issued ID

I was under the impression I would not have to pre-register Haley for kindergarten. So many people told me I would just do it at open house. I’m glad I checked our local board of education website way before open house. Because, I already missed the early registration. I only had so many days to register her. So, make sure you know when Kindergarten registration for your area is! This should be available on your board of education website. You can also call the school in which your child plans on attending.

kindergarten

Before Kindergarten: Personal Information Your Child Should Know

Remember, each child learns at a different pace. Maybe your child can not remember these things. Maybe your child is like Haley. Haley has the good ole trusty “selective memory.” It doesn’t mean something is wrong. While knowing these things is important, they may not get it right away. They’ll get it eventually. They’ll be graduating college before you know it!

Their First & Last Name

How to adjust their clothing before and after they use the bathroom.

Use the bathroom alone and know to wash their hands after each bathroom trip.

Able to remove, and put on, any outerwear.

 

kindergarten

Before Kindergarten: Social Skills Your Child Should Have

Share with other children.

The ability to participate in group activities.

Able to handle problems, or conflict, without becoming aggressive and/or physical.

Know the boundaries of certain interactions (touching, kicking, etc.)

kindergarten

Before Kindergarten: Personality Skills Your Child Should Have

Able to follow a routine.

Asks for help when there is a problem.

Be able to listen to a story for 10-15 minutes.

Clean up messes they make.

Able to follow directions that have 2-3 steps.

Speaks clearly without having to point out clues to what they’re saying.

kindergarten

 

Before Kindergarten: Reading & Writing Skills

Enjoys having story read to them and shows interest in the stories.

Can listen to a story and then tell you what happened during the story.

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Veterinary Terminology | Let’s Decode It!

Here’s the scenario: You’re at the vets office. It’s time for little Fido’s annual shots, first shots, or whatever. The vet comes in. He/she starts examining cute little Fido. Then the vet starts sprouting out a foreign language. DA2PP? Boardetella? ANAL SACS?! It was like deja vu. You felt like you were at your own doctor. Not understanding what the heck the vet was talking about. Of course, if you’re like me – you’ll break out Google. Then your expert level will like gain 900XP! Veterinary terminology may sound confusing. But, in reality, it all can be broken down.

Before I worked at a veterinarian office, I was clueless. Sure, I loved animals. I had other pet industry gigs prior to that. I knew when they were fat, sick, or old. Sure, I felt like I was at expert level. That was until I began as a kennel technician at a local vet clinic. I was introduced to veterinary terminology. I was exposed right away. I sort of felt like I was on the set of the movie “Outbreak.” I felt taken over by the power of veterinarian medicine. There is SO much to learn. It’s insane. My brain was on overload. Who am I kidding?! It is STILL on overload.

There are medical terms for our common colds. I mean come on. What do doctors call strep throat? They call it Streptococcal pharyngitis. Yep. So, why would there be an exception to our furry family members? There isn’t. Somehow I believe there is a technical term for all words.

I love sharing everything with all of ya’ll who read my blog. So, now I want to share my brain overload with you. Get ready for brain overload in…

3.. 2. 1..

veterinary terminology

Common Veterinary Terminology

Vaccines | There are core and non-core vaccinations. Core vaccinations are vaccines that are usually recommended for all pets. While non-core vaccinations are recommended based on the lifestyle of your pet.

Rabies | Core Vaccine | Rabies is a disease that can impact you and your pet. There is no treatment for cats with rabies. Most areas laws require that all pets have updated rabies vaccines.

Distemper  | Core Vaccine | Panleukopenia is the technical term for feline distemper. Feline distemper is a very contagious disease. Cats aren’t the only ones who can get distemper, though. Dogs can also get distemper. It can be just as deadly to them as well.

Herpesvirus | Core Vaccine | This is another recommend vaccine. It can cause a very dangerous upper respiratory problem. It’s also very contagious.

Callicivirus | Core Vaccine | Callicivirus is another very contagious upper respiratory disease. It also may cause joint pain in cats as well.

Feline Leukemia Virus | Non-core Vaccine | The Feline Leukeia Virus, also known as FeLV, is very contagious in cats as well. It’s also known to cause cancer. After an initial test is done to see if your cat has the virus, the vaccine isn’t usually recommended, unless the cats whereabouts are unknown. It may also be recommended if your cat spends time outside.

Bordetella | Non-core Vaccine | Ever heard the term kennel cough? Well, Bordetella is the fancy word for kennel cough. Kennel cough is usually seen mostly where there are animals housed close together. Such as, well, kennels. It’s an upper respiratory condition as well. It’s also very contagious. You’ll often hear about kennel cough outbreaks.

Leptospirosis | Non-core Vaccine | Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection. It can harm different organs of your pets body. Thankfully, Leptospirosis isn’t found everywhere. If it isn’t present where you live, it may not be recommended.

Lyme Disease | Non-Core Vaccine | I’m sure you’ve heard of the dreaded Lyme Disease. You may have thought you had it at one time. Pesky ticks spread the disease. But, thankfully, it also isn’t seen everywhere. Check to see if it’s present where you live and ask your vet on their recommendation for receiving it.

Coronavirus | Non-core Vaccine | The Coronavirus is a viral disease. The most common symptom seen with the coronavirus is diarrhea. Since the coronavirus doesn’t pose a huge threat, it may not be recommended. But, as always, consult with a veterinarian.

Giardia | Non-core Vaccine | The Giardia vaccine isn’t usually recommended. Mainly because it doesn’t protect against the infection of Giardia.

Canine Influenza Virus | Non-core Vaccine | The Canine Influenza Virus, also known as CIV, has became very prominent here lately. Mostly being seen in places like boarding facilities, grooming salons, etc. Most places you take your dog may require that this vaccine is current due to the recent outbreaks. But, it’s best to discuss this with a veterinarian.

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus | Non-core Vaccine | Also known as FIV. Usually recommended for cats who explore or live outside. It is also a viral infection.

Feline Infectious Peritonitis | Non-core Vaccine | Commonly known as FIP. Another viral infection. Most of the time it is fatal. Not common in cats who are primarily indoors. FIP is seen more commonly in feral colonies.

It’s common for places to carry combo vaccines. These vaccines are a mixture of different vaccines. It still delivers what’s needed. It’s just in one syringe instead of having to poke your fur babies a gazillion time. There are also nice abbreviations for the combo vaccinations.

Decoding Combo Vaccines

DHPP | DHPP is a combo vaccine. It stands for: (D)istemper (H)epatitis (P)arainfluenza (P)arvovirs

DHLPP | DHLPP is a combo of also distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza, and the parvovirus. It also includes Leptospirosis.

DA2PP | DA2PP is a combo vaccine. It also includes distemper, parainfluenza, and parvovirus. As an addition, it includes the canine adenovirus-2 as well.

DHPPV | The DHPPV includes distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza, and parvovirus.

FVRCP | FVRCP is a combo vaccine for cats. It stands for: (F)eline (V)iral (R)hinotracheitis (C)alicivirus (P)anleukopenia.

FVRCP-C | FVRCP-C is a combo vaccine for cats that includes the feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, and panelukopenia as well. But, as an addition, it also includes the vaccine for Chlamydia.

Test Results | Sometimes when you get a receipt from the vet that involved tests, there may be a lot of veterinary terminology on it. It would take me forever to count how many times clients called after getting their receipts. Wondering what something was that was listed on their receipt.

Fecal Exam | I think the name gives it away. It’s a test that’s performed by collecting some of your pets poop. It’s mixed with a solution and then observed under a microscope. Fecal exams are usually performed to check for parasites (worms). Fecal exams can also be done to check for the parvovirus.

U/A / Urinalysis / Urine Sample | Urine samples are often collected to check for urinary tract infections (UTIs), Some are done at the vet clinic. Others may have to be sent off to a laboratory for further investigation. A urinalysis checks many different factors of your pets urine.

BW / Bloodwork | Bloodwork may be done by individual tests. Or bloodwork may be done by “panels.” These panels may include many different factors in one test. Some vets can run bloodwork at their clinic. Some bloodwork may need to be sent off to a laboratory. Bloodwork is usually done by request or by veterinarian recommendation. Many veterinarians recommend yearly bloodwork for senior pets (7+ years old). Bloodwork is usually recommended prior to surgery as well. It also is helpful when determining why a pet is ill.

Eye Pressure Exam | An eye pressure exam is usually performed when glaucoma is suspected.

Schirmer Tear Test | This test measures how much tears your pets eyes are producing. Important in diagnosing dry eye. Dry eye can really irritate an eye.

Fluorescein Corneal Stain | If it is suspected there’s a laceration or cornea on a pets eye, this test may be performed.

Electroretinography (ERG) | The ERG tests that that retina is working the way it should.

Heartworm Testing | Heartworm tests, or HW tests, are tests where a small amount of blood is collected from your pet. It checks for heartworms, a roundworm parasite. Despite the name, these do not actually live in the heart. Heartwormsare found in the lungs. Heartworms can be life threatening. Their cheaper to prevent than to treat. Treatment can be expensive. All it takes is one mosquito bite from a mosquito that carries the heartworm disease. Dirofilaria immitis is the more complicated name for heartworms.

FeLV/FIV Combo Test | This combo test is performed on cats. It is used to detect if the cat has the Feline Leukemia Virus and/or the Feline Immunodeficiency Virus.

Parvovirus Test | The parvovirus test is usually performed on dogs who experience lethargy, sleepiness, severe vomiting, and severe diarrhea. The parvovirus may be treatable with continuous care. It’s also very contagious and can live outside for 7 years.

Cytology / Cytology Specimen / Smear / Cytosmear | These test usually consist of collecting some sort of sample from your pet. This could be a tissue sample, a sample of any body discharge, fluid, etc. It’s used to study the cells in that specific sample. Cytology test can be used to test for certain types of cancers. It can be used to detect diseases that may be pre-cancerous as well. It also may be used to help determine infectious diseases and other conditions as well.

Surgery Veterinary Terminology

Castration / Spay / Neuter | These are surgeries performed to remove your male pets “boy parts” and your female pets “girl parts.”

Dental Cleaning | A dental cleaning is a procedure where a vet deep cleans a pets teeth. It may also involve tooth extractions, plaque removal, etc.

Common Veterinary Terminology Abbreviations

WNL | “Within Normal Limits” is used when nothing out of the ordinary is found. Which is a good thing. Often seem on bloodwork results.

Tx | “Treatment.” Tx is the treatment plan the veterinarian intends to use.

SOAP: Soap stands for: (S)ubjective (O)bjective (A)ssessment (P)lan. This is pretty much a way for the vet to organize what’s going on and the plan to fix it. The subjective is the problem, the objective is the result you want but you’re not getting, the assessment is the examination, tests, etc. to determine the problem, and plan is what treatment will be done to help eliminate the problem.

TPR | TPR stands for: (T)emperature (P)ulse (R)espiration. This may be seen during monitoring during surgery.

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DIY Baby Sensory Bin For $5!

I didn’t partake in the Pinterest trend until around 2013. Needless to say, I didn’t use it with my daughter. She was born in 2011. I wish I would have. But, now I have my second chance. So, I usually do my Pinterest browsing in the morning. While browsing one morning, I came across baby activity ideas. This was great. Especially with a newborn in the house. There are so many DIY sensory bin ideas out there. So, I decided to combine the sensory bin concept with my own twist. Introducing my DIY Baby Sensory Bin I put together for $5!

My son Dray isn’t as active as most babies his age. He’s 8.5 months old. But, he has no desire to crawl. He’ll sit up for a good while. But, crawling is out of the question. He also doesn’t pull up yet either. He just doesn’t seem interested quite yet. He’s not much of an “explorer.” But, I still wanted a way to heighten his senses. I wanted to give him the chance to explore. Babies need sensory stimulation. They need to experience feel.

I’m pretty thankful for the numerous Pinterest boards out there. Especially the ones dedicated to this thing called “parenthood.” One morning I was doing my usual Pinterest browsing routine. I came across a board dedicated to baby activities. There were several baby sensory projects. Some of them were sensory bottles. Some of them were outside play. The choices were endless. The baby sensory bins caught my eye. I knew this was something I wanted to try.

So, today, my daughter and I took a spur of the moment trip. We went to the Dollar General across the street and picked up a few supplies. I really wanted to create this sensory bin for Dray. Plus I knew Haley would be interested in helping. She’s such an intelligent 4 year old. She’s also an awesome big sister. She’s so good with Dray. She just wants to make him happy.

We bought our supplies. Then we headed home to begin our project. I unwrapped all our supplies. Haley helped me spread them throughout the bin. I poked tiny holes in the side of the plastic bin. In no particular order. These were to pull the pipe cleaners through. I made the holes with a standard steak cutting knife. Which obviously Haley didn’t help with. I made them small enough that the pipe cleaner didn’t fall out. But, I made them large enough so the pipe cleaner can easily navigate in and out of the hole. The purpose of this is so that Dray can pull the pipe cleaner in and out. Giving him the feeling of the friction between his fingers.

My total expenses for supplies was $5.00 + tax. The total project time was about 10 minutes. He loves this little sensory bin. I plan on using my Cricut machine and personalizing it more. I see many more sensory bins in his future.

diy baby sensory bin

Keep in mind: my sensory bin isn’t as elaborate as others. Some of the things I used, you may want to substitute. Honestly, you may have these things already available to you. While I like to idea of adding colorful elbow macaroni and cheerios, Dray isn’t quite there with the chewing thing, But, he is there with the whole putting things in your mouth thing. So, while colorful elbow macaroni is awesome, it’s so small, he’d choke. So, I had to do some substituting. Regardless of my substitution, he loves this sensory bin!

sensory bindiy baby sensory bin

Here’s our sensory bin. Sorry for how blurry it is. Gotta love a smartphone! 😉

Supplies

46ct Assorted Chenille Stems (aka pipe cleaners): $1.00

80ct Assorted Multicolor Craft Large Pom-Poms: $1.00

1 Clear 13.75×8.125×4.25-in Storage Bin: $1.00

1 Plastic Toy Tug Boat: $1.00

1 Plastic Orange Toy Snake: $1.00

diy baby sensory binsensory bin

I already had the yellow rubber ball on hand. They also have these at the dollar store. They are $1.00/ea as well. This DIY baby sensory bin isn’t just affordable. It’s simple. Plus, babies love it. My 4.5 year old daughter even involved herself in the play! She loves the idea of this DIY baby sensory bin.

DIY Baby Sensory Bin

Steps

Using a utility knife, or you can even use a drill, make about 7 small random holes on different sides of the plastic bin. Make the holes small enough that the chenille stem (pipe cleaner) won’t just fall out. But, large enough that the chenille stem is easily moved in and out of the hole.

Take 7 pipe cleaners and wrap the pipe cleaner around one of your fingers several times.

diy baby sensory bin

After the piper cleaner is swirled around your finger, pull it slowly off your finger at the end. This will give it the “bouncy” effect.

diy baby sensory bin

Insert the end tip of each chenille stem into separate holes. Allowing some of the stem to hang out the end that is towards the inside of the box.

Insert the larger toys into the box. For example, I put the Tug Boat and Snake in first.

Spread the large Pom-Poms throughout the bin.

Using the pipe cleaners, take 10 of them and shape them like a circle, Bending the ends together. They will look like a bracelet. Place these throughout the bin.

Using the remaining chenille stems, swirl a few. Add them throughout the bin. You can swirl the remaining stems. You can also place them as they are throughout the bin. Whatever you prefer.

Let your baby enjoy the different textures of everything added in the bin!

diy baby sensory bin diy baby sensory bin diy baby sensory bin diy baby sensory bin

As you can tell, our little dude is love his new sensory box! Can’t you tell?!

But, that’s not all. Even big sister got in on the action!

diy baby sensory bin

This simple, yet fun sensory bin was used for hours today. Now, like I said, I do plan on personalizing it more with the help of my Cricut machine. But, for now, they’re loving it. Plus, it’s awesome to see them play together. Let me know what your favorite DIY project is for your kids. I’d love to try it out with my two little rugrats!

Orlando Survivors Comforted By Golden Retrievers

I am #OrlandoStrong for the Orlando survivors, families, and victims. June 12, 2016 is a date that is now etched into not just Americans minds. It’s also a date that will be remembered around the world. This day made history as one the largest mass killing in the United States. Regardless of where you are, I’m sure you’re aware of the incident at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida. A claimed “terrorist attack.” There were 50 casualties. There were 53 injuries. A few Golden Retrievers from Chicago are bringing smiles to the Orlando survivors. Just as I am, these dogs are also #OrlandoStrong

I’m a social media freak. When I wake up in the morning, I check Facebook first. I normally don’t look at what’s trending. Just browse through my news feed. If I have enough time, I hop on Twitter. If anything is going on the world, I see it first on Twitter. Mainly because the trending hashtags are right there, in your face. So, when I logged into Twitter on 6.12.16 and saw #Orlando and #PulseNightClubShooting trending, I had to look. My heart sunk for not only Orlando. My heart sunk for all of America.

If you haven’t heard of the Pulse Nightclub shooting, I’ll give you a summary. At around 2:00AM EST, on June 12, 2016, Pulse Nightclub, in Orlando, Florida was the scene of the worst mass killing ever reported in the United States. Pulse Nightclub is a popular LGBT nightclub. The shooter has been identified as 29-year-old Omar Mateen. Allegedly, during the attack, Mateen contacted 911 and reported his commitment to ISIS. His attacked claimed the lives of 50 individuals. His attack injured 53 individuals.

Mateen was a US citizen. He was married, divorced once, and has a beautiful daughter. It is believed that the US government had their eyes on Mateen for years prior. But, nothing ever came of it. Both of his parents are Afghanistan citizens. It was later revealed that Mateen posted on Facebook warning of attacks. It was also reported that Mateen may have scoped out Disneyworld prior to the Pulse Nightclub attack. His wife may also be charged in the attack. Due to text messages found after the attacks.

Mateen apparently became outraged when he saw two men kissing. This was allegedly stated by his father to several news outlets. Also reported is that he may have been gay. This was reported by numerous people. Including Orlando victims of the Pulse Nightclub attack. This was also reported by his ex-wife. Several survivors of the attack claimed they chatted with him on LGBT apps.

It’s a horrible thought that this happened here. It’s sad. It’s disturbing. It is amazing how many people have came together. People worldwide have came together. They’re donating to the Orlando survivors. They’re visiting the survivors. In just a few short days a GoFund me campaign broke a record. In four days, the campaign surpassed $5,000,000 dollars. With donors from over 105 countries. Orlando is receiving love worldwide.

The world isn’t the only thing that is #OrlandoStrong. A few Golden Retrievers surpassed their titles. We all know Golden Retrievers are great dogs. Fun, affectionate. They are often used as service dogs. With the right training, they are brilliant. They are a true people pleaser. No wonder they brought light to the lives of several Orlando victims.

orlando survivors

According to Fox News, the Golden Retrievers were “deployed” by a Chicago based Christian organization. The organization is known as K-9 Comfort. Eleven Golden Retrievers were deployed to comfort the Orlando survivors. They also comforted the first responders. K-9 Comfort also comforted survivors from past incidents. They were on the scene after the Sandy Hook massacre. They were also deployed after the Boston Marathon bombing.

It’s a fact that blood pressure may dropped in the presence of a dog. There’s no doubt in my mind this is true. They are beautiful, intelligent creatures. I think it’s an amazing thing what K-9 Comfort is doing. Make sure to check them out on Facebook here.

I hope you’ll remain not just #OrlandoStrong with me. I hope we can #AllUnite.

To those impacted by the Orlando attack, know my family is behind you. My family prays for you. My family is #OrlandoStrong. Never give up. There’s not just a nation behind you. The world is behind you. We support you. We love you.

We are #OrlandoStrong.

My Kids are More Important

Originally I was going to name this post: “Why My Kids are More Important Than You.” But, I’m not a blunt person. That’s a blunt statement. While it may be true, it’s just not my writing style. Regardless how many extra blog views I would have received. This isn’t a knock down of parents who enjoy “me” time. Believe me, I enjoy “me” time, too. This is more of an explanation. An explanation to those who just don’t “get it.” 

Before I was a parent, I just didn’t get kids. Why did they always want to touch me? Why did they always talk to me? Was it because I was as short as them? Did they think I was a kid, too?! Regardless, they freaked me out a little. As a parent, that’s a hard thing to admit. As parents were expected to meet some pretty hefty “standards.”

In all honesty, I’m over those imaginary “standards.” I like to consider myself an “adaptive parent.” My parenting skills adapt to my mood. One week I feel like supermom. I’m cooking healthy, vegan meals for the whole family before 5 pm. Let’s invite the neighbors over to eat, too. I made enough to feed an army! The next day I’m praying the kids won’t speak to me. Praying the pizza guy can still deliver still. Because, of course, it’s so late now I’m too tired to cook. Where’s a beer?

I’m not perfect. I have a lot of flaws. I’m not afraid to admit to them. I’m an open book. Your kid screaming in WalMart because you can’t buy him that $200 Power Wheels? I’m not looking. I’m not judging. Kids are unpredictable. Don’t be embarrassed, mama. It’s life. Kids love to try us at the most unexpected moments. Kids also love to make our hormones go into a rage. Especially when we think about our butterballs growing up.

Five seconds ago you were praying they’d fall asleep. Now you’re curled up in bed. You’re bawling like a little baby. Because, well, you just realized something. They aren’t going to want to be around you forever. One day you may feel like them. Awake, in a dark room, staring at a ceiling. Feeling lonely because the one person you want by your side won’t be there. Yep, that sucks, doesn’t it?

My kids are my little sidekicks. I’m with them almost every day. We do everything together. But, I’m human, I need a break sometimes, too. My two kids are awesome little individuals. But, they’re 4 1/2 and 8 months old. You can only answer a 4 year old’s 400+ questions a day so much before you feel a bit insane. You can only give undivided time so much before you’re questioning your whole life.

I’m all for “me” time. How can you care for someone else if you can’t care for yourself? How can you properly be involved if you’re only emotions are either: stressed, mad, hungry, and confused. You need time to recharge.

I’ve always enjoyed working. Plus, who doesn’t like making money? I enjoy going out with friends. Bonding time is always a good time. But, I also have to make sure my kids needs come first. Not because I’m one of those cliche people. When you have kids, well, you have a responsibility. You have to make sure they’re cared for. Because, let’s be real, if you don’t, you’ll go to jail. I don’t know about you but, I don’t think I’d do well in jail.

As parents we have that harsh reality. You will get reported for anything. They will handcuff for you these things. You could possibly lose your children over these things. Think people are worried about your parenting skills now? Imagine their opinions if you’re in handcuffs.

I want my little monsters to turn into valuable people. I want people to look up to them. I want them to be independent. So, of course I believe in teaching them lessons. But, as children, they need someone to teach them how to be that person. They don’t just come in the world with a brain filled will pre-knowledge. You once couldn’t use a fork. Someone taught you how. We have to teach them. They’ll get hurt in the process. You’ll cry during the process. But, it’s life. It happens.

I’m not being rude when I say my kids are more important than you. Although that may be a rude way to express it. I’m not saying that I have them wrapped in bubble wrap trapped in my closet. Although some days that may seem like a good idea. I’m saying that I have a promise to uphold. A promise to teach them. A promise to care for them. A promise to make sure they are protected.

So, to all the people I’m sure I’ve insulted. The people I’ve blown off for my kids. Here’s my explanation. My explanation why my kids are, well, more important than you.

my kids

Why My Kids Are More Important Than You

My past + possible future bosses: We all know this scenario. You have to work. You just called out last week because your daughter decided that catching the flu would be a good idea. You know, a better idea than sitting in front of a desk for 10 hours. Then, BAM, out of nowhere.. she decides to bust her front lip open. You told her those shoes were too big. You told her to stop running. But, what do you know?! You’ve only been on this earth 20+ more years than her.

Now, you’re already late. She’s crying. It’s pouring blood. She needs to go to the ER. You’re going to get fired. All these thoughts run through your head. So, what do you do? If you take her to school, daycare, or whatever in this condition they’ll call the authorities. So, you do what you have to. You call your boss. You take her to the ER.

Not everyone is lucky enough to have that family backup member. We’re all just struggling to get by.

I’m sorry I have to take a few hours off to register them for school. I’m sorry registration is at a certain time. But, if they don’t go to school, I go to jail. Sure, I could ask them to reschedule registration for everyone just for me. I don’t see that going well, though.

This scenario could go one of two ways. Your boss could be understanding. They could tell you to take care of your daughter. That work can wait. Or they could talk about you behind your back. Talk about how you’re a liar because of all your “bad luck.” They could fire you. They could throw everything up under the sun you’ve done in the past 6 months.

What if your boss isn’t so understanding? Well, a few things could happen.

Listen up all the “be here or be dead” bosses out there. If we don’t take care of our kids, this is what could happen.

Can’t pick up your child because your boss will fire you? You may look good in orange. You not showing up to pick up your sick or injured kid isn’t a good look. It also doesn’t look good to the authorities. So, bosses, before you threaten your employees, or fire them, for caring for their kids, think about this. If the authorities are called your employee is going to need more time off. Because, getting out of jail isn’t an “instant” thing. Even if they don’t go to jail, if authorities are contacted, missed time could still happen. Because, then your employee may have to go to court or other legal type meetings.

Believe it, most of us would rather be at work than at the doctor with a screaming child. We don’t enjoy seeing our kids sick. That’s just what happens. They get sick. They’re little people. We don’t look good in orange!

The best case scenario would be that nothing happens. But, I don’t see many people too happy about a sick child whose health may be neglected.

To my past, present, + future friends: I really want to go to the movies with you. Believe me, I NEED that drink you want to go get. But, things happen. Kids get sick. Baby sitters, day cares, and schools don’t want or need sick kids. Because, well, then they end up with 50 sick kids. Have you ever hung out with a sick kid? It’s not fun. I promise I’d rather be at the movies with you.

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It’s Alzheimer’s + Brain Awareness Month

June is Alzheimer’s + Brain Awareness Month. Alzheimer’s is a disease that doesn’t just impact the person who has it. It can also impact the person’s family as well. It can be scary. It can be heartbreaking. Like most brain conditions, it isn’t fun. I have went through it with three family members. Still experiencing with one of those family members. 

My grandparents pretty much raised me. My mom worked a lot when I was younger. She passed away when I was 15. So, my grandparents became my guardians. They experienced everything with me. Graduation, college, my first car, my first job, my first house. Everything. Losing both of them has changed my world. But, their legacy will forever live on. My grandma suffered from Alzheimer’s. My granddaddy had cancer. But, developed a brain condition towards the end. It was never confirmed to be Alzheimer’s. But, it was like a replay of my grandma. I suppose I’ll never know.

My aunt helped me a lot during high school. I lived with her most of my high school career. She battled breast cancer. She defeated it like a boss. She still battles with diabetes. Now she is battling with Alzheimer’s. I’d say Alzheimer’s was genetic. But, they adopted her from Japan in the 50’s. So, I wonder if environmental conditions may cause it. I’m no doctor though. Watching her go through it is just as tough. I wish this disease could be stopped dead in its tracks.

My grandma was probably the worst case of Alzheimer’s. She forgot who I was. She thought I was her nurse. She thought she was married to my husband at the time. She forgot how to eat. She forgot how to drink. It was sad. She suffered with it for almost 7 years. We lost her November 1, 2008.

My granddaddy was an army vet. He had three things he loved. God, his country, and his family. He was very strict. He remembered everything. Sometimes he thought he might forget something. So, he wrote everything down. The memory loss began during his battle with cancer. It happened at the end of the battle. He forgot who I was. Forgot how to eat. I always suspected Alzheimer’s. They never diagnosed it as Alzheimer’s.

You must be wondering what Alzheimer’s + Brain Awareness Month has to do with pets. Well, pets can get brain diseases as well. It isn’t just humans. Alzheimer’s is a close subject to my heart. June is Alzheimer’s + Brain Awareness Month. What better way to support it than with some info on brain diseases in pets?

alzheimer's

 

June is Alzheimer’s + Brain Awareness Month!

Humans aren’t the only ones who suffer from brain diseases. Our favorite other family members can as well. Yep, our pets can suffer from brain diseases. Caring for a pet with a brain disorder can be challenging. It is possible though. You have extend compassion. You have to have patience. Some pets may need surgery. Others may need lifelongmedications. While others may benefit from different types of therapies. Then some just need a comfy place to lay their heads.

Here are different brain diseases pets can suffer from. Do you suspect your pet is suffering from a brain disease? Contacta veterinarian as soon as possible. There may be an underlying cause. This needs to be examined.

Brain Diseases In Pets

Cerebellar Degeneration (Dogs): Cerebellar Degeneration is a brain disease that impacts dogs. It affects the cerebellum of the brain. Dog’s who suffer with Cerebellar Degeneration may have a head tilt. They may also sway and/or have muscle tremors. It is believed that this disease is caused by the canine herpesvirus. It is also believed that it may be genetic for certain breeds.

Breeds that may have a genetic disposition for Cerebellar Degeneration include:

Terriers (Wire-Haired Fox, Kerry Blue, and American Staffordshire)

Chow Chow

English Bulldogs

Collies (Rough Coated + Border)

Irish Setters

Labrador Retrievers

English Pointers

Brittany Spaniels

Neoplastic Disease: Neoplastic Disease is often seen in cats. It is normally caused by a tumor. This tumor is called a meningioma. Thankfully, they are removable. Neoplastic Disease is more common in older cats.

Epilepsy: Epilepsy can target any animal. It’s just like human epilepsy. The pet could have a major seizure. While others may just stare into space. Epilepsy may be treated with supportive care and/or with medications. Sometimes surgery may be performed as well.

Epilepsy is commonly seen in dog breeds such as:

Miniature Schnauzers

Terriers (Yorkshire, Cairn, Maltese)

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Dog Friendly Beaches | Sweet Summertime

Summer is finally here. School’s out. The sun is out. The water is warm. Many of us are gearing up for vacation. How many of ya’ll will be visiting the beach? I know it’s In our plans. But, what about Fido? Maybe he’d like to sip a margarita. Put his paws in the sand. (Totally kidding about the margarita. Alcohol is a no-no for dogs!) Thankfully, there are plenty dog friendly beaches.

Every summer we look forward to at least one vacation. It usually involves sand, water, and sunburns. Yep, the beach. Although last year we went to Gatlinburg, TN. Mainly because I was 8 months pregnant. Nope, couldn’t do the whole bathing suite thing. The beach we visit isn’t dog friendly. But, it’s the closest. And, for right now, we can’t do the whole travel too far thing. So, we stick to close. We just have someone we trust come in and let them out, feed them, etc. But, the beach you visit may be dog friendly! Or there may be another alternative near by.

So, my dream vacation would include the beach. The beach, a margarita, my family, and my two grumpy dogs. Sun shining. Toes, or paws, in the sand. Let me add, I’m pretty allergic to seafood. But, I love me some shrimp. So, yeah, wevisit a few seafood restaurants when we’re on vacation time. We’ve never rented a beach house. We always stay in a hotel. Constantly checking on our fur children back home.

It’s 5 o’clock somewhere. I’m ready for beach time. Whose with me?! If you’re ready, and ready to bring Fido along, check out these awesome dog friendly beaches. Maybe there is one near you!

dogs and kids beaches

Dog Friendly Beaches

Dip Your Paws Into The Water at These Dog Friendly Beaches

dog friendly beaches

Huntington Island State Park, Beaufort, SC

Huntington Island State Park is 16 miles from Beaufort. Beaufort is a historic area of South Carolina. It’s a 5,000 acre park. The beach coast goes for 3 miles. You can also let your dog dip his toes in the sand as well. As long as their on a leash. They must have a 6′ length leash attached to them. Huntington Island State Park is not just a dog friendly beach. You can also enjoy the lighthouse. Do you enjoy fishing? This would be a great spot to do that. You can also enjoy crabbing.

dog friendly beaches

Fort De Soto Park Paw Playground, Tierra Verde, Florida

The Park Paw Playground is part of the award winning dog friendly beaches family. It’s located within the Fort De Soto Park. This park is in beautiful Tierra Verde, Florida. If you think of dog friendly beaches, this should come to mind. Park Paw Playground is pretty much a beachy dog park! There’s a designated area for dogs to run without leashes. There’s also two separate fenced in areas for dogs. They’re separated for small and big dogs. There’s so much to do at the Fort De Soto Park as well. You can enjoy 3 miles of beautiful sandy beach. White sandy beach. That’s something worth tweeting about. There’s also a huge campsite. Camping under the stars + the beach = winning family summer vacay.

dog friendly beaches

Dog Beach, Ocean Beach, California

Another popular choice among dog friendly beaches. Dog Beach is located in San Diego, California. This beach has literally went to the dogs. All breeds and sizes are welcomed. Plus, you don’t need a leash! This beach is perfect if you’re a social butterfly. There’s often 100+ dogs on the beach daily. They visit at all times of the day! This is like doggie beach heaven. They can definitely live like someone left the gate open here.

dog friendly beaches

Pacific City, Oregon

 

Pacific City is a great getaway for a relaxing vacation. You won’t find all the hustle and bustle here. You can enjoy all things beach life in Pacific City. Plus, horses are welcomed as well! Who wouldn’t love a horseback ride on the beach?! I know I would.

dog friendly beachesMontrose Dog Beach – Chicago, Illinois

Another great dog friendly beach. It has literally gone to the dogs. Montrose Dog Beach is located in Chicago, Illinois. It’s a dog friendly + off leash beach. You can find out more about MonDog here.

A great website to see a ton of pet friendly travel destinations is BringFido.Com. I would recommend them if you’re looking for vacation time with your pet.

After all these beach pictures, who is ready for sweet summertime now?! I know I am. Are you traveling anywhere this summer? Are you taking your pet(s) with you? I’d love to hear your ideal pet friendly vacation spots!