All posts by Libby

About Libby

Write. Create. Educate. Meditate.

holiday

Holiday Cards from Purple Trail Bring Joy

It’s that time again, when we start to think about sending Holiday cards out to our loved ones and friends. I am one of those  who will never resort to sending e-cards, posting on Facebook, or dropping this tradition all together. People love getting mail. And I love sending it.

After a few minutes on PurpleTrail.com, there are already a few characteristics that stand out over other sites like this:

  • innovative designs and shapes
  • unique color themes
  • large selection
  • affordable prices
  • and since my favorite color is purple, they had me at their name 😉

The process looks simple and fun. You can narrow down your choices with categories like Family, Pet, Vintage, Accordion, and Trifold. You can create your own design from scratch or use one of theirs. I predict that my online card design company will change this year.

Here are some of my favorite holiday cards designs:

holiday holiday holiday holiday

 

 

 

5 ways sleep

5 Ways Sleep Helps Your Child Learn and Grow

Please welcome Guest Contributor from Tuck Sleep,  Sara Westgreen, with this important information for parents:

5 Ways Sleep Helps Your Child Learn and Grow

A good night’s sleep is just as important as eating a nutritious diet.

However, most kids between the age of five and 12 need 10 or 11 hours of sleep a night but only get about 9 1/2 hours. There are a lot of reasons that your child needs to get a good night’s sleep, and here are five of them.

Kids Grow Overnight

Kids do most of their growing overnight, thanks to the growth hormone that is secreted during deep sleep.

The more deep sleep that your child gets, the better they will grow in the long term. They won’t grow to be a giant if they are sleeping more than usual, but they will grow to the height that they are designed to be as long as all of the other factors are there.

 

Grows Proteins to Fight Germs

It’s no surprise that when you don’t sleep well, you are more likely to get sick. That is because the human body produces a type of protein called cytokines while we sleep. Cytokines fight infection, stress, and illness, and also make us tired to help us heal.

The more sleep that the human body gets, the healthier a number of cytokines their body produces. Since kids are constantly in contact with other humans at school and at home, this is especially important for them.

Less Clumsy

If your child is particularly clumsy or impulsive, it might be because they are not getting enough sleep every night.

Kids who do not get enough sleep regularly are far more likely to be injured badly enough to need medical attention compared to their well-rested agemates.

Increased Attention & Better Mood

A child who has slept well is going to be much more pleasant to be around than one who has not. They are also more likely to pay better attention and store better memories, thanks to their time spent asleep.

This is the reason that sleep testing is an important part of being tested for attention deficit hyperactive disorder.

Adding an additional 27 minutes of sleep per night could be the key to helping your child be more attentive and pleasant for everyone else to deal with in the long term.

Be More Creative

REM sleep encourages creativity by making it significantly easier for our brains to solve problems creatively and find previously unrecognized links between things that we already know.

REM sleep is the deepest level of sleep that our brain falls into and is essential to feeling rested in the morning. If your child is struggling to fall into REM sleep, you might want to try offering a white noise machine to them see if that will help them sleep more deeply and wake up less often in the middle of the night.

If your child is struggling in school and struggling to sleep, you should definitely talk to a pediatrician to see if there is a different medical reason for the sleep trouble, and to find possible solutions for this problem.

5 ways sleep

Sara Westgreen is a researcher for the sleep science hub Tuck.com. She sleeps on a king size bed in Texas, where she defends her territory against cats all night. A mother of three, she enjoys beer, board games, and getting as much sleep as she can get her hands on.

motherhood

Motherhood to Menopause

When going from motherhood to menopause, one might experience a few life-changing adjustments. And not only did I go quickly from motherhood to menopause within a few short years, but I became a mother with the use of IVF hormone treatments, so put that in the mix, and stand back!

I became a mother for the first and last time at the age of 44 using IVF with a donor egg.  All sorts of things happened to my body before, during, and after pregnancy, that, even almost seven years later, are still wreaking havoc:

  • anxiety/depression
  • Placenta Previa
  • Postpartum Depression
  • severe anemia (lost half of my blood volume following my C-section)
  • weight loss (lost 30 pounds immediately following birth…it was mostly fluid)
  • weight gain
  • abnormal/heavy periods
  • hot flashes
  • night sweats
  • irritability/mood swings

I was intrigued to find out about the tampon box. At least I can get a little help with one of my problems. My periods come when they feel like it and they are awful. Sometimes two to three times a month, sometimes not for two months. So, really, I’m probably somewhere between Perimenopause and Menopause. I find myself wishing for menopause, but want to be very careful about what I wish for. In any case, having this box would be nice.

Despite all of the physical, emotional, and mental turmoil of becoming a mother so late in life, none of it compares to the love I feel for my sweet girl. She is everything to me.

motherhood

7 easy swaps

7 Easy Swaps to Make Your Meals Healthy

7 Easy Swaps to Make Your Meals Healthy

Please welcome Guest Contributor, Brittnay Sharman.

A little bit of creativity is crucial when it comes to eating well. Rather than denying yourself or overindulging just a few tweaks here and there won’t have you missing out on anything. Turn these idea yummy ideas into habits to ensure you lead the healthiest lifestyle possible (while still enjoying it)!

Have you ever tried frozen banana in the blender? Well it is a game changer, tastes exactly like ice-cream! You’re going to learn to make some simple changes that will have you eating healthy in no time.

Homemade Muesli

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so start it off the right way.

Instead of kicking off the day with a bowl full of commercial cereal, which are sure to be filled with processed sugars and other preservatives, try having a bowl of homemade muesli as a healthy alternative!

Treat your body and taste buds the right way, by adding in your favourite fruits into your healthy homemade bowl of muesli!

Forget About the Fizzy Drinks

Fizzy drinks sure do taste good but we all know they aren’t in the slightest bit good for us. Many people tend to avoid drinking water because they think it is boring and have no flavour. That couldn’t be farther from the truth.

You could try kombucha, a fermented and sweetened tea drink. Make sure you look for a brand that is lower in sugar. Kombucha can be found at your local grocery and health food stores. You can even make your own kombucha. Soda lovers typically love kombucha because they can still get the carbonated taste they are used to.


Let’s Taco About It!

Pulled pork and tacos go together like mac and cheese! However, the cut of used for pulled pork is usually the shoulder which high in saturated fats and sodium. Instead you can try smoked pork tenderloin, it has a similar flavour and still melts in your mouth (not to mention it’s a nice lean as chicken breast).

Our families favourite tacos are piled high with avocado, cherry tomatoes, pork loin & chipotle lime. Kids love to build their own tacos, so on the table in all your ingredients in small bowls. Making your own always tastes better!

Use Steam Instead

Cooking veggies and fish by steaming them is a super healthy alternative. You retain all of their natural yummy flavours, whilst cooking them to perfection. By steaming your food, you’re adding no extra calories to your meal, making your favourite (usually unhealthy) meals, much healthier. You can top fish with flavourings like lemon and chilli and use the steam to infuse the flavours into your food.

Poach, Don’t Fry!

Poaching is another great way to cook foods you’d usually fry. Take eggs for example; if you usually fry your eggs, try poaching them next time. Cooking them in hot water means you aren’t using any oils in the cooking process.

Poached eggs are super healthy, and tasty; you aren’t covering up any of the natural flavour of the eggs with oil. As well as eggs, you can poach fish, fruit and even chicken, with scrummy results!

Make a Condiment the Star!

Have you tried making your sauces? If you have ever had a read of the back you will notice that sugar is one of the main ingredients. If you see some tomatoes on sale, why not make your own tomato sauce? Or you could try making a yummy pesto. It is great to add to pasta or as a coating on chicken.

If you looking for a creamy spread like butter, why not try avocado. It is a similar texture to butter and great to spread on flatbread or toast. It is super easy to also make salsa, hummus or even salad dressing.

We All Scream for Healthy Ice cream

We all love ice-cream, but if you have ever brought a tub and ‘accidentally’ finished the whole tub, this can help. If you see some brown bananas at the shop or have some, don’t throw them out, peel and freeze them now! When your ready for some yummy ice-cream grab them out and throw them in the blender for 1 mins -2 mins. You will find it turns into fluffy banana ice cream in no time!

It is delicious on its own, but you can add anything you love in ice-cream. You could throw in some blueberries, coconut milk or mint. You won’t believe how similar the consistency and taste is to ice cream!

Educating yourself is crucial when it comes to eating well. Rather than denying yourself or overindulging just a few tweaks here and there won’t have you missing out on anything. Turn these idea and behaviors in habits to ensure you lead the healthiest lifestyle possible (while still enjoying it)!

how my dog

How My Dog Is Getting Me Through Anxiety and Grief

how my dog Let me just tell you how my dog is getting me through one of the most difficult times of my life. Just as my family was recovering from the past year of helping my Dad through a brain injury, getting him settled into his new home, doing all we could to make sure he and my Mom were safe, taken care of, and as happy as they could be, despite the circumstances…my 57 year old brother died from complications of alcoholism.

That’s when the walls came down and I couldn’t take anymore.

Written on July 31st…11 days after my brother’s death:

I’m not gonna lie. I am struggling. This past year has done me in. And just when I realized how much had been chipped away and had made kind of a plan to get those pieces back, my brother died.

Honestly, I just want to give up. I want to hide. I want to be alone. I want to avoid anything that is remotely hard.
But I can’t do that. I am a mother. I am a wife. I am a daughter. I am a sister. I am a teacher. I am a friend.

I CAN’T HIDE.

And I feel it in my gut, my chest, my neck, my shoulders. It literally hurts to know that I can’t hide. It hurts to know that I have to do things that are hard. Then I get mad.

So I lash out. I cry. I yell. I shut down. I ignore. I medicate. I sleep.

I look so forward to sleep. Thank God I can sleep. And right when I wake up, I am tricked into thinking that I can face this day. But the first hard thing, no matter how small, brings that pain right back.

My heart starts to beat way too fast and the tightness creeps in.

Damnit. Here we go again.

Funny how things happen. Back in the beginning of June, we got a dog. We thought we deserved a reward after housing my parents for eight months and certainly wanted to treat my six year old daughter to something fun. She had endured a great deal of hard adult stuff.

The dog, originally named Rowe, is a sweet, female, three year old yellow lab. She was a stray picked up in Savannah, GA by Labrador Retriever Rescue of Florida and brought to Jacksonville, FL for a meet and greet at Petsmart. We had actually gone there to meet another chocolate lab named Libby. But Libby was younger, still puppy-like, and did not have any training. In the midst of all this doggie fun, as I was sitting on the floor, just observing, Rowe came and plopped herself in my lap and turned her belly up for a scratch. I got my husband’s attention, gave her some time with our daughter, and a week later, she was the newest member of our family.

I will admit, at first, I wondered what the heck I had done. Rowe attached herself to me. I became her person. She followed me around like a … well, a dog. I wondered, why, after just getting my parents out of my house did I just acquire another living, breathing, eating mammal who requires my attention, my time, my love, my energy?? What had I done?

Soon, I knew just what I had done and it was the best decision I could have made. The first thing we did was change her name from Rowe to Savannah. We didn’t love the name Rowe and I realized one day that it rhymes with ‘no’.  We were working hard on using her name along with commands and the idea of saying “Rowe, no” or  “No, Rowe” wasn’t going to work. So, I suggested Savannah, her old stomping grounds, and it stuck.

how my dog

The second thing we discovered was how freaking happy she is. When we wake up in the morning or come home from work, you would think we were celebrities! She greets us with such vim and vigor! She simply makes us smile and laugh, a lot.

And lastly, yes, she has made me her person. Sometimes, I complain that she is ALWAYS there. But to tell you the truth, after the anxiety of caring for my parents, and the grief of my brother’s death, I can tell you without a doubt that this dog chose me for a reason. A very sound reason. She came into our lives at exactly the right time and knew precisely what we needed: love, happiness, and laughter.

Thank you Savannah. You are an angel.

how my dog

One more thing I love about having a dog is being able to shop the pet aisle! We loved buying Savannah new toys, treats, beds, a crate, and all those fun things that come along with a fur family member. Check out Dog Product Picker for some great Christmas gift ideas for your dog. And thank you to Intellifluence and Dog Product Picker for the opportunity to write about our new family member.