Students At Home

For Everyone Who Learns at Home

Feeling Tired? Try 9 Quick Energy Boosts!

I don’t know about you, but I get tired every afternoon! My energy level drops, I have trouble concentrating and I just want a nap. But my kids come home from school around 3 every day, and I have to be alert and focused! Usually, I grab a cup of coffee and a cookie, but I know this solution isn’t the healthiest option for me. After doing some research, I found these quick energy boosts.

Eat the right lunch. Ideally, it should be packed with fiber and protein. This combo keeps blood sugar levels – and energy – steady so you can stay focused all afternoon.

Take lots of short breaks. I have tight deadlines on my job, and I’m always tempted to work for long stretches without taking a break. However, several short breaks actually give your body and brain a chance to reboot. I’m going to set a timer and take a five-minute break every hour to stretch, fold laundry, text a friend, clear clutter off a counter or get dinner started.

Go for a walk. Fresh air boosts your concentration and mood. Sounds like a perfect excuse to walk to the mailbox, around the block or through the woods (below is a pic from my morning walk yesterday at Mt. Gretna)! Can’t get outside? Dance, jump rope or vacuum.

june 19 mt gretna

Change the way you snack. My coffee and chocolate snack tastes good and spikes my blood sugar so I feel more energetic right away. But it actually makes me feel more tired in the long run. A smarter snack is high in fiber and  protein like an apple or banana with peanut butter, a handful of nuts with fruit or whole-grain crackers with cheese.

Meditate. Spend five minutes meditating, and you’ll feel more awake and less stressed.

Drink water. When you’re dehydrated, the oxygen levels in your body drop. It’s time to get drinking! Make your water tasty and refreshing with fruit juice, crushed berries or lemon (my favorite water additive!), lime or cucumber slices. (photo courtesy VisitPlano)

water pitcher visitplano

Breathe deeply. A few deep breaths – in through your nose, out through your mouth – slow your heart rate, decrease your blood pressure, increase oxygen in your blood and relax tense muscles. Your brain needs this boost, so relax and breathe.

Brush your hair. Repetitive movements relieve tension and help you relax. Even better, stimulating your scalp boosts your energy and alertness!

Laugh. Your muscles relax and you feel more energized when you laugh. I like listening to comediennes on YouTube, or you can read through a joke book or recall a funny memory. (photo credit unknown)

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These tips boost energy and fight fatigue. What other tricks work for you to keep you alert when you’re tired?

 

 

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6 Tips for Finding a Cheap Bike

Summer vacation has officially started. So far, my kids have had plenty of activities to keep them busy, including riding bikes. They like to race each other around our neighborhood, and my teenager is finally allowed to ride down the street to her friend’s house.

Luckily, we have a collection of bikes in all sizes, thanks to my son’s bike repair business from a few years ago.

bikesHowever, what if your child – or you – need a new bike? Find a cheap one with these six tips.

1.Thrift Stores or Consignment Shops

Check your local thrift or consignment stores for gently used bikes. Inventory changes often, so you’ll have to keep checking. Or ask the clerk to notify you when someone brings in the type of bike you’re looking for (our local consignment store did this for me when I wanted a double stroller for my toddlers!).

2. Police Auctions

Does your town have a police auction where they auction off items they’ve confiscated throughout the year? If so, you might be able to buy a nice bike for way less than retail.

3. Online Yard Sale Sites

I’m a member of several online yard sale sites. Almost every day, I see posts from people selling bikes their children have outgrown. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, post an “In Search Of”!

4. Craigslist

Remember to check Craigslist for used bikes. You can even set up an alert and receive an email every time someone lists a bike for sale.

5. Bike Shops

Two years ago, I visited a local bike shop with a friend. They had dozens of new bikes for sale, but I also noticed a row of used bikes. Yes, they cost more than yard sale prices, but each used bike for sale was recently tuned with new parts, reliable and ready to ride!

6. Word of Mouth

Ask your friends, family, neighbors and everyone you know if they have a bike for sale. You never know who’s cleaning out their garage, ready to upgrade or otherwise looking to get rid of gently used bikes!

When your kids are ready for new bikes, use these tips to find quality bikes at an affordable price. What other tips would you suggest?

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Five Easy Security Tips for Your New Home

Whether you’re moving out on your own for the very first time, finally found your dream home or are downsizing for retirement, security in your new home is important. I’ve moved a few times over the years, and security is always one of the first things on my mind. That’s why I compiled these top security tips. Don’t worry – they’re easy!

1. Close your blinds. Burglars like looking through windows to see what valuables you own, and they easily gain access through first floor windows. Keep your blinds closed to deter anyone from looking into your home!

2. Replace the door hinge screws. Did you know that most door hinge screws are super tiny? They’re easy to bust off during a break-in, so replace them with long screws.

door hinge screws

3. Watch your trash. Believe it or not, your trash reveals a lot about your home’s contents! Packing materials advertise that you’ve just moved in, and television or electronics boxes tell thieves that you own expensive stuff that’s easy to sell. Take any revealing items or boxes like these directly to the recycling center or landfill as you protect your home.

4. Change the locks. In a few minutes, you can change the door knobs and locks. Bonus tips: if you live in a dorm and can’t change the locks, ask for a new lock right away, and don’t give anyone a copy of your key!

5. Install fake cameras. Even if you don’t connect it – or it’s broken! – hang a surveillance camera near your home’s entrances and deter burglars.

These are my five easy security tips for a new home. What other security tips do you recommend?

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What Can You Do In 2 Minutes?

Vector illustration of two minutes stopwatch icon on white backgroundTwo minutes.

120 seconds.

That doesn’t sound like a lot of time, does it? But you can actually get A LOT done in two minutes!

When I’m feeling overwhelmed by life, I set a timer, get to work and cross one thing off my to-do list. Here are a few suggestions.

Clear off a counter.

Stretch.

Unload the dishwasher.

Drink a glass of water.

Brush your teeth.

Wipe off your car’s dash.

Fold a load of laundry or put laundry away.

Listen to your favorite song or find a new one!

Plan your dinner menu for the week.

Sweep the kitchen floor.

Send a text to a friend.

Wipe off your phone screen.

Toss old leftovers from the fridge.

Close your eyes and enjoy peace and quiet.

Wipe down the bathroom counter.

Test the pens or markers in your stationary drawer.

Toss junk mail.

Read the comics.

File important papers.

Savor an apple, handful of walnuts or other favorite snack.

Clean out your car.

Write five things you’re thankful for.

Carry your donation bags to your car or call a charity and set up a pick-up date.

Pull weeds.

Work on a crossword puzzle.

Match the pile of orphan socks in your laundry room.

Make a cup of coffee in your favorite mug.

Clean the litter box.

Read Psalm 23.

Hug and kiss your kids or pets.

Purge broken crayons and torn coloring books.

Move – jumping jacks, squats, run the steps, anything!

Empty trash cans.

Tell someone you love them.

Sanitize door knobs, remote controls or phones.

Shred sensitive documents.

Toss outdated medicine.

Write a thank you note.

Clear your email inbox.

Pray for someone.

In two minutes, you can accomplish dozens of tasks, even ones that aren’t so fun. What are you waiting for? Set your timer and get moving!

What else would you add to the list?

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Dish Duty Comedy

So our dishwasher broke the other month.

I thought it simply needed a good cleaning, so I took out the wracks, got on my hands and knees, and scrubbed out as much grime as I could reach. Then I turned it onto the clean cycle.

No dice.

Instead of getting clean, smoke came flying out of the machine.

Guess what that means? Yup, I’m washing dishes by hand!

Normally, I make dinner and listen to NPR, call and chat with a friend or my sister, or turn on my YouTube playlist while I wash the dishes. But last week, I decided to do something different.

I listened to Chondra Pierce.

Oh.My.Word! She’s hilarious!

I laughed so hard and almost burned a few dinners while listening to her. And instead of grumbling while washing the evidence that my family is well fed, I laughed and left the kitchen feeling joyful, energized and ready to be present with my family.

So tell me. What other comedians/comediennes should I add to my dish duty playlist?

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Want Fresher Laundry? Add This One Ingredient!

When I was a kid, my mom never bought bottled water. It was a new craze then and expensive, and she preferred to spend the family’s grocery budget on food we could chew.

One day, I noticed a large jug filled with clear liquid sitting on our kitchen counter. It looked like bottled water, and I felt so surprised, thinking she had finally caved to all my begging and bought me bottled water!

I carefully opened the jug and took a big swig.

Gross!

It was white vinegar. I never made that mistake again!

While vinegar tastes terrible, it does amazing things around the house. It deodorizes smelly plastic containers, cleans crusty microwaves and dissolves gunk in sink drains.

Vinegar

It also performs miracles in the washing machine!

Well, maybe not miracles, but it does make laundry smell fresher. I started pouring 1/2 to one cup of white vinegar in all my loads and definitely notice a difference.

What’s your favorite laundry hack?

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Disaster Falls: a review

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What a touching book about love and loss. I couldn’t put this book down! My heart was in my throat the entire time, and I constantly felt ready to cry, hoping I never experience the same situation!

During a family vacation, the Gerson family loses their son Owen while white water rafting at Disaster Falls. Father Stephane spends the next months writing all hours of the day and night because he had “no words.” Meanwhile, Owen’s mother coped with the loss by moving constantly, expending the energy she would have put into parenting her son. Owen’s brother Julian sometimes made demeaning comments about Owen to preserve his authentic self instead of seeing him as a hero.

This book touched me as a mother. I cannot and do not want to imagine the pain of losing a child! But if I did, I would write about it, too.

Here are the most touching thoughts from the book.

When he was still alive, Owen thought his dad was a wuss because he was scared. Stephane wondered if an 8-year-old can understand the dangers of the world. “Can they grasp the burden of responsibility? Someone has to look after kids. Someone, I told myself, had to be scared a lot.””

Stephane questioned if he would have made a different decision on the rapids if he had learned as a child to trust his instinct, asset himself and say no when necessary. I question the same for myself and am doing the hard work of finding my voice so I can speak out when necessary.

 

he family vowed to stick together no matter what. Would we have strength to do the same? It’s too easy to blame, withdraw and handle grief alone rather than reaching out to your loved ones.

 

While listing likes and dislikes about Owen, Stephane sometimes learned toward strife because it is easier to mourn a difficult or tortured child than one who enjoyed all facets of life. I can totally understand this! We need to make sense of loss, even if we use irrational or false means.

 

The sadness kept surfacing without warning, but the sorrow evolved, the pain morphed and the body adapted. A grieving parent has the right to curl up and cry but cannot allow the grief to consume you. How would I do this?

While the last part of the book was a bit tedious with details of a lawsuit, I highly recommend this book and would definitely read it again.

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Tuesday’s Tip: Cut Credit Card Interest

Anyone else like to save money?

 

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I sure do! I cut coupons and use Groupon and Living Social for restaurant and entertainment savings. I even shop at thrift stores, discount grocery stores and the dollar store whenever possible.

My desire to save money prompted me to sign up for daily emails from Dollar Stretcher Tips. Almost every day, I learn unique tips for saving money on everything from groceries to home improvements.

In today’s email, I learned something new about paying off credit cards. It’s going to help me, and maybe it will help you too!

 

When should you pay your credit card bill? That depends on whether you carry a balance or not.

If you don’t carry a balance, you should wait until the last day to pay your bill. You won’t be charged any interest unless you miss your due date.

If you have a balance from previous months, you want to get your payment in as soon as you can. You’ll be charged interest until the day your payment is credited to your account. If you get the bill on the 20th and don’t pay until the 30th, you’ll add a third of a month’s worth of interest to your account…that’s no bargain!

 

Want more money-saving tips? Sign up for The Dollar Stretcher!

And as always, feel free to share your favorite tips here so we can all save a little dough! Thank you!

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Murder Is No Accident – a Book Review

Murder is No Accident

I’m a sucker for a good mystery, especially if it’s clean – no cursing, sex or violence. And that’s why I eagerly snagged a copy of “Murder Is No Accident” by A. H. Gabhart.

Indeed, the first page of this book captured my attention, and I stayed engaged for several pages. I wanted to find out who Maggie Green heard murder the local real estate agent!

But then the author introduced the townspeople, and I grew confused and bored. I had a hard time keeping the characters straight and got the impression that I was missing important backstory that was essential to this book’s success.

It wasn’t until the second half that the plot managed to grab my attention again, and I appreciated the mystery that kept me guessing until the end!

Overall, this book is a sweet and easy read. While it’s a mystery, it’s not violent, and there is no cursing or sexual content. However, it contains several grammatical errors and not enough backstory. To really “get” it, you need to read the first two books in a series. It is possible to jump into the series on book 3, but I wouldn’t recommend it because the story is decent, and skipping the first two books will curb your enthusiasm for this book.

If you’re looking for a easy read and a mild mystery with a little romance on the side, I recommend this series – but start with number one rather than this book. You’ll appreciate this book even more if you start at the beginning of the series!

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Meet Julia, the Sesame Street Puppet With Autism

I’ve always been a Sesame Street fan. I remember watching the show as a child (Bert, Mr. Snuffleupagus and Slimey were my favorite characters!), and I introduced my kids to it. We watched every morning. My daughter especially loved Elmo!

This week, I learned that a new puppet is joining the show. Her name is Julia, and she has autism.

Autism is a spectrum, and every child experiences it differently. That means Julia won’t represent every kid with autism, including my son. However, I am encouraged that such an influential show is including a puppet with the disorder that affects one in 48 children. And the other characters eagerly welcome her into their neighborhood and look for ways to include her as they play.

Want to learn more? Watch Sesame Street! Or check out these links.

60 Minutes

The Autism Daddy

 

 

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