Explore the Seven Wonders of the World at Home

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There is nothing better than seeing awe and wonder in a child’s eyes. Whether it is seeing a new site, experiencing a cool activity, or finding an amazing item, the joy of learning can easily be seen and felt. There are many topics you and your family can enjoy and learn about together, including the classic seven wonders of the world. Before continuing on, let’s take a look at what is included in the list of the seven wonders. Over time the Seven Wonders have changed. The newest list was created in 2007 after more than 100 million people voted to name the “New Seven Wonders of the World,” which are below:

  1. The Great Wall of China in China
  2. Christ the Redeemer Statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  3. Machu Picchu in Peru
  4. Chichen Itza (The Yucatan Peninsula) in Mexico
  5. The Roman Colosseum in Rome
  6. The Taj Mahal in Agra, India
  7. The Petra in Jordan

Many children and adults may not be familiar with some of these landmarks. However, there are fun and creative ways to learn about them. These activities are hands-on and can be done on a rainy afternoon, a summer day, or a weekend of learning at home.

  • Take a virtual field trip on Google Earth to the Seven Wonders. Visit earth.google.com/web and search the various places. Then, zoom in and out and explore the landmark’s history. You can also learn about the “Seven Wonder of the Ancient World” by searching the website of The Museum of UnNatural History (http://unmuseum.mus.pa.us/wonders.htm).
  • Create a passport or scrapbook with pictures and facts about each wonder. In addition, Photoshop pictures of your child in front of the site to help make the experience come alive. Other options include putting together a tourist guide book, brochure, advertisement, or newspaper. Let your child take on different roles and careers to learn about the famous site. There are many avenues you could take with this activity.
  • Make a physical version of the landmark. For example, use paper, markers, and paper towel or toilet paper rolls to build Christ the Redeemer Statue or create the Great Wall of China with Legos. Common materials that could be used are clay, construction paper, salt dough, rocks, and fabrics.
  • Instead of making a physical object, design something digital, such as a video, commercial for the Seven Wonders, etc. Use sites like iMovie, WeVideo, and Prezi and let your children’s imaginations run wild with creativity. Plus, you can even create an at-home green screen and digitally replace the background with the wonder.
  • Study about the culture, cities, and countries where the wonder is located. Research the area’s climate, food, music, arts, historic sites, and more. Then, celebrate that wonder by bringing it and its home country to life. The more vivid and hands-on experience children can have when learning about the Seven Wonders of the World, the better they’ll be able to remember and retain the knowledge they’ve learned.

Word searches, puzzles, and quizzes/challenges are more, interactive ways to connect history to a wonder. Also, children of all ages love coloring pages. Plus, it shows children another visual/picture of the site. For printables, visit https://www.thoughtco.com/new-seven-wonders-of-the-world-printables-1832308.

These ideas are perfect ways for children and students at school to learn about the Seven Wonders of the World. There is so much of the world that we don’t know about. The earlier we start exploring these areas, the more global a child can be.

 

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Simply Southern Hush Puppies

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Hush puppies – one of my favorite Southern foods! Now, you can make them yourself using this simple recipe!

Ingredients: 

3/4 cup self rising flour
1 cup self rising corn meal (not mix)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 small onion, finely minced 
1 pinch garlic powder
1 pinch onion powder
1 pinch old bay seasoning
1 Tbsp sugar
3/4 to 1 cup buttermilk
Canola oil for frying

Directions:

1. In a large mixing bowl, mix together flour and cornmeal. Add egg, onion and spices. Add buttermilk and stir with fork just until blended. Mixture should be farily stiff. Add a little bit more buttermilk, if necessary.
2. Heat oil in deep fryer to 375 degrees. Drop dough by teaspoons into hot oil and fry until hush puppies rise to the top and are golden brown. Remove from fryer and drain on paper towels.
Enjoy!
xoxo,
Megan

7 Remedies to Use When You Are Sick

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School has only been in session for less than a month. Yet, the first round of colds and viruses have arrived. As a teacher, it is hard to stay immune to all the germs and I now have a lovely cold. However, after using these seven home remedies, I’m on the mend to feeling better.

  1. Salt Water – Gargling salt water can help prevent upper respiratory infections and decrease the severity of cold symptoms. Dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt in a full glass of water. Swish around in mouth and throat. Then, spit it out.
  2. Warm Baths – Take a warm bath with Epsom salt and baking soda. Cold and flu symptoms and body aches can be reduced with the warm water. Also, try adding a few drops of essential oils for a soothing effect. Some options are tea tree, juniper, rosemary, lavender, or eucalyptus.
  3. Heat Up Your Sinuses – Hold a hot pack or hot washcloth to your sinuses for a few minutes. Reusable hot packs can be purchased at drugstores. Be careful to not make the pack too hot.
  4. Honey – A spoonful of honey before bed helps decrease nighttime coughs.
  5. Cinnamon – Naturalists loved this spice, because of its healing effects, such as easing a dry or sore throat. Boil one teaspoon of cinnamon in a glass of water and drink. For an extra effect, mix it with pepper powder and honey.
  6. Take Vitamin C – You can get a dose of vitamin-C through a supplement or foods, such as citrus, green peppers, dark lefty greens, and kiwi fruit.
  7. Lemon – The acidic effects of lemons help eliminate bacteria from mucous membranes. Chopped one lemon into half and keep the skin on. Place in a boiling cup of water and let it steep for a few minutes. Inhale the steam.

Use these home remedies whenever you feel under the weather and you’ll feel better soon!

xoxo,

Megan

The Top 3 Best Historical Novels for Young Adults

I’m a history buff. My interest in history started when I was young and has continued to grow. I love to visit historical sites, read historical books, and watch historical films. Since my love began when I was young, I believe it is important to expose children and young adults to what has happened in the past. One way to do this is by letting them read historical books. For this month, I have gathered some of my beloved historical novels for young adults.

Chasing Lincoln’s Killer by James L. Swanson

This biography by James L. Swanson brings young readers the story of President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination and the capture of his assassin, John Wilkes Booth, and Booth’s co-conspirators. Swanson uses archival material, trial manuscripts, primary sources, and interviews of the time period to bring the twelve-day manhunt of John Wilkes Booth to life. In addition, readers are given pictures and facts about those involved, the important locations, such as Fords’ Theatre, as well as, newspaper articles and advertisements from April 1865. Chasing Lincoln’s Killeris geared towards young adults, sixth grade and older. However, it is also a favorite among adults. I read the novel this past summer and learned facts about this important time period in American history that I never knew. However, a great alternative for a true adult version is Swanson’s bestseller, Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer.

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

Number the Stars is a historical fiction novel based on the Holocaust during World War II. Main character ten-year-old Annemarie Johansen lives in Denmark with her family. When the German troops come to town to “relocate” all the Jews, Annemarie’s family takes in her best friend, Ellen Rosen and pretends that she is Annemarie’s late older sister, Lise. Young readers learn about another side of the Holocaust through the Johansen’s actions and involvement in the Danish Resistance. During this time, the Jewish population in Denmark were relocated to the neutral ground of Sweden to avoid being sent to the concentration camps. In fact, Lise was killed by the Nazis for working with the resistance. Number the Stars draws readers into a story of heroism and pride. It is also a tale of friendship and doing good in a time of war. Fact fun: author Lois Lowry created the title to reference Psalm 147:4. As Lowry says, “God has numbered all the stars and has named each of them.”

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

This #1 New York Timesbestseller and young adult read is perfect and relevant for 2019, because it has been 50 years since the Apollo 11 mission and man’s first walk on the moon on July 16, 1969. Author Margot Lee Shetterly describes in vivid details the story of four African American women making their mark in NASA history. These women, Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden, worked as mathematicians and “human computers” for NASA, meaning they created and solved equations and calculated numbers and flight paths that would send rockets and astronauts into space. Segregated at work, these women’s mathematical skills impressed their mostly white and male counterparts and allowed many of them to be promoted from human computers to engineers and computer programmers. Their careers spanned from World War II, the Cold War, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Space Race. Hidden Figures is a must-read for not just history fans, but for everyone.

From the Civil War to World War II and then to the Space Race, these historical novels cover a wide span of history and are a must-read for young adults.

xoxo,

Megan

 

Appreciation for the Unsung School Heroes

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You might be wondering why I am writing an article about teacher and school appreciation days when a new school year has just begun. The reason is because a school’s faculty and staff works hard from the first day of school to the last day, and then some. They are dedicated to changing students’ lives and helping them to become the best version of themselves. Their commitment shouldn’t be remembered only during holidays or Teacher Appreciation week; it should be remembered all year long.

When it comes to thanking those who have made a difference in your child’s education, most of the time, parents only think about the teachers, administrators, and guidance counselors at school. However, it takes everyone at a school to “keep the show going.” Some faculty and staff members go unnoticed when it comes to school appreciation. Don’t know whom you should thank or exactly how to? Below is a list of faculty and staff members and fun ways to acknowledge them, that won’t cost you an arm and a leg. Don’t feel as if you have to include everyone on the list. Choose one or two and make their day special. Rotate the individuals throughout the year.

Faculty and Staff Members:

  • Administrators, such as the principal, vice-principals, instructional facilitator, and testing coordinator.
  • Teachers, teachers’ aides, and student teachers.
  • Office workers, such as secretaries and registrars.
  • Guidance counselors.
  • School nurses.
  • Cafeteria employees, including the cafeteria manager, cooks, and servers.
  • School custodians.
  • Bus drivers.
  • Crossing guards.
  • Librarian and media center staff.
  • School social workers.
  • Volunteers.
  • Coaches and referees for the sports teams.
  • School resource officers.

Ideas:

  • Everyone loves food! Drop off a breakfast of muffins, bagels, and fruit in the middle of the school year. Leave it in the teacher workroom for everyone to enjoy. It doesn’t have to be only breakfast. You can also bring in a variety of pick-up snacks or lunch items. Another option is to host an ice cream bar after school or at the beginning of a staff meeting.
  • Bring in tissues, hand sanitizer, or other first aid supplies to teachers and nurses during the second semester. From my experience, by the time late April hits, tissues are now in the form of a toilet paper roll.
  • A simple handwritten note from your family or student(s), expressing their gratitude for the school employee’s service. There is power in words. Sometimes a letter from a student to the crossing guard can make a difference. Another option includes sending a note to a teacher who was “caught” caring and going above and beyond.
  • Become a volunteer at the school. This way, you’ll be in the know on what you can do to help. It is important to not let this opportunity overwhelm you. Sometimes parents think volunteering at their child’s school means lots of time and effort. That isn’t so. Volunteering for as much time as you are able to give still makes a difference. Ways to contribute include creating copies of assignments, needed paperwork, etc. Also, you can assist in the office, answering phone calls, shelving books in the media center, or helping set up sports practice.
  • Randomly deliver fresh flowers, boxes of candy, or a surprise gift card. A five-dollar gift card is very much enjoyed.
  • Splurge on a monogrammed or personalized item for the staff or faculty member. Teachers love “From the desk of…” notepads or sticky notes.
  • Help repaint the inside of the building. You may notice the teacher’s lounge is looking a little old or the bathrooms need a fun mural. Also, spruce up the grounds outside. Assist in pulling weeds, adding mulch to different areas, or cleaning up the playground, fields, or track.

The seven ideas are a sampling of the many ways to recognize staff and faculty members. Be creative with your gifts and keep in mind, you don’t have to spend a fortune. An act of gratitude, no matter how big or small, will mean a great deal and go a long way.

xoxo,

Megan

Tips and Tricks to Going Device Free

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It’s the norm now—most people always have some sort of technological device in their hands, most of the day. Whether it is a cell phone, iPad, laptop, or anything else, technological devices are a part of everyday life. People have grown accustomed to using them, and to an extent, are dependent on them. There are many benefits to technology and using these devices, such as writing this article on my laptop. Yes, I could write it by hand, but using a laptop is less time-consuming (and easier to delete mistakes). Other advantages are improved communication. Many people have a cell phone and can easily call family and friends, or call for help, if necessary. Also, technological devices give us instant access to news and information, an opportunity to network socially (individually or for businesses through social media and websites), and the ability to share ideas, pictures, and more through various apps and websites.

However, even with all the advantages of using cell phones, iPods, and other devices, there are also disadvantages. These drawbacks include a feeling of social isolation and distraction when you’re with loved ones, at work, or watching an event. They can also put a strain on your eyes, especially when looking at the screen’s lighting in the dark. While it is always tempting to use some sort of electronic device, it is good to give them a break now and then. Going device-free can be a challenge. You might have to find new ways to communicate and watch movies, for example. However, you’ll be glad you took this challenge and spent some time away from technology. Don’t know how to get started? Below are some ideas for going device-free.

  • Start small and have a device-free meal with your family and friends. Everyone involved makes a commitment to laying down their electronics and putting them in a space away from the table and kitchen. Place a basket or designate a spot for all the devices to go. Then, start talking to get people fully distracted from their devices. Ask questions, play games, or share ideas to get the conversation going. In addition to meal time, take this idea a step further. Try having device-free holidays, device-free small trips, and more. This simple act can help family members and friends get closer and spend more time together.
  • Another tip to easily break up with your device is by seeing how many times you use it. Apps, such as Checky, keep track of how often you use your device. This app helps prevent people from looking at their phones, because it drains the phone’s battery. According to Dr. David Greenfield, with The Center for Internet and Technology Addiction, it can seem counterintuitive to check your phone when you are trying to use it less. However, recording how much time you are spending on your phone and how many times a day you’re checking it lets people become aware of how problematic their cell phone use is. Set limits for yourself and your usage. Try to spend no more than 90 minutes per day or 15 minutes at a time.
  • Also, set limits on social media. Determine a time, day, or a full weekend when you don’t post or check your social media accounts. This can be hard at first, but soon it will become a habit. Dr. Greenfield states, “There’s this idea that if other people don’t know you’re doing something, it has no value. This means we spend more time documenting what we’re doing, instead of living our lives.” Instead of Snapchatting your trip to Disney World and Facebooking your pictures of your Friday night concert with friends, take a few pictures to remember the moment, but don’t spend the whole time with a phone in your face. As Ferris Bueller once said, “life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” If you’re feeling extra daring, delete your social media apps for a full-on break. Reactivate your accounts when you feel as if you are relaxed and reenergized.

Going device-free gives you the opportunity to focus on things that are important in your life. It gives you the chance to reconnect face-to-face with family members and friends, and experience moments in life through your eyes, instead of a screen. Going device-free will become a habit, and you’ll learn to depend less and less on your electronics to get you through the day.

xoxo,

Megan

An Insider’s Party Checklist

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Planning parties and making checklists—two of my favorite things! No matter how many times I plan an event, there are things I forget. Did the invitations get out at the appropriate time? Did I order the cake and other refreshments ahead of time? To make sure a party can go as smoothly as possible, it is helpful to use a party checklist. Below is a handy list for all types of festivities, which can be personalized to meet your needs.

SIX WEEKS BEFORE

  • Create your budget.
  • Choose a theme.
  • Determine the guest list.
  • Reserve your party venue, caterer, and entertainer, if needed.
  • Write down all the necessary equipment, including chairs and tables, and contact rentals.
  • Finalize the details, such as date, time, location, RSVP date, and menu.

FOUR WEEKS BEFORE 

  • Prepare your invitations and envelopes.
  • For a children’s party, ask for an updated class list from their teacher, if you are inviting their classmates.
  • Decide on games, activities, and menu to match your theme.
  • Think about items for party favors.
  • Make a shopping list of food, paper goods, and decorations.
  • If ordering food or cake, place order.

THREE WEEKS BEFORE

  • Mail invitations.
  • Purchase party supplies, at the store or online.
  • Arrange for extra help for a children’s party.

ONE TO TWO WEEKS BEFORE

  • Create a party schedule.
  • Confirm times for when extra help is arriving.
  • Purchase last-minute party supplies.
  • Design a music playlist.
  • Call those invited who haven’t responded to the invitations.

THREE DAYS BEFORE 

  • Buy food and drinks.
  • Charge necessary cameras and electronic devices.
  • Call party venue, caterer, and entertainer to confirm details.
  • Assemble activities and party favors.
  • Clean inside and outside of your home.
  • Designate areas for food, beverages, and gifts/

ONE TO TWO DAYS BEFORE 

  • Bake cake, prepare make-ahead food or pick up ordered items.
  • Decorate party venue.

PARTY DAY 

  • Finalize last-minute details.
  • Turn on the music, lighting, etc.
  • Inflate the balloons.
  • Chill beverages.
  • Assemble remaining food and set out.
  • Double-check that bathrooms are stocked with extra toilet paper and there are enough silverware, napkins, plates, and cups on the tables.

ONE WEEK AFTER

  • Send thank-you notes.
  • Post pictures to social media and send to attendees.

ALWAYS REMEMBER

  • Specify an area for boots, umbrellas, and coats.
  • Napkins (2 per person).
  • Don’t forget ice, ice bucket, tongs or scoop.
  • Paper towels.
  • Extra toilet paper.
  • Plates of all sizes (appetizer, salad, dinner, and dessert).
  • Glasses of all sizes (water, wine, mixed drink, beer, soda, and coffee).
  • If grilling, check the tank, charcoal, and lighter fluid.
  • For an outside party, remember bug spray and citronella candles.
  • Extra batteries.
  • Wine and bottle opener.
  • Garbage bags.
  • Dishwashing soap.
  • To have fun! Enjoy the food, games, activities, and mingle with your guests!

xoxo,

Megan

 

A Summer Treat – Frozen Hot Chocolate


I LOVE, LOVE a good cup of hot chocolate any time of the year, but sometimes I don’t want it hot, especially during the summer. I want it….well, cold or more like frozen. Try this recipe the next time you want this chocolatey drink.

Ingredients: 

  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp hot cocoa mix
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 12 ounces evaporated milk
  • 4 1/2 cups ice
  • Whipped cream
  • Chocolate chips
  • Marshmallows

Directions:

  1. Combine sugar, cocoa mix, and butter in the top of a double boiler. Stir until melted.
  2. Stir in semi-sweet chocolate chips. Mix until mixture is smooth.
  3. Slowly add in 1/2 cup of the evaporated milk and stir until smooth. Cool to room temperature.
  4. Combine chocolate mixture with the remaining evaporated milk and ice in a blender. Blend until smooth.
  5. Pour into frosty glasses and top with whipped cream, marshmallows and chocolate chips,  if desired.

Enjoy!

Xoxo,

Megan

Creative Activities to Commemorate the End of Summer

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For many families, the days of summer and no school are winding down. Soon, days will be filled with school, extracurricular activities, and early sunsets. Cherish the remaining longer days with your loved ones and enjoy time together with these three summer activities.

Ice Cream in a Bag

Ingredients (The amount is per person; multiply the ingredients by how many people you are making the ice cream for): 

  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1/2 cup rock salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Ice
  • Sandwich-size resealable plastic bag
  • Gallon-size resealable plastic bag
  • Toppings

Directions:

  1. In a bowl, stir together the cream, sugar, and vanilla.
  2. Pour the mixture into a sandwich-size bag and close.
  3. Add the ice and rock salt into the gallon-size bag. Then, place the filled sandwich-size bag inside the gallon-size bag and seal.
  4. Shake the bags for about 5 minutes until the ice cream is frozen.
  5. Remove the gallon-size bag with the rock salt and throw away.
  6. Cut a corner off the sandwich-size bag and squeeze out the ice cream into a bowl. Add toppings, if you desire.

Enjoy!

Glow in the Dark Sidewalk Chalk 

Materials (per chalk color): 

  • 1 cup Plaster of Paris
  • 1 tablespoon glow in the dark or fluorescent paint
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • Ice cube trays

Directions (per chalk color): 

  1. Mix together the paint and water in a bowl.
  2. Add 1 cup of the Plater of Paris to the mixture.
  3. Pour the ingredients into the ice cube tray. Pack tightly for the chalk to hold its shape.
  4. Let dry for about 12 hours. Remove the chalk from the trays and have fun!
  5. Repeat steps for every paint color you would like to make.

Balloon Tennis

Materials: 

  • Balloons
  • Fly swatters

Directions: 

  1. Take turns hitting the balloon back and forth between players. Keep score of who can hit the balloon the most before it falls to the ground.

Happy Summer!

xoxo,

Megan

 

 

 

5 Secrets to Mastering the Art of Organization

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Lately, I have been Marie Kondo-ing it up and getting my house organized before going back to school. Cleaning isn’t my favorite thing to do, yet being organized is a must. I’m a mix of messy and Monica from Friends…you could probably call me a type-A messy person.

While completing my cleaning haul, I discovered a few new tricks for better organization and I must say, I am THRILLED at how good these tips worked. These pieces of advice are effortless and most importantly, ones you can easily maintain. After all, isn’t everyone looking for simpler approaches to life’s “tough” tasks?

  1. Roll items, instead of folding them. In my dresser, I normally folded my leggings, tank-tops, etc. and laid them flat in the drawer. This technique took up a bunch of space. Instead, this time around, I rolled each item and stacked them vertically, side by side. The tinier rolls of clothing took up ten times less room and looked neater.
  2. Look for wasted space. I have been known to clutter rooms and store everything in a place where it can be seen. My mindset changed after realizing I was sick of seeing things all over the floor. Instead, I placed the pieces under my bed. Areas of wasted space are lifesavers. Get creative with your storage, by thinking about the places that are often overlooked in your house, such as under the bed, over the door, the top shelf of the closet.
  3. Visibility, accessibility, and flexibility. Recently, I read that the rules of organization are visibility, accessibility, and flexibility. As I moved from room to room, I kept those three words in mind. If an item isn’t used on a daily basis or is needed only twice a year, that item is stored in a less accessible and visible area. Don’t forget to label storage containers when needed, especially for the items that are not used as much. Another thing I discovered was to be flexible with organizing. I spent about two days in my bedroom and can’t tell you how many times I rearranged my closet and shelves until they were just right.
  4. Storage can be creative. Use decorative baskets, galvanized buckets, and hat boxes as storage containers. Cardboard and plastic boxes are a thing of the past when visible in your home. My office is full of fabric drawers and glass jars, holding items. Just be careful to not overdo the storage containers. You don’t want your home to look cluttered.
  5. Speaking of clutter, less is best. My love for tchotchkes and knit-knats is strong. I can fill up a tabletop with pictures, candles, and memorabilia from the 90s. Yet, I had no space to work, eat, etc. Decluttering is key to any room. As I went through the different spaces, I created boxes and separate these types of items into things I want to set out, things I want to keep in storage, and things I want to give away. The knit-knats that were sentimental and had the most value to me were used as decoration, while the others were moved into one of the two other boxes. As hard as it was to remove all the tchotchkes, I am loving the newfound space on my desk.

Honestly, it takes a great deal to get me organized and stay organized. However, with my anxiety, I need to have a place for everything and have some type of order to live by. Usually once or twice a year, I complete this big organizational purge and I am always glad that I did.

Happy Organizing!

xoxo,

Megan