Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Have you had your “silence” today?

February 7th, 2018 11:35pm
Spending some quiet time with my busy boys is a struggle but we make it happen!

Spending some quiet time with my busy boys is a struggle but we make it happen!

As busy moms, we definitely value the beauty of silence! It may be a rare treat in some households! But did you know there could be benefits far beyond the initial enjoyment? In 2013, a study was published by the journal Brain, Structure and Function. It was a study conducted on mice to understand the affect different types of noise and lack thereof could have on their brains. They used what they thought was just a “control” group of mice that were only exposed to silence. What the study found was well beyond what they intended to study. They discovered that the mice that were exposed only to two hours of silence a day (their control group) actually developed new cells in the hippocampus (the region of the brain most associated with memory, emotion and learning)! According to researcher, Imke Kirste, the cells appeared to become functioning neurons!

In a sense, silence quite literally grew the brain!

A similar study in 2001 discovered that even when our brains are in a “resting” state, they are constantly internalizing and evaluating information. It never truly “sleeps”.

This “resting” state is also active during self-reflection. Joseph Moran et al. wrote in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience that the brains’ resting mode “is observed most closely during the pshychological task of reflecting on one’s personalities and characteristics (self-reflection), rather than during self-recognition, thinking of the self-concept, or thinking about self-esteem, for example.”

It is during our quiet, focused meditation that allows our consciousness to process information from our day. These moments of silence give our brains the opportunity to reflect, associate and correlate our internal and external worlds. It gives rise to our imaginations and allows us to tap into creativity we probably never recognized was there!

Did you know that your body can release stress hormones just because you heard a noise in your sleep that you didn’t even consciously recognize?? Gary W. Evans, a professor of human ecology at Cornell University discovered that children exposed to consistently loud noises begin to cope by ignoring the noise. This may sound logical and beneficial at first glance but what he also found was that not only did these children learn to tune out the disturbing noise, but every other noise too…including things they should be registering, like speech! The results from this study were published in the 2002 Psychological Science (Vol. 13, No. 9).

In our family, we discovered this through personal experience. I first decided to keep a dream journal…not only was I recording about my dreams, but also recording the events that transpired right before bed and during sleep. For instance, my husband enjoyed falling asleep with the TV on. This would drive me nuts because it would invariably wake me at some point during the night. So for a week, I also paid attention to what was running on the tv during out sleep hours. What I discovered was interesting…my dreams correlated directly with what was airing on the television during our sleep hours! My brain was still processing every sound it heard, even when I wasn’t “really” listening! Now my husband and I have come to an agreement…I will allow the tv on but I set a timer so that it turns off within a short time. BOTH of sleep MUCH better as a result! This is also a big reason we don’t allow tv’s or digital devices in our kids rooms…ever! We try to keep these areas as designated quiet zones.

IMG_4565One more example. My youngest has by far been one of my worst sleepers. He would frequently wake throughout the evening screaming inconsolably. What we realized is that he was never getting his “quiet” time! My older kids were always up and about through the early evening, up late with homework or coming home late from activities. Every sound was triggering a stress response in our little one! We had no idea until we moved him upstairs to a much more secluded area where the sounds and activities of my older crew were not so apparent. He has been a different child! Ironically, the cognitive functions that are most handicapped during exposure to frequent noise are reading attention, memory and problem solving…pretty sure we all could use more of these in our day!

So bottom line? Forget your “safe zones” and start working on your “quiet zones”! Make this a quiet, focused and meditative time and your brain will reap the benefits!

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Huzzah to all my fine readers! Those of you who checked in on my post at our sister site, www.mycrazy8.com, will have found some fun information on this years Arizona Renaissance Festival. I wanted to add a few fun facts to that post as my family and I were able to attend once again this year. There were so many new experiences offered this year and I wouldn’t want you all to miss out on any of it! There is a special offer at the end of this post that you won’t want to miss! So read on! Hope you enjoy and take your own family for some amazing experiences of your own! This weekend is the last weekend of this annual spectacular medieval spectacle and we want to make sure you don’t miss out!

Don't be shy! Get in on the fun and dress up for the fair! You won't regret it as the artisans and performers will heartily welcome you in on the merriment!

Don’t be shy! Get in on the fun and dress up for the fair! You won’t regret it as the artisans and performers will heartily welcome you in on the merriment!

First of all, I would like to second my earlier advice to fully embrace the time period by dressing up as your favorite Renaissance character. Don’t have a costume? No problem! Near the entrance of the fair is a wonderful little boutique where you can rent your costume for the day! There are lots of sizes and fun character themes to choose from. It makes it super easy and convenient as well as exceptionally more fun!

Costumes are available for rent to help everyone fit right in with the fair folk!

Costumes are available for rent at the entrance of the Fair to help everyone fit right in with the fair folk!

A couple of new items we tried this year included some of the food items that are both old and new. If you are curious as to which items are the best on the menu, we have tried many but have yet to find the equal of the “steak on a stake”! Well worth saving your appetite for! This is definitely the finest food item we have found at the fair! It would be enough for small children to split but older kids or adults with appetites will definitely want their own! We sampled the Turkey leg (which has always been a favorite) as well as the corn on the cob which were both wonderful. The corn was especially popular with my kids. A new item we discovered was the frozen orange! Not sure exactly what goes into this one but it consists of an actual frozen orange with a frozen icy orange-flavored coating that is absolutely addictive as well as refreshing on a hot afternoon! We shared one and ended up getting another very quickly! Definitely going to make our “must have” list next year! And no visit is complete without a stop at the chocolate shop located near the entrance…we highly recommend the chocolate strawberries!

The line might be long but it is worth the wait! Plus, you get to be entertained by Captain Drake, the pirate, while you wait!

The line might be long but it is worth the wait! Plus, you get to be entertained by Captain Drake, the pirate, while you wait!

Don't forget to stop in on the fairies as well! Twig and her sister, Juniper, will surely delight every child with an eye for magic!

Don’t forget to stop in on the fairies as well! Twig and her sister, Juniper, will surely delight every child with an eye for magic!

Of course, you have heard of the newest exhibit of mermaids…yes, you read correctly…MERMAIDS! These are live, swimming, performing mermaids that not only swim for show but interact with your kids both under the water and above it! If you have any little mermaid wann-bee’s out there, this is a must see exhibit. It was exceptionally busy though. We were a little slow making our way back to this exhibit and by the time we arrived, it was about an hour wait to get in. So I would highly recommend you make your way back to this exhibit FIRST before you dally anywhere else in the fair to avoid long waits! But if you have to wait, the pirates in attendance are MOST entertaining! Pay attention though, they LOVE to give oblivious passerbys a little trouble!

Captain Drake is always to be found lingering around the mermaid pools! He's quite the scoundrel so watch yourself!

Captain Drake is always to be found lingering around the mermaid pools! He’s quite the scoundrel so watch yourself!

We visited one of the braiding stations called “Twisted Sisters” and were blown away by the talent and service here! Very friendly ladies, very gentle on the hair (for those with sensitive heads, this is a must!) and extremely talented stylists! They use real flowers in your hair which just adds to the magic of the ambiance! Check out some of their handiwork in the photos included here!

Meet Tom Selectomy! He is a crazy, sword swallowing daredevil!

Meet Tom Selectomy! He is a crazy, sword swallowing daredevil!

Don’t forget the Sword Swallower! This show is definitely not for the delicate stomachs but it is quite amazing to behold!

Of course, no visit to the fair is complete without a stop at the weapons shops! There are many available throughout the fair and I highly recommend shopping around as the pricing will vary, in some cases dramatically. This applies to most of the artisans in the fair that have duplicate offerings. We found that the further back into the fair we ventured, the more reasonable the pricing became so don’t be shy about visiting all the artisans…you will not only find different pricing but differing styles, quality and materials. Plus, every artisan is in full character and are so much fun to interact with! They are exceptionally knowledgeable about their trades and love to share their discoveries, wisdom and expertise with all who are interested! The weapons shops are particularly entertaining because you can even get them to divulge secrets behind the proper handling of each weapon and how it was used! My boys are particularly attentive during these interactions! For those interested in the actual process of weapons-forging, make sure you stop by the blacksmiths shop near the mermaid tank! See firsthand how weapons came into being and ask questions of these very knowledgeable artisans.

We brought our hair leathers back this year and the Captan treated us to some free braided coifs!

We brought our hair leathers back this year and the Captan treated us to some free braided coifs!

One of the artisans we discovered last year was the beaded leather braiding shop. Those of us who have long hair but are “braiding-challenged”, this was a unique and super fun discover! They are beaded leather straps that you can use to easily braid your hair in seconds with decorative accessories. Super easy to use and super cute! Plus, any year you return to the fair with your beaded leather, they will style and braid your hair for free! This is quite a deal since most braiding stations in the fair will cost you upwards of $20 or more! He made good on his offer with four of us this year and it was a wonderful treat!

We also were able to meet some new characters this year! One especially fun character was the ever-elusive young dragon, FireFlicker! He is exceptionally hard to find and considered quite the find to capture him on camera! He’s always on the lookout for shiny objects to add to his dragon hoard!

Try to catch FireFlicker, the friendly dragon! He is quite illusive but well worth the hunt!

Try to catch FireFlicker, the friendly dragon! He is quite illusive but well worth the hunt!

A tip on attending the joust…be sure to arrive at least 30-40 minutes early for your joust of choice as seats fill quickly (especially if you want one in the shade!). The first joust of the day is merely exhibition. Skills of dexterity and horsemanship as well as sword and lance handling. Very tame for the feint of heart! But those wishing to see a match to the death should be sure and make the final joust of the day. This joust will see only one winner and is much more violent as all the knights are pitted against one another in defending their honor. Of course, they still maintain the humor and light-heartedness and all the “dead” knights rise once again at the end, much to the cheers of the crowd! But if you have sensitive little ones, stick to the earlier joust. If you would like to congratulate your favorite knight, get to know his horse or ask questions about the more technical aspects of the joust, be sure and stop by the paddocks after the performance as each knight will be available to sign autographs and talk to the crowd!

Make sure you ask for a demo of the dragon flute! You won't be disappointed!

Make sure you ask for a demo of the dragon flute! You won’t be disappointed!

Some of the new musicians we discovered included the traditional dulcimer. This is a harp-like instrument played with a pick. It is absolutely haunting to listen to and very fun to watch a master at work on the strings! We encountered this talented fellow near the mermaid tank. But you haven’t heard real magic until you’ve visited the flute shop and seen what they can do with the “dragon flute” and the “fairy pipes”! Ever seen a wooden saxophone? We have! And so can you if you stop by their store for a demo!

If you haven’t visited the amazing artisan-filled Renaissance Festival yet, don’t worry…there’s still time! The fair runs through April 2, from 10:00-6:00 (rain or shine) Saturday and Sunday. Tickets can be purchased online at http://www.royalfaires.com/arizona/. But there is a special contest going on right now to get a free adult ticket with VIP parking over at our sister sites facebook page https://www.facebook.com/MyCrazy8/! Jump on over there and get entered! Contest winner will be announced tomorrow!

Have you been to the fair? Share your experiences below! There are so many things to see that we’d love to hear what new discoveries YOU made! Huzzah!

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April flowers bring May…showers?

May 16th, 2015 6:47pm

If you live in Arizona, this line holds very true this year! Our showers came a bit late but boy did they come! We dropped from the triple digits to the high 50’s in a single day! But if you’ve lived in Arizona for more than a year, you know very well that this cool weather is a late season tease with triple digit temperatures just over the horizon! So what comes with lots of moisture followed by extremely warm temperatures?…yup! Prepare for the onslaught of the mosquito invasion!

Now typically, I’d be reaching for my store bought bug spray. But over the last few years, I have become more and more hesitant to slather myself or my children in chemical that boasts warning labels like HAZARDOUS TO HUMANS AND DOMESTIC ANIMALS and CAUSES SUBSTANTIAL BUT TEMPORARY EYE INJURY and my favorite, WASH HANDS THOROUGHLY WITH SOAP AND WATER AFTER HANDLING! …and that was the DEET FREE “PLANT-BASED” bug spray!!!! Seriously?? And they’re somehow still encouraging us to spray this all over ourselves and our children?? So I started looking for a safer alternative that I could use without concern on both me and my children. Enter essential oils!

I personally use doTERRA’s TerraShield blend which is specifically formulated to repel those nasty little buggers that are out to get you! It is all natural, causes no skin irritation, smells wonderful and works amazingly well! A few drops applied directly to the skin or clothing will work well for about 4-6 hours! This is not the only oil that works well as a natural bug repellent. Peppermint is also very powerful and makes a great all natural bug repellent to spray directly on your plants!

Here is a homemade spray incorporating several essential oils known to repel various kinds of bugs as well as the very powerful blend, TerraShield, that has been working wonderfully for my family! It smells amazing, works incredibly effeciently at keeping all kinds of pesky buggies away and is not greasy! I make it ahead of time and keep it on hand throughout the bug season.

Don't want to spray chemical on your kids to keep those bugs away? Then make your own all natural bug spray!

Don’t want to spray chemical on your kids to keep those bugs away? Then make your own all natural bug spray!

 

 

4 TB water

2 TB witch hazel

4 drops of Thyme Essential Oil

4 drops of Lemongrass Essential Oil

4 drops of Lavender Essential Oil

4 drops of Peppermint Essential Oil

8 drops of TerraSheild Essential Oil Blend

Combine in a 6 oz spray bottle and keep handy throughout the season. I can even get this recipe into a 4oz spray bottle that I keep in my purse for when we’re out and about!

Want to know more about essential oils? Check out www.wiseandhealthyliving.com. If you would like to purchase these oils, visit www.mydoterra.com/theessentialhome or contact jennifer@wiseandhealthyliving.com.

 

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Do your kids struggle with focus?

October 23rd, 2014 1:44am

Do your kiddos struggle with focusing in school? Do they have a difficult time paying attention in class? Struggle with nervous ticks or fidgeting? Does your child sit on the spectrum of autism with just enough functionality to not qualify for assistance? If you have ever watched your kids struggle with teachers because of behavior issues such as these, then I would like to introduce you to your new best friend…DoTerra’s InTune Essential Oil Blend!

This oil is a combination of Amyris Bark, Patchoili Leaf, Frankincense Resin, Lime Peel, Ylang Ylang Flower, Hawaiian Sandalwood Wood, and Roman Chamomile Flower. These oils have been carefully chosen for their ability to enhance focus and support healthy thought processes. THIS IS NOT A DRUG! This is a natural way, no matter your age, to stay focused on the task at hand and support your efforts to remain calm, pay attention and sustain focus.

This oil can be used aromatically or topically to produce results. I have used this oil on myself as well as my kiddos before testing, when we have a particularly tough concept we are trying to learn in school and when we are studying. It can be applied to the bottoms of the feet and/or back of the neck as well as diffused in the room and can be equally effective in either application.

Before you dismiss this as “hippie stuff”, I would like to share a personal experience with this oil. I was assisting a kindergartener with their reading. This particular little girl was seriously struggling with focus. She could not remain on task for more than a few minutes. Her teacher had tried to get her assistance but she was just functional enough to not warrant that extra help she so needed from the district. We worked together as best we could for several months with little effect. I was lucky if I got 5-10 minutes of productivity out of her. So one morning, I brought in a piece of cotton that I had put a few drops of InTune on. I placed it on the table while we were working. She commented how much she loved the smell. We worked together for 45 MINUTES! She was on task, focused and interacting with me at every turn. I was ecstatic! Her teacher was shocked and could not believe we had been so productive for so long! Needless to say, this cotton InTune “diffuser” became a very productive habit for us!

If you would like to know more about Essential Oils or this oil in particular, contact me at jennifer@wiseandhealthyliving.com for more information. I teach classes on using oils in the classroom and at home safely and effectively and would be happy to set you on a safer, more natural path of greater productivity and success for your children!

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Those of you who were paying attention to the national news over the last month may have noticed that we, here in Arizona, got just a bit of rain…like twice our average rainfall!…in about a period of a day! What does this mean? Well, when you live in a desert, it means massive flooding, LOTS of standing water and…you guessed it…MOSQUITOS! Those of us who have touted for years the mantra “it’s a DRY heat!” are now forced to face a very frightening reality…it’s not dry anymore!

Flooding in Mesa, AZ

Mesa, Az received over 4 inches of rain in 12 hours!

So we turn to our bug sprays to save our children from those little itchy nightmares with wings…or do we? If you’re like me, you have a certain fear of the many chemicals in over the counter bug sprays. Especially when the warning labels include things like the following:
“Insect repellents containing DEET should not be used on children under 2 months of age. Oil of lemon eucalyptus products should not be used on children under 3 years of age. When applying insect repellents to children, avoid their hands, around the eyes, and cut or irritated skin. Do not allow children to handle insect repellents. When using on children, apply to your own hands and then put it on the child. After returning indoors, wash your child’s treated skin or bathe the child. Clothes exposed to insect repellants should be washed with soap and water.”

Carrying the frightening "West Nile Virus", we have now had an influx of these annoying little guys!

Or how about this one…
“…repeated applications may increase potential toxic effects.”
Considering these bug sprays have an active time of only a few hours, if that, what is one to do when reapplying could “increase potential toxic effects”??
Well, this momma has found an all natural alternative! Doterra’s CPTG Essential Oils!… now before you roll your eyes, hear me out! I reacted with the eyeroll my first go around with a consultant too! But then I started researching. And then I started using them. And now, I am a total believer! My current, all natural, non-toxic alternative to bug spray consists of fractionated coconut oil, Lavendar, peppermint, lemongrass, and clove mixed in a 2 ounce spray bottle. It not only smells wonderful and is good for the skin, but it is the bomb when it comes to repelling those little flying menaces! Reapply as necessary! There’s NO toxic load you need to worry about!

Doterra's Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils are a very powerful all natural alternative to toxic bug sprays.

Peppermint is a natural repellant for ants, aphids, beetles, fleas, gnats, moths, plant lice, and spiders! Clove works especially well combined with lavender and lemongrass to repel mosquitos as well as ticks. Spray a little of this mixture into your hands and rub all over the exposed skin or you can spray directly on cloths.
My kids did not believe me after a day or two because, they insisted, we don’t see any mosquitos anywhere! So they decided to run off to school without their homemade bug spray application one morning. Can you guess how many bites they came home with?? My 6 year old daughter had about 7 and my 9 year old son held the record with about 18! Needless to say, they have not left the house without their bug spray since and so far, we have not had any new additions to our existing bug bite count! But what to do with those itchy bites we received in our moment of parental independence?… we use straight Lavendar oil…removes the itch immediately! Apply as needed…it also helps to heal them faster! Lavendar is a natural antihistamine!
I will admit, I am on a bit of a crusade to share these homemade essential oil remedies with all parents struggling to reduce their families toxic load. They have truly changed the way I think about home health! If you would like to know more, or even receive a sample of these little miracles in a bottle, feel free to contact me at jennifer@wiseandhealthyliving.com.

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New Back-to-School Movie Giveaway!

August 8th, 2013 4:00pm

We know a few of us out there are less than thrilled about school starting up again. But we want to cheer you up! We are serious Disney fans over here and can’t help but be a little bit excited about the new movie, “Planes”, that comes out tomorrow! Nothing like a rip roarin’ Disney animated adventure to bring the sparkle back into our glazed over “back-to-school” eyes! So we are hosting a movie ticket giveaway starting tomorrow! Even if you aren’t a Disney fan, you gotta admit… movies are a fun indulgence! We are giving away two pairs of tickets to any Cinemark theater. Lots of ways to enter so don’t miss out!…
a Rafflecopter giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Summertime = WATER VIGILANCE!!

June 5th, 2013 12:54am

It is never a thought we want to entertain for long…a childs young and innocent life cut short by a drowning accident. But living in a climate where swimming happens nearly all year, it is constantly on our minds. We stumbled across a wonderful article on Slate.com written by that brought our attention to the fact that while most of us are insanely vigilant with our kids around water, it might not save our children if we don’t know what to look for. They have offered up some very helpful tips to assist us in knowing what drowning really looks like…

  • Head low in the water, mouth at water level
  • Head tilted back with mouth open
  • Eyes glassy and empty, unable to focus
  • Eyes closed
  • Hair over forehead or eyes
  • Not using legs—vertical
  • Hyperventilating or gasping
  • Trying to swim in a particular direction but not making headway
  • Trying to roll over on the back
  • Appear to be climbing an invisible ladder

Notice there is no mention of “flailing madly in the water” or “loud splashing” noises. That is because if someone is truly drowning, they will not make a sound. As a witness to a child slipping under the water literally right by my side, I can attest to the shocking truth that no sound is made and most of their panicking will happen under the water where we are least likely to notice. Luckily, we had fast acting help all around and this particular child was rescued quickly without trauma. But it is frightening to realize how quickly and quietly drowning happens. Vigilance is necessary but please be sure you know what it is EXACTLY that you are supposed to be vigilantly looking for!

Keep your kids safe by being informed. You can also look into getting CPR certified or other water safety classes. Check your local hospitals for information or visit the Red Cross “Take a Class”  to find out about classes being offerred near you. CPR training can be a valuable tool in protecting our kids around water but wouldn’t it be better to never have to need it??…STAY VIGILANT!

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Internet security for your kids

April 2nd, 2013 8:09pm

As our world speedily seeks to replace books with technology, our good old paperback friends have a little advice before they disappear into the background of our lives!

I know it’s on every parents mind. This is the new world of technology we live in. The internet in all it’s glory, amazement and horror are so easily accessible for our children at all times and seemingly in all places. It is becoming increasingly difficult to monitor, police, educate and generally protect our children as best we can from some of the onslaughts that await them in the interactive world we live in. But does that mean we give up?? NO! We have some amazing tools to tell you about!

First, for those of you with kids either using their own cell phones/tablets or using yours, you might wonder how can you get some control over interactive content on these devices. Our first tip is to download the Mobicip app! It is a free browser available through the app store or through their website at http://www.mobicip.com/. Once you have this browser on your device, you want to disable the safari browser or whatever browser came standard on your device. We are iphone users so we also have enabled all the security restrictions in our settings where we can control whether to allow app purchases, what apps are visible, etc. which is all password protected. At that point, the only browser available will be the Mobicip browser. Within the browser settings, you can set restrictions that are age appropriate for each user. Very handy when you have various ages using the same devices!

Now on to the computer issue. We HIGHLY recommend a program called NetNanny which can be purchased and downloaded at http://www.netnanny.com/. This program allows you to customize your settings for family members, customize your filter settings, receive reports regarding user accessed content, immediate text/email should one of your users attempt to access restricted material, and a log of every page visited by each user. This has become an invaluable tool for my family and I hope you will take a moment to review all the amazing features available through this program.

We hope you will continue to be vigilant on your children’s behalf in helping to protect them from the dangers of the internet while teaching them responsible habits in using their technology. Please weigh in on this issue with any suggestions you have found to work well in your own families and together we can help protect our families!

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Calling all history buffs!…

February 27th, 2013 8:44pm

Commemorative Air Force's Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber, FIFI, first flown in 1942 and beginning active service in 1944. Best Known as the aircraft whose missions over Japan helped bring about the end of WWII.

For those of you who have kiddos that are seriously into airplanes or, in my case, World War II airplanes specifically, you need to know about an event at Mesa Gateway Airport starting Thursday, February 28th and running through Sunday, March 3rd! The Commemorative Air Force’s Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber (the ONLY remaining flight ready example of this aircraft in the world!) will be visiting this airport along with another famous World War II bomber, the B-17 Flying Fortress, Sentimental Journey, and a P-51 Mustang, Man O’War! For those WWII aficionado’s out there, some of the other famous aircraft on tap will be the C-45 Expeditor, a Navy SNJ and a Navy N2S!

The aircraft will be on the ramp at Gateway Aviation Services, 5803 S. Sossaman Road in Mesa from 2:00pm-6:30pm on February 28 and 9:00am to 6:30pm through March 3rd. Admission is $10 per person; $20 for families with children 17 and under; and free for children 10 years old and younger. Cockpit tours are available with admission and rides in the airplanes can be purchased for an additional $65-$595. Please note there may be a discount if purchased online. For more information, visit the Mesa Gateway Airport press release.

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Encouraging Goal Setting

January 21st, 2013 1:45am
New Years Resolutions

It's time to remind ourselves as well as our children about the importance of goal setting and achieving!

Yes, it is once again that magical time of year when we sit down with ourselves, evaluate our progress over the last year and recommit to (or redefine) our goals for the new year. This is challenging task for us adults and even more so for out children. Oftentimes we put ourselves and our families on autopilot and miss out on the importance of goal setting in our lives. Leading by example and teaching our kids to set their own goals helps give them focus in their work and play. It helps them, as well as us parents, make decisions about the use of their time. And being in sync with our children’s goals can help us guide them to making better choices throughout each day.

Here are a few suggestions that I have opted to try out on my own family this year. Sometimes the greatest challenge to goal setting is knowing where to start. Here are a few prompts to get you going!…

• Set goals that build spiritual strength
Whatever your religious beliefs, seek after goals that bring you closer to your spiritual self. Pray and teach your children to pray. Freely forgive others. Read to your children from scriptures or stories that teach good principles and values. Develop a habit of study (help your kids learn to give over a part of their day to some kind of practice or study). Participate in your religious meetings with your children.

• Set goals that increase knowledge
Select a subject of interest to study (a great way to discover some of your childs hidden intersts!). Learn another language (kids love learning even a few words of a different language…make it a secret way to communicate between you!). Develop or learn about a new skill or interest (a great way to start identifying your child’s abilities). Improve your ability to communicate with others (teach your children manners in…how do we talk to one another?).

• Set Goals that increase personal well-being and health
Develop healthy eating habits (make a game of the pantry…what is good, better, best to eat?). Learn to prepare healthy foods (kids especially love this one! Use a cookie cutter to cut those healthy bites down to a more manageable and fun size!). Develop a program of regular exercise (dancing in the family room with your toddler definitely counts!). Create opportunities to be active with family and friends (bike riding is very popular in our household).

• Set Goals that increase your ability to serve others
Give service to your family (what jobs can we do for each other?). Volunteer to help a neighbor or friend (have your child ask themselves “who needs me today”). Write (or draw for younger kids) a letter/picture to send to someone special. Commit to finding someone to help each day.

• Set goals that increase moral strength
Overcome a bad habit (any thumb suckers out there? How about interrupters? Waiting your turn to speak is a tough one for kids). Learn to be grateful and express your appreciation (teaching kids the value of thank you notes after the holidays is a great way to accomplish this!). Improve your ability to manage time (print your calendars!). Learn to enjoy hard work (chore charts, anyone?). Cultivate patience and tolerance for others (helping them identify ways to get along with a sibling). Identify ways to recognize in yourself when you are doing your best.

We hope these guidelines will help you shape some wonderful goals for yourselves and your  family this year! Remember, “Goals are the fuel in the furnace of achievement!” (Brian Tracy, Eat That Frog). Good luck stoking those little furnaces this year!

We hope you will sound off in our “Inspiration for Parents” forum about the ways you have found success in your own families with goal setting.

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