Saturday, December 16, 2017

Caring Causes: CharityGiftCertificate

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NEW Party Idea "Let's Card Party" - Ask your colleagues and guests to bring retail gift cards, to donate remaining balances to your favorite charity!

Pet Pointers: 5 Family Friendly Designer Dog Breeds

If you are looking for the next furry addition to your family, but have not found the breed that is right for you and yours, maybe it is time to check out some of the so-called designer breeds. These crossbred dogs include puppies from different purebred parents to try to get the best qualities of each. 

There are several great hybrid dogs that have been bred for different purposes. Some are bred to get an edge in competitive dog sports. Others are bred to get a certain look. This article will look at 5 top hybrids bred specifically for great companionship and family-friendly traits. 


The Cavapoo is a mix of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and a Miniature Poodle. This hybrid breed has been developed specifically to make the perfect family companion. They have the sweet lap dog heart of a Cavie with the smarts and hypoallergenic coat of the Poodle. 

Also known as the Cavoodle, this loveable crossbreed has become extremely popular in Australia. There are plenty of reasons to love them: they are great with kids, other dogs, and new environments. They are easy to train, travel well, and are full of personality. 

One thing to consider with this breed is that they simply do not do well if left alone for long periods of time on a regular basis. This furry guy needs plenty of attention and love! Unless you are great with clippers, you will need to take them to the groomer every 6-8 weeks for a trim. 


The first thing you will notice about this designer breed is: ADORABLE! They have delightfully expressive faces with large eyes that seem to be perpetually engaged in making sure they are the star of the show. They are absolutely great with kids and do well in multi-dog households. 

This hybrid breed is a cross between Pugs and Boston Terriers, both known for their comical antics and winning personalities. They can be a little bit stubborn and strong willed, so a consistent approach to training is key. Keep training positive and exciting for the best results. 

A potential health problem with this breed are breathing problems since both of the parent breeds have flat faces. In some cases, a surgical procedure will be needed to help these little guys breath comfortably. 

Small and compact, you can take your Bugg anywhere! Early socialization with other dogs, people and places will ensure you have a pet that can come on the family vacation for years to come. 


This designer dog brings together two great breeds known for intelligence, trainability, and playfulness: the Labrador Retriever and Standard Poodle. Extremely affectionate with a low-shedding coat, this breed has quickly become a family favorite. 

They do need regular exercise and an experienced hand with training to make sure they do not overpower smaller children with their boundless energy and larger size. 

This is a great choice for the active family with teens that enjoy the outdoors. Expect a great swimmer that loves games like fetch and chase. 


Looking for the perfect pocket pet? This little sweetheart is a great choice for families with older children or seniors that are living in an apartment. They can get all of their exercise needs met indoors and love to rest up on an inviting lap. 

This mix of a Chihuahua and a Dachshund may be a little too sensitive for toddlers as they can be a little nippy if handled roughly. Once a child is old enough to respect basic dog handling guidelines, they will have hours of play with these gregarious pups. 

Keep training fun and positive with these sensitive animals. They can be a little stubborn and headstrong. Neither parent breed is a brainiac so plan on being patient and appreciating this darling more for their winning personality than their trick savvy. 


This crossbreed brings together Beagles and Pugs, both extremely popular choices for families with small children. They tend to have playful and loving dispositions with a tendency towards ridiculous behavior designed to get some attention. 

The exercise needs for this small to medium sized dog are moderate. A fenced yard and some daily fetch games will easily meet their exercise needs without long walks. Expect a little trouble getting these fellas housetrained. Crate training is recommended. 

Most Puggles avoid the breathing problems associated with their Pug parents thanks to the longer snout of the Beagle. Darling, ready for adventure, and a built in desire to please makes the Puggle a great choice for families. 

Some Words of Caution on Designer Breeds

There are a few things to keep in mind if you decide on a crossbreed for your next family pet. Due to their popularity and high cost, there are some market incentives that can create the perfect storm for irresponsible breeding. Before you buy, follow some basic guidelines for finding a responsible breeder:

  • Start by researching rescue groups in your area for the dog of your dreams looking for a forever home. 

  • Responsible breeders of crossbreeds should have a demonstrated history breeding and showing one or both of the parent breeds. 

  • The breeder should offer to show you health records of the parents, offer contact information for previous buyers willing to offer a reference, and ask you to sign a contract that you will return the pup to them in the event you need to rehome. 

  • Never buy any dog from any breeder without being invited to inspect the home or kennel where they are bred. There should be adequate space to play, clean housing, and a clear commitment to the well being of both parents and pups. 

Healthy Habits: Holiday Hangovers

Tis the season for over-indulgence. As we gear up for this jolly time of the year, it goes without saying, most will be sipping on spiked eggnog, champagne, among other festive cocktails. In the moment, this may seem like harmless fun, but in excess can take a toll on your body, and some will be left with the holiday hangover blues.

Dr. Christopher Calapai, D.O., a New York City Osteopathic Physician board certified in family and anti-aging medicine, suggests the following natural remedies for getting rid of that pesky morning aftermath hangover:

1)     Drink water and other liquids too! Drink a good amount of water before [going out] — at least 6 to 8 glasses, with a little lemon or orange, which are acidic and balance your pH. If in the case this does not happen, rehydrate and flush the impurities from your system with electrolyte filled drinks. I.e. sports drinks, coconut water, or bouillon soup for salt and potassium restoration the morning after.

2)     Ginger is packed with vitamins and minerals making it a great remedy for settling an upset stomach. Add honey, as it contains fructose, which will help the body metabolize and burn off any alcohol still in your system.

3)     Alka-Seltzer - Get a different type of bubbly in your system! Alka-seltzer varieties contain sodium bicarbonate (also known as baking soda), which can help settle an uneasy tummy by neutralizing stomach acid.

4)     Go Bananas for Bananas – A lot of potassium is drained from your body when you drink heavenly. Bananas are bursting with potassium and will the you the giddy-up and go your body may be needing!

5)     Exercise – Even when you don’t feel like it, it can help to stimulate the release of endorphins, resulting in a better mood and a better state of mind as you recover from your hangover.

6)     Multivitamin - Taking a vitamin supplement before drinking and one the next morning with food is a great source of rejuvenating the vitamins lost due to drinking, as alcohol is a natural diuretic.

7)     Eat a big meal before! – We all know how it is to get caught up in the celebrations and fun, but it can be a game changer if you can remember to do this. A large meal will coat your stomach lining, helping to better absorb alcohol.

Giveaway: Peanut Butter for Christmas

Jim Cosgrove, aka "Mr. Stinky Feet" just released a remastered edition his album Mr. Stinky Feet’s Christmas (original release in 2003).  

We are promoting two singles from the album: "Peanut Butter for Christmas" and "Santa’s Got Stinky Feet. 
Peanut butter. It’s what’s for Christmas! And it’s the focus of a blues-rocky new song and video from beloved kid-rocker Jim “Mr. Stinky Feet” Cosgrove. “Peanut Butter for Christmas” is one of two new songs featured on the remastered and re-released album Mr. Stinky Feet’s ChristmasFind out why the elves are walking off the job in “Santa’s Got Stinky Feet,” a holiday twist on Cosgrove’s hit song “Stinky Feet” (which has more than 1.5 million YouTube views).
Mr. Stinky Feet's Christmas is available from 

Enter for a chance to win a CD by leaving a comment with a funny holiday memory. Deadline is December 21st.

Fun Freetime: Sea Tales 2018 Family Cruise Travel Planel

CruiseCompete is excited to announce that the “Sea Tales 2018 Family Cruise Travel Planner” is now available as a PDF or Online book, and details every aspect of the family cruise vacation experience. Readers will find the 2018 edition has updated information and new sections that cover family suites and children’s dining, as well as details about the popular onboard cruise line characters from children’s books and movies.

The “Sea Tales 2018 Family Cruise Travel Planner” is designed to help get your cruise vacation planning in motion and covers the entire gamut of options with information on such contemporary, upscale contemporary and premium cruise lines as Disney Cruise LineRoyal Caribbean InternationalCarnival Cruise LineNorwegian Cruise Line and Princess Cruises, as well as ultra-premium and ultra-luxury, as well as river and small ship excursion lines.

All information has been compiled in an easy-to-read format, with brief at-a-glance summaries to see which cruise line fits your basic requirements, followed by more detailed information about the atmosphere on board, the destinations you can travel to and the specific programs available for children.

Find CruiseCompete’s “Sea Tales 2018 Family Cruise Travel Planner” at (PDF or Online book)

CruiseCompete member-agents are the most well-educated, forward-thinking and trusted cruise specialists in the industry. If you’d like more information or assistance planning a future cruise, please visit To see consumer feedback click here.
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Note to Editors About CruiseCompete
CruiseCompete has been the premier online cruise marketplace since 2003 (see media praises). Consumers come to CruiseCompete to research and book cruise vacations and have received almost 16 million quotes since 2003. They can compare offers from trusted travel agents, see consumer reviews of agents and agencies responding, then contact travel agents directly for more information and to book cruises. CruiseCompete is a member of the Family Travel Association, the leading authority and resource for family travel information and is home to the Sea Tales 2018 Family Cruise Travel Planner at Travel Resources.
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Fun Freetime: Cold Weather Family Activities

In the Summer, Fall, and Spring months, almost everyone wants to be outdoors. And then comes winter with cold days, along with long and dark nights. Some people suffer from seasonal depression with the lack of sun on their skin. But this doesn't have to be so. Winter is a wonderful time of the year to get out and enjoy the splendor of the season or cozy up next to a warm fire and do a craft. I've put together a list of some winter activities that the whole family can partake in. I hope that you find one or two that suits your fancy.

Ice Skating

Many towns have outdoor ice skating rinks while others have indoor rinks. Some even have both. The nice thing about ice skating is that it's a fun event that the whole family can partake in together. Look up and check out your local rink schedule. You'll want to go at the open skate time. That is the time scheduled for all abilities and ages. If this is your first time on skates, have no fear. You are in for a treat. Get ready to hold that wall and tip toe around the rink while your family giggles. Some rinks even have walkers that you can use to help you keep your balance. If ice skating is too hard, then try roller skating.

Sled Riding

No winter is complete without at least one trip to your local community hill. Maybe you are even blessed to have your own hill. Dress warm and pack a pillow in your pants if you need to and get ready to laugh as you speed down the hill over bumps. You might even become airborne, which will give your family and you a memory to laugh at. Did I mention packing a pillow? Well, maybe not a pillow, but you might want to wear double pants and a snow suit for the bumpy rides. You'll thank me later. Have fun and create a memory doing this activity that has been around since sleds were invented.

Take A Painting Class

Most towns have painting classes that are appropriate for the whole family. They are usually two hours in length. An artist will walk you through step by step to help you create your own canvased masterpiece. This is such a fun time and one of my favorite winter activities to do with my daughter. In fact, we just did our yearly winter painting class tonight. Now, we both have a Christmas barn painting complete with a snowman and "Merry Christmas" greeting on it to hang in our living room. More importantly, every time we look at our paintings we remember the fun memories that we made creating them.

Create and Enjoy a Hot Chocolate Bar

Winter and hot chocolate or hot cocoa if you will, just go together. How about getting some fun ingredients together and creating a hot chocolate barn for your whole family to enjoy. In addition to the hot cocoa, you could have bowls filled with chocolate chips, peppermint candies, marshmallows, whipped topping, chocolate syrup, etc. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination and taste buds.

Movie Theater Day

Let's face it, sometimes it's just too bitter cold to enjoy the outdoors in the wintertime. Or maybe it's too windy. This is a great time to gather the kids and pick out a family-friendly movie to attend. If you are like me, you can go all out and order extra large popcorn with free refills and some other tasty treats. That can be half the fun of the movie itself. Enjoy some warm time inside while the winds and freezing temperatures howl outside. If you'd rather stay home, then rent or buy a DVD to watch from the comfort of your living room. But don't forget the popcorn!

Build a Snowman

No winter is complete without building at least one snowman together with someone that you love. Snowman building is a great family activity. And the best thing is that you have a finished product to admire and marvel over as you look out your window later. You could go the traditional route with the carrot nose, broom and top hat, or make your own totally unique creations. How about a snow lady with an apron or a big white snow dog? Have fun and create some memories.

Make a Fort

One of my favorite childhood memories is making forts with my family. The family dog would even come out to help. Most kids love to play in forts. Why not build one together? Then when parents are back to the normal swing of things like work, paying bills, and doing boring adult things, the kids can play in the fort and remember the fun time that was had by all when making it. Don't forget to take photos of the family in the fort. Self timers on cell phones work great for moments like these.

Create Snow Angels

Snow Angels require no planning. All you need is some fresh snow. This activity may last only 5 minutes or longer if you want to make lots of them. Kids will love watching their parents act so childlike. And parents, this may even make you feel younger. Just do it. When you look back at the angels the next day, I know it will bring a smile to your faces.

Have A Family Football Game in the Snow

So many movies show families going out and having that yearly game of football. Mine always had one too, both on Thanksgiving and on Christmas. We lived in the snow belt of Erie, Pennsylvania, so there was never a lack of snow. If you are blessed with snow, get the whole family out and have a game of football. You actually don't even need snow, though it does make the falls a bit softer. Make some memories and keep score, but don't be afraid to bend the rules a whole lot since you will most likely have a wide range of ages from adults to young kids.

Go Snowshoeing

Snowshoeing can be such a fun winter activity. If you don't have snow shoes, look into renting them. Or go hiking or cross-country skiing. The point is to get out there as a family, move around, get some exercise and enjoy God's beautiful winter creations. The fresh air will do everyone good.

Final Thoughts 

If you noticed, a small percent of the activities I mentioned required money. Or if payment is required, it is minimal. There are so many activities that you can do as a family that only require a willing heart. Take some time to enjoy all that winter has to offer. Take photos, have fun, and create memories that will last a lifetime.
Rachel Watson is the website manager at OurStart is a lifestyle blog for women in their 20s and 30s, that regularly publishes content around pregnancy, parenting, and marriage. When she is not writing, she enjoys spending time with her friends and family, exploring cute cafes, and playing with her miniature schnauzer. 

Music Minute: Kids' Music Grammy Nominees Interview

I had a chance to ask "One Question for the GRAMMY Nominees" about their albums. 

​The official complete GRAMMY nominees list is at  There you will also find information about the GRAMMY Awards on Sunday, January 28 in NYC. ​

​Four of these nominees will perform at an unofficial concert in NYC on January 27. It benefits a music education charity called Education Through Music:

What message do you hope families take away from your album?

Alphabet Rockers - - "Rise Shine #Woke" @AlphabetRockers
Don't wait to talk to your kids about racism - they can take it, and we need everyone to do this vital work.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo -  "Songs of PEACE & LOVE for Kids & Parents around the World" @TheRealMambazo -
​This question is very important to us. Our album is filled with songs about making peace, about settling conflicts and about loving each other. We wanted to create a collection of songs that parents could listen to with their children and engage in conversations about the meanings of the songs so kids can apply a peaceful way of living among their friends and family​.

Lisa Loeb - - "Feel What U Feel" @LisaLoeb 
I hope families connect with each other listening to the songs and realize that their lives and the details in them are important- they are what make up their lives.  Also, I hope people feel encouraged to be themselves and empowered to do anything!

Justin Roberts - - "Lemonade"  @MusicianJustin
I don't think too much about overall message when I'm writing songs for an album, but I am always trying to find those common experiences that connects us all together. A bit like when the father in Lemonade is trying to explain his youth to his own children. On this record, I'm looking for moments of laughter and longing, some silliness and a bit of heartbreak. If I had to pick just one section of Lemonade, I'd probably choose the message that "right here in this moment, how lucky we are."

Gustafer Yellowgold - - "Better Things" @GustaferYellowgold
Life is a balance of ups and downs. Joy and struggle. Dark and light. Kale and cake. Hard work makes the playtime even more fun. Like the lyric in the first song, “Brighter Side” it  says, “It takes a canvas of black, to show how brightly stars can shine!"

Thrifty Thinking: Broadband and Income

IIA just released a whitepaper, “The Multiplier Effect of Broadband and the Income of American Households,” that explores how much money Americans are making using broadband-enabled platforms, the average broadband ROI for gig economy workers and the percentage of household spending, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, that typical sharing economy earnings can cover. IIA also issued an update to its annual “Top 10 Ways Being Online Saves You Money” report, which finds the average American household can now save more than $12,000 per year on household spending through use of high-speed internet services, after the average annual costs of a mobile data plan and a home broadband connection ($1,200) are subtracted.

You can read the whitepaper here ( and view the study infographic, which shows how the average American saves so much due to broadband, here (


Star Wars Stickers at Target toy demo 12/16 and 12/17 11am-5pm

Book Nook: Solve for Happy

I'm a math teacher, so it always tickles me when the language of math is used in other areas. Solve for Happy, a book I got to review, is written by logical problem solver Mo Gawdat, Chief Business Officer for Google's [X], the team of engineers that makes up Google's "dream factory."

Although he was successful, he was unhappy. So like any engineer would, he looked for an algorithm, a set of steps that can be found to complete a process. Looking at the evidence he could collect and applying rational thinking, he discovered the equation for permanent happiness.

He realized he had been going about everything backwards. Instead of working for wealth and assuming happiness would follow, he began with the pursuit of happiness. With an understanding of happiness as our "default state" (based partly on the idea that children tend to be happier and more carefree than adults), he created the equation that happiness is related to our perception of events and our expectations. If our expectations are greater than our perception of events, we won't be happy. But if the way we perceive events is greater than our expectation, then happiness follows.

The idea of our mindset being the key to happiness isn't new. I've seen it in plenty of books. However, Mo's approach as a rational, logical engineer makes the tone of this book different, and could definitely be a plus for people who may have found other "positive thinking" books too abstract. His writing style is clear, without relying on a great deal of tired quotes, and periodically he sums up the main points with bold "remember" statements that drive his point home.

If you've been looking for happiness form a secular viewpoint and haven't found it, this is a good book. It's also appropriate for people of any religious background who may have peace or joy based on their beliefs, but it hasn't translated into day-to-day happiness.