Tai Chi – An Amazing Gift For Your Children

Tai Chi Chuan, also known simply as Tai Chi, is a relaxing and meditative form of movement that can focus energy and provide a feeling of calm. By teaching the intricate relationship of opposites through physical motion, Tai Chi’s exploration of “yin” and “yang” can help provide both physical and mental balance.

One of the greatest benefits that Tai Chi students often achieve is the ability to effectively monitor external and internal feedback provided by their bodies and minds. While adults often turn to Tai Chi to cope with the stressors of work and family life, this ancient Chinese discipline is an activity you can share with children of all ages and abilities to help them cope with the mounting pressures of school and peer pressure. Here are a few ways that Tai Chi can benefit families with young children, “tweeners” and teens alike.

Improved concentration: A study at the University of Miami’s Touch Research Institute demonstrated that 10 sessions of Tai Chi helped adolescents with ADHD. Teens showed improved behavior, decreased hyperactivity and less daydreaming.

Improved Balance: In 2008, U.S. News and World Report published the article “For Better Balance, Pilates and Tai Chi Beat Out Yoga.” According to quotes from the University of California’s Fall Prevention Center for Excellence, Tai Chi is more effective at improving coordination and motor control while walking, which is when most falls tend to occur.

Lung Function Benefits: A Taiwanese study published in the 200 Journal of Microbiology, Immunology, and Infection revealed that asthmatic children who studied Tai Chi had improved pulmonary function.

Tai Chi Provides Insight: When children practice some forms of martial art like karate and judo they sometimes lose sight of their goals in their quest to win competitions or race each other to the next level or belt color. In contrast, Tai Chi is a noncompetitive activity where kids can move at their own pace without having to compete or constantly strive to attain belts or rankings.

A Tai Chi Style for Everyone: Families new to Tai Chi often don’t realize that there are several styles of Tai Chi. Some focus on fast-paced, high-energy movements while others are more slow and meditative. Do some research to figure out which one might be most suitable for your family or better yet, mix and match several forms for variety and benefits diversity.

No Fancy Equipment Necessary: While competitive sports have many benefits, one of the biggest drawbacks is the cost of equipment. If you are tired of running out to the sporting goods store to load up on baseball equipment, soccer uniforms or an expensive set of children’s golf clubs, consider Tai Chi as an inexpensive yet healthful activity that can be practiced as a group or alone.

Tai Chi Attunes Kids to Nature: Tai Chi has over 100 positions that are often named and based on movements displayed by animals, with a few being imaginary. When practicing Tai Chi, children are asked to envision moving like the animal that the position is named after. “Elephant drinks water,” “Bird stretches neck,” and “Dragon plays in the clouds” all work to develop flexibility. The “Tiger charges” and the “Lion sleeps” movements improve muscle tone while the “White crane flies” works on enhancing balance.

Tai Chi is Family-Friendly: If you’re struggling to recall a time when you all did something together, perhaps taking some Tai Chi classes and practicing as a family would be a great opportunity to reconnect.

The World is Your Tai Chi Studio: One of the greatest joys of Tai Chi is that you can practice it almost anywhere. Whether you are looking to visit a local park, have a lengthy layover at the airport or want to spend time at home minus the distractions of video games, television and computers, Tai Chi can transport you and your children to a peaceful, more centered place.

While many Tai Chi books and DVDs are readily available, consider initially working with an instructor who can provide guidance to both you and your children. Set aside some time for instruction and practice regularly so that you and your children can enjoy the many benefits of this ancient form of “meditation in motion.”

About the Author

Jennifer Sullivan is an avid follower of Eastern disciplines and also recommends martial arts and boxing for older teens for self-defense and self discipline. She is also a content contributor for Boxfituk, an online retailer of <a Boxfituk boxing gloves and other boxing equipment.

*Photo by Ben Burkland and Carolyn Cook*

Green Apple Risotto with Cabbage and Bacon

Ingredients

1/2 cup chopped slab bacon or chopped high-quality thick-sliced lean bacon (“Mom” opted for MorningStar Farms® Veggie Bacon Strips)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 Savoy cabbage, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
3 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups apple cider
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and cut into small dice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/3 cup chopped scallions
2 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature (optional)

Preparation

• Place a large straight-sided nonreactive saucepan over medium heat and when it is hot, add the bacon. When the bacon has rendered its fat, add the garlic, cabbage, salt, and pepper, stirring well after each addition, and cook until the cabbage is wilted and tender, about 10 minutes. Add the rice and stir until it is well coated.

• Add 1 cup of water and cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid has been absorbed by the rice. Add 1/2 cup apple cider and continue adding water and apple cider, 1 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition, until all the liquid has been absorbed, about 18 to 20 minutes.

• Stir in the apple, mustard, scallions, and, if desired, the butter.

• Serve immediately.

*Recipe and image courtesy of Todd English*

CoolJuice is, well….just plain cool and refreshing! This all-natural, 100% real fruit juice is available in tasty blends such as Mango Groove, Tropical Blue, Tropical Rhythms, and Fruit Punch. Go ahead – turn up the Bob Marley or Jimmy Buffett poolside when sipping your favorite flavor over ice. What “Mom” loves about CoolJuice is that the blends contain no high fructose corn syrup, added sugar, artificial colors, flavors or preservatives! In other words, Tropical Blue is the color blue because of the blueberries and not due to Blue 1 food dye.

Not just a delightful beverage, CoolJuice flavors can be used in various recipes, such as Fruit Punch Scallops! Visit the Cool Kitchen for some exciting recipe ideas. “Mom” also made popsicles – simply pour in a popsicle mold and freeze for instant refreshment on a sweltering summer day!

All 4 CoolJuice flavors are available online, or you can visit their website to locate a retailer near you at CoolJuice.com.

*Company generously provided samples and images for this review.*

Hosting a Quality and Memorable Outdoor Party this Summer

Your party is always a reflection of you – your preferences, tastes and lifestyle. It is also a reflection of your guests, their preferences, special needs, and how important they are to you – their host.

Hosting a quality event is about being thoughtful. It will not be measured by how much money and time you spend, the famous brand names you use, or by mimicking the “Joneses” up the block — but by how welcomed, comfortable and special each guest is made to feel.

Dawn Bryan, lifestyle expert, best-selling author, and founder of Qualipedia™ – the definitive source for making choices daily that count, offers the following tips:

PREPARATION BASICS:
 Be prepared! You need to feel relaxed and welcoming; be a guest at your own party
 Plan a party you would enjoy attending; express your own individuality/creativity
 Do not underestimate the time and resources required or overestimate your capabilities
 Use your freezer to prepare dishes ahead of time; write things down and make lists
 Set out all serving platters, dishes, utensils the day before; have enough ice, food, and drink
 Plan to be ready 30 minutes before the invited time; greet guests as they arrive

OUTDOOR BASICS:
 Have an alternate plan in case of bad weather; have sunscreen available if it’s a day party
 If grilling, make sure you have grill, charcoal or fuel, and all tools clean and ready
 Keep the house cool for guests to escape the heat
 If it is a pool party, add fun water toys and floats
 Give guests comfortable places to relax, meet, and mingle by arranging seating into small groups.

BUFFET BASICS:
 Always prepare extra portions!
 To avoid the growth of bacteria keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold
 To avoid traffic jams, set bar/drink table away from the buffet table
 If children are invited, plan to have some foods/drinks they will especially enjoy
 Place containers around for disposing of olive pits, toothpicks, shells, etc
 If you expect leftovers, have take-away containers ready for your guests

ENTERTAINMENT BASICS:
 Music sets the mood and paces the flow of the party
 Do you want live music, dancing, or just soft background music? Use your imagination!
 Consider celebrity look-alikes, stilt walkers, ventriloquists, caricaturists, face painters, mimes, fire eaters, dancers, jugglers, balloon makers, or fortune tellers

BEYOND BASICS:
 Select a special date and make it your own: could be a Flag Day (June 14) party or “every June 18” party; commemorate an anniversary or special event
 Create a signature theme: a recipe, a season, a color, secret desire costumes or masks, jazz, salsa dancing, ping-pong tournament – all give imaginative impetus to your party, beginning with the invitation
 Send guests home with a gift bag or small memento related to your theme
 If party is on a Friday or Saturday evening, send guests home with fresh bagels, croissant, or danish for their breakfast – perhaps along with the next morning’s newspaper

About Qualipedia™
Qualipedia ™ is the definitive source for making choices daily that count. Qualipedia™ educates consumers on their choices, helping them achieve independence from product hype, providing transparency about everyday items and gives people the information they can use to determine quality for themselves, enhancing their lifestyles in a way that works for them.

About Dawn Bryan
Dawn is the founder of Qualipedia ™ and best-selling author of “The Art and Etiquette of Gift Giving.” Dawn’s impressive career includes being selected as a consultant and advisor for many global brands including Gucci, American Express, Business Week Magazine, Citicorps/Diners Club, Swarovski Crystal, and others. Most recently, she advised Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment on etiquette and protocol. She has authored many columns and books on etiquette, gift-giving and the quality of things for Business Week, Town & Country, Modern Bride, Vogue and Glamour among others. Dawn has taught international protocol to globalizing businesses and industries, as well as to Chinese journalists and diplomats in Beijing and Shanghai.

*Image provided by MYDrap.*

A rooty-toot fruity! Courtesy of CoolJuice, this scallops recipe gives you a healthy dose of the tropics this summer!

Fruit Punch Scallops

Ingredients

2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil or Unsalted Butter

2 Cloves of Garlic, Minced

1/4 Cup of CoolJuice Fruit Punch

1 Teaspoon of Dried Parsley

Juice of ½ Lemon

1 Pound of Fresh Bay Scallops, Rinsed and Patted Dry

Preparation

Heat Olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute.

Add scallops and cook for a couple of more minutes until scallops turn translucent.

Serves 4

*Recipe and image courtesy of CoolJuice.*

Bug Off – Naturally!

This summer, keep pests and insects away while enjoying the outdoors – naturally, of course! Tiny Green Mom has found the top 3 products that will keep you and your little ones protected from bugs without chemicals or harmful toxins.

ThermaCELL

No lotions or potions needed – ThermaCELL provides an effective, natural way to repel insects that is NOT topical, which parents will greatly appreciate as their kids hit the backyard this summer! Whether you are camping or just enjoying your own patio, the ThermaCELL outdoor lantern is odor-free uses no DEET, and provides a 15 x 15 percent comfort zone. This portable, lightweight lantern is is 98% effective in repelling mosquitoes, no-see-ums, and other annoying pests. The lantern can be carried or hung outside, and gives off twice as much light as previous models, in addition to providing 4 hours of protection from pesky insects with each repellent mat. For more information, visit www.thermacell.com.

Badger SPF30 Anti-Bug Sunscreen

Double-duty! Badger SPF30 Anti-Bug Sunscreen offers superior UVA-UVB Protection AND repels pesky insects! This smart product for the whole family is the perfect way to stay protected from the sun and ward off insects and bugs in one simple step!

This planet-friendly, multi-purpose product contains chemical free Zinc Oxide mineral sunscreen and Deet-free non-toxic bug repellent, combined with Certified Organic ingredients such as extra virgin olive oil and beeswax for smooth application. To keep the bugs from biting, Badger uses organic Citronella, Cedar, Rosemary, Lemongrass, and Geranium essential oils. No toxic chemicals – just pure, natural ingredients. Visit BadgerBalm.com to learn more!

Brittanie’s Thyme

Offering up to five hours of protection after application, Brittanie’s Thyme newly formulated Outdoor Harmony Organic Bug Spray is certified USDA Organic, safe for all ages and biodegradable. It smells fabulous and does not contain citronella, which “Mom” loves! Brittanie’s Thyme recommends that you do not spray directly onto the skin of children under 2 years of age, and instead spray their clothing, strollers, blankets and surrounding grass, as needed. Visit www.brittaniesthyme.com.

*Companies generously provided samples, images and information for this article.*

Natural Mosquito Control: Is it Possible?

Summertime brings pool parties, backyard cookouts, camping trips, picnics, Fourth of July celebrations, and just all kinds of good family fun. In fact for many, the lazy, hazy days of summer are like a dreamtime – a time when a wealth of family memories are created and stored away to be cherished for a lifetime.

But summertime also brings something else, something that can sour the summer dreamtime into a nightmare – mosquitoes. At their worst, mosquitoes can spoil outdoor fun faster than an unexpected cloudburst, transforming a family fun event into a free-for-all scramble for shelter.

And the itching welts that the mosquitoes leave behind as a souvenir of their party-crashing behavior is just the tip of the iceberg. Mosquitoes also deal out illness and death on a massive scale globally, infecting millions each year with deadly and debilitating illnesses such as West Nile virus, St. Louis encephalitis, eastern equine encephalitis, and the biggest killer of all, malaria.

Mosquito Control is Critical, But at What Cost?

In years past, we’ve relied heavily upon man-made synthetic chemicals, releasing megatons of chemicals such as DDT into the environment each year in our never-ending battle against the mosquito. These chemicals have been very effective weapons against mosquitoes, but the collateral damage caused by the use of these chemicals is incalculable.

Obviously, controlling mosquitoes is crucial – not only for the comfort of your family, but for their health as well. And in some parts of the world hard choices must be made between the risks of using synthetic chemicals and the benefits of holding at bay the onslaught of mosquito-borne diseases.

But what about your own tiny slice of the world: your backyard? Can you control mosquitoes around your home without relying on synthetic chemicals?

The answer – at least to a degree – is yes.

There Are Several Options for Controlling Mosquitoes Without Synthetic Chemicals

More products are available for controlling mosquitoes on a small, backyard-sized scale than ever before. And though some products rely on synthetic chemical insecticides, others utilize either an organic insecticide or use no insecticides at all. Here are some examples:

• A device that uses carbon dioxide to lure mosquitoes close enough to be vacuumed into a trap where they die of dehydration. Some may not consider this device to be strictly ‘green’ since it burns propane at an extremely low rate to generate the carbon dioxide. But this technology is capable of killing vast numbers of mosquitoes without releasing a drop of insecticide into the environment.

• A product that can serve as your own personal force field against mosquitoes. It uses a natural mosquito repellent to generate a mosquito-free zone of comfort that goes where you go, whether you’re hiking through the woods or lounging on a deck chair.

• A set-and-forget sprayer that will automatically spray for mosquitoes in your yard every day when they’re at their worst, using a natural botanical insecticide.

• And there’s the good old standby, citronella. Citronella candles, coils or torches really are effective in repelling mosquitoes. Lighting some citronella candles won’t instantly turn your yard into a 100% mosquito-free zone, but it will sure help.

Don’t let mosquitoes turn your summer dreamtime into a nightmare. Don’t let them create memories that will be haunting and bitter upon recollection rather than sweetly savored reminiscences.

Explore some of the many options that are available for modern mosquito control, and enjoy a summer that will live on in memory for all the right reasons.

About the Author

Visit the author’s website: mosquito-slap.com, to learn more about the mosquito and the best and most effective mosquito control products and repellents.

*Image: Christian Meyn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*

Nothing says summertime better than a grilled pizza! With slightly smoky flavor to the crust, it seems you can’t go wrong with any topping combinations you may create!

Grilled Veggie Pizza

Ingredients

Crust

Two Vidalia onions, peeled and thickly sliced

Red peppers, cut into large strips

Two ripe tomatoes halved and sliced

Provolone cheese (thinly sliced)

Fontina cheese (freshly grated)

Good quality parmesan cheese (freshly grated)

Fresh basil

Sliced portabella mushrooms

Pizza Sauce Ingredients

One eight ounce can tomato sauce with basil, garlic and oregano

One small can tomato paste with basil, garlic and oregano

Four ounces red wine

Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan over medium heat and stir until combined.

Preparation

Grill onions and peppers until nicely charred.

Let cool and give them a rough chop. Spread sauce generously over pizza, then layer with the cheeses and the chopped onions and peppers.

Then lay down the fresh basil leaves, sliced mushrooms, and top with another thin layer of freshly grated Parmesan.

Now onto the grill! Place pizza on pizza stone, and grill for roughly 30 minutes at 350 degrees, until the pizza is done with a delicious, crispy crust!

*Recipe and image courtesy of GrillinFools.com.*

Outdoor Family Fun in the Sun

These long, warm afternoons are perfect for quality time with your family. These tips will help you make the most of outdoor family fun in the sun all summer long!

Special Toys for Outdoors Only

Playing outside is messy, which is why it takes place outside of your tidy house. Make outdoor family fun more special by providing a variety of outdoor-only toys for your kids to use. Although fun, outdoor-only toys go beyond skateboards, bikes and scooters, and can include any combination of the following:

*Sidewalk Chalk
*Water Balloons
*Squirt Guns
*Hippety-Hops
*Pogo Sticks
*Jump Ropes
*Basketball Hoop
*Trampoline with Enclosure
*Bubbles
*Ping Pong

And last but not least, don’t forget the green hose coiled up on the side of your house. It might sound simple, but there’s really no end to the fun kids can have with a simple garden hose.

Outdoor Water Games

A summer afternoon with your kids might require more organized games, especially during hot, sweaty afternoons. These are two favorite games to cool everyone down and provide outdoor family fun in the sun.

• Bucket and Sponge – Make two even teams, and supply each with two buckets and a sponge. Fill one bucket about halfway with water for each team, leaving the second bucket empty. In relay-race style, each team must use the sponge to empty the full bucket into the empty one using only the sponge. The first team finished wins.
• Toss Across – Fill water balloons and provide one to each set of partners playing the game. Have each person face their partners with about three feet of distance between them. One player throws a water balloon to his or her partner. Once the water balloon is caught, both players take a step back. The water balloon is tossed again – once caught, each person takes a step back. Repeat until the water balloon breaks, soaking one of the players.

Outdoor Chores = Summer Family Activities

Being outdoors during the summer can be a combination of fun and chores – instead of calling them “chores,” tell your kids that you’d like them to join you in one or more of these “Summer Activities.” Doing these activities together will provide many hours of outdoor summer fun for your family.

• Designate a section of your garden plot “For Kids Only.” Give them the responsibility and freedom to decide what to plant, then teach them how to get started and maintain their garden all summer long. Offer fun suggestions, like sunflowers or a pumpkin patch of their very own.
• Assign your kids to wash different sections of your car, then hand out prizes or offer extra allowance money for a job well done.
• Give each child a bucket, then have a contest regarding who can pick the most weeds in an area of your yard that needs it.

Make the most of these long, warm summer days for extra fun with your family!

About the Author

Kelly Wilson is a busy mom and freelance writer. For a refreshing meal after outdoor summer fun with your family, head to kid-friendly BJ Willy’s, a restaurant in West Linn, Oregon.

*Image: photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*

You may have seen this at restaurants, but grilling your own romaine lettuce is extremely simple and the results are almost sinful. Yes, it is a must-try!

Grilled Romaine Lettuce

Ingredients

1 head of Romaine lettuce
Enough olive oil to slather both sides
1/2 cup of fresh grated Romano (Parmesan or Asiago could also be used, just nothing from a green can)
Pinch of salt
Couple turns of black pepper
A dusting of granulated garlic

Preparation

Start off with a head of Romaine lettuce rinsed and dried.

Slice the Romaine in two lengthwise and pull away the few leaves that will separate when you slice it.

Drizzle liberally with olive oil and put a little coarse salt, fresh cracked black pepper and dust with granulated garlic. Repeat on the other side.

Grate about a half cup of a hard cheese like Asiago, Parmesian, or Romano.

Place the Romaine right over the hot side of the grill. This doesn’t need to be high heat for say, searing a steak. Medium hot is about all it needs.

This only takes a couple of minutes so keep checking the underside. Look for the lettuce to blacken a bit. A nice char is the desired result without having the lettuce wilt too much under the heat.

After about 2-3 minutes on each side, place on a platter, sprinkle the cheese on and eat.

*Recipe and image courtesy of GrillinFools.com.*