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On Saturday, June 1, 2019, the American Hiking Society invites everyone to join in on the fun and fitness of National Trails Day® by planning some outside adventure. Founded in 1976, the organization and its mission of empowering everyone to enjoy, share and preserve the hiking experience have never wavered.

I f you look up the word “hike,” its origin is a bit fuzzy, but all sources agree about the word’s meaning. To “hike” means to “walk vigorously;” some like to say “wander, saunter, meander or trek.” Of course, all of these forms of movement are in direct correlation to getting out into the great outdoors. Wilderness is increasingly rare in the world and pathless places of raw wilderness are getting harder to find. But going for a walk on a trail doesn’t mean walkers need to train like Bear Grylls or pack enough provisions to last a month. There are thousands of paths most traveled that give hikers of all ages, sizes and expertise levels a reason to for a stroll with only a little prep and planning.

Hiking is a powerful cardio workout that can lower the risk of heart disease while also working to improve blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Getting into the freshness and tranquility of nature also has mental health benefits. In a world that moves at a frenetic pace and is almost always noisy, the peace and calm of nature soothes even the most ragged nerves. Hiking trails can exist anywhere too. From the hard-packed desert earth to the lushness of woodland areas and parks, trail-walking doesn’t require a ton of fancy gear or a long commute. The main must-haves for a great way of trekking is a good pair of walking shoes, some water and treats, and the desire to discover new places.

Another health benefit to wandering the trails is that it can be a family affair and include people of any age or fitness level. To include all family members, arrange the walk or hike so that frequent stops are allowed for old and young, and make sure those stops include a place to snack, drink, and play for ages in between.

Some would-be walkers need a little extra motivation to being open to stepping away from their desk and putting down their devices to stroll the trails and appreciate nature. Luckily, every community, city or state has a plethora of beautiful places designed for those who wish to amble. Start by inquiring with the local Park and Recreation Service about wildflower and wildlife identification walks and other informative hikes in the area. Check with your local historical society for tours and treks to explore historic places.

And don’t forget, 103 years ago, August 25, 2019, the National Parks were created to preserve the unique and wild areas of this vast and beautiful country. The options for places to hike within these treasures are endless.

Saturday, June 1, 2019 is the perfect time to kick-start a new outdoor habit! It’s an excellent excuse to lace up your hiking boots or trail runners and find new footpaths to explore. Whether you feel the urge to hike, saunter, meander or wander, the overarching focus is to get outside and walk the paths of the beautiful world we live in. ■

Sources: americanhiking.org, awesomejelly.com, goodreads.com and travelandleisure.com.

Resources and Apps
Terry Tempest Williams, author of The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America’s National Parks, says, “Our public lands, whether a national park or monument, wildlife refuge, forest or prairie, make each one of us land-rich. It is our inheritance as citizens of a country called America.”

National Geographic’s website, nationalgeographic.com/travel/national-parks, has information and gorgeous photos of some of the more famous National Parks.

National Parks Conservation Association’s website, npca.org, shares all of the parks’ resources including natural, cultural and historical. The National Parks were created to conserve our wild spaces and NPCA makes sure this continues to happen.

Junior Ranger programs are detailed at nps.gov/kids/jrRangers.cfm, where you can see all of the programs and download info and activity books.

The National Park Trust, parktrust.org, is an abundant resource featuring hiking games, other activities one can do in any of our national parks, activity booklets and much more. Kids to Parks day is held on the third Saturday of May, so plan for an outing in May 2020.

For geocaching, Geosphere or Groundspeak, an iPhone and a sense of adventure will have your family locating caches in the parks.

For bird identification, Peterson Backyard Birds is a free app that quickly identifies birds with Roger Tory Peterson’s innovative identification system.

For flower identification, The Flower Checker app for iOS and Android uses real botanists to identify unknown plants, moss, fungus and even lichen, perhaps therefore making it the most accurate of the apps.

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HERLIFE Magazine by Melissa Haines Lavin - 3w ago

How can mobile technology enhance our wine experiences? To enjoy wine, look no further than your favorite screen; a phone, tablet or laptop can be your all-access pass to everything wine.

When did our phones become a good pairing with wine? Software has kept up with how we use technology to engage with wines we enjoy. But how valuable are these apps? Imagine attending a wine festival. You have an opportunity to purchase several bottles but you don’t know if you already several of a particular varietal. Referencing an app in the palm of your hand can tell you if indeed you’re out of malbec and need to make a purchase.

Vivino
The community of Vivino subscribers provides food pairings with their uploaded wines in addition to reviews, the price they paid and if the value met or exceeded their expectation. This app lets you track all the wines you try, even the ones from restaurants and wine bars, and the date you enjoyed them. You can use this app to quickly see what you have on hand as well. One of my favorite features is the ability to look at two separate wine labels at a wine store and instantly compare them for taste, rating, price point, region and learn if anyone in the Vivino community has tried the wine. Additionally, you can enter the name of a winery and the app will populate the information you need to engage with that particular vintner.

CellarTracker
My favorite feature is the easy use of the barcode icon and the camera icon from the front page. The app is very good at recognition and allows you to instantly browse by varietal or region. If you have a space where you’ve collected several cases of wine, this feature makes it easy to inventory and track the wines you plan on drinking soon and the ones you plan to cellar for the future. If you have a 2015 Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon, you can search specifically for more of the same 2015 vintage or more of the same Napa Valley region or research how an older or newer bottling of cabernet sauvignon is faring in the wine world. CellarTracker has consumer reviews and professional reviews by wine critics, sommeliers and wine makers.

Wine-Searcher
When you’re traveling and want to get your hands on a particular bottle of wine, beer or rye, scan the label before leaving home and the entire world becomes your shopping cart. You’ll be able to purchase that bottle as well as review the merchant who helped you. Finding the item at the best price makes this app useful especially during travel, when it’s more difficult to take your favorite wines with you.

Wine.com
This online wine store allows you to search for particular wine labels to view pricing and read reviews from professionals and consumers. You can purchase today and set a delivery date in the future, such as holiday time or special occasions. The app will track your purchases for easy re-order and keep your wine review on file for reference. I recommend this app to folks who don’t live near a wine region where they can taste before they buy.

Exploring
Your device can be a partner in your wine adventures as a resource guide on wine regions and events. By typing in “wine regions,” you can explore apps that keep you up to date on new wineries and tasting rooms throughout an entire wine region. Featured articles are easily accessible while you’re exploring new territory. Localwineevents is a great app to use to explore wine and food events in cities and regions. You can add events directly to your calendar and sign up for event discounts and updates via text, social media or email.

Staying Current
Apps by Wine Spectator, focusing on a variety of wine articles, values and ratings, and Wine Enthusiast, which features in-depth articles on winemakers, wine regions, wine scores and reviews by highly acclaimed wine critics, are a convenient way to stay up to date. Wine retailer apps such as Total Wine will allow you to browse and pre-order wines for pick up in the store. These apps make it easy to take advantage of exclusive offers and in-store events and wine tasting as well.

Buyer Beware!
When you enter “wine apps” into the search option of your application store, you will see plenty of options covering a wide range of uses. Some are free and some require a subscription; even the free ones may require some sort of buy-in once you enter your contact information. Definitely look at the use reviews and ratings before you engage with the app. This will help you select the apps that are most helpful and useful to your style of wine love! ■

Sources: totalwine.com, tastingguide.winemag.com and winespectator.com.

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HERLIFE Magazine by Laura Leiva - 3w ago

Mom does it all, taking care of everyone often before she has a chance to give herself a little attention. This Mother’s Day, treat the special woman in your life to a new look that will help her feel like her gorgeous self!

Makeovers don’t have to be overly involved or require dozens of steps to make a noticeable difference. Something as simple as trying a new haircut or adding a colorful lip gloss can give your Mom a boost in self-love and confidence. Not sure what to gift her or the motherly figure in your life this Mother’s Day? Here are a few quick makeover ideas that will make her feel chic no matter what her personal style is.

Trade in the Messy Bun
For an on-the-go mom, it’s easy to just throw hair up into a messy bun and call it a day, but there are plenty of low-maintenance hairstyles that add style to even the most casual look. Instead of a standard messy bun, try brushing hair back into a sleek ponytail and then braiding into a single rope braid. Tutorials on YouTube and Pinterest offer a range of braid styles for any length of hair; fishtail, Dutch, French and even twisted braids add a little something extra to an otherwise simple look! Plus, it keeps hair out of her face if she’s taking care of baby or prefers to wear it up.

Natural Makeup Looks
On a busy morning, makeup is probably the last thing on Mom’s mind, but a natural look is easy to achieve and gives her a little boost in confidence. A simple and minimal makeup look makes a difference without requiring many steps or numerous products, plus you can easily find products that combine steps, making it even easier. For a mom who prefers a natural look, go with a tinted moisturizer and SPF. She’ll get her daily dose of hydration and sun protection while also enjoying the light coverage of a tinted formula. A swipe of mascara and a lip tint is all she needs to finish a fresh-faced look!

Does your mom need new makeup but you aren’t sure where to start? Cosmetic counters and beauty retail stores are great resources when you want to learn about new products and test out formulas. A trip to the makeup counter also ensures that she gets the perfect shade of foundation, tinted moisturizer or even a new lip color. When it comes to makeup, color correction and coverage are two important factors to focus on. Concealing undereye circles, hyperpigmentation and evening out skin tone are easily done with minimal products and color-correcting palette; concealer and tinted foundation work magic for moms who want a simple but put-together look.

Dramatic Hair Transformation
When it comes to changing up a look, nothing offers a more dramatic transformation than a new haircut and color. A classic bob is a gorgeous option that gives hair a sleek, full appearance. Asymmetrical cuts are also a great way to dramatically transform lackluster hair into a trendy and low-maintenance style. Layers are equally as lovely for moms who want a bit more movement in the hair without the required upkeep of a bob. Strategically placed highlights or full-on color will complement Mom’s skin and give her a fresh glow, perfect when you really want to give her the full makeover experience!

Does she need a style that can easily be pulled back into a pony or a bun? A trim is sometimes all you need to give lifeless hair a new, healthy shine. Golden highlights brighten up any hair color and a shine treatment with scalp massage makes a world of difference.

Update the Skincare Routine
Whether your mom wants to wear makeup or not, a good skincare routine is must for any woman in your life. With proper exfoliation and hydration, her skin will look and feel healthier, which means she’ll be glowing day and night. Treat your mom to a new skincare routine and consult with an expert to get products designed to help with her areas of concern, whether that’s managing premature signs of aging, hyperpigmentation or dull complexion. When her skin looks and feels good, she’ll definitely feel a boost in confidence and rock a fresh-faced look daily!

Because Mom often puts herself last on the list of importance when taking care of everyone around her, a makeover is a great way to say “I love you!” Treating her to some quick makeover ideas allows her to put a little more well-deserved focus back on herself so she feels like the amazing woman that she is. Each of these ideas is also easy to recreate on her own and doesn’t add to her never-ending list of things to get done. ■

Sources: dermstore.com, sephora.com and today.com.

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Growing older has often been associated with a host of negative implications, but who wants to read about that kind of negativity? Growing older also means a wealth of perks and benefits, and this is the place to discover what you might be missing. If you enjoy saving a bit of money, then keep reading. This could have exciting potential written all over it.

I am 55; my husband just turned 60. As I write these words, I can scarcely believe it, as I still feel (and often act!) like someone half my age, and that is fine with me. However, when I was 30-something, I was not able to access some of these amazing discounts for (gulp, do I say it?) seniors. For our entire marriage, my husband and I have split a meal when dining out, mainly to keep our waistlines from expanding, but also to keep the bill to a minimum. However, now that we have reached “that age,” there is hope in sight for a full meal for each of us.

Numerous organizations offer appreciable discounts to individuals who come in to use their services if those folks are over a certain age. If you take advantage of these discounts, you can extend your retirement income even further and perhaps even enjoy a higher quality of life in the process.

What exactly are senior discounts? These are essentially used by businesses to attract the older demographic, as businesses understand those in the older population do not always have the same flexible spending options as their younger counterparts. As a result, many businesses offer a discount or small savings for using their goods and services. These discounts vary greatly and there is no legal requirement for any location to offer them. However, many businesses and organizations don’t openly advertise them, either, so you have to do a bit of investigative research on your own. You can simply ask about them whenever you visit an establishment. That question alone can save you a few dollars.

As for what age you need to be in order to reap the benefits of these discounts, that can vary. Most establishments will determine this requirement on their own. There is no set definition of when a senior is actually qualified. Nevertheless, many businesses do have a policy, and you can inquire to see if that applies to you. Many restaurants offer dining discounts for folks over the age of 55. Some retailers may offer discounts to those over 60. Again, the key to finding out how you might benefit is to simply inquire within.

While you can find a wealth of information on the internet about senior discounts, one of the most prominent sites is the 2019 List of Senior Discounts. The list is quite extensive and is always in the process of being updated. The site showcases a variety of discounts from dining options to adventures in travel, as well as ways to find discounts on medications. You can enjoy discounts at some of your favorite dining spots, from the fast food kind of Fazoli’s and Subway to lunchtime fare at Sweet Tomatoes and Souplantation to a nice dinner at the Outback Steakhouse and McCormick &Schmick’s.

If travel and adventure are on your bucket list, don’t let your budget get in the way of those plans. You can find senior discounts on airlines tickets, car rentals, hotels and you’ll even find ways to save money on food while traveling. If you enjoy traveling by rail or by sea, there are a variety of discounts available. And once you arrive at your destination, you may even find discounts at some of your favorite national parks, some offering a lifetime pass for seniors.

You don’t have to let your wardrobe stagnate, either. The Senior List identifies a variety of retail and apparel stores that offer discounts, from sporting goods stores to department stores and even some thrift stores.

What about your prescription mediations? We all know how costly those can be, especially if you are on a fixed income. Medicare may alleviate some of the burden, but why not continue to lighten the financial load? According to the current Senior List, older adults can enjoy discounts on prescription drugs through AARP, which has acceptance of 66,000 pharmacies across the country, Rite Aid, Costco and CVS Pharmacy.

Please be advised that some discounts can vary by location and some may only apply to individual franchise owners. Again, the easiest way to find out is just to ask. I understand, however; sometimes asking makes you feel “old,” but saving a few dollars shouldn’t get in the way of your ego! Just imagine all the money you are going to save over time. ■

Sources: seniorliving.org and theseniorlist.com.

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Typically, you find radiant heat barriers installed in attics of homes in various areas of the United States. This highly reflective material is used to decrease cooling costs by putting the shade on summer heat gain.

“It basically lies on top of your attic insulation. Sometimes it’s secured, stapled or nailed to the attic rafters in your roof,” advised Mike Faulconer, certified home inspector. “Radiant heat barriers act as a barricade to keep heat from coming in and preventing infiltration of hot air into your living space.”

Hot climates in the United States such as California, Florida, Texas, Arizona and others offer more opportunities for radiant barriers to be effective, especially when cooling air ducts are located in the attic, as compared to homes in cooler climates. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, “Some studies show that radiant barriers can reduce cooling costs five to ten percent when used in a warm, sunny climate. The reduced heat gain may even allow for a smaller air conditioning system. In cool climates, however, it’s usually more cost-effective to install more thermal insulation than to add a radiant barrier.”

“Radiant heat barriers are thin, paper-like reflective substances that are installed along the underside of your roof,” advised Ben Meyer, certified energy auditor. “Depending on your location in the United States, especially where there is more powerful sunshine on a regular basis, its application can help you realize savings as part of an energy conservation and comfort program.”

Going back to our natural science classes in school, we learned that heat moves from warm areas to cool ones due to conduction, convection and radiation heat flow. A teacher’s lecture might have included an experiment of placing a spoon in a hot cup of coffee and then asking a volunteer to carefully touch the spoon. She felt the warmth of the coffee through the spoon because the energy transferred from the hot one to the cool one. This is conductive heating.

Applying this knowledge to our homes means that in the winter, heat transfers from warm areas in your home to unheated spaces and the outdoors. During the summer months, heat travels from the warm outdoors to the cooler interior of your home. Most homeowners know insulation materials increase the energy efficiency of their houses by reducing the amount of heat escaping from it in the winter or decreasing conductive heat flow. In the summer months, it retains the cold air and keeps the house from getting too warm.

But radiant barriers work in a different way by reducing the radiant heat transfer from the underside of the roof to other surfaces in the attic. Radiant heat journeys from any surface and heats anything solid that absorbs its energy. It’s largely radiant energy that produces an incredibly hot roof when the sun bears down on it. Due to conduction, much of that resulting warmth travels through the roofing materials to the attic. The hot roof material releases its heat energy onto cooler attic surfaces. Many times, these are air ducts and the attic floor.

A radiant barrier’s effectiveness depends on proper installation. For instance, the reflective surface must face an air space, yet dust accumulation on the reflective surface must be minimized. If not, its reflective capability will be greatly reduced.

It’s easier to incorporate radiant barriers into a new home, but you can also install them in an existing home, especially if it has an open attic. The Department of Energy recommends using a certified installer. However, if you choose to do the installation yourself, research details on reflective insulation trade association websites, carefully study and follow the manufacturer’s instructions and safety precautions and check your local building and fire codes.

“Radiant heat barriers can be a good thing for some parts of the country, but it’s an added expense that isn’t typically incorporated into new construction,” noted Mike. “More often it’s used by the homeowner as a retrofit rather than in new construction.”

“Certainly, there are some energy savings that can be done on your own, but when you get in your attic, one wrong step and you can end up in your living room. Then you’re climbing up the side walls of your attic, which can be dangerous,” remarked Ben. “Frankly, on the list of things that you could install as a do-it-yourself project in your house for energy savings and increasing the comfort in your home, I would put this dead last.”

To increase the comfort levels of your home, radiant heat barriers can help you maintain a consistent, uniform temperature from room to room. It can also increase your home’s energy efficiency and lower heating and cooling bills. Whether it’s a fit for your home in your region is a discussion that should happen with experts on the subject. ■

Sources: energy.gov and radiantguard.com.

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Whether you’re shopping for a new home and want a swimming pool as part of the deal or are thinking of filling your empty yard with a pool, it’s important to understand the pros and cons
of pool ownership before jumping in (pardon the pun!).

Having a pool can turn your home into the cool house on the block, especially if you have children. A pool will improve any party or backyard barbecue. If you use swimming for fitness, a pool can save you the cost of a gym membership. A built-in pool can also be an asset if you’re trying to sell your home, providing you live in a state such as California, Arizona or Florida where a pool can be used year-round. In states such as Minnesota and Maine, a pool is not as much of a selling point unless it’s indoors.

The status that can come with pool ownership comes with a price: pool maintenance. Whether your pool is in-ground or above-ground, it requires weekly cleaning of the sides and bottom. Dirt and debris need to be skimmed and vacuumed from the water. Ongoing maintenance tasks also include testing the water and adding chemicals as needed. Filters, pumps and other mechanical equipment need to be checked on a regular basis. Depending on where you live, you may need to winterize your pool at the end of season, which means partially emptying the pool and installing a cover. When the weather warms up, you’ll need to remove the cover, refill the pool and adjust the water’s chemical levels.

You may be able to do some pool cleaning and maintenance yourself, but many pool owners prefer to leave it all to a professional pool service. Besides budgeting for ongoing maintenance, pool owners need to budget for pool repairs. The mechanical parts of a pool such as the pump motor, heater and filter may need to be replaced at some point. Leaks are another issue with both in-ground and above-ground pools. Depending on their severity, they can be inexpensive or pricey to fix. The best way to avoid costly repairs for a swimming pool is to properly maintain it. Whether it’s DIY or done by a pool service, the important thing is getting it done correctly and on time.

When you budget for creating your home oasis, figure increased utility costs from running the pump and filters. A pool can also raise the price of homeowner’s insurance since it’s seen as a potential safety hazard. In the interest of safety, you should install a fence around your pool and a self-locking gate to protect your children and visiting children from pool accidents. If you move into a home that has a pool with a diving board, you may want to remove the board for safety’s sake. And a final caution: always have vigilant adult supervision when children are in the pool area.
When building a pool, there are choices you can make for efficiency. Installing a saltwater pool can bring savings on water filtration and purification. The salinity levels in these pools is about a tenth of the level in seawater, but it’s enough to eliminate the need for added chlorine. A saltwater pool has a special filtration system that converts salt in the water into chlorine. Although the initial cost of this system is higher than for a traditional pool, you won’t need to buy chlorine every month. Saltwater isn’t as harsh on the skin and hair as chlorine, but it can take a toll on the pool itself. Regular maintenance is even more important with saltwater pools.

Heating a pool with solar energy is green, plus extends the season for the pool’s use. Pool owners can install a solar collector that will heat pool water as part of the filtering process, and the same collector can be used to cool water in extremely warm climates. The U.S. Department of Energy reports that solar pool heating typically costs between $3,000 and $4,000 to buy and install, but it will pay for itself in energy savings in one and a half to seven years. Besides saving money on energy costs, solar heating systems usually last longer than gas pool heaters.

The National Association of Realtors says that pools bring on average a 50 percent return on investment when a home is resold. At the end of the day, each homeowner who’s considering a swimming pool needs to balance the benefits and enjoyment a pool will bring to their life compared to the costs and time commitment. Those who make their pool an integral part of their family and social life may think the investment is well worth it, even if it doesn’t significantly increase their home’s value. ■

Sources: kiplinger.com, thelendersnetwork.com and blog.coldwellbanker.com.

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“Mom, I wanna be able to eat all the foods…all the foods I want. I don’t want the food allergies anymore.”
~Chop Foster, age five

Food Allergy Research & Education, or FARE, reports that food allergies have increased by 50 percent within the last ten years and are on the rise. Approximately 15 million Americans, 6 million of those children, have been diagnosed with food allergies. Additionally, every year nearly 200,000 Americans receive emergency treatment due to food allergies. Adults who develop new food allergies tend to have them lifelong, whereas children are likely to outgrow them over time.

Symptoms of food allergies include, but are not limited to, sneezing; coughing; runny nose; itching or tingling; wheezing or shortness of breath; tightening of the chest or throat; vomiting; stomach pain; runny stool; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, throat or extremities. A severe symptom is anaphylaxis, which causes the immune system to release a flood of chemicals that can cause you to go into shock; your blood pressure drops suddenly and your airways narrow, blocking breathing. Symptoms include a rapid, weak pulse; a skin rash; and nausea and vomiting.

Chop’s mom, Tanisha Foster, described his first encounter with food allergies. “Shortly after we transitioned Chop to solids as a baby, I arranged a playdate with a friend at Chick-Fil-A. After settling in, she asked if she could get him ice cream to try. After just one lick, his face quickly started swelling, blistering, and his cheeks turned red. We dashed for the drug store and popped a bottle of Benadryl open right on the aisle. After our allergist conducted a skin test, we discovered he had an extensive list of food allergies: dairy, soy, wheat, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, seafood and sesame, the top eight, along with several others.”

Tanisha’s background helped her deal with the issues the family encountered. She earned a bachelor of science in biology, pre-med, from the University of Alabama, Birmingham, and a master’s in health studies with a focus on health education and promotion from the University of Alabama. The first task was to begin education for Chop. “From the time of his diagnosis, we began to speak to him about his allergies,” she said. “Of course, being so young, he could not fully understand the magnitude of what things meant, but we spoke openly about them. Whenever we ate in restaurants, we asked the chef or manager many questions and Chop always listened intently, knowing the conversations were about him. We discussed the importance of asking his parents’ permission before taking food from others. Whenever we gave food, we would make a practice of reading labels in front of him and point out, ‘Oh, Chop, this does not have your allergens so you can have it!’

“He started asking, ‘What does CF mean?’ whenever we wrote it on food containers or bags. We would explain that it was food that was safe for him. Even now, he asks, ‘Is that Chop Friendly?’ When meeting new friends, and they offer to share, he mentions that he has food allergies and has to get his parents’ or the adult in charge’s permission. We always affirm him when making these choices for himself.”

Chop Friendly is also Tanisha’s initiative to educate schools, families and the community on how to safely accommodate and include children with food allergies. She advocates for many families by providing awareness and resources to live a healthy life beyond the scope of limitations with food allergies. Chop Friendly provides research-based curriculums, professional development, one-on-one and group trainings.

Having food allergies can have several social effects on individuals, especially children. There have been numerous reports of food allergy bullying, where individuals who have food allergies are threatened, ridiculed or even teased with or about foods they are allergic to. “Excluding children with allergies during meal times, even when done with the intent to protect them, can create mental stress or feelings of isolation. Schools that emphasize peanut-free zones or a nut-free facility encourage inclusion and safety. Parents and teachers should pay attention to signs of bullying such as isolation, withdrawal in group settings, nervousness, talk of suicide or hopelessness,” Tanisha advised.

One day Chop was exposed to one of his allergens and he instantly knew something was not right. “I moved quickly and explained, ‘We have to use your epi-pen, and it will sting like we talked about. Don’t be afraid, because it will work to make you feel better.’ He braced himself and said, ‘I will be brave.’ I knew that in moments like this, all of our including him in the past conversations was not in vain. He understood. We had prepared him to advocate for himself. We had prepared him to bring awareness to others for himself and others like him.” ■

Sources: foodallergy.org, facebook.com/chopfriendly and chopfriendly.com.

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As summer approaches, pets and their owners are outdoors more often. Many pets are unaccustomed to warm weather and as temperatures soar, so do the dangers to our pets. Heat stroke or heat exhaustion can be extremely dangerous if not caught quickly. Unattended, heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke and cardiac arrest.

Both dogs and cats release the heat buildup in their bodies by panting and through their paws. Even so, when temperatures are elevated and the animal has been exposed to a prolonged period of heat, it is hard for them to efficiently reduce the heat in their bodies.

How do you know if your pet is suffering from overheating?

The signs are fairly easy to spot. They include restless behavior; excessive panting; difficulty breathing; glazed eyes; drooling; sweaty paws; rapid heartbeat; lack of coordination; vomiting; and diarrhea. If the condition persists it can lead to seizures and coma.

Prevention
Be especially observant of your pets during hot summer days or days with high humidity. Prevention is the best treatment, so be sure the animal has access to cool water and shade at all times. Indoor pets in homes with air conditioning should be fine; use caution if the air conditioning goes out. That might be a good time to board the pet in a kennel.

A common problem is the owner who leaves their pet in a car. Temperatures in the 70s can soar to over 120 degrees in a matter of minutes when the car is parked, even if it is in the shade with the windows lowered. Never leave an animal (or worse, your child!) in a car unattended.

Certain dogs and cats, often those with preexisting conditions such as obesity and heart disease, will be more likely to overheat. Flat-faced pets, such as pugs and bulldogs, or Persian cats, have a higher risk of developing breathing problems. Young pets or older pets and those with thick coats or long hair are also more prone to overheating.

Working dogs, such as Labrador retrievers and German shepherds, need frequent breaks during hot days. Hunting breeds or very active dogs need extra care and should not be pushed too hard during hot weather. Consider having them wear a cooling vest while working if the temperature soars, or wetting them down.

When the temperature climbs, allow your dogs to swim if they like to do so. It will help to keep them cool. A kiddie pool is a great addition to a fenced backyard for your dog. If you are traveling with your pet, keep her in her crate or carrier. Be sure she receives adequate ventilation.

Overheating
What should you do if the animal is overheated? The first step is to reduce the animal’s temperature. Place the animal indoors with air conditioning. If you have an outdoor animal, coax it to an area with shade and use a fan if possible.

Use a rectal thermometer to determine the animal’s temperature. Both cats and dogs have similar temperatures. If the animal’s temperature is over 103 degrees, check with your vet. If the temperature is over 105 degrees, this is a life-threatening emergency. Call the vet to let her know you are on your way.

Allow the animal to drink water if she wants to, but don’t try to force her. Use cool, fresh water and don’t add ice cubes. They could cause the temperature to drop too rapidly and lead to shock. Cool your pet down by placing her in the bathtub. Run a cool shower over the dog. You can use cool towels on her back and place cool towels on the ears and between her legs.

Medical care
Check the animal for signs of shock. Ask the vet to help you evaluate the animal and tell you what to do. It’s important to take your pet to the vet to prevent secondary damage that you may not be able to identify on your own. The gastrointestinal tract, kidneys, liver, heart, muscles, brain and bone marrow can all be affected if the animal’s temperature rises too high.

Veterinary care will probably replace lost fluids and minerals. The vet will continue to monitor your pet to prevent kidney failure, development of neurological conditions, abnormal blood clotting, changes in blood pressure and electrolyte abnormalities.

Back at Home
When your pet is released from the vet, she will still need cool, quiet atmosphere with a minimum of roughhousing. Plan on a few calm days before beginning your normal activities that involve the pet.

During the summer months, try to exercise during the early morning hours when the temperatures are cooler. In many areas of the country, the evening hours are still warm and humid, so don’t overdo. It will be safer for your pet—and for you. ■

Sources: petmd.com, hillspet.com, animalhosp.com.

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Amelia is bright, funny and shy until you get to know her. At 14, she’s not medically overweight, but noticeably larger than some of her classmates. At school, she must wear a uniform that doesn’t fit or flatter her body and her mother often quips, “Are you going to eat that?” Recently, her dance teacher told her that although she was proud of Amelia for working so hard in class, her bigger size wasn’t appropriate for the lead in the recital.

Like bodies, body shaming comes in all shapes and sizes. Approximately 94 percent of teenage girls in America have been guilted for the way their bodies look by their family, teachers and peers. So, by the time a girl heads to college, whether she’s overweight or thin, she will experience lasting negative body image.

Although girls and boys face significant pressure to look attractive, it’s no secret that body shaming is more prevalent for females. A girl’s quest for a “good” body or figure can take a heavy toll, even if someone seems to have it all together.

Girls go through emotional and physical changes in their adolescent and teenage years, so maintaining a healthy body image can be hard. Since a person isn’t born with a certain body image our environment, circumstances and surroundings can convey either positive or negative messages about our bodies.

Society’s standards of beauty often come from what we see in social media, TV, magazines and commercials, so girls tend to feel bad about not meeting those standards. A recent study in the Lancet Medical Journal showed there is a strong association between social media and depression for female teens. Compared to girls who spent one to three hours on social media a day, girls who spent three to five hours showed a 26 percent increase in depressive symptoms.

The link between social media and severe dieting, eating disorders and excessive exercise is strong. Some females are triggered by social media and are especially vulnerable. As parents and family, it is our responsibility to educate young people on how social media use could be making them feel about themselves and how this could be linked to stringent dieting, eating disorders, excessive exercise and depression. Most experts agree that girls who have a positive body image are connected to solid family support and an overall healthy outlook on fitness and wellbeing. Educating our kids about how social media use could be making them feel about themselves is very important.

Let’s face it. We have smart kids, and by the time they are old enough to listen they can tell if we are “full of it” or not. Indirectly, what we show them is considerably more important than what we say. Even if we are telling them all the right things, our behavior can dramatically affect a girl’s self-esteem. Offhand comments about developing bodies, weight, shape and how clothing fits are all influencers on a young mind in a negative way.

The old adage that actions speak louder than words is emphatically true for a growing girl. Seeing mom chastising herself about her weight, calling herself fat or even grimacing as she looks at her figure in the mirror can cause repercussions for years. It doesn’t mean we can’t be genuine and logical, but it does mean we have to pay more attention to the image we portray to those who look up to us.

When girls obsess about their bodies and how they measure up to everyone else’s, it takes away their ability to concentrate on other pursuits. For daughters struggling with a negative body image, consider professional counseling. Additional support might give her the tools she needs to and feel good about her body and herself. ■

Sources: getthefacts.health.wa.gov, pbs.org, mayoclinic.org and medicalnewstoday.com.

Maintaining Communication
Unfortunately, at a time when most teenage girls significantly decrease the amount of communication they have with their parents, discussing positive body image is crucial. Certain strategies can help our daughters be more comfortable in their own skin.
– Talk about social media, TV and other outlets and how these images may affect them.
– Monitor what our daughters are watching and reading and discuss questioning what she sees and hears.
– Talk about who she is, not what she looks like.
– Discuss normal body weight for growing girls and developing bodies.
– Set rules about what our daughters post and view on the internet or social media.
– Talk openly about how healthy bodies come in all shapes and sizes.
– Ask her what she likes about herself and tell her what you like about her.
– Rather than saying words like “fat” and “thin,” use positive body language, promote healthy eating and staying physically active.
– Make sure other family members and friends also follow these strategies.

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Don’t end up working until you’re 80. Start planning for your retirement ASAP.

A recent survey by Wells Fargo found an alarming trend; 41 percent of those ages 22 to 35 had no retirement plan, including many with higher incomes. While many in this group face daunting student loan debt, waiting until that’s paid off is a bad long-term strategy. The earlier someone begins investing, the better. It isn’t simply the number of years putting money aside. It’s about compound interest.

Financial advisers say that putting $6,000 annually into an account earning a 7 percent rate of return, beginning when an investor is age 45, will yield about $246,000 by age 65. Investing the same amount starting at age 35 will yield $567,000. If that same investor begins at age 25, the final total will be close to $1,200,000.

The goal for retirement planning is to try to put at least 15 percent of income into some form of savings or investments. But, even those with incomes below $40,000 can begin to save and invest for their later years. A 20-year-old who starts saving only $100 a month and finds an investment paying 8 percent will end up with $18,000 in only 10 years.

According to Lauren Brown, a Certified Financial Planner with Innovate Financial, good place to start saving is with an employer-matched 401(k) plan. In 2019, the limit for a 401(k) rose to $19,000, she says. “If your company offers a 401(k), you should try to put the limit or more into your company’s plan. But even a small amount is a start. You can increase your contribution as your income rises.”

Another good investment option for millennials is a diversified Roth IRA. If you have reached your limit with your company’s 401(k), or if your company doesn’t offer a 401(k) with matching funds, this is another way to invest additional money. A Roth IRA is a stock-based retirement account funded with after-tax dollars, in contrast to a traditional IRA or a 401(k), which is funded by pretax dollars. Money from these accounts is tax-free at age 59½ or after five years of investing. With regular IRAs, money invested is taxable when it’s withdrawn at retirement.

One of the most important rules for investing is to look long term. Right now, the markets are volatile, but for those with 20 to 40 years to invest, a monthly contribution into an investment account is a wise strategy. It’s important to set up accounts so that a set amount is automatically deposited, every month, on the same date. This technique is called dollar cost averaging. In some months, the market might be high on that date and in other months, low. But in the long term, this will even out.

And while “buy low, sell high” is good advice, you shouldn’t try to time the market. One of the worst things an investor can do is to react to the market’s ups and downs by pulling money out when the market drops, said Brown. “The people who have jumped in and out, cashing out when the market goes down, miss upswings, which can make up for any downswings.”

While adjustments need to be made with changes in income or as someone gets closer to retirement, these should be done slowly and carefully. Avoid any get-rich-quick schemes. Don’t fall for “it’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance” with investments. Stay disciplined and stay focused.

First, said Brown, put aside cash money and never touch it unless there is a true emergency such as a medical expense or a job loss. How much? “Add your mortgage or rent, insurance, car payments and other necessary expenses and multiply by three to six months. Put this into a liquid account like a bank savings account. If something happens, you’ll never have to touch your retirement fund.”

In addition, get rid of bad debt. While some debt, such as student loan debt, auto loans or mortgages, is unavoidable, pay down credit card debt and avoid using credit cards if you can’t pay them off quickly. Keep a record of your spending. Get in the habit of saving becomes automatic (and less painful).

Once retirement funds begin to grow, investors should seek the advice of a Certified Financial Planner, a Charted Financial Analyst or other professional whose credentials have been verified.

These are people who have a fiduciary duty to their clients to make decisions in their client’s best interests.

“Millennials,” said Brown, “have seen their parents hurt financially during the Great Recession. That makes them tend to be skittish.” But, she advises, don’t let this stop you from planning for a financial future and a comfortable retirement. The sooner you can start planning, the better off you’ll be. ■

Sources: forbes.com, irs.gov, marketwatch.com and money.usnews.com.

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