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In the Pine Belt, many schools have been in session since the latter days of July. Parents of college freshmen have tearfully, and with much trepidation, packed vehicle upon vehicle to reluctantly deliver their kiddos to places far and near.

Hopefully, things are settling into place for the remainder of the household. But there may be a few hiccups along the way. It’s best to go ahead and iron those out before they become problematic.

Is getting the children out of bed, dressed, and fed a nutritious breakfast before hurrying them out the door to the bus still a challenge? Is making sure they have everything they need for the day still an even bigger issue?

In an effort to teach students responsibility, some schools have posted signs on doors saying, “If your child has forgotten something and you are bringing it to them, then kindly turn around and take it right back home.” They are trying to grow your children into self-sustainable young adults.

Homework may already be tiresome; family dinners become more difficult with a variety of early evening practices; weather delays have wreaked havoc with your scheduling. Is everyone hitting his or her stride?

There are tips to follow that might prove mentally profitable for everyone involved. But you’ve got to start small.

Healthychildren.org has these recommendations:

  • Get your kids involved in creating and preparing their daily lunch menus. If your kids take their lunch to school, pack lunch boxes before going to bed. Establish rules for where they should put lunchboxes, etc. when they come home. Buy bulk packaged snacks like bags of grapes that can be easily added to lunches.
  • Go through your kids’ schoolwork once a month to toss the things you don’t want.
  • Create an inbox for kids to leave things that need your attention, like permission slips.
  • Set a time each week to sync up individual calendars with the family calendar.
  • Buy reusable sports bottles to increase their water consumption during the day.
  • Keep a small emergency allowance in your kids’ bags, just in case.
  • Plan supervised study dates when kids work together on projects or homework.
  • Have a backup transportation mode planned in case your kids miss the bus. It will happen.
  • Set your clocks forward 10 minutes. This makes it easier to be on time.
  • Schedule blocks of time to check in with each child to see how things are going.
  • Schedule at least one 30-minute block in your calendar each day for “you time.”
  • Use positive phrasing, such as “You can go outside after your homework is done,” rather than “You’re not going outside until this is finished.”
  • Make sure your kids (and you!) have an effective wake-up alarm that works for them.
  • Set an alarm or notification 30 minutes before bedtime.
  • Remove things like mobile devices from kids’ bedrooms to focus them on sleeping.
  • Use night lights, white sound machines and fans for kids who can’t get to sleep.
  • Map out a bathroom schedule to avoid family fights for bathroom time.
  • Keep a running list of supplies, clothing, and food that need to be bought each week.
  • Schedule study blocks on the weekends before big tests, mid-terms and finals.
  • Do something fun to diffuse this stressful time of year for all of you.
  • Establish a set “Family Time,” whether it’s during dinner or before bed.
  • Give kids a specific day to when they can choose all the activities you do together.
  • Determine how long it takes them to do assignments to help with time management.
  • Use an egg timer to get your kids used to focusing for specific periods of time.
  • Teach your kids to prioritize their assignments by making to-do lists with deadlines.
  • Give your kids a short break after each assignment they finish, such as a short walk.
  • Set a regular alarm each day that signals the start of homework time.
  • Take a breath!

With all this preparation, your kids will be in great shape. If you’re relaxed and calm, they’ll head off to school feeling excited and ready to get to work. But whatever you’re undertaking, start small. Get the family into a routine that benefits everyone. Stick to deadlines.

Once the routine gets more developed over time and everyone gets settled in, things should level off. Then you really will able to cheer for the HOME team.

Pumpkin Spice, Already?

In the Pine Belt, many schools have been in session since the latter days of July. Parents of college freshmen have tearfully, and with much trepidation, packed vehicle upon vehicle to reluctantly deliver their kiddos to places far and near.

Hopefully, things are settling into place for the remainder of the household. But there may be a few hiccups along the way. It’s best to go ahead and iron those out before they become problematic.

Is getting the children out of bed, dressed, and fed a nutritious breakfast before hurrying them out the door to the bus still a challenge? Is making sure they have everything they need for the day still an even bigger issue?

In an effort to teach students responsibility, some schools have posted signs on doors saying, “If your child has forgotten something and you are bringing it to them, then kindly turn around and take it right back home.” They are trying to grow your children into self-sustainable young adults.

Homework may already be tiresome; family dinners become more difficult with a variety of early evening practices; weather delays have wreaked havoc with your scheduling. Is everyone hitting his or her stride?

There are tips to follow that might prove mentally profitable for everyone involved. But you’ve got to start small.

Healthychildren.org has these recommendations:

  • Get your kids involved in creating and preparing their daily lunch menus. If your kids take their lunch to school, pack lunch boxes before going to bed. Establish rules for where they should put lunchboxes, etc. when they come home. Buy bulk packaged snacks like bags of grapes that can be easily added to lunches.
  • Go through your kids’ schoolwork once a month to toss the things you don’t want.
  • Create an inbox for kids to leave things that need your attention, like permission slips.
  • Set a time each week to sync up individual calendars with the family calendar.
  • Buy reusable sports bottles to increase their water consumption during the day.
  • Keep a small emergency allowance in your kids’ bags, just in case.
  • Plan supervised study dates when kids work together on projects or homework.
  • Have a backup transportation mode planned in case your kids miss the bus. It will happen.
  • Set your clocks forward 10 minutes. This makes it easier to be on time.
  • Schedule blocks of time to check in with each child to see how things are going.
  • Schedule at least one 30-minute block in your calendar each day for “you time.”
  • Use positive phrasing, such as “You can go outside after your homework is done,” rather than “You’re not going outside until this is finished.”
  • Make sure your kids (and you!) have an effective wake-up alarm that works for them.
  • Set an alarm or notification 30 minutes before bedtime.
  • Remove things like mobile devices from kids’ bedrooms to focus them on sleeping.
  • Use night lights, white sound machines and fans for kids who can’t get to sleep.
  • Map out a bathroom schedule to avoid family fights for bathroom time.
  • Keep a running list of supplies, clothing, and food that need to be bought each week.
  • Schedule study blocks on the weekends before big tests, mid-terms and finals.
  • Do something fun to diffuse this stressful time of year for all of you.
  • Establish a set “Family Time,” whether it’s during dinner or before bed.
  • Give kids a specific day to when they can choose all the activities you do together.
  • Determine how long it takes them to do assignments to help with time management.
  • Use an egg timer to get your kids used to focusing for specific periods of time.
  • Teach your kids to prioritize their assignments by making to-do lists with deadlines.
  • Give your kids a short break after each assignment they finish, such as a short walk.
  • Set a regular alarm each day that signals the start of homework time.
  • Take a breath!

With all this preparation, your kids will be in great shape. If you’re relaxed and calm, they’ll head off to school feeling excited and ready to get to work. But whatever you’re undertaking, start small. Get the family into a routine that benefits everyone. Stick to deadlines.

Once the routine gets more developed over time and everyone gets settled in, things should level off. Then you really will able to cheer for the HOME team.

Ahhhhh, the ‘ber months are upon us. This time of year harkens to falling leaves, thoughts of cooler weather, football, and let’s not forget, pumpkin spice. And not just pumpkin spice, but PUMPKIN SPICE everything – Oreos, coffee creamer, caramel corn, Little Debbie snacks, dog treats, truffles, salsa, lip balm, and the list goes on and on! Where pumpkin spice is concerned, nothing is sacred. You either love it or you don’t.

So, what exactly is this smell we call pumpkin spice? It’s actually an aromatic blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger. Sometimes allspice is included, but no pumpkin has ever been harmed in the making of this blend. So, why is it called pumpkin spice if there’s no orange orb involved? This blend of spices got its name because it is traditionally used to flavor pumpkin recipes. What first rose to popularity as a seasonal, limited-time offering for coffees, has been around for decades in dishes like pumpkin pie and pumpkin bread.

While many believe this aromatic blend of spices first became popular when Starbucks introduced its Pumpkin Spice latte back in the fall of 2003 in limited quantities, its history actually runs much deeper. The origin of pumpkin spice dates back to the Dutch East India Company. Most spices are native to a group of Southeast Asian islands while some could be found on the Spice Islands. These islands became integral to the success of the Dutch East India Company and the spread of those spices. By 1791, a similar blend called “mixed spices” showed up in a cookbook.

Pumpkin spice products begin making their debut at the end of August on the precipice of the ‘ember months. But no matter, when this blend appears, the popularity of all things pumpkin spice has generated a $1 billion annual industry.

So, just who are connoisseurs of pumpkin spice? Who isn’t, might be the easier question. These folks encompass a sizeable group…anybody who enjoys the cooler months of fall and everything that goes with it – bonfires, a morning chill, leaves falling, fall festivals, pumpkins, candy corn, and that breath of fresh air after months of stifling heat. This is a month when senses and nostalgia come into play and a pumpkin spice latte is like autumn in a cup.

The No. 1 pumpkin spice-obsessed state is West Virginia followed by New Hampshire and Vermont. And although it’s commonly associated with coffee, the most common purchases are cookies, followed by coffee, coffee creamer, latté, and bread.

When it comes to pumpkin spice lattés, the flavor is equally popular with men and women. It has mass appeal. But part of that mass appeal may be what the Kearney Consumer Institute refers to as ‘scarcity creating demand’ or part of the reason why pumpkin spice is so popular is because it’s difficult to access for two-thirds of the year.

But did you know pumpkin spice provides many health benefits? According to dieticians at Cedars-Sinai Department of Food and Nutrition Services and The Cleveland Clinic, the spices which make up pumpkin pie spice, all have health benefits. Cinnamon and nutmeg have the highest concentration of salicylic acid, which is an important compound for anti-inflammation. Cinnamon, the star of pumpkin spice, is potentially effective in decreasing blood sugar and cholesterol, while increasing HDL (“good cholesterol”) in people with Type 2 diabetes. This Asian spice is also associated with potentially improving memory and better cognitive processing.

Nutmeg boasts small amounts of fiber, and numerous B vitamins and minerals Ginger, with important minerals like iron, potassium, and zinc, can contribute to a healthier gut and is possibly effective in alleviating nausea and vomiting, menstrual cramps, and osteoarthritis pain. Ginger, also, has been shown to possibly help protect brain cells from the damage of Alzheimer’s disease. This blend of spices also has properties to help you lose weight, regular blood sugar, increase metabolism, and burn fat.

If you’re suffering from a cold or stuffy nose, sipping on something hot and pumpkin-spicy might be just what the doctor ordered. Not only is heat soothing to the system, the spices working in concert will help clear out your sinuses with their strong flavors and powerful anti-bacterial properties.

These are all good things to know when you’re sipping a warm pumpkin spice latte or have some pumpkin bread for breakfast. You, too, can enjoy the healthy benefits from the tasty fruits of pumpkin spice.

Is variety really the spice of life, or is it just pumpkin?