Friday, August 29, 2014

Friday Funny (or not so funny)

Are there things that you do in your office just because it's always been done that way?  Look for ways around the office to “green your routine” and bring it up to your manager. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Trees save 850 lives every year, prevent thousands of health complications (seriously!)

Posted by Kim Krisberg on August 6, 2014
Next time you pass a tree, you might want to give it a second thought. Maybe even a hug. One day, that tree might just help save your life.
Let me explain. In a new study published in the Environmental Pollution journal, researchers found that the positive impact that trees have on air quality translates to the prevention of more than 850 deaths each year as well as 670,000 incidences of acute respiratory symptoms. In 2010 alone, the study found that trees and forests in the contiguous United States removed 17.4 million metric tons of air pollution, which had an effect on human health valued at $6.8 billion. The results are even more impressive when considering that trees’ pollution removal only resulted in an average air quality improvement of less than 1 percent. Every year in the U.S., poor air quality is responsible for about 50,000 premature deaths and $150 billion in health care costs.
Fortunately, trees can help — they intercept particulate matter and absorb gaseous pollutants, effectively removing pollution from the air we breathe. Researchers calculated the health-saving effects through analyzing four county-level characteristics: daily tree cover and leaf area index; the hourly flux of pollutants to and from leaves; the impact of hourly pollution removal on pollutant concentration; and the health effects and financial impact of changing levels of nitrogen dioxide, ozone, particulate matter less than 2.5 microns (also known as PM2.5) and sulfur dioxide. They finally concluded that more tree cover means greater air pollution removal, and more removal coupled with a more densely populated area results in greater value to human health.
Study co-author David Nowak, a project leader with the U.S. Forest Service, told me that while previous studies have examined the local impact that trees have on air quality, this is the first to take that question to a national scale. Nowak said that while he expected some effect on human health based on previous studies, he was surprised by the impact that trees had on human mortality.
“To be honest, I really didn’t know to expect,” he said.
In addition to reducing mortality and acute respiratory symptoms, the study found that trees and their pollution removal powers prevented 430,000 incidences of asthma exacerbation and 200,000 school absences. The study also found that tree-related air pollution removal was substantially greater in rural areas (that’s where most of the forests are), but the monetary value of pollution removal was greater in urban areas (that’s where most of the people are). California, Texas and Georgia were home to the greatest pollution removal, while Florida, Pennsylvania and California reaped the greatest value from pollution removal. Nowak and co-authors Satoshi Hirabayashi, Allison Bodine and Eric Greenfield write:
As human populations are concentrated in urban areas, the health effects and values derived from pollution removal are concentrated in urban areas with 68.1 percent of the $6.8 billion value occurring with urban lands. Thus, in terms of impacts on human health, trees in urban areas are substantially more important than rural trees due to their proximity to people. The greatest monetary values are derived in areas with the greatest population density (e.g., Manhattan).
However, trees’ pollution capturing ability isn’t always a positive, Nowak tells me. If pollution is coming in from outside of a city, the more leaves the better. However, a street or highway with a thick canopy of leaves may simply trap pollutants and prevent them from dispersing — “and we don’t want to trap pollutants where we breathe,” Nowak said.
Nowak noted that trees are just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to improved air quality and he hopes the study findings can help local officials make informed decisions about managing vegetation in and around where people live. Next, Nowak is examining the link between trees and reduced emissions from power plants via variations in energy use linked to residential buildings. (In other words, how do trees and their effects on outdoor temperatures affect how we use energy?)
“I really hope that policy people will pick it up in terms of understanding that vegetation does have an impact on human health,” Nowak said of the study. “This is just one of the many services provided by trees…they provide so much from just one system and at one cost.”
To read a full copy of the tree study, click here. And to learn more about managing a community’s vegetation and calculating the value of trees, check out this free set of software tools that Nowak and colleagues developed known as i-Tree.
Kim Krisberg is a freelance public health writer living in Austin, Texas, and has been writing about public health for more than a decade.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Stop Sucking: Save Over $250 a Year by Unplugging Stuff You're Not Using

If it's turned off anyways, why pay for it?
By Brian Merchant
Brooklyn, NY, USA | Apr 09, 2009
You suck. Sorry. But it's true. It's okay, though. I suck too. In fact, we all suck. And no, this is not a passage pulled from a teenager's diary.
We've covered vampire power, or phantom load—the phenomenon where the appliances you keep plugged in quietly drain electricity consistently all day, every day, even when they're off—quite a bit already over here, but I thought it'd be useful to do the previous posts on why we all need to stop the ever-sucking occurrence one better.
How? By telling you exactly how much all your sucking is costing (okay, that's the last time I use 'suck' in a way that most likely only amuses myself, promise).
Thanks to the folks over at Good Magazine, who just so happen to be TreeHugger's Best of Green winner for greenest magazine, I can give you a pretty accurate ballpark for how much all those appliances that spend all day plugged in are costing you every year.
First off, conservative estimates put vampire drain as costing US consumers $3 billion dollars a year—cutting all that out could make for some major stimulus spending money, right?
But let's forget the economy for a second—let's talk about you. Do you have a DVD player? Do you leave it plugged in all the time, even though you're not perpetually watching movies? Thought so. That accounts for almost $9 a year on your electrical bill. Big deal, you say? Well, how about your computer? You leave that plugged in? There's another $34. Xbox, Wii? $25.73 each. Start's to add up, right? Here's the big one: if you have a plasma screen TV, that sucker's costing you $160 a year—in electricity used while the thing is turned off.
When you add it all up—each of the aforementioned items, and, say, a printer, a radio, a laptop, and a microwave, you're looking at some seriously unnecessary spikes in your electric bills. As in, upwards of $270 a year.
So. If I told you that you could save $270 a year by simply unplugging your stuff while you're not using it, or buying some inexpensive smart strips that stop the flow of electricity when a device is turned off off, would you do it?
I would. I'm ready to stop all my sucking. Sorry.

Monday, August 25, 2014

10 years after Charley, Central Florida's tree canopy springs back

August 12, 2014|By Jeff Kunerth, Orlando Sentinel
Driving down from Virginia in July 2004 to start their new lives in Poinciana, Josh Folb and his wife had this conversation:
"Hey, wait a minute. There are hurricanes in Florida," Josh said.
"They don't happen that often," replied Belinda Folb. "You're worrying about nothing. They don't happen in Central Florida."
On Aug. 13, less than two weeks after they moved into their home, Hurricane Charley blew through as the frightened Folbs huddled with their cats inside their hallway bathroom. With winds as high as 105 mph, the Category 4 hurricane downed power lines and uprooted thousands of trees.
One of those trees was the 10-foot live oak in the Folbs' front lawn. The tree narrowly missed their house, falling on a chain-link fence. To remove it, Josh cut the trunk as close to the ground as he could.
A few weeks later, from that little stump, a sprig sprouted. A new oak began to grow where the old tree had died. The new tree was scrawny and pathetic.
They named it Charley.
"We named it Charley because of the storm, but also because it reminded us of the Charlie Brown Christmas tree. It was a sad-looking little tree," said Belinda, 35.
Ten years later, that scrawny tree is 20 feet tall, its trunk engulfing the old stump.
"There was so much destruction in Central Florida and so much rebirth," said Josh, 36. "I just think that is so awesome."
Charley — with help from hurricanes Frances and Jeanne later that year — took a buzz saw to the Orlando area's urban forest. The city of Orlando lost an estimated 20,000 trees. Winter Park lost at least 8,000 trees, almost a third of the trees on city-owned rights of way and parks.
"It will take 20 years for that urban forest to recover to the extent of what was here before the storm came through," said Andy Ketsely, Orlando's urban forester.
Although Orlando has replanted 10,000 trees in the 10 years since the hurricane, they are smaller than the mature trees they replaced. They are also different kinds of trees that city officials hope will prove more hurricane-resistant.
"Instead of laurel oaks, we plant live oaks. Instead of red maples, we plant magnolias," Ketsely said.
In Winter Park, about 5,000 trees have been planted on city property with an eye toward replacing the number of aging laurel oaks that dominate the city's urban forest. The replacement trees are live oaks, maples, elms and crape myrtles, said Dru Dennison, Winter Park's head arborist.
"We have been trying to diversify the species. There should be no more than 10 percent of any one species in an urban forest," Dennison said.
The lasting effect of Charley was the transformation of streets and neighborhoods that were once tree-lined or shady but are now studded by stumps.
Perry Freiwald lives on one of those streets in Edgewood. In his front lawn is the large stump of the huge live oak that Charley knocked into his neighbor's yard. Today, a garden gnome and a potted plant sit on the stump.
But Charley left an adjacent live oak standing. The trees in his front yard were one reason he bought the house 19 years ago.
The surviving oak provides shade and lower air-conditioning bills, and though it leans toward his house and its branches reach over his room, he believes its beauty outweighs the potential danger come the next hurricane.
"It's still worth the risk to me," said Freiwald, a 62-year-old retiree.
Three years after Hurricane Charley, Josh and Belinda Folb sold their Poinciana house to his sister, Leah, and moved back to Virginia. They recently returned for a vacation and a chance for Belinda to fulfill a dream.
"When we moved in, I saw this tree in the front yard, and I thought, 'It's going to be so beautiful, and our kids are going to climb in the tree,'" said Belinda. "But after the hurricane, my tree is gone, my dream is gone."
Now the tree is back, bigger, taller and stronger than before. And the Folbs' son, Michael, born four years after Hurricane Charley, is old enough to make his mother's dream come true.
"The irony is now he can climb the tree," Belinda said.
With a boost from his mother, 6-year-old Michael Folb climbed into the lower branches of the tree named Charley. And then he quickly begged his mother to help him get down. or 407-420-5392     407-420-5392

Thursday, August 21, 2014

A fight for urban trees: Seattle’s wealthier neighborhoods leafier

While this article is about Seattle, it could be about any urban area in the US.  Fort Lauderdale is currently developing a strategic plan to target areas in the city that are in most need of tree canopy.  - Gene

Trees can increase property value, benefit the environment and even lift people's mood and improve human health. Yet lower-income neighborhoods in Seattle tend to have fewer trees.

Seattle Times staff reporters
The benefits of trees — from their grace and beauty to their gifts of cool, clean air and stress relief — are well-known and documented in study after study. Yet as the city grows, it is struggling to hold onto its trees, especially in poorer areas.
Seattle's wealthiest neighborhoods are also its leafiest, a Seattle Times analysis shows.
On a recent hot summer day, brothers Stanley and Kenneth Mason were eating cherry pie under the cover of enormous bigleaf maples at their house in the Rainier Valley.
"We have the best spot on the lot," Kenneth Mason said. "We love our trees. When we are up here, it is quiet and peaceful. I love the shade and I know they are providing clean oxygen for me to breathe. They keep my air fresh."
They are among the lucky ones in their neighborhood, where big trees are scarce — and continue to fall to the saw.
A look at median household income in the most recent U.S. Census Bureau data, together with a map of the city's tree canopy by the city of Seattle, shows lower-income neighborhoods generally have the fewest trees.
Dividing the city's 53 neighborhoods, including park and greenbelt areas into three income tiers of low ($21,095 to $54,712), middle ($56,963 to $74,302) and high ($74,398 to $110,992) shows the higher-income neighborhoods have 29 percent tree cover, dropping down to 18 percent in the lower-income tier.
The city's most current estimate of tree-canopy coverage is seven years out of date and showed the city then was barely holding steady at 23 percent canopy overall. And that was before its current growth spurt, making it the fastest-growing big city in the U.S. in 2014, according to a census report.
Seattle isn't doing even as well as some of its neighbors. Bellevue's canopy coverage in 2007 — its most recent data — was 36 percent, even though the city has lost 20 percent of its tree cover since 1986, according to a report for the city by American Forests, a nonprofit forest-advocacy organization.
Portland gained tree cover in every zoning category between 2000-2010, when its coverage hit 30 percent citywide, according to a 2012 city report.
Redevelopment is the primary reason trees are cut down in Seattle. Also in the mix are a confusing matrix of city regulations, and underpowered enforcement to protect trees.
Regulation of tree cutting is scattered across three city departments — the Department of Transportation, the Department of Planning and Development and Seattle Parks and Recreation — depending on the type of tree and where it is growing.
Complaints against illegal cutting can only be called in during regular city business hours, though often tree cutting happens earlier in the morning or on weekends.
The city has been working to reverse the trend of losses. It has created the Seattle reLeaf program, which dispatches volunteer tree ambassadors to neighborhoods and encourages planting trees, provided free by the city.
Since 2009, the city has helped Seattle residents plant 4,000 trees in yards and along streets through the Trees for Neighborhoods Program.
The city's Department of Transportation also planted more than 1,000 street trees in 2013, according to a progress report on the city's Urban Forest Stewardship Plan, adopted in 2013.
To combat blackberries, English ivy, holly and other invasive plants inundating trees in city green belts and parks, the city has partnered with Forterra, the land conservation nonprofit, other groups and countless volunteers to reclaim and replant aging forests before they become ecological dead zones.
The city's Heritage Tree program also allows residents to voluntarily nominate big, exceptional trees for special recognition, and protection. Except in an emergency, those trees aren't to be cut down without a prior permit indicating they are a hazard.
The city will have to plant a lot more trees to reach its goal of a 30 percent canopy cover by 2037.
That goal was set in Seattle's Urban Forest Management Plan in 2007, and reiterated in a 2013 update adopted by the city of Seattle's Urban Forest Coalition, an interdepartmental working group. Its goal is to protect the health and maintain the benefits of the urban forest.
Meeting the 30 percent goal, itself a downgrade from the 40 percent canopy cover the city enjoyed in the 1970s, will be hard in part because trees — especially big trees that provide the most benefit — need space. Not just for a little while, but for the long haul, to enable trees to reach the girth and height and spreading crown that makes an exceptional tree, or grove.
Disappearing canopies
It's been a struggle to keep pace with the encroachment of pavement in Seattle.
The city's redeveloping neighborhoods lost more than 35 percent of their tree cover between 2003 and 2007, city records show, "and we have lost a lot more trees since then," said Mark Mead, arborist for the city's Parks Department.
"What we saw was a denuding of the southern part of the city due to development," Mead said. "The land in the core and northern areas was too costly to develop, and the south wasn't, so the expansion of development went south, and the canopy disappeared down there."
Trees on private land in Seattle have little protection, and in the contest between people's desires for views, or sun, or space, the tree rarely wins, Mead noted.
"If someone has a view issue, the first words out of their mouth are usually, 'I love trees, just not those trees.' "
The result is a pull of people to the attraction of the Emerald City that is struggling to continue to live up to its name.
"People come here for the jobs and the great climate and because it's green," said Cass Turnbull, founder of the nonprofit Plant Amnesty, and TreePAC, a political nonprofit formed to advocate for urban trees.
"Pretty soon it will just be for the jobs," she said. "That would be sad."
The past 150 years of clearing, regrading and development have left only remnants of the once vast forest that cloaked the Puget Sound region. Today about 3,700 acres of natural areas in forested parks and greenways, in addition to street trees and trees on private land, comprise the city's total tree canopy.
Unlike on the East Coast, where non-American Indian settlement came earlier, leaving trees more time to regrow — and some truly mammoth older trees were never cut — the biggest, most venerable trees in the Seattle are just more than a century old, and most are far younger and smaller than that.
Even in city parks, more than half the trees are smaller than six inches in diameter, according to a city report.
The value of trees
Urban trees are a lifeline to nature not only in Seattle, but for the majority of residents in the United States, where 80 percent of the population lives in urban areas.
Trees are not a luxury, or small matter: Study after study has shown that neighborhoods with more trees usually have higher property values, better neighborhood interaction and lower crime rates. People with trees in their environment generally experience less stress. They are happier and better able to focus and solve problems.
In public debate, the focus usually is on the ecosystem services of trees: their ability to clean the air, filter the water, soak up stormwater and lower energy bills by shading summer heat and blocking winter winds.
The city's urban forest was estimated to supply billions of dollars' worth of free stormwater retention and filtration and millions of dollars in energy savings per year, according to a 2012 report by a collaboration of Forest Service and University of Washington researchers.
But the more subtle, human benefits of trees can be beyond quantification.
Especially big trees have a special effect on people. Some cultures have long known and even deliberately embraced the healthful effects of trees. In Japan, the practice of so-called "forest bathing" is well understood, with walking paths designed for the pleasure of a walk in deep woods, notes Kathleen Wolf, a research social scientist at the College of Forest Resources at the University of Washington.
On research trips to Japan she noticed a "reverence, appreciation and tolerance for old, misshapen, crotchety trees," often supported with props, aflutter with prayers on notes attached.
City or forest?
But in Seattle big, old trees are often in the cross hairs.
Consider the case of Seattle's Heritage Tree No. 121, a grand, old American elm just down the street from where the Mason brothers were eating that pie.
The elm that filled a front corner of Deborah O'Neal's lot, gracing the house she grew up in, stood more than six stories high, and its crown spread 95 feet across. Its trunk was more than 4 feet around at chest height.
But O'Neal said she got tired of the tree's roots in the sewer line and worried about branches dropping on her fence, her car, even her neighbors' kids.
"Everyone wants to say the tree is pretty, but I have had (sewer) backup issues because of the roots, and it is a hazardous tree. It belongs in a forest, not a city," said O'Neal, who paid a tree service to cut it down last month.
She had petitioned the city to enroll the tree in its Heritage Tree listing for extraordinary specimens in 2007, but said she was disappointed the designation came with no financial assistance to care for the tree, not even a plaque.
"I am melancholy about it, but I knew for the greater good it had to be cut," O'Neal said. "It dropped big branches and if anyone gets hurt, I will be the Big Bad Wolf. I don't want to have that happen."
An alarmed neighbor called in a complaint to the city as the chain saws revved, but by the time the Department of Development and Planning responded within an hour, most of the cutting was already done.
The city is investigating whether the cutting was against its regulations protecting exceptional and heritage trees.
Neighbor Juli Cummings, who called in the complaint, lives down the street under a canopy of big copper beeches. But the elm was the biggest tree in the neighborhood, and something Cummings said she looked forward to seeing every day.
"It was like a family member," she said, looking at the stump.
Lynda V. Mapes: 206-464-2736 or
Gene Dempsey, City Forester
Public Works Sustainability Division
Office - (954) 828-5785  Fax - (954) 828-4745

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Urban Gardening - Growing your own, without an allotment

A lot of people are thinking about growing at least some of their own food but don’t think they have the space for it.  Community gardens are one answer but are limited.  Here’s an article about making the most of the space you have and creating space where you might not have imagined!  - Gene
Growing your own, without an allotment
May 1, 2014
Allotments have become wildly popular in recent years, and unfortunately this means many council-run allotment schemes now have waiting lists that span years or are even closed to new applicants.
If your outside space isn’t exactly plentiful, you may think this rules you out of the grow-your-own revolution, but happily you’re much mistaken. Even the tiniest outdoor space can be used for growing – and cheaply with found materials – you just have to be cunning about it!
Make your own window boxes
You can make a cheap window box for any south-facing windows using the wood from an old pallet. If you can use a tape measure, a saw and a drill it’s so easy, and you can paint them any colour you like to harmonise with your home’s decor – step-by-step instructions.
Those who aren’t into woodwork could try making simpler window boxes from ready-made boxy items such as vintage bicycle baskets, for a fabulous retro look.
THINGS TO CONSIDER: Soil and plants are very heavy, so your window box will need to be extremely securely attached to the outside of your home, especially if it’s above a path or pavement. Leave a gap between the window box and the side of the house to avoid water damage.
WHAT TO GROW: Herbs, such as chives, parsley, sage and thyme. Edible flowers, for example nasturtiums, cornflowers and calendula. Small leafy salad plants.
Make your own upside-down tomato planter
These wonderful planters let you grow delicious tomatoes in the tiniest of spaces. Tomatoes are vines, so they don’t get upset at being planted upside down, plus you can plant other herbs or small plants in the top of the planter as well! Here are the step-by-step instructions
THINGS TO CONSIDER: The prop that you hang your tomatoes from will have to be strong enough to support the weight of the bucket, soil and a healthy crop of tomatoes. Choose somewhere very solid to avoid pulling bits off your home or destroying your fence! Tomatoes need a lot of water to produce juicy fruit, so make sure you water them every evening during the hottest months.
WHAT TO GROW: ‘Gardeners Delight’ is the tomato that seems to enjoy upside down growing the most, though you may want to try growing some cherry or baby plum tomatoes as well.
Make your own vertical garden
If all you have is a blank, south-facing wall, then you have an opportunity to grow all kinds of fruit and vegetables in a vertical garden. The effect in the summer can be stunning – a wall of greenery!
There are several ways to create a vertical garden:
· Set up a piece of trellising or mesh against the wall, train dwarf fruit trees or fruiting vines up it, as well as planting into small containers and affixing them to the mesh with garden wire.
· Attach old guttering to the wall in strips and plant along the gutters.
· Fill a wooden pallet with soil and plant into the gaps.
· Make shelving up the wall using reclaimed wood, then planting into ordinary pots and recycled containers.
THINGS TO CONSIDER: Make sure the whole is securely fastened into the wall itself – such a shame if your garden keeled over once the veg started getting heavy.
WHAT TO GROW: With the exception of fruit and veg that need a lot of space, the seed catalogue is your oyster! If you live in the south, you can even try growing more exotic edibles such as aubergines and chillies.
More fruit and veg growing ideas for smaller spaces…
·         Strawberries or cherry tomatoes will grow happily in hanging baskets at just the right height for picking. 

·         It’s possible to harvest over 40kg of potatoes from a small raised bed just over a metre square – here’s how!

·         Balconies can be very productive, so long as they get five hours of sun a day. Most vegetables can be grown from containers, so long as they’re deep enough. Be creative… you can grow carrots in old wellies and beans from a deep tin can! 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

18 Non-Toy Gifts for Children

Seems like there are always occasions to for gift giving and here’s a list to help you get out of the toy and gift card cycle!  I know last year we gave a friend’s 4 year old a magazine subscription to Ranger Rick, Jr. and I hear it’s one of the highlights of his month when he gets the new magazine!  And always remember, time together is the best gift you can give anyone!
July 16, 2014 by Rachel
All of us that have children, have too many toys scattered throughout the house. No matter how diligent we are at keeping them at bay, it seems to be a constant fight. It’s especially hard when special days come and we want to give gifts to our children, or grandparents want to give gifts.
Gifts are good things!
But, too much of anything isn’t good.
A great way to combat too many toys, is to shift all the gifts to non-toy items.
18 Non-Toy Gifts for Children
  1. Classes. Music, dance, riding, drawing, classes are a great way to encourage children in their interests and let them know that you pay attention to them and what they enjoy.
  2. Memberships. Zoo, science museum, children’s museum, YMCA membership, etc. These are particularly great for family gifts! Many young families want to enjoy day outings, but affording them can be a challenge, so give them the gift of a yearly membership.
  3. Subscriptions. Kids enjoy getting things in the mail. Why not encourage their reading by getting them a magazine subscription for something they are interested in!
  4. Events. Movie tickets, tickets to a play, concert or sports event are really exciting! Having an event to look forward to makes the rest of life more enjoyable.
  5. Activities. Mini golf, bowling, skating rink. These are so much fun! And a big part of the fun is going together. Children love spending time with the adults in their lives, they want to see you enjoying your time as well as enjoying them.
  6. Recipe and Ingredients. Kids love cooking with their parents. Baking something special or cooking dinner is an ideal time to spend together and learn life skills. Print out a recipe, purchase all the ingredients and set a date for cooking together.
  7. Crafting Date. Our daughter loves making crafts. I do to, I really do enjoy the creative aspect. But I rarely take time out to do it with her. These crafting dates mean the world to our creative little girl. Keep a basket of craft supplies and get out a book for inspiration. We like this book.
  8. Arts and Craft supplies. If your craft box is running low, stock up a little on things you need. Add in something fun the kids haven’t used before. A gift of art and craft supplies often brings on the imagination and kids can’t wait to get to work!
  9. Coupons. An envelope of coupons that they can “spend” at any time: I’ll do one chore- no questions asked, movie and popcorn night, you pick the movie!, 1:1 game of cards or basketball (whatever the child’s interest is in), sit and read a book with me, Stay up 1/2 hour past bedtime
  10. Restaurant Gift Card. Dinner, ice cream, coffee, cupcake- whatever suits their fancy! Give them the freedom of inviting whoever they wish: it may be mom or dad, it may be a grandparent, aunt or even teacher that they would like to spend more time with.
  11. Dress Up Clothes. These do need to be limited, but  2 dresses and couple play silks can get hours and hours of play!
  12. Books. We get a lot of books from the library, but there are some that I just can’t find there, or it takes us longer to read through. We have read through the entire Little House series, Narnia and are working our way through Shel Silverstein’s books. Be sure to pass the books on when you are done, so they don’t clutter up your home.
  13. Clothes. When kids only have a certain amount of clothes, they often enjoy getting clothes. Make it a point to get something that fits their style. That may mean western clothes, super-hero, fancy dresses, etc.
  14. Snacks. If your child is a foodie, they will love this! Some homemade granola or cookies made just for them, is a special treat!
  15. Outdoor Supplies. If you are an outdoorsy family, giving kids their own fishing tackle or gardening equipment can be a big deal. It’s also something that gets left on the shelf in the garage, so you always know right where to find it.
  16. Telling Time. The average child these days doesn’t know how to read analog, or finds it takes too long to think about it, so they search for a digital watch. Getting them a cool watch makes them want to be able to tell time on it. Boys, girls, and even teenagers can be excited about this.
  17. Games and Puzzles. Games and puzzles are great activities for when kids have to be indoors. It’s a good practice to have individual quiet times during the day, and having a puzzle to sit and work on by themselves helps brain development and problem solving skills. Games teach a lot too! My kids talk about how they passed geography, just because we played Risk when they were little. Monopoly and PayDay have been popular and help cement math skills. Memory games are great for younger children.
  18. Calendar. Many children like to know what is going on, what day it is, how many days until ____. These kids are the ones that want to know what the plan is for the day, in what order things will happen, what time friends are expected over, etc. They struggle with spur-of-the-moment and can be frustrating if you are a spontaneous parent. But celebrate it! These children have many strengths and make our world run smoother. Embrace their inner schedule and get them their own calendar. They can write down their own classes, appointments, play dates, etc. And if they ask you, send them to their calendar so they can get used to being in control of their own schedule. You can even schedule “spontaneous days”, so they know that something different will happen that day. Trust me, it will help them enjoy the spontaneous outings!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Free Environmental programs at Everglades Holiday Park

2014 Schedule
Free programs and activities!
8:30am-10:30am ~ at Everglades Holiday Park
Supplies limited to the first 50 participants (Unless otherwise noted)
August 16 Solar S’mores – Did you know August 10th is National S’mores Day and August 30th is Toasted Marshmallow Day? In celebration of these amusing days, participants make their own miniature solar ovens and test them by making s’mores!
September 20 Bear Huggers – September 9th is Teddy Bear Day, so let’s celebrate by learning about the Florida Black Bear – we aren’t going to snuggle a real one and take it home, but we learn about the force of friction by making a bear climb up and down! How do you measure up to an adult Florida Black Bear?
October 18 Marshes in Double Toil & Trouble… - Is it possible that William Shakespeare was eluding to the Everglades in Macbeth? “Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and caldron bubble.” Come learn about the effects of acid rain on our Biscayne aquifer by creating your own marsh and participate in a science experiment: Acids & Bases & Ghosts Oh My!
November 15 – Calling all Florida Wild Turkeys – Duck Dynasty watch out! Participants make their own “bird call” – will you attract turkeys, ducks, frogs, or just your little sister or brother? Who knows! We do know you will have fun using it!
December 20 Santa Bob Claus - Did you know Santa’s middle name is Bob? Ok, maybe it is, maybe it it’s not... Either way, December is a beautiful time to be in South Florida – even if it is cold here at 70o Fahrenheit! Enjoy the weather, the migrating birds and make your own Santa Claus bobber to hang on your tree!

Friday Funny (or not so funny)

The Other Coast by Adrian Raeside      August 12, 2014