Thursday, April 2, 2020

Healthy Habits: Takeout Food

As the coronavirus rapidly spreads through the U.S.A., people's concerns rise, making it more difficult for all of us to not feel like everything has coronavirus. Have you gone to the supermarket and felt like the virus is all over you? 
With safer at home measures in place in many states, people are turning to delivery services. The question many of us have, is the coronavirus being carried in my take out? Do I have to disinfect my food or Amazon boxes? 
The most impactful precaution you can take when ordering food delivery or receiving a box is to avoid contact with the couriers. Once you have maintained your social distancing with them, there are steps to take at home to disinfect and significantly lower the risk of coronavirus spread. 
Experienced disinfectant expert Alexandra Lin has tips to manage and disinfect delivered goods to keep your loved ones safe during this pandemic. She is Business Development Manager at Durisan, a U.S.A. manufacturer that produces a range of alcohol-free and Triclosan-free, water-based products including hand sanitizers and soaps, disinfecting wipes and sprayers for residential and commercial use.
Here are some quick and easy tips for people concerned about contamination on takeout bags or boxes, some of these are (in the case of take-out food):
  1. If you’re paying when the food is delivered to you, make sure to bring sanitizing wipes or hand sanitizer with you to disinfect the card reader and your card in case you need to sign or enter your PIN.
  1. As you arrive home, take your shoes off (leave them outside, for the sanitization properties of the UV rays from the sun) and then wash your hands for 20 seconds following CDC guidelines. If you can’t leave them outside, spray your shoes with a good sanitizer or wipe them with a sanitizing wipe.
  1. Place the curbside or take out bags in the sink rather than the countertop or dinner table.
  1. Wipe food containers--including top, bottom and sides--for precaution with hand sanitizer wipes.
  1. Transfer the food to a plate and wash your hands prior to consumption. It's important to discard the bags and food containers after transfer.
  1. Store leftovers in your household’s storage containers, not the original packaging.
  1. After your meal, clean and disinfect the sink.

In the case of mail and packages (although they pose a low risk of transmitting the coronavirus), it is important to avoid contact with the person delivering the package. You can also use disinfectant sprays to spray boxes (as the virus can live in cardboard for up to 24 hours) as a precautionary measure to lower any risk.

Music Minute: The Wiggles - Fun and Games

Popular children’s group The Wiggles have released a brand-new album, Fun and Games.
Join Emma, Lachy, Simon and Anthony for this wonderful collection of popular childhood songs, timeless nursery rhymes, and classic Wiggly tunes. The album features The Wiggles’ eagerly anticipated version of the global hit ‘Baby Shark’. Never before have the band had a song more highly requested! Listen HERE.
Anthony said today, “We appreciate there are a lot of families restricted to their home environments with young children whilst working through these challenging times. Here’s hoping we can bring some light, entertainment and enjoyment with this new collection of songs.”
Fun and Games is available to download or steam via many popular platforms.

Also, watch the band’s recent social distancing Facebook Live video, and their extremely relevant Handwashing Song.
About The Wiggles:

The Wiggles have been entertaining millions of fans across the globe for over 29 years. They have sold over 30 million albums and DVDs, 8 million books, as well as accumulating over 1.3 billion views on YouTube and over 750 million music streams. More than 70 album and DVD releases later, The Wiggles have earned 18 gold, 13 platinum, 3 double-platinum and 10 multi-platinum awards, and have been awarded 13 ARIA Awards for Best Children’s Album (making ARIA history as the most awarded ARIA winner in the one category, and being inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame). For more information about The Wiggles, visit Keep in touch with the latest information via FacebookInstagram, and Twitter. Follow The Wiggles on Spotify.

Parenting Pointers: Parenting in the Digital Age - Teaching Our Kids About Compassion

In today’s world, where kids become familiar with the internet at a very tender age, parenting has become even more difficult than it used to be. With cyberbullying on the rise, it’s absolutely vital that you teach your kids to show compassion for others and be good digital citizens.
The numbers are incredibly worrying:
Over 1 in 3 online users have been subjected to cyberbullying in their lifetime. Still, only 1 in 10 youth victims have reported cyberbullying to a parent or trusted adult. Whether your child is the victim or perpetrator, you should be well informed about how to handle the situation.

Here’s the golden rule every parent should teach their children:
“Don’t say anything online you wouldn’t say in person.”

Here are some of the ways you can help your kids become better digital citizens.
Practice with Notes
The fact that you can’t take your words back after clicking send is one of the peculiarities of social media. So, you should teach your kids to be able to communicate their views and opinions to others in a healthy way on the first attempt.
Here’s how:
Teach your kids to first verbalize their opinions and thoughts using notes on their mobile devices before making a social media post. This way, they are trained to pause and take a second look at what they want to type and how it might affect those who read it.
Teach Them to Take a Pause
Help your kids understand the importance of taking a breath before replying to a post or comment that hurts their feelings. Let them know that responding in an angry state can make them do things they might regret down the road.
Be Prepared to Listen
This is where most parents fail. Kids have been found to approach their parents about social issues only when they believe their parents would listen to them without being quick to judge.

The thing is:
When most kids are confused, they turn to their peers or older teens with complex emotions to help them rather than looking to their parents. It is paramount that you let your kids know they can trust you with the issues they face. The best way to show this is by listening to them with empathy when they voice their concerns.
Helping your kids learn compassion while using their digital devices needs to start from the top. To this end, you should be a role model for them by listening to them with compassion while encouraging them to do the same.
Final Thoughts
Due to cyberbullying and the other issues that have become common on the internet today, parents should be more invested in looking after their kids’ emotional health.
As a parent, make your kids comfortable with you so that you know when they become the target of cyberbullying. Also, teach them to respect the opinions of others online and express theirs without looking to hurt or bully others. Good luck!

Fun Freetime: Resources from Happy Fox Books

Happy Fox Books has some resources to share. 
They put together some activity sheets for children that may help families at home at this time. They include coloring pages and some fun puzzles. 
Check it out here:  
Also, Happy Fox Books is pleased to announce three new interactive board books that will entertain just as much as they educate about our natural world. This is very new to Happy Fox Books, as this is the first time they are venturing into board books.
AntillBeehive, and Tree will be released this June 2020 and are sure to start conversations with young ones about what makes an anthill work, what exactly goes on inside a beehive, and what types of animals you may find living in a tree. 
The various layers and interesting flaps would appeal to two to three year olds, while the facts presented in each book will entertain children up to five. 

Fun Freetime: Online Resources from Children's Theatre Company

Children’s Theatre Company (CTC) is launching three online programs through their social media channels while performances and classes are cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The Theatre also took immediate steps to reduce expenses including furloughing of staff, reducing hours, and implementing pay reductions in order to ensure the long-term viability of this important Minnesota cultural asset and the nation’s most acclaimed theatre for young people. 

In order to continue to serve young people and families and support their creativity and curiosity during this unprecedented time, CTC is launching three online engagement programs (on Facebook and hosted here) called Mindfulness Mondays, Write On! Wednesdays, and Suggestion Saturdays. Mindfulness Mondays will include both stress-reducing exercises for emotional intelligence, self-regulation, and empathy developed through the Creative Play program and thought prompts and exercises that reflect awareness, equity, and social justice. Write On! Wednesdays which will begin on Facebook, asks parents to send their children’s original plays and stories to the Theatre. The following Wednesday, one script will be chosen to be performed by members of the Theatre’s resident Acting Company and Performing Apprentices and released via video on Facebook. Finally, Suggestion Saturdays is a day when CTC’s Artistic Director Peter Brosius will pose an artistic process question to our online audience. These programs will be joined by additional online programs rolling out over the next few weeks. CTC’s Off Book online magazine will continue to feature additional ways to engage children at home with creative activities.

Performance Cancellations and Staffing Reductions
As a result of program cancellations and the resulting earned revenue impact, CTC has made substantial, painful, and immediate changes in staffing levels to ensure CTC is here for the future. Every single employee is affected. Among other things, this means that:
·       CTC has furloughed 65% of full or part-time regular union and non-union employees
·       CTC reduced hours for another 8.5% of full or part-time regular staff
·       The remaining 26.5% of non-union full-time staff took pay reductions in the range of 2-20% on a graduated scale based on salary levels 
·       All part-time staff have also been furloughed

CTC will continue paying its portion of employees benefit premiums, including health care, for the duration of the time employees are on furlough or have reduced hours.

“We are heartbroken to be in this situation due to the coronavirus pandemic. We have to do everything we can to protect our ability to impact the lives of young people and their families in the future.” stated Managing Director Kimberly Motes. “Regrettably, our financial position necessitates us taking very difficult steps now in order to be able to reemerge and continue to serve the children and families of Minnesota.”
Help from the Community
As CTC faces this significant financial loss, it is also asking donors for continued support. When this crisis subsides, the community will need the human connection that CTC provides more than ever and it can’t do that without philanthropy, which accounts for nearly 50% of CTC’s annual operating budget. Donations can be made on CTC’s website:
About Children’s Theatre Company
Children’s Theatre Company (CTC) is the nation’s largest and most acclaimed theatre for young people and serves a multigenerational audience. It creates theatre experiences that educate, challenge, and inspire for more than 250,000 people annually. CTC is the only theatre focused on young audiences to win the coveted Tony Award® for regional theatre and is the only theatre in Minnesota to receive three Tony® nominations (for its production of A Year with Frog and Toad). CTC is committed to creating world-class productions at the highest level and to developing new works, more than 200 to date, dramatically changing the canon of work for young audiences.
CTC’s engagement and learning programs annually serve more than 93,000 young people and their communities through Theatre Arts Training, student matinees, Neighborhood Bridges, and early childhood arts education programs. ACT One is CTC’s comprehensive platform for access, diversity, and inclusion in our audiences, programs, staff, and board that strives to ensure the theatre is a home for all people, all families, reflective of our community.

Healthy Habits: Oral, Head, and Neck Cancer Awareness

Some of our culture’s famous figures have died from oral, head, or neck cancer – from Babe Ruth to Sammy Davis, Jr. to George Harrison. But there are also those who survived, like Michael Douglas and Jim Kelly. And working with patients and survivors for over two decades is The Head and Neck Cancer Alliance, who launch their 22nd Annual Oral, Head, and Neck Cancer Awareness Week (OHANCA) in April.
The HNCA can trace its roots to Yul Brynner, who made an anti-smoking commercial that aired after his death. Brynner also established the Yul Brynner Foundation, which in 1997 merged with the Association for Head and Neck Cancer Awareness, founded by Dr. Terry Day.
According to HNCA’s executive director Amanda Hollinger, OHANCA will highlight the non-profit organization’s ongoing efforts in providing treatment, support, educational resources, and information about prevention. “There’s a strong link between HPV and oral and throat cancer,” Hollinger explains, “so we’re actively focusing on informing people about the HPV vaccine, tying in prevention as well as helping spread awareness of HPV.” Though no simple test can offer a definitive diagnosis, the OHANCA clinics and screening events do have an impact, as Hollinger estimates about 10% of people who are screened get referrals for further examination or treatment. “It’s a good first step,” she says.
This year’s celebrity spokesperson is voice actor Rob Paulsen – a legend in his field, and the talent behind such classic animated characters as Yakko in “Animaniacs,” Pinky in “Pinky and the Brain,” and Donatello in “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” “Rob is so special because his voice is his livelihood, and it connects him to so many generations of people,” says Hollinger.

I had a chance to interview Elizabeth Langdon, VP, Strategic Communication & Development, to learn more.
Why is it important for people to be aware of oral, head, and neck cancers?
Oral, head and neck cancer is the 6th most common cancer by incidence worldwide. In 2020, it is estimated that 650,000 people will be affected by head and neck cancer worldwide, with 330,000 deaths. In the United States, 65,000 new diagnoses will be made this year, with 14,600 deaths. Unfortunately, many Americans do not recognize the symptoms of this life-threatening group of diseases, which include cancers of the oral cavity (mouth), larynx (voice box), pharynx (throat), sinuses, nasal cavity or salivary glands, and by the time they are diagnosed, the cancer has begun to spread. This is why knowing the symptoms and early detection are so important.

Are there risk factors that may increase the chance of getting one of these types of cancers?
Tobacco (including smokeless tobacco) and alcohol use are very strong risk factors for oral, head and neck cancer, particularly those of the tongue, mouth, throat and voice box. People who use both tobacco and alcohol are at greater risk for developing these cancers than people who use either tobacco or alcohol alone.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV), the same virus that is responsible for cervical cancer in women, is also a risk factor for head and neck cancer. Researchers have correlated the rising incidence of head and neck cancer with HPV infection. Rates of throat cancer in young and middle-aged adults, a group traditionally at low risk for head and neck cancer, has been increasing at a rapid pace since the 1980s. Researchers now know there is a direct link to HPV, a potentially cancer-causing virus that can be transmitted through oral sex. Currently about 70% percent of cancers of the throat (including tonsils and base of the tongue) are caused by HPV. In 2018, HPV-associated throat cancer surpassed cervical cancer as the most common HPV-related cancer in the U.S.

What might be some symptoms that people would notice when it comes to these types of cancers?
Symptoms include:
• Lump or a sore in the mouth, throat or neck that does not heal
• A white or red patch on the gums, the tongue, or the lining of the mouth
• A sore throat that does not go away
• Difficulty or pain when swallowing
• Change or hoarseness in the voice
• Swelling of the jaw
• Unusual bleeding in the mouth
• Trouble breathing or speaking
• Pain in the mouth, neck, throat, upper teeth, face, or chin that does not go away that does not go away
• Frequent headaches
• Pain or ringing in the ears, or trouble hearing
• Sinuses that are blocked and do not clear, or chronic sinus infections that do not respond to treatment with antibiotics
• Bleeding through the nose
• Swelling or other trouble with the eyes;
• Numbness or paralysis of the muscles in the face

Screens are currently postponed, but please visit their links for more information and to find out when screenings will be available:

HNCA Website

Event Listeing


Freebies! Free eBooks for Kids from Chicken Soup for the Soul and American Humane

Chicken Soup for the Soul, in partnership with American Humane, has a line of free ebooks for kids of all ages, available on all popular ebook platforms, including Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, Apple Books, Google, and more.
These books offer students fascinating stories about zoo and aquarium animals, along with photos. There are even free activity pages and complete curriculums available for download—all at no charge. The three volumes in Chicken Soup for the Soul’s Humane Heroes series are provided for all reading levels, with Volume I targeted at older elementary students, Volume II written for middle schoolers, and Volume III for high school students.

Here are just a few of the animals children will meet in the pages of these books:
  • Kasi the baby cheetah was orphaned and too young to be introduced into the adult cheetah community. The team at Busch Gardens didn’t want Kasi to grow up alone, so they found a special friend for him – a Labrador Retriever puppy. The two young animals lived together until Kasi was old enough to be integrated into the cheetah habitat. The two friends still see each other when the dog visits Kasi at the zoo.
  • A 23-year old penguin at the Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut also needed help. And some middle school students came to his rescue. They partnered with the aquarium’s staff to use the 3D printer at their school to make the penguin a boot that helped him regain mobility.
  • Magic, the baby dolphin abandoned by his mother who was miraculously saved by a dedicated team at The Brookfield Zoo in Chicago. 
The three-book, eBook series can be read on any eBook app – Kindle, Nook, Apple books, or any other – on their computers, tablets, or phones. Each book contains 12 age-appropriate stories – and color photos as well. The Chicken Soup for the Soul website includes supplemental photos and videos, and even fun worksheets kids will love. Parents and teachers can find everything they need, including the links to Kindle, Nook and Apple to download the free eBooks at

Chicken Soup for the Soul publishes the famous Chicken Soup for the Soul book series. With well over 100 million books sold to date in the U.S. and Canada, more than 250 titles, and translations into more than 40 languages, the phrase “chicken soup for the soul” is known worldwide and is regularly referenced in pop culture. Today, 27 years after it first began sharing happiness, inspiration and hope through its books, this socially conscious company continues to publish a new title a month. It has also evolved beyond the bookstore, with a podcast, education programs, dog and cat food, licensed products, and video, television and movies through its subsidiary, Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment.

American Humane is the country’s first national humane organization, founded in 1877. For more information, please visit and be sure to follow American Humane on Facebook and Twitter.

Contest: Champions + Legends

Champions + Legends, an athletic performance supplement brand dedicated to elite athletes, fitness enthusiasts and outdoor extremists, is launching a year-long, weekly social media contest for workout enthusiasts. The video-based contest will allow fans a chance to win a weekly $1,000 cash prize for doing what they love – working out and sharing it with the world. Additionally, the creators of the top 10 videos will then have the chance to compete for the grand prize of $25,000 at the Champions + Legends Sixty Second Showdown event. This marquee event will bring together athletes, content creators and other Champions + Legends community members to celebrate the spirit of competition and achievement.  Winners will be judged on the athleticism, toughness and intensity of their video submission.
“Champions + Legends knows nothing can deter a true athlete from pursuing their sport,” said CEO, Sonny Mottahed. “We want to see what contestants can achieve when they commit to training as hard as possible regardless of the obstacles they must overcome. By highlighting these athletes and their inspirational videos we hope to encourage others to use this time to focus on positive pursuits.”
Champions + Legends recognizes that simple activities like sports and exercise have been impacted by the new challenges facing our country. As we all enact practices like “social distancing” to help keep us safe, athletes, fitness seekers and the generally health-conscious are needing to rethink their traditional in-gym physical fitness routines and find innovative ways to adapt their training methods at home. Champions + Legends knows a true athlete stops at nothing to reach greatness and it wants to recognize those to whom this opportunity means the most, with a solid reward and social media replay. Participants are asked to showcase their strength and ability by demonstrating how nothing will stop them from pursuing their athletic passions.
All video submissions must be up to one minute in length and showcase both the intensity and ingenuity it takes to train like a champion. Weekly winners will be recognized and cross-promoted across all the Champions + Legends social channels with one grand-prize winner destined to achieve legendary status.

        Register for the contest at:
        Upload an up to 60-second video of original content to your social channel of choice (Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, etc.)
        Begin your video by clearly indicating this is your submission to the C+L Weekly Warrior Challenge
        Entrants must tag and follow all Champions + Legends social channels 
        Must also include the hashtags #WeeklyWarriorChallenge and #roadtoSSS
        Deadline for the 1st Weekly Warrior Challenge submissions is Sunday, April 5th at 11:59pm ET with the first winner announced the following day on Monday, April 6th
        Subsequent weeks will follow the same submission deadline of Sunday nights at 11:59pm ET with the weekly winner announced the next day, Monday at 6pm ET
        Instagram: @ChampionsAndLegends
        Facebook:  @ChampionsAndLegends
        Twitter: @ChampsLegends
        TikTok: @championsandlegends

Fun Freetime: Acrylic Block Projects

People looking for children’s projects or craft ideas for themselves can find hours of entertainment with Hy-Lite® Craft Blocks. Available for sale online with free shipping, the durable acrylic blocks can be used to create imaginative gifts, decorations, and educational projects for children. Each Craft Block comes in a standard eight-inch by eight-inch square size and is three-inches wide. Blocks are fitted with a one-and-one-half-inch sized access hole and have a reusable rubber seal, making it easy to add items inside the Craft Block. Easy to order and delivered directly to the home, the long-lasting acrylic blocks are sold online in cases of six, 12 and 24 and come with free shipping. The lightweight clear wave acrylic blocks are made in the U.S.A. and offer a safe, break-resistant way to create projects for all ages.
Ideas for Children
For children, Craft Blocks open the door to the imagination. Blocks can be used as a mini-fish tank, a terrarium, a collection container or made into a water gage. “Children can add stickers to the blocks or paint the outsides,” says Laura Sikes, marketing and national accounts manager with Hy-Lite, a U.S. Block Windows Company. “On the inside they can save their small treasures, make the block into a bank or even create their own personal nightlight by adding twinkle lights.  “Taking projects in a different direction, children can use the Craft Blocks to create gifts for family and friends. Perhaps there’s a grandparent who would appreciate getting a hand-decorated block from a child filled with their favorite hard candies or mini-messages of love.”

Ideas for Adults
Children aren’t the only ones who can get imaginative with Craft Blocks. Adults can decorate the exteriors, add twinkle lights inside the block or make “Memory Blocks” by adding unique items like ticket stubs, coins, wine corks or silk flowers. “We’ve seen people create beautiful seaside decorations with sand and shells in the blocks,” says Sikes. “Others have added potpourri or scented cinnamon sticks to create a fast, easy gift. There are also people who put dry dog treats inside the block and add the pet’s name and paw prints on the outside!”

Crafty Ideas
Nancy Rourke hand paints the exteriors to resemble stained glass. She adds lights and sells them at craft fairs, donating the proceeds to her favorite pet rescue in south Florida.
For Sylvia Kearney, the lightweight acrylic blocks make it easier for her to add fake “snow” to the blocks. She also stencils sayings and images on the exteriors. The Minnesota resident uses the blocks for a DIY crafting class she hosts.
Another crafter, Judy Grau, switched from glass block to acrylic blocks for her projects. Grau paints pictures on the outside of the blocks. Then she adds lights to the interior through the plug, and ties beautiful ribbons and bows around her completed projects. She sells them during the year at local craft shows.

Hy-Lite, a U.S. Block Windows Company, is the leading manufacturer of acrylic block, glass block and decorative glass windows. The company's privacy product options include acrylic block shutters, accent panels, radius walls, partition walls and door inserts. Since 1988, the Pensacola, Florida-based company has been committed to providing residential and commercial construction professionals and homeowners with elegant, affordable privacy window designs. For more information, visit

Healthy Habits: How Technology Can Actually Improve your Sleep

With all the technology readily available to us, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to detach ourselves from being online. It’s easy to spend all day looking at a screen at work, just to come home and spend time with your family watching some TV before bed.
We all know about the negative effects of using technology before bed. With kids sometimes using tablets right up until bedtime, finding a compromise that lets them enjoy technology while minimizing the negative impacts of tech before bed is a great place to start.
However, it’s important to remember that not all technology before bed is bad. There are some forms of sleep technology that can actually benefit your overall sleep quality, such as helpful apps, wearable sleep trackers, and lights that mimic the feeling of the sun.

Sleep-Related Apps
Sleep tracking apps are a great way to use technology to your advantage and help understand how to improve your sleep. These apps can help you document your habits to understand things like why you are feeling tired or groggy the next morning.
Meditation apps are another fantastic way to signal to your body that it is time to transition into sleep mode. Meditation apps can help you calm your mind, especially in these uncertain times where it is all too easy to get stressed out.

Wearable Sleep Trackers
Wearable sleep trackers, such as wrist wearables, are a great way to get a summary of how you are sleeping. From being able to identify your sleep patterns to even determining the regularity of your sleep zone, wearable sleep trackers can help you gain insight into how you sleep to make measurable improvements.

Smart Lights
Using warm lights is a great way to shift your brain into relaxation mode before hitting the hay. Whether you are using programmable lights such as a glow light or a blue light filter, using a light-based tool can help prevent eye strain and signal to your body that it’s time to go to bed.
Glow lights are programmable lights that are able to mimic the feeling of the sun. They are a super easy install in a kid’s bedroom to help wake up feeling ready for a full day of school. For a super easy option to help minimize eye strain, using a blue light filter on your phone or your kid’s tablet after a certain time can help lessen the awakening effect of blue lights on the brain.

It’s clear that technology is a part of our world that’s here to stay—but there are several ways we can prevent the negative impacts that too much technology can have on our sleep and overall health. Whether you use sleep-related apps, wearable sleep trackers, or smart lights, there are so many simple ways to supercharge your sleep so you feel refreshed and ready to take on the day ahead.
Interested in learning more about the impact of sleep technology? Check out the infographic below to learn more about how technology can affect your sleep, both positively and negatively.