Thursday, October 18, 2018

Introduce Your Child to the Breathtaking Natural Wonders of Aurora Borealis in The New Children's Book, "Painted Skies" by Carolyn Mallory (Review)

Disclosure:  I was sent a review copy from the vendor in exchange for an honest review. All views shared are mine and mine alone.

We have been learning about space as part of our homeschooling, which has included learning about constellations and Aurora Borealis.  In addition to doing hands on activities which included making our own telescopes to look up at the stars, we also made constellations which we could see when we shined a flashlight through the paper and directed the light onto the wall.  We got this idea after visiting the Mystic Seaport and taking in one of their planetarium shows.  This was the first planetarium for the girls, and definitely not the last.  They left the constellation presentation wanting to learn more.  And, as part of this presentation they learned how boat captains used the stars to help guide them during the dark night skies.  They could find the bright North star in the sky, along with the big and little dipper and have a compass courtesy of the stars in the sky. The girls found this fascinating and came home wanting to visit the library to find more book about constellations and sailing, as well as Aurora Borealis, which was talked about in the presentation.

The reason Aurora Borealis came up is the man giving the presentation talked about how our sky at night time is light an art canvas. Depending on where you live, you can look up at the sky and see a sky filled with stars -- maybe even a shooting star or full moon, or if you live in Iceland you can enjoy the Northern Lights (also known as Aurora Borealis).  

The girls saw photos of Aurora Borealis and thought it was the most beautiful thing they had seen, and asked if we could save money to go to Iceland and see the Northern Lights up close.  I told that this trip has been on my bucket list since I was little, and hopefully one day we could also see this breathtaking display of lights in person.  But, in the meantime, we have been busy making our own Northern Lights canvas prints that the girls have hanging in their room, to go along with their glow in the dark stars on the ceiling.  Shh, don't tell the girls, but Santa is getting them a fun nightlight that projects the colorful Northern Lights on their wall/ceiling, for them to enjoy while drifting off to sleep.  

In addition to all the fun arts and crafts we have been doing along with school work to learn about space, constellations and the Northern Lights, I also shared a fun book with the girls that was recently sent to, "Painted Skies" by Carolyn Mallory,

This book, whose illustrations are done by Amei Zhao, is one of beauty.  As you flip through the pages, you can't help but feel you are tagging along with Leslie as she discovers the beauty of the Arctic's natural wonders.  Readers will enjoy an Inuit legend told to them in narrative form, as well as a scientific explanation behind the amazing Northern Lights.

Even if you aren't studying the Northern Lights, this is definitely a great book to share with your child at bedtime.  They will admire the colorful illustrations that depict this amazing phenomenon, which will have them falling asleep wishing they were visiting the Arctic to see this natural wonder in their dreams.

More about this book:

"A young girl learns the traditional Inuit story behind the Aurora Borealis?

Leslie is new to the Arctic, and no one told her there would be so much snow, and so many interesting animals to see. Along with her new friend, Oolipika, Leslie soon discovers one the Arctic's most unique and breathtaking natural wonders, the northern lights. Having never seen such lights before, Leslie is understandably shocked by them. Oolipika, on the other hand, knows that the ancient lights are more than just colours, and that the mischievous, playful spirits that the northern lights hold can be dangerous. This contemporary narrative introduces young readers to an Inuit legend about the northern lights, followed by an epilogue that explains the science behind this amazing natural phenomenon."

About the Author:

Carolyn Mallory grew up in northern Ontario, raised her three children in Nunavut, and has always considered herself a northern girl. She is the co-author of Common Plants of Nunavut and the author of Common Insects of Nunavut. She now lives in Nova Scotia with her dogs, cats, lizard, gerbils, frogs, fish, and a house-pig named Stella.Amei Zhao works in visual development and production design for TV and feature animation.

Disclosure:  I was sent a review copy from the vendor in exchange for an honest review. All views shared are mine and mine alone.

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Family Tragedies & How To Survive Them

There is an interesting twofold nature to a family being struck by tragedy. Firstly, it is likely that there are more elegant solutions to the problem at hand than you might at first imagine. This alone is comforting. Secondly, more often than not such situations do have a way of uniting the individual members within that family, and such unity is often desired anyway. Even so, of course, nobody wishes tragedy on anybody’s family, and if you are currently undergoing such a time then it is natural to feel utterly inconsolable. Irregardless, however, it’s important to try and focus - as a group, together - on what you might be able to do to move ahead. This could mean taking bold steps, or just sitting and licking your wounds collectively for a time. But you need to have some kind of an action plan if you are to come out the other side of your tragedy, refreshed and ready to face life again.

Being The Support For Each Other

Probably the most important thing to remember during such a time is to try and continue to be a huge support for each other. As long as you are able to do that, you will all individually and collectively find it much easier to see the light - and to get through it to the end of the tunnel in one piece. Clearly, we run into a problem here which needs addressing immediately; namely, that in order to be supportive for each other, you need to feel within yourself able to do so. That can be more than a little challenging when you yourself are going through a particularly harrowing or troublesome time. But there are two things to note here in order to make this process seemingly easier. Firstly, it is likely that you will find the strength necessary by virtue of merely being the parent that you are; there is something natural to this which springs through quite easily. Secondly, you will find that once you have started the ball rolling on this, it will become easier to do. Take a moment as a family to try and hold each other up, and you will find that it is the start of what you need to do to carry on as a group.

Focusing On Solutions

In certain cases, arguing that there might be ‘solutions’ at all can seem a little trite. If you have recently lost somebody, for instance, you would argue that there is no solution to be found, besides - as we have already said - being there for each other. But in the vast majority of our human struggles, there are still actions we can take - however small - which can allow us to get through the situation much more easily. Not to mention that we often start to grieve for a situation before we even know for certain that it is definitely a lost cause. You might, let’s say, have gone through the turmoil of trying to bear children, only to discover that you are infertile. Still in that circumstance, there are solutions to consider: consulting with a ConceiveAbilities surrogacy agency, adoption, fostering. By keeping focused on solutions rather than problems, you pave the way for a much more rational and sensible approach to managing whatever life may throw at you.

Looking Ahead

Tied closely in with that, but quite distinct, is the act of always trying to look ahead. As human beings, we have a tendency to look behind us at what has gone before, and to thereby make of ourselves prisoners of the past. If we can instead find in ourselves the power and tenacity to look forward - or at least, not to look back quite so much - we are much more likely to find ourselves capable of feeling strong enough to deal with whatever problems may arise. Looked upon in this regard, even life’s worst sufferings may be more manageable - and when we follow this approach as a family unit, it becomes a thousand times more powerful. If you find that you or your family have particular struggle with trying to always look ahead, bear in mind that everyone knows this feeling - but that, like muscle memory, you might be able to improve your ability to do this more easily and steadily than you might think.

The above are three practical solutions for trying to deal with a family tragedy, but even so they should not be pursued without also ensuring that you take care of yourself and those around you with a great deal of love and honor.

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'Tis The Season To Be Soupy

Summer is over. Let’s make the most of Fall.

It’s more easily said than done. Most households will get to struggle with the first few signs of fall – or pre-winter as some people like to refer to it. The decrease in natural daylight affects everyone. One day, you woke up feeling the first ray of sun on your face, and the next, you’re leaving to work in total darkness. Needless to say, you can expect to feel a little cranky about it! Long hours of darkness can make you feel as if you were spending most of your day at work — or school, for kids — and ultimately you can’t help but worry that you’re missing out. Additionally, rainy and windy days become gradually more frequent. Before you know why you begin to feel tired and a little low. Even the pretty leaves that fly in the park can’t really put a smile on your face. Yes, you know what we’re talking about. You’ve got a bad case of fall-aversion! Don’t worry, it’ll soon pass, once you stop mourning the death of summer. But in the meantime, you can switch healthy and bright summer salad for equally healthy and bright fall soups.

Now is the perfect season for homemade soup. And here’s a little list of the best recipes around, if you don’t know where to start.

Stop everything and eat soup

Soup might sound like the kind of boring food that your kids would reject, but in reality, it’s full of goodness. If your family fails to understand your love of soup, you will need to find the most direct way to win them over: Through the stomach! A bowl of soup is hugely gratifying when the temperatures drop outside because it has the ability to warm you up rapidly. For someone who doesn’t like to consume their food in liquid form, you can keep a comfy soup in chunky bites that fall apart in the spoon. It might look messy at first in the bowl, but it’s guaranteed to keep you warm and happy! Besides, if you’re worried about getting back in shape for the Christmas holiday, relying on light broth with plenty of vegetables can help you to achieve your goal weight. And finally, you can prepare your soup in advance and reheat it when needed. Homemade, warming, healthy and practical, what’s not to love about it?

Chicken soup for everyone

The colder and rainy months tend to be associated with chicken soup, and with good reason: It is the preferred soup to fight a cold. The fact is that scientists agree that homemade chicken soup can indeed help to ease your symptoms, hopefully before you pass it on to the rest of the family! The recommended recipe includes plenty of goodness from vegetables too. Testing grandma’s recipes, scientists have managed to demonstrate that the soup could boost your immune system to fight off the flu. However, you might want to keep some soup for later, especially if you find your baby coughing too – before assuming it’s a cold, you need to know how to diagnose and care for your baby’s cough. Your baby’s immune system can benefit from chicken soup too when they’re old enough to have a more diverse diet – you can blend it to make it easier to consume.

Freak everyone out with a pumpkin soup

With Halloween just around the corner, pumpkin spice is everywhere. In fact, you have been missing out if you haven’t yet had your first Pumpkin Spice Latte of the season. But you can surprise your family with a savory recipe instead – which is healthier than the traditional pumpkin pie. Add a few decorative elements, such as fake bugs and rodents to keep some seasonal fun. You can even plan a spooky evening for the kids and tie it in with the Halloween themes you’ve chosen. You can bake your own fake bones, for instance, with a mix of flour, grated cheese, butter and milk – prepare your dough like cracker dough and shape each bone before baking. Happy spooked kids guaranteed! For a fearsome blood effect, you can make a beetroot consomme to pour into the soup just before serving.

The healthy Japanese pick-me-up after a long day

You haven’t lived if you haven’t tried ramen noodle soup. Stay away from the noodle pack you can buy in shops, as these lack essential nutrients and can contain addictive. The abundance of easy recipes on the go has caused ramen soup to develop an unhealthy reputation. In reality, the Japanese recipe is hugely healthy when done properly. If you want a proper taste, head over to your local ramen restaurants to try the real thing. Here’s a hint: The soup contains more than just noodle. And here’s the secret to making it work: A good ramen soup gives you the right level of pick-me-up energy and smoothness. They’re even better if you can make the stock from scratch, but you can use stock cubes if you’re in a hurry. Traditional ramen soups include spinach, sweetcorn, soft boiled eggs, spring onion and a nori sheet as well as sliced meat or fish.

For the rustic feel in the kitchen

If you love French cuisine, and the rustic taste of simple food, you can’t let the fall go by without making your own onion soup. Contrary to a lot of typical French recipes, this one is dead easy! The secret to the French recipe is to caramelize the onions – but if you don’t want to spend ages in front of the stove, you can pop them in the oven at a low temperature. Combine with slices of grilled bread with melted cheese on top – Cheddar and Monterey Jack are excellent choices, but you can try oven-grilled camembert for a twist!

The result: A delicious bowl of soup that will transport to into the center of France from the first spoonful!

No more seasonal affective disorder: Make place for the tomato soup

Who says cold weather, says seasonal affective disorder, a.k.a. SAD. You might not be aware of it, but a lot of people struggle with SAD when the days grow shorter. Feeling of apathy, lack of motivation, and generally low interest are typical symptoms. Not everyone experiences severe depression as a result of the weather! But the lack of direct sunlight can have a significant impact on your well being. Don’t let it drag you down, though. You can bring some sun directly onto the dinner table with a delicious homemade tomato soup recipe. Why tomato soup? Because it’s filled with all the vitamins, you need to feel better in your skin. If that soup doesn’t put a smile on your lips, nothing will.

The unexpected sweet soup from Scandinavia

Norway has a favorite soup in winter, and it’s called the Sotsuppe, or sweet soup if you prefer. The soup is best eaten as a dessert or as part of a breakfast selection, but you can also make it the main meal of a particularly cold and rainy day if you want to cheer up your family. The typical ingredients consist of dried apples, raisins, dried apricots, prunes and a cinnamon stick. You can also add a tablespoon of pearl tapioca for texture. Simmer it slowly to retain the shape of the fruits. By cooking most of the liquid, you obtain a compote, which is equally delicious but better used as a dessert only. For an extra treat, you can use cookie floaters to decorate.

Who said soups were old-fashioned and dull? There is so much to love with soups and so much you can do that it’s impossible not to give it a go this season.

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