Elderberries: Natural Immune System Support

Elderberries: Natural Immune System Support

Homemade Elderberry Syrup

Black elderberries grow commonly in the wild in many parts of the world, and they are inexpensive to order online as well.  Elderberry (Sambucus Nigra) has been studied in the medical literature, and when compared to placebos or other immunity treatments, it has been shown to be very helpful! We make elderberry gummies most often, but you can get elderberry in syrup, pre-made gummies, or even cook it into foods from dried berries.

Take as prevention

Elderberry isn’t something like antibiotics that you can build up a tolerance to, and studies are shown that it works both acutely (taken during an illness such as influenza) and preventatively (taken prior to air travel, where many people get sick).

We find elderberry to be most helpful in preventing illness, and if we do get it, allowing us to fight it off quickly. I try to have all of us take elderberry every day during the school year, and in my n=4 study (ie studying the 4 people in my house 😉 ) it helps tremendously!

Where to buy:

Dried elderberries
Elderberry Syrup
Elderberry Capsules (I take these, or sometimes I open them and put them into food- it’s just a dried berry and easy to add to applesauce, or even pureed soup!)
Elderberry gummies – These are not GAPS legal, but for most people, the trace of sugar and ease of delivery will be a preferred method to get these into children (or make your own using this recipe)

Elderberry in Medical Literature

In the abstract of these studies (done by medical professionals), it is stated over and over again that elderberry is well-known for its antiviral properties.

It is so encouraging that there is so much literature to support this natural remedy!

This study compares elderberry to echinacea, and Elderberry comes out on top, with the researchers advocating its use in those with influenza, as well as the immunocompromised like AIDS and cancer patients.
This study studied specifically air travel and upper respiratory (cold) prevention with elderberry.  Compared to a placebo, elderberry did not show a statistically significant reduction in the number of people who caught colds but it did show a significant reduction in both symptoms and duration of the colds when elderberry was taken.
This study of mice shows that elderberry may have significant antidepressant properties.
This study suggests that elderberry is not only anti-viral against influenza A but also helpful against both Gram-positive and Gram-negative pathological bacteria, specifically in the upper respiratory tract, suggesting that it can help with both viral and bacterial infections.
This double-blind placebo-controlled study in humans showed elderberry to reduce flu duration by 3-4 days and increase immune response to lessen symptoms and need for other medications. It was shown to have both anti-viral and immune-stimulating properties.  This means that it both fights a viral infection and increases the body’s ability to also fight the infection.
This study of 60 humans in Norway showed that both symptoms and duration of influenza A and B were reduced when using elderberry compared to a placebo.
This study shows that elderberry is effective against both viruses and bacterial infections, such as pneumonia.
This study in mice suggests that elderberry juice stimulates immune response and reduces viral infection.
This study of chickens suggests that elderberry is more effective than vaccination against Infectious Bronchitis Virus (IBV).

Flu Vaccine vs Elderberry

I try to avoid most of the vaccine debate, but it is worth addressing briefly. It is no secret that the flu vaccine is not very effective (Source: Immune History of Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness), and it is shown that the more often that you get the flu vaccine, the less effective it becomes.

Whether or not you choose to get the flu vaccine, elderberry IS shown over and over again to be very effective against many varieties of both viruses and bacterial infections and is worthwhile to add to your preventive medicine cabinet.

The reason elderberry works where the flu vaccine doesn’t is because it naturally stimulates your own immune system, allowing you to respond to whatever is thrown your way – not just specific strains. Elderberry also is made in nature and is so much more complex than something made in a lab, allowing it to have anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties against many many many different pathogens (things that make us sick!).

GAPS and Elderberries


In the Gut and Psychology Syndrome book Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride talks about the immunity boosting properties of Elderberries:

Medicinal properties of this plant have been appreciated for centuries. Its flowers, berries, leaves, and bark were traditionally used for treating colds, pneumonia, flu, sore throat… and many other ailments. Black Elderberry has got strong immune-stimulating properties and it is one of the most powerful anti-viral remedies known to man. You do not have to be an experienced herbalist to use this plant.

Juicing Elderberries

Dr Campbell-McBride goes on to recommend juicing the berries with the daily juicing on the GAPS protocol (she recommends 1 teaspoon of fresh berries juiced per person per day), we don’t always do daily juicing so I’ve been finding other ways to get elderberries into our diets.

Elderberry Gummies

Elderberry syrup is good, the kids love the gummies though, and they can double as bribes when needed.  I keep them in the fridge, these don’t have as much gelatin in them as other gummie recipes, they’re more like a very firm gelatin than a fruit snack.  Easy for little mouths to chew.

These are also easy to portion out into lunchboxes, as I tend to pack a few days’ worth of lunches at a time.

Get the recipe for elderberry gummies here. 

Elderberry Syrup

Elderberry syrup is easily poured onto pancakes, mixed with hot water as tea, or stirred into yogurt.

Elderberry Syrup

The syrup recipe is easily added to based on flavors you prefer, and adaptable to the ingredients you have on hand. In fact, the only mandatory ingredients in the syrup are elderberries and water!  The other ingredients  serve purposes of flavoring (vanilla), antiviral (cinnamon, ginger, and cloves), vitamin C (rose hips), and sweetening (honey) so they’re helpful, but not necessary in the homemade elderberry syrup.

1 cup dried elderberries (or 2 cups fresh ~)
2 tablespoons rose hips
2 cinnamon sticks
5 cloves
1 teaspoon dried ginger or one inch peeled fresh ginger
1/4 vanilla bean
4 cups water
2 cups honey

Over medium-low heat simmer the elderberries, rose hips, cinnamon sticks, cloves, ginger, vanilla bean and water.  Simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until liquid is thick and syrupy and reduced by half.   While the mixture is still warm (or the elderberries will absorb all of your syrup!) strain the syrup through a sieve.  Combine with honey and store in an airtight container (I use a mason jar) in the refrigerator.

1-2 teaspoons a day is recommended to help prevent illness.  Honey is not recommended for children under 1 year of age, due to the very small risk of botulism.

Adding Dried Elderberries to Applesauce

I made my apple sauce in the crockpot, which can be further reduced to make apple butter if desired.

To make elderberry applesauce, simply core and slice 8-12 apples, place in the crockpot with 1/2 cup of water.  Add 1 tablespoon dried elderberries.  Cover, and cook on low overnight.

Add honey if needed to sweeten and blend the entire pot with an immersion blender to puree the skins and berries into the applesauce.

Enjoy warm or cool!  The berries do at a slight berry flavor to the apple sauce, and the tiny seeds are just barely noticeable.  Our family enjoys this version of apple sauce!

About Immunity Boosting Herbs

I believe herbs and other natural remedies, like cinnamon and honey for colds, can be very helpful for supporting our immune system, and promoting a healthy body.

But, I don’t want to overlook the fact that in order for our body, including our immune system, to work properly we need to make sure we’re feeding it nourishing health building foods such as good quality food; egg yolks from pastured hens, cream and butter and meat from grassfed animals, wild healthy seafood, fresh vegetables and fruits, properly prepared whole grains for those who eat grains, etc.

Without these basic building blocks to work with, the resulting malnourished body will constantly be run down and difficult to keep healthy through the cold and flu season! But when that foundation is in place, herbal and other natural remedies can be a wonderful addition to our medicine cabinet.


Other home remedies I use and have had success with:

Honey and cinnamon as a cold remedy
Ginger tea for sore throats
Dandelion root tea for fat digestion and liver health
Epsom salts for detoxification
DLPA to quit coffee
Oil Pulling for oral hygiene
Garlic Olive Oil for Ear Aches


The post Elderberries: Natural Immune System Support appeared first on Health, Home, & Happiness.

Read more: healthhomeandhappiness.com

After Upset Win, Kathy Hoffman Will Be Arizona’s First Democratic Superintendent in Decades

While eyes across the country were stuck on the battle between Reps. Kyrsten Sinema and Martha McSally to be Arizona’s next senator, which ended with Sinema’s win last night, another key race in the state was called Monday: Democrat and public school educator Kathy Hoffman will be the next superintendent for public instruction, proving the lasting power of the teacher movement that rocked the state earlier this year. A first-time candidate, Hoffman beat a charter school executive and former California congressman, Republican Frank Riggs, according to the Associated Press. She will be the first Democrat to serve as Arizona’s top superintendent in more than two decades.

Arizona was one of several states this year that was embroiled in protests from teachers and public education supporters demanding higher pay and more school funding. Following that unrest, teachers unions lauded an unprecedented number of current and former educators running for state office across the country. More than 1,000 current and former educators won state offices Tuesday and the group will now hold about 15 percent of the state legislative seats in the US, according to the National Education Association. 

While the long shot candidate for Arizona governor, #RedforEd ally and Arizona State University professor David Garcia, fell short to incumbent Gov. Doug Ducey, Hoffman’s victory gives educators a friend in Phoenix. And the teacher’s movement notched another victory when Arizona voters resoundingly approved stopping the expansion of the state’s voucher-style education savings account program—a move Hoffman and Riggs actually agreed on. More victories for teacher candidates could also still come: As of Monday night, Democrat Jennifer Pawlik, who taught in elementary school for 17 years, narrowly led incumbent Republican state Rep. Jeff Weninger, while Christine Marsh, a Democrat who is a former Arizona teacher of the year and who I profiled for Mother Jones, is still close behind Republican incumbent Kate Brophy McGee, with more than 140,000 ballots left to be counted in Maricopa County. 

Hoffman’s candidacy was a direct rebuke of the tenure of the current superintendent Diane Douglas. Douglas threatened to investigate teachers who walked out earlier this year, and she opposed an initiative (that was later pulled from the November ballot) that would have raised taxes on wealthy households to pay for school funding. She also tried to change the state’s academic standards to adopt a curriculum from the Hillsdale College, a private religious school with ties to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Doing so would have removed mention of evolution and climate change in the state’s science curriculum. After outcry from teachers, the state’s Board of Education ignored her attempt to overhaul the standards and moved forward with standards that did include mention of evolution. She ended up losing in the primary to Riggs.

Hoffman, who has been a school speech therapist for five years, told Mother Jones she first decided to run after DeVos’ confirmation hearing. She saw parallels between Douglas and DeVos in their lack of classroom experience. “When I watched that, that’s when it dawned on me: There needs to be more educators running for office,” she said in September, ahead of the election. “With no classroom experience, she was unable to answer the most basic questions about education policy.”

Hoffman filed to run for office in February 2017, a year before the #RedforEd movement erupted in Phoenix. Then, when the teacher walkouts happened, she rallied at the state capitol alongside her colleagues, including her former campaign manager and walkout leader Noah Karvelis. She noticed that most people understood that their schools were struggling, but not why. As Hoffman traveled the state over the past year and a half, she saw schools both in poor condition, with decaying roofs and exposed wires, outdated textbooks and a shortage of teachers, while others looked pristine—a sign, she says, that the “education funding system that we have here is inequitable.”

“There’s more of an understanding that it’s because of the legislature and governor’s inaction over the past decade that we had so many people saying it’s time to give teachers a raise and invest in our public schools rather than continuing to make cuts,” Hoffman said. “The Republican-controlled legislature was not willing to listen.”

The race against Riggs was tight and filled with personal jabs. Riggs held a four-point lead over Hoffman in one poll leading up to Election Day, with 17 percent of people undecided. The Republican, who has called himself “one of the fathers of the charter school movement,” served in Congress for three terms from California. Riggs moved to Arizona in 2002 and served as CEO of Charter Schools Development Corporation and then as board president of Arizona Connections Academy, an online charter school. 

Much of the sparring centered around the candidates’ experience, or lack thereof. Riggs criticized Hoffman for not having leadership chops. Hoffman questioned in a debate whether Riggs could push for charter school reform when he was “part of the problem,” accusing him of profiting off charter schools. Riggs meanwhile questioned the #RedforEd demonstrations, as a “very, very partisan political effort.”

“The #RedforEd movement started in the same way my campaign started: It was people waking up and realizing that our elected officials were not fighting for improved funding or public schools,” Hoffman told Mother Jones. “It was not a priority for them. The only way to affect change was to speak up and do something about it.” 

Now, with her win over Riggs, Hoffman plans to act as an advocate for public schools, lobbying lawmakers for more school funding and ways to address the state’s teachers shortage. 

“People are recognizing that it’s time to have an educator in that role to have the classroom experience. For too long we have not had that,” Hoffman said. “I strongly believe that educators are the experts of education. We live it. We breathe it.” 

Read more: motherjones.com

Paintbrush Santa Ornament – DIY Christmas Ornament

If you are into recycled crafts, this adorable paintbrush Santa ornament makes a perfect Christmas craft for kids to make. You can even make other characters and all of them will look amazing on your Christmas tree. *this post contains affiliate links* This Santa Paintbrush is a fun and inexpensive way to create a unique […]

The post Paintbrush Santa Ornament – DIY Christmas Ornament appeared first on Easy Peasy and Fun.

The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 6 Review: Who Are You Now?

The Whisperers have arrived!

The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 6 acted not only as an introduction to a new timeline, fresh characters, and new antagonist, but it also gave us a glimpse into how the series plans to push forward without Rick.

And if “Who Are You Now?” is any indication of what’s to come for the remainder of the season and beyond, we’re going to be in a for one hell of a ride.

New Faces - The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 6

While there were numerous surprises and developments, what was perhaps the most interesting was how Rick’s presence was not missed one bit. And that is very telling in and of itself.

In Rick’s absence, the rest of the cast has been able to step into the spotlight, and thus actually become relevant again.

Granted, it’s only one episode, but the fact that The Walking Dead has found a way to continue telling compelling stories without its star is an extremely promising sign.

Back At It - The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 6

The six-year time jump wasn’t nearly as jarring as I initially expected it to be. The transition was incredibly smooth, and gradually brought the audience up to speed without being overwhelming.

If you thought life was different following the one and a half year jump on The Walking Dead Season 9 episode 1, you were in for some drastic changes here.

Sometimes you have to let the cracks happen to let the light in.


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The destroyed bridge has become a memorial for Rick, and it was endearing to hear Michonne speaking to Rick about never giving up hope. Her words were especially powerful while being intercut with the scenes with Daryl seeing the bird, and Carol noticing the lone flower growing through the crack.

It was all symbolic of the hope of new life after all that was lost.

Related: AMC launches ad-free streaming service

What I found interesting about that scene was that since Michonne still thinks Rick is dead, it means that Rick hasn’t had any contact with anyone in the six years that have passed.

Hopefully, the AMC movies involving Rick will shed some light on why he wasn’t able to contact anyone.

New Look - The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 6

Was anyone else blown away after seeing little Gracie? Ever since Aaron took in baby Gracie from the Saviors on The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 2, I had been wondering when that would be touched upon again. It was one of many surprises during the hour.

Aaron seems to have recovered well following his accident on The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 2. He’s become a pillar of the community, and I’m looking forward to seeing more focus put on his character.

One thing that stood out to me was how Aaron resembles the comic version of Rick. From his hair and bushy beard right down to the missing arm.

All he needs is a gimpy leg, and he’d be a dead ringer.

It makes me wonder if Aaron might get some of Rick’s stories from the comics. That could make for some fascinating arcs.

Lending A Hand - The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 6

Who else loves Carol’s new look? She owns those long flowing silver locks.

Henry’s gone through a big change as well. The kid may be older, but he’s certainly not any wiser. I’m sure everyone shared my frustration with how Henry blindly ran right into the Savior ambush.

Henry’s up to his old antics again, and it’s infuriating. I know he was trying help someone supposedly in need, but he was so eager to be a hero that it almost cost both of them their lives.

Fortunately, Jed was in a giving — and stealing — mood and allowed them to leave, but not before taking Carol’s engagement ring.

Around all this darkness, there are flashes of life. Tiny beacons that shine out, calling to us.


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Carol is still trying to steer Henry away from that dark path he once ventured down. But that didn’t mean Carol was going to sit idly by and let Jed’s group go back to their old Savior ways.

That’s why it was so awesome when the ruthless Carol we all know and love set them all ablaze. Carol’s back to setting people on fire again!

Meeting Of The Minds - The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 6

Judith has instantly become one of my favorite characters. Sure she’s just a kid, but she is wise beyond her years. She is well aware of the dangers that lurk outside the walls of Alexandria and is more than capable of taking care of herself.

The nickname “Lil’ Asskicker” suits her to a T. And wow, does that girl have some sass to her or what?

Judith: And what about after that? You ever bring home another dog?Negan: Well, hell no I wised my ass up!Judith: Yeah, and look how great everything turned out for you.

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One thing that is a tad concerning is that I’m not quite sure how a ten-year-old can handle a magnum. I can’t help but imagine her firing that thing and getting tossed back a solid ten feet.

Lil' Asskicker - The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 6

Considering how manipulative Negan is and how freely he’s been chatting it up with Judith, I’m surprised he hasn’t tried to use her in talking her into releasing him. Who knows, maybe he has. Judith may not be so easy to manipulate.

I’m just looking forward to more of Judith and Negan’s conversations.

Related: Enjoy UNLIMITED access to thousands of Movies and TV shows with Amazon Prime Video. WATCH ANYWHERE. CANCEL ANYTIME!

Judith is only a child but is an old soul and already appears to be wiser than both Henry and Carl ever were. Let’s not forget that unlike Carl and Henry, Judith has grown up in the apocalypse. Everyone else had to adjust to a world filled with death and despair. Judith was born into it, and that gives her an advantage.

Swamp Walkers - The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 6

Daryl has seemingly become a hermit, distancing himself from the rest of the group and living alone in the woods. The loss of his best friend hit him hard. 

In his spare time finds himself spearfishing, which is probably the closest he’s come to taking a bath in nine seasons.

Now that Carol and Henry picked Daryl up on the way back, maybe we’ll learn more about what transpired following the bridge’s explosion.

Friend Or Foe? - The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 6

As fun as it was adjusting to everyone’s new lives and roles, we need to take a minute to talk about newcomers Magna, Connie, Kelly, Luke, and Yumiko. They each have a unique charm about them; however, we didn’t get to learn much about Yumiko, who was recovering from  injuries.

Connie is played by deaf actress, Lauren Ridloff, which puts an interesting spin on the character. Surviving is challenging enough, but not having the ability to rely upon your senses in a world where danger lurks around every corner is utterly terrifying to imagine.

Kelly is Connie’s only means of communication with the rest of the group. 

Luke is a former music teacher who seems to have his own set of issues.

Who's The Redhead? - The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 6

They’re an interesting bunch, and I’m looking forward to learning more about each of them as the season progresses. Magna has especially piqued my interest.

Michonne was right to be cautious about this new group, especially considering that Magna did hard time.

What she did to deserve a prison sentence remains unknown at this point, but Rosita made a valid point that there are always two sides to every story, and it doesn’t immediately make her a dangerous person.

Related: The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 5 Review: What Comes After

Speaking of Rosita, can you believe Gabriel and Rosita are a thing now? Who saw that one coming? For a priest, that dude sure gets around. Good on you Gabe!

The only issue that I have with these jumps in time is that we don’t get to see how these relationships formed. But at least Gabriel won’t have any concerns about Rosita trying to feed him to a walker.

No Peeking! - The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 6

Eugene and Rosita’s trek further west to try and boost their radio signal was a sound idea, but once the passing herd made a u-turn, the whole plan went south.

Hearing the horrific chatter come from among the walkers was chilling. Hell, I’m still getting goosebumps just thinking about it.

Wheeeere aaaare theeeey?


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Walker herds that can communicate and strategize now? That’s a terrifying thought.

I’m both super excited and freaked out at the same time to see this new antagonist introduced and what that could mean for our survivors.

Nothing good, that’s for sure.

Fate Worse Than Death - The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 6

It’s hard to believe that we’re already two episodes away from the midseason finale. So far, The Walking Dead Season 9 has been a vital breath of fresh air. Let’s hope that The Walking Dead can continue to provide this level of quality in Andrew Lincoln’s absence.

Stray thoughts:

Thank the Lord that Jed and his band of misfit Saviors are gone. But could there be more like them out there?

I loved the sheriff figurine that Michonne found and gave to Judith.

Michonne is showing signs of a mental breakdown. It will likely play a larger role as the season goes on.

Rick and Michonne had a baby!

While it was great to check in with Alexandria and the Kingdom, I’m even more excited to see what Hilltop’s been up to.

How badass was Eugene taking out those walkers? It’s remarkable how far he’s come. RIP, Eugene’s mullet.

I got a chuckle during Connie and Kelly’s disagreement. I’ve never witnessed an argument in sign language before.

Eugene has the hots for Rosita. Something tells me she’s known for a while now.

View Slideshow: 13 Scariest Moments in Television History

What did you think about “Who Are You Now”? Did you miss Rick during the episode? Are you happy with the overall direction of the season? What are your thoughts on the introduction of the Whisperers?

Hit the comments below and let me know.

You can watch The Walking Dead online right here at TV Fanatic.

Read more: tvfanatic.com

Leaf Rubbings Wreath – An Easy Fall Project for Kids

Make leaf rubbings & create a colorful wreath that will last indefinitely in this easy fall project from Joanna of The Blue Barn.

Glueing leaves to wreath

Hi Joanna Walker here from The Blue Barn and today I’m sharing a project that involves one of my favorite simple fall invitations – leaf rubbings.

This activity is not new to many of you I’m sure. But I wanted to take you through the simple invitation I left out for my children after school one day.  This activity grew and evolved into so many different projects that are great for all ages–all from a simple leaf.

Fall Leaf Rubbings

So to start with, here’s a highlight of the materials we used to create our finished wreaths. However, to begin with a simple leaf rubbing, you will only need a few items from this supply list.

Fall Wreath Leaf Rubbings for Kids

How to Make a Leaf Rubbings WreathThis post contains affiliate links.


  • Plain white paper
  • Oil Pastels (crayons will work too)
  • Tray
  • Watercolor paint – (we like liquid watercolors)
  • Acrylic paint
  • Cardboard hoop
  • Glue
  • Scissors

Materials for Fall Leaf Rubbings Wreath project

1. Prep supplies

I began by setting this project up on a sunny fall day, you know the perfect day where you need a sweater but the sun is warm and breeze smells good.

The kids were coming off the school bus and I didn’t want them to disappear inside and miss the last of the afternoon sun so I had laid out all that they would need to begin, right next to an afternoon snack. Because lets face it no–kid wants to get creative when they are hungry!

On a tray were a few sheets of the white printer paper, oil pastels in fall colors and a few leaves to get them going.

Autumn leaf rubbings

2. Create leaf rubbing

It didn’t take long for them to spot the oil pastels and leaves. I showed them how to take a rubbing from the back side of a leaf and they were off.

Detail of leaf rubbing

To make a good leaf rubbing, place a leaf bumpy side up under a sheet of paper.

Making leaf rubbings

Then, taking an oil pastel, rub the side of the oil pastel over the paper where the leaf is hidden. Note::  It works best to remove the paper from the outside of the pastel first. 

It was interesting to see how my kids all interpreted this simple invitation differently.

Autumn Wreath Leaf Rubbing

My youngest immediately took the tray and all the supplies and went off on a “leaf hunt”.  He wanted me to identify all the leaves he’d made rubbings of when he came back.

He would wander around the garden and when he found an extra special leaf he would bend down and take a print of it.

Boy making leaf rubbings on paper

My other son chose to take a few different shaped leaves and lay them under the paper. He then began to play a kind of hide-and-seek guessing game as to which leaf shape he was making a print of.

Leaf rubbings

My daughter, who is slightly older, took a more scientific approach and found great delight in very slowly uncovering all the different veins and lines on the leaf.

We talked about things she had learned in science and I answered questions it then triggered in my son about how plants eat and drink.

Fall Leaf Rubbings Activity for Kids

After a lot of leaf rubbings and easy chatter we had run out of paper so I collected all the different prints and told the kids we would take them inside and work some magic on them!

Painting watercolors over crayon leaf rubbings

3. Paint leaf rubbings

Next, I mixed up a wash of black watercolor paint. You could choose a more fall like color (yellow, red, orange) but I wanted the colors to pop through for the kids so I chose black.

Boy holding up leaf rubbing project painted with watercolors

We painted all the sheets of leaves and the kids were delighted to see how the paint ran off the oil pastels with the colors showing through.

4. Paint cardboard hoop

We couldn’t let all the pretty leaves go to waste, so while the leaves were drying we painted the cardboard hoops with acrylic paint.

Cutting out fall leaf rubbings

5. Cut out leaf rubbings

Once the leaves were dry we began to carefully cut them all out tracing around the outside of each of the leaf prints.

Glueing leaves to wreath

6. Glue leaves to wreath

Just add glue! Have the kids stick the leaves to their painted rings.

Fall Leaf Rubbings Wreath


Thank you for joining me, I hope you will go and enjoy some simple leaf art with your children. Let us know where it leads you.

About the Author

Joanna of The Blue Barn

Joanna Walker is the creator behind The Blue Barn which offers art experiences for children, and she teaches preschool art classes part-time. She’s a mom to four children ages 13, 11, 9 & 7.

If you’d like to see more ideas from Joanna, you can check out her blog, Blue Barn Living. You can also follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. Her favorite place to hang out online is Instagram for the positive, supportive community of each other’s creativity– and there is SO much inspiration to be found.

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Make leaf rubbings & create a colorful wreath that will last indefinteily in this easy fall project from Joanna of The Blue Barn. #fallcrafts #artsandcrafts #kidscraft #kidsactivities #craftsforkids #handmadegifts #recycledcraft #craftsforkids

The post Leaf Rubbings Wreath – An Easy Fall Project for Kids appeared first on The Artful Parent.

7 Advanced Research Methods To Find the Deepest Darkest Fears Of Your Audience And Use This Marketing Gold To Explode Your Sales

Ever seen an archer shoot an apple off someone’s head?

It’s a chilling sight, but the best archers do it without batting an eye.

But what if they had to demonstrate the same expertise in a dark room?

Would they still be so confident?

I bet they won’t be getting any volunteers for the act.

Starting a niche site without researching your target audience is exactly the same as shooting arrows in the dark.

You have no idea of what you’re aiming at (which makes the rest of your skills pretty useless)

No matter how good a writer you are or how easily you can rank sites in Google Search, if you don’t know your audience you’ll NEVER be able to understand their problems and find the right solutions for them (and make money online).

This is the biggest reason why most aspiring marketers fail.

They fail to develop any real understanding of the niche they’re targeting.

And just in case you’re wondering, knowing the age, gender or country of your audience doesn’t even qualify as “scratching the surface” when it comes to market research.

It’s common knowledge that all of your competitors already have.

And when you know only as much as your competitors, do you think you can outperform them? Pretty hard, in my opinion

You need to dive deeper to not only understand the real needs of your audience but also to get a grip on the emotions, the fears, the pains, and the experiences that shape and impact the decision making process of your ideal customer.

Not sure what that means and how it happens?

Keep reading with an open mind.


To discover 200+ profitable niche markets click the image below now…


What You’ll Learn In This Post

Why you’ve been doing research all wrong till now
Why it’s so important to understand the decision-making process of your prospects
How you can use competitor analysis to understand your niche
Why it’s important to learn from the failed products in your industry


Audience Research: Go Beyond Demographics and Ask the Right Questions

As I said, knowing the age or the location of your target customers is great. But it’s the most basic information that all of your competitors already have.

You have a lot more to research and understand.

For example, a typical buyer goes through multiple psychological states and faces several mental barriers before making a purchase decision.

Are you aware of the objections or the biases of an average buyer in your niche?

Without in-depth research, you can’t figure out what’s holding them back from buying from you.

To identify the problems that your target audience faces on a daily basis, to find the right solutions for those problems, and to find the right angles to pitch those solutions so that your audience considers your offer a favor rather than a greedy sales pitch, you must dig deeper.

You need to think from every angle possible and ask more specific questions about your audience.

Understand their beliefs, cognitive biases, fears, pains, desires, hopes, aspirations, and their ideals in life.

There are some AMAZINGLY in-depth lessons and execution plans (templates you can follow) in NicheHacks Insider that’ll make it much easier for you to ask these questions.

But I’ll share just one lesson here (sshh! I’m giving out premium stuff here, don’t tell Stuart)

When trying to understand your audience, ask probing questions from the following angles



Pains and Problems

Status Aspiration (Power, Prestige, or Possessions)

What’s the most common emotion your buyers experience every day with regards to your niche?

What are the biggest pains/problems (related to your niche) they are facing and how are they affecting other aspects of their lives?
How badly do they want to change/solve this situation and what kind of pleasure would they experience if it is solved?

Which of the ‘3 Ps’ (it could be one or more) of status does your target audience desire?
Which of the ‘3 P’s do they have now? (It may be none)
Which of the ‘3 P’s are they missing?
How would their life change if they managed to achieve these levels of status?


Wants and Desires


In what ways does your target audience feel trapped now?
If they could escape any of these feelings and situations what would be the ideal outcome?
What does their perfect escape route look like? (i.e. how do they plan to escape from this situation)
What do they HOPE will happen in their lives to transform it into their perfect life instead?

What does your target audience want/desire from you? 
What do they actually NEED to get their end result/problems solved?
How will you give them what they WANT / DESIRE whilst also wrapping it up in what they NEED to succeed?

What do they believe about themselves in regards to your product?
What beliefs and feelings (right and wrong) do they have towards your niche and the people selling products in it?
What objections will this cause in your prospect towards you and the products you recommend to them?


The more you know about your audience the more they’ll trust you because they’d feel that you genuinely understand their needs and have the right solutions for them.

You’ll be able to mold your language, your content angles, and the tone of your sales pitches to match their needs.

So how do you find the answers to the questions I’ve listed above (and many other relevant questions) that’ll help you get a grip on the needs of your audience?

Here are a few ways to get you moving.


1. Define the Problem (Opportunity) That You’ve Identified

Every profitable business is built by solving a key problem of a well-defined target audience.

The bigger (and more urgent) the problem, the more money you can make by solving it.

But problem identification has several stages.

At first, you don’t have all the details of the problem. But you know that it exists and have a vague idea of who your target audience is.

It’s a great starting point for more research, but it’s not enough to build a strategy on its own (newbies, take note please)

At this point, you need to define the problem as you know it. State your current understanding of what the problem is, who is it affecting, where is it affecting them and how is it affecting them.

With this limited info, create a loosely defined sample profile (buyer persona) that you can focus on and start learning more about.

Based on some of the questions I mentioned earlier in the post, here’s a sample buyer profile



Here’s another example of a buyer persona template you can use.


Source: Digital Marketer


Of course, any information that you enter at this stage will be based on your assumptions and existing knowledge of your niche.

But it will give you a starting point for more in-depth research and help you stay focused

As you start learning more about your audience, you’ll need to keep updating your personas

In the next point, I’ll show you how to take your research process to a completely new level by using competitor analysis.

So keep reading.


2. Analyze Your Top Competitors and Their Best Performing Content

Competitor analysis is a great way to piggyback your competitors to understand how your target audience is responding to different types of content and what topics you should target first.

But your competitors are not limited to the blogs or websites that are promoting the same products or targeting the same topics as you are.

Any sites that are targeting the main problems and pains, plus any of the desires of your audience, are your competitors.

Let’s take the example of the buyer persona I created in the last point.

One of Eric’s (our sample buyer) desires is to wear fashionable clothes.

Most weight loss blogs don’t write about obese fashion.

But it’s a topic your target buyer wants to read about.

If you focus solely on the topics related to healthy eating and work out techniques, you won’t be able to address this particular desire.

You need to somehow connect your main topic with the supplementary topics that your audience is interested in

So the right way to identify your competitors is to target the sites that are writing about any of your audience’s desires or problems

If you can’t immediately think of any competitors, use SEMRush to get recommendations

Simply enter your website URL (or any other site) and SEMRush will give you 4-5 other sites that have similar audiences.

For example, here’s the list of competitors I got for NerdFitness, a popular fitness blog.


Source: SEMRush


These are the sites that are ranking in the top Google Search results for closely related keywords.

You can also simply search Google to find the competing blogs using search queries like “Top Blogs [Your Niche][Year]”, “Best Blogs [Your Niche]”, “[Your Niche] Blogs You Need to Follow” etc.


Source: Google


Once you have a decent list of potential competitors, start analyzing their content and the reader comments on each article.

In between the useless “Great Post!” comments, there are some real hidden gems that can tell you a LOT about what your audience really wants to know.

For example, look at this comment on a blog post published on NerdFitness sharing success tips for weight loss.

This comment must’ve given the blog owner plenty of content ideas for the future.


Source: NerdFitness


The commenter is essentially saying that she has already tried all the tips the article shares but she still hasn’t seen the required results. She goes on to share specific needs and asks the author to write something on it.

Isn’t that great info for you as a competitor?

Usually, the most popular posts of any blog have the most comments.

So it makes sense start your research from the top performing posts of your competitors.

You can either look for the top posts manually in the “Most Popular Posts” sections that most blogs have these days.

Or you could use BuzzSumo, search for your topic, and find the most popular posts on it.

For example, I searched for the topic “weight loss tips” on BuzzSumo, and here’s what I got.


Source: BuzzSumo


In my personal experience, this single technique can help you find amazing insights with regards to the needs and the problems of your audience.

But it does require some manual work and can take a lot of time.

In the next point, I’m going to show how you can use search trends and keywords to learn more about your audience much faster.


To discover 200+ profitable niche markets click the image below now…


3. Study Search Keywords and Trends To Find What People Want

Whether they’re looking for a good restaurant or tips on potty training their kids, most people simply search for it on Google.

So naturally, it’s the best place to learn more about your audience and find out what they’re looking for.

First off, you can simply type your main niche keyword in Google Search to get keyword suggestions based on what the other users are searching for.

For example, let me type “how to lose” and see what comes up


Source: Google



You can see that people are searching for very specific weight loss tips like losing face fat, hip fat, belly fat etc.

Gives you some idea of what your audience wants.

But let’s take this step further and search for one of these suggested keywords, “how to lose face fat”, and see what comes up in the related searches section at the bottom of the screen.


Source: Google


The related searches tell you a bit more about your audience.

They’re looking to lose face fat quickly
They’re trying yoga to lose face fat
They’re looking for natural and home remedies to lose face fat
They’re also looking for different exercises to lose face fat

But let’s use Google Trends to see if this is a topic that people are really interested in or if it’s just a temporary trend.

Here’s the search trend for “how to lose face fat” for the last 5 years according to Google Trends


Source: Google Trends


As you can, it’s a pretty steady trend and people have been searching for this topic on regular basis over the last 5 years.

If you scroll down this page, you’d find the regions and cities where this term is searched the most. This would give you further insights on your audience and where they’re located.


Source: Google Trends


Scroll further down and you’ll the section titled “Related Topics”.

This is really important information because these are the broad topics that Google thinks your target audience is interested in.


Source: Google Trends


When you click on any topic in this list, you’ll be able to see the search trends and the related topics for it as well.

All these topics connect in some way with the search query “how to lose face fat” (which, of course, directly represents your main niche topic)

Right next to this section, you can find “Related Queries” that people are searching for


Source: Google Trends


“How to lose face fat and double chin” – very interesting search term which shows you a more common term that people use to describe face fat

You can keep exploring these related topics to find SO MUCH about your audience and its interests.

Google Trends really is an amazingly useful tool.

But you can make this whole process even faster by using Ubersuggest, a great tool that gives you a detailed analysis of any topics or keywords you want.

Here’s what I got from Ubersuggest when I searched for the term “how to lose face fat”


Source: Ubersuggest


If you’re wondering why there’s a picture of Neil Patel in that screenshot, it’s because he purchased Ubersuggest a few months ago and actually made the tool even more awesome.

As you can see, the tool not only shows you the monthly search volume and trends for a keyword but also tells you how easy or difficult it is to rank for.

If you scroll down, you’ll be able to see a list of suggested keywords and related topics (just like Google Trends)


Source: Ubersuggest


If you click on the “Related” link on the top-right corner of the screen, you’ll get a list of closely related topics that your target audience is interested in.


Source: Ubersuggest


All this data, of course, is fetched from Google but it’s presented in a much more user-friendly manner specifically for internet marketers.

Remember, our objective with this exercise is not to find keywords to rank for.

We’re trying to find the broad topics that our audience is interested in and the questions they’re asking.

Which is why we won’t stop here.

YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest etc. are all great places to learn about your audience.

YouTube, in particular, is a goldmine for marketers due to the sheer volume of content uploaded to it every day.

See if any of your competitors have YouTube or Instagram profiles.

If they don’t, simply search for your main niche topics to see what content is performing the best


Source: YouTube


Use search filters to sort the results by popularity


Source: YouTube


Watch some of the top performing videos on the topic to understand why they’re so popular.

Also, keep a close eye on the comments to see the questions people are asking.

The objective of all these activities is to save time and learn from the mistakes of your competitors so that you can create even better and more useful content that’s specifically targeted towards the needs of your audience.

In the next point, I’ll show you how to learn about your target audience using Facebook (because, literally, EVERYONE uses it)


4. Use Facebook Audience Insights To Understand Audience Preferences

Facebook is any marketer’s dream platform (I know I say this a lot but it’s the truth!)

According to Statista, Facebook has more than 2.2 billion monthly active users as of June 2018.


Source: DustnTV


So basically most (if not all) of your target customers use Facebook as well.

And you know why that’s a great thing for you?

Because studies show that people love to share their likes/dislikes, preferences, and opinions on Facebook.

The more they share, the more you can learn about them.

A study by the University of Arizona found that people who frequently updated their Facebook status and shared their opinions openly online reported lower levels of loneliness as compared to those who rarely shared anything about themselves on Facebook.


Source: SAGE Journals


This is why a person’s activities on Facebook can tell you a lot about them.

Fortunately, Facebook offers tools that you can use to learn about your audience.

It’s called Facebook Audience Insights and it’s located in your Facebook account’s Ads Manager.


Source: Facebook


Once you get inside the Ads Manager, you can find Audience Insights under the main menu


Source: Facebook


Once inside, search for your main niche keyword in the Interests section.

Again, I’ll take the weight loss niche example, plus a few other topics related to this niche.


Source: Facebook


Here’s what Facebook Audience Insights shows against the search filters I applied


Source: Facebook


Around 90 million Facebook users are interested in the topics I searched for, out of which 64% are women and 36% are men mostly between the 25-34 years age group.

Here are the top brands and pages they follow on Facebook


Source: Facebook


Pay special attention to the Relevance and Affinity scores in the screenshot above.

The pages with a high Relevance score are closer to the interests of your audience. The Affinity score indicates the likelihood of your audience following a page.

Both the scores will help you shortlist the most relevant brands or pages that your target audience follows on Facebook.

But don’t stop here.

Remember the competitors you identified in the last point?

Go to their Facebook Pages, analyze the content they’re sharing, and look at the engagement level of their posts.

Do you see any trends? Can you learn something from the comments on their posts?

The engagement level on most Facebook Pages has gone down in the last few years. But analyzing the pages of your competitors can still give you lots of cues about your audience and its preferences.

There’s one place on Facebook, however, where audience engagement is at its peak.

Facebook Groups (you guessed it right!)

Let me show you how to use Facebook Groups to get audience insights.


To discover 200+ profitable niche markets click the image below now…


5. Use Facebook Groups To Engage With Your Audience

It’s no secret that the engagement level on most Facebook Pages has been on a downhill slope for the past few years.

Earlier in 2018, Facebook officially announced that it aims to make the News Feed of its users more personal by promoting meaningful interactions between actual people instead of branded content from different Facebook Pages

A recent study by Buffer found that the average Facebook Page engagement has gone down by more than 50% in the last 12 months – much more drastic than what most of us first thought


Source: Buffer


But that doesn’t mean people have stopped using Facebook.

The loss to Facebook Pages has resulted in a huge gain for Facebook Groups.

Millions of people are participating in different discussions in closed Facebook Groups.

Which is why your audience research cannot be complete without having a good look at the most popular Facebook Groups in your niche.

The faster way to look for really high-quality Facebook Groups, in my opinion, is to search for them on Google.

You’ll find list posts in every niche about the best Facebook Groups in terms of engagement and discussion quality.

Simple use any of the following search queries.

“Best [Niche] Facebook Groups”

“List of the Best [Niche] Facebook Groups”

“[Niche] Facebook Groups You Must Follow”

Here’s what I found when I searched Google for the best weight loss groups


Source: Google


The first result is an article with a long list of strictly moderated weight loss groups on Facebook.



Source: VeryWellFit


However, in case you can’t find any such posts in your niche, you can directly search Facebook for the relevant groups in your niche


Source: Facebook


Narrow your search down to closed groups only because most public groups are bombarded with spam posts.

Once inside a group, start analyzing the most popular posts and discussions, and see if you can find any particular trends in the way people are asking questions.

Do you see any question being repeated again and again?

Are people asking the same question from different angles?

Can you find the top 5 questions that are being repeated all the time?

The great thing about Facebook Groups is that people feel can express themselves more openly because their activities aren’t visible to people outside the group.

This often results in casual and detailed discussions in which people share some of their deepest concerns on different topics and are way more expressive than other public platforms.

But Facebook Groups isn’t the only place where people open up and speak their heart out.

In the next point, I’ll show you a platform that’s almost as useful as Facebook Groups (sometimes even more) for audience research.


6. Dive Deep Into Quora, Reddit and Niche Specific Forums To See What People Are Discussing

In many ways, Quora is an even better place to learn about your audience than Facebook Groups.

It has discussion threads on almost every topic in the world with detailed answers that can give you unbelievably useful insights on your audience and their thought process.

Unlike surveys where people are more cautious about their responses, forums like Quora, Reddit etc. allow you to study your audience when they’re speaking with their own free will and expressing their inner feelings openly.

Your job is to look out for such emotions.

Here’s the gold to look for:

Notice the things your audience fears, dreads or hates, and would do anything to get rid of.

Find things they love, crave for, or hope to achieve in life.

Discover the things they want to change about their lives.

Uncover the beliefs they hold about their current state, the pains/problems they experience, and the emotions associated with those problems that they feel every day.

Because each of those emotions and feelings points towards problems that can be converted into content ideas later on

And here’s how to find it:

To start your research, simply visit Quora and search for your main niche topic in a question style.

If you’re researching a niche like weight loss or any other condition that can have a negative impact on people, try rephrasing your search queries to find emotional threads.

For example, here are a couple of really long and useful threads I found on Quora by searching “overweight destroyed my life”


Source: Quora


Source: Quora


Both these questions have generated a lot of comments from people who’re overweight.

In response, many fitness advocates also jumped in with a completely opposite point of view.

As a result, both the thread turned into long heated discussions.

Goldmine for a marketer, really.

By reading just a few of the responses in these threads, I was able to identify more than a dozen excuses, mental blocks, and reservations that obese people have with regards to their appearance and the different weight loss programs available in the market.

Reddit is another place where you can find such threads and discussions.

Here’s a thread that alone can give you enough information to start a weight loss blog (just kidding, but you know what I mean)


Source: Reddit


And in case you can’t find any in-depth discussions about your niche on Quora or Reddit, try looking for any niche specific forums on Google Search using any of the following search queries.

[Niche Keyword]+forum

[Niche Keyword]+vbulletin

[Niche Keyword]+forum+discussion


Source: Google


Here’s a really sad (but useful from a marketing perspective) forum thread on a weight loss forum


Source: Beyond Blue Forum


Why are such threads useful to you?

Because they give you a direct understanding of your audience’s emotion, their needs, and their aspirations.

Using these insights you can create content and products that can actually trigger emotional and impulsive reactions from your customers.

But to give you even more actionable insights, I’m going to share a research technique that newbies rarely use (but the experts love it)

Keep reading.


7. Learn from the Negative Customer Reviews and Failed Products in Your Niche

Smart marketers learn from the mistakes of their competitors.

This not only helps you avoid those mistakes but also gives you an opportunity to learn what the customer wants.

But there’s one more reason why negative reviews matter.

According to Groove, unhappy customers are a lot more vocal about their dissatisfaction and tell around 26 (on average) about their negative experiences.


Source: VisionCritical


Clearly, you don’t want negative reviews when you launch a product, do you?

So pay close attention to what your target audience is saying about the existing products in the market.

The best place to start your research is Amazon (since it has every product under the sun)

Simply search for your niche products and sort the results by Average Customer Reviews

Taking the same weight loss example, I searched for the best weight loss recipe books and sorted them by customer reviews


Source: Amazon


On the product page, scroll down to the reviews section to read customer feedback.

In my experience, 5-star and 1-star reviews are mostly to biased to give you any real insights, so leave them out.

Click on the 2-star, 3-star, and 4-star reviews one by one to see what the customers are saying


Source: Amazon


Here’s an example of a great comment from a researcher’s perspective


Source: Amazon


The commenter doesn’t seem biased at all and shares some really good information about what she actually expected from the product.

For example, she says the book has a lot of non-scientific claims and had no substantial impact on her thought process about food

Very actionable learning that you can use while creating your own product or even when writing content for your blog.

Here’s an even better comment that shares both the pros and cons of the product


Source: Amazon


Pay special attention to the part when the commenter shares the things he doesn’t like about the product.

All of these are potential gaps in the market that you can exploit and consider for further research.


To discover 200+ profitable niche markets click the image below now…


Turn the Problems of Your Audience Into Content Ideas

Now that you have gathered enough information about the needs, wants, fears, hopes, desires and the aspirations of your target audience, it’s time to turn this useful knowledge into highly actionable, in-depth and attention-grabbing content ideas that not only send you loads of traffic but also make the readers fall in love with your site.

Let’s look at the same Quora thread that I shared earlier, as a example



Notice the kind of emotions expressed in this post.

You can turn each emotion into several blog post ideas.

For example, look at this sentence at the start of the post


“….people in my family all have the tendency to eat more than they need.”


Here’s what I gathered from it

Problem: Belief that my family eats a lot which is why I eat a lot.

Emotion: Helplessness (“I’ve been raised this way”)

What he wants: To control his eating habits

There’s a lot for us to work with here.

Here a few titles that I came with from the top of my head.

11 Proven Ways To Control Your Eating Habits Even If You Thinks It’s Impossible

Feeling Helpless About Your Eating Habits? Here Are 3 Ways You Can Conquer Your Diet, Lose Weight and Feel Confident Again

Who Says You Need To Stop Eating? Science Shows You Can Eat Your Favourite Food and Still Lose Weight

Scientific Studies Prove You Can No Longer Use Your Family As An Excuse For Your Own Weight Issues

Makes sense?

Do you think readers would be interested in this? I think so

Here’s another sentence from the same thread


“I hate putting on clothes in the morning becuase everything makes me look fat becuase I AM FAT”


Problem: Feeling embarrassed at being fat

Emotion: Disgust, self-hatred, and the fear of being ridiculed by others

What he wants: To be able to confidently wear fashionable clothes, go out, meet people and be happy about his looks.

Here are a few ideas

Overweight and Feeling Ashamed? 11 Ways You Can Become Confident and Happy About Life Using Simple Hacks

How To Love Yourself [And Feel Confident] Even When You’re Far From Perfect

11 Obese Fashion Tips That’ll Reignite Your Passion to Look Good in the Mirror (Even If You Don’t Believe It’s Possible)


Are you getting my point?

I bet I’ve got your creative juices flowing

But these are just a couple of examples I highlighted from that Quora thread.

There so much more you can do here.

In fact, if you think hard, I bet you can create a complete 6-month content calendar from this one thread

There are many more advanced techniques and methods in Nichehacks Insider that’ll help you turn the problems of your audience into engaging content ideas.


It’s Time To Turn Your Research Into Action

There you go.

If you follow the research methods and steps I’ve shared in this post, you’d certainly know your audience a LOT better than most of your competitors.

Trust me, very few newbies take the time to research their niche in this depth.

But all this knowledge is useless if you don’t take advantage of it by taking action.

So go ahead, learn more about your audience and put that learning into action and see your sales explode.

Seriously, lack of understanding about their target audiences fears, emotions, problems, hopes and dreams are the reason most aspiring marketers struggle to sell a single item and make money online.

However, if you carry out this research process and use your audiences fears, emotions, hopes and dreams in your content and marketing you’ll explode your sales and change your fortunes.

The post 7 Advanced Research Methods To Find the Deepest Darkest Fears Of Your Audience And Use This Marketing Gold To Explode Your Sales appeared first on NicheHacks.

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WIN! Tried and tested: Baby Born Soft Touch doll and City RC Scooter

by Dave Hornby posted in Products & Prizes Since her brother was born earlier in the year, our four-year old daughter has excelled in her role as big sister. She loves helping out with all aspects of looking after him, even if she’s a bit too young – and he’s a bit too big -… Read more »

Want to get the full story? Click on the headline above. And thanks for reading the BabyCentre Blog.

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Industry roundup: Project EverGreen, Operation Gratitude to send thank you notes to deployed troops

At this year’s GIE+EXPO, visitors were given the opportunity to stop by Project EverGreen’s booth and write thank you cards to the men and women deployed around the globe. This year, nearly 400 notes were written.

Visitors at this year’s GIE+EXPO were able to go by the Project EverGreen booth and write thank you letters to deployed troops.Photo: Project EverGreen

The group says the cards will be delivered to military personnel through Operation Gratitude, a national organization that provides care packages and messages of appreciation to military members.

The group says that many of those writing notes related personal stories about their own military service and how much a letter from home, even from a stranger, meant when it arrived.

“As the mother of a son in the military, it was heartwarming to see the number of people who were willing to take a moment to express their appreciation to those who serve,” says Ki Matsko, a program manager for the GreenCare and SnowCare for Troops programs. “Reading through the notes confirms that people do understand and appreciate the sacrifices these military members make to protect our freedoms.”

This year, nearly 400 notes were written.Photo: Project EverGreen

Project EverGreen says one of the most poignant notes shared the following sentiment:

“There aren’t words to thank you enough for serving our country. You keep us safe, protect our liberties and ensure the United States is the greatest in the world. Your sacrifices don’t go unnoticed. You are in my thoughts. Stay safe always. Thank you.”

Nici Trem, a program manager with Project EverGreen, talked with many of the card writers and noticed a common bond between them.

“The number of people that stopped to write a thank you to our military, even when they were in a hurry, brought tears to my eyes,” says Trem. “Even children took the time to write a thank you. It made me feel like we are really all in this together.”

GIE-EXPO 2018 proves record-setting year

This year’s GIE-EXPO in Louisville, Kentucky, proved to be another record-breaking year.

It was reported that this year’s show topped the last four years’ records in both attendance and exhibitors, which makes it the largest ever for this mega show.

The show reports that there were more than 24,700 people from around the world in attendance, representing a three percent increase over 2017. And with 1,000 exhibits, the indoor show floor and Outdoor Demonstration Area were larger than ever.

GIE-EXPO is sponsored by the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), the Professional Grounds Management Society (PGMS) and the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP).

“The 2018 GIE+EXPO was the biggest and best ever,” says Kris Kiser, president of OPEI. “Attendees and exhibitors alike know this is the place you have to be if you’re in this business. The whole industry gathers in Louisville to see new products, network and learn. And with Mutt Madness, our rescue dog adoption event held in partnership with OPEI’s TurfMutt and the Kentucky Humane Society, this year’s show was like none other. We’re already working on significant, innovative changes for the 2019 GIE+EXPO. Next year, when you land in Louisville, look for new spaces in new places – we’re still growing.”

Show highlights:

Lawn and Landscape Pro registrants were up 7 percent over 2017.
Servicing Dealer registrants were up 5 percent over 2017.
All 50 states and more than 50 countries were represented.
The indoor show floor was 40,000 gross square feet larger than in 2017.
The Outdoor Demonstration Area covered more than 20 acres.
250 new exhibitors in GIE+EXPO and the co-located Hardscape North America.
In order to accommodate the need for more exhibit space, the new product feature took a new form as a New Products Spotlight. Located in the registration area, this special display sold out, featuring more than 100 products that were introduced within the past year.
Two keynote sessions featured Dr. Robert Ballard. The session for dealers, sponsored by Stihl and Bob-Cat Mowers, drew more than 1,000 participants, while the session for contractors, sponsored by John Deere, brought more than 2,000.
Organizers partnered with the Kentucky Humane Society for an event called Mutt Madness, sponsored by TurfMutt. Thursday afternoon in Freedom Hall, attendees interacted with 21 dogs looking for a good home, and more than 10 dogs were adopted.
Food Truck Thursday coincided with Mutt Madness in Freedom Hall. Seven food trucks drove into the arena and provided a fun lunch experience.

“It’s exciting to keep pushing boundaries,” says Warren Sellers, show director. “With 250 new exhibitors, the indoor show floor was 40,000 sq. ft. larger than last year. Plus, we added the new features in Freedom Hall. Add to that the dynamic keynotes by Dr. Robert Ballard for both dealers and contractors, and the energy at the show was on a new level.”

In the $15,000 UTV giveaway, Russ Doszak of R&R Yard Design in Lansing, Illinois, won $15,000 towards his choice of UTVs. Participating manufacturers included American Land Master; Gravely, an Ariens Company; Bobcat Company; Hisun Motors; Hustler Turf Equipment; John Deere; Kioti Tractor; Kubota Tractor Corp; ODES Industries; Snow Dog and Yanmar America Corp.

Rodney Molder of Moulder’s Outdoor in Shelbyville, Tennessee, won the $5,000 Stihl giveaway during Wednesday’s dealer preview.

Other winners include:

CORTEVA AGRISCIENCE, Z-Max sprayer featuring Dimension and Defendor – Rich Vanderveen, Customized Turf Services, Dwaynesberg, New York
FENCE ARMOR, two VIP Hot Passes for the NASCAR First Data 500 – Jared Crouse, JCS Lawn Tips, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
PAVE TOOL, Starter Box Kit – Andy Hargrove, The Rock Place, Smyrna, Tennessee
WALBRO, LLC, fuel-injected golf cart – James Cooksey, Cooksey Lawn Service, Camden, Indiana
HALSTEAD, Project Documentary – Caleb Auman, Auman Landscape, Carroll, Ohio; Drone – Keith Weyrick, Plant Health Care Systems, Miami, Florida

Otis Orchards with Segmental Systems in Washington emerges as the winner of the HNA Installer Championships with a prize of $10,000.

Because of this year’s success, the show’s three-day format will continue in 2019. The show dates will be Oct. 16-18, and the indoor show floor will open exclusively for dealers, retailers and the media at noon on Wednesday. Beginning at 3 p.m. and continuing on Thursday and Friday, the entire industry will be invited to visit the exhibits. The Outdoor Demonstration Area will be open Thursday and Friday.

SiteOne introduces new Lesco smart guided precision spray system

SiteOne Landscape Supply recently launched a new Lesco smart guided precision spray system, which the company says revolutionizes precision spraying with its easy-to-install GPS.

The company says the system is designed to connect with most common sprayers, and SiteOne says it can save up to 75 percent of initial costs compared to buying a new sprayer unit with a built-in GPS.

The system offers:

TerraStar GPS satellite technology that allows the system to spray within a 2-inch level of accuracy so there are no missed areas, overspray or overlap.
Precise control of each separate nozzle to reduce overspray. If a nozzle is outside the defined application boundary, it will automatically turn off.
Tracking of when and where certain products are sprayed to simplify documentation and record keeping. This feature also allows the system to remember and repeat boundaries after they have been driven once and saved.

“The Lesco smart guided system is about working more efficiently,” says John Gertz, VP category management – agronomics at SiteOne. “We’re focused on bringing solutions to market that help our customers get more done with less budget and succeed in a very demanding business.”

LandOpt Contractor Network expands in New York

LandOpt’s Contractor Network has extended into Wappingers Falls, New York, with Lehigh Lawns & Landscaping becoming the second Powered by LandOpt Contractor in the state of New York.

LandOpt says Alan Lehigh, owner of Lehigh Lawns & Landscaping, chose to join the company’s network with the goal of achieving their next growth milestone by utilizing the streamlined processes, employee development and training programs LandOpt offers.

“Systems will make our business more predictable and allow our staff to focus on what they do best,” says Lehigh. “The unique skills, knowledge and abilities of each individual team member coupled with the continuous support of LandOpt will drive the future growth of our business.”

Lehigh Lawns & Landscaping is a full-service professional landscape design, maintenance and snow firm that serves both residential and commercial customers in the Hudson Valley area.

“LandOpt role definitions, coaching and training programs will provide a clear vision for every one of their career path,” shared Lehigh. “We are most excited to join a peer network specifically for the landscaping industry for myself [the owner] and for my team as well. With the help of LandOpt, we are hoping to increase our revenue and place the right sales and account managers to focus on growing our most profitable services.”

“A plan is only as good as its execution,” says Alison Blobner, LandOpt director of marketing and sales. “The steady growth of the network is an indicator of the ongoing industry quest for more formal business practices that provide both predictability and accountability for business owners. LandOpt’s solution provides the path to move forward with confidence because they depend on the systems and processes – not the owner.”

McHale Landscape Design acquires Green Gardens, Inc.

McHale Landscape Design recently announced the acquisition of Green Gardens, Inc.

“We have always had the highest regard for Green Gardens and are honored to continue their legacy of providing quality landscape services to some of the most discerning clients and properties around Washington, D.C.,” says company president Kevin McHale.

The company says a definitive purchase agreement was finalized in September 2018.

“We are very excited to be able to offer all that McHale brings to our clients,” says John Austin, Green Gardens principal.

The company says this partnership combines two of the most trusted residential landscape companies in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, boosting McHale’s high-end residential design-build locations to five.

“We’re merging two outstanding companies that share deep commitments to excellent customer service, design philosophies, attention to detail, and quality of materials,” says McHale vice president Steve McHale.

Since 1964, the company says Green Gardens has taken a revered three-step approach to customer satisfaction – practices employed, materials used and clients served. McHale says they will expand upon this excellence, marrying old-fashioned technique with its signature design-build process, while creating new job opportunities in the process.

“The impact of combined resources will be a huge benefit to our customers,” says Phil Kelly, McHale’s CEO.

“To partner with one of the leaders in our market and expand our presence together is an opportunity I fully embrace,” says transition team leader Keith Bowman.

Read more: totallandscapecare.com

Stan Lee’s Endless Imagination Inspired Millions And He’ll Never Be Forgotten

stan lee tribute 2Stan LeeGetty

Last night the news broke that Stan Lee, the creator of the Avengers, Spider-Man, Iron Man and countless other comicbook icons, had died aged 95. 

Stan, real name Stanley Lieber, will be best remembered as a creative visionary who made an immeasurable contribution to the world of comics, movies and the arts.

Through the characters he created alongside his Marvel colleagues Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, Stan’s legacy as pop culture juggernaut – whose name will go down in history alongside Walt Disney and William Shakespeare – is assured.

It may sound hyperbole, or even literary blasphemy, to compare Stan to England’s most famous playwright but I know Stan would appreciate the comparison.

After all Stan wasn’t especially known for his modesty, especially in his later years where he served as a figurehead and public face for Marvel Comics.

Stan, whose optimism and excitement made him the perfect showman, was perfectly suited to this role and he became famous for attending conventions and meeting with fans even in his final days.

Stan Lee Has Recorded His Cameos For Infinity War, Avengers 4 And Ant-Man And The WaspGetty

Of course, like so many of the characters he created Stan had another side – a secret identity if you will – beneath his public mask.

Away from his wisecracking, motormouthed persona, he was a passionate, creative man who loved nothing more in this world than his beloved wife Joan.

Stan was also far more sensitive than you might think, sometimes feeling insecure about what he did for a living.

He admitted to the Chicago Tribune:

I used to think what I did was not very important. People are building bridges and engaging in medical research, and here I was doing stories about fictional people who do extraordinary, crazy things and wear costumes.

Of course, Stan eventually came to realise the importance of what he did, saying: ‘I suppose I have come to realize that entertainment is not easily dismissed’.

And Stan wasn’t wrong. It’s no exaggeration to say that he has had a colossal impact on the world through his stories of people doing extraordinary, crazy things.

Why did Stan Lee never retire?Getty

We could talk about the billion-dollar comic empire that Stan helped to create and revolutionise. The empire which helped launch the careers of other incredible creative talents like Todd McFarlane, Rob Liefeld and Mark Millar along
with many others who’ve gone on to create their own wonderful universes.

Or maybe we should mention his vision (which in the last 10 years of his life he saw come to fruition) for an interconnected Marvel Cinematic Universe which has revolutionised the way Hollywood makes movies.

For me though, Stan will be best remembered for the lesson his most famous creation, Spider-Man, taught the world, ‘that with great power must also come great responsibility’.

Spider-Man Homecoming posterSony Pictures

Or to borrow a more modern version from Captain America: Civil War: ‘When you can do the things that I can, but you don’t, and then the bad things happen? They happen because of you’.

Basically, through his most popular creation, Stan preached social responsibility. That it is the duty of those with power to protect those without it.

This wasn’t just rhetoric or grandstanding though. Stan meant it and used what power and influence he had, his writing and platform, to try and address some of the evils in the world.

Stan Lee and Chris EvansGetty

While some poisonous folks on the internet (sexist, racist tw*ts I believe they’re called) may claim that modern Marvel’s been ruined by social justice warriors forcing socially progressive views down the throats of its readers, they’re woefully ill-informed.

Stan Lee and Marvel have always stood up for the oppressed with Stan once writing: ‘Bigotry and racism are among the deadliest social ills plaguing the world today.’

He explained:

The only way to destroy them is to expose them—to reveal them for the insidious evils they really are. The bigot is an unreasoning hater—one who hates blindly, fanatically, indiscriminately…

Now, we’re not trying to say it’s unreasonable for one human being to bug another. But, although anyone has the right to dislike another individual, it’s totally irrational, patently insane to condemn an entire race—to despise an entire nation—to vilify an entire religion.

Sooner or later, we must learn to judge each other on our own merits. Sooner or later, if man is ever to be worthy of his destiny, we must fill out hearts with tolerance.

Secret celeb cameo in Black PantherMarvel Studios

And while Stan may not have believed that intolerance could be ‘halted with a punch in the snoot, or a zap from a ray gun’ he probably didn’t realise how important his work would become in fighting intolerance.

In 1966 Stan helped to create the Black Panther, the first superhero of African descent in mainstream American comics, who dispelled the long-held notion in comics of Africa being a backward and brutal place.

Later the character would become a champion of representation in media, most recently in the 2018 megahit Black Panther which has been praised for both its diverse cast, serious political themes and for asking the question of ‘what Africa means to Afro-minorities today’.

More than that though, Black Panther gave the world an aspirational black figure to look up to, or to quote the little black boy in the apocryphal story everyone heard while watching the film: ‘finally a superhero who looks like me’.

Representation wasn’t the only important issue Stan used comics to explore. He was also keen to educate children and teens about the dangers of drug abuse during the early Seventies.

In his famous story The Green Goblin Reborn, Stan defied the Comic’s Code, which banned the depiction of the use of illegal drugs, and published a three-issue arc warning of the dangers of drug abuse.

John Romita Sr – Marvel Comics

Ever the entertainer Stan knew the issue couldn’t be preachy, and carefully wove the message into the story which sees Spider-Man’s best friend nearly die from a drug overdose, rather than making it a lecture.

The story was a smash hit and led to weakening the Comics Code Authority which had the effect of allowing other comicbook publishers and writers to explore more relevant socially progressive stories.

None of that happens without Stan Lee.

Steve Ditko – Marvel Comics

Perhaps though Stan Lee should be best remembered as the inspiration he was to kids all over the planet. Kids who still imagine what it would be like to explore distant worlds with your best friends, how it would feel to soar above the city or to fight injustice wherever they say it.

Or perhaps it’s adults? Adults who like some of Stan’s most famous creations have seen the sh*ttier side of life but refuse to give up because that’s not what their heroes in the comicbooks would do.

Or in the words Stan gifted to Spider-Man:

Anyone can win a fight when the odds are easy. It’s when the going’s tough – when there seems to be no chance – that’s when it counts.

Stan LeePA

You may think it’s fanciful to suggest an adult would be inspired by a book Stan Lee wrote over 50 years ago but I know I’m right here because I’m inspired by it.

If I’m completely honest that’s what makes writing about Stan’s passing particularly difficult for me. Stan Lee was one of my heroes who had a profound impact on my life.

I first became aware of Stan Lee growing up when I watched the nineties Spider-Man cartoon, a show that introduced me to the wider Marvel Comics Universe and sparked my lifelong love affair with the wallcrawler.

It may sound cliche but through Spider-Man Stan Lee changed my life.

If it weren’t for the Web-Head I’d never have made my first friend at primary school (shout out to my boy Stef), I wouldn’t have had my first kiss (less of a shout out), nor would I have the career I’m in now (shout out to my boy Kieron).

You see it was an issue of Empire magazine with Spider-Man on the cover, specifically Sam Raimi’s dreadful third one, which for better or worse sparked my interest in films and eventually lead me to this job.

Promotional still Spider-Man 3Sony Pictures

Even more importantly though, and I know it sounds ridiculous, it was reading Stan’s work which helped me deal with the death of my mother seven years ago.

It’s silly I know but retreating into a world where people could turn such a profound loss into something positive was an inspiring message at that time in my life.

Here’s hoping the world can turn the loss of Stan into something positive. Rest in peace, Stan Lee. Excelsior.

If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677.

Read more: unilad.co.uk

New priorities for leadership in the new world of work

Posted by Steven Hatfield and Anne-Claire Roesch on August 22, 2018.

As machines augment people in performing routine physical and process-based work, thanks to robotics, automation, and cognitive computing, the work people do is changing, opening the door to new opportunities for people to add value to customers, companies, and communities. In turn, what leaders expect—and what is expected of them—is changing, too. How are you developing leaders for the future of work?

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Each day, our work and our lives are becoming more heavily interconnected with smart machines and robots—from smart warehouses to robotic surgery to cognitive investment advisers. The “what” (what work can machines do?), “who” (who can do the work, from our employees to gig workers to crowds), and “where” (remote, distributed, augmented reality) of work are changing. Much of the traditional organizational hierarchy is being reshaped around networks of teams to facilitate faster, more responsive, and more agile ways of working now possible with these new technologies.

These new realities have created different expectations for leaders and changed how companies should approach leadership development. Here are some ways today’s enterprises should reimagine leadership development programs as we prepare all levels of leaders to take the helm in an augmented workforce.

New experiences for faster times: Movement through the leadership pipeline needs to accelerate.The assumption that companies have the benefit of time to develop employees over the course of a single-thread, multiyear career may no longer be true. The half-life of domain skills (for example, a computer language) continues to fall—what was once useful for 10 years is now relevant for five, or less). The average worker might currently hold 10 different jobs before age 40, and this number is projected to grow1. Millennials born in the early ’80s held approximately seven jobs between the ages of 18 and 28 compared with their Baby Boomer parents, who held 12 jobs between ages 18 and 50.2 Adding to that, today’s worker is hungry for development opportunities now. Actively identifying critical and high-potential talent early is the first step to giving them the experiences they need and want. Then, once the pipeline is active, companies should engage identified leaders with experiences early and continue providing experiences to maintain engagement.
Meaningful experience will likely come from projects, not necessarily roles: Work in a digital world is typically no longer completed with the role or function as the unit of analysis. As technology introduces greater efficiencies into everyday processes, it also helps to break down the barriers that once made cross-functional collaboration difficult. In a recent report by Deloitte Digital and MIT Sloan, we see this playing out across digitally mature businesses, 70 percent of which are using cross-functional teams to organize work, compared to less than 30 percent for early-stage organizations3. Examining your operating model to evaluate how work is getting done across teams, rather than through traditional roles and responsibilities aligned to a hierarchy, is a critical first step. Forward-thinking companies bring leaders together from across functions for collaborative design and problem-solving exercises to form solutions to enterprise challenges. Getting leaders project-based experience and charging them with implementing digital business priorities can not only give them the experience they need to develop but can also serve as a retention strategy. Vice president-level executives without sufficient digital opportunities are 15 times more likely to want to leave within a year than are those with satisfying digital challenges4.
Earlier, later, ongoing. Leaders need to receive exposure opportunities sooner as part of their development: Now, perhaps more than ever before, leadership development should happen in the context of everyday work rather than in the classroom. The evolution of the “what,” “who,” and “where” of work has widened the aperture through which leaders must view their organization, requiring greater exposure to the kinds of challenges they will face, rather than the “art” of leadership. Our research shows that the most valuable learning happens in actual business situations that require leaders to stretch, and in workplaces that support leadership development objectives5. This shift has implications for formal leadership development programs, which should move from standard training, coaching, and 360 feedback to external experiences and stretch projects that focus on culture, context, knowledge sharing, and risk taking.
Personal and team reinvention is THE leadership capability. Enhance the development of expertise by teaching leaders how to learn; not just what to learn: In today’s increasingly fast-paced business environment, change is no longer the exception but the expectation. Organizations and their leaders will go through continuous evolution to keep pace with the competition. Our colleague, John Hagel of the Deloitte Center for the Edge, notes that in today’s world that demands accelerating learning, the mark of a strong leader is the person who has been trained to ask the most powerful questions. Formal leadership development programs have long focused on behavioral recipes or competency models to teach the right skills to leaders—emphasizing the individual’s capability rather than a view of the ecosystem in which s/he operates. As organizational contexts flatten and become more complex, we should instead focus our attention on teaching people the mind-set of a leader facing the pace and challenges of the current environment. For example, how do the most collaborative leaders think about teaming in the workplace? What do they pay attention to and how do they foster these principles at work?

The challenges leaders confront today are in many ways different from just five years ago, but the essential role of a leader remains the same. As Harvard Professor Ronald Heifetz posited almost 20 years ago, the “new” role of a leader is “to help people face reality and to mobilize them to make change.”6 Our emerging leaders will guide us through some of the most significant transformations we’ve seen in our lifetime. The success or failure of these individuals may rest with their ability to activate the organization to deliver value in a world where disruption lurks around every corner. Doing this successfully will require new ways of working, thinking, and leading, and it’s our job to make sure we’re designing the right experiences for leaders to succeed.

Steven HatfieldSteven Hatfield is a principal and leader in the Organization Transformation practice within the Financial Services Industry team of Deloitte Consulting LLP. He has over 20 years’ experience instilling confidence in clients when dealing with issues of strategy, innovation, organization, culture, leadership, and change.

Anne-Claire RoeschAnne-Claire Roesch is a manager in Deloitte Consulting LLP’s Workforce Transformation practice, focused on helping clients reimagine work and workforce engagement in today’s era of disruption. In her current role, she leads the Workforce Transformation Growth Accelerator and supports clients across industries on workforce & people strategy, strategic change, and work redesign.

1 Bureau of Labor Statistics, Number of Jobs, Labor Market Experience, and Earnings Growth Among Americans at 50: Results from a Longitudinal Survey, August 24, 2017.
2 Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Experience of Youths: Results from a Longitudinal Survey News Release, April 8, 2016; Baby boomers born from 1957 to 1964 held an average of 11.9 jobs from ages 18 to 502, August 28, 2017.
3 Achieving Digital Maturity: Adapting Your Company to a Changing World,” MIT Sloan Management Review, July 13, 2017.
4 Ibid.
5 2017 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends: Rewriting the rules for the digital age, Deloitte Development LLC.
6 Ronald A. Heifetz, Leadership Without Easy Answers, Belknap/Harvard University Press, 1994.

Read more: capitalhblog.deloitte.com

Nappy changing hacks to make your life that bit easier

by Joanne Lewis posted in Products & Prizes Disclaimer: This is the personal experience of a blogger, not the sponsor, nor that of a medical expert.  Since I’ve been a mum to my baby Pollyanna, I’ve changed a lot of nappies. During all those changes I’ve found little tricks that have helped me make it… Read more »

Want to get the full story? Click on the headline above. And thanks for reading the BabyCentre Blog.

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Top Mobiles to Help Your Baby Fall Asleep Faster

Everything about child baubles is really beautiful, from the bright colors to the nice drawings on them. Most babies are amazed by these playthings and most parents agree that mobiles are one of the best ways to get kid to sleep all through the night.

How Do Mobiles Help a Baby Sleep?

If you’re wondering just how to calm a baby to sleep, then mobiles might be your answer. Babies love playing with them, and they also enjoy watching the interactive toys swing in the air. This keeps them calm and they eventually fall asleep.

How to Ensure Baby Sleeps Through the Night

Babies often wake up at night and parents are often stressed about that and they want to find ways to get baby to sleep through the night. For your baby to sleep peacefully all through the night, you need to learn some sleep tricks on how to get sleep fast naturally;

  • Get a sleep pattern – This is done by playing actively through the day and keeping it cool at night. The suckling will understand that night is meant for sleep. This is one of the best sleep tricks for babies.
  • Check your lighting – Teach the newborn to always sleep in the dark even during the day, ensure your curtains are drawn. Alternatively, you can use the sleeping lights.
  • Ensure that they are full and dry. Also, clean the child as it tends to leave them feeling nicer. It is also one of the techniques to put baby to sleep.

Before fixing any mobile to your kid’s crib or playmat, there are several safety tips you might need. They include:

  • The placement of the crib toy should be neutral, that is, not too close to the child and not too far from him – just close enough. Fixing the mobile in the right position is the best way to getting baby to sleep in crib at night.
  • Check whether the mobile has detachable parts which the newborn might pick up. Ensure that it doesn’t contain those because they might chock the baby.
  • Install the bauble according to the instructions given in the user guide. This ensures your interactive toy does not fall and get broken.
  • Unfortunately, most mobiles are made for babies between 1 and 5 months. When your baby starts reaching out for things, it’s time to move the plaything from their crib. They might pull them down and probably get into an accident. You don’t want to see your newborn hurt, do you?

Mobiles to Get Your Child Sleeping

Wondering how to make baby fall asleep with mobiles? Here are some really helpful choices:

Musical Baby Mobiles

There are several types of musical mobiles. Some are more advanced than others in terms of technology giving you interesting techniques to put baby to sleep. Some of these have a sensor that can tell whether the baby is still awake or not. Once the baby is asleep, it automatically turns itself off.

Goki Mobile Dragon Baby Toy

The other type of mobiles are the ones that are fixed on either the stroller, hung on his playmat and on his crib. Most kids stare at these baubles and end up falling asleep. This is a nice way to get the baby to sleep naturally, in fact, it might be the best way to get baby to sleep in crib. This particular toy is made inform of dragons that are beautiful and bright. The wings are also detachable allowing you to modify it once in a while.

Fisher-Price Smart Connect Deluxe Projection

This one is a musical mobile that allows you to change and play music while far away using Bluetooth. It also has a long-lasting battery which gives you service for a while. Your child will get used to the songs on the tot interactive toy, and it will help them sleep easier. These kinds of mobiles also keep the baby busy therefore helping you do your work easily.

Tiny Love Meadow Days Soothe and Groove Mobile

This is a musical toy that has excellent features which include, playing for around 45 minutes without being connected to power. It also comes with a collection of songs and a button to fast forward the songs. There is a volume control button so that you can reduce the volume when the baby sleeps.


Baby mobiles are the perfect invention according to most parents. They keep your child occupied and calm. However, remember the child also needs attention from you, even when he’s not crying. Ensure you get lots of bonding time with your child. And for you fathers out there, why don’t you watch the baby when you get home from work? Let the mom rest, watching a baby the whole day can be very tiring, more tiring than you could ever imagine! Give your significant other some time to rest while you be the super dad. Then, invest in a good coffee maker to give you that pick me up in the morning as you head off to work!

Was this article helpful? Do you have any other wonderful mobile that’s worked for you? Let us know in the comment box.

Author’s Bio: Tommy is a freelance writer and tutor. He studied journalism at New York University. Also, he loves traveling, camping, and healthy living. Now, as a dad of two, he is constantly on the lookout for tips and tricks to make life easier and spend more time with his family.

How a GOP Protest in Broward County Went From Peaceful to Heated

The protest started out peaceful. A crowd of conservative demonstrators gathered on Sunday morning outside the office of the Broward County supervisor of elections, where officials inside were preparing for a recount of the 2018 election results. Tents were erected to shield people from the hot sun, and patriotic country tunes made it feel more like a cookout than a protest. A day earlier, protests had featured a large contingent of Democratic protesters, but on Sunday, Republicans had the parking lot outside the supervisor’s office—a large facility in the back of a massive suburban strip mall—all to themselves.

But before long, the mood began to turn. The rooms inside the supervisor’s office were filled to capacity before noon, and office staffers wouldn’t let anyone in unless someone came out. That left a representative of the Broward Republicans and a representative of the Republican candidate for agriculture commissioner, whose race is being recounted, unable to attend the recount preparations. Several members of the media were also forced to wait outside. Slowly, rumors began to spread that only Democratic lawyers were being let in.

President Donald Trump and Gov. Rick Scott, the Republican candidate in the contested Senate race, have described the ongoing vote-counting effort as an attempt by Democratic officials and lawyers to steal the election, rather than a slow bureaucratic process. On Saturday evening, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) turned up in the parking lot with a megaphone and hyped the idea that fraud was taking place inside the supervisor’s office. The supervisor, Brenda Snipes, was an easy target. After 15 years in office, she has made several administrative blunders, including destroying 6,000 ballots in 2016 that a court had ordered her to preserve. At the protest, many signs called Snipes corrupt. Several included the hashtag #stopthesteal. 

Around noon on Sunday, a Democratic lawyer arrived and helped ensure that a Republican attorney volunteering as a representative for the Republicans, Eric Matheny, was able to enter. But that didn’t stop the rumor that only Democrats were being allowed into the facility. Soon chants began to erupt: “Let our people in! Let our people in!”

Slowly, rumors began to spread that only Democratic lawyers were being let in.

Protesters began to gather near the perimeter where police officers were stationed to monitor who came in. Many were live-streaming the activities on their phones. One man began to film one of the officers and repeatedly told him to smile for the camera, threatening that he would be on the nightly news. Each time someone came in or left, an outcry ensued—even when the people were employees at the facility. Each new entry seemed to amplify the idea that Democrats were going in and Republicans were being left out.

The officials in the supervisor of elections’ office didn’t help matters by offering scant explanation about who could come in and who could not. That fueled more distrust. “It could have been mitigated” with a little explanation of the capacity issue, says Taryn Fensky, a spokeswoman for the Republican Party of Florida who was present to address the media. Instead, the protests turned bitter. 

One of the two people kept outside, Broward County Republican Party official who gave her name as Michelle, was allowed inside the police perimeter but then not let inside. She came back out with a shocking allegation: The people inside had accused her of being a member of the Ku Klux Klan and turned her away. The woman refused to be interviewed by Mother Jones to explain the allegation, but it was relayed to a protester who told the KKK story through a megaphone. The crowd grew angrier. 

Bruce Stanley, one of three independent candidates for governor who was on the ballot, attended the protest and said the fact that the two Republican officials were not allowed in “raises all sorts of red flags.” Protester Sherry Ashby called it “a violation of the Constitution.”

“I don’t care how full it is in there,” said Ashby, who has been protesting outside for days and plans to return on Monday. “They better damn well make room.” 

After a few hours, the anger began to dissipate. Matheny, the Republican volunteer who did make it inside, came back out a while later and mingled with the protesters. “I agree both parties had an equal amount of attorneys,” he reported. He added that the process looked “transparent.”

Read more: motherjones.com

Protecting your baby’s skin in Winter

by Jennifer Joy posted in First Timers As we approach the winter months, it’s time to start thinking about protecting your baby’s delicate skin, which can be extremely sensitive to cold winter air, icy winds and central heating. From first-hand experience with my two children, Ralph, four years and Olivia, five months, I’ve seen how the… Read…

Want to get the full story? Click on the headline above. And thanks for reading the BabyCentre Blog.

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Heartbreaking Final Facebook Post Of Young Dad Who Took His Own Life

Young Dad Suicide 2Young Dad Will Evans takes own lifeWill Evans/Facebook

A young father has been found dead just hours after posting a heartbreaking message on Facebook.

It’s believed Will Evans, from Worcestershire, took his own life on November 8, just hours after he posted a status which hinted at suicide.

Tributes have flooded in on Will’s Facebook page, with his friends sharing their condolences and expressing their shock.

Young Dad Will Evans takes own lifeWill Evans/Facebook

It’s understood Will was in his 20’s and a father to Molly Louise. He studied at Dyson Perrins CE High School in Worcestershire before studying Music Technology at Kidderminster College. He worked at a burger restaurant in Worcester called HANBAO.

According to The Sun, West Midlands Ambulance Service confirmed they’d received an emergency call just after 3pm and a male was ‘declared dead at the scene’.

A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokesman said:

We were called to reports of a patient in cardiac arrest in Beauchamp Road. We sent one ambulance, a paramedic officer, a basics doctor and an air ambulance from Strensham.

However, he said the ambulance crew quickly realised on arrival, ‘unfortunately, nothing could be done’.

Before Will was found by medics, he posted a heartbreaking final status to his Facebook page, which read, ‘F*ck this I’m out’, alongside a peace emoji.

Just four hours before his final message, he wrote another status saying: ‘Turns out the people you think are your mates really arnt’ [sic]

Final Facebook post of young dad who committed suicideWill Evans/Facebook

Friends quickly responded to his message with words of love, posting tributes as they found out what had happened.

Facebook friend Dan Hughes wrote:

Rest easy mate rip will I can’t believe this has happened my thoughts and prays are with the family at this sad sad time [sic]

While Lauren Spartley wrote:

RIP Will – I hope you’re free of any demons you were fighting. Sleep tight

Will Evans Will Evans/Facebook

Suicide statistics are shockingly high. Every two hours in the UK, a man takes his own life, meaning today – and every day of the year – 12 men in Britain will tragically cut their lives short.

Charity Movember UK say suicide is the biggest killer of men aged 15 to 44 and they are urging men to talk and seek professional advice if they’re concerned about their mental health.

They state:

We know around 75 per cent of all suicides across the world are men, and in some countries such as the USA, this rate is higher.

We are taking a stand to put an end to this problem. At the Movember Foundation, we are empowering men worldwide with the tools and resources to be mentally healthy and well and navigate the tough times, surrounded by friends and family.

Suicide is a complex yet preventable public health issue. We believe there are many contributing factors. Historically the dominant masculinity is one that champions stoicism, independence, invulnerability and avoidance of negative emotions. In particular, self-reliance has been shown to be associated with negative health outcomes including suicidal thinking.

We are encouraging men across the world to be men of more words because we know that talking saves lives. This is a good place to start but if they are concerned they may be depressed, anxious or thinking about suicide it is important they speak to a healthcare professional.

Depressed man with head in armsPixabay

Although we’re talking about mental health now more than ever, the numbers show we still have a long way to go.

If you’ve been affected by any of these issues, and want to speak to someone in confidence, please don’t suffer alone. Call Samaritans for free on their anonymous 24-hour phone line on 116 123.

In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14. Hotlines in other countries can be found at Suicide.org.

Save a life. Take the free suicide prevention training provided by Zero Suicide Alliance today.

Read more: unilad.co.uk

Stan Lee, creator of iconic Marvel comics superheroes, is dead at 95

Stan lee

Stan Lee

Stan Lee is seen onstage at Los Angeles Comic-Con at the Los Angeles Convention Center, Oct. 28, 2017. (Rich Polk/Getty Images for Entertainment Weekly)

(JTA) — Stan Lee, who as one of the masterminds behind Marvel Comics created such mega-popular comic book franchises as Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk and the X-Men, died early Monday morning at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

He was 95.

Born Stanley Martin Lieber in 1922, the son of a Romanian-Jewish immigrant father and what he once called a “nice, rather old-fashioned Jewish lady,” Lee drew on themes of his childhood to create a series of memorable pulp heroes whose outsider status in some ways became their superpower.

Lee was a pioneer of a comic book industry dominated at its outset by hungry, second-generation Jewish artists and writers, and became one of its most iconic figures. He also lived long enough to see it transformed into a multibillion-dollar multimedia industry that has spawned countless blockbusters based on his characters, including Black Panther, the Mighty Thor, Iron Man, the Fantastic Four, the Incredible Hulk, Daredevil and Ant-Man.

Lee grew up in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan and attended DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx. In 1939 he was brought in to what would become Marvel — and named its interim editor at age 19 — although it wasn’t until the early 1960s that he and artist Jack Kirby (born Jacob Kurtzberg) teamed up to put their distinctive stamp on the industry then dominated by DC, which published Superman and Batman comics.

According to Arie Kaplan, author of “From Krakow to Krypton: Jews and Comic Books,” Lee and Kirby created “a group of superheroes who weren’t sunny or optimistic like rival company DC’s heroes. One member of the Fantastic Four, Ben Grimm (aka The Thing) felt like a freak because cosmic rays had transformed him into an orange, granite-skinned monster. With Ben Grimm, Lee and Kirby were using a superhero as a metaphor for Jews, African-Americans, and other minorities.”

In the introduction to the book “Disguised as Clark Kent: Jews, Comics and the Creation of the Superhero,” by Danny Fingeroth, Lee wondered if the anti-Semitism he and other young comic book writers and artists experienced played a role in their art.

“[C]ould it be that there was something in our background, in our culture, that brought us together in the comic book field?” he wrote. “When we created stories about idealized superheroes, were we subconsciously trying to identify with characters who were the opposite of the Jewish stereotypes that hate propaganda had tried to instill in people’s minds?”

Yet readers also appreciated the vulnerability and human scale of his otherwise outsized characters.

“His stories taught me that even superheroes like Spider-Man and the Incredible Hulk have ego deficiencies and girl problems and do not live in their macho fantasies 24 hours a day,” Gene Simmons of the band Kiss, who immigrated to the United States from Israel as a child, said in a 1979 interview. “Through the honesty of guys like Spider-Man, I learned about the shades of gray in human nature.”

In 1972, Lee was named publisher of Marvel, leaving the editing to others as he went about promoting the Marvel brand. He set up an animation studio in Los Angeles, and saw the company eventually grow from TV production into a multimedia giant that has dominated the movie box office. In 2009, the Walt Disney Co. bought Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion.

The most recent Marvel film, “Avengers: Infinity War,” is the sixth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to gross more than $1 billion.

In 2002, Lee published an autobiography, “Excelsior! The Amazing Life of Stan Lee.”

After Joan, his wife of 69 years, died in July 2017, Lee’s final few years were marked by a series of lawsuits over his fortune and allegations that Lee was a victim of elder abuse by a man handling his affairs. According to the Hollywood Reporter,  Lee’s estate is estimated to be worth as much as $70 million.

Upon hearing of his death, Lee’s Jewish fans offered tributes on Twitter.

“In honor of the late great Stan Lee, born Stanley Lieber, you should all read ‘The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Klay’ by Michael Chabon, a novel about how American Jews invented superheroes, and why,” wrote Peter Sagal, the host of the NPR game show “Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!”

NBC News correspondent Benjy Sarlin described Lee as “a big source of cultural pride as a kid, both as a New Yorker and as a Jew. It meant a lot to me that so many great comic creators had similar biographies to my grandparents and that their world was reflected in the work itself.”

Survivors include his daughter and a younger brother, Larry Lieber, a writer and artist for Marvel. Another daughter, Jan, died in infancy.

The post Stan Lee, creator of iconic Marvel comics superheroes, is dead at 95 appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Beto O’Rourke cutting steak on Instagram is making people horny

beto o'rourke cutting steak

A lot of people—Texans and non-Texans—started following Beto O’Rourke on social media during his run for Senate. We followed his never-ending road trips across Texas, watched him skate in a Whataburger parking lot, and sweat through his shirts. But since his loss to Republican Sen. Ted Cruz last week, Beto’s Instagram has become decidedly more chill.

He’s hiking with his family in El Paso.

View this post on Instagram

Franklin mountains El Paso

A post shared by Beto O'Rourke (@betoorourke) on Nov 10, 2018 at 8:34am PST

But more importantly, he’s eating things that aren’t Whataburger. On his Instagram stories, he’s been snacking on guacamole while driving. Last week, he showed everyone a giant bowl of “Beto’s guac,” which his family set up for him to eat safely while driving.

beto o'rourke instagram

Beto O'Rourke/Instagram

This weekend he also made scones with his daughter and cut up a flank steak marinated in “soy, lime, and ginger.” The steak in particular—and Beto licking his fingers—has people feeling things.

Beto O’Rourke is cutting up flank steak over on Instagram in case anyone asks how it is I got pregnant. pic.twitter.com/vxpryuO30g

— Ξvan Ross Katz (@evanrosskatz) November 12, 2018

Tag your self I’m the steak pic.twitter.com/mnNYuznKuZ

⚡beto still has my 🤧💖⚡ (@HARRYSMUSE) November 12, 2018

My sexual orientation is now Beto slicing up a steak pic.twitter.com/mKcdpHtqlq

— Delia Cai (@delia_cai) November 12, 2018

He also found time to write a thoughtful note to supporters about what comes next and the influence his campaign had on future elections. There’s been talk of him running for president, but “For the time being, I am going to focus on being a better dad to our kids who have not had much of one for the last 22 months,” he wrote.

pretty extraordinary letter from O'Rourke to supporters just now: pic.twitter.com/WpBFXI4ohT

— chris hooks (@cd_hooks) November 11, 2018

Some people made the comparison to Adam Scott’s Parks and Recreation character Ben Wyatt and his claymation hobby, as a way to say that maybe O’Rourke is going through a depressive phase after losing, but perhaps he’s just trying to get through it in his own way. And if that way includes more finger-licking I think we’ll be OK.


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Where does Beto O’Rourke stand on policy?

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