Tag Archives: memories

Fun Summer Activities, Like Make Believe

Fun Summer Activities

Summer means as parents, you might be trying to fill your kids’ days with something more substantial than TV. Give these fun summer activities a try.

Get the whole family moving and take your dog to a park. Just check the pavement first. If it’s too hot to keep your hand on for 7 seconds, it’s too hot for your pup.

Struggle GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

 

Do you need a moment to breathe? Try these kid-friendly yoga moves and do it together.

Yoga for All Ages

 

Hit the road for a classic summer road trip, just make sure your kids’ car seats are in safely. Road trips are a great time to introduce your kids to new music or audiobooks and see new places.

Summer Road Trip

 

Make learning or getting active fun for your kids. Do they hate reading? Give graphic novels or comics a try. Do they love video games? Try these active Wii games.

Get Active with Video Games

 

Museums, aquariums, and zoos are a great way to make learning fun, and hands-on children’s museums are more available than ever. Find one now.

Learning Made Fun

 

Never underestimate the power of make-believe and dress-up, which let your kids explore complex subjects and build creativity.

Make nighttime summer memories that will last a lifetime with stargazing. Keep an eye out for special events like meteor showers or learn some constellations (there are some handy apps for that), grab some blankets and hot cocoa, and head to the country.

Stargazing Adventure

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Sharing Personal Histories

Vantage Point: The Importance of Our Personal Histories

Recently, I was sitting at a local senior center, talking to several retirees. I asked what professions they were in prior to their retirement, and one gentleman’s answer struck me hard.

He said he was a cartographer, or map maker, but that his skill and history were no longer relevant. I found this most interesting and asked him to give me an idea of what his job was like.

He started to tell me and then said, “But I am no longer relevant to this day and time due to technology.” My first reaction was pure shock and then sadness. This man, who had worked more than 30 years as a cartographer, thinks that he is no longer relevant.

Many of us sitting at the table found this to be the most interesting profession of everyone in the conversation. And as he started to tell us what he did in his job, I could only think how awesome it would be for our younger generation to hear his story.

As he finished up his story, I asked him why he thinks he’s not relevant anymore. He said, with today’s technology, few humans are needed in the creation of maps since they have drones and computers now to do what he and others did “back in the day.”

I reminded him that his history and knowledge were valuable and needed by our younger generations. The skillset needed for his job when technology was scarce needs to be heard. The history of cartographers is still vital and very important, even with the advanced technology that we have.

Everyone at the table agreed with me and joined in my admiration of his profession and knowledge.

Through my work, I have met teachers, chefs, firefighters, coaches, doctors, and now a cartographer. They all have great stories infused with history, skill, and knowledge. It’s also obvious that they loved what they did and want to share their story.

Remembering that we all have value in every part of our lives is important, whether it’s when we are young and working, or when we get older and retire. Our histories are relevant no matter where we are in our lives, and they need to be shared, remembered, and heard by all.

Joy Stanford is a community liaison with Health Alliance, serving Thurston County. She’s been involved with Medicare for 20+ years and truly enjoys it. She enjoys gospel, R&B, and country music, and she owns over 100 pairs of shoes.

Marking Milestones

Long View: Making the Most of Milestones

As a culture, we recognize milestones. We count the years with class reunions, wedding anniversaries, or years logged since a cancer diagnosis. It has been a few months, but I bet the majority of readers can tell me how many years it had been since the Chicago Cubs had last won the World Series.

As parents, we carefully record that first step, first tooth, first time rolling over. At least we do for the first baby; the second, third, fourth… maybe not quite as detailed. This month, I’m celebrating a birthday that ends in a 9.  This is a milestone in a way, a preamble to a new decade. To be completely honest, it’s more about clinging to the final year left in my current decade.

My sons had a great-grandfather who was meticulous in keeping track of each great-grandchild’s birthday. He carried a pocket calendar around and recorded every date in his precious, shaky handwriting, making sure to not miss a single date for each of his 12 great-grandkids. It was so touching to me, and I made sure to never miss that World War II veteran’s birthday either.

Today we are reminded of birthdays and anniversaries through social media. Facebook has made me a much better friend because I never would have put all of those dates into a traditional calendar. I could not keep up with sending something as old-fashioned as a card via something as truly antiquated as the mail. With just a few clicks, I can send a birthday cake emoji with a couple of exclamation points through cyberspace and am on top of things.

Some milestones can be bittersweet, like the first holiday after a grandmother passes away or a 75th wedding anniversary that never happened because one of the spouses is no longer with us. I toasted the 100th birthday of my grandmother even though she left us at 94 years old.

Do you reach out to your elderly family and friends when special dates pop up on the calendar?  These dates don’t have to be completely solemn occasions. Reaching out to remember a wedding anniversary with a widower can bring back happy memories of a beautiful marriage, not to mention the fact that you have taken the time to call or visit with this person and recognize the importance of the day.

You may not want to just send an emoji to your great grandmother. Take the time to send a card and handwritten note or better yet, stop by for a visit.

Can you imagine how you would feel at 29, 39, or 49 if your important milestone wasn’t important to anyone else?  Someone 79, 89, or 99 feels exactly the same way.

Here is an idea. This February, make an elder your valentine.

Lora Felger is a community and broker liaison at Health Alliance. She is the mother of 2 terrific boys, a world traveler, and a major Iowa State Cyclones fan.

Happily Downsizing

Long View: The Key to Downsizing

I recently downsized from a 2-story colonial to a townhouse. I found the process to be freeing, frustrating, exhausting, joyful, and tearful, all at the same time.

It was a 20-year trip back in time. This was the house where my 2 children were raised, the house where one child kicked his foot through the bathroom door and where another child stabbed a knife into the kitchen cabinet. (If you have boys, you will know this is pretty standard stuff.)

I cried as I painted over the growth chart drawn on the master bedroom closet wall that measured boys as small as 6 months old, and even the 2-year-old black Labrador retriever.

How does a person effectively and efficiently go through the collection of a life well lived, keeping what matters most and letting the rest go?

Moving out of the family home and into a smaller, more hands-free lifestyle is an opportunity many of us will face at least once in our lives. No more mowing the lawn, plowing snow, and taking care of the aging house.

Depending on the timing, this can be an exciting change, but it also starts a grieving process all its own. Whether a positive or not-so-positive move, stress will take its toll on you and those who love and support you. Websites like Caring.com and Caregiver.org have some wonderful tips that rang true for me. These are my top 10:

  1. Avoid tackling the whole house in one go. This is an emotional process, and tackling one room at a time is easier on those emotions.
  2. Use the new space as a guide. Get the measurements of the rooms and storage areas. My 9-foot Christmas tree had nowhere to live in my new space unless I wanted to keep it up year-round.
  3. Banish the maybe pile. Keep, donate, toss.
  4. Pack representative bits of favorite items and not the whole collection. Consider digitizing pictures, and keep only those that would look good up on the wall or on tabletops. You can always print new ones to put into frames when you want a change.
  5. Get high-value items appraised before selling on ebay or Craigslist. Don’t give out your address or phone number until you are sure they’re a strong buyer. If someone needs to come to your home to purchase an item, have someone else there with you. Cash only.
  6. Give the things you promised to someone else to that person now. What a wonderful time to honor your legacy, while you’re still here with us.
  7. Don’t think you have to haul it all away yourself. Services like 1-800-Got-Junk and your local Salvation Army and Goodwill have pick-up services for a fee.
  8. Shred, shred, shred. Invest in your own shredder or watch the newspapers for shredding events. Never throw away anything with personal information on it. This includes shredding the hard drives of old computers.
  9. Now is the time for your grown children to take home their own things. Your home is no longer a museum for their old high school yearbooks, prom dresses, and baseball trophies.
  10. Take breaks! A glass of wine or a cup of coffee will re-energize you or help you relax, depending on what you need at the moment.

Lora Felger is a community and broker liaison at Health Alliance. She is the mother of 2 terrific boys, a world traveler, and a major Iowa State Cyclones fan.

Reliving Summers Past

Long View: Summer Memories

It’s been quite a summer hasn’t it? We’ve faced state budget issues, unreliable weather, and rising prices every time we turn around. By the way, when will we be done with the ragweed pollen? There seems to be a never-ending parade of things to worry about, and I’m worn out.

This summer does not fit with my memories of my favorite season. My main worries used to be how to get the frisbee off the roof and finding the next bag of Fritos. It seems I didn’t have much to worry about. But wait a minute, I was a kid, so it was my parents’ job to worry.

My mom and dad would leave my younger brother and me at my grandparents’ farm for a couple of weeks in the summer, and we had a great time. We were a little spoiled, to say the least, and at the time, I felt like we had no rules.

We could eat anything we wanted, as long as we cleaned up our plates at mealtime. We could stay up as late as we wanted, but we usually turned in early because we were exhausted from playing all day. We could go wherever we wanted on their property, as long as there was a grown-up or older cousin within shouting distance. Best of all, we could watch as much TV as we wanted, but there always seemed to be too many distractions on a working farm.

The day before my parents would come to pick us up, our grandfather would take us into town for haircuts at the same barbershop he had used since the Great Depression. The morning of my parent’s arrival, we were scrubbed and polished, from our fingernails and neck to our ears, and dressed in our traveling clothes. It was hard to leave, but I think we were ready to get back to our routines, our friends, and the start of the school year.

One of the nicest parts about talking to our Medicare members is hearing their memories. I think the stories and experiences they share enrich us and give us a better perspective on the present. Try asking an older family member or friend about their favorite summer. I bet you get a smile and hear a wonderful story from their past.

Looking back, maybe this wasn’t such a bad summer after all. There might even be kids today who will look back on the summer of 2016 as the best one they can remember.

Patrick Harness is a community liaison with a long history of experience in health insurance. If you ask him to pick a color, he always chooses orange, and he is known for his inability to parallel park.

Stop the Tossing and Turning

My Healthy Journey: Finding Time for Sleep

It’s been a busy year for my team at Health Alliance, so I hope you’ve been enjoying Nicole’s Chasing Health series while I’ve been too busy to post!

When life gets busy and stress takes over, the first thing that always goes for me is sleep. I’ve never been very good at getting a lot of it, even though it’s one of my favorite things in the world, especially when stress sets in.

Unfortunately, that’s not doing my health any favors:

The Dangers of Sleep Deprivation
Image via Mind Body Green

And since stress and being too busy already make some of these things worse, like my mood and healthy eating flying out the window, not getting enough sleep on top of all that is not good.

Not to mention that it’s definitely not helping my work:

What Happens When Your Brain Doesn't Sleep?
Image via Science.Mic

The moral is clearly that sometimes, you have to make taking care of yourself a priority, which is unfortunately easier said than done.

Rally, our online wellness tool, can help by offering missions that help you get 7 to 8 hours of sleep, stick to a bedtime, start a bedtime ritual, and sleep better.

As for me, what can I do to get better sleep?

I’m taking notes from this video and this handy list of 27 Easy Ways to Sleep Better Tonight from Greatist.

  • Start a bedtime routine. I used to have one, but that’s all but disappeared the last 6 months. I need to start again, and I’m going to try adding drinking something warm (and decaffeinated) to that schedule.
  • Listen to soothing music. Normally, I leave something playing on Netflix as I fall asleep, but soothing music or a sound machine, without the light, would be a much better idea. Maybe I can make use of Adele’s new album or apps like Rain, Rain, which makes thunderstorm noises.
  • Cut back on electronics. This and making my bed a work-free zone are nearly impossible for me, but I do need to work on cutting back. Setting a curfew when I set down my phone or laptop, like at least a half hour before bed, could really help.
  • Make your bed cozy. I mentioned this in my resolutions for this year, but I’ve just gotten around to digging out my cozy stuff for this winter.

A Cozy Bed

  • Make up for lost sleep. Adding an extra hour when I didn’t get enough sleep the night before could help me with my sleep debt.
  • Don’t toss and turn. I do this a lot, and if I can’t fall asleep for more than 20 minutes, I should try getting up and doing something relaxing (NOT work), like knitting or reading.

One thing I can tell you I won’t be trying off this list? Kicking my pet out of my bed.

While I know this must be a problem for some people, I don’t think it’s a problem for me. And I’m not alone. A new study finds that 41% of people think having their pet in the room helps them sleep better.

I know that I would worry about her if she wasn’t in my room. Plus, cuddling her is about the most relaxing activity in my life. In fact, that’s frequently how I fall asleep now. I mean, how can you resist that?

Sleepy Tootsie

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Me Time Crafting

My Healthy Journey: Me Time

I feel like I have spent the last month drastically overhauling my physical life. And I have. But now, I’m ready to focus on making me time and self-care.

While I’m giving you advice on how to succeed at Rally challenges, I’m kind of doing them all at the same time. For the first time since high school, I’m exercising every day. And for the first time ever, I have radically overhauled my diet. Like I’ve said the past few weeks, I’ve been cooking at home every day and am eating more whole grains, fruits, and veggies, and I’ve cut out caffeine, processed foods and sugars.

So although there are still plenty of food mission posts to come, so you can use my new experiences to help you succeed, in my head, these are a little bit like old news. Been there, conquered that.

But as you can probably guess, now that I’ve settled into a rhythm, this isn’t actually what I spend all day thinking about. As a matter of fact, not focusing on this stuff is exactly how I got so unhealthy.

Now that healthy eating is more of a habit for me, though, I’d like to talk about something that feels more like real life to me. You know, the stuff that occupies my mind all day.

If you’ve been following along with me (from my writing to going all out for Halloween), you probably know that I like being creative. This job definitely requires a degree of creativity. I spend most days writing, picking out photos, and cruising Pinterest, which means that when I go home and crash into bed to watch Netflix with my dog, I don’t really feel guilty.

But I have spent my life going through creative phases. I like to learn new things, and I like to make things, which has made my life a long line of creative experiments. Over the years, I’ve mastered soap making, candle making, jewelry making, origami, juggling, the yo-yo, theater makeup, knitting, and crocheting, to name a few. And not only do these random projects (sometimes) leave me with nice, new stuff, creativity has many benefits.

I find that creative activities relax me. They let me disengage from the stress of my work and social life and just do something I enjoy. They also make me feel accomplished. When you write a blog post, take a picture, even make a nice meal, you don’t always feel like you’ve actually added anything to the world. But even these simple creative activities can make you feel like you’ve achieved something. That plain piece of paper is a heck of a lot cooler as a swan.

And I’m not the only one. As this CNN article talks about, we stress creativity in our kids because it matters. Even as funding for the arts falls in high schools, most parents with preschoolers still know finger painting and coloring matter.

Creativity helps you believe in yourself, learn to deal with failure, continue to learn throughout your life, and even know yourself better. And the more you exercise that learning portion of your brain through fun stuff, the easier learning things for say, work, can get.

And that’s why Rally also has a mission to help you remember to do something creative. This is one of my favorite missions on Rally because that creative stuff can get really lost in the shuffle of daily life as you get older, but it really is important to make time for it once in a while.

So here are some of the projects I’ve done or am planning to do that feed my creative side. Maybe they will inspire your own creative juices.

1. Write something

As I’ve said before, you never really know what all you can get out of writing until you start. Maybe you won’t end up with a finished product you can use, but you can definitely get something creative and fulfilling out of talking to yourself through writing.

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2. Decorate something

I recently painted a shelf gold for my new(ish) apartment, which I will show you when I talk about organizing . But if you’re anything like me (or my HGTV-addicted mother), few things are as satisfying as making something beautiful or helpful that you use in your house every day. If you’re looking for some cool and affordable DIY projects (and tips) for your home, explore this list.

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3. Make some art

I have the advantage of knowing how to use some software that lets me create some pretty fun artwork for my walls, which is great because drawing isn’t always my strong point.

But you can always find a quote that you love, make it look pretty, and hang it. And sometimes, with a nice frame, your doodles can look amazing on your walls, too. Or just spend a day scrapbooking and reliving some good memories.

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4. Grow something

I’ve never really thought about myself as a plant person, but it turns out, I kind of am.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m obsessed with terrariums, and I own an orchid. I also recently bought a lavender topiary on a trip to Nashville. It smells amazing but requires regular trimming.

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But the biggest way I think I just have to expand my plant collection is by growing indoor herbs. There are loads of different kits online and plenty of advice. Fresh herbs are expensive, but they make every meal so much better! I end up throwing a lot of the ones I buy away because they go bad before I can use them all.

Home Herb Pots

Growing your own herbs means you can have a never-ending supply of the ones you use most, and they won’t go bad. I think I will go with mint, cilantro, basil, and rosemary, but you go with what you will use!

And of course, if you’re interested (and don’t live in a tiny apartment), growing a full garden can be amazing. It would be great exercise to work outdoors, and the fresh fruit, veggies, and flowers you get out of it can only add good things to your home.

5. Sew (or knit or crochet or …) something

There are tons of books out there to help you learn these sorts of things, and better yet, lots of free (or cheap) patterns all over the Internet. And nothing else I’ve ever made is as satisfying as the things I can wear. When people ask where they can buy something you made — there’s nothing better!

If you love fashion and want to learn to sew, I have the book for you: Famous Frocks by Sara Alm and Hannah McDevitt.

Famous Frocks Cover

My mom got this for me for Christmas one year, and it has patterns so you can make your own versions of some of the most famous dresses from this century. (They also have a Little Black Dress version!) It is a little pricey at about $20, but you get 20 dress patterns with it. That’s a whole new wardrobe!

Etsy is also the place to go to find cheap, wonderful patterns. For instance, I plan on making a  complete set of these cross-stitch cities from Satsuma Street for adorable nursery art the second my sister-in-law gets pregnant.

3 Pretty Little City Patterns

And there’s no place better for knitting patterns. If you like The Hunger Games movies, this pattern of Katniss’s amazing scarf from Catching Fire was just $5 and took me just 2 days to make:

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Creativity time is my me time. It’s when I get away from the hectic demands of my life and just make something. So the important thing is to take the time to try something new and make something you love!

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