Trapped #mermaidmonday

Mermaid Trap v.2 by bwaworga
How would you trap a mermaid?

Class is in Session: Kawaii Doodle Class

I got the chance to review a doodle book, I picked the Kawaii Doodle Class because well I and the kids are Kawaii. And I was right, Ariel keeps stealing it from me. Kawaii translates from Japanese to cute in English, and in Kawaii Doodle Class popular kawaii artist Zainab Khan will show you how to draw 75 super cute characters. 

I decided to try my luck by drawing a super kawaii coffee cup, because duh it's me. But artist Zainab Khan will draw tacos, sushi, smoothies, clouds, rainbows, and more and give you step by step instructions.

Kawaii Doodle Class features include: 

  • being the first how to kawaii drawing book 
  • search and finds at the beginners of each chapter 
  • kawaii is a mainstay, not a trend 

Zainab Khan's doodle journey began in 2013, on her YouTube channel where she demonstrated her love for drawing cute, random characters. Today Pic Candle has over 400,000 subscribers and more than 20 million views. In 2016 she quit her day job to become a full-time doodle artist.

by Zainab Khan
On sale now! $19.99 US / $25.99 CAN
ISBN: 9781631063756

Find the Perfect Family Halloween Costumes with Chasing Fireflies

This Halloween, show the neighborhood you’re the most festive family on the block. Whether you’re spooky or silly, Chasing Fireflies offers a wide selection of the best group costumes to celebrate Halloween.

Here are a few of our favorite picks.

Pirate Costumes

Set sail in pirate costumes for the whole family. With fun accessories like pirate hats, gold hoop earrings, and swords, your crew will hit the streets in style come Halloween.


Retro Baseball Costumes

America’s favorite pastime just became your family’s favorite Halloween theme. Personalize with names to hit these costumes out of the park and make it a winning night.


Medieval Lord Costumes

Step into the world of stone castles and nobility in these costumes. The whole family will rule the neighborhood in lavish capes and gowns.


Are you ready for a storm?

September is National Preparedness Month―Prepare Now for Emergency Weather Conditions With These Essential Tips from Excalibur and Nautilus.

Weston, FL; September 4, 2017―With the Atlantic hurricane season well underway and the winter storm season fast approaching, it’s time to prepare survival essentials should your area be affected. The Excalibur and Nautilus brands have teamed up for National Preparedness Month to offer the following tips on storm prep for food and drinking water:

Emergency Situation Essentials:
“It’s essential that during and after a storm you have the ability to maintain your strength by drinking enough clean water and eating nutrient-dense foods with vitamins and minerals" says Meagan Bradley, VP of Marketing for Nautilus and Excalibur (and a storm-weathering South Florida resident). "The 3 fundamental needs of all human beings are water, food and shelter.  If a hurricane, winter storm, earthquake or other natural disaster strikes, dirty water and food shortages may occur for days or even weeks.  By taking the time to prepare, you can provide for your entire family,” she adds.

Stock Up:
While unlikely that an emergency would cut off your food supply for weeks, FEMA and The Red Cross recommends maintaining a supply that will last at least two weeks, as in their Food and Water Emergency Brochure.

Never Limit Your Water Supply:
An ample supply of clean water is a top priority in an emergency.  A regularly active person needs to drink at least a half gallon of water each day. But, what if stores are out of bottled water?  What if you run out of clean water?  What if the rivers swell out drinking water supplies leaving only dirty water?  Boiling, chlorination and filtering do not remove all contaminants. You will need to turn dirty water into clean drinking water.
If you have a water distiller, you’re only a few hours out from turning dirty water into clean drinking water. Water distillation removes microorganisms, heavy metals, salts, and most other chemicals.  Countertop water distiller
units take up very little space; they are only about the size of 2 gallons of milk.  With Nautilus Water Distillers you can turn the dirty river water or any source of water into clean, pure, safe drinking water.  It involves a process that boils liquid and then collects the vapor to condense it back to water.  All that you need is a form of power.  You can run a distiller from a generator or even a car jack, if outfitted with the proper plug-in converter. Nautilus distillation Video.

Take Charge Of Your Food Supply:
In emergency situations, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends having a bag ready with a three day supply of basic food necessities consisting of non-perishable food that is canned or dehydrated. Says Bradley, “Canned food is heavier while dehydrated food is easy and light to transport.  There are options for expensive freeze dried meals but we recommend taking charge of your nutrition by making healthy, hearty meals at home before the storm hits.” She suggests foods that have a long storage life; require little or no cooking, water, or refrigeration, in case utilities are disrupted; and ones that meet the needs of all family members including pets. Choose foods that are not very salty or spicy, as these foods increase the need for drinking water, which may be in short supply.

A main component of an emergency meal plan should be protein.  With an Excalibur food dehydrator you can dry meat into beef jerky, store it, and eat for protein when needed.  Another main component is starches like potatoes, corn, and rice, all of which you can dehydrate now for later use.  With a food dehydrator you can dry any fruit and vegetable into a snacking chip; make healthful treats like granola and fruit roll-ups―and even make nutritious and tasty treats for your pet.  Virtually anything can be dried in an Excalibur dehydrator and stored for years to come.

When a storm, or weather disaster hits your area, be prepared, before it hits. For more tips, visit

For Discount on Nautilus or Excalibur products use code STORMREADY for a 20% discount at Nautilus and use code STORMREADY for a 20% discount at Excalibur

Part of Your World #mermaidmonday

Part of that World by JenovaxLilith
Rent or buy a tail from Najestic Entertainment for all your mermaid needs! And do not forget to keep our oceans clean so that all the mermaids and fish of the sea can flourish and survive

How to Make Me Happy

How to make an Iced Vanilla Latte at Home 

What you're going to need: 

  • a cup of ice
  • 4oz of espresso 
  • 3/4 cup of milk (I use soy milk because I'm allergic to milk)
  • and some vanilla syrup 

How to do it: 

  • Fill a glass with the ice
  • Add the espresso
  • Now I would normally add the syrup to the espresso and then milk and stir but... 
  • Starbucks recommends getting a mason jar and adding the syrup and then milk and shaking it till frothy and then pouring it into the glass 

There you go! How to make a Starbucks grade Iced Vanilla Latte at home.

What's your favorite coffee drink? 

Kiss the Girl #mermaidmonday

Ariel X by titania-cosplay

Gaiam Essentials for Yoga On-the-Go

Warm weather means enjoying all nature has to offer, including exercising outside. With these essentials from Gaiam, your yoga flow can happen on the beach, at the park, or just in your own backyard.

Premium Marrakesh Yoga Mat

You’ll love unrolling this supportive, colorful mat wherever you decide to practice. The 5mm thickness keeps you stable and your joints comfortable during intense postures and movements.

Stainless Steel Water Bottles

Keep your cool in the summer sun with this double walled, stainless steel water bottle. No matter how hot it gets, you can count on this water bottle to keep your water cool for up to 24 hours.


Yoga Hand Towel

Stay dry no matter the elements with this ultra plush yoga hand towel. The microfiber material means it dries rapidly, so it’s not just a one-and-done towel.


I Just Gotta Say ....

Happy First Day of School! 

Helping Kids Experience Awe

Buy it here

Helping Kids Experience Awe - With or Without Religion

By Maria Polonchek

One of my earliest childhood memories flashes to a brief but powerful scene at sunrise, on a quiet hilltop in southern Texas. The spring air was chilly, but I felt warm and safe, holding hands with people next to me as we formed a circle and sang hymns. I would have been six or seven, wearing an Easter dress that matched my little sister’s and a Sunday hat with pastel ribbons. That morning, my mother had woken us while it was still dark so we could join the church’s sunrise service. I can’t see the specific colors of the sky anymore in my mind’s eye--it blends in with the others that have followed--but I remember how it made me feel: small but important, part of something bigger than I realized was possible.

I didn’t know it at the time, but what I experienced during this moment was awe, an emotion that scientists and psychologists have only begun to research and understand in the last

two decades. A foundational leader in the study of awe, Dacher Keltner of UC Berkeley, explains that awe is “that sense of wonder we feel in the presence of something vast that transcends our understanding of the world.” I find this scientific definition helpful,, as it names both the cause and effect of experiencing awe. Like the sunrise service at Easter, most moments of awe from my childhood are intertwined with religion: the glow of candles in a darkened sanctuary, powerful music from the choir, stale cracker nibblies with shots of sweet grape juice forever on my tongue tasting one in the same.

Because I’d been taught that experiencing awe was only possible through God, one of my greatest concerns when I began to doubt my childhood religion was that I would be giving up an ability to experience something that has accompanied some of my favorite moments in life.

What I’ve learned since, as an atheist, is that religion doesn’t have a monopoly on awe. It’s a common misconception that’s easy to debunk once you understand how awe works. Not only is anyone, religious or not, capable of experiencing awe, but Keltner’s data suggests that human beings have an innate, fundamental need to experience awe. He describes it as an evolutionarily based emotion we’ve developed to ensure we cooperate within social collectives. Keltner’s studies, along with others published in peer-reviewed psychological journals, have found that experiencing awe encourages altruism and empathy, discourages entitlement and narcissism, and boosts creativity and academic performance.

I think most parents would like to encourage altruistic, empathetic behavior and enrich their kids’ lives, so as a parent, I naturally began to wonder how to build these connections for my children. Growing up in the church had shaped my awe-experiences throughout my childhood, so my own children, who are being raised outside of religion, will have some very different references.

When I asked Dr. Keltner what the number-one trigger of awe is, his answer surprised me. I’d guessed it would be nature: the sunrise, the mountains, the ocean. But instead?

“It’s other people,” he said. “Their magnanimity.”

Keltner bases this on data from twenty-five countries, cultures ranging from our own in the United States to the indigenous Himba in Namibia. The number-one trigger, he has found, is always the same: someone else’s profound generosity.

This is good news for families whose resources may limited one way or another, whether it’s time, finances, or the environment. Keltner points out examples of magnanimity in other people all around us: a drumming circle, a volunteer opportunity, a neighborhood mural, a pickup basketball game, a family gathering in the park. Simply tuning in to these everyday acts of sweetness in other people can be a source of revelatory awe.

Nature comes in second as another awe-trigger, but the scene doesn’t have to be as big or dramatic as we might think: simply looking up at the sky, being around water, trees, or animals, or studying insects or the stars can be awe-inspiring. An important point Keltner makes: because of our fundamental, innate need to experience awe, the triggers are as varied as human beings themselves. Art, music, and science can score big points as triggers of awe in different people. Let your child take the lead: turn up the volume to their favorite songs, encourage his passion for photography, or her interest in dinosaurs and space.

Our children will have their own specific version of awe -- Keltner says it’s their job to be different from their parents.

Our job as parents, I feel, is to make sure our children have opportunities to experience awe and to help them understand that there is value in the feeling itself. So it’s okay if our kids aren’t as impressed as we are by the Golden Gate Bridge and if we’re not as impressed as them by the taste of five different sodas mixed together from the fountain at the gas station. What’s important is that we encourage and respect that they find awe wherever and however they do and, if we’re lucky, learn a bit from their experience ourselves.

One key thing to remember about awe, and what makes it something you can never really arrange or plan, is that, because it’s about pushing the limits of understanding, it often touches on the boundaries of fear. People who are unwilling or unable to restructure their thinking in order to accommodate an awe-experience may find it terrifying. We can help children make the leap from fearing the mystery that comes along with awe to enjoying it by encouraging them to wonder, ask questions, and, most importantly, let them know they’re not alone in not seeking answers.

It can be hard for parents to admit we don’t always have an answer, but if we can embrace and admit to our children that we don’t know, exactly, how big the sky is, how the universe was formed, or what happens when we die, we let them know it’s okay to wonder, to explore, to ask questions, and keep searching for answers that may never be found.

This alone can be awe-inspiring.

About Maria Poloncheck

Maria Polonchek holds a BA in English and an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from the University of Kansas. Her parenting essays can be found in outlets such as Brain, Child, Have Milk, Will Travel, The Greater Good Science Center, The Friendly Atheist and Brian, Mother. A Kansas native, she lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and three children. In addition to thinking, reading and writing about parenting, she is passionate about wellness, mindfulness, the outdoors, music, art - and the way all of these things relate to social justice.

Of the Water #mermaidmonday

The lady of the water by mauriciozoch
From the water, we all grew
From the water, we all live
From the water is how we thrive

The water revives us
It gives us strength
It cools us and can warm us

Without water, we would die.

But sometimes there is just too much water, like right now in Houston. To do my part I made a design for my Mermaids Shirts and have it set to donate 75% of the proceeds to the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund, I wanted to do 95% but Teespring doesn't off that option. If I can make any sales I'm going to run a poll on Patreon to see where the other 20% of the proceeds should go.

Back to School Game Plans for Divorced Parents

Back-to-School Tips for Divorced Parents
It’s Not Too Soon to do Your Homework and Make a Game Plan

Transitions are always difficult for divorced families, as new schedules and obligations can disrupt mutually agreed-upon rules and practices. Just like summer break, the start of the school year can create issues and questions for parents who are separated or divorced. Below are some tips to help divorced parents minimize the stress and confusion that often accompany the start of the school year. Here are four to consider implementing right away.

Let the Teachers Know
In order to curtail any confusion and avoid misconceptions, separated or divorced parents should inform teachers (especially those of elementary and middle school-aged children) about their family situation. Ideally, this should be done via email or phone before the start of the school year so the teacher is told well in advance rather than on the first day of school. The discussion might involve explaining that your children live in two different households (which is why they sometimes need to bring extra clothes to school), as well as why different people are picking them up each day. You should also be sure to notify the teachers about any step-parents that are involved in the lives of the children. Letting the teachers know your situation ahead of time can also help them plan ahead for any school projects that might not work with a blended family, saving your child hurt feelings or embarrassment.

Split the Cost of Supplies
Unless you have an arrangement already worked out, it is best to split the cost of school supplies right down the middle. Though it may seem like a petty reason for separated or divorced parents to argue, the cost of school supplies can really add up, especially if you have multiple children. Not discussing this issue ahead of time could lead to problems and disagreements in the future. I suggest reviewing the school supply list in advance and determining who will be buying what. Some divorced parents have found a solution by having one parent purchase all of the school supplies, while the other parent purchases one or two back-to-school outfits. Talking this through and making a plan that works for both of you (in advance of the start of school), is the best way to avoid conflict, stress and aggravation.

Share School Responsibilities
Unless you have a very antagonistic relationship with your ex, you should try to attend important school events together. This includes things like dropping your kids off on the first day of school, attending band or orchestra concerts, cheering at sporting events, and visiting the teacher for parent-teacher conferences. It is important that you both feel like you are in the loop, and that your children feel you are both equally interested in their academic success and extracurricular activities. If you really can’t stand to be around each other, try to alternate attending events every-other time. But, for the sake of the children, I strongly suggest putting your feelings aside and doing what’s right for the kids. Having both parents in attendance for these important school milestones is what’s best for them.  

Keep Each Other Up-to-Date
Remember, your ex has just as much of a right as you do to know what is going on with your children at school. A good way to keep each other informed is to start a shared spread sheet specifically for school-related topics. If your children are old enough and have their own phone, you can create a group text message so all of you can communicate with each other. Or consider staring a group email. Not informing your ex of important school events will only cause greater problems for you and your children, so come up with a communication plan that works for all of you and avoid unnecessary conflict.
It is my hope that these suggestions will help make the back-to-school season as easy and stress-free as possible for you and your family.

Michael Ian Bender re-opened The Law Office of Michael Ian Bender in December of 2013 after retiring from his meaningful tenure as a Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois. Bender originally opened the Law Office in 1993, after serving as a Judicial Law Clerk in the First District Illinois Appellate Court for the Honorable Justice Alan Hartman from 1991 to 1993. In 1993, Bender opened The Law Office of Michael Ian Bender, where he concentrated in litigation offering a broad range of legal services including complex family law and civil rights litigation. Bender has also served as a prosecutor for the Village of Skokie as an Assistant Corporation Counsel. He additionally was elected as a Commissioner of the Skokie Park District. Bender served two terms as President of the Skokie Park Board of Commissioners, where he was instrumental in stabilizing the financial future of the Skokie Park District. Bender later joined the law firm of Nadler, Pritikin & Mirabelli, LLC., where he concentrated in family law and advocated for the rights of at-risk youths.