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By : Brendan Mitchell, 07-25-2017
Diet Tips for Moms from a Nutritionist (Who
Jamie Feit has been a professional nutritionist for over 20 years, and a mom nearly just as long. With so much on their plate already, we asked Jamie for some tips on how moms could improve their health by making changes to their diet and lifestyle.
Diet Tips for Moms from a Nutritionist (Who

It’s no surprise that starting a family has a significant impact on your diet, and it’s not usually for the better. With so many priorities, it’s very easy for parents to neglect their health, a fact reflected in a recent study that claims less than 3% of American adults live a healthy lifestyle.

With so much on their plate already (metaphorically speaking), we wanted to learn how moms could help improve their diet and health. We decided to consult a professional – Jamie Feit, of Jamie Feit Nutrition based in White Plains, New York. Jamie has been a professional nutritionist and dietitian for over 20 years, and currently lives in White Plains with her husband, their four daughters, and a 12-week old puppy. We asked Jamie what her top diet tips are for moms trying to improve their health.

Vegetables are Your Best Friend

“Vegetables are your best friend,” is Jamie’s first piece of advice for moms looking to improve their diet, which is hardly surprising. “You can never over-eat vegetables.”

Jamie points out that vegetables can be consumed in a variety of ways – raw, roasted, or tossed together in a salad – which makes it easier to incorporate them in to your diet. They’re also low in calories and contain many vitamins and antioxidants that are good for you. She recommends non-starchy vegetables (e.g. broccoli, beans, asparagus) over starchy vegetables (e.g. potato, pumpkin, peas) as they are typically more nutritious and have less calories.

Jamie Feit
Jamie Feit has been a nutritionist for over 20 years, and a mom almost as long. 

Don’t Clean up After Your Kids

No one likes seeing food go to waste, but Jamie says that finishing your kid’s meals and snacks will only result in it going to your waist, instead. While finishing the occasional snack or meal may not seem like much, the calories can add up over time. It’s a common pitfall for parents, but it’s also easily avoided once you’re aware of it.

Snacking without Packing

If you like to snack throughout the day, don’t assume you’re a lost cause. Jamie says snacking is “important for several reasons.”

“[Snacking] boosts energy, prevents overeating at meals, and helps to promote a healthy metabolism.”

Snacks also prevents drops in blood sugar which can make you feel hungry. Jamie recommends eating 3 meals and 2-3 snacks a day, but warns against unhealthy treats. Food and drinks with excess sugar or high fructose corn syrup should be avoided at all costs - high fructose corn syrup especially is extremely unhealthy and can be very addictive.

Three Meals a Day Keeps The Extra Pounds Away

Jamie says it’s important to have three meals every day, starting with the most important – breakfast.

“Breakfast is the most important meal of the days as it provides the energy you need to function, helps you focus at school or work, and jump-starts your metabolism to start burning calories.”

Jamie recommends starting your day with a nutrient dense meal, such as peanut butter on whole grain bread, Greek yoghurt with nuts and berries, or a vegetable omelet. She stresses that everyone in your family should be having a healthy breakfast, though – not just mom. This also applies to the other meals in the day.

“One meal made of several components should be made for the family [for dinner]; a protein, a starch, a vegetable or salad, and a fruit.” Jamie says. “My kids love vegetables from seeing them on the table from a young age. They never liked chicken nuggets because I never made them.”

Other meal tips Jamie offers include freezing healthier meals for later use to avoid being caught out when you’re short on time, and having a vegetarian meal at least once a week.

Non-Diet Tips

While Jamie’s expertise is focused on how to improve her client’s diets, she is the first to point out that you need more than a nutritious diet to stay fit and healthy. Regular exercise is just as important as eating well.  Even just walking 4 times a week for 30 minutes is enough to improve your health, Jamie says. She also advocates for napping to reboot your body when you’re under pressure – a much healthier alternative than caffeine.

If you’re interested in learning more about improving your diet and how a professional can help, visit jamiefeitnutrition.com or contact her directly on (914) 304-4008.

If you’re looking for a local gym, personal chef, or another service to help you improve your health, try using EZBZ – the free concierge service. Our concierge team can help you find and compare reputable providers in your area. Try it out today by downloading the EZBZ app or by calling us on 1855-461-8619 for a local recommendation.

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By : Brendan Mitchell, 06-16-2017
5 Tips for Planning a Father
Father's Day calls for a celebration of your dad, and the best way to do that is to host a meal in his honor. Invite relatives, stock up on wine and beer, and follow these five tips to make it a fantastic feast.
5 Tips for Planning a Father


This Sunday is Father’s Day, so it’s likely you already have tentative plans to have a meal with your dad. After all, it’s been widely accepted since the middle ages that the best way to celebrate someone is to hold a feast in their honor. If you’re a little behind in your planning, don’t worry; we’ve put together these useful tips for planning the perfect meal for your dad this Sunday. 

Go outdoors

Eating outside once a week is beneficial to your health.

In the US, Father’s Day falls on the 3rd Sunday of June, which is probably not an accident. The 3rd Sunday of June is square between Spring and Summer, which pretty much guarantees it’s going to have perfect weather. I wouldn’t be surprised if this date was selected for this very reason; after all, most dads appreciate the great outdoors, whether they’re the kind to get up early for a bike ride or prefer an afternoon nap in their outdoor hammock.

There’s also a scientific reason why many people enjoy being outdoors: it’s good for you. A recent study completed in Australia shows that spending more than 30 minutes outside a week can help you reduce your risk of high blood pressure and depression. That’s not to mention the benefits of getting an extra dose of vitamin D, which strengthens your bones.

Thus, this Father’s Day we recommend taking advantage of the highly probable beautiful weather, and hosting your celebrations outside.

Fire up the grill

Using your grill is a great option for Father's Day.

While it’s a stereotype that all men love eating meat, it is likely that your dad probably enjoys the occasional steak. And if you’re already spending the day outdoors, your Father’s Day feast is a terrific opportunity to fire up the grill. 

Don’t fret if meat isn’t an option because you, your dad, or another family member doesn’t eat it – eggplant and mushrooms make great substitutes, and there are dozens of great recipes online for vegetarian dishes you can make on a grill. Don’t be surprised if your dad still wants to cook though; it may be his day, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to contribute. Plus, cooking on a grill is half the fun.

Beer and wine will make it fine

A glass of beer or wine will relax your dad on his big day.

Whatever your dad’s beverage of choice, make sure you have plenty in supply. There is a reason alcohol is invited to almost every event for adults, but it’s not what you expect. In fact, British Anthropologist Kate Fox suggests that alcohol’s correlation with violence, promiscuity, and other anti-social behaviors has more to do with American cultural beliefs than its side effects.

The actual neurological effect of alcohol is simply a reduced ability to make associations in your mind. This may not sound great either, but it really just means that alcohol makes it easier for you to relax, because you’re less caught up in your own thoughts. So, this Sunday, be sure to pour your dad a drink, if only to help him put his mind at ease and enjoy the day.

Dealer’s Choice

Let Dad do what he likes on this special day.

You may wish to allot some time before or after you’ve eaten for an activity to do with your dad. If you’re not sure what he’d like to do, ask him in advance or let him choose on the day, but if you can plan the perfect activity without having to ask, it will show much you care.

It might be as simple as watching sports or playing a board game together, or giving him some time to himself to nap or read a book. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s stress-free or relaxing, and does not put pressure on your dad.

Dessert Him

Dessert was made for special occasions like Father's Day.

If you know your dad well, you probably know what his favorite dessert is. Dessert plays a key role on special occasions like this. It signifies the end of the feast, and an appropriate time to tell your dad how much you care about him and hand over your card and gift. If your dad doesn’t have a preferred dessert, check out the plethora of Father’s Day dessert recipes online, and you’ll be sure to find one that matches him perfectly.

Need something last minute for your Father’s Day feast?  Try using EZBZ – the free concierge service. Our team of local business experts can help find local products or services, whether you need a freshly made pie or party rental supplies. Call us on 1-855-461-8619 or post a request online or through the EZBZ app. It’s free, quick, and easy.

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By : Brendan Mitchell, 06-09-2017
The Creative Guide to Kids
Planning a birthday party and not sure where to start? We've put together this creative guide to the top 5 things you need to worry about when planning a kids birthday party. Click here to learn more.
The Creative Guide to Kids

While the exact origin of birthday celebrations is unclear, historians tell us that they have been celebrated as far back as Ancient Egypt. We know it was Ancient Greece that started the practice of putting candles in the cake, and it is thought that Ancient Rome was the first civilization to celebrate birthdays throughout all classes, not just for noble or religious figures.

But the most important thing to take from this history lesson is that birthday parties have been held for thousands of years. So, if you want your child’s party to stand out, you’re going to have to get creative.

We’ve broken down the modern birthday party in to five key subjects: The food & drink, the entertainment, the venue, the guest list, and the cake. Our research indicates that the most important decisions you will make when planning a kids’ birthday party are related to these topics. If you’re going to get creative, they are the best place to start.
 
1. Victuals are a Blank Canvas

The food and drink you serve is very important.
The food and drink you serve is very important.
Food and drink are an important aspect of every event, but especially so at a kids’ birthday party, as the guests are far less subtle about anything that disappoints them. The good news is, the nutritional value of the food and drink is unlikely to be scrutinized too deeply, which can be liberating when trying to decide what to serve.

There are hundreds of great recipes for kid’s party food online, but don’t be afraid to get creative. What you serve (and how you serve it) is a fantastic opportunity to evoke the theme of your party. While costumes and decorations are great for establishing the mood, food and drink can bring your theme to life. Kids have vivid imaginations, which means when you go the extra step to give your party some thematic depth, they will respond with enthusiasm.

Even hot dogs can be decorated to be more fun.
Even hot dogs can be decorated to be more fun. 
Of course, don’t forget that your guests are also likely to be picky eaters. Try assembling familiar foods in a creative way, rather than introducing a new cuisine to their palate. Finger food is also recommended – a birthday party is not the time to teach kids how to hold cutlery –  and be sure to check with your guests’ parents if they have any allergies ahead of time, and accommodate accordingly. A child going in to anaphylactic shock is likely to bring down the mood. 

You could also hire a professional caterer to help – there are even companies that specialize in creating and presenting food that is perfect for kids’ parties. For example, 5 Alarm Pizza Company in Westchester County, New York, serves woodfired pizza from the back of a real, decommissioned fire-truck.

Ultimately, kids always respond well to creativity, so anything you can do to make your food and drink more exciting will help make your party a hit.
 
Alternative Entertainment

Face painting is a popular form of entertainment at kids parties.
Face painting is a popular form of entertainment at kids parties.

Clowns and magicians have been staples of kid’s party entertainment for so long for a reason: (most) kids love them. But they are no longer the only options when it comes to birthday entertainment, and if you want your party to stand out, you may need to explore some alternative options.

Balloon artists and face painters have also been around for a while, but have seen a surge in popularity in recent years. A henna tattoo artist is also a popular choice, albeit a controversial one. But the entertainment doesn’t have to be a performer or artist. Kids also love bounce houses, and there are some unique and creative designs you can lease. However, they also present a greater risk of injury and require a large area to stand in. Conversely, a game truck provides a small, safe space for your guests to play video games together. 

Kids playing a game of Tug-of-War
Kids playing a game of Tug-of-War. 
If the party is small or you’re feeling confident, you could also organize the entertainment yourself. Treasure hunts, arts and crafts, decorating food, and other party games can be cost-effective and just as fun for your guests. Be careful not to overstretch your abilities, though. As the host, you’ll already have a million things to think about on the day of the party. Kids respond well to structure, so if you have a timed-out plan, the party will go much more smoothly.

How you entertain your guests will also have a lot to do with the venue of your party, which leads us to…  
 
Location, Location, Location!

The inside of your home can be transformed in to a greaty party venue.
The inside of your home can be transformed in to a greaty party venue.
Where are you planning on having the party? So many aspects of the celebration will hinge on where you decide to hold the event, that it is probably the first decision you should make.

Your home or yard may seem like the cost-effective choice, but don’t forget to consider how much time you will have to clean before and after, or additional costs it may incur such as renting extra furniture. Professional kids party venues (e.g. sports centers, bowling alleys, laser tag etc.) can be expensive, but they usually include everything from the food to the entertainment, which will make the event a lot more stress-free for you. Of course, using a professional venue also means there’s not much room for customization; it’s hard to host a memorable celebration if it’s a carbon copy of the last party your guests attended.

If you don’t want to host the party at home or pay for a professional venue, don’t fret; there are plenty of other options. A public park, beach, campground, or even a church hall can also provide a great setting for your party.
 
The Guest List

A group of kids playing together outside
A group of kids playing together outside 
The guest list may seem less vital in comparison to the above three subjects, but it should not be underestimated. Knowing your guests is important if you are planning on hosting a memorable event.

Determining the guest list to a children’s party is also a delicate responsibility, and can often be a source of angst for both the kids and the parents. Some schools in the UK (and reportedly in the US as well) have even introduced policies that require students to invite everyone in their class to their birthday celebration to curb feelings of exclusion.

Even if your school does not have such a policy, you may consider this the easiest option. However, if you weren’t planning on hosting a party for 20+ children, tread carefully when distributing invitations. And it’s not just the small guests you have to worry about - family members can be just as easily offended by the lack of an invitation.

One solution is to hold two, separate events; one for family, and one for your child and their friends. Celebrating with family could be as simple as a small get together or dinner, which will make it easier to focus on the kids for the kid’s party.

Whichever way you choose to handle it, remember that your child will be watching. In fact, planning a party and the guest list provides an opportunity for you to teach them some valuable lessons about inclusion and being considerate of others. If you make it clear that your number one priority is avoiding hurt feelings, it’s hard to go wrong.   
 
Having Your Cake and Eating it Too

The birthday cake can be easily customized to fit your theme.
The birthday cake can be easily customized to fit your theme.
While technically the cake is part of the food and drink you will be serving, it really deserves its own section. It’s very important. When you think of a birthday party, the cake is the first thing that pops in to your head.

Just like the other food and drink you serve, the cake can be customized to embody your theme. Don’t worry if you don’t have a theme; customize the cake to the interests of the birthday boy or girl. This is their party, after all, and the cake is terrific way to remind everyone why you’re celebrating.

If you’re not confident in your baking skills, ask a friend or family member who is to help you out. Almost everyone knows someone who loves baking. You could also hire a professional; it may be expensive, but it’s also likely to be visually impressive and delicious.

If none of your guests have a dairy allergy, an ice cream cake can be more exciting than a traditional flour cake, although it requires freezer space and is harder to modify. Another alternative is cupcakes, which make it easier to offer a variety of flavors and ensure you have enough for everyone.

However you decide to handle the big five above, your biggest asset when planning a birthday party for kids is your imagination.  When in doubt, choose the most creative option and hope for the best. 

Not sure where to start planning your party? Try using EZBZ - the free concierge service. Our team of local business experts make party planning a piece of cake. We will help you find and compare reputable party vendors in your area.  Just call us on 1-855-461-8619, or post a request for what you need through the EZBZ app, and we’ll help you find what you need! It’s free, quick, and easy.

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By : Brendan Mitchell, 05-16-2017
The 10 Best Indoor Plants for Your Home
House plants make your home look pretty, they clean the air of nasty toxins, and they're recommended by NASA. But with hundreds to choose from, what are the best and worst indoor plants? We did the research for you.
The 10 Best Indoor Plants for Your Home


House plants are awesome. They make your home look pretty, they can clean the air of nasty toxins, and even NASA recommends having them. However, there are hundreds of options, and picking hastily could be costly; there are many popular indoor plants that are dangerous to keep in a house with children or pets, not to mention the plants that require lots of care.

To save you some time, we did the research ourselves and put together this list of the ten best indoor plants for your home, especially if you have kids. We used the ASPCA’s free database of pet-friendly plants to verify which of the following are toxic to pets.

1. PEACE LILY

Peace LilySpathiphyllum Cochlearispatum; toxic to cats & dogs

If you think the Peace Lily sounds like a calming and easy plant to care for, you’re right. Peace lilies prefer only partial sunlight and don’t need much water - just a little bit once a week. They’re also highly recommended by NASA due to their ability to control the levels of formaldehyde, benzene and carbon monoxide in the air.  Aesthetically, they’re graceful. They bloom in the early summer – a tall white flower that will droop to let you know when it’s thirsty.

2. CAST IRON PLANT

Cast Iron PlantAspidistra Elatior

The cast iron plant is perfect if you have almost no time to care for another living thing in your life. Unlike your kids, the cast iron plant is extremely resilient and tolerant of neglect. It can survive under conditions that would make most plants wither and die, which makes it an ideal choice for anyone short on time. Keep it out of direct sunlight in a pot with good drainage.

 3. ALOE PLANT

Aloe PlantAloe Vera; toxic to cats & dogs.

Anyone who’s spent too long in the sun already knows the benefits of having easy access to aloe vera extract. It’s a common ingredient in consumer products, often marketed as a natural remedy for minor burns and sunburn. The aloe plant is also a popular indoor plant, and for good reason. It requires little maintenance when potted inside – ironically, it burns if exposed to too much sun – and too much water will cause the plant to shrivel.  The aloe plant is also a natural air purifier, helping to clear the air inside your home of certain pollutants.  Watch out for brown spots on the leaves that indicate there are too many pollutants in the air for the plant to handle.

Click here to learn how to extract your own aloe vera gel.

4. SNAKE PLANT

Snake Plant Sansaveria Trifasciata; toxic to cats & dogs

The snake plant has also been called the “mother-in-law’s tongue” plant, but don’t let that stop you from keeping this plant in your home.  The snake plant has stiff, sword-shaped leaves that grow up to 3 or 4 feet long, and is extremely easy to care for. They require very little water and sunlight, and while most plants convert carbon dioxide into oxygen during the day, the snake plant does so at night, so it’s an excellent choice for the bedroom.

5. CHRISTMAS CACTUS

Christmas CactusSchlumbergera Bridgesii

Even before you know its name, you can tell this plant exudes positive energy. The Christmas cactus has bright green hanging branches (that can grow over 30 inches long), and pink petaled flowers. The cactus blooms around Christmas every year, hence its name. Aside from its visual appeal, the Christmas cactus is also relatively easy to care for; partial sunlight and weekly watering will do the trick. For optimum care, follow these instructions.

6. AFRICAN VIOLET

African VioletSaintpaulia spp. 

African Violets are another stunning houseplant; however, they require a little more care than some of the other plants on this list. For optimum blooms, they should be kept in partial sunlight for only 10 to 14 hours each day. The best way to achieve this without moving your plant every day is to keep it in a south or west-facing window during winter, and a north or east-facing window during summer. The pot soil should be consistently moist (but be careful not to over-water), and like a picky restaurant customer, they prefer room-temperature water. It’s also recommended to re-pot them every year. While it takes extra care, once you have a blooming pot of African violets in your window sill, you’ll know it was worth it.

7. JADE PLANT

Jade PlantCrassula Ovata; toxic to cats & dogs. 

The jade plant is another plant perfect for your windowsill, and while it’s easier to care for than an African violet, it’s not quite as nice to look at. The jade plant loves sunlight, doesn’t need much water, and can live for over 100 years. They are also considered to be a symbol of good luck.

8. ZEBRA PLANT

Zebra PlantAphelanda Squarrosa

The Zebra plant is a striking choice for your home due to its prominent white veins and brightly colored flowers.  It requires similar care to the African violet – lukewarm water, moist soil and bright but indirect light for most of the day – and just like the violet, the beauty of this plant is worth the work.

9. RUBBER TREE PLANT

Rubber Tree PlantFicus Elastica

Outside, the rubber tree has been known to grow over 50 feet tall with a trunk up to 2 meters wide. Don’t worry, though, you don’t need to worry about it overtaking your living room if you choose to install this plant in your home.  The rubber tree plant does grow easily though, which means it’s a popular choice for homeowners who don’t have much time to devote to their plants. Bright, yet indirect light is best, so keeping this plant near a window or glass door with a transparent curtain is best, while watering once a week will keep it alive. This plant also helps keep the air inside your home clean.

The baby rubber plant, Peperomia obtusifolia, also makes a great houseplant, but belongs to a different plant family with small, blunt leaves.

10. SPIDER PLANT

Spider PlantChlorophytum Comosum

The spider plant is another great air purifier, and its green foliage and small white flowers make it an aesthetically pleasing choice. It’s also hard to let this plant die, as they only require indirect sunlight and the occasional watering. Plus, if you like this plant so much that you want another one, all you have to do is cut off a “spider” frond and plant it in its own pot. Before long, you’ll have two pretty little spider plants that you keep forgetting to water.

Looking for a local nursery or store where you can get an indoor plant? The EZBZ app can help. Just type in what you’re looking for and we’ll connect you with businesses in your area that can help, who will reply to you directly through the app. You can also call our concierge team toll-free on 1-855-461-8619 for a local recommendation.

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By : Brendan Mitchell, 05-11-2017
Planning the Perfect Mother
This Sunday is Mother’s Day – the one day of the year you are obligated to at least try and express your gratitude to all the moms you know. Luckily for you, we’ve spent hours researching and compiling this detailed guide to planning the perfect Mother’s Day.
Planning the Perfect Mother


It is a universal truth that moms are underappreciated. Think about the financial, physical, and emotional impact every mother endures at a minimum.  If you’re like me, it very quickly becomes apparent that you will never be able to repay everything the moms in your life have given you.

This Sunday is Mother’s Day – the one day of the year you are obligated to at least try and express your gratitude to all the moms you know. Of course, this is easier said than done. Another universal truth about mothers is that they are incredibly selfless, which means it can be quite tricky to figure out what they want.  Luckily for you, we’ve spent hours researching and compiling this guide to planning the perfect Mother’s Day.

The Morning

Mother's Day Breakfast

Whether you’re planning a celebration of your mother, your grandmother, the mother of your children, or all of them together, be careful how you handle the morning, as it will set the tone for the rest of the day. An easy rule to keep in mind is, this is her day. Cater the day to her interests, and you’re more likely to make her smile.

It’s also important not to forget that moms wake up early – even on Sundays. Even on Mother’s Day. Make sure you’re awake before she is, so she knows you’re serious about spending time with her. If you can’t be there, be sure to at least leave a card so she knows you’re thinking about her.

The Food


Mother's Day Dinner

If the mom you’re celebrating decides to take the sleep-in they deserve on Mother’s Day, it could be a good opportunity for you to cook her breakfast. But as per the rule – this is her day –  make sure it’s something she would like to eat. You can find some great Mother’s Day recipes here.

If you know they aren’t into breakfast or mornings, make plans for later in the day instead.  It’s just as easy to take them out to lunch or dinner. Try not to ask, “what would you like to do?”, unless you really have no idea. If you’re intuitive about what the moms in your life would like to do, they’ll appreciate your efforts twice as much.

The Gift

Mother's Day Gift

Finding the perfect gift can be tough, and is always going to vary depending on the personal interests of the mom you’re buying for. Keep in mind that the secret to a good present is not the size, the wrapping paper, or even the budget – it’s how much the gift symbolizes the personal relationship the two of you share.

Handmade gifts are inherently personal, while also providing you with the chance to be creative about expressing your love and gratitude. If you know they have a sweet tooth, a box of chocolates is usually appreciated. However, the greatest gift you can give a mom on Mother’s Day is time – go for a walk together, share a meal, watch a movie… Whatever your mom loves to do, she will love it even more if you do it with her. Well, most of the time – if what she really wants is just some time to be alone, respect her wishes. This is her day.

Saying that, it’s still a good idea to get her a small gift as well. Don’t forget, this woman created life inside her body. This is no time to be cheap. You can find some great Mother’s Day gift ideas here.

The Most Important Thing
However you decide to spend Mother's Day this year, the most important thing to remember is, this is her day. If you try to be as selfless as a mom is every day, then you'll certainly be off to a good start. 

Need a caterer or cleaning service before the big day? Download the EZBZ app for free and we’ll connect you with reputable professionals in your area, who will chat with you directly through the app. You can also call our concierge team toll-free on 1-855-461-8619 for a local recommendation.

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By : Brendan Mitchell, 03-31-2017
Westchester
Joannas 'n Bananas are a musical duo popular at kids birthday parties in Westchester County, New York. One half of the duo, Joanna Levine, is a certified musical educator who also runs an early childhood foundational music program for babies and toddlers called Monkey Music’N Play. We spoke with her about how she got started playing guitar and singing songs for kids.
Westchester


Joannas-n-Bananas-logoWe spoke with Joanna Levine, one half of the kids entertaining musical duo, Joannas ‘n Bananas
, about how she got started teaching and entertaining kids with music.

After moving to New York City in 2006 to study and eventually work in fashion, Joanna Levine was struck by a sudden realization that she didn’t see a future for herself in the industry.

“I was just sort of like…who needs this cheap handbag that I’m designing?” Joanna says, looking back on her brief career. 

Joanna had always liked music. Growing up in Toronto, Canada, she spent most of her teenage years singing and playing guitar. It was only when she moved to New York, however, that she began to consider it could be more than just a hobby.

Jo + Child
Joanna playing guitar in a class for kids. 

“When I moved to New York, I realized there were a lot of people doing it that were not any better than me.”

This was something she needed to give herself permission to pursue a career in music, Joanna says.

So, after leaving her job in fashion, Joanna started working semi-regularly as a musician, taking on a string of additional part-time jobs to support herself, including working as a nanny.

“That seemed to agree with me, hanging out with kids,” Joanna says.

Not long after that, Joanna completed training at Music Together, a musical education program, and became a certified music teacher for young children. Joanna worked for Music Together for the next five years, a job that she could finally embrace with passion. 

“Young kids can be kind of magical,” Joanna says. “I get a total kick out of them.”

“There’s no filter, they do exactly what they’re feeling.”

Bananas
Joanna's husband Rob, AKA 'Bananas', of Joannas 'n Bananas

In 2015, Joanna and her husband, Rob, a fellow musician, moved to Eastchester, New York to help care for Rob’s grandmother.  After nearly ten years in the city, they were both ready for a change of pace albeit without losing proximity to their livelihood.

Moving to Westchester county also provided Joanna with an opportunity to exercise her “entrepreneurial spirit” and branch out on her own as a musical educator. And thus, Joannas ‘n Bananas was born.

Joannas ’n Bananas are Joanna and Rob’s musical alter-ego’s for when they are performing for kids at parties and events.  Joanna also runs an early childhood foundational music program for babies and toddlers called Monkey Music ’N Play, a series of classes she describes as “musical learning through osmosis.”

Every class of Music ‘N Play is caregiver inclusive, which means each child come with a parent, grandparent, or nanny who also participates in the class.

“The goal is to give the kids a good foundation in musical learning,” Joanna says. “We do that by surrounding them with a musically rich environment.”

Joanna-showing-kids-drum
Joanna showing some of her students how to play a drum. 

Joanna likes to focus on maximizing engagement so that every child benefits from and enjoys the program. Every class includes lots of musical props, a ‘Singing Storytime’ segment, a dance party, and free play.

The age of the kids in the class range from 6-months to four-years-old, and Joanna says some parents can be skeptical of what their child will get out of the class at such an early age. However, you only need to ask the parent of a child who’s completing their second Monkey Music ’N Play program to learn the profound impact that foundational music learning can have on them. 

“Just by being in the room, even if a child doesn’t have the motor skills or the ability to mirror the movements that we’re doing or sing back exactly what we’re singing yet, they’re still taking in a lot of information,” Joanna says. “Eventually they process it and output it in time.”

Joanna adds that the success of her class relies a lot upon the level of participation from the parents and caregivers in the class.

Monkey Music N Play Class
A Monkey Music 'N Play class. 

“[I lead] the adults and older kids in the room in a variety of songs and melodic and rhythmic activities. The younger kids will do what they can… they’re developing.”

“It’s a really beautiful bonding experience between the child and the caregiver.”

While some of what informs Joanna’s program comes from her experience at Music Together, she explains that her own education in foundational music teaching theory continues as she tries to constantly improve and enhance Monkey Music ‘N Play. However, Joanna is clear that she has no plans to expand her program into a franchise.

I’m a small operation,” Joanna says, explaining that this is part of the appeal to many of the families she works with.

“I am a fairly warm, laid back person, and I think that appeals to the families that have tried me and stuck with me.”

Looking forward, Joanna is excited to teach more and more, and to one day (soon!) record albums of songs for kids that will go along with her classes.

“I’m also really interested in creating and publishing a couple of song storybooks,” Joanna says. “I do a short little segment every class that we call ‘Singing Storytime’… it engages the kids like nothing else I have ever seen.”

The Monkey Music ‘N Play Spring program starts on April 18 2017 and runs for 11 weeks. You can register your child for the program by contacting Joanna at info@joannasnbananas.com or by calling her on 347-907-5865. Mention this article when registering to receive a 10% discount. For scheduling and registration, families can also visit joannasnbananas.com.

Looking for a kids class or entertainer in your area? Try asking on EZBZ, and we'll connect you with reputable local options. Download the app, post a request online, or simply call us for a local recommendation on 1-855-461-8619. 


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By : A.E. Hart, 01-11-2017
The Westchester Therapy Center Changing Lives

Sensory Stepping Stones, an occupational therapy center in Mount Kisco, New York, help individuals and families reach their full potential by offering a variety of traditional and innovative treatment programs. Click here to learn more. 

The Westchester Therapy Center Changing Lives

In a room at the Sensory Stepping Stones center in Mount Kisco, New York, a group of students are working together to train a therapy dog. Together, the students have to figure out how to teach the dog certain tasks and in doing so, they themselves have to figure out how to work as a group, communicate with one another, plan, and develop interpersonal relationships. This is one small program among many which help special needs students learn at the Sensory Stepping Stones center, where a holistic approach to treatment is the main focus instead of medication, and the environment avoids feeling or looking like a traditional school.

 School Teacher

The alternative programs offered by the Sensory Stepping Stones center help those with attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), autism spectrum disorders (ASD), nonverbal learning disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), brain injuries, developmental delays, executive functioning delays, learning disabilities, traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and many other similar disorders through a variety of programs specifically designed for a student’s maximum benefit.

Sensory Stepping Stones' programs are often used for children in grades preK through high school, but they can also be used with adults. According to Executive Director Melissa Bianchini, a former social worker who founded the business in 2011, the center has treated people from age three to ninety-three.

“At the end of the day, it’s about getting a person to a better place,” Bianchini says.

 Testimonials on the website from previous clients attest to this success.

The Sensory Learningsm Program has been informational. As a school psychologist by trade it has made me much more aware of the importance of the dominant ear & how important it is to know what ACTUAL information is sent to the brain. The first notable difference was my son’s ability to carry a tune. He has been much more aware of other’s feelings and spontaneously saying ‘sorry’ and ‘thank you’. These things did not come easy to him,” writes the parent of an eight-year-old with sensory processing issues.

 “After the Sensory Learningsm Program I have noticed that my daughter takes notice of more of her surroundings (larger field of vision). She is also much more inquisitive about people and places. She is using more sentence structure and engaging in more conversation. She is able to communicate her feelings more,” comments the parent of a six-year-old child with developmental delays.

 “The Sensory Learningsm Program has changed my life for the better. I’ve been given the opportunity to be a better person and follow through on the goals I’ve set. Before this program, every and any interruption prevented me from getting through daily tasks and clouded my better judgment. This would drain me mentally and physically. It is amazing having a second chance to a better life. Sensory Stepping Stones has allowed me to have this, drug-free. I am forever grateful!” adds a thirty-eight year old with ADHD and anxiety.

Stationery

Bianchini’s background in psychology, neuroscience, anatomy and physiology got her interested in  neurological processing and sensory integration, which in turn found her working as the Educational Director at a sensory integration clinic in Arizona, before moving to New York to open one of just thirty such centers in New England.

 “I wanted to be hands on,” she explains. Her strong background in brain processing lead her to starting post graduate work at Arizona State University in neuroscience, anatomy and physiology, but she found her calling working with people.

“The brain interested me, but helping people interested me even more,” she says. “If there’s a problem, there has to be more than one solution.”

With a staff of trained professionals including social work and occupational therapy (OT) services, graduate level assistants, and between four and five undergraduate and graduate students, the Sensory Stepping Stones center is able to address many issues traditional school programs can’t, and all of its programs are backed up with clinical studies showing their effectiveness.

 “We expect everyone to just ‘get it’ and it just doesn’t work that way,” Bianchini explains.

 By using a variety of components specifically aimed at a student’s needs, the student learns how to improve him or herself. There is no other program like it in the New England area. “When we work the program, we really try to push the neuroplasticity of the brain for noticeable changes,” Bianchini explains.

Those solutions can be found in the variety of holistic programs, which do not focus on medication, offered by the Sensory Stepping Stones center, including:

  • Sensory LearningSM, an intensive multi-modal intervention addressing auditory, visual, and movement issues in students with conditions including dysfunctional sensory integration, sensitivities to light, sound or motion, delays in motor skills, irregular sleep/activity patterns and sensory processing issues. The program does require some inpatient training and has different plans for adolescents and adults. 
  • Interactive Metronome, which uses game-like programs designed to use helps students with conditions such as ADHD, dyslexia, autism, auditory processing disorders, and reading disorders increase their ability to focus and control impulsivity and aggression. Participants learn to filter out visual and auditory distractions and increase body awareness and mental focus. 
  • Cognitive/Memory Training, used to improve skills including attention, reasoning, memory, self-esteem, listening skills, eye-hand coordination, impulse control, and quick processing speed. This type of training is aimed at students who have cognitive impairments including, but not limited to, ADHD/ADD, brain injuries, psychological disorders, learning delays, and schizophrenia. 
  • Neuro/Bio/Educational Feedback, used to improve focus, attention, academic performance, social interaction, and behaviors like hyperactivity and and ADHD with both peers and family. 
  • Reading Development utilizing both phonics and reading comprehension presented in a hierarchal structure that addresses different issues as the student gains mastery. 
  • Peak Performance Training, aimed at athletes. According to the website, “When participating in the Peak Performance Training program, the individual can receive a complete and specifically designed training program encompassing visual tracking, sport specific balance/coordination, sensorimotor integration, mental and muscular endurance and neuropsychological functioning.”

Child using tablet (Stock photo)

Additional therapies offered include: 

  • Clinical Canine Intervention, described above. When the therapy dog, provided and overseen by Heidi Bonorato, founder of Giving Retriever, LLC, is trained, the dog goes to a family whose members have impairments or physical disabilities. 
  • Speech, language and feeding/swallowing disorders treated by Speech and language therapist Laura R. Bacon, M.S., CCC-SLP. 
  • Social skills and processing groups using small groups of three to eight children at a time to target behaviors including taking turns, cooperation, communicating effectively, problem solving, awareness of personal space, active listening and conversational skills, understanding other’s emotions, understanding one’s own emotions, conflict resolution, anger management, and dealing with teasing and bullying. 
  • Parent support groups and programs give parents the support and information they need to understand their child and his or her issues. One support group includes a therapy dog. The Sensory Stepping Stones center also offers free monthly informational meetings for parents. These meetings are run by specialists or center staff. 
  • Timocco, “a cutting-edge virtual motion gaming system that accelerates the development of motor and cognitive skills including bi-lateral coordination, crossing the midline, hand-eye coordination, attention, posture, visual discrimination, early learning, communication, short-term memory and teamwork skills.” 
  • The Listening Program, an at-home program using sound stimulation auditory training to improve active listening and auditory perception for those with auditory processing issues. 

Smiling young girl

Diet is another important aspect of the programs at Sensory Stepping Stones center. Bianchini explains, “We work with nutritionists and other specialists. What we put in us affects our reactions.” She encourages parents to make healthier choices, and if they need additional help, directs them to additional resources.

The center’s Pinterest has boards for sensory room ideas, food, kid’s activities, parenting tips, books, and tools and toys for kids. Their Twitter feed provides encouraging messages and informational links.

In addition to Bianchini, Bonorato, and Bacon, the Sensory Stepping Stones staff includes Audrey Curley, a licensed and registered pediatric occupational therapist; and Irvine, a Golden Retriever therapeutic dog that knows over ninety different skills to help the disabled. Irvine had previously worked with the Wounded Warriors in the Service Dog Training Program at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

The most common question Bianchini gets from potential clients and parents is about the research behind the range of different programs used by Sensory Stepping Stones. When clients and parents meet with Bianchini, she provides them with packets documenting the research. “I want them to get comfortable with the research and the facility,” she explains. There are also links to the programs used on the website.

The most rewarding part of starting and running Sensory Stepping Stones is, “When a family member comes back and is now excelling in school and sports when they couldn’t before,” Bianchini says.

The center is a private, fee-for-service business, which means they are unable to work regularly with local schools. They depend on word of mouth to attract new clients, and sometimes a leap of faith from potential clients not familiar with the center’s holistic practices.

Tim Fitzgibbons, who has a son with sensory issues and step-son with special needs, said, “I would recommend it, depending on what (parents) have already tried and what they can afford and the other circumstances in their lives.”

He added, “There’s certainly many ways to reach kids who are in the areas they're interested in and (the center is) one of of them. I don’t know if that would work for everyone, but it might work for some people.”

If you’re interested in learning more about Sensory Stepping Stones, please contact them directly. You can reach them on (914)-244-4101 or by emailing info@sensorysteppingstones.com.  They pride themselves on getting back to you within twenty-four hours and will do a complete assessment to find out which programs will benefit you or your family member best.

Looking for another type of business? Try posting a free request on EZBZ for what you need and where you need it, and we'll get you quotes from providers in your area. Try it out today at myezbz.com.

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By : Kate Fatess, 03-11-2016
Budgeting Tips for Fall & Winter

It’s already October, and the hustle and bustle of the holidays are right around the corner. For homeowners with a family, this time of year can be very expensive. Click here for some tips on how you can save money over the holiday season:

Budgeting Tips for Fall & Winter


Every year October seems to arrive earlier than expected, and the hustle and bustle of the holidays are right around the corner. What can also happen fast is how quickly your budget for fall and winter disappears before you’ve even made it to December. Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas absorb enough money on their own, let alone the expenses that the harsh weather can incur during the colder seasons. For homeowners with a family, the most wonderful time of the year is also the most expensive.

Here are some tips on how you can save money over the holiday season:

Check Discount Sites & Apps

Couponing

These days there are countless websites and apps that exist purely to help you save money. There are the heavyweights like Groupon and Amazon, but don’t be afraid to dig a little deeper to find those less well-known services that could save you some real dough. For example, My City Mommy is a great coupon site for moms all over the country – they have a local coupon website for nearly 40 metro areas including Saint Louis and Dallas-Fort Worth. The EZBZ Store also often has great deals on products and services that are sometimes even cheaper than Amazon.

Don’t forget that most business owners know how expensive this time of year can be and are willing to offer some great discounts if it means you’ll choose them over a competitor. For example, some grocery stores will offer a free or discounted thanksgiving turkey if you purchase a certain amount of groceries from them. For families that already spend a lot on groceries, this is a perfect opportunity to capitalize. When visiting a local business, don’t be afraid to ask if they are offering any seasonal discounts or specials.

Create your own Decorations

Homemade Decorations

With websites like YouTube and Pinterest, it is easier than ever for parents and children to get hands-on with their holiday decorations. Many sites provide affordable ways to use dollar stores and thrift stores to find supplies so that you can create your own decorations for your home. Creating your own decorations is a great activity to do as a family, giving you a sense of accomplishment and making the holiday décor much more meaningful.

Get Ahead of Next Year

December 26

Planning ahead is the first step to saving money, and this is especially relevant during the holiday season. Halloween and Christmas decorations are almost always on sale on the days following the holiday, sometimes with up to 80% off. In fact, these sales aren’t just for decorations – you can buy all kinds of unopened and unwanted gifts from secondhand stores in the days following Christmas for a discounted price. Valentine’s Day cards can also be purchased for as little as thirty cents on Feburary 15, so why not buy them in advance for next year?

EZBZ It!

EZBZ

EZBZ's free concierge service allows you to request anything and receive quotes back from providers in your area. It’s a great comparison tool to ensure you’re getting the best deal for every purchase or hire you make. In the fall and winter, it’s a great way to get quotes from snow removal services, HVAC contractors, and other professional services that can vary from provider to provider. Businesses can also only reply to you via EZBZ – your contact information is not shared with anyone so you can remain anonymous while comparing your options.

The best part is, if you hire a business through EZBZ, you'll get $5 cash back. So, if you’re looking to hire a contractor or professional service anyway, submitting a free request could end up  saving you some time and money. 

With some careful planning and a little research, these tips are sure to provide you and your family with a joyful & affordable holiday season. Good luck and happy holidays!

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Waqqas Anwar
03-10-2017
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By : Brendan Mitchell, 03-03-2016
Things to Do This Pumpkin Season
From September through to after Thanksgiving, the nation is obsessed with pumpkin. We have compiled a list of some of the things you can do this season to celebrate the second most wonderful time of the year.
Things to Do This Pumpkin Season


As summer slowly comes to a halt in September, and the leaves of fall begin to...er, fall... an alternative season starts: Pumpkin season.

While you can purchase canned pumpkin throughout the year, the orange vegetable is a winter variety of the squash plant, which means the pumpkin harvest starts every September. Nothing beats the taste of fresh pumpkin, and combined with its strong ties to both Thanksgiving and Halloween, it’s easy to see why pumpkin fever hits the country now until after Thanksgiving.  

We have compiled a list of some of the things you can do this season to celebrate the second most wonderful time of the year:

Cooking

Pumpkin-Pie

Pumpkin is first and foremost a delicious vegetable, so cooking should be the top of your list. It’s one of the few foods that can be utilized across all the Thanksgiving courses – appetizer (pumpkin soup), dinner (roast pumpkin), and dessert (pumpkin pie)! Even the seeds can be harvested and used in a range of different ways.

Pumpkin can also be used to create some other, less well known dishes, that are just as delicious. Pumpkin goes great with risotto and pasta (it makes an excellent stuffing for gnocchi or shells), while pumpkin seed oil, which can be rare in the US, has an intense nutty flavor and plenty of “good” fats. It’s great for dipping fresh vegetables or salty cheese in to. The vegetable’s versatility makes it a great choice for vegetarians – it can be used to create veggie burgers, it’s a delicious (and filling) pizza topping, and it works well with plenty of Mexican dishes, including quesadillas. In fact, pumpkin has been a staple of the Mexican diet for thousands of years – pumpkin seeds have been found in ancient burial caves dating back to 7,000 B.C. With a history like that, it’s hard to doubt pumpkin’s ability to please any palate.

Carving

Pumpkin Carving

When thinking about Halloween, the first thing that comes to most people’s mind is the jack-o-lantern – a carved out pumpkin with a candle or light inside. While the typical jack-o-lantern has a scary face carved in to its side, there are plenty of other ways to carve a pumpkin. Every year, thousands of people compete in carving contests, trying to carve the vegetable in new and creative ways. It’s a great activity to do with kids, as it’s good for the development of their fine motor skills, and provides an opportunity to teach them about knife safety. That’s not to mention the benefits of any activity that makes a vegetable more appealing to kids.

Garden Décor

Pumpkin Bird Feeder

When it comes to carving pumpkins, the design doesn’t have to be related to Halloween or kids. The shell of a pumpkin can also be used practically. Check out this guide to making an awesome pumpkin bird-feeder that can hang off your porch or patio, or this guide to making an organic pot plant for your garden.

Visit a Pumpkin Patch

Pumpkin Patch

Capitalizing on the pumpkin fever, many farmers open up their pumpkin patches to the general public in September so they can offer their pumpkin straight from the source. Many pumpkin patches also provide hay rides, petting zoos, and plenty of other activities, making it a fun destination for families.  Buying your pumpkin straight from a nearby patch is a great way to support local farmers and ensure the produce is fresh.

Looking for a nearby pumpkin patch, cooking school, or farmer’s market? Submit a free request through myezbz.com and we’ll help you find what you’re looking for. It’s free, quick, and easy.
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By : Brendan Mitchell, 02-24-2016
Making Chores More Bearable for Kids
No one likes doing chores. Unfortunately, they are a reality for anyone who lives in a house. New studies suggest  if you're a parent, it's also important to make sure your kids help out as well, as chores are vital to helping children develop. Click here to learn more.
Making Chores More Bearable for Kids


Chores are an unfortunate reality for everyone – especially for those of us that live in a house with kids. If you’re a parent, it’s important to remember that cleaning and maintaining your home should not be your duty alone. In fact, studies show that teaching children the importance of chores is vital to their development.

Research from the University of Minnesota found that chores help children build a lasting sense of responsibility, mastery, and self-reliance. The study also found that adults who began chores at ages 3 or 4 were more likely to be self-sufficient, have strong relationships with friends and family, and achieve early academic or career success than those who didn’t start chores until their teenage years.

Of course, knowing that kids should do chores, and actually making them follow through, are quite different things. Children are notorious for very bluntly voicing their objection to anything and everything that they don’t feel like doing. It would almost be admirable if it weren’t for all the screaming and crying.

Here are some tips for making average household chores more bearable for kids:

Make it a Competition or Sport

Kids are naturally competitive, so if you have more than one child, adding an element of competition to a chore is a sure-fire way to get them excited about completing the task. This can sometimes be harder to pull off than just asking, “who can finish first?”, though.  The more enthusiasm you can contribute to the task, the more your kids will embrace it. Avoid rewards as well, at least in the form of money – some psychologists have suggested that money can minimize a child’s desire to pitch in, turning a good deed in to a transaction.

Watch Your Language

While you may think using slightly different words or phrasing couldn’t possibly have an impact, you may be surprised by the results. For example, studies have shown that thanking a child for being a “helper” rather than just “helping”, can significantly increase their motivation. Referring to the chores as “ours” rather than “yours” also reiterates that doing chores is a way of helping one another, rather than a mandatory duty.

Incorporate Imagination

We all know how powerful the imagination of a child is, so it’s no surprise that you can use it to your advantage when trying to complete some jobs around the house. Providing a story or make-believe scenario as the context for completing a job is a great way to engage younger children. Instead of washing up dishes, maybe you are the captain of a sinking ship, cleaning and offloading heavy cargo; or instead of cleaning a cluttered bedroom, you are removing land mines from a dangerous battlefield. Cater to the interests of your child/children, and it’s hard to go wrong.

Behavioral Control Not Emotional Control

Regardless of how fun you can make your household chores, you’re still going to hear some complaints. But that’s okay – kids are entitled to complain. Trying to coerce your child in to enjoying a chore, using guilt, or any other emotional tactic can have an extremely detrimental impact on their mental health.

Instead, as a parent it’s your job to calmly explain that if they’re living in a house, they have to contribute to the everyday maintenance requirements. This parental advice will help them for many years to come, in particular when they move out and have their own home to look after.

While a recent study showed that over 80% of adults participated in regular chores as a child, only 28% of them reported asking their own children to complete chores. This is one of the few generational differences in parenting that is predicted to have a negative impact on the development of children in the modern era.

By requiring your kids to help around the house, you can have a very positive impact on their future development. By making chores bearable, you make life easier for everyone now. 

Have a household job that requires help from a professional or contractor? Try using EZBZ to find and compare pros in your area. It’s free, quick and easy.
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By : Brendan Mitchell, 02-16-2016
I Know What We
Clear blue skies. Soaring temperatures. Patrolling ice cream trucks. Summer is upon us, and with it a plethora of new activities for your family to do together. Click here to learn more.
I Know What We

While summer is well and truly upon us, many families are yet to come up with activities that will keep everyone entertained. As anyone who is a parent knows, this can be harder than it sounds. There are always lots of summer events and activities available for young children, but what about parents, or families with teenagers? They should be able to enjoy the summer too without having to ship the younger ones off to summer camp. We’ve compiled a list of summer activities that will keep the whole family happy:

Camping

The great thing about camping is that it usually provides a plethora of different activities to keep every member of the family entertained. If you’re camping near a body of water, swimming should appeal to kids of all ages. For parents and older kids, why not hire a boat or some kayaks? Kayaking can be incredibly fun, not to mention great exercise. However, make sure when camping that you invest in a tent big enough for your whole family. You’re inevitably going to be in close quarters by sharing a tent, but anything too small will quickly feel stifling in the summer heat. Other necessities include insect repellant, sunblock and plenty of food and water.

Go to the Beach

The beach is the classic summer destination for almost everyone during summer, and it’s not hard to see why – as we mentioned, all kids love swimming, not to mention playing in the sand. Teenagers and adults can find also find some additional thrill in the ocean that they won’t find in a lake or pool. You can also just lie down on the soft sand with a good book, and soak up the sun’s rays.  Of course, there are some potential downsides to a day at the beach as well: sun poisoning, sand everywhere, stings or insect bites… But it’s also entirely possible to avoid these with the proper precautions.

Bike Riding

They say the best time to learn how to ride a bike is when you’re a child. A family bike ride is a great way to exercise together, and for younger kids, it is an introduction to a skill they will retain for the rest of their life. Showing children at a young age how fun and beneficial exercise can be is a great way to teach them how important it is to prioritize your health and wellbeing. If you have an emotional teenager or two, aeorobic exercise like bike riding can be a great way to blow off some steam, and because exercise releases endorphins in the brain, it’s also a great way to fight stress or negative thoughts.

Hiking

If your kids love nature or adventures, going for a hike should be in your summer fun program. Hiking combines adventure, exercise and relaxation as it allows you trek through the forest until you find a nice picnic spot or lookout.  Arm yourself with nice hiking boots, proper clothing, and of course the "spirit of adventure". Also, don’t forget some sandwiches and water as you will need them after trekking for a few hours.

These are just some of the outdoor activities your family can do this summer to have some fun and spend some quality time together. If you’re looking for something in particular, for example local boat or kayak hire, or open camping grounds, consider submitting a free request through EZBZ. We will connect you with local businesses and service providers that can make your summer truly memorable.

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By : Brendan Mitchell, 01-04-2016
Yoga For the Whole Family
There is a common misconception that yoga is only for women in their mid-late twenties. This is just as false as the stereotype of the typical yoga-lover – a hyper-spiritual hipster obsessed with coconut water. Click here to find out more about the yoga options for your entire family.
Yoga For the Whole Family

There is a common misconception that yoga is only for women in their mid-late twenties. This is just as false as the stereotype of the typical yoga-lover – a hyper-spiritual hipster obsessed with coconut water.

For the majority of people that do yoga – made up of men, women, and children -  it really is just exercise; a fun, calming, and effective way to keep your body fit and healthy. It can also have positive effects for your mental health – just like any exercise, yoga triggers a release of endorphins inside the brain.

Unfortunately, it’s easy to be put off by the culture commonly associated with yoga, and many don’t realize that there are classes catered specifically to them. I’ve detailed below some of the yoga options for everyone in your family.

Yoga for Kids

The benefits of yoga to children are so numerous that many schools now offer it as a form of physical education. It’s easy to see why – unlike other forms of exercise you may find in the school yard, it is non-contact, non-competitive, and a great way to relieve stress. Children often suffer from anxiety and stress at school, and this could be exacerbated by sports that are competitive or physical in nature. Yoga’s calming, meditative qualities means it can help kids relax and stay healthy, which isn’t exactly a perk you get from football.

Yoga for Men

Yoga has a long and rich history, although only recently has it been primarily associated with women. In fact, it’s more common for men to practice yoga in India, where it originated. Convincing a modern man to take up yoga really shouldn’t be that difficult; it has proven to be effective at keeping you fit, improving your sex life, and relieving stress.  If there’s any man in your life not sold by those points, send him this article from Men’s Fitness that details 9 reasons why he should reconsider yoga.  

Yoga for Seniors

For many people over sixty, sports and exercise become nothing more than a memory. With an increased risk of falling over and injuring themselves, seniors can be hesitant to try anything other than walking to get exercise. Yoga is a great alternative for seniors who would like to keep their bodies fit without putting themselves at too much risk. You don’t need to be able to twist yourself like a piece of rubber to do yoga, although it will improve your flexibility. By keeping fit as you age, you give your body a fighting chance at staying healthy.

There are also plenty of yoga options for women, particularly mothers, in any stage of life, such as prenatal yoga, postnatal yoga, mommy and me yoga… The list goes on! Check out www.myezbz.com/category/yoga-classes to find out about the local options for you, and your family.

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By : Brendan Mitchell, 12-11-2015
Dealing With a Gluten Intolerance
Gluten sensitivity is a condition with similar symptoms to celiac disease – including abdominal pain, bloating, and diarrhea – when sufferers have gluten in their diet. Unlike celiacs, however, sufferers of gluten sensitivity do not experience the small intestine damage that celiacs face.  Gluten sensitivity is a topic of controversy amongst medical professionals, with many arguing that the condition is, in fact, not real. Of course, the legitimacy of gluten sensitivity is just one symptom of the curious case of gluten disorders in the United States.
Dealing With a Gluten Intolerance

Celiac disease is a serious medical condition that can have long-term medical complications if sufferers do not maintain a strict, gluten free diet.  While it is often referred to as a gluten allergy or intolerance, it is actually an autoimmune disorder that affects the small intestine. It is reported that 1 in 100 people suffer from the disease worldwide.

Gluten sensitivity is a condition with similar symptoms to celiac disease – including abdominal pain, bloating, and diarrhea – when sufferers have gluten in their diet. Unlike celiacs, however, sufferers of gluten sensitivity do not experience the small intestine damage that celiacs face.  Gluten sensitivity is a topic of controversy amongst medical professionals, with many arguing that the condition is, in fact, not real. Of course, the legitimacy of gluten sensitivity is just one symptom of the curious case of gluten disorders in the United States.

Gluten is a protein found in grains such as wheat, barley and rye, and as a result, is prevalent in food and drink such as bread, beer, pasta, cereal, sauces, dressings and soup. For this reason, it is easy to see why it was quite difficult to maintain a strict, gluten free diet… Until recently.

Despite the fact that celiac disease only affects up to 1% of the population, it is now estimated that nearly 30% of the U.S. population actively try to avoid gluten. There are now successful, Michelin-star restaurants with entirely gluten free menus, and many products in the grocery store aisle proudly display a “gluten free” sticker. Tolerance of gluten intolerance has become the latest trend of the food industry, and has brought with it a multi-billion dollar market.

Gluten free has become synonymous with healthy and organic, and has helped inspire other non-grain diets, such as the paleo diet. The paleo diet is based on the presumed diet of early humans, including seafood, fruit and vegetables, and avoiding meat, grains and dairy. It has become very popular with naturalistic communities, and some swear by it as the healthiest diet they’ve ever had. Other, more legitimate healthcare professionals, are skeptical of such primal-eating trends.

Ultimately, though, it seems like a good thing that gluten free products are now more readily available, if only for the benefit of legitimate sufferers of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. There are plenty of medical conditions that could benefit from the same, widespread awareness. While some of the diets and trends associated with gluten disorders border on ridiculous, they do show that society is increasingly taking an interest in health and wellbeing, and that is positive sign.

If you’re trying to locate a source of gluten free produce, inquire with free, online concierge service EZBZ today, to see what gluten free options are available locally to you.

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By : Ashleigh Brown, 12-08-2015
Choosing the Best Childcare Option
Whether you're going back to work or taking a much needed night out, deciding what kind of care or who will care for your child is far from an easy decision.  With so many different child care options to choose from, the task can be over whelming for any parent. Likewise, children can also be overwhelmed by the experience of being dropped off or spending most of their day with someone other than a family member. Below I will provide a quick breakdown of childcare options available:
Choosing the Best Childcare Option
Whether you're going back to work or taking a much needed night out, deciding what kind of care or who will care for your child is far from an easy decision.  With so many different child care options to choose from, the task can be over whelming for any parent. Likewise, children can also be overwhelmed by the experience of being dropped off or spending most of their day with someone other than a family member. Below I will provide a quick breakdown of childcare options available:
 
Mother's helper
A mother's helper is a child care provider who helps watch and entertain a child during the day while a parent is still home. This enables the parent to concentrate on or have assistance with other tasks while still also being available for the needs of their child. The age of a mother's helper is usually younger than the average nanny. The typical mother's helper is in Jr. high or high school and will work after school, weekends, or on school breaks. Because of the lack of experience of watching a child on their own, rates can go from free (because the teen knows they need this experience) to just a few dollars an hour. Best bet in finding a mother's helper, is to ask trusted parents in your circle who have tweens or teens looking for experience. 
 
 
Day care centers 
A day care center provides child care in a non-residential drop off facility. Some day care centers allow short, hour-by-hour drop-in care, but most provide a full day of care that includes activities, naps, and possibly outings. There is also the option of a family day care, where care is provided in some one else's home. Family day cares can be more cost effective and are more than likely conveniently located in your neighborhood. They often have fewer children in their care, which can make children more comfortable because of the home setting. This will also help when you make the transition into a day care center. Family day cares often do not advertise much, you can find them by word of mouth or by submitting a free request to myezbz.com.
 
 
Babysitter
A babysitter is an individual you hire by the hour to care for your child, typically on less frequent occasions. A baby sitter may watch the child at your home or theirs. Baby sitting is often a side job for many sitters, as they often work at another job, go to school or have their own family they need to dedicate more of their attention to. A sitter's responsibilities often include preparing food, assisting kids in getting ready for bed, helping with homework, and providing transportation to or from school and activities. 
 
Nanny
A nanny is a more hands-on childcare provider, with an ongoing regular and more involved relationship with the family. Nannies not only have childcare experience, but many have degrees in child development or related fields, or are parents whose own children have left the nest. They will engage in developmental activities as well as cook and clean for the family. When it comes to rates, expect them to be higher than your typical baby sitter, averaging $10 to $25 an hour. If you want someone to take care of the background checks and reference checks, hiring a nanny agency will be a great option. You can find help with www.myezbz.com/moms.
 
Au Pair
An au pair is a person from a different country who provides live-in child care for a family. The au pair is often considered a member of the family and not just hired help. Au pair's duties are very similar to what a nanny would provide, do not usually include  house cleaning.  The family provides room and board as well as stipend, which is a form of salary. Stipend is often separated from wages, because it does not represent payment for work performed.  There are also agency fees, families must find au pairs through approved agencies that are regulated by the U.S. department of state.

There are still even more options for childcare to what I provided, including family support, before and after school programs provided by lcoal school districts, community clubs and groups, employer sponsored programs, etc. The important thing to consider is what amount of time and support you need and explore options from there. If you need any assistance you can always submit a free request to www.myezbz.com/moms
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By : Elizabeth Humbal, 11-16-2015
Childproofing Safety at Home
Babies are naturally curious and they grow fast in the first year. They learn the world around them through tasting, touching and feeling. On average, babies start crawling at 8 months, meaning that the baby can move from here to there in a blink of an eye. Keeping your baby from accidents is no easy task. Chances are that your baby will spend time wadding around your sitting room, nursery, kitchen, fireplace and other places that could pose a threat to your baby’s safety. Baby-proofing your home inside and out is one of the most significant steps towards keeping your baby safe.
Childproofing Safety at Home

Babies are naturally curious and they grow fast in the first year. They learn about the world around them through tasting, touching and feeling. On average, babies start crawling at 8 months, meaning that the baby can move from here to there in a blink of an eye. Keeping your baby from accidents is no easy task. Chances are your baby will spend time around your living room, nursery, kitchen and other places that could pose a threat to your child’s safety. Baby-proofing your home inside and out is one of the most significant steps towards keeping your baby safe. It gives you peace of mind that risks are minimal even when you leave the child with grandparents or babysitters who may not be fully up-to-date or familiar with safety risks. Within this article I’ll point out a number of things to keep in mind when baby proofing your home. 

The items you need to be conscious about are those that pose a potential risk to your baby. This list is long! It should include: sharp edged furniture; electrical outlets; cords; appliances; exercise equipment; doors, including locks and knobs; flat panel televisions; fireplaces, glass; baths; toilets; swimming pool; stairs; cabinets; closets; bookcases; medicine; toiletries; detergents; animals and rubbish bins among other items.

As a parent you may not be aware of all safety hazards. For this reason it is often beneficial to hire a professional to baby-proof your home. You may be shocked at how many things you didn’t think were potential threats to your child! Baby-proofing professionals are trained to spot dangers that don’t occur to most people. They also have access to safety equipment difficult to find locally in stores. Hiring a professional child proofer provides comfort and peace of mind. He/she will also offer you and your family educational safety tips. 

When hiring a child proofer, ensure that the company is experienced and reputable. Though price should not be the first consideration, ensure that company will do the job at a fair price. They should also present as highly aware of the latest safety hazards and the solutions. Once you hire a baby proofer, ensure that they properly inspect all areas of your home for potential hazards. Then with your approval, they will order and install the necessary safety supplies.

Some examples of the common safety measures they will implement will include:

  • Adding padding to sharp edges and corners of furniture and ledges
  • Installing safety gates at the bottom and top of staircases
  • Installing safety latches on cabinets, drawers, closets, and toilets.
  • Putting up additional fencing, including a swimming pool safety fence
  • Installing doorstops to protects a baby from getting caught
  • Mounting or securing flat panel televisions to prevent tipping.
  • Removing all accessible cords from the baby’s reach
  • Installing safety guards on windows
  • Installing carbon monoxide detectors
  • Adding bins with childproof lids for storage of potentially hazardous items
  • Putting covers over bath taps.

If you need help finding a childproofing specialist you can submit a request free request for assistance through EZBZ.

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By : Brendan Mitchell, 10-17-2015
Why Everyone Wants a Game Truck at their Event
By now most of us have heard of food trucks, but what about game trucks? Food trucks are often praised for their convenience, their affordability, and their quality. Game trucks are the latest trend to offer at least two of those traits.
Why Everyone Wants a Game Truck at their Event
By now most of us have heard of food trucks, but what about game trucks? Food trucks are often praised for their convenience, their affordability, and their quality. Game trucks are the latest trend to offer at least two of those traits.

A game truck – also known as a video game truck or party truck – has a very simple
concept. The truck comes to you, and provides a small space for a party to play video games. The trucks are typically air-conditioned, contain several flat screen TV’s, and a large array of video games to choose from.

GameTruck®, the primary franchise of party trucks in the U.S., also offer a laser tag truck. The laser tag truck provides equipment and instructors, although still requires the host to provide a large space. Game trucks are a little more convenient, as they provide a self-contained space…Something which translates for many parents as somewhere they don’t have to clean up.

Children, obviously, love the concept. Video games are a great stimulus for a child’s imagination, and are universally adored by most kids, however they also often attract criticism for their association with anti-social behavior and unhealthy addiction. A game truck combats this stigma, as it actually encourages socialization, and its presentation – a glamorous truck that’s only temporarily available – instills the belief that video games are a treat, rather than a habit.

Parents are embracing the trend too. Game trucks take away a lot of the responsibility of hosting a party – providing space, music and entertainment, and cleaning up afterwards – and are typically affordable: a two-hour game truck party is typically priced between $300-400. You can read one mom’s promising review of a game truck party here.

If you’re not a fan of video games, a game truck is probably not for you. Plus it is possible to host a small children’s party, and keep it below $300 – although that can take time, effort, and impressive budgeting skills.

While they are increasing in popularity, game trucks are still rare – even if you have heard of them, the assumption is that they are wildly expensive. Whether you’re a fan of video games, or still unsure, it is always nice to know what your options are.

If you decide you’d like to hire a game truck, submit a request to www.myezbz.com and we can help you find a local truck, today.
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By : Elizabeth Humbal, 10-12-2015
Hiring Children
Children events are usually fun affairs that require the presence of many activities of various kinds to keep the children entertained. Children's concentration spans are usually short and thus require a number of activities to keep them entertained and essentially occupied. The most successful events take this into account. Parents or the party hosts need not meet all these entertainment needs themselves, there are a diverse group of children entertainers who can be hired to entertain the children.
Hiring Children

Children events are usually fun affairs that require the presence of many activities of various kinds to keep the children entertained. Children's concentration spans are usually short and thus require a number of activities to keep them entertained and essentially occupied. The most successful events take this into account. Parents or the party hosts need not meet all these entertainment needs themselves, there are a diverse group of children entertainers who can be hired to entertain the children.

These entertainers are often easy and affordable to hire and make the event even more fun for the children. The hiring of entertainers has definitely saved many parents and party hosts the trouble of thinking of means and ways to keep the children entertained. There are a range of entertainers to choose from, such as themed performers and impersonators who come in costumes of the various princesses, heroes and favorite cartoon characters, puppeteers, singers, face painters, balloon animal creators, magicians, game coordinators and the list is endless. All these entertainers are at your service to make children happy.

Children's entertainesr specialize in how to making children's events lively and amazing. They have mastered the art of capturing the attention of children and ensuring that they are calm and having fun throughout the event. They also help in expounding children’s creativity. Take for instance puppeteers, they help children in their narration skills, face painters and animal balloon creators help in developing the artistic nature of children. Nonetheless, aside from being intellectually beneficial to children they most importantly ensure that the children have fun.

Hiring entertainers for children events also helps children to work on their social skills. The themed performers interact with the children at a personal level and assist in boosting their self esteem. These entertainers also add a personal touch to the events. This is in the sense that, children are able to partake in the activities with the entertainers. Children adore their favorite cartoon characters and super heroes. Hiring entertainers gives them a chance to meet with some of these heroes and characters through the entertainers who dress up in costumes of these characters. In some way this fulfills some of the children’s fantasies concerning meeting their favorite heroes just like meeting Santa Claus during Christmas.

If you need help finding a children's entertainer for your next event, you can always submit a free request to www.myezbz.com.

 

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By : Elizabeth Humbal, 09-23-2015
Benefits of a Private Coach to Sports Players
Employing the services of a private coach to give your competitive sports playing child private lessons can improve his or her skills to a significantly extent. A private coach has enormous experience in a specific sport and therefore the ability to identify and fix tiny errors that the player could be making. As much as your child’s existing team coach may have the same level of skill, his focus is on the overall team, with all team members sharing the coach’s attention. The time and focus the team coach has may not be sufficient to correct errors or refine skills of all players. One-on-one sessions with a private coach offers helps to quickly identify bad habits and reinforce proper techniques, so your child can achieve success.
Benefits of a Private Coach to Sports Players

Employing the services of a private coach to give your competitive sports playing child private lessons can improve his or her skills to a significantly extent. A private coach has enormous experience in a specific sport and therefore the ability to identify and fix tiny errors that the player could be making. As much as your child’s existing team coach may have the same level of skill, his focus is on the overall team, with all team members sharing the coach’s attention. The time and focus the team coach has may not be sufficient to correct errors or refine skills of all players. One-on-one sessions with a private coach offers helps to quickly identify bad habits and reinforce proper techniques, so your child can achieve success. Hiring a private coach could be one of the most rewarding gifts you can give your child. Here are some of the benefits of a private coach to sports players: 

Extra attention:

It may be a bit challenging for a team coach to give all the team members extra attention identify their weaknesses and advance their skills personally as compared to a private coach. A private coach becomes fully conversant with your kid’s skills and hence is better placed to critique and improve their skill at the kid’s pace. The child will get detailed instruction that is best suited for their particular skill without struggling to keep up with the teams pace.

Relationship:

In most experiences the coach or expert a child has a relationship with is the same one the child learns most from. The close relationship of a kid with an expert not only develops the kid’s skills but also his or her mental abilities. Athletes have been shown to respond better to coaches who care about them and can communicate with them.

Excellent practice:

You child may be trying to sharpen their skills in a team but using the wrong fundamentals without the team coach identifying the root problem. This may lead to wasted time and in some cases, reduced interest and commitment to their practice. An experienced private coach can instill correct basic fundamentals necessary for your kid to work from.

Optimized time:

While training as a team is important, a child can accomplish a lot and see greater results in a short period of time through private training.

Dedicate time:

A kid’s life usually involves multiple activities like family events and friends all of which may overshadow the child’s practice priority. Setting aside private practice time encourages the child’s commitment; with a third party is involved the child is less likely to lose focus on their sports practice. 

Less argument:

As kids grow older their enthusiasm for sports may vary as other things catch their attention, causing arguments with their parents, their teammates and other peers. Hiring a private coach may eliminate these arguments as children show respect and trust for an outside expert’s opinion.

A private coach is fully equipped with training tools that help your child develop fundamental skills and the right attitude to sports. Exposing the your child to positive mentors who teach the value of hard work will definitely shape their life forever. Make an informed decision to better your kid’s career by hiring a private coach. 

If interested in finding a private coach for your child, you can always submit a free request to www.myezbz.com.

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By : Karen Lasser, 08-10-2015
Benefits of Dog Obedience Training
A trained dog under your command is easy to handle. It becomes easy for you to manage the behavior and instincts of your dogs. Training your dogs helps you teach them basic manners. It helps you to control them and makes them obedient. By training your dogs you can prevent them from doing uncontrollable and misbehaving behavior. It makes simple thing like greeting your dog or taking them out for a stroll, very easy and enjoyable activities.
Benefits of Dog Obedience Training

Humans have kept the other animals as companions since a long time ago. Dogs are acknowledged as one of the most delightful and loyal pets, among others. They are different from people and have their own distinctive requirements and natural way of behaving. They have a different way of communicating and its important for pet owners to understand their dogs’ behavior and train them accordingly.

Dog owners should comprehend why it is essential to train your new pets and bring them under their command. There are several reasons to train your dogs to be a good companion for you and those around you. The benefits of training your dog are:

Strong bonding with your dogs
Dog training helps you create a strong bond with your dog. Having a well trained dog makes it easy for you to enjoy their company. It makes your dog cheerful, comfortable and positively receptive towards you. It will bring you closer to your pet, help you understand a dog’s behavior and make him a happy member of your family. It helps you in creating healthy human-animal relationship. 

Managing Becomes Easy
A trained dog under your command is easy to handle. It becomes easy for you to manage the behavior and instincts of your dogs. Training your dogs helps you teach them basic manners. It helps you to control them and makes them obedient. By training your dogs you can prevent them from doing uncontrollable and misbehaving behavior. It makes simple thing like greeting your dog or taking them out for a stroll, very easy and enjoyable activities. 

Welcoming Dogs
Mingling with others is a very important part of a dog’s life. It is very vital for the mental, emotional and physical health of dogs. It contributes significantly in the nurturing and upbringing of your dogs. They need to understand how to react and behave towards other dogs and pets. It will help them understand acceptable and unacceptable behavior towards other animals and people.

Training can be fun
Dog training can be a fun time for both you and your dogs. It can be a very entertaining practice time that can end with very pleasant results. You can learn new stuffs about your dogs and teach them some fun and stimulating things. It encourages you to enjoy the ownership and company of your dog.

Dog training can be done at home, but if you’re inexperienced in the matter, dog training and obedience schools are the perfect place for you and your dog. It provides an ideal chance for you and your dog to interact with other dogs and dog owners. 

The purpose of obedience training is to teach the dogs to be submissive and to do everything they are commanded to do. It offers an extensive range of tricks, exercises, skills and manners, a dog can acquire. It helps the dog owners to understand the normal dog behavior.

It is equally important to keep yourself updated about latest dog training methods and send your dogs to refresh their lessons. Obedience training school always introduces new things in their dog training course material. There are always new things for your dogs to learn and new things for you to understand about nature of your dogs.

If you're interested in finding a dog trainer, you can always submit a free search request to www.myezbz.com.

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By : Margaret Hansen, 08-06-2015
Helping Kids Transition Back to School without Stress
Back to school season is a time of mixed emotions for both parents and kids. Parents may look forward to more time to themselves, but that comes at the cost of the leisurely summer hours spent making memories with their kids. Kids may look forward to a new year and to seeing their friends again, but will also dread the loss of freedom that the school year brings. There are many things parents can do to make this time of year easier on their children, and consequently, less stressful for themselves. Parents can ease their kids back into school by planning ahead, and by managing their own stress and expectations.
Helping Kids Transition Back to School without Stress
Back to school season is a time of mixed emotions for both parents and kids. Parents may look forward to more time to themselves, but that comes at the cost of the leisurely summer hours spent making memories with their kids. Kids may look forward to a new year and to seeing their friends again, but will also dread the loss of freedom that the school year brings. There are many things parents can do to make this time of year easier on their children, and consequently, less stressful for themselves. Parents can ease their kids back into school by planning ahead, and by managing their own stress and expectations.

A change to routine can be anxiety inducing for kids. Parents can respond to this by understanding it will be stressful for their children and planning accordingly. There are many things that can be done prior to the school season starting to help gradually accustom your child to the idea of going back to school. Start by discussing the positive aspects of going back to school a few weeks before school begins. Remember the the good times from past school years can help frame school in a positive light for your child and can help them look forward to the experience instead of dreading it.

Parents can also helps their children prepare for school ahead of time by adjusting schedules prior to the beginning of the school year. Typically in summer, kids tend to wake up later in the day and go to bed later at night than is possible during the school year. 
Again, this should be started a few weeks before school resumes. Start sending your kids to bed a few minutes earlier, and waking them up earlier each day, until they are back on their school's schedule. By doing this gradually, the shift will be less of a shock to them when they go back to school.

For younger kids, it can also be helpful to visit the classroom before school starts. This can particularly ease the experience for kids who are just starting school and may not know what to expect, but is also helpful for kids who have moved recently, and are anxious about starting a new school. This will give your kids the opportunity to adjust to their new surrounding prior to the chaos of the first day of school. Contact your school ahead of time, so you can ensure your child's teacher will be there to introduce themselves.

Another way to help your kids adjust to going back to school is to be mindful of your own stress and expectations. Parents may feel stress related to their children returning to school for a variety of reasons. It may be feelings of sadness tied to the loss of precious time with children, or anxiety when recalling a child's past struggles with classroom performance. When children sense their parents are stressed, it can increase their own anxiety. Parents can manage this by having an attitude of mindfulness regarding their concerns for the upcoming year. Be aware of your stress and acknowledge it, and it will be easier to control.

The back to school season is a time of change and transition, and with change comes anxiety. However, parents can moderate the stress of the transition by preparing their children before school starts, and by addressing their own concerns in a productive way. It also helpful to keep in mind the old adage "this too shall pass" when dealing with stress over transitions. Before long, your kids will be caught up in school and friends, and time in the classroom will be routine once more.
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By : Victoria Reynolds, 07-27-2015
Diet Tips for Children with ADHD / Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, also known as ADHD is one of the most common conditions that affects the youth of the world. ADHD essentially makes it harder for children to sit still and pay attention to anything for extended periods of time. There can be any number of causes for ADHD and while diet hasn't been found to be a direct cause or solution, certain foods have been known to increase or decrease the impact of ADHD. As with most conditions, ADHD can be controlled by medication but the extra aid from a healthy diet never hurt anyone.
Diet Tips for Children with ADHD / Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, also known as ADHD is one of the most common conditions that affects the youth of the world. ADHD essentially makes it harder for children to sit still and pay attention to anything for extended periods of time. There can be any number of causes for ADHD and while diet hasn't been found to be a direct cause or solution, certain foods have been known to increase or decrease the impact of ADHD. As with most conditions, ADHD can be controlled by medication but the extra aid from a healthy diet never hurt anyone.

What Kids With Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Need: 
These are all important for developing a healthy body and mind which are especially important for those affected by ADHD.

Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and Vegetables are well known sources of tons of vitamins and minerals that not only kids but adults need to have in order to maintain a healthy body. These are great to have on hand as little snacks as the human body will often crave vitamins that it need which can often just be confused for sugar cravings. These cravings can be amplified by ADHD so keeping them to a minimum is a must.

Whole Grains
Whole grains contain tons of vitamins and minerals including fiber which are important for young growing bodies.
Protein

Protein
Protein is important for growing strong muscles and tissue. Protein is often found in red meat, poultry, and fish. But try to avoid processed food which can contain tons of other chemicals and far less protein than normal foods.

Healthy Fat
Fat is often targeted as an enemy in every single diet on the planet. Although too much fat is bad for obvious reasons, the human body actually needs certain types of fat such as: monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids


Foods That You Need To Avoid:

Although not much research has been done into specific foods that can cause increases in symptoms of ADHD, there have been several studies that have pointed out general groups that should be avoided by kids with ADHD. By avoiding these foods you may notice some symptoms decrease or go away completely.

Avoid anything with caffeine in it for starters. Caffeine will only put your child's brain into overdrive and make them more hyperactive.

Avoid foods with artificial food coloring in them such as many of the products that are often marketed toward children. These have been known to cause hyperactivity and jumpiness in many children.

Saturated fats, hydrogenated fats, and trans fats are some of the bad fats that should be avoided unlike the healthy fats talked about above. These can cause obesity and high cholesterol which will discourage movement which is important for children. 

Without being able to move around, children's hyperactivity will remain in their brain and make it harder for them to focus rather than "get it out" as physical activity.

Avoid processed foods like fast food that will often contain tons of sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats that will be awful for your child's diet.

How to Snack Smart:
In order to keep your child on a healthy diet, it's important to make sure that it's easy for them to access healthy foods. Keep some of the following on hand at all times and you will have a health food loving kid on your hands.
-Real fruit, pre-sliced and packaged into Ziploc bags
     -Homemade Smoothies
     -Homemade Popcorn
     -Whole Grain Chips
     -Pre-sliced Veggies with Ranch or Hummus
     -Yogurt
     -Homemade Trailmix
     -Homemade Oatmeal
     -Whole Grain Cereals


Some Other Tips:
Make sure to keep a regular schedule with meals and snacks planned out for specific times. This type of routine is really important for kids with ADHD and will help make this change easier.

Stick with it! Change will definitely be hard at first but with a little practice you will start to see results. Good Luck!

If you need help finding a nutritionist or specific food item, you can always submit a free search request to myEZBZ.com or the EZBZ App!
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By : Victoria Reynolds, 07-22-2015
The Importance of Childhood Socialization
Why the playdate? What activities are best for children? These are questions that all of us parents seem to ask ourselves at one point or other. Should the kids be in sports, classes, play groups, or something else? Two of the most common activities for parents, especially those with toddlers and early elementary students, are the playdate and the "mommy and me" class.
The Importance of Childhood Socialization
Why the playdate? What activities are best for children? These are questions that all of us parents seem to ask ourselves at one point or other. Should the kids be in sports, classes, play groups, or something else? Two of the most common activities for parents, especially those with toddlers and early elementary students, are the playdate and the "mommy and me" class. Why is that, though? Why can't the children just play in their own neighborhood like we did as kids? Why do we need to have special "dates" set up for them? I never went on a formal playdate when I was growing up, and I was always so busy! It felt like kids were always around to play with. Well, things sure have changed since those days!

It takes only a small glimps of the news and mommy blogs to realize our neighborhoods don't feel safe anymore, with all of the crimes against even the smallest of kids, its easy to feel the need to be with our children at all times to protect them. But, this gets difficult to accomplish while still getting our own work done and responsibilities taken care of. Too often, busy and tired parents respond to this conflict by plugging the child into the TV, Xbox or the computer. While these can be educational and entertaining, they lack opportunities for in-person socialization, something that has been proven as critical for development. It seems that everyone has heard of the child who wasn't socialized. You know the one -- the kid who won't share, who doesn't know how to play with other kids at all and who needs to be with mommy or daddy all the time. Childhood socialization is a way to avoid those things. This is true for only children as well as those with siblings. Children who are in daycare are more exposed to socialization lessons and opportunities than their stay-at-home peers, but it is still much like interactions with siblings. The best way, in this writer's experience, to give a child a well-rounded socialization experience is to vary the children that he or she plays with. 

Why vary the playmates? We all know how comfortable we can become with our best friends and those that we interact with regularly. We do not stretch our experiences until something new is in our world. For our children, this is playmates, and the best way to approach playmates that most parents are comfortable with is the playdate, or the "mommy and me" class. The next question to come up is how to find and set up these interactions. Many of the playdates that evolve tend to be with classmates, or the children of parents' friends. These are usually things that the children are asking, or nagging, for, which makes it easy to remember, as long as the parents have contact information for one another. Mommy and me classes are not usually as easy to find, but to the parent who is looking, they are still many places. The value of a class over a playdate is that the class is organized to teach the child and the parent a skill or a topic, and there often exists a fluidity of other family involvement, meaning that it is not always the same participants. The child (and the parents) are always meeting new families to interact with.

Childhood socialization is a facet of childhood that follows every person into their adult life and helps to "color" how the adult version of the former child will interact with others. Those who were at home and with parents and siblings with very little outside interaction learned well to interact with that select group of people, but are often unable to form more substantial bonds with those that they come across in later life. We need to help our children to socialize, and it is best to start at a young age. Two of the "safest" ways to encourage this, as well as to be able to choose those that the child socializes with are through playdates and "mommy and me" classes. Try it! You will probably like it!
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By : Cassandra Finley, 07-20-2015
How a Husband and Wife Successfully Juggle Work and a New Family
Often times, it is easy for new parents to forget about themselves and their partner as they put the children as the top priority. Not only does this lead to unhealthy and unnecessary feelings of jealousy and abandonment, it destroys the parents’ relationship and their individual self-esteem. This is the story of how one couple has infused their relationship with structure and love to juggle all of their responsibilities.
How a Husband and Wife Successfully Juggle Work and a New Family

When baby Dan came, the relationship between my husband and I took a drastic turn. This is certainly not news; we have heard success and failure stories time and again, from both our extended families and friends. My husband Jerry and I often dismissed the gloomy cautionary tales; we often shook it off and said 'We will be different.' However, with Jerry chasing deadlines for his marketing projects and me managing my own handmade jewelry business from home, things got a bit out of hand. A couple of months ago, when Dan was six months old, Jerry and I sat down for our own 'professional review' of our performances as new parents. 

It came to our attention that baby Dan was doing fine, but our relationship wasn’t. Not centered merely around the (lack of) fun time in the bedroom, Jerry and I were having increasingly frequent arguments; some ending up in crying fits on my part and others silent treatment on Jerry's part. The calm and reasonable talk we managed to have two months ago has proven extremely helpful at resolving our issues; we came up with a few pointers for ourselves. I thought it would be helpful to share our story for our fellow new parents. Remember, you are not alone!

Communication is key

This statement might be as cliché and overused as it can get, but it is a cliché because it is true. Communication takes on a whole new level of meaning when baby Dan cries his lungs out at 3 a.m. for his night feeding or changing of his diapers. On many nights, our overly exhausted bodies make following the tried and true fundamentals of good communication an Everest size feat! It is difficult not to keep score and too easy to make up excuses and accusations when your heads are throbbing and eyes burning from lack of sleep. This goes to all baby and non-baby related tasks in the household. Jerry and I, being organizers by nature, draw up schedule for each week and stick to it. We discuss our individual plans every Sunday night and talk through the whole thing before going to bed. Any amendments to the master schedule must be discussed 24 hours in advance. It may sound rigid, but organizing our home similar to a business has been working for us. It's really a matter of establishing processes that fit your personalities as people and parents.

If not careful, however, the weekly discussion can turn into a heated argument over whom does more with plenty of finger-pointing. When communicating frustration or negotiating, I've found it is important to put myself in Jerry's shoes before making demands; Jerry does similar. We avoid attacking each other, especially with back-handed comments. We also leave the ego out of it, as parents we are officially equal in our responsibilities. Remember this isn't really about winning an argument, that misdirected focus doesn't help a family flourish in the long run.

You (and your relationship) are as important as the kids

Often times, it is easy for new parents to forget about themselves and their partner as they put the children as the top priority. Not only does this lead to unhealthy and unnecessary feelings of jealousy and abandonment, it destroys the parents’ relationship and their individual self-esteem. 

I can still remember that moment of pure horror when I looked at the mirror three months after giving birth. I had basically let myself go for the most part of it; and it took me a while to fully notice the shaggy split ends on my head, the whole new set of wrinkles, and my alarmingly jaded look. It does not take much time to schedule an appointment with the hairdresser or hit the gym once or twice a week for a yoga lesson. With better physical and mental well-being, parents can much better cater to the needs of their baby, and as importantly, partner. So do not hesitate to call up a babysitter for an hour or two if a bit of exercise or a little pampering on a spa visit allow you to return to your child and your job fresh and vitalized.

Try a little tenderness

Nothing inspires and renews your passion as good quality time together. Jerry and I decide to set aside every Friday night and Saturday morning as our alone time, when we can have a little date night or simply order some Chinese and curl up on the couch watching an episode of How I Met Your Mother for the tenth time. It was difficult for me at first to be romantic again, after giving birth, I was not feeling exactly as sexy as I used to be. It took a bit of time and effort to spend time together, but it is all worth it by the end.

More importantly, small gestures go a long way. A ten-minute shoulder massage before bed can be both relaxing and sensual at the same time. After our little talk two months ago, Jerry and I introduced a positive-incentive system to our household task scheduling. Instead of constantly nagging and complaining, a little appreciation by making tuna casserole for dinner (Jerry’s favorite dish) is in order when Jerry volunteers to take over dish washing duty for the night. Just be spontaneous and have some fun with it!

If you need help with juggling the various responsibilities of your home and expanding family, remember you can always submit a request to www.myezbz.com for assistance!

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By : Kristen Glehan, 05-20-2015
Teaching Children the Value of Money - One Mom
There are a lot of things we are taught in school, other things we learn from our parents and yet many more we pick up on our own. In my case, learning about money and investing came by way of the latter. This isn’t to say I had bad parents, because I didn’t. My parents did a phenomenal job with so many things, including stretching a dollar about as far as is possible.
Teaching Children the Value of Money - One Mom


Years ago when going through a divorce, I read a couple of books by financial author David Bach, including Automatic Millionaire and Smart Women Finish Rich. During that period of significant life change, I felt it was a valuable moment to regroup and look ahead financially. While I found a lot of the information in David Bach’s books useful, I also found myself with a recurring question: why didn’t I learn any of this when I was younger?

There are a lot of things we are taught in school, other things we learn from our parents and yet many more we pick up on our own. In my case, learning about money and investing came by way of the latter. This isn’t to say I had bad parents, because I didn’t. My parents did a phenomenal job with so many things, including stretching a dollar about as far as is possible. The two critical components I believe I missed out on however, were developing a true understanding of the value of money and the many reasons to save, rather than spend. My parents were very generous and that generosity insulated me from gaining a real understanding of both. While I watched my parents struggle from rags to riches, throughout it all, I never wanted for anything. They found ways to take care of me and make my childhood fun filled even when struggling to pay the most basic of bills. My mother was something of a money magician, clever and capable of making it appear seemingly out of nowhere.

As a parent now, I want to be sure my daughter has a different experience. While I’m equally generous with her, I don’t insulate her as much. I let her know about the limits of a paycheck and the many choices a person needs to make when supporting herself. While she is only 10, I’ve already instilled a very important lesson:

We spend first on the things we need, then we can spend of the things we want.

I’ve reinforced to her that each time we spend, we are making active choices and reducing the availability of money for the next experience; I let her participate in the choices that directly impact her. For example, recently she wanted weekend music and swimming lessons. While I was more than happy to encourage these experiences, the money I’d spend on them each Saturday matched what I’d typically spend on the same day’s family fun. She needed to realize this and understand we’d have to cut back on other things. While of course she felt the pinch, she also seemed to appreciate the experiences a little bit more than she might have otherwise. She recognized two things: first, that these activities had a real value and second, that she had the ability to assess whether the value was greater or less than something else she wanted. In the end, she decided to re-up one of the lessons and forgo the other in favor of something else.

Recognizing her ability to make smart decisions with the money we spent together, I decided she was ready for a weekly allowance. Though, rather than requiring my daughter do chores to earn it, I gave her another simple requirement:

Just be responsible.

I let my daughter know that responsibility is something we all must actively take charge of as we grow. I defined what I felt it meant to be a responsible 10 year old. It included things such as making her bed, brushing her teeth, brushing her hair, flushing the toilet after use, picking up her clothes and toys, and clearing her dishes, etc. These weren’t chores I explained, she didn’t have to do anything for anyone else; she only had to do very typical everyday things to take care of herself. As long as she was prepared to take that responsibility seriously, she should also have the opportunity to make her own choices with some money. So, she earns a small amount each week for this and I only rarely have to remind her of these things. It has been a joy to see the great sense of pride and independence she feels every time I hand over her allowance.

Taking this even a step further, right after initiating the allowance I introduced my daughter to the concept of saving by opening a bank account for her, with an initial $20 deposit. I got her an old-fashioned, traditional passbook account, which lets her quickly see the balance grow with each subsequent deposit. She loved it. But, she did some quick math in her head and didn’t see the point of sticking her money in the bank, rather than in her wallet. Good point, I realized! After all, it isn’t as if there are enticing interest rates or significant incentives for a child to save for a rainy day. So, I developed an incentive. I created what I call the mommy match, which is akin to an employer’s 401k match.

I told my daughter I would match whatever she put in her bank account, dollar for dollar, for the first year she has the account. The only requirement I gave her was that she needs to leave the money in there. I explained this would be her long-term savings account and that such savings are for more significant events. I told her that adults save for emergencies, retirement or to buy a home and I reminded her that I went through a period of unemployment but was able to continue supporting us because I had my own long-term savings account. I let her know that as a child she doesn’t have to worry about these things but, one day she might want to buy something very expensive, or to take a special trip. A light bulb went off and this made sense to her. She was up for it and every week she makes an active choice whether she will deposit her allowance for long term, or keep it in her wallet. Sometimes she surprises me and hands me several weeks’ worth of allowances for her long-term savings. Or, she makes a rule for herself that anytime she gets a $20 bill it will automatically go into her bank account.

Whether all of this will have a lasting impact on my daughters understanding of and value of money remains to be seen. As they say, time will tell. For now however, I like to think I’ve given her the initial building blocks to a strong financial foundation.

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By : Kristen Glehan, 05-04-2015

Nearly every kid on earth looks forward to a birthday party thrown in their honor. For some kids, any party will do; just make sure to have cake and the standard three Gs: guests, games and of course, gifts! But for others, evolving interests drive the party requirements and many parents feel like pulling their hair out as the requests increase proportionately to their children's ages. Here are some tips for keeping it stress-free.

Nearly every kid on earth looks forward to a birthday party thrown in their honor. For some kids, any party will do; just make sure to have cake and the standard three Gs: guests, games and of course, gifts! But for others, evolving interests drive the party requirements and many parents feel like pulling their hair out as the requests increase proportionately to their children's ages. Here are some tips for keeping it stress-free.

Plan far enough in advance, 4-6 months
Many parents remember growing up and planning their own birthday parties the month before they occurred. Invitations were handed out at school or mailed for summer parties and all went smoothly. There was often one parent on mission control who was home enough to manage things; there was only a single way to RSVP and guest nearly always did; and kids lives weren't heavily scheduled. Nowadays families are busier than ever, so reserving 4-6 months of advance planning, preserves sanity.

Pick a date and time wisely
Some parents believe the majority of kids will show up regardless of the date and time selected, but that isn't always the case. Plenty of parents have learned this the hard way. Choose a date and start and end times to enable the best opportunity for guest to share in the occasion. The party doesn't need to be scheduled for the exact birth date, or even the same week. Try and avoid observed religious holidays of potential guests, high travel periods and times when team games are likely to occur.

Choose a theme, make sure it's one you can execute, then stick with it
Kids interests change with wind. That doesn't mean the party theme has to. Pick a theme your child loves and run with it. As long as it isn't too immature or fleeting, chances are they'll still like it enough four months later. Resist the urge to change to the latest big thing. As musician Rick Danko use to say 'go with your first thoughts, they're usually your best thoughts.' Whatever theme you pick, just do the research and make sure you can execute it. Some character themed parties can be significantly harder to pull off than parents realize!

Figure out exactly what you need at the start
This may seem obvious, but many parents don't give it much thought until the last minute. If planning to use a venue, find out exactly what is included with your reservation; There are many places that supply everything except the cake and party favors. If you're doing it at home or the venue doesn't supply anything except for the space, give thought to what you will need in the way of food, decorations, entertainment, favors, etc.

Make a master list with 4 main components :

1. Things to schedule
2. Things to buy
3. Things to make or assemble
4. Guests to invite

Lists are among the best time management tool for busy parents and the four categories above cover everything you need for planning a party. By organizing items in this manner, you can quickly cross things off and move onto the next priority. It also makes sense to add in deadlines or timeline lines to complete, to really keep yourself on schedule.

Simplify wherever you can
Unless you're on an uber-tight budget, it can be a wise to outsource some of your party needs. Planning on serving lunch? Pick up ready made pasta or pizza, or even better, have it delivered! Not an adept baker? Buy a cake. It's likely to cost a similar amount once you add up the cost of ingredients and value of saved time. Planning on making favor bags? Consider skipping them in favor of giving the kids small gift cards to iTunes, or bulk purchased movie tickets. They're cool, save time, cost about the same and kids love them!

Enlist friends and family for help when needed
The expression 'it takes a village to raise a child' isn't far from the truth. If there are friends and family available to help or lean on, take advantage of the offers and then repay in kind at a later date. No parent is going to be knighted or sainted for being a martyr for their child's birthday celebration.

EZBZ understands how stressful planning a child's birthday party can be and we would be more than happy to help you find the things you need. Just submit a request for whatever it is via www.myezbz.com or the EZBZ App

2 COMMENTS
Exciting
This is very cool!
Waqqas Anwar
03-10-2017
very smart
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Waqqas Anwar
03-10-2017
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