Three Easy Peasy Ways To Eat More Humane

Adopt don't shop has been going around for as long as I can remember. I have many friends and see many acquaintances posting online about the movement. I try my best to support local rescues and shelters, and even adopted one of our dogs after a large natural disaster.

But what about animals that aren't in shelters? What about farm animals? Who protects them? Who deals with their animal cruelty?
Well the ASPCA is concerned with the welfare of farm animals as well and has asked me to help share ways you can become a more aware and welfare-conscious consumer when shopping for your family’s groceries.

  1. Eat Seasonally - Eating foods in season means that you’re able to buy from a more local economy and avoid having your food ship from other countries. This means fresher foods picked at peak ripeness too!
  2. Shop Locally - CSA’s and local farmers’ markets help support local, often smaller scale, farmers and ranchers who are producing outside of the traditional factory-farm system. If you aren’t sure where to start, visit your local farmers’ market and start asking some question - this guide will get you started. https://www.aspca.org/shopwithyourheart/consumer-resources/how-shop-farmers-market 
  3. Conquer Labeling Confusion - Marketers create confusion with their flashy labels and clever catch-phrases. But unfortunately, sometimes they care more about finances than transparency. Words like “natural” or “humane” often don’t have any oversight to actually tell you as a consumer anything concrete. However, some phrases and labels do have regulations associated with their use, and that’s what you can start to look for as a savvy shopper. Here’s a guide to labeling to get you started. https://www.aspca.org/shopwithyourheart/consumer-resources/meat-eggs-and-dairy-label-guide
  4. Be Careful to Minimize Waste - One of the ways we can treat the animals used for food respectfully and humanely is by making the most of the food we purchase. Purchase only what you know you’ll use and serve the right sized portions to avoid wasting what your family buys. https://www.aspca.org/sites/default/files/the_good_groceries_guide_final_version.pdf
  5. Look for Certifications That Mean Something - Unlike marketing gimmicks there are certain certifications and awards that have true meaning. For example the USDA  Organic label shows that the produce grown (or fed to the animal) didn’t use banned pesticides. Others include Animal Welfare Approved or Certified Humane

See The Good Groceries Guide for more information about how our shopping habits impact the lives of those around us - animals included. https://www.aspca.org/sites/default/files/the_good_groceries_guide_final_version.pdf

Find more resources for savvy shoppers at the ASCPA Shop With Your Heart website! https://www.aspca.org/shopwithyourheart/consumer-resources

And don’t forget to enter to win some fun items from the ASPCA!

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This Holiday Season, Think About Your Own Future and Not Just Your Children!

As parents, we invest so much energy, time, and money into our kids - sometimes giving up things for ourselves. Anyone who’s scrimped and saved for holiday shopping or stayed up late wrapping presents or baking cookies knows what I’m talking about.

But in all this focus on ensuring our children’s future we need to make sure that we are planning for our own future as well. After all, I’m grateful my parents have a solid plan for their retirement years. Planning for our own retirements can really be a gift we pass on to our children.

My wife and I still have plenty of time to plan for our retirement, but we really need to start soon. Neither her parents or mine ever saved for retirement and watching them still struggle to work has really made me realize how important it is. When it comes to money, my family has always focused on the here and now- with little thought of the future. I don't want that to happen to us.

This time of year I’m often focusing on what to get for the kids. Winter clothes, Christmas presents, and so on. But this year I’m taking a couple minutes for myself to visit AceYourRetirement.org for personalized, simple tips to make sure I’m on track with my retirement savings.

It was so helpful to me to see a couple areas that I could adjust to help improve the financial situation of our family. And, it only took about 3 minutes out of my busy schedule! We need to pay off all our current debt and then start stashing away money for retirement and new need to do it soon!

It’s not surprising that our family is one of many doing this financial juggling act.  Many Americans have almost no retirements savings, nearly half in fact! But it’s not too late to get started!    

Taking steps to take control of your retirement planning could have a positive impact in many areas of your life. According to a recent survey from AARP and the Ad Council, more than half of people in their 40s and 50s say that feeling more confident about saving for retirement would help them feel less stressed (54%). And 46% would be happier knowing they are taking care of their family’s future. I know I feel better after chatting with Avo at AceYourRetirement.org.

We work hard for our kids and our family - and now we are working hard for our own future as well. What will you be doing to help ensure your own future?

Do Car Seats Overwhelm You? There Is Help! (And It's Free!!)

Most parents don't realize that their child is in the wrong car seat till it is too late. I've heard that as many as 9 out of 10 are actually installed wrong- crazy high number.  The manuals that come with most car seats are extensive and jam packed with tons of information, but not many people take the time to read them. 

If you are unsure if the car seat you are using is right for your child, or aren't sure if it is installed right Child Passenger Safety Week (September 17-23, 2017) is a great time to figure things out.

 During Child Passenger Safety Week, more than 1000 events are expected in 45 states across the country to raise awareness for proper car seat installation and usage. The week culminates in “Seat Check Saturday,” where Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians will help parents and caregivers make sure their car seats are installed correctly. In most cases, this service is FREE.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, or just want a second set of eyes to check out your child's car seat set up, now is the perfect time. After all. the right car seat can make all the difference in a crash. Every 33 seconds* a child under 13 is involved in a car crash in the United States. Car seats, if used correctly, can dramatically reduce the risk of death or injury. But over half of car seats are either installed or used incorrectly, and 1 in 3 children killed in car crashes in 2015 was not in a car seat, booster seat, or seat belt at the time of the crash.

To make sure you have the right seat for your child, visit NHTSA.gov/TheRightSeat, or find a Child Passenger Safety Week event in your area. During Child Passenger Safety Week, many communities will have Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians on-hand to provide education on how to use car seats, booster seats, and seat belts for children. To find events near you, including free car seat checks, visit bit.ly/CPSTech.

*According to 2015 data from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Back To School Organizational Tips

For us back to school is a bit different than most, seeing as how we home school the kids. Stress levels are always at a minimum, however it didn't always used to be that way.

When the kids went to public school, the beginning of a new school year was filled with so many emotions. It was especially challenging because a few of our kids needed extra support in the class room.

Back to school can be a very challenging time for families with children who struggle with reading, writing, math, organization or focus. Ine in five children in the U.S. have learning and attention issues, like ADHD and dyslexia and those issues make learning harder.

The Ad Council and Understood.org are collaborating this year to help your child be First-Day Ready with some amazing organizational tips.

Understood.org is also offering a free First-Day Ready Guide to help prepare parents and kids even more.

Spring Cleaning With A Purpose

Spring is in full swing in my house. Which means I am responsible for purging all the stuff out of the garage that we don't use anymore. It's hard to believe we accumulate so much stuff- but we really do. Spring is like a giant reset button for us and everyone feels less stressed when there is less junk in the house.

Typically I work on getting rid of old stuff and my wife works on deep cleaning, but this year we are both sorting through things to donate. Why? Well because we are trying to see how many hours of on the job training we can help Goodwill provide.
Did you know that Goodwill provides that service? Last year, nearly 2 million people engaged in face-to-face Goodwill services to advance in their careers. More than 35 million people accessed education, training, mentoring and online learning tools offered by Goodwill virtually to strengthen their skills and gain industry-recognized credentials.

Goodwill’s career centers, training programs and staffing operations give people the resources, skills and confidence that changes thousands of lives each year.

Thanks to the programs and support services made possible by donations of clothes and household items, Goodwill helped place more than 312,000 people in jobs in the United States and Canada in 2015 – that’s one person finding a job every 23 seconds of every business day.

If you are not sure where your local Goodwill is, you can use the Goodwill Locator App available for Android and iOS devices and at http://www.goodwill.org/ (click “Explore Our Map” on the homepage). Simply input the items you’re donating to calculate the number of hours of career counseling, on-the-job training, résumé preparation, financial planning classes, and other services you’ve helped provide people facing challenges finding employment. When jobs thrive, communities thrive.

We cleaned out just the garage and the pile of stuff we brought to Goodwill will help with over 10 hours. How crazy is that?