A Christmas Devotion

The first to hear the news of the Christ child were the shepherds.

Shepherds Worship Baby Jesus: a devotion by Ann E. Broughton

“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:8-11 NIV

The first to hear the news of the Christ child were the shepherds. The scripture says that they hurried off to find the baby, and then they went and told everyone about what the angels told them. Maybe the angels told the news to the shepherds because Jesus would become our shepherd. These shepherds bent their knee to worship the Christ child and later they would be saved through this little baby when He grew up to be the great Shepherd. Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—-just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10:14-15 NIV).

He sacrificed His life to save us from the enemy (Satan) and death. Just like a shepherd who would lay down his life for his sheep, so did Jesus become the ultimate sacrifice for our sins.  Jesus is our shepherd who loves us. “He tends his flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young” (Isaiah 40:11 NIV).

 I like to imagine Jesus holding me close to His heart when I am having struggles or when life’s burdens threaten to overwhelm me. I picture myself in His arms safe and sound, away from the enemy(Satan) and secure in His love. Jesus calls us by our name and leads us.”He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them and his sheep follow him because they know his voice” (John 10:3-4 NIV).

We are referred to in scripture as the sheep…”We all like sheep have been led astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6 NIV). Jesus is our shepherd calling us by name while we wander in the wilderness of sin and hopelessness.It is up to us to listen to His voice and run to his arms to receive his forgiveness and grace. In order to hear His voice we need to be still long enough to meditate in prayer.

This is a busy season and sometimes it is easy to be all caught up in the shopping and parties and forget about the baby Jesus the shepherds went to see.Let us remember why we celebrate Christmas and listen to our Shepherd’s voice.He is calling to all of us to serve Him.

Dear Lord, Thank you for sending us Jesus as our shepherd. Help us to listen to His voice and come running to Him when we are lost. Let us never go so far away from Him that we can’t hear His voice anymore, because it is then that the enemy will sneak up on us and steal away our peace. Thank you for saving us and holding us close. May we remember that the baby born on Christmas became the shepherd who sacrificed himself so that we can live forever.

In Jesus’ name,

Practical Tips to Prep for Holiday Travel

During the holiday season, disruptions to your travel schedule are practically a guarantee….

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

(Family Features) Planning travel around the holidays is rarely simple. Coordinating flights or ground transportation is often just the beginning, and safely arriving at your destination may feel like a gift in its own right.

During the hustle and bustle of the holidays, concerns about health and safety can fall by the wayside, but some medical emergencies – whether it be an unforeseen accident, food reaction or chronic condition – are more prevalent during the holiday season. For example, the American Heart Association notes the highest incidence rate of cardiac mortality for the entire year occurs between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Food poisoning, intoxication, traffic accidents and injuries related to burns and decorations, among other incidents, also result in higher amounts of emergency room visits during the holidays.

This year, with holiday travel volume projected to be its highest since 2005 in the United States, according to AAA, take heightened precautions to prepare for the unexpected and protect your health and safety.

Schedule a safety net. During the holiday season, disruptions to your travel schedule are practically a guarantee. Plan for the inevitable by creating a travel schedule that gives you ample cushion for interruptions like traffic delays and late flights.

Carry your health history with you. While medical emergencies may not be predictable, having pertinent medical information for everyone in your party can make an unexpected medical event less problematic. Particularly for caregivers, whether your charges are children or aging adults, a tool like the Backpack Health app can help you get organized. The free mobile app provides secure access to personalized, comprehensive medical information and documents, including wellness, illnesses, injuries, chronic health conditions, physicians, prescriptions, allergies and treatments, in one central location on your mobile device. It is also multilingual, providing peace of mind even if traveling abroad and information needs translated for a medical professional.

“Especially for people living with chronic, serious and rare conditions, holiday travel often disrupts health routines – like skipping or rescheduling medical appointments and treatments or forgetting to refill, pack and take medications – and can rob people of enjoying time with friends and family,” said Jim Cavan, president and CEO of Backpack Health. “If you’re traveling across the globe or across town, having extensive medical history, for both you and your loved ones, at your fingertips offers assurance to enjoy the holidays with more peace of mind without the burden of carrying medical folders.”

For more information and to download the app, visit backpackhealth.com.

Pack for the unexpected. Plan around delays by ensuring you have snacks and entertainment to divert antsy children (and adults). Be sure to keep medications in your carry-on bags or where you can easily access them in the car. If you’re traveling by car, carry an emergency kit with items such as extra blankets, a first-aid kit and roadside flares.

Watch the weather. If you’ll be traveling to an area that experiences severe winter weather, or if you live in an area that could have wintry weather when you return, it’s a good idea to keep close tabs on the forecast. Timing your arrival differently by hours or a day can make a major difference in your travel time and safety.

As you embark on this year’s travel adventures, keep the spirit of the season alive and focus on all the good that awaits when you arrive.

Backpack Health

Real vs. Artificial: Which Tree Is More Sustainable?

Certainly where the tree ends up factors into its environmental impact…..

COLUMBUS, Ohio — When it comes to Christmas trees, a real tree, surprisingly, isn’t always the greenest choice.

If you buy and use an artificial tree at least four years, its environmental impact equals that of a fresh-cut tree purchased every year for the same number of years, said Elizabeth Myers Toman, an assistant professor in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) at The Ohio State University.

Photo: Getty Images

That’s because each year’s drive to buy a real tree adds to the amount of carbon dioxide and other climate change-causing carbon compounds entering the atmosphere. Buying a plastic tree typically involves one trip to a store, which is usually a nearby retailer, then only annual trips by foot to the attic or basement to retrieve it every December.

Drive 25 miles or more to buy that real tree and the overall carbon footprint is greater than that of an artificial tree — even if you use the artificial tree only once before tossing it, Toman said. That’s regardless of whether you get rid of your fresh-cut tree by sending it to a landfill, burning it or composting it.

“How far a person drives to get the tree — real or artificial — has the most significant impact on the environment,” said Toman, who teaches a course about the life cycle of products from production to disposal to determine their total effect on the environment.

While they’re alive, trees take in carbon dioxide and produce oxygen — a plus for the environment. And if they’re composted or even burned after they’re taken down, key nutrients return to the soil. All good.

An artificial tree is made of plastic, typically manufactured in a factory overseas, then transported to the United States, all of which has a carbon footprint. But the longer the artificial tree is used, the effect on the environment can become less than that of a real tree, Toman said.

“Just because a product is biodegradable doesn’t mean it’s the most green, environmentally friendly product,” Toman said. “How the product is used often determines how much of an impact it has on the environment.”

In the case of Christmas trees, that means not only how it gets to a person’s home but also the type of lights strung on it. Holiday lights, whether they’re LED or incandescent, have more of an effect on the environment than whether the tree is plastic or real, Toman said.

Using incandescent lights on a tree for just one year can have a greater energy demand than the total energy required over the lifetime of a tree to manufacture, transport and dispose of the tree, whether artificial or real, she said.

“So if you’ve got an artificial tree, you don’t necessarily have to feel guilty about it,” Toman said.

Certainly where the tree ends up factors into its environmental impact.

At the end of the holiday season, a real tree that’s composted can return to the soil crucial nutrients that will in turn help spur the growth of other trees.

When the artificial tree is no longer needed or wanted, donating it will offer it another life with a different home enjoyed by a different collection of people, rather than lodged in a landfill where it will take hundreds of years to degrade.

Holiday Foods with Heightened Flavor

Watch video to see how to make this delicious recipe: Pan Roasted Pork Tenderloin…..

(Family Features) Holiday hosting is all about providing guests a cozy atmosphere, good company and, quite often most importantly, food that tastes as good as it looks. While mixing and matching quality ingredients for dishes that appeal to the crowd is key to achieving successful seasonal flavors, you can take it a step further with the kitchen equipment used to craft those crave-worthy meals.

Cookware that boosts the flavor profiles of holiday dishes can take your hosting to the next level, and these recipes from chef Chris Scott of soul food restaurant Butterfunk Kitchen highlight the importance of the tools you use.

Served as the main course, Pan-Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Vegetables and Apples combines the savory taste of pork with sweet apples for classic complementary flavors. Paired with Scott’s Cauliflower Rice and Beans, this menu offers flavors that both comfort and surprise. That enjoyment can be heightened by the cook’s experience when he or she uses equipment like Anolon Accolade Cookware to bring the dishes to life. Made with metal strategically placed where it’s most needed for efficient heat distribution and optimized cooking results, the cookware’s triple-layer nonstick coating inside and out translates to easy food release and cleanup, ensuring the delight lasts from cooking to clean-up.

Whether enjoyed as dessert or a morning treat, Cinnamon Rolls with Dried Cranberries and Pecans serve up a combination of soft, warm dough with a pecan crunch to satisfy each guest’s sweet tooth.

For those holiday delights that require time in the oven, an option like the Anolon Eminence Bakeware line provides heavy-duty steel construction and rolled rims for even heating, durability and warp resistance for an elegant and sophisticated look that’s as practical as it is appealing.

Find more holiday recipes and kitchen solutions at anolon.com.

Pan-Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Vegetables and Apples

Recipe courtesy of Chris Scott on behalf of Anolon Cookware
Yield: 4 servings

  • Anolon Accolade Saute Pan
  • 1          tablespoon olive oil
  • 1          pork tenderloin (8 ounces), cleaned
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • 3          carrots, peeled and cut into pieces
  • 2          apples, cut into wedges
  • 4          baby bliss potatoes, halved
  • 1          leek, cleaned and halved
  • 3          cups apple cider
  • 1/4       cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4       cup brown sugar
  1. Heat oven to 400° F. Heat saute pan over medium-high heat; add olive oil. Season pork tenderloin with salt and pepper, to taste, and sear on all sides until brown.
  2. In same pan, add carrots, apples, potatoes and leek. Reduce heat to medium and cook 3 minutes until vegetables have some color.
  3. Deglaze pan with apple cider, apple cider vinegar and brown sugar.
  4. Put pan in oven and cook 15 minutes. Remove pan from oven.
  5. Remove pork from pan and let rest on cutting board. Put saute pan with vegetables and liquid back in oven 3 minutes until liquid is reduced and syrupy. Vegetables should be well glazed when finished.
  6. Slice pork and plate. To serve, place glazed vegetables and pan drippings over meat.

Watch video to see how to make this delicious recipe!

Cinnamon Rolls with Dried Cranberries and Pecans

Recipe courtesy of Chris Scott on behalf of Anolon Cookware
Yield: 24 cinnamon rolls

Cinnamon Rolls:

  • Anolon Accolade Saucepan
  • 2          cups milk
  • 1/2       cup water
  • 1/2       cup butter
  • 1/3       cup cornmeal
  • 2          teaspoons salt
  • 7          cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2          packages (4 1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
  • 2          eggs


  • 2          cups packed brown sugar
  • 1/2       cup butter
  • 1/2       cup milk
  • 1          cup chopped pecans


  • 1/4       cup butter, softened
  • 2          tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2       cup sugar
  • 1          cup dried cranberries
  • 1          cup chopped pecans
  1. To make Cinnamon Rolls: In saucepan, combine milk, water, butter, cornmeal and salt; bring to boil, stirring frequently. Set aside to cool to 120-130° F.
  2. In separate bowl, combine 2 cups flour and yeast. Add cooled cornmeal mixture and, using mixer, beat on low until smooth. Add eggs and 1 cup flour; mix 1 minute. Stir in remaining flour, as necessary, to form soft dough.
  3. Turn dough onto floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic. Place in greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  4. To make Topping: In saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter and milk; bring to boil, stirring occasionally. Pour into greased baking pan. Sprinkle with pecans; set aside.
  5. Heat oven to 375° F.
  6. To make Filling: Punch dough down, divide in half. Roll each half into rectangle; spread with softened butter. Combine cinnamon and sugar; sprinkle heavily over butter. Sprinkle cranberries and pecans over top. Roll up dough from one side. Pinch seams and turn ends under. Cut each roll into 12 slices. Place slices cut-side down in baking pan. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
  7. Bake 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool about 1 minute. Invert onto serving platter.

Holiday Cauliflower Rice and Beans

Recipe courtesy of Chris Scott on behalf of Anolon Cookware
Yield: 8 servings

  • Large Anolon Accolade Skillet
  • 1          large head cauliflower
  • 1/4       cup butter
  • 1/2       cup black eyed peas, drained and rinsed
  • 1          tablespoon Cajun seasoning
  • 2          tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • 1/3       cup dried cranberries
  • 1          cup roasted butternut squash, diced
  • 1          tablespoon fresh chopped sage
  1. Wash and thoroughly dry cauliflower; remove all greens.
  2. Use box grater and grate into “rice.”
  3. Using skillet, heat butter until melted and beginning to become toasty. Add cauliflower rice and cook until soft, constantly stirring. Add black eyed peas, Cajun seasoning and parsley; stir and cover with lid. Reduce heat to low and cook 5 minutes. Add dried cranberries, roasted butternut squash and sage.


Wood County Parks Offer Programs

During this month the winter cold fastens its grip and the nights are at their longest and darkest. Bundle up and enjoy the last full moon of 2018.

Winter Reptiles
Wednesday, December 12;
6:00 – 7:30 pm
W.W. Knight Nature Preserve
29530 White Road, Perrysburg

When the weather turns white and chilly, what do all of our scaly neighbors do? Migrate, hibernate, or put on a sweater? We’ll learn these things and more as we meet two of our animal ambassadors. Please register all attendees.

Register Here:  https://reservations.woodcountyparkdistrict.org/programs/index.shtml

The Geminid Meteor Shower
Thursday, December 13; 9:30 – 11:00 pm
Cricket Frog Cove
14810 Freyman Road, Cygnet

The Geminids are considered one of the best annual meteor showers because they are easily and frequently seen. Bring a thick blanket or reclining folding chair and appropriate clothing for an evening under the stars. This shower peaks around 2 am, but meteors will be visible beginning between 9-10 pm. Cancelled if skies are cloudy.

Register Here

Homeschoolers: Old Time Games
Friday, December 14;
10:00- 11:00 am
W.W. Knight Nature Preserve
29530 White Road, Perrysburg

Learn how Native American and pioneer children had fun, and how play helped them develop skills for adulthood.

Register Here

Rudolph Christmas Bird Count
Saturday, December 15;
6:45 AM – 5:00 PM
Field Trip
Meet at Waffle House,
1548 E. Wooster Street, BG
compilation party at Park HQ
18729 Mercer Road, Bowling Green

Be a citizen scientist! Join the Wood County Parks and local birders to count wintering birds to provide a snapshot of bird species and populations in Wood County. Visit www.toledonaturalist.org for more information. Birding expertise is not necessary, you will be paired with a knowledgeable group leader. You may depart at any time during the day, but need to check in at the restaurant at 6:45 to be assigned a leader and coverage area. Participants may choose to join us at park headquarters for a meal, recap of the day, and compilation of birds.

No Registration is needed.

Winter Tree ID
Sunday, December 16;
10:00 pm – 11:30 am
Bradner Preserve
11491 Fostoria Road, Bradner

Get a closer look at trees without their leaves. Learn how to identify them by bark and twig characteristics.

Register Here

Holiday Open Geocaching
Friday, December 21
11:00 am – 2:00 pm
W.W. Knight Nature Preserve
29530 White Road, Perrysburg

Find your own festive cheer this time of year! Stop by anytime between 11:00 and 2:00 to borrow one of our GPS units or bring your smartphone with the Google Maps app and search for hidden gifts in the park. Dress for the weather and be prepared for substantial walking and self-guided exploration. No SWAG for exchange necessary. Driver’s license needed to check out GPS units. Suggested age for GPS use is 8 and up. Parents/Guardians encouraged to use GPS while guiding children who search for geocaches if children are unable to use GPS.

Register Here

Long Nights Full Moon Walk
Saturday, December 22;
6:00 pm – 7:30 pm
Sawyer Quarry Nature Preserve
26940 Lime City Road, Perrysburg

During this month the winter cold fastens its grip and the nights are at their longest and darkest. Bundle up and enjoy the last full moon of 2018.

Register Here

Christmas Tree Recycling
December 26th – January 31st

Park District Headquarters

18729 Mercer Rd., Bowling Green (419) 353-1897

Otsego Park

20000 West River Road, Bowling Green

W.W. Knight Nature Preserve

29530 White Road, Perrysburg

William Harrison Park

644 Bierley Avenue, Pemberville

Slippery Elm Trail

218 E. Broadway, North Baltimore

*All ornaments, tinsel, and lights must be removed!

Snowshoeing Pop-up Programs
When the parks turn white,
we’ll go hike!

Add your name to the snowshoe program alert list.

Commemorative Trail
Say it forever and leave a legacy with a Commemorative Trail Bricks.

3 lines of text on a 4 x 8″ brick = $100
5 lines of text on an 8 x 8″ brick = $125

Find an order form here.

Passports Are Back

Pick up your 2019 Passport to the Parks at the park district headquarters, or any of our park kiosks. This self-stamping passport is a fun way to keep track of the great activities you participate in! Once you have collected 10 or 20 stamps you can redeem your passport at the park district headquarters for great prizes!

Chowline: Picky Eating a Normal Part of Early Childhood

Include your children in meal preparation, giving them as much responsibility as appropriate for their age and ability……

My 4-year-old REFUSES to eat anything that is the color red — no red apples, tomatoes, red peppers or even pepperoni on his pizza. He didn’t used to care what color his food was, but within the past couple weeks, he’s taken a distain for red foods. Is this normal?

As frustrating as that may be for you when planning family meals and deciding what to feed your little one, picky eating habits are considered a normal part of a child’s development, according to health professionals.

In fact, up to half of preschoolers have exhibited picky eating habits, from wanting their foods prepared only a certain way, to not wanting to try new foods, and to, yes, refusing to eat foods based on color, research has found.

Up to half of preschoolers have exhibited picky eating habits

This could be in part because as a child’s growth slows between the ages of 2 and 5, most children experience a decrease in appetite, says Carol Smathers, a field specialist in Youth Nutrition and Wellness for Ohio State University Extension. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University.

“Picky eating may also be part of establishing independence during the preschool years,” she said. “The good news is that as long as a child is growing normally and has plenty of energy, chances are that his or her diet is providing the necessary nutrients.

“And fortunately, most children will become willing to eat a much greater range of foods over time.”

There are ways to encourage your little ones to expand their palates and savor a wider range of foods. For example, Smathers says, you can:

  • Take your children grocery shopping and let them choose fruits and vegetables.
  • Offer taste-testing opportunities as a way to introduce your child to new foods before they are served in meals. For produce, you can show your child how the food is grown and let your child compare how it tastes both cooked and raw.
  • Include your children in meal preparation, giving them as much responsibility as appropriate for their age and ability. Let them wash fruits and vegetables, measure and add ingredients, or help stir.
  • Offer realistic options, such as, “Would you like carrots or peas tonight?” instead of asking something like, “Do you want peas?”
  • Talk about how much you enjoy the different foods that are being served and what you like about them.

It may also help if you can focus on making mealtime fun and meaningful for your children and family. Ask your kids how their day has gone, or if they did anything fun that day. If your focus is on the foods they won’t eat and how their picky tastes negatively impact the meal, it could lead to unhealthy attitudes toward food and eating habits.

However, if you have a lingering concern about your child’s picky eating habits, it’s best not to scold your child or argue with them to eat. You could instead have a conversation with your pediatrician, nutritionist or other healthcare provider about your concerns.

Chow Line is a service of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and its outreach and research arms, Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Send questions to Chow Line, c/o Tracy Turner, 364 W. Lane Ave., Suite B120, Columbus, OH 43201, or turner.490@osu.edu.

Punch It Up this Holiday Season

Typically, punches start with a blend of sweet and tangy, and you can get that “swangy” taste with an option like Tree Top’s 100% Pure Pressed Sweet & Tart Apple Cider as a base. For inspiration, take a mixologist’s approach to creating a memorable punch.

(Family Features) If you are looking to host an unforgettable holiday cocktail party, punch can make a memorable impression on your guests and bring your get-together to the next level.

Punch reached the height of its popularity during the Victorian Age. Originally made with alcohol, it ultimately became a non-alcoholic drink largely due to the preference of Queen Victoria. Over the following decades, it faded in popularity, briefly regaining favor in the 1920s when champagne punch was a hallmark of parties and celebrations.

Now, as new generations are reinvigorating old favorites and enjoying the art of mixology, punch is trending again.

Start by making punch a visual centerpiece at your holiday party. Consider a charming drink dispenser, an unusual punch bowl or an elegant glass pitcher. Let your personal and unique style shine through with your choice of glassware and table decorations and offer a variety of garnish selections for your guests to further personalize their glasses.

Typically, punches start with a blend of sweet and tangy, and you can get that “swangy” taste with an option like Tree Top’s 100% Pure Pressed Sweet & Tart Apple Cider as a base. For inspiration, take a mixologist’s approach to creating a memorable punch. Lemon, cinnamon and cloves not only spice up the flavor but can also double as decorations. Try ginger beer for a nice fizzle, and for an adult-only punch, consider adding vodka or rum.

Your punch table can be a place to gather and reconnect with loved ones while enjoying a trending holiday beverage. Find more recipes perfect for entertaining at treetop.com.

Swangy Cider Punch

Servings: 10 (8 ounces each)

  • 1 bottle (64 ounces) Tree Top 100% Pure Pressed Sweet & Tart Apple Cider
  • 16 ounces ginger beer
  • 2 oranges, juice only
  • 1 lime, juice only
  • 1 lemon, juice only
  • 1 cup vodka or light rum (optional)
  • 1 sliced Granny Smith apple
  • 6 star anise pieces, plus additional for garnish (optional)
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • frozen cranberries, for garnish (optional)
  • colored sugars or ginger crystals, for garnish (optional)
  1. In punch container, combine apple cider, ginger beer, orange juice, lime juice, lemon juice and vodka or rum, if desired, for an alcoholic version.
  2. Decorate container with apple slices, star anise pieces, cloves and cinnamon sticks.
  3. Personalize each serving with additional star anise pieces, frozen cranberries and sugars or ginger crystals, as desired. Serve cold.

Tree Top

BVHS Weekend Column: Children’s Migraine and Tension Headaches

Children’s Migraine and Tension Headaches: Massage Therapy Solutions – by Carol Baumhardt, Massage Therapist,

Children’s Migraine and Tension Headaches: Massage Therapy Solutions

by Carol Baumhardt, Massage Therapist, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, an affiliate of Blanchard Valley Health System

Carol Baumhardt, Massage Therapist

Raise your hand if you enjoy having a headache. Silly, right? Nobody likes the pain, frustration and lost time a headache can bring. Yet many of us suffer from them, including children. The National Headache Foundation reports that 1 in 5 U.S. children ages 5 to 17 are prone to headaches. Fifteen percent of those who are prone have headaches labeled as tension and five percent are diagnosed as migraine.

Tension Headaches

Among the list of things that can help relieve the symptoms of an active tension headache are massage and stress management. In addition, massage may also help prevent the frequency, duration and intensity.

The causes for a tension headache in your child are similar to what might cause you to experience one:

  • Poor sleep. Children should be sleeping enoughconsecutive hours in order for their body to repair and rejuvenate.
  • Good and bad stress. Our bodies respond the same way to the anxiety of a big test as to the excitement of the school dance.
  • Poor posture. How many hours a day are your kids looking at a phone or spent hunched over their homework? With the cold weather here for a while, notice if their shoulders are elevated trying to generate warmth.
  • Repetitive use in daily activities. Are they always throwing a ball with the same arm? How many hours in a day are they playing their instruments? Are they gamers?

Just one, or any combination, of the above can lead to tight, tense muscles—a possible cause for tension headaches. What is a great way to help fatigued muscles? Massage!

Migraine Headaches

Receiving a massage during an active migraine may not be appealing due to possible increased sensitivity to touch, light, smell and sound. However, massage might help people recover from an event. Often an individual is left with muscle tension or tenderness as a residual effect of the migraine. Massage can help address these concerns.

Similar to tension headaches, there is a list of potential triggers for the onset of a migraine. If you know that muscle tension is a trigger for the child in your life diagnosed with migraines, it can be beneficial to seek out massage to help relieve some of the muscle tension. Stress can be another trigger. Massage has a general calming effect and has been proven to reduce cortisol, one of the body’s stress hormones.

While massage can be a great tool for those suffering from tension and migraine headaches, please seek out medical intervention if any of the following occur:

  • Pain is waking your child from sleep
  • The headache worsens or becomes more frequent
  • You notice a change in your child’s personality
  • The headache follows an injury
  • Your child is vomiting
  • Your child notes changes in his or her vision
  • Fever

While you encourage the children in your life to improve their sleeping habits or to adjust their posture, it might also be beneficial to work with a licensed massage therapist to help address restrictions within the soft tissues. Massage and stress management are excellent tools to give to your young loved ones as they continue to navigate into adulthood. After all, no one likes a headache. Speak to your family physician or local massage therapist to find out if massage therapy is right for your child.

Flavorful Fiesta Time

Food, family and holiday traditions…..

(Family Features) A tamalada, or tamale-making party, is a Mexican holiday tradition that occurs during Las Posadas and combines two of the season’s most important ingredients – quality family time and flavorful food.

Consider these tips from Sylvia Garza of Qué Mami Organics to help make your tamalada fun and easy.

  • Food: Before your tamalada, prepare the ingredients that require extra time and work. For example, if you are using roasted chilies, roast them the day before and have them peeled, seeded and cut up for seamless assembly the next day.
  • Family: When hosting a tamalada, have food or snacks ready to share with your guests. Making dozens of tamales can take most of the day, so you’ll want to keep your helpers well-fed.
  • Flavor: Add an ingredient like Tabasco Chipotle Sauce to your masa when making tamales. Not only can the sauce add smoky flavor, but it also gives the dough an appetizing golden color. You can also mix the sauce into your filling for a brighter flavor and a kick of heat.

Find more flavorful recipes at Tabasco.com.

Zucchini and Corn Tamales

Recipe courtesy of Sylvia Garza of Qué Mami Organics
Yield: 16 tamales

  • 30        large, softened corn husks

Masa (dough):

  • 3          cups masa harina (corn flour)
  • 2          teaspoons baking powder
  • 2          teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 1/3    cups vegetable broth, warmed
  • 1/2       cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2       cup vegetable shortening


  • 1          tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2       small red onion, diced
  • 1          garlic clove, finely diced
  • 3          cups zucchini, cubed small
  • 1          tomato, cubed small
  • 1/4       teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1          teaspoon sea salt
  • 1          cup sweet white corn
  • 4          tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped
  • 5          ounces Qué Mami Organics Red Enchilada Sauce
  • 2 1/2    tablespoons Tabasco Pepper Sauce
  • 8          ounces Monterey Jack cheese, cut into 1/2-ounce strips
  1. To prep husks: Soak corn husks in hot water. Place heavy pot on top of husks to keep submerged at least 1 hour. Once pliable, rinse each corn husk.
  2. To make dough: In large bowl, mix corn flour, baking powder and sea salt. Using hands, mix in warm vegetable broth to make firm dough. In mixer, cream butter and shortening until fluffy then add dough in small amounts until well mixed. Continue mixing at low-medium speed 5 minutes, scraping dough off sides of bowl. Reserve dough.
  3. To make filling: In large skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil; saute red onion and garlic until translucent. Add zucchini and mix 1 minute. Add tomato, dried oregano and sea salt; continue mixing 1 minute. Add corn and chopped cilantro. Stir and continue cooking about 2 minutes more; zucchini should be cooked but al dente. Remove filling to heat-resistant bowl.
  4. In small bowl, combine enchilada sauce and Tabasco pepper sauce. Add half of sauce mixture to filling; mix well. Reserve remaining sauce.
  5. To assemble tamales, spread 2 tablespoons dough onto wide end of each corn husk. Dough should extend across corn husks, except 1 inch on sides and about 3 inches from narrow end.
  6. Scoop about 1 tablespoon zucchini and corn filling into middle of dough. Add 1 teaspoon reserved sauce over filling and one strip cheese on top. Fold right side of corn husk over filling and seal closed with dough. Fold over left side of corn husk tightly and fold narrow end of corn husk up. Cut strips from extra corn husks and tie around each tamale to secure.
  7. Place tamales vertically, filling-side up, in steam pot with enough water to steam 40-45 minutes. Cover tamales with extra corn husks to trap in steam; place lid on pot. Tamales are ready when masa dough separates easily from husks. Add water to pot, as necessary, for longer steaming.
  8. Let tamales rest 10 minutes before unwrapping. Remove corn husks before serving.


5 Ways to Support Your Community this Holiday Season

Make a difference by dedicating yourself to one or two causes that excite you the most. Find your passion and pursue it……

(Family Features) Each year, the true spirit of the holidays can seem to get buried further beneath mountains of wrapping paper and drowned out by commercialism.

However, when it comes to the holidays, gifts don’t have to come in glossy paper with crisp edges and hidden tape (though those are nice, too). For example, author Carol Lavin Bernick recommends focusing on gifts that make an impact, such as giving back within your community.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

The former chairman of beauty conglomerate Alberto Culver, Bernick published “Gather As You Go,”a book sharing insights she’s learned through her many roles: corporate leader, working mother, philanthropist and founder of the nonprofit organization Enchanted Backpack.

Consider these tips from Bernick for making a difference without breaking the bank.

  1. It’s About More Than Just Dollars
    Instead of measuring your support by how much money you give, focus on the many ways you can support organizations near and dear to you by spreading the word online and in-person while recruiting new supporters. Alternatively, you can find an organization that puts your knowledge and skills to work. For example, if you’re an artist or IT specialist, find a charity that needs your skill set.
  1. Think Long-Term
    When you’re working with an organization, consider how you can help it find a long-term solution to problems. For example, if you’re interested in helping young girls excel in science and math, work with your local elementary or junior high school to establish or support an after-school STEM program.
  1. Start at Home
    Teach your children the importance of giving back by donating gifts to those in need through charitable programs, volunteering at a food pantry or fundraising through a bake sale.
  1. Shop with Purpose
    This year, you can make an impact with your holiday shopping by buying gifts that give back. For instance, all proceeds from “Gather As You Go”directly benefit Enchanted Backpack.
  1. Focus on Your Passions
    Define your focus and make a difference by dedicating yourself to one or two causes that excite you the most. Find your passion and pursue it.

Find more inspiration to give back at gatherasyougo.com.


Gather As You Go

Building Babies’ Brains

3 indoor activities to encourage fun and education……

(Family Features) Being stuck inside with a baby during the colder months can leave even the most seasoned parents feeling a bit stir-crazy.

Consider these activity ideas from Ann Fisher, an award-winning teacher at KinderCare, that you and your baby can do together no matter the weather or where you’re traveling. Because these ideas involve materials you likely already have at home, that means you can entertain baby without going out to buy new toys or materials.

“The important thing is to show your baby how excited you are to teach them something new,” Fisher said. “You just have to be down at their level and make lots of eye contact. Talk to your baby about what you’re doing and ask questions. It’s OK if they can’t answer you yet – it’s all about the interactions you have while you’re exploring and learning together.”

1. Explore a world of smells.

Spicy cinnamon, sweet vanilla, crisp mint – your pantry is probably already stocked with tantalizing scents that can help your baby learn about the world. It’s easy to grab a couple spice jars and introduce your baby to new smells right in your kitchen.

Take an empty spice jar (the smell typically lingers) and hold it under your baby’s nose. Choose plastic instead of glass so your baby can play with the jar after taking a whiff. He or she may be captivated by all the new smells, and you’ll be putting old things to good use – it’s a win-win.

Safety tip: Make sure the jar is big enough that it won’t end up in your baby’s mouth, and always keep a close eye on him or her.

2. Reuse all those old boxes.

Turn any empty cardboard boxes lying around the house into a brain-building activity for your baby – it’s never too early to start playing pretend.

Whether you make a box fort to explore together, a maze for crawling through or a make-believe drum set, your old cardboard boxes are full of imaginative possibilities for play.

When you’re all done, it’s easy to break the boxes down and either store them for next time or recycle them.

3. Bring the outdoors in.

Snow, sand, dirt – wherever you live and whatever the weather is like outside, you can let your baby dig with his or her little hands right in the comfort of your home. All you need is a bucket and some extra wipes for the inevitably messy fun.

Getting down and dirty lets your baby practice fine-motor skills and explore with his or her senses. Just scoop a few small shovelfuls of (pesticide-free) snow, sand or dirt into the bucket and bring it inside for your baby to play with. Adding some “homemade” sandbox toys like a big spoon and spatula can make the game even more fun.

To keep cleanup easy, consider laying down a sheet of cardboard or a plastic tarp on the floor.

For more activities you can do with your baby any time of year, visit KinderCare.com/blog.


“Rag-Tag Army”

By Pastor Ralph J. Mineo

There are a lot of possible images of the church: Body of Christ, Bride of Christ, Household of Faith, Family of God, the Lord’s Vineyard, to name a few. One image that can sometimes be difficult (because it’s sometimes been used wrongly) is that of a fighting army. But it’s a good scriptural image. In Ephesians 6, for example, there’s the image of putting on armor for spiritual battle.

It takes all kinds of people, and personalities, and gifts to make up Christ’s church. Saints and sinners. Active and inactive. Sick and well. Happy and sad. Some have wandered off for a while. In other words, the church isn’t perfect!

One of my favorite images of the church is “A Rag-Tag Army” a parable from a 1968 book by Pastor Martin Bell.

Here are some excerpts from Pastor Bell’s parable: “God has been on the march in his general’s uniform a long time, you know. And look at God’s rag-tag little army! All God has for soldiers are you and me. Dumb little army.

“Listen! The drum beat isn’t even regular. Everyone is out of step. God keeps stopping along the way to pick up one of his tinier soldiers who decided to wander off and play with a frog, or run in a field, or whose foot got tangled in the underbrush. God will never get anywhere that way. And yet, the march goes on.

“Do you see how the marchers have broken up into little groups? Look at that group up near the front. Now, there’s a snappy outfit! At least they’re in step with each other. But they won’t get far before God will have to stop again.

“Or how about that other group over there? They’re all holding hands as they march — marching around in circles. The more people holding hands the bigger the circle. And of course, a bigger circle is deceptive because as we march along it looks like we’re going someplace, but we’re not. And so, God must stop again. See what I mean? God will never get anywhere that way!

“If God were sensible, he’d take his little army and shape them up! Whoever heard of a soldier stopping to romp in a field? It’s ridiculous! And even more absurd is a general who will stop the march of eternity to go and bring him back!

“But that’s God for you! God means to take every last one of his tiny soldiers with him. Even though our foreheads have been signed with the sign of the cross, we are only human. Most of us are afraid and lonely, or would like to cry, or run away. We can’t seem to trust God when it’s dark and we can’t see him! But God won’t go on without us. And that’s why it’s taking so long.”