How to Avoid Middle School Stress: Communicate, Create a Plan for Homework, Meet the School Counselor

Although has passed, April brings an equal level of intense activity for tweens and their parents. As the school year draws to a close for many elementary students, middle school looms on the horizon. Orientation nights attempt to acclimate parents and their tween-age children to the challenges facing them in the fall. Often both parents and tweens leave these meetings filled with new questions, growing anxiety and few resources to draw on in the months leading up to the school year.

Here's a middle school that goes above and beyond to help new students feel relaxed and confident about their transition. Small groups of elementary students join 8th grade mentors to explore and discuss some of the challenges they can expect to face in the coming year. The reviews from students were incredible. Elementary students felt less anxious and more confident about the year ahead after their orientation session with the 8th grade students. The subtle change from parent orientation night to student exploration day had a profound effect on the anxiety associated with the middle school transition. Whether your middle school offers an orientation night or day of exploration here’s a few additional ideas to consider as you prepare for the months ahead.

5 Tips for Relieving Middle School Stress

  • Call the middle school and schedule a 20-minute meeting for you and your child to meet with a counselor. Often the one-on-one meeting will answer most of your questions and concerns.
  • Buy a desktop calendar, and practice using

Packing Vegetarian Picnic Foods for a Great Picnic Lunch

There's no need to worry. It's a lot easier (and cheaper) to feed vegetarians than you may think.

What Type of Vegetarian Picnic Foods Do You Need?

Did you know that there are actually several different types of vegetarians? It's true. Being a vegetarian means different things to different people. For example, some people eat fish, yet still consider themselves to be vegetarian. Others may or may not eat dairy products or eggs. Vegans are the most strict type of vegetarian and will not eat any type of animal product at all. Some even go so far as to not eat certain types of sugar because they are processed with an animal bone.

If you want to please your guest, you should ask them what types of foods they can eat. Most vegetarians are very open about this. They understand that you are trying to make an effort to feed them foods that you will enjoy and can eat, so they will do their best to help you out.

Of course, the next challenge may be to find foods that you will enjoy eating at your picnic as well.

Vegetarian Picnic Foods

Some of the best vegetarian picnic foods are quite similar to the types of picnic foods that a meat-eater would choose.

Sandwiches are always a great choice because they are easy to make and travel well. This could be a good way to accommodate both meat eaters and vegetarians because you could have a selection of different types …

Seven Surprising Herbs That Affect Your Heart

One of the earliest lessons I learned when becoming a master herbalist is that herbs can affect more than one part of your body. Sometimes that’s good and sometimes it isn’t. For me and that lesson it wasn’t. The herb I took left me with severe stomach pain for about six hours. Here are some herbs that affect your heart…some good and some bad.

Aloe: There are a lot of people praising aloe juice. Their only complaint is that it causes cramping and bloating. What they don’t realize is that some aloe juice products still have cardiac glycosides in them. These glycosides can interact with heart medications or heart conditions, whether you know you have one or not. Check carefully before consuming this product. Also, do not juice your own aloe. You won’t like the end results.

Cayenne: This is a general stimulant. It may also help deal with hardening of the arteries and heart rhythm problems. In food amounts it may do several other things…usually things we want. It is used in some over-the-counter pain medications and could help improve digestion.

Ephedra: This herb is not readily available in the U.S. There’s a good reason for that. It can and has caused serious heart problems, including death. It is primarily used for weight loss because it boosts metabolism. At one point it was also used in an over-the-counter asthma spray. This is an herb to stay away from.

Garlic: These supplements are useful for folks …

South American Coffees

American coffees are grown in the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. To a large extent, the crops from this region share certain qualities. For one, they are without exception Arabica beans rather than Robusta. These two, Coffea arabica and Coffea canephora robusta, make up the vast majority of the coffees consumed today worldwide. On an annual basis, that amounts to about 400 cups. That’s a lot of coffee. Most of it is Arabica.

Comparing South American Coffees to their Nearby Cousins

While all the American coffees are characterized as well balanced, smooth, and medium to light weight in body, there are differences within the region. South America’s varietals tend to be somewhat milder than Central America’s. They are also sharper and softer.

Generally accepted flavor profiles, to put this into context, are broken into three categories–body, acidity, and balance characteristics. Each of these are scaled from one to five. This grading is not a matter of better or worse. It is instead descriptive. For body, to take one example, number one is light and number five heavy. For acidity, number one is soft and number five is assertive or sharp. For balance (which you can also think of as flavor harmony), number one is delicate or lean and number five is complete.

Central American coffees as a group are rated four-three-four. Caribbean coffees are rated four-four-five. South American coffees are rated three-four-four. That is, their body (or mouthfeel, as it’s called in wine tasting) is average rather …