Author Archive | Jennie Lyon

9 Tips for Keeping your Family Safe from Sharks this Summer

shark-674867_1280

As you already know, my family loves the ocean. We spend the majority of our free time paddleboarding, swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, surfing, and free-diving. Our love for the ocean includes everything that lives in the ocean. There are many creatures that inhabit that ocean that humans may find dangerous – especially after all of the media coverage surrounding some recent shark attacks. While I understand that some people may find sharks to be terrifying, the ocean is their home and we are simply visitors. However, as a family, we have a realistic view of these animals and follow the rules of the ocean to help ensure no harm comes to the sharks or our family.

Eben learned how to swim before he could walk or talk, he was almost 6 months old. He is a natural in the water – it is the one place where he feels completely at ease. When it comes to the ocean, he has no fear – he has been stung by jellyfish, bitten by countless creatures, stepped on a sea urchin and even tore his leg open kneeling on the ocean floor. However, all of these incidents have not changed his view of the ocean, it is still his favorite place on Earth.

I am not as adventurous as Eben or the mister, I am the cautious one – the one always on the lookout for possible dangers. We have swum and snorkeled with sharks many times and we have never felt threatened by them. In fact, we have nothing but love and respect for these amazing creatures. Since I am so cautious and a natural planner, I have tips that I live by to keep my family safe in the ocean. I am not trying to scare you, you are more likely to be hurt by a toilet than a shark! However, if you are hitting the beach this summer, read on and take note, these tips can help to keep your family safe.

#1: What’s Going On?
The first thing to consider before even getting into the water is to stay on top of what is happening in the ocean in your area. A great place to start is at the lifeguard station – they will have a sign that will outline any dangers for the day. Check the news, have there been reports of whale migration, baitfish or seals in the area? If so, stay out of the water. Also, if sharks are migrating through the area, it is a good idea to steer clear of the water too.

#2: It’s All in the Sky
Waters tend to be cloudy at dusk and dawn – and if you can’t see well through the cloudy water, a shark won’t be able to either. Many causes of shark bites happen simply as a case of mistaken identity. Also, if it is overcast or stormy, going in the ocean isn’t recommended – again the water is usually cloudy and incoming storms can stir up bait fish, the last thing you want to do is get between a shark and its prey.

#3: Watch for Fishermen 
I don’t recommend being in the water anywhere near fishermen. Whether the fishermen are simply fishing, cleaning the fish in the water, dumping fish guts into the water, or chumming, it’s a good idea to steer clear of the area. Sharks have an amazing sense of smell and taste and fish guts in the water may attract them to the area. Some sharks have been known to hang around areas where fishermen fish, snatching the fish from their lines too. So as a rule, we do not swim near anywhere near a fishing pier.

#4: Stick Together
As with many things in life, there is safety in numbers when in the ocean too. I don’t recommend swimming far offshore or even hanging out in the water by yourself. Sharks come into all depths of water. We have seen them in knee-deep water and 30-foot waters – swimming or playing in the water as a group is a much better option. Stick together.

#5: Skip the Shiny
Shiny or metal objects can attract sharks – they are curious creatures, they may just want to check out your bling. When heading out to the sea, remove all of your jewelry – and skip swimsuits with any shiny metal embellishments.

#6 Keep Noise to a Minimum
Stick to playing Jaws at the swimming pool only! Splashing around, yelling and thrashing about may attract sharks to the area. They may think you are a struggling prey or may just be curious to see what all the ruckus is about.

#7: Keep a Safe Distance
Most of the times that we have encountered sharks have been on a reef. We always respect their space, put a lot of distance between us and them, stay close together, all the while remaining calm and still. They have always just swum past or under us – never giving us a second look. Again, I don’t recommend snorkeling or diving at a reef alone and when you do see a shark, don’t freak out and frantically try to swim back to the boat. Stay calm and still, and most likely the shark will just swim by.

#8: Pick a Guarded Beach
If you are on vacation, not familiar on how to read the ocean or just want a little more protection, hit the guarded beach. The lifeguards are not only there to keep us safe from drowning, but they will also alert you as soon as they see sharks, baitfish or other dangerous creatures or weather conditions. As soon as you hear that whistle blow, get out the water until the lifeguard says it is safe to go back in. Also, when you arrive at the beach make sure to read the signs at the lifeguard station if there is baitfish in the area or they have a red/no swimming flag – follow their recommendations.

#9: Don’t Feed the Fish
There have been documented cases of people being bitten by sharks after feeding them. Sharks are highly intelligent creatures if you feed them once they will remember it and come back to the area for more. What happens when someone else swims in that spot and doesn’t have a treat to offer them? They may bite someone on accident simply looking for food. As in all cases, do not feed the wildlife, it isn’t a good idea for you or for them.

How do you keep your family safe from sharks at the beach? Are there tips I may have missed?

6 Eco-Friendly Ways to Keep Your Dog Happy and Safe this Summer

During the summer, your pet may be spending more time outdoors and might even take a few road trips with you. Keep your pooch happy and safe this summer by incorporating these pet and eco-friendly tips into your summer routine. These tips will keep your best friend comfortable and safe during the dog days of summer.

1. Hydration Station:
A simple fact is – a hydrated dog is a happy dog. Keeping Fido hydrated during the summer months is especially important – remember they are wearing a fur coat! Keep several dishes of fresh, clean water throughout your home and outside areas. Also, remember when you are out for the day or traveling, offer your pet fresh water on a continuous basis.

2. Give that Dog a Pool? 
Many dogs love to get wet and a great way to keep them hydrated when you are outside as a family is with a wading pool. Or, better yet, if you live near a natural body of water, why not take your dog with you for a little water fun! Just remember that not all dogs are good swimmers – keep an eye on them at all times.

3. Make it Portable
If your travel plans or daily outings include taking your dog along with you, don’t forget your pet’s essential supplies. There are many great eco-friendly on-the-go dog supplies that making taking your dog with a snap. Don’t forget the collar (with I.D.), leash, biodegradable poop bags, food, water, and feeding dishes.

4. Just Say NO – to Cars
I know it can be tempting to take Fido with you when you just have a few errands to run. However, this is an absolute no-no, especially on summer days. The inside of a car can heat up to deadly temperatures in the matter of a few minutes. Also, studies show that leaving the windows cracked or partially rolled down does nothing to save your pet from the summer heat. It is simply too hot for them!

5. Think of Hot Paws
When taking your dog on summer walks, remember that hot concrete and blacktop do not mix with dog paws.  Especially the paws of dogs that spend the majority of their lives indoors. Instead, choose a grassy route for your walk or wait until the early morning or evening hours to take your best friend on a walk.

6. Keep Them Updated
One of the worst feelings can be losing your pet. Regardless of how careful you are, accidents do happen. Remember to never take your pet outside of your home without their collar and I.D. on. This simple act can be the difference between having your beloved friend returned immediately if lost and never seeing them again. It is definitely worth the few seconds that it takes to snap their collar on before taking them outside.

How do you keep your dog happy and safe during the hot months of summer?

6 Eco Friendly Tips for a Great Green Summer

bicycle-788733_1280

It’s summer, summer, summertime! With summertime comes hot days, cool treats and lots of fun in the sun with your family. Before you hit the road for a hot sunny day at the beach, park or BBQ, check out my six favorite eco-friendly tips for a great green summer. The best part, most of them are free and will only make your summer more enjoyable, read on.

1. Get Outside
It’s much nicer to cool off outside than it is to sit inside with the air conditioning on high. Hit your local beach, lake, or pool and cool off in the waves. Also, it’s a good idea to keep your shades drawn during the hottest parts of the day and use the reverse function on your ceiling fans to circulate the air to keep your home cool.

2. Go Local 
You don’t have to go far from home this summer to have a wonderful time. Take advantage of summer time by exploring your local community – hit a park that you have never ventured to before, find a new secret beach for the first time or check out the local farmer’s market and pick up tonight’s dinner.

3. Stay Hydrated
Long hot days mean that you and your family will need lots of fluids to stay hydrated. Instead of stopping to buy a drink whenever you are thirsty, keep your reusable bottles with you. I am enjoying my Vapur water bottle, it is easy to roll up and throw into my handbag or pocket until I need it. Summer is also the perfect time to make your own fruit and vegetable infused waters and homemade ice pops.

4. Stay Protected
Keep yourself and your family protected from the sun with all-natural sunscreen. I think it is a good idea to have one on hand at all times. I like to keep one in my handbag, beach bag, car, and even one by the door making it easy to grab on the way out to the pool.

5. Green Your Bikini
If you are in the market for a new swimsuit this year, consider purchasing an eco-friendly one. EcoSwim has a fantastic selection of swimsuits for women. You may also find a great selection at your local eco-friendly stores or Etsy shops.

6. Go Solar
Summertime is the perfect time to take advantage of all that sunshine. Consider using a solar charger to recharge your portable devices when out for a day of fun in the sun. We have a solar charger that we use whenever we go backpacking or camping, it is great for charging up our cell phones and extra battery packs for the RV.

What ways are you going and staying green this summer?

9 Eco-Friendly Summer Outings for Kids

9 Summer Eco Activities for Kids

Now that summer break is in full swing – you may be looking for some fun activities that will get your kids out of the house. Green outings are a great way to get you kids involved in the environment and add a little more excitement to long summer days. Here are 9 of my favorite eco-friendly summer outings for kids.

1. Local Farms
A farm is a great outing to show your children how our food is grown and harvested. They can see which fruits and vegetables grow in your area and can also have a hands on experience with a farm animal. Many local farms have classes that allow the kids to milk a cow, collect eggs from the hens, feed the goats and sheep, and ride a horse. You could also visit a fruit farm such as a strawberry patch and spend the day picking strawberries, find a nice place to sit, wash the berries and enjoy on the spot with whipped topping that you packed.

2. Nature and Science Museums
Our local nature and science museum offers exhibits that allow the children to see, touch and even climb on parts of their environment. We recently experienced fabulous exhibits on natural disasters and your health. At these particular exhibits, you could see the effects that a natural disaster has on our environment and the other showed what your face may look like as you age. You can also check out an IMAX – it’s always a super fun time.

3. Butterfly Pavilion
Visit a butterfly pavilion and experience free flying butterflies, birds, subtropical and tropical flowers, plants and trees. We love the butterfly pavilion, and could spend hours there looking at the butterflies up close and personal.

4. Zoo
Your local zoo may offer a junior zookeeper program where your child can learn about caring for the animals as well as learn about their natural environments and any threats that they face. This is an amazing experience for children who are especially interested in animals and show interest in growing up to work with them as a career.

5. Nature Preserves
Your local nature preserve may offer guided tours to learn about the animals that live there and many offer classes as well. You can also simply pack your binoculars and camera and then hit the trail for an afternoon of animal sight seeing.

6. Library
Your local library is stocked with information about the environment that your children will love. When Eben was younger he always enjoyed checking out issues of Ranger Rick and National Geographic Kids. His favorite part of our library, by far, is the window seats, it’s a great place to hang out and read – he could spend a lifetime there.

7. Botanical Gardens
Visit your local botanical gardens and learn about native plants, trees and flowers. Our botanical gardens has a great exotic frog exhibit which Eben loves. Many offer classes and have ample space for an outdoor picnic. While you are there, look closely for bugs and birds – don’t forget your magnifying glass and camera.

8. Hike and Swim
No matter where you live there is somewhere outside where  you can explore. Whether it is a park or hiking trail, let the kids look in nooks and crannies and climb on the rocks. If you live in a n area where you can take a long nature hike, pack a lunch and enjoy it next to a watering hole where the kids can take a swim.

9. Your Own Backyard
If you want to stay close to home, take a walk around your neighborhood or local park. Prepare a nature scavenger hunt for the kids by writing down several items on a piece of paper, give each of your children a pencil and a bucket and collect the items found on the list, such as a leaf, rock, flower, feather, etc;. This is tons of fun and gets them looking for items they may have usually overlooked.

What are your green outing plans for this summer?

Planning To Move? Donate Your Stuff!

NOTE FROM SWEET GREENS: Thank you for supporting the companies that keep Sweet Greens in business.
——————————————————————————————————————————————————————

At some point in life, all of use will move at least once. I mean we have to move out of our parents’ house, right? When you do move, deciding what to do with all of your stuff can be a hassle. What do you take? What do you get rid of? We sure do not want to take everything we own with us, because we will just be accumulating more for our new place. Donating your things is a great way to get rid of the things you do not need. You may not need them, but someone else may. But what should you donate? Should you just throw the junk away? That depends greatly on what it is.

You may be moving just across the street, or you may be moving all the way across the country. If you are moving across the country, you do not want to haul more stuff with you than you really need to. You should try to donate as much as possible before asking for help from places like Allied Van Lines. Most people hope to get rid of enough stuff so that they only have to rent one van to move them. Sometimes this happens and sometimes it does not.

It is always good to donate kid’s toys. Toys are something that a lot of parents cannot afford for their kids but really want their kids to have. When you donate toys, you are not only helping out the parent, but you are making a child very happy. Toys, games, bikes, and even game stations are great to donate if you no longer need them. If a parent can pick these things up for free or cheap around the holidays, it will really help them out financially. It will also allow their child to have a wonderful holiday and allow the parent to lose some stress while they watch their child enjoy the “new-to-them” toy. You can also donate household goods and clothes. Anything you are not using can be donated. You will help out lots of people by donating things and it will make you feel great about yourself.

There are many different ways you can donate. You can donate to charities, you can donate to local thrift shops, you can donate to a family that has suffered a tragedy, such as a house fire, or you can donate to local centers in your area that help out families. You can donate to churches! Churches are always helping out families when they are going through tough times. Talk with people in your community and find out where you can lend a hand.

You do not have to wait until you are moving to donate stuff. People need stuff daily. You can donate more than just toys, clothes, and things like that. Donate things that you know people will use every day. Things like toilet paper, paper towels, food, toiletries, used furniture, and all things like this. These types of things will help people out so much. We do not think about these types of items when we think about donations, but these are the products that people need the most. You can even donate your time. Maybe help is needed at a local food pantry, or a local church is offering free daycare for needy families. Lend a hand. Donate an hour or two of your time to help out.

Whether you are moving or not, if you have some extra stuff laying around your house that you no longer need, donate it. Help out a family in need. If you have some extra money this week and you can buy a few toiletries or a few cans of food, do it. It does not cost anything to donate what you have. You never know when a family may really need it. Helping out other families will make you feel great too. You may be the family on the receiving end one day so try to help out whenever you can!