10 Ways to Bully-proof your Child

Today, Woman, Wife, Mother and a Professor Blog is going to the Past!

I’ve had a great time writing for you, and I hope I’ve been able to provide you with helpful and inspiring information regarding a variety of topics.

Since the readership of this blog has grown tremendously within the last couple of months, I wanted to go back into the archives and point out one particular hidden gem that you should read if you are a parent and are concern about bullying

I hope you enjoy!

Click here or on the title below to read the article.

10 Ways to Bully-proof your Child

Mercado San Miguel in Madrid: Great Food, Drinks and Atmosphere

Last May, during our visit to Madrid (Spain), we went to "El Mercado San Miguel" which is located near Plaza de San Miguel in center Madrid.

The word "Mercado" stands for "market" in English. So, El Mercado San Miguel is a market filled with kiosks that offer all kind of fresh food products, traditional Spanish dishes and a variety of drinks. 

We went to the market with our two children one late afternoon. It was a wonderful experience - the atmosphere at the market was fantastic. The place was filled with tourists, but also a lot of Madrileños who go there to buy food products, have tapas, or simply enjoy a drink with friends.

We noticed that people who go there get their food and drinks from the different kiosks and consume them at one of the various tables in the center of the market. For instance, you can grab olives, chorizos, cheese and a glass of sangria. Then, you can try the traditional bocorones (fish) Madrileños or one of the delicious "postres" (desserts). 

Now, one thing that you should know is that seating at El Mercado San Miguel is limited. So, it may be a little bit complicated if you are trying to eat there with children. But, the atmosphere is so unique that even if you can be there for 30 minutes, it is really worth the experience.

So, If you have the chance to visit Madrid, don't forget to stop by El Mercado San Miguel.

I Used to Wonder What It'd Be Like to Read People's Minds, Then....

Is Gluten-free Diet Healthier than Other Diets?

Photo obtained from http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2015/01/will-a-gluten-free-diet-really-make-you-healthier/index.htm

I am not a dietitian or a nutritionist, but like most of you, I am really interested in eating healthy. I am one of those people who believe that healthy eating is not about strict dietary limitations, staying unrealistically thin, or depriving yourself of the foods you love. For me, eating healthy is about feeling great, having more energy, improving your outlook, and stabilizing your mood.

My stepson has celiac disease, so for medical reasons he only consumes gluten-free products. Several years ago, it was difficult to find gluten-free products in grocery stores or cook/bake from scratch. Often, we were forced to buy food items for him in specialized stores. 
But, things have changed enormously over the last 2-5 years. Now, we can find a variety of gluten-free products in most grocery stores, and many of these products taste good. Even the most popular pasta brands such as Catelli, Italpasta and Barilla are now producing excellent gluten-free pasta (often a combination of rice, corn and even quinoa); I mean pasta that really tastes like pasta.

Of course, we are very happy that more and more food stores are stocking gluten-free products. However, we have noticed that many people who reach for gluten-free products don't actually have celiac disease or are sensitive to wheat. I find this interesting because although things have improved significantly over the last 5 years or so, there are still many gluten-free products that don't taste as good as those that incorporate gluten.

"In 2014, sales of gluten-free products reached £184m, up 15% from 2013.
A report by Mintel found 15% of households were avoiding gluten and wheat – more than half because they believed it was part of a healthy diet. One in 10 new food products launched in 2014 were gluten-free; nearly double what it was two years ago" (Gluten-free: health fad or life-saving diet?)

So, many people are adopting a gluten-free diet because they believe that is a healthier diet. But, is this really true? Is gluten-free diet healthier than other diets? Clearly, people who have celiac disease need to have a gluten-free diet, but what about the others?
Photo obtained from http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2015/01/will-a-gluten-free-diet-really-make-you-healthier/index.htm

According to an article prepared by ConsumerReport.org, these are 6 truths about a gluten-free diet that people who adopt this diet need to know. I have listed the 6 truths presented in this article below, but I highly recommend the you read the whole article (click here to read it) for more information about the topic.

6 Truths About a Gluten-free Diet that You need to Know

1. A gluten-free diet is not more nutritious.

2. You will probably increase your exposure to arsenic by following a gluten-free     diet.

3. You might gain weight.

4. You will pay more.

5. You might miss a serious health condition.

6. You might still be eating gluten anyway.

I guess, my question is what do you think about these 6 truths? I know for sure that gluten-free products tend to be expensive and do not always taste good. But, I am not completely certain about the other "truths" presented in this article. 

What do you think about these 6 truths regarding a gluten-free diet? Have you adopted a gluten-free diet? If yes, why? If not, why not?

Respect Your Parents, They Passed School Without Google!

I was really laughing when I saw this quote yesterday. What would students do today without the internet and Google?

Making Slime: Stimulating Children to be Curious

Encouraging curiosity in children is a wonderful gift because it enables them to develop a healthy imagination and a sense of creativity. Numerous studies have shown that curiosity makes your mind active, more observant and inquisitive. When you are curious, you like to explore, try different things and question explanations. In simple words, curiosity helps children to be active learners.

My husband and I are continually trying to stimulate curiosity in our children, perhaps because we believe that it is essential in life. We focus a lot on the "observation skill" because active observation sparks curiosity. An observation is usually followed by a question or an explanation...the scientific process is initiated!

Over the last few weeks, our 5-year old son has shown lots of interest in cooking. I think that he is really interested in mixing food ingredients and see what happens with them. So, we thought that this was a great opportunity for us to introduce him to chemistry.

I contacted one of my friends, a chemistry professor (Dr Brian Wagner, University of Prince Edward Island), and asked him suggestions of simple, but cool chemistry experiments for young children. He suggested us to make slime. So, my husband and I helped my son to make purple slime.

Making slime was certainly a fun experience for my son. My husband took the opportunity to discuss a few scientific concepts such as chemical bonding and polymers. 
We also introduced him to terms such as hypothesis, replicate and test. We also examined the importance of active observation in science. At each step of the process, we took the time to observe how the consistency, texture and colour of the preparation were changing. 

My son was so excited about the experiment that he started to think about ways to change the ingredients to obtain different types of slimes. For example, he added baking soda and vinegar to the slime to make a volcano-slime. Clearly, my son really enjoyed the whole experience.

Children are remarkable for their curiosity. Our job is to nurture that curiosity.

We Cannot Teach People Anything

Today, I was working on my sabbatical project that deals with social media and learning in higher education. In particular, I was reviewing some papers about effective ways to engage students in the learning process. While doing this, I came across an excellent quote that I would like to share with you.

What Matters is the Strength of My Heart...

On this beautiful sunny Friday, I like to share with you something that my 5-year old son, Elijah, told me a couple of days ago.

Although he is only 5-year old, my little boy already knows things that we, adults, don't always see. So, below is what he said to me...something to think about it, especially during difficult moments.

My Sabbatical Leave Project: Social Media in Higher Education

I am not certain if I have mentioned this in any of my previous posts, but I am currently on a 6-month sabbatical leave. During the next months, I am planning to improve my knowledge and skills in the use and integration of social media in undergraduate courses. So, let me tell you a little bit more about my project and why I believe social media is an excellent tool to improve both learning and engagement in higher education.

Social Media in Higher Education

Learning, retention, and attainment in universities and colleges are consistently associated with students’ being actively engaged with faculty and staff, with other students, and with the subject matter they are studying. Research has demonstrated that engaging students in the learning process increases their attention and focus, motivates them to practice higher-level critical thinking skills, and promotes meaningful learning experiences. Unfortunately, engaging students is one of the most challenging things we do as university instructors.

As the popularity of social media platforms continues to grow, it becomes clear that if used effectively, these internet-based tools may have the ability to increase student engagement, improve learning and promote collaboration. Regrettably, the successful integration of these tools in the classroom is not that simple.

Over the last two years, I have spent a little bit of time exploring ways to integrate social media in my courses. Overall, I have had a lot of success with these "experiments". In my courses, students have been allowed to use facebook, Google+, blogs and other similar tools for projects specifically created for these experiments. Clearly, if used properly social media could be an excellent tool to improve both individual and collaborative learning as well as to increase the interest on the topics discussed in class. 

My 6-Month Sabbatical Leave 

The more that I use social media in my courses, the more I realize how much is there to learn about it. Thus, for my sabbatical leave, I am planning to investigate and explore different creative ways that social media platforms are used to increase engagement, improve learning and promote collaboration in the classroom. Specifically, I am interested in identifying creative, innovative and effective uses of social media that can be integrated in undergraduate science courses.

I recognize that there is no single tip, technique, or strategy that offers a magic formula or blueprint for student engagement. But, I believe that if used properly, the integration of social media in undergraduate courses can help faculty to be more successful in our way to enhance learning and engage students.

Siblings Love

Over the last few weeks, I have had the chance to spend time with two of my siblings. Their visits have made me realize that I am lucky to have them in my life. I have two brothers and two sisters and although I live in a different city, we are all still very close.

It was wonderful to spend time with my siblings and to see that although each one of us is now married and has his/her own little family, we still love each other deeply. We look out for each other, we support each other and can count on each other. Although I don't phone my siblings every day or week, I know that I can count on them. I know that they will always be there for me, and they know that I will also be there for them if they need me.

 I have to thank my parents for this. My parents taught us that siblings love is very important. They always helped my siblings and I to respect our differences.  My parents always told us that siblings should always love, support and respect each other. 

Now, it is my turn to help our children to recognize that they are lucky to have each other. It is very important that my two boys understand that the love that siblings share is very unique, a kind of unshakable love and support that cannot easily be matched. 

Back to School with Zulily: Daily Deals up to 70% off!

Find the best deals and discounts on back to school clothing and supplies for kids and teens at zulily! 

Girls and boys will want to make a good impression on their first day back, whether they're in elementary, middle or high school, so let their clothes and accessories speak to their unique style. Start off shopping with a fun and functional mindset. Go for favorite colors and well-known characters so kids can take ownership of their fashion. 

Carrot Rewards: An App to Live Healthier Lives in Canada

Today, I heard in the news that the Canadian government (i.e., Federal Government) has invested $5 million in a project that will help Canadians make healthier lifestyle decisions. The project basically consists in a new app called "Carrot Rewards" which aims to push Canadians to eat better, exercise more and live healthier lives by rewarding us with various types of points.

According to Andreas Souvaliotis (Founder and CEO of Social Change Rewards), Canada is the first country in the world to create a national app for rewarding its citizens for healthier lives. Based on Statistics Canada, 26.2% of men are considered obese compared with 24.6% of women in Canada. Things are not much better when we examine obesity in Canadian children where 25% of boys and 24% of girls are overweight or obese. Our performance in terms of obesity rates is one of the worse of the developing world.

It is clear that by establishing a new program that will reduce the obesity rate of the country, the federal government is doing the right thing. According to Mr. Souvaliotis:

The most important thing we can do in order to reduce our healthcare costs is to encourage Canadians to live healthier lives and the only way we’ve been able to do it until now as a nation is through advertising.”

The idea behind Carrot Rewards is simple. Canadians will download the app and receive their choice of loyalty points for engaging in specific healthy activities that target the common risk factors associated with maintaining healthy weights and combating chronic diseases. The details regarding the "specific healthy activities" and the "chronic diseases" have not been fully provided yet, but consultation with organizations such as the Canadian Diabetes Association and the Heart and Stroke Foundation have taken place, so we can only expect good things.

The choice of points will be up to you. So when you install this app on your phone, it will actually give you the option of choosing your favourite points and every Canadian has a different type of points currency that they love,” said Souvaliotis.

I think that the idea behind this program is clever because Canadians love "point programs", so it can be a successful strategy. I only hope that the government will not stop there. I would love to see other initiative be implemented. Obesity is a big problem that needs to be attacked from different angles. Carrot Rewards is good, but we also need to use other ideas. For example, we need to improve labeling on food and commercial drinks to help people make healthy choices. We also need to encourage restaurants and other similar businesses to include calorie information on their menus so that people can make healthy choices. Finally, the government needs to use the tax system to promote physical activity in adults.

What do you think about this new app? Do you think that it will help reduce obesity? Do you have other ideas/ways to reduce obesity rates? What are other countries doing?

Connected to the World via the Internet and Social Media: Advantages and Disadvantages

New means of communication such as the Internet and social media have completely revolutionized the world and our daily lives.

It's pretty amazing when you think about the ways that humans communicate with others today. A couple of decades ago, we had to wait days or weeks for mail. I mean, do you remember what is to receive a letter? People did not mind to wait because it was the norm. Today, we expect to be informed right away. The Internet and social media have made information easily accessible to us. Not only that, the information provided via these means of communication is given to us pretty fast. People are "very busy"; there is no time to lose...decisions have to be made fast. I hate to admit this, but we are always in a rush to get things done ... we can't wait.

Today, if we want to be informed regarding something no matter where in the world, all that we need to do is to access the Internet. All the information that we want, or need to have is in the Internet 24/7. Social media such as Facebok or Twitter provide the world with a new method of obtaining news from multiple and specialized sources. We can read articles, reports, personal opinions (e.g., blogs) and books on the internet. We can watch documentaries, tutorials, movies and many more things online. We can learn how to do things or take courses online. We can get to know about our ancestors or old friends who we have not seen in decades via the Internet.

Work, Internet and Social Media

One of the most interesting ways that the Internet and social media are affecting our lives is via our work. Here are a couple of examples from my own personal life. We have recently started a new project aimed to investigate the ecology, movement and behaviour of red foxes at a national park. To obtain the data for this project, we need to ask park's visitors to report fox sightings. Instead of following the traditional communication avenues, we are sending messages to park's visitors via twitter and facebook (after all, almost every adult and many teenagers in North America have cell phones!). This is a simple and efficient way to obtain people's participation in our project, thus helping us to collect the data needed to achieve our study's goal. Without social media and the Internet, it would be very difficult to conduct this project.

Although the Internet started during the 80s, it was not as well developed and efficient as it is today. I was doing my Ph.D. during the late 80s and early 90s and I remember that I had to wait sometimes 2-3 weeks to read articles that were unavailable at my university library. If I was lucky, our library was sometimes able to obtain a fax of the article, meaning that I only waited 2-3 days to read the paper. But, most of the times, articles were sent by regular mail, so I needed to wait weeks (especially, if they came from other continents) to read the papers. Today, if I want to have a copy of a scientific paper that is not available at our library, I usually wait seconds or minutes for the downloading process of the paper to be completed. Other times, I wait 1-2 days to get a pdf copy of the paper emailed to me by the author; simple, and super efficient!

Effects of the Internet and Social Media on Work-life Balance

Although the fact that we are always connected to the world via the Internet or social media has many obvious advantages, it is clear that there some disadvantages too. In my opinion, the biggest disadvantage is that many of us are often expected to check our work emails in the evenings or on the weekends. Our bosses or employers expect that we will check our emails or we will read documents at times that we are technically not paid to work. Sometimes, I get documents late Friday night and are expected to read and discuss them Monday morning. The worse is that WE, ourselves, believe that it's our responsibility to be "connected" to our work for "anything that may be an emergency". We really feel guilty or stressed when we don't check or answer emails even though we know it's the weekend or we are on vacation.

Personally, I think that although commitment to our job is important, it is not essential to stay connected to it 24/7. In fact, I believe that staying connected to our work 24/7 may actually be counterproductive and disruptive to our work-life balance. I believe that we all need to distance ourselves from our work responsibilities for at least 24-48 hours weekly. Some people may need more time, others may need less, but I really think that we all need to disconnect from the world for some hours weekly if we want to remind productive.

The Biggest Challenge

I love the Internet and social media and certainly see the advantages of being connected to the world. But, I also think that one of the challenges that we face today is to "disconnect from the world", so we can achieve work-life balance. So, I applaud all these people who are deciding to take "email sabbaticals", "social media disconnections", etc.

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