Family |

Summer Crafts and Activities for Kids

3 minute read

School’s out! Learning and homework have officially become the last things on kids’ minds. That’s alright for a few weeks of summer, but it’s important to have a plan in place to prevent academic backsliding. We have a number of summer crafts and activities to keep your student engaged!

As a parent, we know it can be a challenge to strike a balance between fun and learning. To help you out, we’ve assembled some brain stimulating ideas that are enjoyable and affordable so your kids can enjoy their time off of school while staying mentally sharp at the same time.

Listed below are summer crafts and activities for different age groups to help keep both your younger and older kiddos from that dreaded summer brain drain.

Toddlers and Preschoolers

Young children still need a lot of routine and structure in their days regardless of the season.

  • Hands-on fun encourages exploration and builds fine motor skills, plus young kids love to get messy!
  • Reading is a must. 2 -4 year-olds can read the same book every day without getting sick of it, but try to aim for at least one new read a week to keep their minds going. This doesn’t mean a brand new book, maybe just one they haven’t reached for in a while, or a trip to the library for story hour.
  • Baking is another great activity that doubles as a snack. A well-fed toddler, is a happy toddler.

School-Aged Children

Kids’ imaginations are going crazy at this young and exciting age. It’s a great opportunity to dive deeper into their interests and expand their knowledge and understanding.

  • When it comes to summer reading for these kids, it’s a good idea to make frequent library trips to let them find books that they are interested in reading. It could also be fun to help them write their own book for the summer.
  • Take a theme and roll with it.
    • If your child has a passion for oceans, for example, make that the focal point of their learning opportunities with books about oceans, ocean-themed movie nights, ocean crafts, a trip to the aquarium, ocean-inspired snacks, etc. You get the idea, and your child will be over the moon that you’re investing time and energy into something they love.
  • It’s also a great age to think about signing them up for summer camp. Camp allows kids to branch out a little in a safe environment and learn new skills and make new friends. There is a camp for any interest and comfort level, from day camps to over-nighters, from sports camp to music camp.

Teenagers

If the idea of reining in a teenager for the summer scares you, you’re not alone. Thankfully there are pioneers out there that have survived a summer with teens and are willing to share their wisdom.

  • An “I’m bored jar” can be a lifesaver. Take some cues from this Ultimate List for ideas to include so they never have an excuse to complain. It’s also good to remind them that being bored is ok and their personalities and creativity can be developed through boredom.
  • For older teens, a summer job can provide them with the opportunity to learn a new skill, meet new people, and earn some money for their summer plans with friends. There are so many positions available for teens to take advantage of:
    • Camp Counselor/Lifeguard
    • Plant/Pet Sitter
    • Nanny/Housekeeper
    • Tutor
    • Little League Coach
  • For fun with the family, you can entice them with movie/game nights or let them plan the menu and help prepare at least one meal a week. It’s something that can end up being fun without feeling like you’re desperately trying to make them have fun with you. After all, freedom at this age is something they cherish.

Sources:
https://www.adventhealth.com/blog/how-keep-kids-brains-stimulated-over-summer

https://www.coloradoparent.com/keeping-your-child-stimulated-all-summer-long/

https://www.raisesmartkid.com/all-ages/1-articles/3-kids-summer-activities-to-make-them-smart

https://www.investopedia.com/financial-edge/0612/10-great-summer-jobs-for-teens.aspx

Family |

Family Fun: A Summer Bucket List

2 minute read

There are endless possibilities when it comes to fun summer activities. Rather than getting overwhelmed by trying to do them all, make a summer bucket list with your family to make it a summer to remember.

We gathered some ideas for beating the heat and staying on budget. See if you can fit all of them in before fall arrives!

Summer Bucket List: Backyard Blast

Your own backyard is the perfect setting for some amazing family traditions. It’s nearby, free of charge, and open 24/7.

  • DIY Slip n’ Slide: Who needs a water park when you can set this bad boy up for your family and friends?
  • DIY Sponge Bombs: All the fun of a water balloon fight without the tedious cleanup afterwards
  • Camping – Backyard camping can include so many different activities to fit the needs and preferences of your family:
  • Obstacle Course: Running through the sprinkler is a timeless tradition that’s tons of fun

Summer Bucket List: Indoor Hoopla

Sometimes, the weather doesn’t allow for outdoor adventure. Whether the rain won’t let up or the temperature just keeps climbing, indoor ideas are great to have on hand.

  • Homemade Playdough: Practice shapes and colors with younger kids or let older children compete in a sculpting contest – either way it’s a great hands-on activity
  • Yummy Snacks and Treats: Summer might mean you finally have time to try some of those cutesy Pinterest finds you’ve been pinning like crazy
  • Game Night – Pick a new board/card game. Or if you’re feeling extra ambitious, you could make your own

Summer Bucket List: Special Outings

Whether big or small, adventures outside the home can be affordable and fun for everyone.

  • Library/ Movie Rental: Pick out new books and/or movies for the family to enjoy
  • Splash Pad/Community Pool: Often times, these summer hot spots are free of charge or very inexpensive for the whole family to cool off together
  • Park/Picnic: You can have a picnic in your backyard, or even your living room, but going to a park just adds even more excitement
  • State Park/Nature Hike: In our backyard, Wisconsin is home to over forty state parks that make for a beautiful family adventure. Find outdoor options in your area to give your kids a new perspective on the world and a break from their screens.

Archive |

2019 Father’s Day Gift Guide: Healthy Home Edition

2 minute read

2019 Father’s Day Gift Guide: Healthy Home Edition

The world has celebrated Father’s Day for hundreds years. But instead of getting your dad his one hundredth #1 Dad coffee mug or two hundredth tacky tie, why not try something he’ll really love? Check out our Father’s Day Gift Guide and get dad something he will actually enjoy this year!

Home renovations, well-kept lawns, and beautiful landscaping. Things that your dad can gaze at with his hands on his hips, admiring a job well done. 2019 Father’s Day Gift Guide

And beyond looking nice, it’s important to dad to keep a healthy home that his family can play, relax, and thrive in.

Here’s a list of the latest tools and toys to help him achieve a healthy home he can be proud of:

Gardening and Landscaping Tools

Whether it’s grading landscaping away from the house to protect the basement from moisture, or installing solar powered lights to cut down on electric bills, dad will love these outdoor gifts that he can put to work right away:
Long Handled Shovel
Hand Rake
Gardening Knife
Hand Pruner
Hedge Trimmer
Solar Power Sensored Lights
LED Solar Spotlight
Noise Blocking Earmuffs
Electric Gutter Cleaner

Climate Control

Saving energy means saving money, and a programmable, digital, or WiFi thermostat is a great addition to any home. Thermostats make it easy to provide the ideal balance of temperature, humidity, air purity, and fresh air–a gift that everyone can enjoy:
WiFi Thermostat
Programmable Thermostat
Digital Thermostat

Basement Maintenance

The basement can be one of dad’s favorite spots in the house. But man cave or not, the indoor air quality in the basement is important to the overall health of the home. Here are a few gifts to help him maintain the freshest air possible:
Dehumidifier
Air Purifier
Vacuum with HEPA filter
Microfiber Mop

Garage Gear

Is dad always vowing to “clean up the garage”? Call his bluff with these handy tools and upgrades that will make it easier for him to follow through on his promise.
Wall-Mounted Storage Hooks
Concrete Floor Coating
Better Lighting Options
Extension Cord Organizer
Wet/Dry Vacuum
Garage Radio (makes the cleanup go faster)

 

 

Healthy Home |

Landscaping Tips for the Eco-Conscious Homeowner

2 minute read

Trying to keep up with the ins and outs of the latest trends in home and landscaping can be overwhelming. But the current popularity of environmental awareness/conservation is hopefully one that will be trending forever, because showing concern for the environment should never go out of style.

While there are endless ways to incorporate “green living” into your daily life, through the food you eat, the clothes you wear, and the cleaning products you use, we are going to focus on becoming more eco-friendly in your own backyard.

Eco-Conscious Landscaping Tips

Efficient Irrigation

Water conservation is one of the biggest ways to be mindful of the environment.

  • Install a sprinkler system to not only reduce the amount of water used, but to control the time and rate of application
  • Drip irrigation systems for garden beds grant longer but less frequent watering times to promote deep root growth and tolerance of droughts
  • Using your irrigation system in the morning or evening minimizes evaporation due to lower temperatures
  • Practice xeriscaping:
    • Place plants with similar watering needs together
    • Replace some of your grass with drought-resistant alternatives
      • Blue oat grass
      • Purple fountain grass
      • Yellow pampas grass

Lawn Care

The less grass you have, the more eco-friendly your yard will be.

  • Plant large flower beds
  • Utilize hardscapes to upgrade landscaping design
    • Boulders
    • Pavers
    •  Steppingstones
  • Install artificial grass to reduce water usage and avoid pesticides and fertilizers all together

Smart Planting

Choose plants that require the least amount of water and do your planting in the most strategically eco-conscious ways.

  • Plant perennials and grasses that don’t need a lot of water but still add a lot of dimension to your landscaping
  • Utilize ground cover plants:
    • Help prevent erosion by stabilizing sloping areas
    • Fill in spaces in flower beds to reduce weeds without any pesticides
  • Incorporate slopes and hillsides by making use of native shrubs, boulders, and rocks to enhance an otherwise challenging landscape design element
  • Nourish your soil with essential nutrients to ensure the best health for your plants:
    • Nitrogen – Leaf and stem growth
    • Phosphorus – Root growth
    • Potassium – Overall health
    • Plant and animal based organic fertilizers – Improve soil texture and condition
    • Compost and manure- Nourish the soil naturally

Reusable Materials

Reduce your waste by reusing.

  • Recycled content is remanufactured into landscaping materials:
    • Decorative glass for tiles and pavers
    • Milk jugs and soda bottles can be turned into composite decking and fencing
    • Crumb rubber can be ground and reconstituted for multiple purposes
  • Salvaged items are repurposed but used in their original form:
    • Bricks for patios or walkways
    • Pallets for vertical gardening
    • Lumber for raised beds, benches, gates, or fencing
  • Garden refuse can easily be transformed into some of the best eco-friendly landscaping materials:
    • Run trees through a chipper to make mulch for your walkways or garden beds
    • Plant debris, like leaves and grass clippings, can be composted into decayed organic matter
    • Work it into the soil or use it as mulch to amend your soil, add      nutrients, prevent erosion, and improve moisture retention

Sources:

https://www.easyturf.com/2017/04/25/creating-environmentally-friendly-landscape/

https://www.conserve-energy-future.com/eco-friendly-landscaping-ideas.php

https://homeguides.sfgate.com/recycled-landscaping-materials-21492.html

Environment |

Summer’s Most Common Bugs

2 minute read

When it comes to a love of humidity, humans and pests are on opposite ends of the spectrum. While we tend to despise air that is thick with heat and water vapor, most bugs actually thrive in it and need it to live.

Unfortunately, this means that the impending summer humidity in certain parts of the country is about to bring these summer pests out in a big way.

Summer’s Most Common Pests

Cockroaches

The German cockroach is the most common roach species infesting our homes in North America. They are attracted to warm and humid places, making your kitchen and the water heater in the basement their most frequented hideaways.

Silverfish

These small, wingless insects are nocturnal and need to keep their bodies moist at all times in order to survive. You are likely to find them beneath boxes or furniture in your basement, the shower, or hiding in your kitchen.

Centipedes

Carnivorous and nocturnal, with their 100 feet, these pests can move quickly and spend most of the day hiding in humid, secluded places. They are highly attracted to the moist, humid parts of the home because they need to rehydrate constantly in order to live.

Earwigs

Known to burrow into topsoil outside, these nocturnal bugs can also infiltrate dark and humid areas of your home. You are most likely to find them around floor drains, bathrooms, or under rugs or furniture.

Roly-Poly Bugs

Also known as pill bugs, sow bugs, potato bugs, or armadillo bugs, these bugs often infest damp basements.

Tips to Prevent/Eliminate Summer Pests:

Healthy Home |

Healthy Home Tips: Keeping a Clean Basement and Crawl Space

2 minute read

Basements and crawl spaces can have a certain…smell.

Mold and mildew are the likely culprits. There can also be damage and waste caused by pests like termites, rodents, and insects.

These issues are caused primarily by water leakage and excess humidity. Two signs of a poorly maintained basement or crawl space. And the worst part is, air that starts in the basement can flow throughout the entire home.

So how do you get rid of the smell to enjoy a Healthy Home? Let’s explore some best practices for your basement and crawl space.

Basement and Crawl Space Best Practices

Insulate, Insulate, Insulate

The basement or crawl space can be one of the largest sources of energy loss and increased utility bills in the home. It’s crucial that you insulate doors in those spaces, whether they enter directly into your home or connect to the outside.

Any pipes and ducts should be insulated as well. This will help regulate the air temperature in the basement and crawl space, which can help preserve a consistent environment throughout your home.

Identify Water Sources

Water seepage can spell disaster for your home. The mold and mildew can cause allergy symptoms and other health issues, and extensive water damage can even compromise structural integrity. Sitting water can also damage walls, floors, carpeting, woodwork, and furniture.

Basement waterproofing is the process of locating where water is entering your home and finding the best solutions to prevent it. Each case is different, but an experienced waterproofing specialist can help you decide on the best path for addressing the issues that are specific to your home. Most solutions involve one of four methods, or some combination of the four: interior, exterior, drainage, or sealant.

Consider a Dehumidifier

Basements and crawl spaces are often damp because of moisture present in the surrounding earth. It’s natural for this moisture to build up, and can often be solved by using a dehumidifier.

There are whole-home options available that are effective in the basement and beyond. Or you can install a room-size dehumidifier, which can remove moisture in problem areas. Consider the temperature and humidity level of your space, and where it’s located in your home when choosing the proper solution.

Is Sealing Necessary?

Sometimes the best solution is to seal off your basement and crawl space, preventing water seepage and dramatic temperature changes.

Crawl space encapsulation is the process of sealing off the walls and/or floors to prevent water seepage from the outside and to remove the risk of stale, humid air circulating throughout your home. Talk to a pro about this option to see if it’s right for your home.

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Archive |

Answer the Call for Healthy Air

< 1 minute read

Aprilaire featured in the April issue of Home Builder Executive

Aprilaire was featured in the April 29, 2019 issue of Home Builder Executive. Click the image below to read the full article.