Holland America Line Launches a ‘Kids Cruise Free’ Offer Just in Time for Family Holiday Cruise Travel as Vaccines Expand

This post is NOT sponsored. However, I did receive a press release from my Bloggy Friends over at Holland America. Check it out:

Seattle, Wash., Nov. 5, 2021 — Travelers looking for a family getaway can take advantage of Holland America Line’s latest offer that allows kids aged 5 to 17 sailing as the third and fourth guests in the same stateroom to cruise for free.

Good for select holiday sailings and cruises through spring 2022, families can make the upcoming months merry and bright by setting sail over winter break to the warm waters of the Caribbean or Mexico. After the holidays, the ships continue to explore both regions, along with the California coast. Come spring, families also can cruise through May to Europe, Canada/New England or Alaska with the same offer.

“Now that kids ages 5 and older can receive the COVID-19 vaccine, getting out and seeing the world is on everyone’s mind,” said Gus Antorcha, president of Holland America Line. “A multigenerational cruise is the perfect way to return to travel, and we can’t wait to welcome our junior guests and feel the excitement as everyone is able to explore the world together again.”

‘Kids Cruise Free’ on Select Departures through May 31, 2022

The offer is good on select sailings through May 31, 2022. Bookings must be made by Nov. 18, 2021.

Ships in the Caribbean include Pinnacle Class Rotterdam and Nieuw Statendam, along with Eurodam and Nieuw AmsterdamKoningsdam and Zuiderdam are on the West Coast exploring Mexico, Hawaii and the California coast, as well as Panama Canal transits. In late spring, EurodamKoningsdam and Zuiderdam will be in Alaska; Nieuw Statendam and Rotterdam head to Europe; and Zaandam will be cruising in Canada/New England.

Amazing Alaska for All Ages

One of the most sought-after family vacations is a cruise to Alaska, and no one explores The Last Frontier like Holland America Line. Every port has an adventure that’s sure to excite all ages, like dog sledding on a glacier, panning for gold, a lumberjack show, whale watching, heading out on a leisure tour aboard a Bering Sea crabbing boat and more. On board, younger guests can earn their Junior Ranger Badge from the Glacier Bay National Park Ranger.

Holland America Line was named the top pick for Alaska in the 2020 Porthole Cruise Magazine Editor-in-Chief Awards, 2020 AFAR Travelers’ Choice Awards, 2019 Cruise Critic Cruisers’ Choice Destination Awards and 2019 TravelAge West Wave Awards Editor’s Pick; as well as Best Itineraries in the 2019 Cruise Critic Editors’ Picks Awards, confirming its position as the number-one cruise line in Alaska by some of the world’s most discerning travelers and cruise experts.

Club HAL Entertains the Kids

On board, kids, tweens and teens ages 5 to 17 can enjoy Club HAL, Holland America Line’s supervised youth activities program. Younger cruisers can meet other kids their age for arts and crafts, sports, video game competitions, scavenger hunts, challenging team games, themed parties and more.

Cruise and Stay Healthy

Holland America Line is currently committed to operating vaccinated cruises, as defined by the CDC through Feb. 28, 2022, and children 5 years and older will be eligible to sail. These cruises are available for guests who have received their final dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior to the beginning of the cruise and have proof of vaccination. Additionally, fully vaccinated guests must produce a negative viral COVID-19 test (medically supervised PCR or antigen test) taken within TWO days of embarkation on all Holland America Line sailings. Booked guests should keep up to date with the latest requirements for all ages at hollandamerica.com.

Holland America Line’s Worry-Free Promise program gives cruisers full flexibility to change plans, cruise protection before and during the journey, and peace of mind with enhanced health and safety protocols on board and on shore. The Flexible Cancellation Plan enables guests to cancel for any reason up to 30 days before departure and automatically receive a Future Cruise Credit. The Cancellation Protection Plan allows cancellation up to 24 hours in advance of departure.

Cruise Fares Start at $898 for a Family of Four

With the “Kids Cruise Free” offer, starting fares for a Holland America Line cruise are $449 per person, double occupancy, so a family of four could take a vacation for just $898. Over the holidays, cruise fares begin at $549 per person, double occupancy, making a cruise getaway a great option over school break. *Taxes, fees and port expenses are extra. Restrictions apply.

“Have it All” fares are available for an additional upgrade fee as provided at the time of booking. “Have it All” premium package fares include four high-value amenities: two shore excursions, a Signature Beverage Package, two nights specialty dining in Pinnacle Grill, Canaletto or Tamarind (depending on ship), and a Wi-Fi Surf Package to stay connected throughout the cruise.

For more information about Holland America Line, consult a travel advisor, call 1-877-SAIL HAL (877-724-5425) or visit hollandamerica.com.

EDITORS NOTE: Photos are available at https://www.cruiseimagelibrary.com/c/dbpcbsb8.

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Find Holland America Line on TwitterFacebook and the Holland America Blog.  Access all social media outlets via the home page at hollandamerica.com.

About Holland America Line [a division of Carnival Corporation and plc (NYSE:  CCL and CUK)]

Holland America Line has been exploring the world since 1873 and was the first cruise line to offer adventures to Alaska and the Yukon nearly 75 years ago. Its fleet of premium ships visits nearly 400 ports in 114 countries around the world, offering an ideal mid-sized ship experience. A third Pinnacle-class ship, Rotterdam, joined the fleet in July 2021.

The leader in premium cruising, Holland America Line’s ships feature innovative initiatives and a diverse range of enriching experiences focused on destination exploration and personalized travel. The best live music at sea fills each evening at Music Walk, and dining venues feature exclusive selections from Holland America Line’s esteemed Culinary Council of world-famous chefs.

Alternatives For A Low Carb Breakfast

For a low-carb diet program, breakfast is the most challenging meal of the day. Gone are cereals, pancakes and toast. Here’s some interesting alternatives.

You are low-carb’ing. It is going well, but if you have to eat bacon and fried eggs (or a variation of it) for breakfast one more time, you will scream. So, how to get out of that rut? There are a number of non-traditional low-carb breakfast options, one only needs imagination.

Turning (breakfast) Japanese

Other than rice, much of the traditional Japanese breakfast fits well with low-carb eating. Grilled fish, rolled omelet, pickles, miso soup, all fit nicely into a low carb menu. Miso soup, particularly, is quick and easy, and could be partially prepared the night before. A standard recipe includes a block of firm tofu, chopped green onions, 3-4 tablespoons of miso paste, and 3 cups of dashi stock. Boil the ingredients together, and serve. Lots of pre-cooked low carb veggies can be added at this point; cabbage, bok choy, spinach, daikon radish, mushrooms…the possibilities are endless. Adding fish to this unique breakfast provides plenty of protein, is filling, and keeps your blood sugars stable.

Reversing your meals for the day

An old favorite in times gone by was steak and eggs for breakfast. During the low-fat diet phase, eating that much cholesterol-laden food was deemed taboo. However, recent research has shown that a higher-fat, higher protein breakfast can set up a person’s metabolism for the day. Even to a lay-person, this makes sense; eating a highly sugared, high carb breakfast (or no breakfast at all) leads to extremes in blood sugar, with significant drops 2-3 hours after the meal. Eating a high protein/fat meal provides a much slower rise in blood sugars, and a slower drop. The corresponding feeling of satiety prevents the temptation for a ‘quick-fix’ snack that would re-start the cycle of high/low blood sugars.

So why not eat ‘dinner’ for breakfast? If pressed for time, much of it can be prepared the night before, and quickly re-heated in the morning. Great options are roasted chicken, roasted turkey, lean pork or roast beef, with your favourite vegetable side dishes.

Good to go

If your mornings are a mad dash out the door, munching down in the car during your bumper-to-bumper commute, you can still have the best possible low-carb breakfast to go. Pre-cut some celery and fill with peanut butter or other nut butter, and pack in a zip-lock bag. Pre-boil some eggs, pack some cut veggies, and you are on your way. Or try this:

Gluten-free Low-Carb Flax Focaccia Sandwich

Recipe: Makes 1

 2 slices (1/6 of recipe) Flax Foccacia
 2 tblsp spreadable cream cheese
 2 tblsp crushed walnuts
 A few leaves of iceberg lettuce
  1. Cut the flax foccacia recipe into 12 slices. Taking two slices, place them bottoms – up
  2. Spread the cream cheese evenly on both slices.
  3. Sprinkle the chopped walnuts over one slice, laying the iceberg lettuce on top. Fold the other foccacia slice over. Enjoy!
    Your ‘sandwich’ will be filling and satisfying, full of omega-3, calcium, protein, and is a great portable breakfast to go.

With a little imagination, preparation, and willingness to try something different, your low-carb breakfasts will be delicious and exciting. You will never miss those donuts or danishes again.

How Can I Manage Sad During The Winter Months

Winter isn’t everyone’s favourite season. The long, cold days and nights can leave people feeling tired and depressed. If these low feelings continue for weeks on end, then you may be a sufferer of SAD or seasonal affective disorder as it is otherwise known.

Seasonal affective disorder is categorised as a series of symptoms which tend to appear during the winter months, usually between September and April, with the worst of the symptoms appearing around December, January and February.

Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder

SAD symptoms can include feelings of lethargy and tiredness, sleep problems and mood swings. Mild symptoms can include feelings of anxiety and a loss of libido. In severe cases, SAD can lead to depression. The symptoms usually last throughout the winter season and can cause all kinds of problems for sufferers.

According to SADA (The Season Affective Disorder Association), “SAD occurs throughout the northern and southern hemispheres, but is extremely rare amongst those who live within 30 degrees of the Equator.”

The disorder is caused by a lack of sunlight exposure in the northern and southern hemispheres during the winter months. The sun is a source of natural energy and lack of sunlight causes all kinds of problems. All living beings need light to grow and flourish, but when deprived of light, the body cannot fully grow to its potential. This is because sunlight impacts the body’s rhythms and it contains Vitamin D, which helps the body to absorb vitamins and minerals more readily, essential for growth and production of healthy cells.

Vitamin D, for humans, is obtained from sun exposure, food and supplements. However, only a small amount is actually required, as the body can store Vitamin D for long periods of time.

One of the ways in which people suffer from seasonal affective disorder is through feeling irritable or having low mood swings. A lack of sunshine can alter mood because it impacts serotonin, a hormone manufactured in the brain. The sun can help trigger the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter which can spur a sense of increased well-being and happiness.

Treatments for SAD

The severity of your SAD symptoms will determine which treatments you may want to consider. One of the most effective treatments is light treatment. You can buy a range of light boxes which mimic the effects of natural light, thereby combating SAD symptoms and increasing the feelings of well-being. Place one on your desk at work or by your bedside table and you will start to feel the effects that its light can bring. It can be beneficial to have the light by your bed, as it can help re-energise you for the day ahead.

Another option to help boost well-being during the winter is to eat plenty of serotonin-boosting foods such as bananas, tomatoes, broccoli and whole grains such as oats, which can be readily eaten in a porridge, for example. All of these foods will provide a natural boost.

There is considerable evidence that a healthy immune system and serotonin are related. The majority of your immune system and your serotonin lie in the gut. The healthier your gastrointestinal (GI) tract, the healthier your immune system. The healthier your immune system, the more serotonin you’ll have.

Exercise is also a great way to feel good and boost serotonin levels, thereby helping to ease feelings of a low mood or depression. When we exercise, our bodies move and our heart has to work harder to pump the oxygen around the body. Exercise can help to boost serotonin levels in the brain, leading to an increased sense of happiness and well-being.

There is evidence that exercise can also help to improve your mental health. If your seasonal affective disorder is severe and you have gone through all the treatments available, you may want to consider seeking assistance from a medical professional.

Bitter Sweet Christmas – Dealing With Difficult Emotions

Christmas can be a difficult time of the year for many people. High expectations, memories and fatigue can bring problems for anyone’s inner child.

Christmas can be a very difficult time of year. Conscious of a media generated image of an “ideal family Christmas,” our aspirations are high, and if we fail to realise our hopes and expectations at this most highly pressured time of the year, the disappointment can be enormous.

Not everyone will have had a good year. Some people will have suffered loss and disappointment. Christmas seems to bring all our feelings into sharp focus, bad ones as well as good ones, and this can make for a very volatile emotional mix. Combine this with the pressures of organising Christmas, the shopping, the cooking and maintaining peace and goodwill within the immediate family, not to mention financial constraints, and it’s hardly surprising that Christmas can be a time of great stress, as well as one of great happiness.

Christmas Memories: Not Always Happy Ones

Christmas time is such a benchmark of each year that we cannot help but remember Christmases past as we prepare for the Christmas which is about to arrive.

Memories of loved ones who are no longer with us are bound to affect us as we prepare for the festivities. Somehow, feeling sad at Christmas time (when all around you are full of Christmas spirit) is worse than feeling sad when no one is expecting you to be particularly cheerful. Being emotionally out of tune with friends and family can be especially difficult, as you strive not to be a wet blanket and cast a gloom on the festivities of others.

If this is how you feel this Christmas, be kind to yourself. Take time out to grieve, to remember those who you may have lost recently. Give yourself permission to explore your feelings of love and loss without feeling guilty, because by taking time to acknowledge your feelings, even in the midst of all the Christmas turmoil, you will help yourself to move on.

Christmas can be a wonderful time for taking stock, for planning ahead, for rest, renewal and preparation for the new year ahead. Loss and sadness are part of life, just as happiness and celebration are also. Give yourself some leeway to feel whatever you’re feeling, even if it is Christmas.

Christmas and the Inner Child

Christmas is a time of year which is very child-driven, but whilst we are rushing around buying expensive presents and huge quantities of food, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that sometimes, perhaps a child would like a few minutes quiet time, rather than being bundled into the car for yet another awful shopping trip. Less rushing around in search of that perfect sheet of wrapping paper or the last punnet of cranberries in the Western world and a little more time spent reading a story, playing a game or even doing some Christmas cooking can be therapeutic for parents and children alike.

Christmas really only is one day in the year, and whilst adults can be driven by the spirit of their own inner child, seeking to make up for disappointments and things forgotten in Christmases long ago, children (especially little ones) can end up being bewildered by the disruption of their routine, the influx of people and an excess of new experiences.

Tend to your inner child as and when you can, as well as to the reality of little ones who may need boiled eggs and bath time on a regular basis at this time of year to keep them happy and grounded.

The Christmas Row

At Christmas, we tend to spend an awful lot of times with our families, undistracted by work, friends or any of the things that make up our normal comfort zones. Disrupted routines, extra pressures, difficult memories and unrealistic expectations can all conspire to add to the volatility of the Christmas mix.

Try to avoid the Christmas row by a little judicious time management. Make sure to incorporate a few healthy walks into the Christmas timetable. Don’t try to cram too many family festivities into too little time, but try to spread events out over the holiday so that everyone can pace themselves and no one ends up tired and emotional too often.

Peace and Goodwill to All Men

All the above is counsel of perfection. The reality is that we all have good Christmases and bad Christmases, and these seem to generate at random, no matter how much or how little effort we put into them.

Remember, when it comes to Christmas, the rules are, there are no rules – make merry in whatever way feels right for you. In a week’s time, it will be a whole new year and a whole new adventure to embark upon.

Best Options For Relieving Headaches

Do you have constant headaches? Did you know that many headaches are food related? Well, it’s true. The foods that you eat can have direct body and mind relations and effects. It’s been shown in studies that if you eat food that you do not care for or food that is forced, it can cause headaches in certain individuals, but when that same person eats food that they enjoy, the headaches are gone. Specific foods have certain ingredients that can trigger headaches.

Most individuals take food for granted and are unaware of how certain foods can effect their body. Take hypoglycemia for example. This condition is connected with low blood sugar, and is quite common in diabetic patients. Having low blood sugar can cause you to have constant headaches.

Monitoring your blood sugar level helps a great deal but when you feel dizzy or weak, you can simply take drink a glass of a sweet beverage such as orange juice to give you immediate relief. Many foods that provide you with simple carbohydrates can also raise your blood sugar back to normal and get you feeling better once again.

Another major cause of headaches are related to caffeine withdrawal. For those who drink many glasses of coffee, tea or caffeinated soda, each and every day, you body may be addicted to the caffeine in these beverages.

When you go a day without your caffeinated beverage, you may experience headaches in between. These headaches may become constant if you don’t cut down on how much caffeine you take in daily. Although caffeine can give you energy, it is usually temporary and the following results are usually fatigue and loss of energy. When cutting down on the amount of caffeine you drink, do it slowly and the headaches will eventually subside.

Some foods can cause headaches in certain people. Foods such as old cheese and yeast extracts have been known to induce headaches. Also, red wine as it contains a substance known as Tyramine that causes your head to throb. A deficiency in the enzyme oxidase can cause chronic headaches.

Avoiding these types of foods and substances can cause the decrease in headaches and eventually make them leave all together. Consuming natural foods is the best way to avoiding getting headaches in the first place. Avoiding foods that contain additives and artificial flavors can be very beneficial.

Allergies is another main cause of headaches. Getting medication to help with your allergies can really make a world of difference. There are many known causes of headaches but knowing what triggers them can help decrease them and give you more effective relief. Instead of taking headache medication on a daily basis, find out what is causing your chronic headaches and try to fix it.

Benefits Of Cardio On An Empty Stomach

Doing cardiovascular exercise on an empty stomach helps burn more fat. So skip breakfast and watch the fat melt off.

Many athletes and trainers have long debated the question of whether doing cardio on an empty stomach is beneficial to fat loss. The answer is yes. A study published in Muscle & Fitness Hers compared the effects of meal timing on the amount of fat and carbohydrates burned and have found that athletes who perform cardio on an empty stomach do get a fat-burning boost.

Research on Morning Cardio

The study compared two groups of people. One group did not eat before performing cardiovascular exercise. The other group ate a pre-workout meal. Researchers found that the former group burned more fat during their workout than the group who did eat before exercising. This proves that doing cardio on an empty stomach in the morning gives athletes and those trying to lose weight a significant advantage when it comes to burning off fat.

Why Cardio on an Empty Stomach Works

In the early morning, levels of muscle and liver glycogen are lower because of overnight fasting. This depleted amount of glycogen and lowered blood sugar levels are the ideal factors for burning fat instead of carbohydrates. Glycogen is reserved carbohydrates and the body’s primary source of energy. So when these levels are low, the body moves on to the secondary source of energy, which is fat.

Morning cardio on an empty stomach is also beneficial because of the afterburn effect. After a cardio session, exercisers will continue to burn fat because of an elevated metabolism that continues throughout the day. Doing cardio at night will only cause an elevated metabolism until the time an athlete goes to sleep, when the metabolism rate drops significantly.

Not to be diminished is the mental benefit morning cardio provides. Starting the day by tackling a difficult task, like vigorous activity, provides a feeling of accomplishment that can help exercisers stay positive and motivated to continue their healthy lifestyle throughout the rest of the day.

Eating Before Training

There are some people, who, despite the proven benefits, just cannot stomach a training session without having some fuel in them. Don’t despair. The study showed that the group that had the pre-workout meal did continue to burn more fat than the fasting group two hours after the end of their exercise session. So upfront fat burn isn’t as great, but long-term fat burn is better for those that do eat before training.

Another option for those who can’t do cardio on an empty stomach is to do cardio after weight training. Lifting weights burns carbs so the body will then have low stores of glycogen at the end of a weight training session. Doing cardio at this point mimics morning cardio on an empty stomach because the body will eat through the depleted glycogen as energy and then move on to fat as the reserve energy source.

Becoming A Healthy Eater

The life style of people today has changed a lot from the olden days. People don’t work hard enough to utilize energy which they have gained from the food they eat. After invention of computer, things have turned much easier to man. They gets all they want right in their door step.

In order to live a healthy life, it is important to use the energy which we gain from the food we eat. If we fail to do it, the excess energy is stored in our cells as fat which will be utilized in the future when the body runs out of energy. The modern man’s body never runs out without energy. These fats are easily accumulated in stomach, thighs, arms and butts.

This paves way to obesity. The recent study shows that most of children in America are suffering from obesity; even adults are not an exception. They also fear that this rate many increase rapidly and may turn more than half of the American population fall into this category.

As a proof to this unhealthy life style through out the world, many youngsters are suffering from cardiac diseases, diabetes, cancer, etc. The cardiac disease can be prevented by avoiding fat enriched foods. The vegetarian diet has very low risk rate to cardiac disease. Cancer is a deadly disease which spread mainly by smoking, drinking, tobacco, etc. Even though serious campaigns are made against these habits, people are still being addicted to the habit without realizing its seriousness.

After the age of 40, it is mandatory to take a complete body check up in a recognized hospital. For females it is mandatory to take mammography test every year as they are more prone to breast cancer.

People should intake food with diet consciousness in order to stay fit and healthy. Make it a habit to jog for at least half an hour a day. Yoga is a great way to keep your mind body fit. Yoga not only keeps the body fit, it stimulates the internal organs to secret their hormones regularly and improves the body stamina to a great extent.

Practicing Yoga makes body flexible, removes stress and increases the memory power. Never take hard digesting food at night especially meat, greens, etc., Add fruits into your daily diet which improves you skin complexion. Cycling is good exercise which activates the muscles in the legs, back and abdomen.

It is advisable to take foods rich in fiber content which don’t affect the body by turning into fat. Regular exercise is compulsory in order to keep the body in the perfect shape. Living a healthy life boosts confident level of man in his daily life.

Affordable Thanksgiving Dinners

There are several ways not to break the budget on Thanksgiving Day but most of them take work and time. Yet if you have more of this than money, then decide to really celebrate the day the old fashioned day! At least this is the one way of saving money while enjoying the day. Your biggest expense is a turkey and it is reasonably priced.

The rest of the food will not break the bank, especially if you make your pies from scratch, bake your own rolls and buy canned vegetables instead of the frozen packages or fresh.

Another way is to use what you have. Decorate with whatever you have on hand without rushing out and purchasing table cloths and napkins and center pieces simply because you are the host for this year’s feast. If your family is large, and it is at your place, then ask them each to bring food.

You fill in with what they don’t bring and everyone should have a good day and no one will have to do without for the next week or so until the next payday. If you still have one. If you don’t then certainly all you need to donate is your time and your table. Have them bring the food, of the bulk of it.

If you are without work and have no money, don’t hesitate to sign up for a Thanksgiving basket. With the chicken or turkey, potatoes, apples, oranges, cranberry sauce and other Thanksgiving items you should have no problem feeing your family well on Thanksgiving. This is a day to be grateful and no one is go hungry, or should go hungry at anytime, but especially at this time of year.

First, before you panic, look around you and see what you have that you can cook up into a delectable dinner table. If you live in the country and garden, your are the lucky ones. You probably have shelves of canned goods and a freezer stashed full of vegetables and corn on the cob and all kinds of food.

You don’t need my advice, but probably you could spare some of your stash for that family or two down the road that are out of work. Think about it. Yet, if you are the rural poor but have knowhow and can cook well then get to work planning a wonderful feast for your family.

If you have flour and jars of canned apples, but are not able to make pie dough from scratch, ask a friend to give you a hand. It’s not impossible. If that is out of the question, then settle for a casserole of stewed apples. It’s the apples that are so tasty and no one will mind that the crust is missing.

Use what you have, but use it in a delectable and tasty and creative way. If you nave kale or mustard greens and turnips growing in your garden, then you are in luck. Treat them as the finest vegetable, as indeed they are. Kale is about the healthiest antioxidant vegetable you can serve. I

Imagine this: A steaming dish of kale cooked with chopped onion and oil and a bit of that frozen Italian hot sausage from your freezer throw in for flavor, plus a dash of pepper and salt. To dress it up, boil a couple of eggs and slice them and arrange them around the bowl. Just innovate and your dinner will be the greatest ever.

Adopting A Pet For Your Small Child

Finding the right family pet for a small child can be a labor of love. Work with your child to find the ideal pet to adopt for your family and enjoy the results everyday.

Owning a pet can be a wonderful experience for a child. Caring for an animal can teach a child responsibility, compassion, empathy and other life long important values. Walking a dog can inculcate healthy exercise habits. Teaching a parrot to speak can help a child learn patience. Picking out produce for a bunny rabbit can help a child develop healthy eating patterns.

Once you’ve decided a pet is a good idea, many questions arise. What kind of pet best suits your family? How old should your child be when she gets her first pet? What’s the best place to acquire an animal for adoption? Should you go to the local animal shelter? Or seek out a reputable breeder?

Current Living Conditions

The answer to these questions depends on many factors. As the child’s caregiver, you will ultimately be responsible for the animal in question. Before answering, think about your current living conditions. Do you live in a house? A condo? Do you have a backyard? Is someone home during the day? Do you want to breed the animal? Are you physically active? Or more sedentary?

Many experts do not recommend pets for children younger than six. Six is a very good age for a child to have his first pet. Six year olds can easily learn to take care of an animal. Most six year olds can quickly learn to follow simple pet care instructions. Children often love the feeling they get from being trusted with, “big girl” tasks.

Hamsters, Gerbils and Mice

A good pet for a younger child is a small rodent. Diminutive furry animals like hamsters, gerbils, mice and rats can provide your little girl with hours of entertainment and fun. Have your child come with you so you can pick out a pet together. Buying a petite rodent will not put much of a dent in your budget. Most pet stores will sell all you need to get started for under $25. Consider buying more than one so they can keep each other company. Make sure that the rodents are the same sex or they may fight when one animal goes into heat. Brother or sister pairs make very good pets.

The Selection Process

When you go to the pet store ask if you can handle the animal. A good pet store will let you hold the animal before you make that decision. Look for an animal that has no sign of sickness. A hamster’s eyes should be clear. A gerbil’s fur should be soft and shiny. Healthy animals are less likely to disappoint your child and more likely to make good pets.

Once you’ve settled on a choice make sure your child understands all that is involved in taking care of pet. Help the child feed the pet and make sure that the pet has the right water as well as an exercise wheel in good running order.

Work with your young child to introduce her to the joy’s of pet ownership and help her kindle a life long love of animals.

Cooking And Hosting A Christmas Feast For Two

It’s not always possible to be with family and loved ones during the Christmas holidays. That doesn’t mean missing out on a tasty Christmas feast and all the trimmings.

The high cost of airfare during the holiday season, family members in all corners of the world, financial restrictions and poor health are just some of the many reasons seniors might find themselves faced with a quiet Christmas.

Many people, old and young alike, experience feelings of loneliness at this time of the year, especially if they live a long way from family or have lost their partner. While it might be tempting to “cancel” Christmas altogether, nobody really wants to miss out on the traditional turkey dinner and the sense of belonging that goes with it. So instead of giving in to feelings of sadness, why not consider asking a friend over and cooking a holiday feast for two on Christmas Day?

The Media and Christmas: Learn to Ignore the Message on the Television

During the Christmas season, the media is full of representations of the old fashioned Dickensian Christmas: Large families gathered at the heavily laden table, laughing, talking, drinking and eating. TV commercials, movies and magazine ads depict an indulgent image of Christmas – Christmas trees as tall as the rafters harbouring piles of presents beneath their branches, surrounded by three generations of family members, singing carols and toasting each other. This image is an exaggeration and the subliminal message is disheartening: Christmas just isn’t Christmas without hoards of family and friends and loads of presents.

Loneliness and the “commercialization of the winter holiday season,” means a greater number of people experience feelings of depression in the days leading up to and surrounding Christmas.

The study goes on to conclude that one of the best ways to alleviate holiday stress is “to reach out” to others. Those who find themselves alone during the Holiday season should not hesitate to invite a close friend or maybe a neighbour over to share a small feast on Christmas. This recommendation is valid for all ages including seniors. Don’t worry about the food. Christmas can be a culinary delight with a little menu adjustment.

Reasons People Don’t Want to Cook a Small Christmas Dinner

People generally don’t enjoy cooking a small Christmas feast because:

 It's impossible to find a turkey under ten pounds.
 It's far too much work for only two people.
 Who will eat all the leftovers?
 Buying a Christmas tree when there is nobody to enjoy it is silly.
 Christmas just isn't Christmas without lots of family or friends.

Of course, all of the above reasons are valid. Nobody wants to cook a 12 pound plus bird for two people, especially if they have never done so before. Even less appealing is the thought of spending hours in the kitchen when there isn’t a loving crowd to appreciate the effort that goes into cooking a Christmas feast. Moreover, a fridge full of leftovers isn’t much good if there isn’t a small army to feast on turkey sandwiches, turkey soup and turkey everything for the few days following Christmas.

Tips on How to Host and Cook Christmas Dinner for Two

It is, however, very possible to prepare a small Christmas dinner. Here are some practical ideas.

 Instead of buying a large turkey, purchase a free-range roasting chicken – a delicious and moist alternative.
 If turkey is a must-have, purchase one or two turkey breasts.
 A small amount of stuffing can be cooked in the oven and served beside the turkey breasts
 Instead of a full-sized Christmas tree, put up a string of lights in the room where dinner will be eaten, along with a few favourite Christmas decorations.
 Decorate the table with holly and candles – this is inexpensive and easy to clean up.
 For dessert, buy a small Christmas pudding or serve mince-meat pies – these can be purchased in single servings at delis or in packages of six at the grocery store.

Remember What Christmas is About

Christmas is about spreading love and joy. One of the best ways this is expressed is when one person opens his door to another. This year, if faced with a quiet Christmas, try something different – reach out to somebody else and invite him into your home for a small, but delicious Christmas dinner – there is no better gift during the Holiday season.