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By Mike Green

 

In August, our youngest child, Ross, packed most everything he owned into his 2003 Toyota Corolla and started a 2000 mile trek that would end in Los Angeles. This California destination will be his home for at least the next nine months and his mother and I are nervously wondering if it may be a permanent move. Ross has been “out of the house” for most of the past five years, but he was never more than a 45-minute drive from Tuscaloosa.  This move is, of course, much more significant for him and for us.

 

As parents of young children, then teenagers and eventually adults, our relationships with our kids go through many significant transitions. Navigating those transitional phases can be scary. Dropping a child off at college or giving our new 16-year-old the keys to the car and the freedom that goes with it can test all our previous commitments to trust our son or daughter. With two adult children, I have faced several of those transitions and I am sure I could learn much from many of you who have navigated far more of these “opportunities” than I have. But I would like to share a few insights that might just help those of you who will face them in the coming days.

 

First of all, trust yourself. After 13, 16 or even 20 plus years you have invested thousands of hours into your child’s development. And yes, you made far more mistakes than you think you should have.  You were not the perfect parent. But I know you care about your child. Why? Because you are taking the time to read this article. And though you are a flawed parent, your child has learned much from you. Even if some of their decision making as a teenager makes you question that. Here is one thing I have learned about teenagers: Sometimes they are very adept at not revealing that they are actually learning something. But far more is sinking in than you can imagine.

 

Second, trust your child. This is a general principle and not a hard and fast rule, so give me a little grace here if you will. Our kids love to rise to the level we expect of them. Let your children know you trust them. Verbally communicate that trust. Let them know that this new stage of life will test them and that you “can’t wait to see how they perform.” Then celebrate together when they do well.

 

Third, trust God. As I wrestle with my shortcomings as a parent this one gives me much needed peace. The bottom line is, your children are more God’s than they are yours. He loves them, aches for them when they are in pain, celebrates with them when they succeed and has the omniscient ability to be concerned with their well-being even when we are busy working our jobs, attending to other children or getting away for a much needed vacation with our spouse. I am convinced God is good. And that goodness means He is constantly concerned for our kids.  

 

I hope these insights are helpful. If you have some more please send them to me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

Mike and Laura Green have two grown children, Brittany and Ross. They serve on staff with Tuscaloosa Youth For Christ. Their first grandchild is due in September.

 

Photo Caption: Mike and Laura Green 

 

Article sponsored by Tuscaloosa Youth for Christ.

Find them on the web at: http://www.tuscaloosayfc.org

 

 

 

 

 

By Tori Linville

 

The smell of excitement and hamburgers is in the air, which can only mean one thing. Tailgating season is in full swing. Though the quad is the most thought-of area for tailgating areas, those who stay near to their vehicles deserve some tips and tricks just as much as the rest of us. If you’re one of those, it’s your lucky day. We’ve found a few car gadgets that can add a twist to your tailgating experience and have all your friends talking. So why wouldn’t you check them out?

 

Power Converter, $34.90

 

 

A power converter that can easily connect to your car via its cigarette lighter will always serve a purpose – whether it’s using the computer for a quick second or to charge a phone. While this is a smaller converter, using only 120 watts, it’s convenience is so versatile that you won’t regret making the purchase.

 

Portable Oven/Pizza Maker, $129.99

 

 

This one’s a no-brainer. It doesn’t take up much room, which is perfect for vehicles with little space. This Black and Decker beauty is engineered to cook a pizza in under five minutes, as long as its 12 inches or smaller. It doesn’t stop there, though. It can serve to cook frozen snacks such as Pizza Rolls, baked goods and the like. Perfect for the ultimate game day snacking.

 

Tailgate Grill, $619

 

 

If your family has a grill master who won’t settle for some Pizza Rolls, then a tailgate grill is the perfect idea for all your grilling needs. This particular grill locks at a 90 degree angle to allow you access to the back of your vehicle while still being able to cook up all the goodies your tailgate requires. When it’s time to pack up, the grill is removable and fits most vehicles.

 

On-the-Go Pet Cup Holder Bowl, $21.28

 

 

The family pet definitely isn’t forgotten on this list. While you can easily pack a bowl for water after you get to town, what about the ride there? This convenient to-go bowl fits snugly into a car’s cup holder while having a larger opening to hold water for your thirsty pal. While it may require more bathroom stops, a happy pet is worth it.

 

Car Awning, $699

 

 

If you don’t want the inconvenience of a short tent, or if you have limited tailgating space, a car awning is a great idea for keeping you (and most of your car) out of the glaring sun’s heat. With an easy set up, the awning only needs to attach to the car and you’re ready for game time. The best thing about this awning is that it comes in many different varieties and sizes, so it can fit multiple vehicle types.

 

Tailgaters’ Hammocks, $349.95

 

 

 

 

If a tailgate grill just isn’t up your alley, but ultimate relaxation is, you’re in luck. The tailgaters’ hammock was made with tailgaters in mind. The hammocks have an easy set up in just 10 minutes and can be stowed away in special packs when not in use. Plus, they’re just cool.

 

Image credits: Wayfair.com, Amazon.com, Amazon.com, Amazon.com, Rhinorack.com, and Gizmodo.com.

 

Article sponsored by Nationwide.

Find them on the web at: http://www.nationwide.com

 

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Cooking with venison (deer meat) can be challenging at first. Proper tenderizing and seasonings need to be added to enhance the flavor and cut down on the "gamey" taste that comes along with wild game. We first started cooking with venison as a way to cut costs at the grocery store meat department when prices started to skyrocket. I also found that I liked the fact that the meat was all natural, with no steroids or other additives. The following five recipes have become family favorites over the years.

                                                                                                                                         Sponsored by: 

By Liz Stephens

 

How did people get around before smartphones? I know we did, but for the life of me right now I can’t remember how I managed. I know I got lost. A lot. I hopped a lot of “express” trains in NYC, I missed multiple stops in D.C. and I somehow managed to take the wrong line in Boston (really? I mean there are only like FOUR choices).

 

In planning our first trip to London and Paris, I’ve run across some pretty useful little apps that help keep me organized and lower my anxiety levels tremendously. I’ve tried maybe 15 apps over the past four months, and only a handful are truly great enough to warrant a mention here. My hope is that some of you will find these useful as you plan your dream vacations as well. Some of these are paid apps – but none cost me more than $5. And even better, some are free.

 

TripIt

 

This one is my gem. Thanks to a travel-savvy friend, I snagged this (FREE) app quite a while ago, and I couldn’t be happier. TripIt let me design our travel itinerary in a snap. I created the trip, and gave my email address. TripIt automatically grabbed my flight confirmations, hotel reservations and our train reservations. All the information is there – confirm numbers, phone numbers and even maps to the hotels/train stations/airports. Boom!

 

Google Translate


Despite the fact that I studied French for two years in high school, my skills currently stink. I’ve been studying up, but I’m so nervous I’ll get flustered and forget what I’m trying to say. That’s where Google Translate (which was FREE) comes in: Just type in or say what you want to say in English and Google Translate automatically repeats the words in French for me. It works with a variety of different languages. While I’d love to rely on my basic French skills, if I fail, I have Google Translate as my emergency phone-a-friend.

 

London Tube and Metro Paris Subway

 

I’m lumping these two apps together because they do the same thing: Provide extensive transportation maps on London’s Tube and the Paris Metro, with color coding and simple, easy to understand directions. Both allow me to save trips for access when I don’t have a data connection. The Metro Paris Subway app also helps me find nearby taxi stands and Laduree (we will talk about my obsession with Lauduree at a later date). Need a cup of coffee? Oh look, the Nespresso place is 58 m away!

 

London Tube offers detailed subway maps and other bonuses as well. For $1 (well okay .99 but that annoys me), I was able to add the London Bus routes as well. I can easily switch back and forth – I enter one desired destination and this app shows me Tube and bus routes, allowing the choice. Neat, huh?

 

Honorable Mentions to Great Apps I think I’m Also Going to Love

 

XE Currency App: Need to convert Euros to U.S. dollars in a flash? This is your app. It’s super easy.

Rick Steves Audio Europe: You can download so many great audio tours for sights all over Europe to listen to offline as you tour around. Very useful. And free!

Today Tix: This app lets me find discount tickets for shows in London’s West End (it also works in NYC for you Broadway fans). It also alerts me if a show I REALLY want to see has released tickets at the last minute. Fingers crossed kids, this woman needs to see Benedict Cumberbatch in Hamlet.

 

 

Article sponsored by The Core.

Find them on the web at: http://thecoresite.com

 

 

 

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By Allison Adams

 

I’ve seen too many young people die recently. One was busy following the inherent dream he knew he had been meant to do since childhood. Another was busily working towards and close to the “one day” that he would be able to live the life he had set up to celebrate living. Another took his own life. There was no warning for either of these. In an instant life ended.

 

We have all heard it: We are just passing through - just a flutter of influence to hopefully make a difference in life. We have one chance, and one life. So why is it that some people embrace every opportunity, inviting the sunshine in, and others hide from the dark shadow of one tiny cloud on the very same horizon?

 

I know a couple. He is 90 and she is, well, let’s say in her late 60s (she likes to say that to feel “younger”). Every morning they exercise together. They travel and live life to the fullest. They have a date night each week. They didn’t marry until he was 80 – after each lost their “lifetime” loves and companions. A spark of life still lives on in them. Their inner youth is contagious. He recently crossed Grandfather Mountain with my husband and me with a spring in his step the whole way. Until I knew them, I barely thought of life into my 90s. Now, at almost 50 (I know! I can’t believe it! I wrote it!), I have hope that I can continue to live with a young heart as they do.

 

I know a man who is 70 and in a nursing home - his tired body tortured by years of vivid living. He sits around, not even interested in the old guitar that fed his ego and his life, simply waiting until the end of his chapter. Another woman in a nursing home sprints each day a visitor appears to beat them to the door. Her body is in good shape, but her mind is unable to comprehend what might happen should she make the escape.

 

I know some who covet items instead of activities. How many times have those “decorative treasures” been the very things that children remember over their accomplishments? A child runs in with the first finger painting she is proud of, dropping it on the expensive Oriental rug or smashing some trinket her mama always dreamed of acquiring. The creative moment is lost forever - squashed by the raging memory brought on about a spoiled square of wool or a broken vase.

 

What does this have to do with lake living? Well, everything and perhaps nothing. That is up to you to discover. Embrace today as if it might be your last. Find that place that reminds you of life. I still look at the lake with wonder, seeing a different wave or scene each day. Life is evident as deer make their way to the shore or a snake slithers across the yard, a large bird eyeing it from above. Today, new hummingbirds hovered around a feeder outside my window.

 

What do you see that makes you recharge with life?

 

If you didn’t catch the recent meteor shower, it’s not your fault. Too many of us are just living our lives with our heads in the sand. Today, make it a goal to get out of the sand and stick your toes in some cool grass. Toss a ball with a strangers kids if your own aren’t answering. I know, that is stepping out, right? We’re “not supposed to talk to strangers.” Freeing, isn’t it? You can’t be lonely when you just got challenged to meet new people!

 

Dig out that old ________ (you fill in the blank) from the garage or the attic. Remember how you used to love to use it. Go paddle that canoe, catch that fish you keep talking about, whack that ball, or fly that model airplane you’ve had boxed up and let it soar!  And lo and behold, get out that China and put away the paper. Use the real good stuff tonight. Use it every night. After all, you are still here, and isn’t that the best reason to celebrate?

 

Cheers! And if none of this puts life in your sails, just know, football is on the way!

 

Blessings.

Allison Adams

 

Find Allison’s musings at www.allisonpadams.com and her recent Tuscaloosa related coloring pages for all ages at www.southernscribblings.com. Follow her on Twitter at @ArtAllie.

 

Article sponsored by DCH Health System.

Find them on the web at: https://www.dchsystem.com

 

 

By Tori Linville

Watching Bama from home? Do it in luxury

 

If your deck or patio has seen more dried up leaves, stray grass and weeds this summer than actual activity, you might be in need of an outdoor living space overhaul. If you’re planning on watching the Alabama Crimson Tide play from the comfort of your own abode, you’ll certainly want to get the most out of your outdoor space.

 

Here are some of outdoor entertainment’s go-to top trends to help fix your outdoor woes so you can enjoy rolling with the Tide in true Crimson style.

 

First things first – start with an ideal outdoor room.

 

The classic outdoor room not only establishes an outdoor area, but also makes for a welcoming environment that guests will enjoy. The experts at bobvila.com have some great tips and tricks that make this seemingly overwhelming task a pretty easy fix.

 

Start with a roof that frames your outdoor area – a pergola with some vine potential or even an awning are some options to check out. After dealing with the roof, go to the ground: lay out an outdoor rug that compliments your color scheme and/or outdoor furniture.

 

Speaking of color schemes and what not, go for bulky(ish) furniture and earth tones that will obviously compliment the surroundings. Furniture pieces that allow for a guest to kick back and relax are almost always preferred over a dainty lawn chair (if those even exist). Easy care fabrics are an obvious choice for weather-wear.

 

Lastly, add some lighting. String lights are a popular craze, but anything you prefer will do. Just make sure to illuminate the area when it’s dark out.  

 

Next up: an unforgettable grill

 

If there’s one trend that will never go out of style, it’s the outdoor stovetop - otherwise known as a grill.

 

High-tech grills with tons of features can be found virtually everywhere. For example, the Saber Smart Edge Grill, with an infrared top and optional ceramic glass lid, is a Consumer Reports favorite. If watching the food slowly cook wasn’t enough, the grill hooks up to WiFi so a phone can keep track of when to cook, when to clean and when to fuel up.

 

If you’re looking for a more straightforward number, other Consumer Reports grills included the Weber Spirit E-220, the Weber Spirit SP-320 and a Kenmore grill.

 

 

Fire pits and outdoor fireplaces: A multipurpose focal point

 

Fire pits have been all the rage for a while now, and with good reason. As a center point for décor arrangements, the fire pit isn’t just for show. It provides warmth, light – and makes for a great s’mores maker.  

 

Outdoor fireplaces are also a popular choice, according to Keith McCormick with Willcutt Block & Supply Co.

 

“We usually see a spike in sales of outdoor fireplaces in the fall and in the spring. We sell a few during the hottest part of summer – but not as much.”

 

McCormick says the options for outdoor fireplaces are virtually unlimited.

 

“There are many different kinds,” he said. “There’s one that’s a masonry outdoor fireplace, and it can be veneered any way you want. We carry others that are for the most part pre-built.”

 

In terms of design, some people have a clear vision of their backyard fireplace oasis, while others are looking for a little more help.

 

“Some people have already done research and they know what they want,” McCormick said. “Others have a general idea and they need a way to make it a reality.”

 

These days, a homeowner can dream very big when it comes to outdoor spaces for entertaining. One suggestion: Call a professional to help with the larger plans. As the backyard or patio area is being transformed, start planning those Halloween parties, football parties and Thanksgiving gatherings with friends and loved ones. That’s the fun part, after all.

 

Photos: Keith McCormick

 

Captions (kind of generic but the photos are stunning, have fun with this one):

 

An outdoor fireplace can create a warm, inviting outdoor space.

 

The right outdoor fireplace (or fire pit) provides a dramatic focal point for outdoor entertaining.

 

 

Article sponsored by Russell Lee Flooring.

Find them on the web at: www.rslee.com

 

 

 

 

 

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By Marlena Rice

 

Fall is finally here: Hello cooler weather, back-to-school, and football! Parents who have gotten all too familiar with the easier flow of traffic from home to work are now readjusting their morning schedules to entertain the influx of school buses and University traffic that were easily forgotten during the summer months. As parents, as we adjust to our new schedules, our little people are adjusting as well. But with new schools, new classrooms, new teachers and new friends comes butterflies and anxiety that we may not be used to seeing in our children. See below a list of ways to combat “school refusal,” a common form of anxiety that many of our children experience, whether it is easily recognizable or not. 

 

So what is school refusal? I think all parents have experienced excess clinging during morning drop-offs to school, avoidance, flat-out defiance and the good old-fashioned tantrum. In older children, this refusal may occur in terms of “not feeling well” in attempts to stay home, away from all things that are causing their anxiety (the fear of not knowing the correct answers in class, having to meet new friends, or even worries about who to sit with at lunchtime), as well as real physical symptoms, like stomachaches, or nausea.*

 

Usually, these childhood fears dissipate over the course of learning a new routine. We have to wake up a little bit earlier to avoid the additional school traffic on the road in the mornings, and our children have to adjust their minds to what is new in their lives before becoming comfortable.

 

How can we, as parents, help to combat school refusal?

 

·       Don’t rush your mornings. Prepare lunches and backpacks the evening prior to bedtime and wake up just a little bit earlier in the mornings. This gives you time to eat breakfast with your child, talk about the day’s expectations and gives the child a chance to voice any concerns they may have.

 

·       For little ones entering a schooling environment for the first time, adjust them to school in small doses. Once assigned a classroom and teacher, ask if you can start dropping your child in for a few hours a day to help them adjust.

 

·       Talk with your children about their fears and feelings, and find solutions together for things that may cause them stress or concern. A good time to do this is during a family dinner when your child is relaxed and comfortable.

 

·       Encourage playdates for little ones and extracurricular activities for older children. This will help them relax while being around people their age in a similar environment. Having your child build excitement over activities that are school-related will not only encourage them to like attending each morning, but it may very well make them more in tune with the classroom aspects of school.

 

·       Most importantly, make yourself known at your children’s school. Know your child’s principals, directors, teachers and part-time aids. Not only is this a great way to let educators know just how involved you are, but your child will be proud that you are involved.

 

*While some of these symptoms are normal and affect a large majority of children, should you notice 

 your child not getting better, consult a mental health professional.*

 

Marlena Rice is a local mom and author. Her new book, Pacifiers, Flatbeds and Barn Wood Thingamajigs, a 'Come to Jesus Guide' for the New, Southern Mom,” will be available on Amazon.com this fall. Follow Marlena on Instagram at marlena_rice.

 

Article sponsored by ERC Roofing and Construction.

Find them on the web at: http://alabamaroofingexpert.com

 

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By Amy Poore

 

Whether you’re attending a tailgating party on the Quad or hosting a backyard gathering at home, this is a recipe that is sure to please any football fan. The Mini Pimento Cheese Ball Bites are perfect for tailgate gatherings, and the prep time is super quick. You can make the pimento cheese well ahead of time.

 

Bon appétit!

                                                                                                                                    Sponsored by: 

By Sheena Gregg

 

Chances are, your fall revolves around football season. Hungry out of towners and locals alike can all agree that food is a must with football. Check out our suggestions for a place to grab a bite before or after the game!

The Waysider 
A great day starts with a great breakfast. Fluffy, delicious pancakes, country potatoes, and mouthwatering bacon make a trip to the Waysider a Tuscaloosa tradition. Donned in Alabama memorabilia and nostalgic décor of the Crimson Tide’s most famous characters, out-of-town guests will thank you for bringing them to The Waysider.

Big Bad Wolves Barbecue 
If you’re looking for something right on The Strip, Big Bad Wolves BBQ, next to The Houndstooth, will give you the game day experience you’ve been looking for. Massive barbecue nachos will make your time in line worth the wait.

DePalma’s Italian Cafe
Italian cuisine may not scream football season, but it does scream delicious. Made from scratch pastas and signature dishes complement the cozy yet upscale space for lunch or dinner on your game day weekend.  If you’ve got room for dessert, don’t forget to order the white chocolate bread pudding!

Avenue Pub
Featuring brunch, lunch, and dinner, the Avenue Pub aims to please. Buffalo sliders, fish & chips, bacon burgers, and Thai nachos will make your mouth water. Specialty cocktails and craft beers make this the ideal place to stop after the game. 

Rama Jama’s 
With menu items like the “14 National Champs BLT,” the “Ain’t Nothing But a Winner Polish Dog,” and the “Touchdown Burger Platter,” how could you not want to stop here before the game? Located conveniently beside Bryant-Denny Stadium, Rama Jama’s is a people pleaser for locals and out-of-towners alike.

Mellow Mushroom
Pizza makes the world go round, especially for a family crowd looking for tasty eats on game day weekend. Mellow Mushroom boasts a perfectly textured crust combined with traditional and unique pizza toppings, and it’s conveniently located in downtown Tuscaloosa.

Archibald’s Barbecue
If you and your crew are looking for a treasure off the beaten path, consider Archibald’s Barbecue. Featured in one of ESPN’s original “Taste of the Town” segments, Archibald’s Barbecue in Northport has ribs described as “the best in the nation.” Creamy coleslaw and old-fashioned white bread keep Archibald’s customers craving more.

Photos: Sheena Gregg

Sheena Gregg is a registered dietitian and local “Filipino Foodie.” Follow her adventures at www.afilipinofoodie.com.

CAPTIONS:

RamaJamas: Rama Jama’s is located right next to Bryant-Denny stadium.

AvenuePub: The Avenue Pub offers great pub fare in downtown Tuscaloosa.

MellowMush: Enjoy tasty pizzas, sandwiches and more at Mellow Mushroom.

 

Article sponsored by Alabama Power.

Find them on the web at: http://www.alabamapower.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

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