Category Archives: Learning and Education

December 2015 All About Art

December2015"The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls" Pablo Picasso

This month, December 2015, is full of articles on art.  You'll find articles on Art Therapy, the creative process in writing a song, hanging your artwork, and tips to starting your own art collection.   Jayna Mistry has an article entitled:  The World Needs More Artists.  We agree.  More and more schools are shutting down art programs, at the expense of all our communities.  Check out the article on page 55 about a wonderful company called Trades of Hope, helping to empower women out of poverty.

Of course your'll some of the latest fashion trends and the trends in coats.

Be sure to check out our featured wellness article on page 17 on Art Therapy.    Adult coloring books are all the rage, we have had a hard time keeping them on our Arts Blocks by Stuart Miles at FDPshelves in our store.  Art therapy is being utilized to help children with traumatic brain injuries or for PTSD.  It is a form of yoga for the brain.  Coloring encourages imagination which is great for children, but it is also good for adults.  Imagination is the stuff dreams are made of and helps light a fire to our passion.

Be sure and check out this months Your True Colours Magazine.

Photo credits by Stuart Miles at



Picking the Best Toys – Gifts for Children

Puppet Theater
With an infinite list, it seems, of choices to choose from; how do you pick the right gifts for children?  Today we'll discuss the pros and cons of electronics verses more traditional toys and gifts.  Check it out.

Play is very important in all aspects of your child's growth, and toys are really part of developmental learning.  It is rumored that Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, didn't let his kids play with iPads.   So tune in for an interesting discussion and learn about some ideal gifts for children.

When selecting from the overwhelming choices of toys in today's marketplace, we have some great tips. Look for toys that:

1. Foster learning and open-ended play. Toys that come with all the bells and whistles often fill in the blanks that your children's mind could be filling in and imagining.

2. Provide endless play.  Studies show that when a toy has particular functions, they will not be creative with it. Quality toys will grow with the child.

3. Will last forever (or at least one childhood). Flimsy plastic toys break. Kids can be rough and should be. Solid wood toys can last for decades.

4. Ditch the batteries and cords. Electronics have their place in our world, but it's not on the toy row. Quit ignoring all the studies and do your kids a favor, limit or completely eliminate electronics.

5. Don't worry about the gender. The giant wooden kitchen and dollhouse in our retail store are popular with both boys and girls. Boys eat in kitchens and live in houses, too. Girls like to construct and have a good sword fight occasionally.

6. Pick age appropriate. Don't rely on the government approved age stamped on the packaging, those are for safety, not playing.Art Easel

Here's some ideas for age appropriate toys:

Infants - safe stuffed toys, things they can reach for, shake, make noise, and stick in their mouth, unbreakable mirrors.

Toddlers - things to pretend with (dolls, telephones, puppets), things to create with (non-toxic washable crayons and markers), picture books.

Pre-School - things for problem solving, building, dress-up, musical instruments.

girl recieving gift Stuart Miles by freedigitalphotos.netMost importantly, parents need to spend time playing with their children. You can't sit down and bury your face in email or Facebook and expect your children to remain content playing with themselves without an electronic babysitter.

We opened our toy store and wellness center with a goal in mind, to help individuals and families life a more joy-filled passionate life with good health and vitality. We are toy experts and can help you find real toys that inspire creativity and imagination and are really quite fun.

Feel free to contact us for toy ideas, that is what we do. Our store is a virtual laboratory to observe children playing every day.

Kally and Mark for webWhat was or still is your favorite toy?

Do you have tips for getting your children off technology and playing with toys?

Let us know - we want to hear from you!

Have a wonderful holiday season.

Mark and Kally

Our latest episode on the Get Real! with Mark and Kally:  Picking the Right Toy for Your Children

Exercise is Great Medicine to Increase Brain Power

Active Woman Posing With Dumbbells by stockimages at Freedigitalphotos.netIt is time to go back to school for many.  We all know the benefits of exercise for your health.  In fact it is essential.   Research actually shows that exercise is vitally important for keeping your mind sharp and your brain functioning.  Exercise is one of the best ways to increase brain power.

I recently dealt with a frozen shoulder and this limited a lot of my normal physical activity.   I also noticed a little more brain fog. Finally my shoulder is 'unfreezing' or thawing as my physical therapist puts it. I'm back full steam exercising.  I can't believe how stiff and out of shape I got.  But I will tell you that I have noticed a huge increase in my energy, no more brain fog, and and I don't need as much sleep - I wake up energized and refreshed.

There are several studies that suggest that exercise can boost brain power.  Physically fit kids have more 'white matter' in their brains; greater ability for memory, learning and attention.

According to Laura Chaddock-Heyman a postdoctoral researcher with the department of psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, "Aerobically fit and physically fit children have improved brain health and superior cognitive (thinking) skills than their less-fit peers."

Exercise helps you study, focus, improve brain function, your ability to learn new things, and increase energy.  It is a great remedy and help for improving your performance with your studies.

Research tells us that our bodies are hardwired for movement.  Dr. Darren Weissman in his book 'Awakening to the Secret Code of Your Mind' stated, "Think about it - if movement is integral to the optimal function of the brain, what happens when we're not moving?  I believe it means we're actually limiting our ability to achieve our highest potential."

But exercise isn't just about keeping our bodies fit, or improving test scores; it also helps to reduce the risk of memory disorders including Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia. Some memory loss is normal as we age, but we can keep our brain active by staying active ourselves.

Even after just a few weeks of a moderate exercise program, studies show improved brain function.  No study has ever shown that a drug can do what is possible with exercise.Health Pyramid Shows Fitness Strength And Wellbeing by Stuart Miles at

So whether you are in school, middle aged or a senior; you will absolutely benefit from exercise.  Make it fun.  Even if you are physically impaired or bed ridden, there is a lot you can do even if all you can do is take deep breaths.

It doesn't matter so much what you do as long as you are moving.  Variety is nice as it uses different movements.  But do what you enjoy and have fun and keep moving.  Shoot for an average of 30 minutes 5 times weekly.   Just make exercise a priority.

As for what is the best exercise...well that is a big topic itself.  There are all kinds of exercise theory and programs out there and many are wonderful.  But it doesn't matter if you are not enjoying yourself.  If you are walking on the treadmill and hating it - you are not reaping as many benefits.  I had an exercise device in my bedroom for years and I hated it - I never used it.  It did make a great and expensive place to hang clothes.

I enjoy walking, bike riding, hiking, resistance training with bands, Jazzercise, Yoga, Zumba, weight lifting, going to the gym where the teacher pushes me, and sometimes walking on the treadmill.  You don't have to spend a lot of money either.  Cans of food make great weights.  I've been known to do the dancing games with my kids.  Recently I discovered Ageless Grace, an exercise program for everyone.  If you live in the Gila Valley, Irene teaches you how to do the Ageless Grace program.  Check out her page and information and come join us.

If you need some motivation, get a friend or a coach/mentor.  If I don't feel like walking, I'll call a friend while walking; or I get on the treadmill and read.  It makes the time pass easier.  Find an exercise partner.   Challenge someone to join you.

The benefits are clear, you can notice a difference yourself.  And the studies clearly show that the key to staying younger, keeping your body and your mind fit and to increase brain power, you need to exercise.

Of course check with your doctor before beginning a new fitness program.

Chile144 (640x480)What is your favorite exercise program?  How do you stay fit?  Leave a comment below.


P.S. That's me kayaking, I love it.

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Photo credits:  Stock Photos and Stuart Miles at