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4 family activities for a fun Halloween at home

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If you want to celebrate Halloween with your kids from the comfort of your home, here are a few on-theme activities the whole family will enjoy.

1. Play board games
There’s no better time to play games like The Werewolves of Millers Hollow, Cauldron Quest, and Ghost Blitz than on Halloween. You can also play monster-themed charades or Pictionary.

2. Sing karaoke
Choose a selection of songs that suit the occasion and belt out the lyrics on your own or as a group. Your playlist can include Monster (Lady Gaga), Zombie (The Cranberries), and Ghostbusters (Ray Parker Jr.).

3. Organize a photo shoot
Make a creepy backdrop and show off your costumes in a makeshift photo booth. Alternatively, you can host a fashion show in your living room.


4. Make a home movie
Recreate scenes from classic Halloween movies like The Nightmare Before Christmas and Hocus Pocus or write your own script. Make sure everyone has the chance to play a fun role.

Once your little monsters are in bed, wrap up the evening in your pajamas with a bowl of popcorn and a scary movie.

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5 tips for taking care of rose bushes

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Roses can easily become the star of your garden. While the climbing varieties are tricky to care for, rose bushes present less of a challenge. Here are some tips for taking care of them.

1. Water them sufficiently
Roses need to be watered on a regular basis, especially in the spring. Do so early in the morning and apply mulch to help the soil retain moisture. Water the base of the plant to avoid getting the leaves wet.

2. Fertilize them sparingly
Rose bushes don’t need to be fertilized every year. However, if the soil is lacking in nutrients, you can apply a natural, nitrogen-rich fertilizer in the spring to stimulate new growth. In July, opt for a phosphorus mixture to promote flowering.

3. Prune them annually
In spring, remove branches that are diseased, damaged, or growing inward before the buds open. Keep healthy canes, but cut them back by about a third of their length. Always prune just above a bud that’s pointing outward from the plant.


4. Rejuvenate them periodically
Rose bushes benefit from being severely pruned back every five years or so. This is an effective way to rejuvenate the plant and encourage new growth. Identify a few older canes and cut them just above ground level.

5. Check them frequently
Rose bushes are susceptible to diseases such as powdery mildew, rust, and black spot. They also attract a number of harmful insects including aphids, caterpillars, and beetles. Inspect your plants regularly and treat them as needed.

Find everything you need to care for your rose bushes at your local nursery or garden center.

 

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How to help kids overcome sports performance anxiety

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There are numerous benefits to playing team sports growing up. However, as your child advances to more competitive levels or strives to be as good as a friend, they may begin to experience anxiety and fears about their performance. This can affect their self-esteem and even cause your child to abandon the sport they love. As a parent, here’s how you can ease some pressure and help your kid have fun.

Win as a team, lose as a team
Let your child know they’re not the only player on their team, and the outcome of a game depends on a lot more than just one individual’s performance. Teamwork, practice and the skill level of opponents are all contributing factors when it comes to the result of a particular game. Remind your kid that losing doesn’t mean they didn’t play well or have fun.

Be respectful on the sidelines
Never boo or get angry in front of your child, even if you’re upset about the conduct of another player or disagree with a call made by the referee. If you want to express your concerns about a decision, wait until after the game to speak with the coach. This will help you avoid embarrassing your child and give you time to calm down.

Most importantly, remember to offer your child plenty of encouragement both on and off the field.


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How to make your yard safe for kids

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Are you a parent or grandparent to young children? If so, it’s important to think about risk prevention when you design your landscaping. This will ensure you can provide a safe space for your little ones to play. Here are a few tips to get you started.

• Create a designated space to safely store tools, fertilizers, pool chemicals, and other potentially dangerous items. Don’t keep toys in the same area.

• If you plan to build a multi-tiered garden, consider using ornamental gates and ramps to reduce the risk of falls.

• Make sure pools, ponds, and other bodies of water are fenced off and only accessible through a gate that latches. Check if your municipality has height requirements.


• If you use stakes to support climbing plants in your vegetable garden, cover the ends to prevent injuries in the event that someone trips and falls.

Finally, when it comes to populating your garden, choose non-toxic species without latex or thorns. Or better yet, opt for edible plants.

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Why cats love boxes

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Does your cat enjoy cardboard boxes? Here’s a look at why they make a great place for your feline friend to play.

• They make your pet feel safe. When given the choice, cats tend to prefer boxes that are a little snug. While research is needed, some specialists suspect this is because small spaces remind cats of being huddled together with their siblings as a kitten.

• They’re an ideal place to hide. Cats have strong hunting instincts, and an empty box provides the perfect place to lie in wait and pounce on prey. Hiding in a box also makes it harder for predators to sneak up behind them.

• They provide a warm oasis. Cardboard retains heat, which makes boxes an ideal place for your cat to snuggle up and sleep. What’s more, studies show that having a box to retreat to can reduce stress in cats and make them more social.


• They’re great for scratching. Cats can sink their claws into cardboard, which shreds easily and makes a satisfying sound when torn. Scratching allows felines of all kinds to stretch, keep their claws sharp and mark their territory.

Though cardboard boxes are a fun, safe toy for cats to play with, it’s best to provide your furry friend with a variety of toys and hideaways. Your local pet stores have everything you need.

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Are you insured for spring disasters?

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Beautiful spring brings May flowers and sunny weather. But it can also bring tornados, hurricanes, earthquakes, and floods.

Insurance policies are pretty dry reading and many homeowners aren’t at all familiar with what types of disaster coverage they really have. They may not realize that standard homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover flood damage. Or they don’t realize that earthquakes aren’t covered. Or they don’t know whether their policy will cover mortgage payments if they suffer a disability. If you really hate to read policies, make a list of questions to ask your insurance agent.

Experts at the Alliance of American Insurers, a trade association in Downers Grove, Ill., say it’s important to read your policy before a disaster strikes. A 1999 study by the Insurance Research Council shows that 60 percent of Americans believe that a major natural disaster is likely to hit them in the next 10 years. But just 6 percent had flood insurance and only 17 percent had earthquake insurance.

Standard homeowner’s insurance covers fire, vandalism (but it might not cover riots), explosions, lightning, wind, hail, falling objects, and water damage from plumbing. They also provide liability and theft protection. All policies are not the same. Homeowners should know what their policy covers.


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What you should know before you adopt a bird

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Are you thinking about adopting a bird? If so, it’s important to do your research first. This will ensure you know what it takes to care for a bird before you make a commitment. Here’s some information to get you started.

Birds are social
Many bird species require constant companionship, either from their caretakers or other birds. Parrots, in particular, are gregarious creatures that need plenty of mental stimulation and social interaction. If they don’t get enough attention, this can lead to boredom, depression, behavioral problems, and even illnesses.

Birds are noisy
While not all birds talk, most will sing, whistle, chirp, screech, caw, and coo. It’s important to know that large species tend to be louder, but many small birds chatter constantly. It’s vital that you take noise into account when selecting a bird, especially if you live in an apartment building or work from home.

Birds need space
These winged creatures were made to be free, and most birds don’t enjoy being in a cage for long periods of time. Therefore, you’ll need to provide them with space where they can safely play and fly around, either in a specific room or area of your home.



Finally, it’s important to consider the cost of caring for a bird. In addition to their cage, toys, and food, your feathered friend will need to see a specialized veterinarian, which can be more expensive. Plus, many species live for decades, even upward of 50 years.

If you want to adopt a bird or learn more about what it takes to care for a feathered friend, visit a local pet store or animal shelter.

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Upcoming Events

May
19
Wed
12:00 pm Tap into Your CEO Power @ Online Event
Tap into Your CEO Power @ Online Event
May 19 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Tap into Your CEO Power @ Online Event
Many business owners struggled with the consequences of COVID-19 in 2020. Now, more than a year later, many of those same business owners have turned chaos into creativity finding new opportunities for growth. The Fauquier[...]
May
22
Sat
10:00 am Backcountry Basics: Earth Connec... @ Sky Meadows State Park
Backcountry Basics: Earth Connec... @ Sky Meadows State Park
May 22 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Backcountry Basics: Earth Connection Series @ Sky Meadows State Park
Meet at the Carriage Barn in Historic Area. Connect with the park’s landscape and get a taste of the skills you need to thrive in the backcountry. Participants will join experienced outdoor skills instructor Tim[...]
10:00 am Six-Button Mess – Civil War Enca... @ Sky Meadows State Park
Six-Button Mess – Civil War Enca... @ Sky Meadows State Park
May 22 @ 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Six-Button Mess - Civil War Encampment @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area. Journey back in time and immerse yourself in the sights, sounds and smells of a Civil War Encampment. Interact with the Six-Button Mess as they perform daily tasks of the Confederate soldiers. See[...]
May
23
Sun
10:00 am Six-Button Mess – Civil War Enca... @ Sky Meadows State Park
Six-Button Mess – Civil War Enca... @ Sky Meadows State Park
May 23 @ 10:00 am – 2:00 pm
Six-Button Mess - Civil War Encampment @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area. Journey back in time and immerse yourself in the sights, sounds and smells of a Civil War Encampment. Interact with the Six-Button Mess as they perform daily tasks of the Confederate soldiers. See[...]
May
30
Sun
10:00 am Stroll Along the Stream: Riparia... @ Sky Meadows State Park
Stroll Along the Stream: Riparia... @ Sky Meadows State Park
May 30 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Stroll Along the Stream: Riparian Buffer Exploration @ Sky Meadows State Park
Meet at Backcountry Trailhead. Explore the Gap Run’s unique ecosystem called a “riparian buffer,” the zone of trees, shrubs, and other vegetation alongside waterways. Discover the amazing ways our native plants protect water quality and[...]
Jun
5
Sat
10:00 am Clean the Bay Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Clean the Bay Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Jun 5 @ 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
Clean the Bay Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Boston Mill Road Trail near Park Office. Learn how fences and tree plantings improve water quality at Sky Meadows State Park. Stop by our Explorer Outpost table along the Boston Mill Road Trail where kids[...]
10:00 am National Trails Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
National Trails Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Jun 5 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
National Trails Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Meet at the intersection of the Boston Mill Road and James Ball trails. Get your hands dirty as we work to improve the hiking experience on James Ball Trail. Discover how uncontrolled water erodes topsoil,[...]
11:00 am Backcountry Crash Course: Earth ... @ Sky Meadows State Park
Backcountry Crash Course: Earth ... @ Sky Meadows State Park
Jun 5 @ 11:00 am – Jun 6 @ 11:15 am
Backcountry Crash Course: Earth Connection Series @ Sky Meadows State Park
Meet at the Overnight Parking lot. Ready to try backcountry camping? Spend 24 hours in nature learning backcountry skills and survival techniques with professional outdoor instructor Tim MacWelch. With Sky Meadows’ Backcountry Campground as the[...]
12:00 pm The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
Jun 5 @ 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm
The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
Blacksmith Shop in the Historic Area. The forge is fired up and the blacksmiths are hard at work in the Historic Area. Members of the Blacksmith Guild of the Potomac have set up shop and[...]
Jun
12
Sat
11:00 am VA State Parks History and Cultu... @ Sky Meadows State Park
VA State Parks History and Cultu... @ Sky Meadows State Park
Jun 12 @ 11:00 am – 3:00 pm
VA State Parks History and Culture: Water Powered Mills @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area. Over 50 streams and waterways crisscross Fauquier County, once powering nearly 300 mills and providing an important service to local farmers such as Abner Settle. Located in close proximity to Sky Meadows, along[...]