#ReadAcrossAmericaDay

Today we observe Dr. Seuss’s birthday by motivating children in every neighborhood and community to read.  All across the nation, people of all ages develop activities to inspire young children to expand their mind through the art of reading.  “Research has shown that children who are motivated and spend more time reading do better in school.”

In honor of Read Across America Day, we are providing you with a few tips to help you get involved, not only today, but in improving childhood literacy overall, because, in the words of Dr. Seuss himself, “You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read with a child.”

  1. Join your local Read Across America event as a guest reader or host.
  2. Get the local middle school and high school students involved. They can hold book fairs, read to elementary school students, or create engaging theatrical events.
  3. Reach out to local businesses for book donations or as a place to hold a reading event.
  4. Create a multicultural event. By involving storytellers from many different ethnicities who speak many different languages, you will expose children to many new and interesting stories.
  5. Make it a special day. Hold a reading ball where kids are encouraged to dress up as their favorite character.
  6. Take a field trip to a local library or bookstore. Most libraries and bookstores hold events all day for children.  You can look online or call your local stores and libraries to see what events they have planned.
  7. Most importantly, have fun! Reading should be fun for everyone.  A lot of children don’t realize the importance of reading to their overall development, but the creativity, focus, comprehension, and broadening of their imagination will be invaluable to the rest of their education.

Remember this, you don’t have to be a teacher or librarian to inspire kids to read.  All it takes is spending time with them and showing them that reading is more than sitting and trying to remember words, it’s about the using their imagination to make stories come to life.  For more details on Read Across America Day, you can click this link.

http://www.nea.org/grants/read-across-background.html

 

 

 

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New Year, New Resolutions

It’s 2017! And with a new year comes new personal goals and challenges. Haven’t decided on a New Year’s resolution? Why not try one of the 7 we’ve listed below?

Learn a new language

Learning a new language can seem daunting and is certainly a challenge but thanks to technology, anyone can practice and learn the basics to another language. Our Marketing Manager, Kaylee Kirsch, has been using the Pittsburgh based app Duolingo to learn Spanish. Although she’s nowhere near fluent (and probably won’t be anytime soon), she can string together simple phrases. The free app boasts over 15 different languages for users to pick from. Users only need five to ten minutes a day to practice and the app’s game-like structure makes it fun and easy to use.

Travel

For 2017, resolve to unleash your inner wanderlust. Traveling gives you a new perspective. It opens your eyes to different cultures, gives us new experiences and memories, and teaches us a little more about ourselves. Don’t have the money for a cross country excursion or a week’s stay in Europe? Search online for inexpensive weekend getaways in your area. In some areas you can take a weekend trip for a couple hundred dollars.

Pay off debt

If your goal for 2017 is to pay off debt, now is the time to create a budget for the New Year. Budgeting will allow you to see what you are spending within a certain time frame. You’ll be better able to recognize which spending habits you can cut out of your daily, weekly, or monthly routine. Other tips for paying off debt: first pay off whichever credit card has the highest interest rate, pay more than the minimum, and halt your credit card spending entirely.

Hit the gym

Most people set a goal of getting in shape at the beginning of each year. To help keep this resolution alive throughout the year, set an actual goal that you are working towards such as running a 5k or beating a personal record. If you’re just starting out at the gym, set a realistic goal for incorporating it into your routine. For instance, going to the gym three days a week is often more realistic than trying to hit the gym six days a week. Once you are in a routine, you can add days to your schedule to challenge yourself. Also, don’t forget to add variety to your workouts. It not only helps you tone and lose weight by challenging your body but will also keep you interested in your workouts.

Rein in your diet

Another common resolution is to improve one’s diet. Eating right can be difficult. There’s portions to think about, nutrients, calories, fat, sugars, etc. There is also the issues associated with cost, feeling satisfied, time, and the social aspect of eating out. If eating healthy is a struggle, try incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet. You can also try meatless Monday’s in an effort to eat healthier. Look for online recipes that offer fast, healthy meal options and of course, look out for quarterly posts to our blog from Registered Dietitian, Caroline West Passerrello, MS, RDN, LDN.

Reduce stress

Stress can have a negative impact on our health and well-being. Stress has been known to negatively affect people’s mental and physical health causing a wide range of issues from depression, weight gain, loss of sleep, and loss of appetite. If reducing stress is your goal, the Mayo Clinic recommends “daily practice of stress-reduction techniques, such as deep breathing, massage, tai chi or yoga. Many people manage stress through practicing mindfulness in meditation or being in nature.” Practicing these techniques overtime can help lower your stress and help improve your overall well-being.

Read more  

Bookworms around the world rejoice as each passing year scientists confirm to the world what book lovers have known for quite some time now, reading is good for your health. If your resolution is to cut down on screen time, you might want to pick up a book. Reading has been proven to help those struggling with depression, can help keep your mind sharp and help ward off Alzheimer’s disease, and can help to improve sleep.  So next time you’re looking to relax, open a book rather than turning the TV on. Looking for a good book to read? Check out the list of our employees’ favorite books.

 

 

Source: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/basics/stress-relief/hlv-20049495

Babb’s Holiday Gift Guide: Monthly Subscriptions Edition, Pt. 1

Subscription services have seen a surge in subscribers over the last few years.  The ease, choices, and availability of the types of services you can subscribe to monthly is so diverse.  If you are someone who needs to try things before buying a large quantity of something, then a subscription service might be for you.  They are also a great way to keep giving to your loved one or friend all year.

Today is part 1 of our subscription services edition of our Holiday Gift Guide.  We are highlighting products including streaming services, beauty and style, food, and book subscriptions.  Enjoy!

Steaming Services

Netflix, $7.99-$11.99/month depending on plan:  If you don’t already have a subscription to Netflix you are seriously missing out.  Not only do they offer you a wide variety of TV shows, movies, documentaries, etc., but there original programming is some of the best out there.  There are 3 plans to choose from:  basic, standard, and premium, and when you join, your first month is free.  The best part?  You can watch on your TV (smart TVs, gaming consoles, Chromecast, Applte TV, etc.), computers, tablets, and smart phones.  And, now you can download shows and movies to watch later when you aren’t in a WiFi capable area.  All in all, Netflix is a great gift not only for your loved ones, but for yourself as well.

Hulu, starting at $7.99/month:  Similar to Netflix, Hulu offers you the ability to watch almost every TV show immediately after it airs on television.  They have also stepped into the original programming market and offer a wide variety of shows that Hulu has produced themselves.  If you have television shows that you love to watch but aren’t always capable of catching them when they air, Hulu is definitely a great choice for you.  Plans start at $7.99 and those include commercial breaks, but you can choose to pay a little more each month for commercial free programming.  Plus, when you sign up, you get your first week free.

Amazon Prime, $99/year:  When you subscribe to Amazon Prime, you get so much more than just free 2-day shipping on anything you could possibly ever want.  With your subscription you get Amazon Instant Video as well, a service that offers TV shows from all different networks, movies, documentaries, and Amazon Originals.  You also have the ability to purchase additional packages for specialty channels including HBO, Starz, Showtime, Cinemax, and more.  They are additional costs to your yearly Prime membership, but they are a great deal especially if you only pay for cable each month to get those premium channels.  Check out Amazon Prime to see all of the amazing benefits.

Beauty 

Scentbird, $14.95/month:  Each month you get to try a different designer perfume.  Once you sign up, you get to pick which perfume you would like to choose from over 450 options.  When you have made you selection, they will send you a 0.27oz sample of your selected scent with a refillable case to put it in (the refillable case comes with your first order).  If you love or know someone who loves trying new scents, this is the subscription to buy.

Ipsy, $10/month:  When you sign up for Ipsy, you are asked to take a short beauty quiz that helps the beauty stylists curate the perfect monthly glam bag.  In your glam bag you will receive 5-6 deluxe samples of makeup, perfume, makeup brushes, skincare, hair car, etc.  Some of these products will be sample sizes and some will be full size products.  The best part is that it is only $10 a month and you get a cute and stylish makeup bag to reuse.  If there are products that you really like, as a member, you can log on to the site to purchase them at a discount.

Stitch Fix, pay for what you keep:  Are you someone who just doesn’t have the time to go shopping for work or street clothes?  Stich Fix is definitely a great idea for you.  It is a personal styling service for men and women that pairs you with a stylist who will help pick out clothes, shoes, and accessories based on your tastes, needs, and your lifestyle.  All you have to do is let them know what your style and sizes are and what you are willing and able to spend.  Each delivery you will get 5 pieces to try and test out.  You can keep and buy the pieces you like and send back what you don’t.  This is a great tool for people who just don’t have the time to shop for themselves or honestly just don’t like to do it.

Food 

Winc (Formerly Club W), $13 per bottle:  Do you like to drink wine but have a hard time picking out new brands or styles of wine?  When you sign up for Club W they ask you to answer 6 easy questions to determine your palate and then send you wines based on your profile.  Once you try the wine, you can rate them to help them give you better recommendations in the future.  If you don’t like a bottle, you don’t have to pay for it and you can skip a month at any time in your subscription for free.

Graze, $11.99 for 8 snacks (first sampler box is free):  If you are tired of the normal snack options (chips, cookies, etc.) Graze is a great idea for you to try.  You get to tell them what types of snacks you enjoy and pick a box size and then they pick different snacks based on your preferences for you to try.  Then all you do is wait to receive your box either every week or every two weeks.  The snacks chosen are not only tasty, they are also all good for you in some way and you are also able to let them know if you have any allergies.  Check out their story and their mission to providing delicious and beneficial snacks to you on their site.

Blue Apron, $59.94 for 2-person meal plan (after $29.94 first week discount), $69.92 or $139.84 for family meal plan (after $39.92 or $109.84 first week discount):  Love to cook but don’t know how to make the incredible recipes you see all over Instagram?  Blue Apron is a weekly meal service delivery that sends you a box full of farm fresh, seasonal, and no added hormone ingredients to create 3 specially crafted recipes.  They take the hassle and anxiety out of shopping for meal ingredients to create gorgeous and tasty meals for you and your loved ones.  You are able to tailor your ingredients and recipes to your tastes with the best ingredients that are already pre-portioned so you don’t have to worry about getting portion sizes right.  You can choose from 2-person or family meal plans, and get 2-4 recipes to make per week.  If you want to step up your cooking game, this is the service for you or anyone you know that loves to cook.

Reading

Book of the Month Club, 3 months for $14.99/mo, 6 months for $16.99/mo, and 12 months for $11.99/mo:  On the first of each month, The Book of the Month Club release its list of books to choose from for that month.  You have until the 6th to choose what book you would like to receive that month.  If you want, you can buy extra books for an additional $9.99.  If you decide you don’t like any of the books offered, you can very easily just skip that month.

Muse Monthly, $29.50 monthly:  If you love to cuddle up with a good book and a cup of tea, this subscription box is for you.  Every month you will receive a new book and box (or tin) of tea.  Muse Monthly specially pairs your book with a tea that provides a unique experience for the reader.  There is almost nothing better to an avid reader than spending an afternoon with a hot cup of tea and a great read.

The Book Drop, ranges from $9-$90 depending on what level and package you choose:  The Book Drop is a subscription service run by an independent bookshop located in Bethany Beach.  Each month they choose a new book based on what your preferences are and what option you choose.  There are 4 options to choose from:  the Jane, the Ernest, Young Adult, and Children 8-12.  Within each box you will receive a book, a note about why they love and chose that book, a list of books for that month, and at least one extra present.

“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.”

November is upon us and so is the cold weather we have all been dreading.  But, cold weather means snuggling up with a nice hot cup of cocoa or hot tea and a good book.  Reading is such an important part of our mental health and overall well-being.

We wanted to inspire you to take a few minutes each day to read, so we asked our employees tell us about their favorite books or the books they are currently reading.

Start with Why by Simon Sinek

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Russell Livingston – President & CEO of Babb, Inc.

This is one of my all-time favorites!  By studying what great leaders have done to become successful and create successful ventures, Sinek is able to pinpoint how a business and its leaders can create an atmosphere of success.  It isn’t just about what you do, you have to discover the why behind what you do.  If you are looking to find inspiration as a leader or to inspire others to be great, this is a great book to help you get started.

Another great book on leadership by Sinek is Leaders Eat last, is a continuation of Start with Why on how to get your employees and potential collaborators engaged with your why.

Hamilton by Ron Chernow

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Samantha Melaragno – Administrative & Marketing Assistant

I think, by now, we have all heard about the revolutionary Broadway musical Hamilton.  But did you know that its creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, got inspired by Ron Chernow’s book about one of our Founding Fathers, Alexander Hamilton?  As a history buff, if I may be so bold, I was drawn to this book after hearing so many positive reviews, and they were all 100% right.  What Ron Chernow is able to do with this historical biography is what many others cannot.  He successfully navigates between history, facts, and details, while simultaneously writing in such a manner that you cannot help but become emotionally involved in Hamilton’s story.  If you are like me and enjoy reading historical books, you will love this book.  Even if you aren’t that interested in history, this book is still a great read because it will teach you a little bit more about what our ancestors had to do in order to create this great country in which we get to live.

Other books I highly recommend are:  Bossypants by Tina Fey, the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan, Atonement by Ian McEwan, and Lord of the Flies by William Golding.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

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Kaylee Kirsch – Marketing Manager

It’s hard for me to nail down a favorite book. I love to read and each book is a new adventure! The last book that I read that I really enjoyed was The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night-Time. The narrator is an autistic boy which gave me, as a reader, such a different perspective. It’s a great, wholesome, heartwarming book that reminds us to be kind and patient with others. It has since been turned into a play and will be making its round at the Benedum Theatre in the Cultural District. You’ll find me in the audience come January 3rd-8th!

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J. R. R. Tolkien

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Doug Rizzo – Account Manager, Property & Casualty

Holding the status as my favorite book since childhood is The Lord of the Rings, a wonderful fantasy epic about the daring adventure a group of brave men undertake to return the Ring to Mordor.  For me, this book has gripped me for a long time and has never let me go.

Since I am a fan of thrilling science fiction and epic fantasy, here are some other works I recommend:  Jurassic Park, Wool, Robopocalypse (written by a CMU student Daniel H. Wilson), The Time Machine, and Beowulf.

The DaVinci Code and sequels by Dan Brown

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Angel Panizzi – Account Manager, Group Benefits

These books (The DaVinci Code, Angel’s and Demons, and Inferno) are a great series especially if you like lots of puzzles and analogies.  They definitely keep your mind engaged and constantly working.  Not to mention, the first two books have already been made into movies with the third installment, Inferno, just coming out this past Friday, October 28.

The Giver by Lois Lowry

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Dasha Verkhovynets – Accounting Specialist/Licensing Coordinator

Recently I read a book for Banned Books Week (9/25-10/1) from the banned books list called The Giver.  It is a story about a futuristic Utopian society about overcoming social and population control and how brainwashing and desensitization of emotions can have a negative effect on our physical and moral perspectives.  I like this book because it is a very easy read, has a good plot, and a happy ending (although you could perceive it as open-ended).  Additionally, I believe the moral of the story to be a good one:  humanity should not be controlled or restricted in any way, especially emotionally, because we are complex and emotional beings.

A few other books I enjoy and you might too are:  Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Mind Readers the series, and the Star-Crossed series.

The Girls by Emma Cline

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Michelle Banks – Account Manager, Group Benefits

This is the story of the girls Charles Manson used as told by their perspective and how the 1960 massacres came to be.  The unique storytelling, from a woman’s point of view, adds a gripping, tangibility to such a violent story.  If you like suspense and thrillers, you definitely will want to pick this book up, because once you do, you won’t be able to put it down.

A Life Well Played by the late Arnold Palmer

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Chuck Nettles – Account Executive

Arnold Palmer was loved by everyone, golfers and non-golfers alike.  It is an inspiring read and you get his take on golf and life in general.  The overwhelming theme of his life was that he simply loved people and he definitely left the world a better place.

Hollow City (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children #2) by Ransom Riggs

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Sheila Grimm – Assistant to the President

I’m currently reading Hollow City, the second book in the Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children series.  The books are wonderful and I highly recommend this series if you are a fan of Harry Potter.  These books are an absolute delight for the imagination.  A series that mixes vintage photographs with thrilling suspense and fantasy, Miss Peregrine’s will enthrall readers of all ages.

How Champions Think by Dr. Bob Rotella

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Chester (Sandy) Sanderson – Secretary/Treasurer of Babb, Inc.

This book, by one of America’s distinguished sports psychologists, Bob Rotella, is the perfect guide to attaining success, not just in sports, but in all aspects of your life.  It is an excellent book about controlling your thought processes and emotions.  While it mostly talks about golfers, it has terrific implications to how you can approach your personal goals and objectives.

Another book I have been enjoying is The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, a great book about how to break bad habits and create good ones.  It also discusses how corporations can change their corporate habits which is great for anyone interested in expanding their current business or starting one.

 

Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

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A lot of our employees rate the Harry Potter series as one of their favorites.  A series of fantasy novels written by the brilliant mind of J.K. Rowling, the Harry Potter series spans seven years in the life of a young wizard and his friends.  Since its release, the series has gone on to be read by hundreds of millions of people worldwide and has enraptured audiences ranging in ages from 5 to 95.  While you may have read these books before, we listed them here because we urge you to re-read them, in the hopes that you may notice something new.

The opinions in this article are those of the individual. The above individuals did not receive products or compensation for their review.

(All photos were taken from goodreads, a site that brings together readers from all over the world to review and make reading suggestions. Links to each book’s Goodreads page on every picture.)