Monday Inspiration

Monday Inspiration
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It’s been a long time (a year, at least) since I posted her simply to share images that have been inspiring me. I talk frequently about how blogging and social media have changed (and are consistently changing; and that’s great, because change is good!), but one thing I do miss about the old days of blogging (like way back before Instagram even existed) was how blogs served as a source of random inspiration. People would share their favorite things, for no particular reason, and it was a simple, wonderful way to show appreciation for the beauty of everyday life.

Since it’s Monday and Mondays are, well, Monday-ish, I thought today I’d share some images I’ve come across recently that inspire me. I hope they inspire you as well. Enjoy the new week!



Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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Helping Both Ends of the Leash

Shout out to Paws of War, an organization dedicated to training and placing shelter dogs to serve and provide independence to our U.S. military veterans that suffer from the emotional effects of war. In turn, each veteran can experience the therapeutic and unconditional love only a companion animal can bring. Their programs include: War Torn … Continue reading Helping Both Ends of the Leash Dog Blog

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A wild narluga has been identified

narwhal hybrid.png

a: beluga skull b. “narluga hybrid” c. male narwhal skull.

In the 1980s, an Inuit subsistence hunter in Greenland killed three gray whales that looked suspiciously like belugas at first. However, they were oddly gray. The fins resembled a beluga’s, while the tail looked like that of a narwhal.

The hunter kept one of the skulls, eventually donating it to science, where became the property of the Greenland Fisheries Research Institute. A scientist working for that institute, Mads Peter Heide-Jørgensen,hypothesized that this skull came from a hybrid between a narwhal and a beluga.

It was only today that a study was released in the journal Nature that revealed that this whale was indeed a hybrid. The DNA analysis revealed that male beluga mated with a female narwhal to produce the creature.

The skull was quite strange. Belugas have 40 homodont teeth. Narwhals are toothless, except males. The males have one really long canine tooth that sticks out as a tusk. Sometimes, they have two, but most have only one true tooth. It is spiraled like what is expected form the mythical unicorn. They do have only a few vestigial teeth.

The hybrid had 18 teeth, many of which were pointed out horizontally and spiraled like the vestigial teeth of the narwhal.

Isotopic analysis also revealed that the hybrid had a different diet from either parent species, both of which catch fish or squid in the open water. The beluga hunts fish at depths of up to 500 meters, while the narwhal hunts fish or squid at depths exceeding 800 meters. The isotopic analysis revealed that the narluga was eating mostly benthic prey, which means it was eating mostly shellfish from the sea floor.

So this study raises so many questions. Analysis of the narwhal genome revealed that gene flow between the two species stopped between 1.25 and 1.65 million years ago. The initial split happened around 4 million years ago, and that study thought that an viable hybrids would be unable to reproduce. However, the authors of the study cautioned that a larger sample size of individual narwhal and beluga genomes from across their range might reveal more recent dates on when gene flow stopped (if it did at all).

So it is not entirely clear that this hybrid would have been sterile, but we also have no further evidence of hybrids anywhere else.  It is quite possible that these hybrids could be fertile, and if they are, climate change could cause the eventual genetic extinction of the narwhal.

The morphology and feeding behavior this odd whale might point to the origins of the narwhal. Perhaps the ancestral narwhal was a benthic feeding whale that later lost its teeth to become a whale that hunts squid and fish at great depths with an almost toothless mouth.

Having teeth like the hybrid is a great adaptation for this particular diet, because the forward pointing teeth can poke around and dislodge shellfish more easily.

If these hybrids are fertile, then one could see the eventual development of a hybrid whale species that has its own niche as a benthic feeder in the arctic.

It is an amazing find, and chances are there will be more discovered. Further, as scientists examine genomes from belugas and narwhals from a wide geographic distribution, we might see evidence of some hybridization.

Hybridization could also increase genetic diversity in narwhals, but if these hybrids must eat a fundamentally different diet than narwhals do, it might become difficult for these hybrids to add their genes to narwhal populations. They just cannot hang out for extensive periods of time, before they have to split off and engage in divergent feeding behavior.

So this discovery does generate lots of speculation and raises several important questions that need to be addressed.

Pretty cool.

Natural History

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5 Tips For Keeping Your House Clean During Summer Break (Without a Lot of Work)

This post is in partnership with Swiffer.

Let me just start off by admitting that, despite what my Instagram feed might show, I’m a slob by nature. I love a clean house with all of my being, but whatever gene my mother has that motivates one to keep a home spotless did not get passed down to me. I’ve been this way my entire life, but once my kids became toddlers and messes beyond my wildest dreams ensued, my general lack of cleaning motivation only intensified. This past school year was the first time both of my kids attended school, which provided some relief in terms of not having to clean constant messes (simply because they weren’t home as often). But now that summer break has arrived and they’re not only home most of the day but also consistently running in and outside of the house covered in everything from water to mud to rogue pieces of grass and other unidentified outdoor substances, the need-to-clean high season is here in full force.

I’ve discovered that the key for people like me (those who bask in the joy of a clean house but would rather do just about anything than have to actually clean it) is to find ways to make cleaning easier, so it doesn’t feel like a lot of work. And while this might feel impossible over summer break, there are some tips and tricks I’ve found that truly do help keep the house clean this time of year. And today my friends, I’m sharing them with you.

1. Focus on the floors.
Nothing says summer like floors covered in mud, sand, pieces of wet grass, sidewalk chalk dust, smashed cereal, and melted ice pops! Yay! And when it comes to messy houses, nothing makes the entire house look like pure disarray quite like dirty floors.

One of the things I’ve most appreciated since we moved into this home last year is the fact that the floors are wood. And while I love the fact that this particular set of wood floors has been lived on and loved (from acting as a play mat for puzzles and blocks and elaborate pretend scenarios involving fancy parasols and plastic dinosaurs, to being used for my daughter’s daily dance practice, to acting as my son’s very own toddler trampoline), I want to continue living on and loving them for years to come. So I am committed to caring for them the best I can, especially during summer break when the traffic and mess are at their peak.

Thankfully, my good pal Swiffer WetJet Wood makes keeping my wood floors as easy as summertime lemon pie. Specially made for wood floors, this all-in-one system features a soft microfiber pad and light mist spray that dries fast so dirt and messes are easily absorbed and locked away. My floors are left clean and streak-free in a matter of minutes, so I can get back to desperately trying to keep my son from smearing ice cream in his hair while simultaneously rolling around in the mud, or, you know, just enjoying being with family and friends during the best season of the year. What is especially great about using the Swiffer WetJet Wood for daily summer messes is that when you have a clean floor, the rest of the house looks better (even if that means still having cluttered furniture or dishes piled in the sink). So if I had to pick one tip for keeping your house clean during summer break without a lot of work, using the Swiffer WetJet Wood on your wood floors would be it. You can get one of your own right here or at your local Walmart.

2. Have the kids help.
Maybe this is a given, but I for one need the reminder (because it certainly can feel easier to just clean up for them at the end of the day, even though it’s technically not). We have a chore chart on the fridge all year long, but let me assure you that I don’t win any parental consistency awards with keeping it active after a couple of months into the school year. This isn’t to say that my kids don’t have cleaning responsibilities all year, but schedules get hectic and some things just fall to the wayside (sorry chore chart). In the summer however, when my kids don’t have structure but definitely need it, that chore chart is front and center. My biggest tip when it comes to toys is letting them know that they don’t get out new toys until the ones they just finished playing with are put away, period the end.

3. Auto clean at night.
My dreams of living a groovy futuristic life like the Jetsons (please say some of you remember this cartoon so I don’t feel old) and having a robot maid may never come true, but I have discovered that letting machines do the work at night while we sleep – especially in the summer when the days are long and packed full – can genuinely make cleaning feel like less work. Before bed every night, my husband and/or I load the dishwasher and turn it on, switch laundry to the dryer and turn it on, and turn on our trusty robot vacuum (which is simply divine for getting rid of rogue crumbs, dirt, etc. so I can wake up, do a few quick swipes of the Swiffer WetJet Wood and be done). Not cleaning related, but we also grind the coffee beans and program the coffee to auto brew as well. Yay machines! The future is now! What a time to be alive!

4. Make (and enforce) a no shoe rule.
We have a shoes off rule the second we step in the door year-round, but something about summertime (maybe the casual vibes, maybe sheer laziness) seems to trigger forgetfulness when it comes to this rule. And while tracking snow inside during the winter is no fun for cleaning, tracking mud inside in the summer can be an actual cleaning disaster. I’ve taken to making a large “no shoes” sign by the back door, and so far, it’s working. When the rule is forgotten though (which is inevitable), I grab the Swiffer WetJet Wood immediately and give the floors a quick swipe.

5. Clean along the way.
This may be common sense, but there is no other time where cleaning up along the way is quite as important as during summer break. The reason I say this can be summed up in two words: summer clutter. I’m talking about pool and beach gear (so many swimming goggles), outdoors toys that are inevitably dragged inside, lone flip flops in the middle of the family room, summertime snacks (the stickiest), wet swim suits, layers of clothes slowly stripped off throughout the day, etc. Because I am a very unmotivated cleaner, it is tempting to ignore summer clutter (if I close my eyes it doesn’t exist!) until it becomes a massive, far-reaching pile of despair, but I am learning the great bliss that comes from avoiding this by cleaning up each tiny mess as it occurs. Usually this involves me being on top of reminding my 3 year old that the sofa is not a holder for a sand bucket, but it also means immediately grabbing objects as they hit the ground, quickly reaching for the Swiffer WetJet Wood to wipe away dripping frozen pops from the wood floors, and tossing dirty t-shirts into the washing machine as soon as they’ve been discarded.

And finally, while this isn’t officially a tip for keeping your house clean over summer break, I’m going to say it anyway: enjoy your summer. Every year when fall arrives, I wonder where the freaking time went, man. I feel guilty that I worked too much or didn’t get enough done or didn’t spend enough time outside with my kids during the summer months. And truth be told, I’ll feel some level of anxiety over it no matter what because that’s just who I am, but I’m making a vow this year to focus less on accomplishing things and more on making time to enjoy my favorite season with my family. Lucky for me, following these tips for keeping the house clean (or clean-ish, because that’s cool too) over summer break should help carve out that time that is so important. Happy summer break, friends!


Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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Win an Aromatherapy Car Diffuser!

It may not officially begin until later this month but summer is definitely in full swing here. Hurricane season started with the arrival of a rainy tropical wave–and, as soon as it exits our…

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Some Thoughts on Time

Coloring Outside the Lines // Family Boho Shoes

I recently came across these photos from two summers ago and was so emotionally moved by them (it doesn’t take much with me, but still) that I felt compelled to share. Talking about how quickly time passes when you’re watching little ones grow is the ultimate parent cliche, but guys, it’s freaking true. I’m baffled by how different E and E look now, just two years later. And when I think about how much their personalities have evolved, I genuinely feel a sense of overwhelm; not in a bad way, but in a way that sort of takes my breath away. For real.

My daughter is already at an age (5 going on some unrecognizable level of preteen) where she’s so independent and busy that precious time with her is beginning to feel scarce, and even my 3 year old son, normally so clingy and emotionally connected to me, is starting to prefer friend play time over hanging with his parents. This is why I’m really making an effort to spend as much quality time as possible with them this summer, even if it’s not as much time as I wish it could be. We’re heading to a mini lake getaway as a family later today and I’m going to savor every second of it, mark my words.

For those of you with kids, does it seem like each year speeds up? Is there ever a point where it doesn’t feel like sand slipping through your finger tips? How do you savor the quality moments?


Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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Dogs Riding in Truck Beds

You may have seen my post yesterday about how dangerous it is to leave your dog inside a hot vehicle and asked, “Would it be okay to put the dog in my truck bed?” If your dog rides to wherever inside your truck cab, then you tether him in the bed while you go into … Continue reading Dogs Riding in Truck Beds Dog Blog

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Is It Too Hot to Walk the Dog?

It may not yet be officially summer according to the meteorologists, but I always think of Memorial Day as the start of the season. We’ve had a few hot days here in Canton, Ohio, already, so this reminder seems timely. If you put the back of your hand on the asphalt and can’t leave it … Continue reading Is It Too Hot to Walk the Dog? Dog Blog

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Love in Any Language

The best definition of “dog” I’ve ever seen. Until next time, Good day, and good dog! Dog Blog

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A Fun End-of-School-Year Interview for Kids

A Fun End-of-School-Year Interview for Kids
A Fun Start of School Year Interview For Kids

For the last couple of years, I’ve been using a list of questions I put together for my now 5 year-old-daughter to ask her on the first and last day of school. When I initially shared it here, it received a lot of traffic and was pinned quite a bit on Pinterest, so I’ve shared it every first and last day since.

Some of my daughter’s responses on this school year’s first day were the same as her last day (which was last week; kindergarten here we come!), and some changed quite a bit. It’s endearing and bittersweet to see her growth just through her answers to the questions. 

(I’m putting her previous answers from the first day of this school year in italics.)

1. What is your name? Essley. Essley.
2. What grade are you in? I just graduated from Pre-K! Pre-K.
3. How old are you? 5. 4-1/2.
4. What is your favorite color? Pink and purple. Pink.
5. What is your favorite thing to do at school? Play in the kitchen. Play with my friends. And learn how to not be bad. (No comment on that one.)
6. What is your favorite activity outside of school?
Acting, ballet, jazz, tap, soccer, and swimming.  Tap, ballet, gymnastics, soccer, theatre, and swimming lessons.  
7. What do you want to be when you grow up? A dance teacher, a horticulturist, and an acting teacher. A dance teacher and an artist.
8. What is your favorite food? Tacos. Strawberries.
9. How old is your mommy? 24. (I wish!) Old.
10. What is her job? Blog poster. She works a lot on blog posts.
11. What is mommy’s favorite food? Tacos. Indian food and a lot of smoothies.
12. How old is your daddy? 58 (hahahahhahaha!). Old. I think 20.
13. What is his job? Stage Manager. Stage Manager.
14. What is daddy’s favorite food? Tacos. Kabobs. He likes cheeseburgers.
15. What do mommy and daddy like to do? Play with us. Work. (Yikes.)
16. If you have brothers or sisters, what are their names? A baby brother and his name is Emmett. Emmett. Sometimes I call him Crispy.
17. How old is your brother(s) (and/or sisters)? 3. 2.
18. What is your brother(s) (and/or sisters) favorite food? Tacos. Mac and cheese. Also olives.
19. What is your favorite toy? Rosie and Owly. Rosie (doll) and Owly (her favorite owl toy since she was a baby).
20. Where do you live? Chicago area. Somewhere by Chicago.
21. What is your favorite thing to do? Play. Play with my mommy.  
22. What is your favorite place you’ve ever been? The Fun Play Place. The candy store.
23. Who is your best friend? Emmett. Mommy and ….. (an endless lists of friends; too many to type.)
24. What is your favorite animal? Elephant. Tiger.
25. If you could have anything you wished for, what would it be? A unicorn. A bunny for a pet.

And because my little man is finally old enough to answer the questions as well, I’m sharing his. He has grown tremendously this year, and was so excited to answer my questions like his big sissy. (He was nowhere near ready to do the interview on his first day, and was also terrified of school. He went from weeping at drop off to only being sad on the days he didn’t have school. So proud of this guy!)

A Fun End-of-School-Year Interview for Kids

1. What is your name? Emmett
2. What grade are you in? Preschool.
3. How old are you? 3
4. What is your favorite color? Blue.
5. What is your favorite thing to do at school? Play.
6. What is your favorite activity outside of school? Sports class.
7. What do you want to be when you grow up? A dinosaur and a farmer.
8. What is your favorite food? Mac and cheese.
9. How old is your mommy? 11.
10. What is her job? Kiss.
11. What is mommy’s favorite food? Mac and cheese.
12. How old is your daddy? 48.
13. What is his job? Kiss.
14. What is daddy’s favorite food? Mac and cheese.
15. What do mommy and daddy like to do? Play.
16. If you have brothers or sisters, what are their names? Essley.
17. How old is your brother(s) (and/or sisters)? 4 (she’s actually 5).
18. What is your brother(s) (and/or sisters) favorite food? Tacos.
19. What is your favorite toy? Grover.
20. Where do you live? Chicago.
21. What is your favorite thing to do? Run.
22. What is your favorite place you’ve ever been? The Fun Play Place.
23. Who is your best friend? Tucker and Millie and Olivia.
24. What is your favorite animal? Pig.
25. If you could have anything you wished for, what would it be? Go to Mully’s house.

If any of you use these question to interview your preschoolers or grade schoolers, I’d love to hear some of their replies! Oh, and we purchased the chalkboard signs we used for our photos from this awesome Etsy shop.


Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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