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Month: April 2020

Surprise Spice Cake

Canned tomato soup replaces some of the oil in this spice cake, decreasing the fat, boosting the color and (surprise!) enhancing the taste. —Hannah Thompson, Scotts Valley, California

Surprise Spice Cake
Taste of Home recipe
  • Total Time Prep: 15 min. Bake: 30 min. + cooling
  • Makes 12 servings


  • 1 package spice cake mix (regular size)
  • 1 can (10-3/4 ounces) condensed tomato soup, undiluted
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 can (16 ounces) cream cheese frosting


  • Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, combine cake mix, soup, eggs and water; beat on low speed 30 seconds. Beat on medium 2 minutes. Pour into a greased 13×9-in. baking dish.
  • Bake 30-33 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Frost with cream cheese frosting.
Nutrition Facts

1 piece: 392 calories, 16g fat (6g saturated fat), 64mg cholesterol, 586mg sodium, 59g carbohydrate (42g sugars, 1g fiber), 5g protein.

Thank you to all our wonderful readers! Have a recipe you want to share? Feel free to email me @ throughlovewelearn@gmail.com.

Give parents a coronavirus break and kids an education boost: Add days to next school year

Published 5:00 am ET April 27, 2020 | Updated 12:48 pm ET April 27,2020

Add 20 days to the school calendar next year and one hour to each day. That would help students retain information and take a burden off parents.

Harris CooperOpinion contributor

So, Mom and Dad, have you acquired a new appreciation for the profession of teaching yet?

There are probably several lessons you have learned about teaching in just the past month.

First, teachers for different grades need different temperaments as well as a firm grounding in the science of teaching. You knew your 6-year-old was different from your 10-year-old, who was different from your 14-year-old. But now you see the disposition and knowledge base of a successful teacher at each grade level has to complement the developmental level of the children at their chosen grade.

A successful kindergarten teacher is a nurturer, a hugger (in the age before social distancing); a middle school teacher is capable of delivering instruction through a fog of raging hormones; high school teachers need to emit an aura that commands respect, partly through their personal demeanor and partly by their command of their subject areas.

Kids need structure to stay engaged 

And maybe home-schooling isn’t working out so well. Certainly, time spent on academic lessons is way, way down compared with the amount of instruction kids would get in school. When you’re the teacher, you have to jump from one subject to another and even one grade level to another.

Kids are also easily distracted and unproductive when they study by themselves. The instructional material you’re getting from school might be great, but every teacher knows there’s a difference between seat time and engaged learning time. And even if the teacher is there online, it is harder for kids to stay engaged staring at a screen than sitting in a classroom.

What to do to make up for the hours of lost learning time millions of kids are experiencing during the pandemic? Here’s an immodest proposal: Add school days and hours to the next school year.

Student takes online class in San Francisco, on March 19, 2020.

In reviewing the research on summer learning loss, I have found dozens of studies showing all kids lose math skills over summer. Meanwhile, children from low-wealth homes lose more reading skills than children from wealthier homes. For poor kids, no matter how many materials teachers send home, the words and reading opportunities in their homes simply don’t match those of their better off counterparts.

For many kids, the pandemic has added about two months or so to the summer break. For example, if your state mandates that children go to school for 180 days a year and if schools were closed in mid-March, they probably lost about 50 days of instruction, or nearly a third of the school year.Get the Opinion newsletter in your inbox.

Another rough calculation: By adding 20 days to the school calendar and one hour to each school day next year, schools could make up about 50 days of instruction. The exact design of such a new calendar could be worked out by the states and school districts, which may increase the required hours of instruction. States and school districts could also consider adjusting the length of holiday breaks in 2020-21.

woman in brown long sleeve shirt sitting in front of silver imac

Home-schooling isn’t working well

Let’s get really creative. Here’s a possible solution that schools could tailor to meet their local circumstance. Suppose kids started next year in the grade they were in in mid-March. They start instruction roughly where they left off. In a month or so, they graduate to the next grade. New kindergarteners? They don’t start until this year’s 5-year-olds move on to first grade. High school seniors? Don’t bother to bring them back, but hold prom and graduation during fall break, maybe during Thanksgiving weekend. It’s too important an event for adolescents and their families to just let it disappear.

True, the logistics for pulling this off would be difficult. Teachers would need to cooperate, perhaps for extra pay. Adding time to the school day would require adjustments to lesson plans. Bus schedules would need to be adjusted. Non instructional employees would need to agree to the new schedule.

Yet the current “solution” we are using to compensate for our children’s lost instruction also comes at a cost. It’s a quick fix that isn’t really working well for anyone. But it will certainly work better for some than for others. And when the new school year starts, teachers will face even greater disparities in students’ skills and knowledge levels than ever before.

Parents are already adjusting to a new family routine, economic concerns and worries about their aging parents. Instead of pressuring parents to do a near impossible task, let’s not let a third-of-a-year of our kids’ education be yet more collateral damage of the coronavirus.

Let’s help moms and dads maintain what their children have already learned. But let’s leave teaching new things to the experts. There’s too much to lose.

Have a story your interested in sharing? Feel free to email me @ throughlovewelearn@gmail.com

Keep up with children’s health during pandemic. Especially now, pediatricians can help.

With schools closed, a doctor may now be the only person outside a household with eyes on a child. Don’t skip well-child appointments and vaccines.

Dr. Sara “Sally” Goza and Dr. Patrice HarrisOpinion Contributors

COVID-19 has drastically changed how we live our lives and brought much of the world to a standstill. It’s a scary time for parents who worry about becoming ill or caring for loved ones who have contracted the virus, as well as for the many Americans whose ability to support their families is becoming uncertain. With all of the turmoil, it’s easy to forget how this is affecting our children. 

Thankfully, for the most part, children seem to be spared from the most extreme and dangerous effects of the coronavirus. But they are still feeling the pain of the pandemic in a big way, from the preschooler who doesn’t understand why she can’t hug her grandparents or see her teachers to the teen whose big life moments like graduation and final year-end competitions have suddenly been snatched away. The toll and timeline for these impacts is unknown. 

Don’t skip well-child check-ups

The disruption in routine can also lead to behavior changes. For younger children, that can mean less sleep, more tantrums, and bed-wetting. For older children, it can manifest in feelings of sadness, anxiety, and hopelessness. With studies showing the mental health of U.S. teens and young adults dramatically declining over the past decade, it’s important that we continue to check in with our children to talk about how they’re doing and what they’re experiencing.

With children and adolescents now home from child care and schools, the only person outside the household who has eyes on them may be their doctor. That is why well-child visits must continue for all children and youth, even in areas where the visit must be done through telemedicine. 

Outside a hospital in New York City on April 23, 2020.

Well-child visits are where we examine children, discuss concerns with families and talk to adolescents about mental health, sexuality, and high-risk behaviors like vaping and drugs. Pediatricians are trained to screen for signs of distress of all kinds during these visits, from expected stress to serious family distress and even suicidal thoughts.

Especially during such an uncertain and stressful time for children, we use these visits to check in on their mental health, too.

These exams are so important to keep kids on track, which is why we urge parents everywhere to first reach out to your child’s pediatrician. Come for your scheduled appointments, in person, by phone, or on a computer. Call us when your child has an ear infection or trouble breathing, or may have broken a bone or need stitches. Call when you have a mental health concern or notice a change in your child’s behavior.

Keep up with vaccines

And, perhaps most important, make sure your child continues to get vaccines on time. Despite the very real concerns of COVID-19, it’s especially important for children to continue to receive the essential health services their scheduled well-visits provide. Disrupting immunization schedules, even for brief periods, can lead to outbreaks of infections like measles or whooping cough that can be even more threatening to a child’s health. 

Balancing the health care needs of our young patients with the need to practice physical distancing requires a watchful eye, a measured approach, and teamwork between parent and pediatrician. We will continue our work to protect all children, especially those who are most vulnerable to the impacts of coronavirus — those on Medicaid with complex health care needs and from low-income families, and children from under-resourced and minority communities, particularly African Americans, who are experiencing a disproportionate burden of illness and fatalities.

Pediatricians’ message to parents is clear: We are open for business, and we are here for you and your children now more than ever. While federal and state government officials work to ensure our health care system can continue to function throughout the pandemic, we urge them to recognize and support the doctors at its epicenter.

At a moment when our nation’s eyes are on the spread of the virus, our eyes are on the children.

Dr. Sara “Sally” Goza is president of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Patrice Harris is president of the American Medical Association. Follow them on Twitter: @SallyGoza and @PatirceHarrisMD

Have a story you want to share ? Feel free to email me @ throughlovewelearn@gmail.com .

The Mental Health Benefits Of Getting Dressed For Work

By Katie McPherson-Huff Post Life

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world has become more aware than ever of the importance of hand-washingdisinfecting surfaces and taking care of our immune systems.

However, while you’re physically separated from your social support systems and your routines are disrupted, minding your mental health is just as important as caring for your physical health. Major mental health organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Illness recommend keeping your “getting ready” routines intact as a way to do just that.

So, why do waking up at your usual time, showering and dressing for work will help you stay mentally well? De’Von Patterson, a psychologist at Baptist Behavioral Health, said humans like knowing what’s going to happen next and that uncertainty can lead to anxiety.

“A lot of what people are experiencing right now is a disruption of their routine,” he told HuffPost. “When you don’t know what’s coming next, that can be a challenging thing for some people, so a lot of it is about having some semblance of what your day and week looks like. Knowing what’s coming next can be comforting.”

Whether it’s because of the social isolation, lack of productivity, or drop in physical activity, working from home can make you feel anywhere from a little blue to downright depressed. So by waking up at your usual time, getting dressed (in something other than pajamas), and doing your hair and makeup, as usual, Patterson explains that you’re actually getting your brain ready for a better workday.

“There’s something called stimulus control where your behaviors are determined by a certain set of cues,” Patterson said. “Some people may have an easier time being productive if they recreate the cues associated with their productivity. If they’re getting dressed, that puts them in the mindset to work or study.”

Ryan G. Beale is a licensed psychotherapist and the CEO of Therapy.Live’s Prepare U mental health curriculum. He explains that getting dressed for different parts of your day is going to help break up the weird time warp that is quarantine.

While you don’t have to wear formal business attire or a work uniform to reap the benefits, it’s important just to get dressed.

“I don’t think it’s critical to put your suit on, but you could go ahead and put on khakis and a polo, something that is different from your lounging clothes,” he said. “It tells your brain something new is about to happen and helps you shift gears. That’s why it’s important to shift throughout the day. The reality is if you don’t, you’re likely going to be in a bit of a Groundhog Day and it can put you in a funk.”

Stefanie Schwartz, a psychologist at Baptist Behavioral Health, recommends figuring out what you enjoy about your current getting-ready routine and planning from there.

“It’s individualized, what makes you feel good,” she said. “If makeup makes me feel good, or doing my hair makes me feel good, I’ll do it. If not doing your makeup feels good right now, instead use that time to do something else. Otherwise, it can become a chore and have the opposite effect.”

“For some people, it’ll be, ‘Look, I get to wear my casual clothes I never get to wear this week. Is that something that’s going to make me feel better right now?’”

When it comes to salon visits for your hair or nails, Schwartz recommends continuing your beauty routine at home to practice self-care and taking pride in doing it yourself.

“This may sound really silly, but for those of us who go and get our nails done, this may be the first time we’re having to do that ourselves,” Schwartz said. “Anything small you can do to feel empowered and feel that positivity is great. We can’t go to the hairdresser and cover our grays right now, so we’re learning new skills and that can be empowering, rather than feeling like, ‘Oh great, my nails are a mess and I’m a mess.’”

Ultimately, all three experts agree that you should be flexible with your routine right now and not be too critical of yourself. Even so, they say that sometimes, getting up early and slapping on some mascara really can help.

“It can be really easy to get in a slump and get into anxiety and depression,” Schwartz said. “We’re going through something together, but a lot of this depends on our own personal behaviors.”

This article may have been edited for content

Finding Opportunities for Insight and Growth During Isolation


Many among us are suffering now—gravely ill, steeped in grief, or worried sick about how we’ll pay the rent. We’re hunkering down with social distancing, at-home sheltering, and lockdowns as new normals.

Yet, as the boundaries of our physical world contract, the limits of our mental, emotional, and spiritual worlds have the potential to expand.  

How the Creative Greats Have Used Seclusion for Inspiration

For centuries, human beings have used seclusion to birth creativity, for physical, psychological, and spiritual renewal and as a means of understanding fundamental truth.

Allowing Yourself to Look Deep Within

Seclusion also makes room for renewal and insight.  Perhaps more starkly, when we’re secluded, there are fewer excuses to avoid the inner work that our souls yearn for. A lot rises to the surface in difficult times—maladaptive ways of coping and harmful behaviors we only dimly see in the rush of our busy routines. If we’re willing and able, we can lovingly turn toward it all and gently begin the work of healing. 

Whenever you feel the anxiety bubble up stop, and, like a mother attending to a toddler, give it your attention.

  • Take a breath.
  • Put your hand over your heart and soften your belly, giving the anxiety more space to move through you.
  • If it is all too much, turn your attention away.
  • Feel your feet on the ground, listen to the hum of the heater or turn the on the TV, and watch a Hallmark movie. Either way, you’ll have mindfulness as your companion.

This article may have been edited for content

Fox News Severs Ties With Offbeat Personalities Diamond and Silk

(Variety) Diamond and Silk are no longer on the list of contributors at Fox News.

The offbeat duo, Lynette “Diamond” Hardaway and Rochelle “Silk” Richardson, who gained a profile on Fox News Channel in 2016 and then worked on the company’s streaming-video outlet, Fox Nation, are no longer contributing to Fox News venues, according to a report from The Daily Beast. Fox News did not respond to a query seeking comment.

The two had been creating weekly episodes for a Fox Nation streaming program, but have not done so since early April. In recent weeks, the pair took to social media and the Fox Nation program with remarks that questioned the spread of the coronavirus pandemic and whether the number of people reported to have died from the disease were inflated to undermine President Trump.

“What I need to know is how many people have passed away in New York, and what I need to know is: Who has the bodies?” Diamond asked during a recent streaming show. “Something’s not right here. Something is off here.” A day later, Twitter deleted a tweet from the duo suggesting Americans leave sheltering at home and expose themselves to coronavirus.

Fox News came under scrutiny in past weeks from critics who have questioned remarks made by primetime hosts Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, “The Five” co-anchor Jesse Watters and others who took issue on their programs with the severity of the contagion. Trish Regan, a primetime host at Fox Business Network, was removed from the program after leading a segment suggesting liberals were overstating the effects of the spread of coronavirus to discredit President Donald Trump. A graphic that accompanied one segment that aired read “Coronavirus Impeachment Scam.” Regan and Fox Business parted ways soon after that program aired.

In mid-March, the two top executives at Fox News Media, CEO Suzanne Scott and President Jay Wallace, issued a memo pointing out the severity of the pandemic, suggesting to employees that there was little room to waffle about coronavirus facts. The memo urged employees to “keep in mind that viewers rely on us to stay informed during a crisis of this magnitude and we are providing an important public service to our audience by functioning as a resource for all Americans.” Since that time, Fox News has expanded its overnight programming, held town halls centered around the effects of coronavirus on American life, hired new medical contributors and set daytime anchor Harris Faulkner in a new hour aimed at having doctors answer viewer questions.

Diamond and Silk were more a curiosity than expert contributors, video activists who managed to cultivate a wider circle in an age when social-media influencing is seen as a viable role. Other than supporting President Trump, however, their credentials to discuss weighty subjects had not been established in traditional fashion.

Idris Elba’s ‘Turn Up Charlie’ Canceled By Netflix

Netflix has canceled “Turn Up Charlie” after its first season. The comedy, starring Idris Elba, centered on a struggling DJ and bachelor who becomes a nanny for the daughter of a childhood best friend who has since become much more successful than him.

“’Turn Up Charlie’ will not return for a second season,” said a Netflix spokesperson. “We’re especially grateful to star and executive producer Idris Elba, who turned his passion for DJing into a witty, heart-warming comedy series. We’re also thankful to executive producers Gary Reich and Tristram Shapeero and co-executive producers Martin Joyce and Ana Garanito, along with the dedicated cast and crew, for bringing this story to life on Netflix. We look forward to continuing our relationship with Idris on future projects.”

Elba and Reich co-created the show, with Elba’s Green Door Pictures and Reich’s Brown Eyed Boy Productions producing the eight-part series.

Food benefits, $300 per child, available for eligible Alabama school children in May

By Rachael Wilkerson | Lindsey Bullard | Saturday, April 25th 2020

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WPMI) — The Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR) announced it received approval by the United States Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service to issue Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) benefits to eligible students in Alabama.

Under this program, an estimated 407,395 Alabama school children will have access to meals that normally would have been provided at school.

“Child nutrition remains a priority during the COVID-19 pandemic and state agencies are taking the necessary steps to ensure nutrition for the proper growth and development of Alabama children,” Alabama DHR said in a press release.

vegetable stand

P-EBT benefits will be provided to households that have children in grades K-12 who have temporarily lost access to free or reduced-price school meals due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These benefits are designed to cover meals missed since the start of statewide school closures on March 18th through the end of the school year on May 29th.

“We want to ensure that no Alabama child goes hungry during this time. The P-EBT program is essential to many in our state who depend on free or reduced meals at school to feed their children. We are pleased that the USDA Food and Nutrition Service has initially approved our request to provide these benefits and we are working to get these funds distributed as soon as possible. We are also extremely thankful to Dr. Eric Mackey and his staff for working with us on this very important project,” said Alabama DHR Commissioner Nancy Buckner. “School districts across Alabama have done an exceptional job to ensure that children have access to nutritional meals while our schools are closed due to COVID-19; and, these P-EBT benefits will give children and families more support for nutritious, healthy food.”

The P-EBT program includes current Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients, as well as any other children who are eligible for a free or reduced-price meal at school.

The program allows children to receive benefits equal to the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP) reimbursement rates, which is $5.70 per day, per child. Eligible households will receive benefits retroactively for the months of March, April, and May.

Benefits will be distributed first to existing eligible SNAP recipients via the household’s EBT card. No application is required.

DHR will also coordinate with the Alabama State Department of Education to identify eligible households who don’t already participate in SNAP. Those households will receive EBT cards with benefits beginning in May.

Households that would normally be considered ineligible for SNAP due to the household’s income will receive a P-EBT letter notifying them of eligibility and program provisions. These households may then verify their information provided by ALSDE and elect to participate in the P-EBT program. Households that choose to participate will be issued an EBT card and other information about EBT card use and choosing a Personal Identification Number (PIN).

DHR plans to issue most P-EBT benefits in May for the months of March, April and May.

P-EBT benefits will allow households to receive the following estimated amounts, according to DHR:

  • $68.40 per child for March
  • $125.40 per child for April
  • $119.70 per child for May, depending on the family’s eligibility for free and reduced-price meals
carrots and leeks

Children may continue to access meals distributed by local school districts while receiving P-EBT benefits.

DHR said the P-EBT benefits are active for 365 days from the date of issuance and are non-transferable. P-EBT benefits may be used at any store that accepts SNAP and can be used to purchase eligible SNAP food items.

“The Department is pleased that USDA Food and Nutrition Service has given Alabama the opportunity to assist more than 400,000 Alabama school children and their families,” Alabama DHR said.

“I think it is a blessing to come,” said Natasha Breed, a mother who has been working hard to provide for her son during this unprecedented time.

Breed says the extra income will help hundreds of families.

“I work two jobs, but from pandemic I lost one of them. So being able to continue to make sure my child is taken care of is going to take some of the burden off of me,” said Breed.

Breed says with schools being out for more than a month now, it can be tough for children who relied on school meals.

“We don’t know everyone’s situation. We don’t know what’s happening,” Breed said.

“It’s amazing these benefits are coming out to everyone, not just if you are on the benefits already. Children are going to be able to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and a snack. These moms or dads aren’t going to go to bed crying because, ‘How are they going to feed their kids,'” said Breed.

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