Staying "Mindfully" Healthy

Did you know you could shave 10 years off your mental age simply by doing Sudoku or Crossword Puzzles? According to two new British studies of 19,000 adults age 50 and older, those who regularly played word or number puzzles scored significantly higher on memory, attention, and reasoning assessments -- so, better health really CAN be a matter of fun and games!

Engaging the Kids at Your Family Reunion

Having the Family Reunion out at the farm this summer? Want a fun, interactive way to teach the kids, big and small, some family history? Let's create a CrossWord Puzzle, with interesting information about the lives of Great Aunt Myrt, Grandpa Henry, and Great-Grandma Agnes! Make it a contest to win cash, and you'll even get all the kids intermingling with everyone to learn the answers! Activities that divert attention away from electronics is something we all need, but especially the kids today. Instant gratification makes it tough to teach patience. Reading actual books and working word puzzles opens up your mind, and gives the eyes a rest! So, bring along other fun and games.. perhaps a whiffle ball set and cardboard bases for a slower-moving game of baseball.. or there's badminton, or volleyball, horseshoes.. get the whole family up and at 'em in some way when you see them, and they'll thank you for it later!

Read Aloud to Your Children

We all know there are many good things that come from reading aloud to your children, although making it a priority in a hectic, nighttime schedule can be tough.. Here are a couple of reminders as to why it should be part of your daily routine:       Builds vocabulary       Improves reading comprehension       Promotes empathy       Reduces stress       Boosts brain development       Exposes children to different experiences       Increases chances of later success       Helps develop communication skills       Builds self-esteem       Deepens family connections As they get older, have them read aloud to younger siblings, or to you, on a consistent basis to keep their skills elevated.  Happy reading!  ~ Gail Marie

Remembering Grandma and Grandpa

   Cristin and I met at a networking function in Las Vegas just a few months ago. She was eager to work with me to create a Custom Crossword Puzzle for her upcoming family gathering, and we got together over coffee to come up with ideas.    She told me that, for as long as she could remember, her Mom and Aunt would have a competition during the holidays to come up with the most inventive, family-related creation. One year it was wind chimes made from family silverware. Another it was a quilt made with squares of clothing worn by different generations.    Well, we came up with a crossword puzzle all about her Grandma and Grandpa, who had both passed, highlighting milestones in their lives.. people, places, and events depicting their time together. It was a pleasant remembrance about them both, helping to ease their absence during the holidays.    She gave out the puzzle for everyone to work, and presented the keepsake in a double frame.. one side with photos of the couple, and

To Spell, or Not to Spell

Greetings, fellow word enthusiasts! As a crossword and word search puzzle writer for nearly 27 years, I must say there are still words that trip me up sometimes, and it can become quite frustrating.. As we all know, words don't always look right when their spelled correctly, so we tend to second-guess ourselves. A few tips I've picked up over the years include making a list of things you have trouble with, such as correct spellings, grammar rules, definitions, etc. Keep the list visible for easy access, so you're more likely to double-check your writing. Read your message, wait awhile, and read it again. Preferably, you can walk away and do something else for a bit. The more time that passes between the writing process and proofreading, the better you'll be at spotting any errors that your brain automatically fixed the first time you proofread. Read it out loud, too, to be sure it sounds sensible, then read it backwards to emphasize each individual word, which w