Friday, July 29, 2016

Book Nook: Bedtime for Batman

I recently had the chance to review Bedtime for Batman, a great book for anyone with kids who love superheroes but hate to go to bed. It has comic-book style illustrations which will appeal to kids who want a book that looks a little more grown up (but are still really in the picture-book set).

My younger daughter loves superheroes and ninjas, and her favorite superheroes are Batman and Spiderman. So even though she's getting close to the older end of the target range for this book, she still really enjoys books like this. It helps show kids that even superheroes need their rest!

“When I was a kid I ate, breathed, and slept comic books. I wanted to be a superhero, so this book is for all those kid heroes out there. Be brave, be strong, and get some sleep!" says author Dahl.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Book Nook: Raising Can-Do Kids

I recently had a chance to review Raising Can-Do Kids: Giving Children the Tools to Thrive in a Fast-Changing World . There's no doubt that today's world does change quickly. As parents, we want our kids to be successful - but sometimes we have a very different idea of success and how to get there than our kids or other parents do. Although it's tempting to want to do things to make sure our kids succeed, it's actually better for them to give them the skills to be able to do things on their own.

In this book, developmental psychologist Richard Rende and entrepreneur Jen Prosek discuss how some trends in parenting are actually hindering development in entrepreneurial traits valuable for today's world (optimism, resilience, industriousness, opportunism, creativity, camaraderie, compassion, street smarts). When we pave the way for our kids to sail through life, they don't have the struggles that create resilience, street smarts, or industriousness. When we plan too much for our kids, they can't take advantage of opportunities or be creative. And when our kids are under too much pressure and competition, they lose out on optimism, camaraderie, and compassion.

I liked this book. Granted, I'm the kind of parent that already encourages my kids to do as much as they can for themselves, so I agreed with most of what was written in this book. It's worth a read to either confirm you're on the right track, or make you think about why you parent the way you do, and how you could improve it for the sake of your kids. Even if you already use many of the strategies and philosophies in this book, it's worth reading to continue to instill important entrepreneurial values in your children.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Healthy Habits: World Hepatitis Day

JULY 28th is World Hepatitis Day! Anchored by a international health education program, this day is remembered world wide with screenings, health fairs, media appearances, and other health education and outreach activities.
Transmission: Hepatitis A is spread mainly through eating food or drinking water that has been contaminated by the faeces of an infected person. It can also be spread by eating raw shellfish that have come from water contaminated by sewage.
Prevention: There is a vaccination for hepatitis A. Treatment within a few weeks of exposure to the virus can also bring short term immunity. You can reduce the risk of exposure by practicing good hygiene and sanitation, and avoiding drinking water that has come from a potentially unsafe source.
Treatment: As hepatitis A only causes acute hepatitis, the body is often able to clear the infection itself within a few weeks. However, hepatitis A infections can sometimes cause further complications.
Medication Compliance is one of the biggest issues in healthcare today which can lead to a number of complications. MedCenter Systems creates products that help users organize, alert and carry their medication to reduce the risk involved by not maintaining the proper medication regimen.

Book Nook: Dharma Parenting

I recently had a chance to review Dharma Parenting: Understand Your Child's Brilliant Brain for Greater Happiness, Health, Success, and Fulfillment . It had an interesting base concept that I wasn't sure I'd buy into - that of Ayurvedic philosophy. However, the book also had a great deal of contemporary research that backed up the less-well-known typology. Like many other areas of life, conventional and alternative wisdom go hand in hand.

The book is practical, with a quiz to help identify your child's brain/body type. Does he take a while to learn something but then remember it for a long time? Does she learn something quickly but have little retention? What about energy level and sleep patterns? Each of these fit with a specific type, and as parents, we can help encourage our child's strengths while bringing them into balance, based on the ideal routine, activities, and diet for each type of child.

The book also gives helpful information on adjusting parenting for different ages and stages, and how to identify your own type to explore how that makes it easier or harder to relate to your child.

The book confirmed one thing I already knew - the my oldest daughter and myself are the same type. It also gave me more concrete ideas for how to parent each one differently, as they grow older and hit different maturity levels,

ROBERT KEITH WALLACE is a pioneering researcher on the physiology of consciousness. His research has inspired hundreds of studies on the benefits of meditation and other mind-body techniques. Dr. Wallace's findings have been published in Science, American Journal of Physiology, and Scientific American. He received his BS in physics and his PhD in physiology from UCLA and conducted postgraduate research at Harvard University. Dr. Wallace is the founding president of Maharishi University of Management (MUM) in Fairfield, Iowa.
FREDERICK TRAVIS is a world-renowned neuroscientist who has discovered brain wave patterns in children and young people that correlate with greater moral reasoning, happiness, emotional stability, and academic performance. Dr. Travis has authored or coauthored 70 scientific papers, many published in leading peer-reviewed journals. Dr. Travis received his masters and PhD in psychology from Maharishi University of Management (MUM). After a two-year post-doctoral position at University of California at Davis, he returned to MUM to direct the EEG, Consciousness, and Cognition Lab.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Smart Safety: Could a Landline Be Your Lifeline? 3 Tips for Keeping Your Home Safe This Summer

Picture this:  It's the end of July—smack in the middle of summer.  Your kids are at home with a caretaker while you toil away at your 9 to 5.  Then, disaster strikes.  There's an emergency at home, and your kids have to call 911 for help. 

Are your children calling from a cell phone or a landline?  And does it make any difference?  Surprisingly, the answer is yes.  According to the latest data, if you don't have a landline in your home, it could be putting your children in grave danger.

Here's a shocking fact:  According to an investigation by the USA Today [ ], the chances of 911 dispatchers being able to find you based on your cell phone's GPS can be as low as 10% in some parts of the country.  With a significant share of cell phone-to-911 calls being placed from within residences—and 45% of Americans opting out of landline coverage at home—countless people are left vulnerable in emergencies.  The question then becomes not why you should have a landline in the home, but why haven't you gotten one yet?

In the spirit of keeping you and your family safe, I recently partnered with Ooma -


Whether it's for a small scrape or something far worse, it's always a good idea to have a first aid kit handy.  People who call 911 from their cell phone are often surprised at how long emergency workers take to arrive on scene.  According to the recent 911 Emergency Response Study, more than one in five cell phone callers feel it takes too long—that's seven times higher than for people who call from a landline.  If you're often in situations when only a cell phone is available, consider keeping a first aid kit nearby. 


Make sure that no matter where you are, it's easy for the people around you to call your emergency contacts. Consider posting your own number, as well as first response numbers, on your fridge so your kids know how to reach you and your family, family members who live close by, or the authorities.  Post the name and number of a trusted friend or neighbor, too.  With Ooma's home phone system, up to three of these contacts can be notified by text message automatically when a 911 call is placed.  In situations when every second counts, this reliable Internet-based technology could save tens of thousands of lives.


Educate your kids about the sights, smells, and sounds of danger.  If they hear a smoke alarm or see an appliance overheating, advise your children to get outside as quickly as possible.  Planning an exit strategy is key to getting a safe distance away from the house so you can alert a neighbor and have them call the fire department.  Consider making a detailed fire plan with multiple escape routes and keeping a printed copy of your fire plan on visible walls around your house.

For many people, money is understandably a legitimate concern—but when it comes down to it, we really can't put a price on ensuring that the people we love are safe.  Luckily, first aid kits are both lightweight and budget-friendly, while the price of a secure Ooma landline pays for itself in just three months and costs less than a Netflix subscription on a monthly basis. 

Got any 911 emergency stories of your own?  I wouldn't be surprised.  In the past five years alone, over a quarter of Americans have called 911 with a cell phone, and in that group, there were many dissatisfied callers.  If you've got a story you'd feel comfortable sharing, I'd love to hear about them!  Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments below.
leading Internet home phone service with reliable E911 technology—to deliver three tips for keeping your home safe this summer in addition to owning a landline.

Learn more: Facebook [] and Twitter (@Ooma). 

Monday, July 25, 2016

Thrifty Thinking: Jump-Starting a Financial Cleanse

With summer now in full swing, it's a good time to fix money mistakes of the past and jump start a financial cleanse. Below are six steps from CO-OP Financial Services on how to go about it. 

1. Track your spending.
While it may sound tedious, start by monitoring your spending. This will help you see where your money is going and to pinpoint any “money pits,” areas in your budget where you’re spending too much. These days, there are plenty of great budgeting apps at your disposal to make it easy. While tracking your spending gives you information on your spending woes and saving wins, it’s putting the work into changing your habits so you become a successful saver that makes the ultimate difference.
2. Take inventory of what you have.
While taking inventory of your possessions, use it as an opportunity to do some decluttering. It’s a great way to see firsthand how much stuff you end up not using and can stop you from buying stuff you don’t need. To start your purge, you can apply Marie Kondo’s ever-popular KonMari Method. Make sure you get rid of stuff shortly after you’ve decided to toss or donate it. Otherwise you may find yourself having second thoughts.
3. Go on a digital cleanse.
The Internet can be a huge gateway to impulse shopping. Sometimes all it takes is an email notification to pop up about a flash sale to trigger an impulse buy. To curb buying things you don’t need, Flanders suggests unsubscribing from your favorite stores’ email newsletters and unfollowing them on social media. Be sure to also unsubscribe from lifestyle blogs, as they can also create unnecessary material wants. “Don’t feel bad about it—even if you know the store owner,” says Flanders. “You need to remove all temptations.”
4. Keep a list of your spending regrets.
We’ve all experienced buyer’s remorse at one time or another. We would suggest creating a list of recent purchases you regret. Keeping this list in your wallet or on your phone to serve as a reminder will help you from continuing the same habits.
It’ll also help give some insight to when you made emotional purchases and impulse buys. Were there certain times during the past year where you were going through a difficult time in your life, such as stress on the job or a bad breakup, and splurged to boost your mood? Or maybe you tend to fall prey to super sales? By pinpointing circumstances that caused you to make these purchases, you may think twice the next time.
5. Go on a fiscal fast
To help you change your bad money habits, you can go on a “fiscal fast,” which is when you stop spending money for a week. This forces you to make do with items you already have in your home. You can turn it into a group event, where you do it with your family, friends, or co-workers.
Once you’ve completed your fiscal fast, you may find out that there’s a lot you can do without. It can also help you realize that a lot of the times we may spend out of habit and not from necessity. You can do this once or twice a year for a week or commit to a longer amount of time
6. Stay accountable.
During your financial cleanse, you may find it difficult at times to stay on track. If you’re determined to stick to your financial cleanse, stay accountable by partnering with a friend or make an agreement with someone. Besides support, your friend can also offer you financial tips. If you fall off the bandwagon and relapsing into a bad habit, don’t be too hard on yourself. It happens to the best of us. Just recommit to your goals create checkpoints to help you along.
Going on a financial cleanse will help you develop a better relationship with your money and develop saving habits. By going through a cleanse, it will put you back the driver’s seat so you can take control of your finances.

Mealtime Magic: In the Kitchen with Dara the Bow Girl

Check out DreamWorksTV’s “In the Kitchen with Dara the Bow Girl” for the ultimate guide to gourmet! MasterChef Junior’s very own Dara the Bow Girl shows budding young chefs how to make delicious 5-star cuisine. The 6-episode series, which is currently available on Verizon’s go90 app, will also air on consecutive Saturdays through August 20 on DreamWorksTV’s YouTube channel.

In the first episode, audiences learn how to make crispy chicken wings on
a fluffy Belgian waffle with jalapeno and vanilla bean infused maple syrup…yum! Over the coming weeks, Dara will teaches audiences how to make delectable dishes including chocolate ravioli, ricotta gnocchi, and even a giant meringue!

If waiting for a new episode is enough to make your stomach growl, you can get more cooking tips from Dara by checking out her “Dara the Bow Girl” series on DreamWorksTV’s YouTube channel.
About DreamWorksTV:
DreamWorksTV is the ultimate YouTube destination for kids and families. See what Shrek and Donkey, Po and the rest of your favorite DreamWorks characters are up to! Hack your life with helpful DIY tips and tricks, sing along to today’s catchiest songs and laugh out loud to original animated series. DreamWorksTV has it all! Check back daily for new episodes. Don't forget to follow us on Facebook and Instagram!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Sweepstakes: Applebee's Summer Sweepstakes

In celebration of the juiciest holiday of the summer, National Watermelon Day (August 3rd) and the launch of their new Wood Fired seasonal salads, Applebee’s is hosting a sweet summer sweepstakes! Guests are invited to submit their favorite salad recipes via photo or text on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtags #WoodFired and #Sweepstakes for the chance to win a $100 Applebee’s gift card. The sweepstakes runs from through Wednesday, August 3.
Starting at just $8.99, Applebee’s NEW line of new Wood Fired Grill salads incorporate all the best flavors of summer (think - watermelon, shrimp, avocado and grapefruit, to name a few) with seafood, chicken and Hand-Cut USDA Choice Top sirloin, to create a truly unique salad experience. All salads are topped with refreshing house-made dressings.
You can view the official sweepstakes rules here.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Movie Minute: Caged No More

I was recently sent Caged No More, a movie that draws attention to human trafficking. It's not a movie for families with young children, but it is a good movie to help older teens and adults realize how trafficking can occur. The movie and website help detail the extent of human trafficking, as well as ways that people, organizations, and churches can help.

It was a hard movie to watch. I can't imagine what it must be like to be a victim of human trafficking, or to be the family member of someone who is. This movie follows a grandmother determined to find her granddaughters who have been kidnapped by their father. It's easy to assume that all cases of human trafficking happen in other countries, or to orphans or runaways, but that's sadly not the case. Luckily for these girls, they do have family fighting to find them.

The website has resources for people and organizations on recognizing red flags, the faces of trafficking, and a four-week Bible study. It's a good cause to get involved with, as it's much more prevalent than people realize.

Book Nook: I Draw on Cats

I recently had a chance to review I Draw on Cats, an adorable little book that my daughter loved. The book had a unique physical format - it was sort of an accordion-fold style, with the edge of the jacket serving as a bookmark.

The book had a bunch of cute photos of cats, with simple line drawings over the cats, and then dot-to-dot to help add to the drawing. My daughter loved doing the dot-to-dot, and then she usually took it one step further and added extra details. It works best with darker markers - pencils and pens didn't show up well. The simple drawings are fun, easy enough that they aren't intimidating for non-artists like myself.

I'm glad I got the chance to review this fun book for cat lovers!