Saturday, November 28, 2020

Parenting Pointers: Raising Your Kids Without Losing Your Cool

I recently had a chance to interview Shantelle Bisson, author of Raising Your Kids Without Losing Your Cool

  • Why is parenting so full of emotionally-charged situations?
Wow.  I wish I had the perfect answer for this question.  Personally I believe that parenting is so full of emotionally-charged situations because you have two people, you and your kid, or in the case of a family meltdown, you will need to add a partner, and another kid, or kids.  All with different personalities.  All with their own ideas of how they want things to go, or how they would handle a situation.  Put all this into a house, especially right now during a pandemic with lots of shutdowns, and cancellations of activities taking place outside the four walls of your family home and man oh man is that not a recipe for adding fuel to the fire of personality differences.  

The minute you have different personalities in one room, day in, day out, for YEARS you're bound to end up with upset and flared tempers from time to time, or sometimes OFTEN.  I have to say, that of my three girls there was one that I can count on both hands that I had any sort of emotionally charged encounters with, another who I had way too many to count, and then my third who we've barely locked horns her entire life.  I truly think it is a simple as this.  We don't get along with all the people all the time, and we accept this out in the world with our co-workers, in the dating world, and with friends, but for some strange reason when we become parents we expect that the parent/child relationship will go smoothly.  

I believe it is the unrealistic expectation that because we love one another so much, and because you are their parent, that it can and should go well because of these givens, that only adds unnecessary extra pressure to the relationship.  Just because we are family it doesn't mean that our personalities are going to mesh.  I think it is so important for parents to take it easier on themselves when they feel like one of their kids might just rub them the wrong way.  That they don't naturally get along as well with one like they might with another one of their kids.  It doesn't mean you love your child any less, often times I noticed in our own household that my husband and I tended to lock horns with the daughter who was the most like us.  So often it was like having a fight with yourself whenever we would get into a argument with that daughter who was so much like us!  

We can get so wrapped up in feeling guilty, that we forget to just relax, and understand that there is no perfect in parenting, and once we release some of the expectations from not only our kids but ourselves, a lot of these emotionally-charged situations will melt away.
  • With the recent election, politics are a particularly hot-button issue. How can parents help their kids be informed and confident in their opinions in an age-appropriate way?
This is a hot potato topic for sure!  We have three daughters, all with varying political ideals and leanings.  The way we helped our kids be informed and confident in their opinions was to allow them to lead the conversation of hot-button issues like politics, religion, and sex.  It is so important as parents to take the back seat on some topics, allowing our kids to share with us their ideas, their questions and their concerns.  They ask we answer, rather than the temptation to tell them the way they should think and feel about these issues and then put our political views on them.  

You see the beautiful thing about having children is to witness the evolution of our society through them.  In my opinion your job as a parent is not to recreate you, or relive your youth (but maybe better), your job as a parent is to allow them to experience the world through their own lens.  To learn from their teachers, their peers, and you.  To form their own beliefs and ideals based on their journey through the world, and resist the temptation to make them a carbon copy of you. Parenting is a role that requires that we leave our egos at the door, and that we constantly remind ourselves that our kids are not US. They are their own people, here to have their own experiences.  

It is our job to safely guide our children through their lives, not put blinders on them and shield them from real life.  So how do you do this while protecting them and respecting where they are at age wise.  Well the way we handled hot-button issues with our girls was to draw a comparison to their real lives; meaning if they had a friend who they felt was behaving rudely, we would use that experience that they lived and tie it back to a current issue.  For example with all the name calling that is taking place in politics right now, if my girls were still little I would use it as a teaching opportunity to remind them that no matter if somebody calls you a name first, the better way to respond is by not name calling back. For me this was always a tried and trued way to teach them about current news happenings in their lives that they were curious about, by bringing it back to a real life experience that they had lived either at school with a friend, teacher, or bully.  This allows you to keep the conversation age appropriate without stressing yourself out.
  • For many families, the holidays this year are going to be full of uncertainty and changed traditions. How can parents prepare their kids for that?
I think the best way for parents to prepare their kids for a very different holiday season, that will most definitely be a departure from the "norm" is to remind our kids that life is a living breathing thing. That is always changing, and that we're never guaranteed that tomorrow will be the same as the day before.  We need to raise them with the understanding that every day is a gift, even if the day isn't going as planned, especially if it's not going as planned, or how they wished it would go.  We need to instill in them at a very young age that it is a tremendous blessing to have one another, and to have our health.  R

ight now we live in precarious times, and I believe wholeheartedly that we need to help them focus on gratitude, and we need to (even if behind closed doors we're freaking out in front of our kids) assure them that it won't be like this forever, that next year we'll hopefully be able to go back to celebrating the way we used to, and maybe not.  And that's okay because we're focusing on all these other things to be grateful for.  I also encourage parents to create new traditions, such as making food hampers, or present hampers for families in great need, and then delivering them to an organization that can distribute them to vulnerable families.  This pandemic is a great opportunity to teach your child about giving back.  About celebrating all that they do have, while helping them to take the focus off all that they don't have.  Because let's be honest, there will always be people who have so much more than we do, and even more that have much less.  

If we can work hard every single day to keep our eye on the positive, even when it feels like there is none, and coach our children to do the same, we will find new ways to celebrate old traditions, that hey, we may end up liking even more.  And maybe if you start new family traditions that focus more on gratitude and giving, even if things don't go back to the way they used to be but holiday season 2021 you will have started new and beautiful traditions to replace the old until we can get back to them.


Instagram              @shantellebisson
Twitter                   @shantellebisson
Facebook                 Shantelle Bisson

Website Spotlight: KindHumans

I recently found out about KindHumans! Now launching their membership program with all kinds of awesome perks, Their Marketplace for Good is full of thoroughly vetted eco-friendly products. No "Green-washing" here.

The membership program features a bevy of incentives such as 2% cash back, a welcome package and choice of givebacks to benefit kids in need, the planet or humanitarian aid all for just $35. Their “Gift Kindness" program focuses on planet-friendly gifts, for everyone on your list, that give back.

KindHumans is the story of two people who were motivated to make a difference and ensure their children were kind and loving. Justin and Suzi Wilkenfeld launched the marketplace to celebrate the good in humanity by elevating community, commerce and world-changing causes. Together, the “Three Cs” form the heart and soul of the KindHumans brand.

Website Spotlight: Muttropolis

 Our dog is really hard on toys, so I was thrilled to get a gift card from Muttropolis to review their site. It came just in time, since one of her last favorites has sprung a new hole.

The ordering process was a breeze. The website is easy to search, and the product selection is good, but

not overwhelming, so it was a piece of cake to find toys that would stand up to her chewing (they even have a filter for tough toys). They have a few cat toys as well as dog toys, but the site is focused on dogs - options for toys, grooming, food, walks, sleep, and more.

The prices are very reasonable - I compared prices with other sites and most of them were comparable for similar products. Shipping time was great too, we received our order much. more quickly than expected. Linka absolutely loves her toys too - the squeaky hard rubber ball, two treat toys, and a tough tug of war toy that looks really durable but doesn't hurt my hands to pull like a rope toy does.

Right now is a great time to check the site out - they're offering 25% off sitewide with the code BIG25.

Fun Freetime: Escape Room Mail

Escape Rooms are kind of a new activity that was quickly growing in popularity. Right now, with Covid quarantines and stay-at-home orders, it can be hard to go to a physical location. Plus, they can tend to be expensive, so while I know they're fun, they aren't something our family has ever done due to the cost. 

That's why I was really excited to try Escape Mail. I've done different escape games that are designed for being able to do at home, and we've liked them a lot. It's a good way to bring the problem-solving challenges and the story background together. Even though you can really only use them once, they are worth the cost, compared to going to a physical escape room.

Escape Mail is similar. It's founded by creators of Mobile Escape, a traveling escape room experience with an emphasis on education. They've transitioned to a remote format with Escape Mail. I like it better than digital escape rooms - it's fun to have something tangible, and it was fun for the girls to open up the envelope and get started on the puzzles. Like many escape rooms, it can be a little challenging to get started if you've never done one before, but even for beginners there's enough context to get started. 

If you're looking for a unique family activity and you like to solve puzzles, this is a great option!

Book Nook: A Gift of Peace

 The world is crazy. It always has been, and always will be, but there are ways to find a little bit of peace and joy. One of those ways is by reflecting on other people's thoughts about peace, which is the focus of a book I recently got to review, Peace: Prayers, Inspirations, and Meditations to Heal our World.

The book is calming to read. Peace offers a look at the concept from a variety of cultural viewpoints, with people that are known for their efforts towards peace. It's easy to read just a few minutes at a time for a quick pick-me-up, or read more leisurely with time for reflection. The meditations are well-chosen and written to fit with people from a variety of backgrounds. A little bit of peace is definitely something we can all use!

Consumer Critique: SquarePet Squarely Natural

My family prefers to eat foods without a lot of additives, so it's nice to feed out furry friend more natural-based food too. I was happy to try out Squarely Natural from SquarePet.

The pet food aims to have the shortest pet food ingredient list - and it is really short! The ingredients are all easy to understand too - either turkey or lamb meat for protein, brown rice for carbohydrates, and sunflower oil for a fat source. These are all ingredients people can eat (although I wouldn't recommend it, obviously).

My dog loved the food. She's not picky anyway, but she wolfed this food down. We do have mild allergy issues with her (although we don't know if it's environmental or food), but this is a great option for people who are trying to eliminate a variety of ingredients, since there are only three ingredients.

SquarePet foods can be found at a variety of independent pet retailers. If there isn't a retailer near you, you can also shop online.

Area Attractions: WonderWorks Branson - Full STEAM Ahead

 WonderWorks Branson adds to their existing STEM exhibits, with a new exhibit area called Full STEAM Ahead. In addition to science, technology, engineering, and math, the “a” in steam is for art. The new exhibit area will focus on STEAM careers, beginning with becoming an astronaut. Full STEAM Ahead includes videos, demonstrations, interactives and robotic arms. Experiencing the new exhibit is included in the regular admission price to the indoor amusement park.


“STEAM career fields play an important role in our society,” explains Brenda Dent, general manager at WonderWorks Branson. “We are happy to introduce students to these career fields and encourage them to explore their opportunities.”


The new exhibit, which focuses on STEAM-related careers, opens on November 24, 2020. Numerous STEAM-related careers will be highlighted in the coming years. In addition to an astronaut, others careers include web developer, computer programmer, soil and plant scientist, chemist, physical education teacher, forensic science technician, zoologist, environmental engineer and landscape architect, among others.


There will also be pop-up STEAM demos throughout WonderWorks, such as an egg drop, bed of nails and the art of origami. In addition to all the STEAM-related fun that will take place inside WonderWorks, (including the OzART contest). Other STEM-related programs offered include virtual learning labs, science fair partnership opportunities, science fun facts and hands-on experiences with each visit.


Additionally, there is a military section that honors those who protect and serve our country. This space highlights STEAM-related job opportunities in the military and showcases some the technology used in the Army. This section includes interactive exhibits, military artifacts and a theater showing of a short film, titled “American Pride.”


“We have a great exhibit that will allow people to explore these career fields in a fun way,” added Dent. “We look forward to adding more options as well. Now is the time to introduce students to these fields. You never know where that introduction will take them.”


According to the Pew Research Center, STEM-related careers have grown 79% since 1990, going from 9.7 million jobs to 17.3 million. Pew also reports that those in STEM careers earn a higher salary. They also report that women have made significant gains in the areas of life and physical sciences.


To get more information about the WonderWorks Branson STEM program, visit the site:


To get more information about the STEM career spotlight, visit the site:


They also offer group activities, facilities rentals, homeschool days, birthday parties, scouting days, and sensory days. Located at 2835 W. 76 Country Blvd, it’s the company’s sixth and largest location. Some of the exhibits include a bubble room, Professor Wonder’s adventure, interactive sandbox, illusion art gallery and X-treme 360 bikes. The fun indoor amusement park offers 46,000 square feet of family friendly engaging activities, as well as two cafes. They are open 365 days per year, from 10 am to 9 pm, with varying hours throughout the seasons, and when recognizing holidays and special events for current hours of operations, visit the website:


COVID-19 safety protocols being taken include reducing capacity, enhanced cleaning efforts, social distancing measures, hand sanitizer stations, employee health screenings, and employee personal protective equipment (PPE). Guests are encouraged to review all safety rules prior to their visit on the web page devoted to COVID-19:


About WonderWorks

WonderWorks, the upside-down adventure, is a science focused, indoor amusement park for the mind that holds something unique and interesting for visitors of all ages. There are three floors of non-stop “edu-tainment,” with over 100 hands-on and interactive exhibits that serve an educational purpose to challenge the mind and spark the imagination. WonderWorks has locations in Orlando, Pigeon Forge, Myrtle Beach, Panama City Beach, Syracuse and Branson. For more information visit: and follow @WonderWorksBranson on Facebook, @WonderWorksBR on Twitter, and @WonderWorks_br on Instagram.


# # #




Pew Research Center. 7 Facts about the STEM workforce

Healthy Habits: RSV

 Parents are probably familiar with ear infections, seasonal allergies and the common cold, which are among the most diagnosed illnesses at pediatric doctor visits1 – and now, are on high alert for the signs and symptoms of COVID-19.


How much do moms and dads of young children know about the symptoms of Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)? Even though parents may not know what RSV is, they should. RSV is the leading cause of hospitalizations in children under one year of age in the US, with about 125,000 RSV hospitalizations annually in this age group. 2,3 RSV season typically lasts from fall through spring in most parts of the country. 4


About RSV:

  • RSV is a common, highly contagious seasonal virus that is contracted by nearly all infants by the age of 2 years. 5
  • Many parents may not be aware of the virus or its symptoms – especially because RSV symptoms are similar to those of the common cold or flu.6
  • The virus causes a mild respiratory infection in most babies, but for some high-risk babies RSV can develop into a much more serious infection. 6
  • Hospitalization rates for RSV disease are about 16x higher than those for influenza in children <1 year of age.7


RSV Symptoms Include:

  • Coughing or wheezing that does not stop8
  • Fast or troubled breathing8
  • Flared nostrils and/or chest retractions when breathing8
  • Bluish color around the mouth or fingernails8
  • Fever8


There is currently no specific treatment for RSV disease once contracted – prevention is critical, especially for high risk infants.


Preventive methods include:

  • Washing your hands and asking others to do the same9
  • Keeping your child’s toys, clothes, blankets and sheets clean – and your own9
  • Avoiding crowds including young children and others who may be sick during RSV season9
  • Avoiding tobacco smoke10
  • Asking your child’s health care provider if your child may be at high risk for severe RSV and ways you can help protect a high-risk baby9


On November 18, Dr. Michael Forbes, Pediatric & Adolescent Intensive Care Specialist and the Director of PICU Clinical Research & Outcomes Analysis at Akron Children’s Hospital, was available to provide important details on what parents need to know about RSV, including which kids are at highest risk and how it can be prevented.

 Interview Courtesy: :  Sobi



1 American Academy of Pediatrics Pediatric Coding Newsletter. Top 25 Pediatric Diagnoses Revisited. August 2013: 5.

Consumer Confidence in Brick-and-Mortar Retailers

 Consumer sentiment can be a powerful indicator of economic trends, particularly as the economy continues to flag due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The walk-through marketing leader, Zenreach, released data showing consumer sentiment throughout the pandemic, indicating that as another wave of COVID-19 sweeps the nation, consumer optimism is on a downward trend. 

For instance, a look at the initial impact of the pandemic from march shows that negative consumer sentiment and its correlation to actual walk-through rates. Early tentative steps toward walk-through rate recovery is related to consumer optimism. 

The data, which goes through November 12, 2020, indicates somewhat lowered level of consumer optimism at the moment, than earlier in this month indicating that consumer optimism is on the decline as the holiday shopping period begins. 

I had a chance to do an interview to learn more.

Why is there a strong link between consumer sentiment and brick-and-mortar store health?
Looking at the available metrics, it’s clear that the coronavirus pandemic is as severe as it’s ever been. The country recently surpassed 11.6 million cases and 250,000 confirmed deaths since the COVID-19 outbreak began. In just the past week, the number of daily cases, deaths, and hospitalizations have risen significantly, as did test positivity rates among reported tests.
Understandably, a large portion of the population has serious health and safety concerns about patronizing brick-and-mortar businesses in this environment. Until we have a comprehensive, effective strategy to tamp down the number of cases, we can expect to see depressed foot traffic figures across the nation. Consumer fears and reduced in-store walk-ins go hand in hand.

How can consumers support their favorite retailers, especially small businesses, even as they might be concerned about their health?
Ordering items for delivery or pick-up is a great way for consumers to support their favorite businesses in this climate. Buying gift cards or certificates—either for yourself or for others as a gift—is another way to help.

How can initiatives like contactless payment help increase consumer confidence in stores' health and safety practices?
With consumers so clearly on edge, it is imperative that merchants lean in to enhanced safety measures—for the sake of both their customers and their own employees.
Contactless solutions in particular have become quite popular this year. According to one study, 53% of consumers have used a mobile contactless payment option for the first time since the pandemic began, and an astounding 85% of consumers say that it is important that a retailer offer the choice for contactless payment.
There’s also evidence showing that stores which haven’t implemented some sort of contactless payment solution are at a competitive disadvantage. The same study cited above indicated that 28% of shoppers will actively avoid a retailer that doesn’t offer a contactless payment option and instead choose one that does. 
It’s truly amazing that technology has evolved to the point where customers are able to have a contactless retail experience at a brick-and-mortar establishment. Contactless solutions—for payments, price checks, and even in-store assistance—should go a long way toward alleviating consumer concerns. 

What can retailers do to be responsive to consumers' concerns?
In addition to providing customers with contactless options, retailers should also implement enhanced health and sanitation measures—practices like limiting store capacity to encourage social distancing, frequently disinfecting pens and surfaces, and implementing mask mandates. After all, the more businesses that adopt these changes, the more consumers will come to expect them and begin identifying these measures as standards.

Healthy Habits: COVID and STDs

 To help women suffering with genital herpes, the FemiClear brand has released new FemiClear for Genital Herpes Symptoms to relieve the symptoms of genital herpes outbreaks. This innovative new product is backed by both an in vitro (laboratory) and in vivo (human) study and is now available at CVS stores nationwide.

FemiClear is on a mission to eliminate the stigma of genital herpes and remove the psychological barriers to treatment. It is no surprise that conversations around genital herpes can be embarrassing and this societal mindset can prevent women from seeking out treatment that can help them get back to their lives. With such a large percentage of women suffering from genital herpes, FemiClear wants to start a conversation that helps women talk about their condition and make them feel empowered to seek the relief they crave.
Goodner says, “The FemiClear brand is committed to destigmatizing taboo topics in women’s health by bringing effective solutions that are backed by science and are made with all-natural and organic ingredients. Genital herpes, for example, is far more prevalent than most people realize, with 1 in 6 women having it. Let’s stop being ashamed to talk about it.”

I had a chance to do an interview to learn more about how COVID has impacted STDs like Genital Herpes.

How has COVID affected treatment plans for people with STDs?
“I believe there are a few positive things that have come to fruition due to COVID. One being that telehealth has become a household name and people are feeling comfortable using it for all things, now including a herpes diagnosis. One of the reasons why people don’t get diagnosed is because of the embarrassment of calling your doctor, speaking to the receptionist, making your appointment and then going in and dropping your pants. It’s all embarrassing. The stigma is extremely paralyzing and can keep us in a cocoon like state. The best thing possible is to get treatment and get emotional support. With everything moving to online and virtual lifestyles people can now seek treatment from the comfort of their own home.” Alexandra Harbushka, Life with Herpes, and an ambassador for new FemiClear for Genital Herpes Symptoms.
What are some positive effects that shutdowns can have on STDs?
"As of March 2020, new cases of genital herpes have been declining. The trend leads us to believe less people are physically interacting which makes sense during this pandemic. On the other hand, we’ve seen a slight increase of active patients requesting refills more frequently," said Daniel Uchitel, CEO of HerpAlert, an online service for diagnosis and treatment of herpes by licensed physicians  and a partner of FemiClear for Genital Herpes Symptoms.
If people are sexually active, what do they need to know about staying safe during pandemic?
“Believe it or not I think the pandemic has helped us ask difficult questions about one’s health. Because of COVID we now have to ask people what social distancing looks like to them. We ask about the precautions they taken to avoid the spread of COVID. Just a few months ago, we never even thought to ask a friend or family member what their “stay safe” or “stop the spread” lifestyle looked like. This is no different than asking a partner about their sexual health. This conversation should include questions about STI testing and especially asking if they have been tested for herpes. As well as how many sexual partners they currently have. This is no different than asking someone if they have been in large gatherings or if they have been tested for COVID.” Alexandra Harbushka, an ambassador for new FemiClear for Genital Herpes Symptoms. 
For people with STDs, how can they make sure they are keeping up with their treatment plans?
Fortunately, there are ways for people to keep up with their plan even during a pandemic. Telehealth can enable people to connect with their current physician or through a service like HerpAlert and obtain the prescriptions they need. In addition, the FemiClear brand just launched FemiClear for Genital Herpes Symptoms, an over-the-counter ointment to help manage the itching, pain and burning of an outbreak. It’s been proven to kill 99.9% of the Herpes Simplex I and II viruses. Over 90% of women who have tried it reported less severe outbreak symptoms and many also reported shorter duration of their outbreak. Luckily it can be found in CVS near the condoms and online at, Amazon and  
FemiClear has created a video series featuring real women talking about the condition of genital herpes and how FemiClear has helped them not only reduce their outbreak symptoms, but how the product has positively impacted their lives. You can view the videos here.
About OrganiCare: Founded in 2016 in Austin, Texas, OrganiCare brings scientific rigor and standardized testing to the homeopathic products industry. The company’s mission is to create incredibly effective and all-natural, organic products that address a market need not currently being served in the OTC healthcare space. OrganiCare offers a range of products including first aid, oral care, and feminine care products. The FemiClear brand includes products for yeast infections, feminine itch and now genital herpes symptoms. For more about OrganiCare visit