Sunday, October 31, 2010

Six Tips for a Safe and Healthy Holiday Season

Seriously, holiday season?

Yes, the holiday season is upon us and before you know it, or actually it is a reality, there are Christmas decorations in stores already - and your kids haven't even unwrapped one piece of Halloween candy yet!
It is never too early to discuss safety and health when it comes to your family.  Living healthy all year round should be a priority, but we all will let things slide at the holidays, it is just part of reality.  (Maybe there are a few of you that are good all year round, congrats to you!)  Especially for parents, it can be extremely difficult to get our teens eat healthy as well as learn the importance of being an offensive driver.

Many recognize that during the holidays there will be in increase in drunk driving accidents and deaths from these accidents.  Whether you are 16 years-old or 60 years-old - drive safelyPut those cell phones away.

Here are six basic reminders for healthy living, especially during the holidays:
  1. Wash your hands often.  There's lots of food being exchanged during the holidays.  Keeping your hands clean is one of the most important (and easy) steps you can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others.  Wash your hands vigorously with soap and water, or use an alcohol based hand sanitizer.
  2. Get checkups and vaccinations. Don't let the holidays get in the way of important exams and screenings. If young children are scheduled to receive routine vaccinations, stay on schedule and don't put these off until after the holidays. Talk to your doctor about flu shots for you and your family.
  3. Manage stress. Remember, it's the holidays, and they are supposed to be fun. Keep a check on over-committing yourself. Plan quality time just for you and your family. Try to avoid overspending, which can cause unneeded stress during and after the festivities. Need help? Don't be afraid to ask others to pitch in!
  4. Eat healthy and be active. With balance and moderation, you can enjoy the holidays the healthy way. Choose fresh fruit as a festive and sweet substitute for candy. Select just one or two of your favorites from the host of tempting and not-so-healthy foods. Find fun ways to stay active, such as dancing to your favorite holiday music.
  5. Travel safely. Don't drink and drive, and be sure to keep a watchful eye on guests to ensure they're not driving after drinking.  If you are out and have had too much to drink, call 1-800-AAA-HELP and AAA's Tow-to-Go service will provide you a free tow and ride home. (Nov. 24-Jan. 2)
  6. Handle and prepare food safely. Avoid food-related illness by washing hands and work surfaces often. Avoid cross-contamination by keeping raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs away from ready-to-eat foods and eating surfaces. Cook foods to the proper temperature and refrigerate promptly.
Source: Going Places AAA

In Broward County, AAA has a location in Pembroke Pines.  You can get your holiday attraction tickets and membership information there.  Especially if you have a teen driver in the house, getting them an AAA Membership is an excellent gift (probably more for you, but it is worth the sense of relief when they break down and need a tow).  A tow alone can sometimes cost up to $400.00.  With AAA, you get three free tows a year and much more.  Look into it today!

On a personal note, thankfully my son had his AAA card last weekend - when he lost his car keys!  Between the locksmith and the tow, it didn't cost me anything (thanks to our AAA Membership).

Be an educated parent, you will have safer and healthier teens!

Read more.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Spina Bifida Awareness Month is October

Did you know that birth defects occur in 7 out of every 10,000 live births in the U.S.?  And Spina Bifida is the most common permanently disabling birth defect?  In honor of October being Spina Bifida Awareness Month, I’m reaching out on behalf of the Spina Bifida Association to ask everyone to take a few minutes today to get involved by educating loved ones. 

So what exactly is Spina Bifida?  The short version of it: Spina Bifida happens when the spinal column doesn't close completely. It’s hard to believe that eight births each day are affected by Spina Bifida or a similar birth defect of the brain and spine. Think of it this way, there are currently over 65 million women in the U.S. who could become pregnant and each one of these ladies is at risk of having a baby born with Spina Bifida.  

So because Spina Bifida occurs during the first month of pregnancy (that’s even before most women know they’re pregnant!) it is that much more important, as a woman, to take proper precautions to help try to prevent it now.  

Okay. So what type of precautions can help in prevention, you ask?  Although at this time there is no known cause of Spina Bifida, research has shown that if a woman takes 400 mcg of folic acid every day and before she becomes pregnant, she reduces her risk of having a baby with Spina Bifida or another neural tube defect by as much as 70%! 

That fact is reason enough to encourage women (and men) to get out there this month and spread awareness.  To hear one mom’s message, click here:

And finally, SBA is launching great, online resources for parents, tweens and teens including transitional resources, social network involvement and even an online university for young adults. For even more information, tips and resources, you may visit:

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Teen Driving Contract

We all know the day that our teen takes the keys can be one that is stressful.  Many times you will hear driving schools and other professionals suggest you have a Teen Driving Contract in place and if they can't follow the rules for safe driving, the keys come back.

Each family may have their own opinions on what they want in the contract for their teen's protection, however let's look at a standard contract.  Teen Driving website offers a great template to start with.  When teens negotiate their own set of car keys, parents worry that they’ve said goodbye to all control.  It’s true that teens experience a new sense of freedom when they get their licenses.  But they often don’t understand the responsibilities that come with the privilege.  Parents can help by drawing up a driving contract, before turning over the keys, that clearly states the family rules as well as the consequences for breaking them.  A contract should address safety, good driving skills, and particular situations in the following areas:

 The car:

Parents should make decisions on the following car related items and add them to the contract.
  • Which car(s) the teen is allowed to drive:  The car should have a driver’s side airbag, a good safety rating, and be easy to maneuver
  • Car care—including putting gas into the car, oil changes, tire pressure, and regular maintenance requirements
  • Car clutter—keeping the car clean inside and out and free of trash
  • Paying for insurance.  Insurance rates for teens are often twice the ones for adults over twenty five—and for good reason.  Teens have an average of three accidents between 16 and 20.  Some parents find that having their teens pay the insurance costs with their part time jobs provides some incentive for avoiding reckless  onroad behavior that often results in accidents.  Insurance rates will rise sharply with each accident—sometimes costing thousands of dollars per year.

The contract should also stress safe driving practices, including:
  • Always obeying the speed limit and traffic laws
  • Always wearing seat belts and making sure that all passengers are buckled up before driving. (This is the law in Florida).
  • No drinking/drug use—Parents should always be vigilant in watching for signs of alcohol or drug use by their teens and talk to their teens and seek professional help if they find indications.   Driving while impaired is one of the leading causes of fatality in vehicle crashes—and the numbers are unfortunately on the rise in the last few years.  The contract should state that teens are not allowed to drink and drive, have alcohol in the car, or even be a passenger in a car with a driver who has been drinking or using drugs.  Assure your teen that they can always call you to come get them if they get stranded at a gathering.
  • Not driving with friends in the car.  We ( suggest that teens not be allowed to drive with friends or even younger siblings in the car for the first six to twelve months of having their license unless an adult is also in the car.  Many states have instituted graduated licensing programs that also have this limitation.  Distractions are one of the main causes of accidents for new drivers.  And trying to keep track of conversations, playing around, or trying to act cool could lead to a crash.
  •   Not using cell phones or texting while driving.
  • ·New drivers should let parents know where they are going and when they plan to return.
  • Curfews.  Night driving is especially difficult for a new driver and more accidents happen in the 9:00 p.m.-2:00 A.M. timeframe than during the daylight hours.  Set realistic curfews, but also tell teens that if they are running late, it’s always better to drive safely than speed to make up the minutes—and to call you if possible to let you know they are on the way home.

The contract should specify what happens if the rules are broken.  It’s a good idea to get your teen’s input on appropriate penalties.  For example, a speeding ticket might result in the loss of driving privilege for a week and having to pay for the ticket.

The following is a sample contract that parents can modify by adding their own consequences to meet their needs.

 Driving Contract

I __________________________,  agree to the terms of this contract allowing me the privilege of driving my
own car or family vehicles  If, at any time, I violate this agreement, the driving privilege will be forfeited to the extent and degree of violation.
1. I will obey all traffic laws and the posted speed limits and follow safe driving practices at all times.
2. I will not drink and drive, or use drugs and drive and will not have any liquor or  beer or illegal drugs in the car at any time.
3. Should I get a traffic violation ticket, I agree to pay for the ticket as well as the difference in the insurance premium for as long as the premium is in effect.
4. I agree to pay for damages that I incur not covered by insurance including all deductibles.
5. I will never transport more than ______ passengers in the car and will not drive the car until all passengers have buckled up.     For the first six months, I will not drive friends and siblings in the car unless an adult is present.
6. I will keep the car that I drive clean, inside and out take care of gas, oil, and maintenance requirements.
7. I will inform my parents about where I am driving, when I plan to return, and if I will be late coming home.
8. I will not make calls or text on my cell phone while driving.
  • I agree to pay for car insurance.
  • I am allowed to drive the following family cars:  list car or cars.
  • My curfew for night driving is 10:00 p.m.
     I have read the above agreement and do sign this in accordance with the rules.

Signed by Teen and Parents on the specific date.

Another tip is to have the contract enlarged and made into a poster for the wall.  At the store, we’ve made a sample contract into a poster.  We hope this information helps parents and teens agree on safe driving behavior.

Copy and paste this into Word.  You can edit it to meet your needs and print out for you and your teen to review.

Visit for more great safety tips for teen drivers.


Be an educated parent, you will have safer teens.

Read more.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Dove Self-Esteem Weekend

Today there is more pressure than ever on young girls to be physically perfect.  Peer pressure is overwhelming.  We see this reflected in the media all around us.

Research shows a link between a mother's influence and her daughter's ideas about health and body confidence.  If mothers can become more aware of their attitudes towards their own bodies and those of their daughters, they can help their daughters stand up to powerful influences in our culture that undermine their own sense of beauty and self-worth.

October 22 - 24th, across the country there is a movement - The Dove Movement of Self-Esteem!  You can find events going on and a vast amount of social media to help build self-esteem and change the world one girl at a time.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Go Bumper Sticker: Keep Your Teen Drivers Safe

A new group called, is hitting the pavement and creating an awareness and accountability to drive responsibly.

The goal of the program: to protect teenage drivers and promote safe driving habits.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), "Drivers aged 16 to 19 years of age have the highest average annual crash and traffic violation rates of any other age group." In addition, "16-year-olds are 3 times more likely to die in a motor vehicle crash than the average of all drivers."

The GoTellMom program is designed to protect your child, while correcting & preventing bad driving habits early, helping to reduce accidents and injury to your child and others.

In a recent press release by Go TellMom:
With the program, parents register online and receive a "How's My Teen's Driving?" bumper sticker with a unique privacy protected identification number. If a fellow driver or witness observes unsafe driving habits by the teen, they can call or visit to report the incident using the 4 digit code on the bumper sticker. will then send a detailed email report notifying the parents.

Studies show that commercial vehicles utilizing "How's My Driving" stickers reported a 20% decrease in accidents and traffic violations.

By placing the sticker on a teen's car, parents have taken a proactive step towards preventing bad driving habits, ultimately keeping their teens safe.

Whether it is speeding, texting while driving, a taillight out or just careless teen driving - the community can call or report to, and the teen's parent will instantly be notified. If teen drivers know that the community is watching and at any time a report can be made, then safe driving will become a priority.

Launched in 2010, is a proactive way for parents and the community to monitor teen drivers and moreover help correct bad driving habits early. For more information, please visit

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Helping Your Kids Cope With Divorce the Sandcastles Way

By M. Gary Neuman

Divorce is painful and confusing. Perhaps now more than ever, you want to give your child all the love, support, and guidance he or she needs, but everything seems harder and more complicated. Helping Your Kids Cope with Divorce the Sandcastles Way can help. Based on Gary Neuman’s phenomenally successful Sandcastles Program ™, which has helped more than fifty thousand children cope with divorce, this warm, empathetic guide shows you:
  • How to build a co-parenting relationship–even when you think you can’t
  • When you or your child should see a therapist
  • Age-appropriate scripts for addressing sensitive issues
  • What to do when a parent moves away
  • How to stop fighting with your ex-spouse
  • How to navigate the emotional turmoil of custody and visitation
  • How to help your child deal with change
  • How to cope with kids’ common fears about separation
  • How to introduce significant others into the family and help your child cope with a new stepfamily
More than a hundred pieces of artwork from children of divorce will help you appreciate how kids perceive the experience. Dozens of special activities and fun exercises will help you communicate and get closer to your child. This guide shows you that divorce need not be an inevitable blot on children’s lives, but an opportunity for them to grow and strengthen the bonds with their parents.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Teen Help - Parent Help - Wit's End - Struggling Teens and Parents

P.U.R.E. - Author of Wit's End.
Are you at your wit's end with your teenager?  Searching online for help and realize it is a big business out there?  Don't get sucked in by slick sales reps, clearing houses marketing a group of programs that financially support them - take the time to do your homework and research.

Learn more about Parents Universal Resource Experts (P.U.R.E.).  Founded by a parent and run by parents that have been where you are. 

We recognize that each family is different with a variety of needs. P.U.R.E. believes in creating Parent Awareness to help you become an educated parent in the teen help industry. We will give you a feeling of comfort in a situation that can be confusing, stressful, frustrating, and sometimes desperate.

Fill our a free consultation form today.  All information is kept private - it is not sold or forwarded to any schools or programs.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Your Life Your Voice: Hotline for Teens and Kids that are Struggling

The Boys Town National Hotline is a toll free number available to kids, teens and young adults at anytime. Please contact us if you're depressed, contemplating suicide, being physically or sexually abused, on the run, addicted, threatened by gang violence, fighting with a friend or parent, or if you are faced with an overwhelming challenge.

We can provide help and hope if you call our Hotline (1-800-448-3000) or fill out our email form. You don’t have to face your problems alone!

The Boys Town National Hotline has been taking calls from kids and families since 1989.  In fact, we have taken over 8 million calls since we started.

We will always encourage people to contact us by phone if they are in any danger or if it is a really serious issues because talking on the phone can provide more immediate help.  We realize though that people today are often more comfortable to contact us over the internet. is set up so you can contact us via the web.  You can email your questions and we can post them (along with our reply) for others to see.  If you aren’t ready to come right out and ask a question, you can share Your Life & Your Voice by sending us your story of success.

Maybe you don’t want to send anything in to us, but you want to look around our site to see what others have sent.  We also have some quotes and printable journal pages that you might find helpful.
Either way you want to contact us, we’d like to help!  We are here 24/7. 

Call our Hotline (1-800-448-3000), or email us at

You don’t have to face your problems alone!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Green Halloween

What is Green Halloween?

Whether your family has been green for years or whether you’re green at being green, you’ve come to the right place for healthy and Earth-friendly Halloween tips.
Follow these links to learn more about parties, treats, costumes and more:
Have a great, green idea that’s not on our site? We’d love to hear about it. Click here to e-mail us.

Read more.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

TextZapper - Don't text and drive

Texting and email on your cell phones, the very technology that has so dramatically improved productivity and personal communication, has become a real and present danger TO EVERYONE on the roads today. With total parental control, TextZapper provides a quick and easy solution to stop texting and emailing while driving, now protecting us all in a way never before possible.

Read more - click here.

Also visit for more information.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Living for Today: From Incest and Molestation to Fearlessness and Forgiveness

By Erin Merryn

Fans of Erin Merryn's heart-wrenching debut memoir Stolen Innocence were left wondering what would become of an emotionally fragile Erin after her confrontation with the reality and repercussions of being a child of incest and molestation. In Living for Today, Erin chronicles how she cultivated the strength to face her abuser and eventually found relief from years of emotional restlessness, while also igniting the beginnings of a new fearless journey. 

Living for Today chronicles that journey, which began with the unearthing of private shame, releasing of ugly memories, letting go of guilt, and becoming the mouthpiece of millions of her generation.
In Living for Today, anyone who has felt victimized, ashamed, isolated, and silenced by their abusers will receive a roadmap for self-discovery, forgiveness, and empowerment. With real compassion and wisdom, this book can help readers overcome trauma and live fully and fearlessly for today.

Order on Amazon today.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Matthew's Place - Learning Acceptance and Tolerance

Matthew Sheppard Foundation

The life and death of Matthew Shepard changed the way we talk about and deal with hate in the United States. For the past eight years, the legacy of this remarkable young man’s life has challenged and inspired millions of individuals to erase hate in all forms. Although his life was short, it continues to have a great impact on both young and old alike.

The story of Matthew Shepard begins on December 1, 1976 when he was born prematurely to Judy and Dennis Shepard in the small city of Casper, Wyoming. Matthew attended school in Casper until his junior year of high school when he finished his primary education at The American School in Switzerland. His experience abroad fueled his love for travel. He took the opportunity to explore Europe and learn multiple languages including German and Italian.

Matthew in Marocco Matthew at Window Matthew was an optimistic and accepting young man. He always put his family and friends first and had a special gift of relating to almost everyone. He was the type of person that was very approachable and always looked to new challenges. Matthew had a great passion for equality and always stood up for the acceptance of people’s differences.

Throughout his life he expressed his love for acting by becoming very active in community theater both on and off stage.

Matthew’s college career took him to a number of different universities and later ended up studying political science, foreign relations and languages at the University of Wyoming in Laramie. He was extremely interested in politics and was chosen as the student representative for the Wyoming Environmental Council.

The horrific events that took place shortly after midnight on October 7, 1998 went against everything that Matthew embodied. Two men, Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson, lead him to a remote area east of Laramie where they demonstrated unimaginable acts of hate. Matthew was tied to a split-rail fence where he was beaten and left to die in the cold of the night. Almost 18 hours later he was found by a cyclist who initially mistook him for a scarecrow.

Matthew died on October 12 at 12:53 am at a hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado. His entire family was by his side for the last few days of his life. His funeral was attended by friends and family from around the world and gained the appropriate media attention that brought Matthew’s story to the forefront of the fight against hate.

This tragedy helped the nation wake up to the fact that hate and discrimination still lives in our communities, our schools and our families. Although his life was cut short, the impact of his spirit is great.

Learn more.

Monday, October 4, 2010

National Cyber Security Month Awareness Month is October

We open National Cyber Safety Awareness Month (NCSAM) with a few educational and informational websites with some top resources you need to keep safe in cyberspace.  Resources that have been consistent in keeping up with the changing times online and people, books and websites that can help you help your teens and children stay safe.

1.  Connect Safely - ConnectSafely is for parents, teens, educators, advocates - everyone engaged in and interested in the impact of the social Web. The user-driven, all-media, multi-platform, fixed and mobile social Web is a big part of young people's lives, and this is the central space – linked to from social networks across the Web - for learning about safe, civil use of Web 2.0 together. Our forum is also designed to give teens and parents a voice in the public discussion about youth online safety begun back in the '90s. ConnectSafely also has all kinds of social-media safety tips for teens and parents, the latest youth-tech news, and many other resources.
2.  YourSphere and YourSphere for Parents - offers a vibrant, online, interactive, experience for kids and teens. Member’s safety and privacy come first through the application of common sense safeguards. The site devotes a hyper-focus towards supporting the positive interests, talents and aspirations of its members.
3.  Cyber Safe Family - was formed to educate parents on internet safety because we believe education is the key in keeping kids safe online.  Many parents are intimidated by today’s technology and overwhelmed with these questions.
4. PG Key - PG Key was created by a design and development team that includes industry experts with years of experience in creating powerful yet easy to use software applications. In addition to the experienced technical members, the team also includes representatives from law enforcement (an FBI agent that specializes in cyber crimes), education (a Ph.D. that currently serves as a district superintendent), the medical community (an M.D. and current member of the American Board of Pediatrics) and many others … including ordinary, non-technical, but concerned parents.
5. Wired Moms - Wired Moms is a coalition of moms and mom groups with a central focus of connecting with their families through technology and to getting the most out of the new innovations that make their lives easier and more fun and keeping our kids and ourselves safe online.
6.  Fortalice Solutions, LLC - In bits and bytes, the digital world holds pieces of our lives. And the team at Fortalice are your watchmen, because protection of your information is worth fighting for.Fortalice is a computer security firm.  A team of experienced cybercrime fighters helping governments, businesses and consumers protect their cyberturf. We design, develop and deploy customized IT solutions that help fend off the bad guys. But cybersecurity isnʼt always about technology. Itʼs about arming people with the knowledge to defend themselves.Over the last twenty years, our team of experts has taught the United States Government, some of the countryʼs largest banks and thousands of consumers how to safeguard their information.
7.  ReputationDefender - ReputationDefender was created in 2006 to defend your good name on the Internet. Today, ReputationDefender has grown to be the world's first comprehensive online reputation management and privacy company. We're the most experienced and most technologically innovative company of our kind. With customers in over 35 countries, ReputationDefender is proud to serve a global customer base throughout the world's largest community - the Internet.
8.  Veritate et Virtute - Christopher Burgess - Author - Speaker - Humanitarian - Senior Security Advisor - - - My focus is on Safety, Security, Intelligence, Intellectual Property and Humanitarian issues. I put particular emphasis on the protection of both the young and the elderly of our society. I co-authored w/Richard Powers: "Secrets Stolen, Fortunes Lost: Preventing Intellectual Property Theft and Economic Espionage in the 21st Century" My published works, books & articles, audio pod-casts and video presentations can be found at
9. Look Both Ways - Linda Criddle - LOOKBOTHWAYS Inc.’s mission is to make the Internet safer for all consumers. In addition to providing free web resources to consumers, LOOKBOTHWAYS Inc. specializes in understanding the Human Factor in Online Safety. The company develops internet safety technologies; provides product design, safety reviews, and other consulting services to leading technology companies; and advises regulatory bodies, and various law enforcement agencies.
10.  Google Bomb Book - The Untold Story of the $11.3M Verdict That Changed The Way We Use The Internet - In today's technology-dependent world, the Internet has become a legal lethal weapon against the privacy and reputations of its users. Based on Sue Scheff's landmark Internet defamation case that gave face to online harassment, cyberbulling, privacy invasion, and Google™ bombs (the practice of manipulating the ranking of web pages), and stirred Internet regulation and free-speech debates, Google™ Bomb arms readers with information, legal advice, and reputation defense (and clean up) mechanisms from one of the country's top cyber abuse attorneys, John W. Dozier, Jr.
11. iKeepSafe - The Internet Keep Safe Coalition is a broad partnership of governors and/or first spouses, attorneys general, public health and educational professionals, law enforcement, and industry leaders working together for the health and safety of youth online.  iKeepSafe® uses these unique partnerships to disseminate safety resources to families worldwide.
12. Net Cetera OnGuard Online - Net Cetera covers what you need to know, where to go for more information, and issues to raise with kids about living their lives online. encourages you to use this guide with your kids, in your school, at your PTA meeting, or anywhere else parents might gather. Feel free to order as many free copies as you'd like, put your own sticker on it, reprint sections in a newsletter or on a website, download a button or link to it, or even reprint it with your own logo. These materials are in the public domain.  To order free copies of Net Cetera, visit To find out more about reprinting the guide, contact

This list is in no particular order.  All have valuable information.

Do you have more, please add them to comments!  Include websites too!  Paying it forward to keep everyone safe in this new digital world!

Read more and add comments here.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Trevor Project


The Trevor Project is a nonprofit endeavor established to promote acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth, and to aid in suicide prevention among that group.

The Trevor Project is the national provider of life saving resources to LGBTQ youth and their families. We advocate acceptance and help prevent teen suicide by promoting mental health and positive self-esteem through a premiere on line destination, nationwide 24/7 call centers, and empowering social activities.


Inclusiveness is one of our mantras. We are rooted in the belief that everyone should be treated like a human being regardless of their sexual identity, gender, or race. We as an organization will not turn any one away who asks for help. We will show them compassion. And, in recruiting staff and volunteers we will reflect the diversity of our community.


We promise to deliver the best 24 hour 7 day a week telephone counseling for youth in crisis. We promise to create a safe space, through our helpline and online, for LGBTQ youth. We promise to deliver our message of suicide prevention in schools throughout the country. We promise to hire a highly qualified and professional staff and providing them with incentives. We promise to operate our board, our committees, our helpline, our offices and our events with the utmost integrity.


We have been and will continue to be pioneers in reaching out to youth in crisis; whether it's in schools, on the helpline or online. We will be stewards in nonprofit fundraising (events, Circle of Hope, direct mail campaigns). We will be innovative in our recruiting and retention of staff, volunteers, and board members.