Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Parenting Pointers: Encouraging Reading in a Digital Age

Disclosure: I received complimentary products to facilitate this post. All opinions are my own.

I just had a chance to review BORN READING: Bringing Up Bookworms in a Digital Age—From Picture Books to eBooks and Everything in Between by Jason Boog, former publishing editor at MediaBistro—and proud dad to his own little bookworm, Olive. The book is written to provide information for parents on encouraging lifelong reading and to read interactively. Studies have shown that interactive reading—a method that creates dialogue while reading with a young child—can raise the child’s IQ by more than six points

Reading is a hot topic. The American Academy of Pediatrics recently released a policy statement recommending “that pediatric providers advise parents of young children that reading aloud and talking about pictures and words in age-appropriate books can strengthen language skills, literacy development and parent-child relationships.” (Read Jason's interview about that here.) Plus, the Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign for the Reading Rainbow app raised well over $6 million!

The book is really helpful. It includes smart strategies for interactive reading in the digital age, including making informed decisions about using apps and eBooks; storytelling lessons to help parents be more dramatic and engaging; and book recommendations for young children that match their interests and abilities.

There are also some great tips in every chapter, some of which I'll share with you know. 
  • Read together.
  • Ask lots of questions.
  • Be dramatic.
  • Discuss your own feelings about the book.
  • Help your child make predictions.
  • Compare the story to the real world.
  • Encourage children to retell the stories.
Check out the book to learn more and start your kids on a great foundation for lifelong reading!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Thrifty Thinking: The Retro Budget Prescription

Disclosure: I received complimentary products to facilitate this post. All opinions are my own.

Recently I read The Retro Budget Prescription by Nora D'Ecclesis. This ebook is a fantastic value at just $2.99 for kindle or $8.96 for paperback. It is short and written more for the budgeting beginner, but veterans will still find helpful tips and reminders. She incorporates the spiritual side of finances, for a holistic view of prosperity, which is nice to not make it just about cold, hard cash. I had a chance to interview her to learn more.

1. What was the inspiration behind writing this book?
"The ancestor of every action is a thought" - Emerson

My thoughts went to the teachings of Sir John Templeton when I worked as a mortgage banker and saw dozens of people without written budgets have great difficulty achieving their financial goals.
I enjoyed learning from the work of John Templeton as a young graduate student and his philosophy was my motivation. In the book I explain that using a budget creates a framework for our future. By putting numbers down on paper we deconstruct our fears which helps to move forward toward financial wellness. By writing down a budget, and following it, stress is mitigated.  We all know that relieving stress improves our health. I have written extensively on the topic of stress management in all of my non fiction publications.
2. Why is there a link with spirituality and finances?
The great financial advisor John Templeton was asked about the best financial advice he had ever given anybody. Sir John replied, " Tithing." He said, "I've never known anybody who has tithed (given away) at least ten percent of their income to good causes who didn't have it coming back tenfold. Just reaching out and helping others brings that energy back to you. And I firmly believe that. Don't wait until you have a lot of money. Reach out and help somebody now." It has been the way I have lived my life and I find value in his words and suggest we all consider the concept in my book.
When we are in good spiritual shape we are far better able to withstand life's vicissitudes and create the lifestyle that best suits who we truly are in everything from relationships to finances to career.
3. What makes this budget idea "retro?"
It is an enlightening and educational perspective on an old topic especially regarding spiritual practice and its effect on financial planning. In “The Retro Budget Prescription”, I suggest a written budget plan without the use of software. The book outlines the concept of helping others, writing a plan down on paper, committing to self-control and shedding faddish ways of managing money. It is back to basics of another time, when budgeting was done without spreadsheets or computers. The simplicity of a pencil and paper and a plan combined with a spiritual program that suggests giving helps money management.
4. Can you share a few tips from the book?
It is a tool for teaching children good basics in understanding what to do with their money and responsibilities that go along with that. These concepts should be taught in school at an early age and right through high school. I devote several chapters on how to get youngsters off to a good start and focus intently on the young college age men and women. I caution on the profligate use of the ATM cards and traditional credit cards and suggest we learn to focus on wants vs needs.

Giveaway: Natural Child World

Disclosure: I received complimentary products to facilitate this post. All opinions are my own.

I recently had a chance to check out a digital copy of the publication Natural Child World (a flip issue that also includes pet tips). It's refreshing to see another magazine out their dedicated to eco-friendly family living - there aren't many options for that!

The magazine was informative, and very high quality layout and contents. I really enjoyed reading it! I even enjoyed the pet side, although I don't have a pet.

I have a chance to give away three digital one-year subscriptions. To enter, like Natural Child World on Facebook. You can also learn more when you follow @NCWmagazinefind NCW Magazine on Pinterest, or follow NCW Magazine on Instagram. The Natural Child World Youtube channel also has relevant videos and announcements.

Leave a comment with your email and best green living tip, and the social media you followed (you'll get one entry for each). Separate comments are not necessary but you may if you wish. Deadline is July 25th.

Mealtime Magic: Reducing Salt

Most people consume far more than the recommended salt intake each day. I had a chance to interview  Registered Dietitian, Nutritionist, Cordon Bleu-certified Chef and best-selling author of “Clean Eating for Busy Families,” Michelle Dudash about ways to reduce salt intake without sacrificing flavor.

Caring Causes: Fifteen's 5K

Minnesota Twins fans who dream about competing on Target Field will have their opportunity on Sunday, August 17 at Fifteen’s 5K, a downtown Minneapolis running event that will finish inside Target Field.

The event is hosted by Minnesota Twins closer Glen Perkins – number 15 – and his wife Alisha, and will benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.  Twin Cities In Motion, the organizers of the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon and an array of year-round running events in the Twin Cities, organizes the event.

Fifteen’s 5K will start on South 2nd Street near Gold Medal Park in Minneapolis at 8:00 a.m. on August 17.  The finish of the event will again be located on the playing surface inside Target Field.
“Alisha and I are pleased to offer runners the major league opportunity of finishing inside Target Field as part of a fun-filled event for Twins fans,” Glen Perkins said.  “We’re also pleased to offer a big league opportunity to run for a worthy cause – the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.  It’s a chance for runners to do something for themselves and for others.”

Last year, the event donated more than $30,000 to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.  Registration for this year’s event and additional information can be found at tcmevents.org

Learn more: follow @Fifteens5K@RunLikeaMother (Alisha) or @Glen_Perkins 

# # #

About Twin Cities In Motion (TCM):  Twin Cities In Motion organizes the region’s premier running events, including the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon, a Top 10 U.S. Marathon. With a mission of promoting healthy lifestyles through running events and community outreach, TCM contributes a portion of every race dollar to local youth and professional athletes and helps raise more than $800,000 annually with its charity partners. For more information, visit us at tcmevents.org, or find us on Facebook and on Twitter @tcmarathon.

Parenting Pointers: 4 strategies for talking to teens about drugs

According to the CDC, 40 percent of teens have used marijuana and 66 percent have drank alcohol. That’s why more than ever, open communication with teens is key to preventing them from developing an addiction or other unhealthy behaviors.
Consistent messages to teens about addiction can help prevent substance abuse – one study found that when a parent talks to their teenager regularly about the dangers of drugs and alcohol they lessen the chance of their child using drugs by 42 percent!
Josephine Healy is a primary therapist at the Lighthouse Recovery Institute, a licensed drug, alcohol and eating disorder treatment center in Delray Beach, Fl., that specializes in recovery for women. Here are some of her tips on how to talk to teens about addiction:
·         Keep it honest - Honesty is always the best policy when speaking to teens, especially regarding sensitive subjects. Parents should educate teens on the consequences of use.
·         More communication is better - Open up a line of communication with the teen and let them know that no question is off-limits. It’s vital that they know they have a nonjudgmental resource to communicate with regarding substance-abuse related topics.
·         Utilize resources - Self-help groups and addiction treatment organizations such as DARE can provide resources for teens regarding substance abuse.
·         Show your support - Ensure the teen that, as a parent, you are coming from a loving and caring place.
Healy has worked at a variety of levels of care in both substance abuse and dual diagnosis facilities, providing her with an interdisciplinary approach to client care. At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, she utilizes a variety of therapeutic techniques such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, solution-focused therapy, and holistic approaches to treatment.
At the Lighthouse Recovery Institute, our mission is to help each client attain peace, happiness and permanent sobriety. With over 30 years of experience in the treatment of drug abuse, alcohol abuse, eating disorders and trauma, our passionate team of doctors, therapists, and specialists provide nothing but the highest quality of care for every woman who walks through our doors.


Pet Pointers: Summer Safety

This week, Pet360.com moves into their #SummerOfPets Safety and Wellness week, providing pet parents with the resources and products they need to have a safe and healthy summer with their pets. Our Chief Pet Parenting Expert, Rose Hamilton, partnered with SheKnows to compile a Summer Safety Tips infographic of our top recommendations for keeping your furry friends out of harm’s way. You can share your own #SummerSafety tips or enter the weekly #SummerOfPets giveaway!


Parenting Pointers: Home & Family This Week

The following report highlights the programming of Hallmark Channel’s Daytime Series, “Home & Family,” this week. “Home & Family” is a two-hour weekday lifestyle and ultimate “how-to” show hosted by Mark Steines and Cristina Ferrare.  The program airs MONDAY - FRIDAY (10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. ET/PT) on Hallmark Channel.

TUESDAY, July 22 - Mark Steines and Cristina Ferrare interview TV host and Actress, McKenzie Westmore about surprises in the upcoming 7th season of the SyFy reality competition show, Face Off.  Creator and star of TBS’ Sullivan & Son, Steve Byrne, shares the real life inspiration behind the show.  Rick Schwartz returns with more amazing animals from the San Diego Zoo; including a Koala!  Jessie Jane uses gold leaf paint to make beautiful statement rings.  Cristina makes a delicious Grilled Peach and Burrata Sandwich!  We make our own DIY Pebble vases with Ken Wingard.  Consumer Savings Expert, Jeanette Pavini has money saving tips to help you save on summer groceries.  Also, we make Lace Princess crowns with Tanya Memme that your children are sure to love. 
WEDNESDAY, July 23 - Mark Steines and Cristina Ferrare welcome back film, television, and Broadway actor Bruce Boxleitner as he shares behind-the-scenes stories from the Hallmark Channel Original Series, Cedar Cove.   Multi-lingual Actress, Yasmine Al Massri, talks about playing opposite of John Malkovich in the NBC drama Crossbones.  Jessie Jane puts her own spin on the popular Lazy Susan.  Author and Spokesperson, Noah St. John has great advice for couples and their financial decisions.  We learn how to create contours using makeup with Kym Douglas.  Sophie Uliano makes DIY sun lotion bars that make applying sunscreen clean and easy.  Plus, we have a special performance by Stuart Ward and Dani de Waal from the Tony Award winning musical, Once.  
THURSDAY, July 24 - Mark Steines and Cristina Ferrare get a sneak peek at the Hallmark Movie Channel Original, The Memory Book, with star, Adrienne Barbeau.  We learn how to make delicious BBQ using less expensive cuts of meat with Curtis Aikens.  Actor, Greg Poehler tells us what it’s like acting and executive producing his new show Welcome to Sweden.  Plastic surgeons, Dr. Payman Danielpour and Dr. John Layke show us the latest technique in plastic surgery known as “Cool Sculpting”.  Kym Douglas has quick emergency fixes when something happens to your lace!  Summer is here and Debbie Matenopoulos shows us trendy bathing suits you will want to wear this season.  Pilates expert, Andrea Speir whips us into shape with her combination of Pilates and Cardio from her new DVD workout: The Pilates Fix.  Then, Thursday means it is time for Hollywood Steals with Sandie Newton!
FRIDAY, July 25- Mark Steines and Cristina Ferrare talk with actress, singer and songwriter, Alicia Witt about her latest project, and she performs for us! We are throwing a Big, Fat, Greek Baby Shower for our own Debbie Matenopoulos, complete with baby games and a baby shower tablescape made by Tanya and Sophie.  Cristina and Debbie make a classic Greek dish, Greek Lemon Rack of Lamb.  Plus, Dr. J.J. Levenstein shows us how we can eat ice cream that actually is nutritious for us. 

Marty Tenney is the executive producer, Stacey Patterson, Ryan Berlin and Seth Isler are senior producers and Bob Levy is the director of “Home & Family” from Woody Fraser Enterprises. “Home & Family” is broadcast in 1080i, Hallmark Channel’s selected HD Format.  This program carries a TV-G parental guideline. 

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Consumer Critique: Kiplinger Magazine

Disclosure: I received complimentary products to facilitate this post. All opinions are my own.

I recently got a review issue of Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine. What I like about the magazine is that it really has something in it for everyone. For people just starting out, there's an article about crucial credit secrets (for example, being debt-free can actually hurt your credit score); for heavy investors there are articles about growth stocks and the ETF market, and for those approaching retirement, there's an article about smart places to retire (college towns make surprisingly good retirement destinations).

The website also has great information, including slideshows on the worst buys at club stores, tax tips, saving money, and much more.

Kiplinger's is a great resource for all things personal finance, so I encourage you to check it out for a huge amount of tips and information.

Healthy Habits: 7 Little Known Fitness Hacks That Will Change Your Life

There is so much to learn about workout properly, it can be as confusing as you want to make it. However, there are some simple tips, tricks and hacks that anyone can do to make working out easier and more effective. Below are some simple fitness hacks that you can incorporate today to take your fitness to a higher level.

Eat more meals- Note I am not saying eat more food.  Break your meals into smaller portions and eat more frequently. Ideally you should eat a meal every 3 hours. Doing this will keep your blood sugar levels in check, keep your appetite under control so your less likely to binge on an unhealthy snack and increase your metabolism.

Tell the world- Tell the world, or at least your world, that you have a goal to lose weight, gain muscle, or even finish a 5k. Most people are willing to let themselves down before their friends and family. Whatever your goal is, telling your friends and family will keep you accountable to them and not yourself. Social networking websites are a great medium for announcing your goals.

The “new exercise” rule- Too often I see people in the gym doing the exact same exercises day after day. Your body has an amazing ability to adapt, and exercising is no exception. Over time, doing the same exercises over and over will decrease the effectiveness of your workouts. Make it a goal that every Sunday night you will search the internet for one new exercise you want to do at least 3 times during the upcoming week. Not only will this new exercise be a learning experience, it will take your fitness to a higher level.

Workout with a friend- Fact: working out with someone will make you less likely to skip a workout and more likely to complete a workout. So grab a buddy at a similar fitness level to you and be amazed at how far you push yourself.

Reward yourself- This hack is especially useful for someone who can never seem to workout consistently. One of the biggest problems newbies have is they quit because they don’t have an end goal, or their goal is too long term. Make a short term goal, just a month or two, and if you complete your goal, say lose 7 pounds, reward yourself with new workout clothes. Having a short-term goal and a reward will make you more likely to finish what you started.

Exercise to Fast Music- A recent study concluded exercising to fast paced songs made people exercise harder and longer. So load your phone up with fast paced heart thumping music before you exercise to increase the effectiveness of your workout.

Active Work Meetings- Why does a day at work have to involve sitting at a desk 8 hours a day? A recent study concluded sitting is deadly, literally. Schedule an active work meeting. Instead of sitting at a conference table with others, burn some calories and take a walk around the building.

This article was authored by Sergeant Michael Volkin, inventor of Weight Loss Stack 52 and Strength Stack 52 weight loss and fitness cards