Monday, July 22, 2013

What to Include in an Emergency Plan

It’s never comfortable to think about what your family should do or how you should prepare in the event of an emergency, natural disaster or crisis, but the safety and wellbeing of your household could very well depend upon your forethought. Making a definitive plan for how everyone should proceed and what to expect in case an emergency arises could easily mean the difference between surviving it unscathed and suffering devastating loss. In addition to making sure that you have enough non-perishable food, water and first aid supplies to last your family for several days, you should also have a plan in place that includes certain information so that everyone is on the same page and no one is ever left behind.

Chosen Family Contact Information
Every member of your family should have the information of two dedicated contacts in the event of an emergency; one locally-based loved one or family friend, and one that does not live in the area. These contacts can serve as a liaison, making sure that everyone is accounted for should a disaster or emergency situation strike during the hours of the day when you’re separated. Making sure that you have a local contact who can provide assistance for emergency situations that do not affect your entire city can help you reunite your family, but it’s important to also have another that lives far from your area, who wouldn’t be likely to suffer the effects of a natural disaster or catastrophic weather event that affects your household. Everyone should know how and when to make contact with these individuals, even if it means providing younger children with a card to carry with them that contains the pertinent information.

Safe Places
If your home is rendered unsafe by an emergency situation or natural disaster, you should have an appointed “safe place” that everyone in your family can reach, even if you’re not all together when the emergency arises. Settling on your safe place as a family and discussing when everyone should make their way to that location ensures that everyone is equipped with the information they need to make a proactive effort to help themselves and reconnect with the rest of the family.

Evacuation Plans
In case of fire or other emergencies that would require you to evacuate your home, you’ll need to determine the best and most effective routes for each member of your family to take. Make sure that younger children have someone that’s designated to help them, and that you practice fire and emergency drills periodically to ensure that everyone knows their role and how to escape safely.

Pet Care Plans
The four-legged members of your family will require attention and care in the event of an emergency, which is why you should make sure that there is a plan in place for their rescue and protection. Arranging a safe haven for your pets may be necessary, as not all Red Cross disaster shelters will allow you to bring yours with you. Your local animal shelter or veterinarian can provide you with information for preferred boarding facilities and kennels, as well as emergency shelters for pets.

Home Care Instructions
Adults and older children in your family should be apprised of basic home care information, including how to properly shut off water, natural gas and other utilities in the event of catastrophic weather. Before providing an older child with instruction in regard to such things, however, you need to ensure that she’s mature enough and capable enough to handle these tasks. Your child should know how to handle the utilities, but should also know that she’s only responsible for them if an adult asks her directly to take care of the situation because they’re not able to do so themselves.

Emergency-Specific Information
By knowing the kinds of natural disasters, severe weather and other emergencies that your area is particularly prone to, you can tailor your emergency plan to fit the most likely situations. For instance, families in the Midwest probably shouldn’t concern themselves with hurricane disaster management, but should have a focused and comprehensive tornado plan in place. Make sure that you’re aware of the most likely emergency situations in your area and that your family is prepared accordingly.

When explaining emergency preparedness to children, it’s important to strike a balance between making the situation seem so dire that it causes them anxiety, and so unlikely that they don’t actually have to remember the specifics of an emergency plan. Explaining the importance of being ready for scary situations even though they probably won’t happen, can help little ones pay proper attention to the information you’re giving them without being afraid that a disaster is lurking around every corner.

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Monday, July 15, 2013

20 of the Best Potty Training Bribes Ever

Potty training can be a daunting task for both the parents and the child. Some kids, for their own reasons, are terrified of going potty on the toilet and need a little extra incentive to do it. Parents who have already experienced trying to potty train their kids know what tactics work. They also know that what works for one child might not work for another. Remember that each child is different and that you always need to have patience for your reluctant child.
  1. Stickers – One tried and true bribe is the sticker method. Kids love stickers, and it’s a special treat to receive a shiny, colorful decal to put anywhere they want. Be sure they know what they are getting the sticker for so they know what to do to receive it again.
  2. Candy – Some parents don’t believe in this method because they don’t want to spoil their kids with things that are unhealthy for them. Others swear that it’s the most effective and fastest method of potty training a reluctant toddler. Just a couple of small pieces of your child’s favorite treat can be enough to encourage them to use the potty.
  3. Pretend Money in Exchange for a Real Toy – Give your child a dollar of play money every time they go on the potty, and once they have earned a certain amount, take them to the store to pick out a small “prize.”
  4. Let’s Take a Trip! – Bribery has many levels, and one that can work for the child that is always thinking of the future is a trip to a favorite place or to a new place. If your child loves going to the zoo, promise a trip to the zoo when they go a full week with no accidents.
  5. Pick Out Underwear – Kids have fun picking out their outfits, so why not let them pick out their big kid underwear before they get to use it? Explain to your child what the underwear is for and that they will be allowed to wear their new favorite undies when they go to the bathroom on the toilet.
  6. Stuffed Animals – Have a special stuffed animal that your child gets to play with after they use the potty. It can even be a stuffed animal that was made to use the potty too.
  7. Snack Time – Turn the time after potty time into snack time. They get their favorite snacks as a reward for using the bathroom and after a few days, they will remember that’s what happens when they go.
  8. A New Pet – Promising a pet is serious business, so only use this bribe if you mean to stick with it and are prepared to take responsibility for an animal your child is too young to properly care for without assistance. If your child has always wanted a kitten and you promise to deliver one after a specified amount of time without accidents, you’d better stick to your guns. Otherwise, your child may revert back to being in diapers for a bit longer than you’d like.
  9. Read a Favorite Book – Some kids know they have to go to the bathroom, but it takes them a while to actually go. While they are on the toilet, read a book with them and then promise to read their favorite book after they go. That way, it’s instant gratification and also a little reward to look forward to.
  10. Fun Activity – Promise a fun activity for after they use the potty. This can be anything from finger painting to blowing bubbles to baking cookies. Have fun with it and ask your child what they want to do when they are done going potty.
  11. Hugs – While you are probably giving your child hugs often already, giving an enthusiastic hug after going potty is a way to encourage that behavior in the future. They get excited when you are excited and they catch on to the fact that it’s a good thing they used the restroom.
  12. Potty Dance – Parents have sworn by “The Potty Dance” song and routine fervently, insisting that it helped their child learn to use the potty. This is an energetic and exciting dance that takes place by all members of the family who are present after the success of the child learning to use the toilet.
  13. Secret Poster Reveal – Buy a poster for your child that you know he will love. Cover it with sticky notes or pieces of paper. Each time he uses the toilet to go to the bathroom and is successful, take away a piece of paper so he will slowly see what the poster is and be more excited to uncover it as the picture is revealed.
  14. Fill Up that Piggy Bank – If your child has a piggy bank, it’s likely she loves filling it up with coins. Every time she goes to the bathroom, give her a coin or two to add to her piggy bank. Once she has mastered the art of using the potty, use the money in the bank to buy a toy she’s been asking for lately.
  15. Open Presents – Turn potty training into a party! Few things are more exciting for a child than to open a present. Just think back on his last birthday and the fun he had tearing off the paper. For the most part, he didn’t care what was in the package, did he? So, wrap up a cheap little toy or trinket and give him one for every time he goes in the toilet.
  16. Add to a Collection – If your child has an established collection of favorite things, you may be able to use it to your potty training advantage. Promise to add to her budding collection if she uses the bathroom to go potty and doesn’t rely on a diaper. You can make this a daily or a weekly reward, depending on your budget.
  17. Bubble Bath – As with any bribe, the reward has to be worth the hassle. So, turn bath time into something super fun by promising to add bubble bath to the water for each time she goes to the bathroom on the toilet.
  18. Computer or Tablet Use – Is your young one addicted to technology despite your efforts to curb his budding habit? Only allow him to use the computer or tablet for games if he goes to the bathroom using the potty instead of going in his diaper.
  19. Fruit Snacks – Fruit snacks are a healthier reward than candy and kids love them. You can either let your child have a whole packet of fruit snacks or just one or two, saving the rest for later in the day. Either way, your child will remember the delicious reward and want more.
  20. Play Video Games – Let your child play her favorite video game if she uses the potty. She will see that going to the bathroom when she needs to is an easy way to have fun with her video games. Even during potty training, however, it’s important to remember that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under two years of age have extremely limited screen time.
When it comes to bribing your kid, don’t make promises you won’t keep. Doing so will not only break the bond of trust between you and your child, but you’ll likely experience potty training setbacks as well.

First published on

Monday, July 8, 2013

How to Make a Dipped Fruit Arrangement at Home

Dipped fruit arrangements are an exciting and edible alternative to traditional flower bouquets for centerpieces or gifts. Unfortunately, they can also be quite pricey, leaving little wiggle room in a tight budget. If you’re determined to use a dipped fruit arrangement as a centerpiece at your next soiree or to present one as a gift to a loved one, you may find that simply making your own not only costs less, but also allows you greater leeway in terms of design. Rather than choosing between a few pre-arranged designs available from a specialty store, you’re only limited by your imagination and kitchen skills.
  • Brainstorm Your Design – The first step to creating your own dipped fruit arrangement is to decide what sort of design you’d like to create and how you want your arrangement to look. Browsing pictures of arrangements online can give you a basic idea of technique and serve as inspiration for your own creation. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box, with fruit sliced into innovative shapes you’ve never seen in other arrangements. If you’re going to get very experimental, however, you may want to allow yourself enough materials for a practice run the day before you create your actual arrangement. Just remember to keep your designs realistic and to operate within the bounds of your knife skills. An elaborate arrangement that requires intricate knife work may not be the best choice for someone who’s accustomed to doing little more than rough chopping and peeling.
  • Gather Your Supplies – Before you start working on your arrangement, you’ll want to make sure that you have all of the necessary tools in place. Walking away from your work when you’re on a roll to retrieve something you forgot to bring into the kitchen or, even worse, being forced to make another run to the store while your half-assembled arrangement sits waiting can put a serious damper on your creativity.
  • Carefully Consider Your Fruit Choices – Some fruits are more suited to being cut or shaped into parts of a dipped arrangement due to their consistency. Others may turn brown after they’re cut, ruining an otherwise exquisite arrangement. Think carefully about what’s in season as well, because out of season produce may be under-ripe or lacking in flavor. A lot of thought goes into creating the perfect dipped fruit arrangement, but it is well worth it in the end. A quick tip: if you’re determined to use apples, pears or other fruits that have a tendency to turn brown quickly, create a design that allows them to be dipped in chocolate to mask the discoloration.
  • Set Aside Plenty of Time – Depending on your skill level and experience with creating interesting shapes from produce, creating a dipped fruit arrangement may require the better part of an afternoon. Making sure that you set aside enough time to make mistakes or even start over will dramatically reduce the chances of a frantic, slipshod assembly that leaves much to be desired aesthetically. If at all possible, try to work on your arrangement on a day when you’re least likely to be distracted or called away.
  • Melt Your Chocolate Properly – In order to make sure that your arrangement is as perfectly appointed as possible, you’ll need to make every effort to melt your chocolate properly. While chocolate that’s been chopped and thrown into a pot on high heat will melt, it’s also more likely to scorch and be ruined. Using a double boiler and a healthy measure of patience will help ensure that your chocolate melts to a beautiful, silky consistency.
  • Dip and Set – Dip the chosen fruit pieces into the chocolate you’ve melted, then allow it to set. You can gently place dipped fruit onto wax paper, but the pooling chocolate may leave an unsightly flat edge. Skewering the pieces and propping the sticks up so that the dipped fruit is left to set with nothing touching the surface may be a better solution.
  • Create Your Arrangement – Once all of your pieces are cut and the ones you’ve dipped have been allowed to set, collect your container, florist’s foam and skewers so that you can get to work! Assemble your dipped arrangement until it looks like you imagined, then prepare for the rave reviews from your guests or loved ones!
 First published on

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Winners of the Wacky Words Contest Sponsored by the Night Buddies Adventure series


Hey there, buddies! This is me, Crosley!

I’m lookin' to share who the winners are for the wacky words contest, on account of the author of the Night Buddies Adventure series of books is into writin’ his third one. It’ll be featuring’ me an’ my good buddy John, of course. The winnin’ words could end up in BOOK THREE too! See ya after bedtime in the Borough!
Winner #1 will receive a $25 gift card to a bookstore of their choice & both titles signed by the author.
Winner #2 will receive both titles signed by the author.
Winner #3 will receive a copy of Night Buddies, Impostors, and One Far-Out Flying Machine.
Winner #4 will receive a copy of Night Buddies and the Pineapple Cheesecake Scare.
Winner #5 will receive both titles as eBooks.
The lucky WINNERS are (in order)...
Crunch the Cake! = Oh No!
Grumphus - Oh bother! (muttered under your breath when something doesn't work out.
Doodlewhicky--any item, in general, that you're not sure of the name, as in, "That doodlewhicky over there looks like it might be used for cutting hair, but I'm not sure."
Quiggenzoofle?-- What's up?
Thanks! Mara
redittle-it/Send It Back

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Free Webinar: What They Don't Teach You about July 4th


Christina Frei, author of “5 Rockstars of the American Revolution,” is offering a free webinar for children ages 8 – 12 on Independence Day: What They Don't Teach You about July 4th. There will be three times to choose from: 10am, 12pm and 2pm.
During the 45 minute session, she will use her comedic and acting talents to demystify the Founding Fathers for kids, helping them to understand the character and integrity of the men who created the United States!
Christina will enlighten kids with little known facts, such as why John Adams, not Thomas Jefferson, is the real hero of American independence; that the Declaration of Independence was not signed by everybody on July 4, 1776 -- many colonists didn’t want a declaration; how the July 4th holiday was chosen by default; and probably most important of all, how American independence from Britain changed the world.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Teach Your Child How To Call 911

Preparing your child to act calmly under unthinkable circumstances is a scary and disheartening responsibility, but it is an essential one. Ensuring that your little ones are equipped to properly handle an emergency situation at a young age gives them the ability to reach out for assistance when they need it most, even when you’re not available to point them in the right direction. Teaching small children how to reach emergency services is less of a practical challenge and more of an emotional one, though there are some ways to simplify the process even further to make sure that they gain this much-needed skill.

Work on Critical Information
Emergency dispatchers can trace a call to determine a child’s location if they’re too shaken up to provide their address or aren’t quite sure what it is. Knowing their full names, your name, their address and telephone number makes the dispatcher’s job much easier. If your household is among the increasing number of American families that don’t maintain landline telephones, you’ll also want to make sure that your child knows how to turn on a cell phone and that he’s confident entering the three digits before connecting.

Talk About What 911 is For
Explaining to your child what 911 services are for helps him understand that dialing the number will summon help from police, firefighters and paramedics if he’s in trouble. Talking about what sorts of situations would warrant a call to 911 and how the emergency responders can help him when there’s an emergency lets him know that there is help just around the corner if he needs it, and that all he has to do is dial three numbers to get help if there’s no conscious or capable adult in the house.

Talk About Emergency Workers
Kids need to know who to expect when they call 911 and that it’s okay for them to come into the house if an adult is incapacitated and can’t let them in. This is especially important if you’re also working on the concept of “stranger danger.” When your child is in the process of learning that some strangers can be dangerous and he shouldn’t talk to them, the idea of a large group of strangers coming into your home can be terrifying. This conversation is also a good excuse to discuss the role that emergency workers play in society, and what each uniform or title means.

Discuss Accidental Dials
While it is possible for kids to accidentally dial 911 on a landline phone, it’s more likely to happen when they’re playing with a cell phone that has an emergency dial feature. Kids who understand how important it is to only call 911 during an emergency may panic and hang up, which forces the dispatcher to call back or send help to ensure that there is no emergency in your area. Make sure that your little one knows that he should stay on the line and explain to the person who answers that he made a mistake and that there is no emergency.

What is an Emergency?
In a small child’s mind, the concept of “emergency” can be rather vague. Little ones need to understand the difference between a real emergency and merely an unpleasant situation to avoid tying up the time and efforts of a dispatcher who may be delaying an actual emergency to handle the call. Kids should be taught that a lost dog, missing toy or sibling altercation are not emergencies. Working on understanding what types of situations warrant attention from emergency service responders and which ones need to be handled by an adult at home can help to prevent unnecessary calls that waste resources because children are confused about the role of 911 in their lives.

Some Jokes Aren’t Funny
For the most part, prank calls have gone the way of the dinosaur with the advent of private-call blocking and caller ID. To ensure that your child never decides to explore the concept of a prank call by dialing emergency services, you should make sure that he understands the danger of taking time and energy away from dispatchers who could be missing an important, legitimate call. Letting your little one know that dialing 911 as a practical joke is never funny and will have severe consequences is an effective way of discouraging the idea before the idea manifests itself and he is tempted to try it out.

When you’re teaching a toddler how to actively dial the numbers that will connect him with emergency services, it’s wise to remove the battery from a cell phone or unplug the line from a landline phone altogether to prevent accidental dials. Remember also that working on mastery of his address and when to call 911 is an ongoing process, not the result of a single conversation.

First published on


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