Tag Archives: Tips

11 Ways to Protect Your Child’s Online Reputation

7 Mar

We all know that the way our children communicate now and will communicate in the future differs greatly from how most of us communicated growing up. Many children today have never picked up a traditional, land line telephone and said, “Hello?”. They learn about what is happening in the world around them from the internet instead of a newspaper or magazine.

Along these lines, it is a parent’s responsibility to teach their children the proper use of technology and monitor their child’s online activity. The excuse of, “I don’t understand all of this technology” is irresponsible and careless. Protecting your child’s online reputation should be just as important as washing their clothes and making sure they eat their vegetables. Here are a few tips to help:

1. Register the domain of your child’s name and renew it every year.

2. Set up a Google alert for your child’s name as well as any common misspellings of the name.

3. Google your child’s name on a regular basis and monitor what comes up in the search engines.

4. Teach your child how to use their technology tools and take the role of a leader. Sit down at their computer every couple of weeks and clean it up, keep it updated, etc. Same thing with their cell phone.

5. Teach your child how to avoid getting a virus on their computer.

6. Require access to all of your child’s online accounts. Explain to them that having online access is a privilege and you trust them to make good decisions; however, it is also your responsibility as a parent to fix something if they (or one of their friends) make a mistake.

7. Show your child examples of the proper and improper use of social networking sites. Explain to them how what they post is permanent and could hurt themselves (or others) if they aren’t careful.

8. Don’t prevent them from using technology. Today’s children will need to be proficient in technology and communication in order to succeed in school and their chosen career. Because of how fast technology grows, many careers that will be available in 10 years don’t even exist today.

9. Have your child use a screen name other than their own when online. Help them choose an online id that is generic, unassuming and unspecific. Avoid using their name, location and anything that could be used to identify them or their age. For example:
No: ashleybaker123, dallasgirlashley, ashlovesjustinbeiber
Yes: summer321, riverdesert, greengrass3

10. On sites that require a “real” name, (such as Facebook), consider using a modified version of your child’s name (such as an abbreviated name or a middle name).

11. Do not use your child’s name online either. Use a nickname instead when mentioning something about them or posting a picture.


What to do with all that Halloween Candy???

1 Nov

I’m not sure about you, but at our house, we have Halloween candy overload.  Between the left over candy we had for trick or treaters and the candy acquired through the various events we attended, we are a dentist’s worst nightmare waiting to happen.

Even though there is zero nutrient value to most of this stuff, it does seem kind of wasteful to just toss it.  I decided to search for a few ideas of what to do with your leftover take….

1.  Save some colorful candy for decorating a holiday gingerbread house

2.  Have your child leave 1/2 of their candy for the “Candy Fairy” who will come at night to take the extra candy and deliver to children who couldn’t go trick or treating.  Consider leaving $1 under the pillow for this effort.

3.  Donate to the local fire department, police department or library.

4.  Donate to the local YMCA or Boys/Girls Club

5.  Save some for an advent calendar

6.  Send it overseas for the troops.  Once place is the Army Medical Center in Germany (thanks Aunt Nancy USA!):

Landstuhl Regional Medical Center 
ATTN: MCEUL-CH/Chaplains Office 
CMR 402 
APO AE 09180

7.  Donate to a local food bank or homeless shelter (they do appreciate being able to offer treats)

8.  Save and freeze the chocolate for baking and cooking add ins (such as cookies and ice cream mix ins)

9.  Take it to work and give it to the receptionist to keep the office candy jar filled

10.  Wrap some up in green/red cellophane or bags and save for Christmas treats

Go Pick Your Own in Virginia!

13 Jul
By Casey Williams

By Casey Williams

Have you had sticker shock lately at the produce prices in the grocery store?  Have you seen the prices of blueberries lately even though they are “in season”?

In the spirit of going green, spending more time with family and supporting the local farmers and economy, why not try picking your own?

My favorite site for finding pick your own produce is:  Pickyourown.org.  The site is filled with not only places to pick all over the world, but also tips for preserving and canning your harvest.  Thanks to this site, we have been able to enjoy family-time throughout Virginia picking our own fruits and vegetables.

Best of all….KIDS LOVE IT!  Here are a few tips to make your pick-your-own trip a success with the kids:

  1. Try to pick early in the morning.  It’s not too hot nor too crowded.
  2. Cover the kids with bug spray and sunscreen before going.
  3. Some pick-your-own farms offer containers, some don’t.  Bring a sturdy plastic bucket for the kids to use and hopefully, that will avoid any spills and tears.
  4. Let them eat as they pick!  Ask if the farm uses pesticides and if not, let the kids indulge.
  5. Plan ahead what to do with the harvest and let the kids help.  Some items, such as blueberries, can be put in plastic bags and frozen for later.  Something as simple as a scoop of vanilla ice cream with “their berries” on it can make a child light up with excitement.
  6. Teach the kids what vitamins are in which foods.  They love this stuff!  Before you know it, they will be telling you how they can see better because they ate 3 carrots or that they grew because they ate an apple.

Here is a list from the Pickyourown.org site of the farms in Virginia:  http://pickyourown.org/VA.htm

Disney World Orlando Tips and Tricks

19 Apr

mickey mouse signI am fully aware that Disney is NOT in Virginia.  That being said, I seem to have a lot of people ask me about “doing Disney”; which appears to be a rite of passage for anyone who has children.  So, for what they’re worth, here are my tips.

1.  Plan for the trip.  Disney World in Orlando, Florida (unlike Disneyland’s Paris, Hong Kong, Tokyo and California) is not something to be done as a spur of the moment afterthought (unless you reside in Florida and go there regularly).  Prices vary greatly depending on the time of year, so do your research and try to avoid the busy seasons of spring break, summer break and Christmas holidays, if at all possible.

2.  Do research on the web.  There are lots of Disney World forums filled with people who live for vacationing with mouse ears on.  Observe and ask questions….these people know their stuff.  Disney World discounts are not easy to come by and are often reserved for those in the “know”.  Sign up for a free Disney Vacation Planner and that will put you on the mailing list for discounts.  Also, consider getting a Disney credit card – they will also send you free promotions and a portion of all your purchased go toward a vacation.  One of the best sites for all-discounts-Disney is mousesavers.com.  Sign up and you will be the first to know about significant promotions and discounts.

3.  Before going on your trip, buy some Disney “stuff” at Target and Disney Outlet (they have both online and retail stores).  This way, you will have something to give the kids and will avoid paying $30 for a plastic toy in the park.

4.  Stay in a hotel in the park if you can.  There are 4 levels of accomodations ranging from economical to very nice (note that I am not calling anything they have in the resort “luxury”).  There are benefits to staying on-site that just make life easier, such as:  free transportation to and from the airport, free transportation to all areas within the resort, extra hours the park is open just for resort guests, preferred reservations at “character meals”, etc.

5.  The best investment I have made in our Disney World vacations has been to sign up for a customized tour guide from tourguidemike.com.  Mike is a VIP tour guide at Disney World and knows EXACTLY how to see Disney with the least amount of lines and stress.  The first time we went, we found out that we were going during the busiest week of the year.  Mike’s guide was our bible for the week and we managed to never wait in a line or fight crowds.  For $21.95, it is well worth every penny.

6.  Do not go in a large group.  The larger your group, the less you will see.  Staying together can be difficult, matching adults with various aged kids for rides while other kids want to run off, trying to get tables together for meals, seats together on trams…it’s a hassle.  You will end up spending a lot more time waiting on reach other than enjoying yourselves.

7.  Don’t spend all day at the park.  Go in the morning, early, before the crowds arrive.  Then, go back to your hotel and enjoy the pool (while the crowds are at the park), take a nap (the kids need it!) and go back to the park in the evening while the crowds are at dinner.

8.  It will not be perfect.  Last time we were at Disney World, I was so disheartened to see parents swearing at each other, kids screaming and crying and families just appearing completely stressed out.  Why?  It’s supposed to be a vacation.  If you cannot handle crowds, last minute changes in plans, heat, loud noises, etc., than Disney World is not for you.  Take the time to explain to the kids where they’re going and what is expected of them.  When kids are pulled unexpectedly out of their comfort zone and thrust into the chaos of Disney, of course they are going to misbehave!

9.  Don’t get addicted.  Disney World is a drug-like dreamland that can easily suck you in.  Yes, it’s fun and magical and people love it…but it is not cultured.  It is a fantasy-land that can be a great vacation, but not the only vacation.  There are many, many other places offering kids a sense of adventure, family togetherness and affordability along with a learning and cultured atmosphere.  My two cents….there’s more for kids to see in the world besides Orlando, Florida.

National Park Service Passport Program

12 Oct

This is a wonderful and inexpensive way to get children excited about our National Parks and Monuments.  The Passport Book is only $7.95 and can be purchased online or at any of the sites held by the Park Service and open to the public.

Combine this with a couple of the stamp sets and you have a GREAT holiday present!

This handy, spiral bound, 6″ x 3″ travelogue fits conveniently into a pocket or backpack for easy reference. The 104 page guidebook makes it easy to learn about and explore all of the national park sites. The Passport to Your National Parks includes maps color-coded for specific regions in the country, pre-visit information, illustrations and photographs. It also includes a free map and guide to the national parks.  Spaces in each region are designated for you to collect rubber stamp cancellations at each national park site you visit. The cancellations, similar to those received in an international passport, record the name of the park and the date you visited.  Make your Passport book complete by including the annual commemorative stamp series. The series, starting with 1986, includes nine regional stamps and one national stamp on one sheet.  Simply detach the stamps and place them in the designated areas in your booklet.”

My son loves his and gets so excited when we tell him we’re going to a new place where he can get a stamp for his passport.  There is a list at the website which gives you all of the Passport cancellation locations – it is so long you need to download the list as a pdf.  Here is the list for just Virginia and Washington DC:

Appomattox Court House NHP—Appomattox
Arlington House—Arlington
Arlington House, Robert E. Lee MEM—Arlington
Assateague Island NS—Chincoteague
Blue Ridge Parkway—NC-VA
Booker T. Washington NM—Hardy
Cape Henry MEM—Fort Story, Yorktown
Cedar Creek & Belle Grove NHP—Shenandoah Valley
Claude Moore Colonial Farm—McLean
Colonial NHP—Yorktown, Jamestown,400th Anniversary
Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania NMP—Jackson Shrine, Fredericksburg, Ellwood,Chancellorsville, Salem Church, Chatham
George Washington MEM PKWY—McLean, Arlington, Great Falls
George Washington Birthplace NM—Washington’s Birthplace
Great Falls Park—Great Falls
Green Springs Historic District—Louisa County
Historic Jamestowne, Jamestown
Jamestown Glasshouse—Jamestown, 400th Anniversary, Jamestown NHS,  Jamestown VC
Lyndon Baines Johnson MEM Grove—Arlington
Marine Corps War MEM/Netherlands Carillon—Arlington
Manassas NBP—Manassas
Maggie L. Walker NHS—Richmond
Petersburg NB—Five Forks, Petersburg,City Point, Poplar Grove National Cemetery
Poplar Grove National Cemetery—Petersburg
Prince William Forest Park—Triangle
Richmond NBP—Fort Harrison; Malvern Hill; Cold Harbor; Tredegar Iron Works,Richmond; Chimborazo Museum,Richmond
Shenandoah NP—Luray, Big Meadows,Dickey Ridge, Loft Mountain
Theodore Roosevelt Island—Arlington
Wolf Trap Farm Park,Wolf Trap NP for the Performing Arts—Vienna
Women In Military Service for America MEM—Arlington

Washington DC:

African American Civil War MEM, Bethune Museum & Archives, Carter G. Woodson Home NHS, Chesapeake & Ohio Canal NHP, Constitution Gardens, Department of the Interior, District of Columbia War Memorial, District of Columbia World War MEM, East Potomac Park, Ford’s Theatre NHS—Petersen House, Fort Dupont NP, Fort Washington Park, Franklin Delano Roosevelt NMEM, Frederick Douglass Home, George Mason MEM, Thomas Jefferson Memorial, John Ericsson MEM, John Paul Jones MEM, Korean War Veterans MEM, Liberty on the Mall, Lincoln MEM, Lyndon B. Johnson Memorial Grove, Mary McLeod Bethune Council House NHS, MEM to the 56 Signers of the Declaration of Independence, National Aquatic Gardens, National Capital Region, National Capital Parks-Central, National Cherry Blossom Festival, National Independence Day Celebration
National Mall, National Mall & Memorial Parks, National Park Service Headquarters, Old Post MEM, Old Post Office Tower, Oxon Hill Farm, Pennsylvania Avenue NHS, Peterson House—HWLD, Potomac Heritage NST, President’s Park-The White House, Rock Creek Park—Klingle Mansion, Old Stone House, Nature Center, Peirce Mill, Meridian Hill Park, Sewall-Belmont NHS—Washington, DC 20002, Theodore Roosevelt Island, The White House, Thomas Jefferson NMEM, Ulysses S. Grant MEM, U.S. Navy MEM, Vietnam Veterans MEM, Washington Monument, West Potomac Park, World War II MEM

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