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Tip of the Week

Summertime Play
By Jodie Lynn

Summer is full of activities for kids to do, right. Yet it's amazing when in no time flat parents everywhere will hear those two dreaded words, "I'm bored."

As with most of us, you will literally come to a point in time when you will simply shrug your shoulders and maybe even scratch your head and wonder, how in the heck they can already be bored.

Many kids do the same thing year after year. They can almost recite their summer schedule even before it is implemented. This year, why not offer them something that they will simply not be counting on.

Get their creative juices flowing by suggesting they either put on a play of a favorite book, TV show, a game or better yet -- just make one up? Let them write it and decide on who plays which part. In fact, they will be busy for days just writing and rehearsing it.

Turn over the kitchen table and let them make a plan, goals and run wild with their imaginations. As the parent, stay out of as much of the endeavor as possible by letting them handle things. Don't intervene unless they ask you to or if someone is doing something that is unsafe.

Go bananas on the wardrobe by making do with "stuff" you have around the house. For example, use old hats, shoes, dresses, pants, shirts, belts, etc., to make up awesome costumes. Get out the glue gun (or purchase one for $1.99), create, and design awesome custom-made dress up clothes. Cover the kitchen table with either an old vinyl tablecloth or a sheet of plastic painter sheet. Take a magic marker and draw large squares for each one of the kids on the cover of the kitchen table; i.e., old tablecloth or painter's plastic sheet. This square should have their name on it and will be their specific work area.

Let them add beads, ribbon, feathers or whatever you have handy to jazz up old clothes. Encourage them to save their money to buy miscellaneous items at neighborhood garage sales.

The kids can go around and sell tickets (made out of construction paper) for.25 and tell neighbors to bring their lawn chairs. Select music and have fun with a huge and successful neighborhood play.

Before you know it, the kids will make up many other plays and help themselves right into creative summer time learning without ever knowing it.

Following directions, learning patience, enhancing reading skills and gaining self-esteem are only but a few things that will come from allowing them to put on their own plays.

Once again, you will be amazed at what kids can do on their own or with very little supervision, if you will let them.

copy;2005 Jodie Lynn

Jodie Lynn is an award-winning internationally syndicated family/health columnist and radio personality. Parent to Parent is now going into its tenth year and appears in newspapers, magazines, newsletters and throughout the Internet. She is a regular contributor to many sites including and is the Mom to Mom Expert for She has written two books and contributed to two others, one of which was on Oprah and has appeared on NBC in a three month parenting segment. Her latest best-selling parenting/family book is Mommy CEO, revised edition. Preorder Lynn's new book, "Mom CEO: Avoiding the Distressed Housewife Syndrome and Winning at Motherhood," online or from any bookstore. Permission granted for use on

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Tags: Military, Values

Preventing IdentityTheft of a Loved One Who Has Passed
By John Sileo

Here are 5 steps to take after a loved-one has passed away to make surethat their identity rests in peace:
  1. Short Obituaries. Make surethat you don't include too much identifying information when you writethe obituary. Identity thieves use this information (mother's maidenname, address, ancestry, occupation, birth date, death date) to set upnew accounts, licenses, etc. in the deceased person's name. It isimportant to honor the person, just don't give away all of theirpersonal information.

  2. Protect Death Certificates.Guard the death certificate like you would a birth certificate or otherpiece of identity. You will need to fax this document to certainorganizations in order to prove that your family member is deceased,but only send it to trusted institutions who absolutely won't take thename off of the account without it. When you are done with the deathcertificate, store the original and all copies in your safewhere you keep other identity documents. Be forewarned that forsecurities sake, many organizations are requiring an original copy ofthe death certificate as proof, so ask for 10-12 originals copies whenyou request the death certificate.

  3. Notify Credit Bureaus.Immediately notify the three credit reporting bureaus that your familymember has passed away. Request that the credit report is flagged withthe note: Deceased, Do Not Issue Credit. Request a copy of thedecedent's credit report so that you will have a list of all of theaccounts you need to modify/close (see Step 4). The procedure varies bycredit burea, so the numbers to contact them are asfollows: Experian - 888-397-3742; Equifax - 888-766-0008;TransUnion - 800-680-7289. Don't wait for the Social SecurityAdministration to notify the credit bureaus - it takes them too long!And make sure to log all correspondence and conversations and senddocuments via certified mail so that you have proof of delivery, shouldyou ever need to dispute a claim of non-receipt.

  4. Notify FinancialInstitutions. Notify all banks, insurance companies, credit cardcompanies, stock brokers, mortgage companies, loan/lien holders,etc. about the death of your family member (if it was a jointaccount OR an account under their name). The executor or survivingspouse will need to resolve all outstanding debts and how they will bedealt with before the account can be closed or the deceased person'sname is removed from the account. Also notify the Social SecurityAdministration, Veteran's Administration, Department of Motor Vehicles,professional license associations (Bar Association), membershipprograms (Costco, Sam's, Blockbuster, etc.) and any creditors orcollection agencies with which the deceased had an account ormembership. This is a difficult time to put in all of the work toprotect an identity that should be left alone; but the current realityis that the identities of deceased individuals are easier to steal andabuse than those of the living.

  5. Share Wiselywith Family Members. Unfortunately, many cases of deceasedidentity theft are committed by a member of the deceased's family. Itmight be a relative who is in financial trouble, a friend whohas a costly addiction or a child that they were wronged inthe will or estate planning. For that reason, the identifyinginformation of a deceased family member should be kept to as small acircle as possible. It seems to work best when one family member is thepoint-person for collection of documents, closing of accounts, checkingof credit, etc. Generally this is someone other than the personwho organizes all of the other events that surround the death of aloved one.
About the author: To furtherbulletproof yourself and your business, visit John's blog at To book John at your next event,visit Sileo became America's leading Identity Theft Speaker amp;Expert after he lost his business and more than $300,000 toidentity theft and data breach. His clients include the Department ofDefense, Pfizer and the FDIC.Permissiongranted for use

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Tags: Marriage, Men's Point of View
IconThe average American family spends over $100 per year on Halloween goodies. As your kids drag you through aisles full of ghosts and goblins, the scariest thing about Halloween is threatening to leave bite marks in your pocketbook. No wonder so many moms flee screaming from the store... It can be much less expensive and a lot more fun to devise your own chilling creations. Here are a few tips that you can use to stave off the greenback gremlins and exercise your creative muscle. It won't hurt a bit! More >>

Tags: Halloween, Holidays, Morals, Ethics, Values, Values

Ten Twitter Tips ForWork-at-Home Moms
By Jill Hart

Social Media is quickly growinginto one of the most-used marketing tools for work-at-home moms. One ofthe largest social media websites,, can be an effective wayto spread the word about your business and learn from other toprepresentatives in your business niche. However, it can take a lot oftime to determine the best ways to use Twitter effectively forbusiness. Below are ten tips to help shorten that learning curve.

1. Choose a Meaningful User name
If possible, grab your businessname as well as your own name for use on Twitter. Having aneasy-to-find and easy-to-remember username is essential.

2.Brand your Twitter page
Don't leave your Twitter pageboring and plain - spice it up. Make sure you add your logo, contactinformation and any other information that will be helpful forcustomers and visitors to your page. You can use a website such to create a free or very low-cost background to bringlife to your page.

3.Learn the Lingo
Twitter can be very useful, but itcan also be very frustrating ... especially if you have no idea whatall those little symbols mean that fly across the screen. Take the timeto research the meanings of the tags most often used on Twitter. Onegreat place to do so is right on Twitter itself:

4.Follow industry leaders
Veteran entrepreneur Diana Ennenshares this tip: "I love to follow industry experts on Twitter and gainall their business insight. It's almost like being right there intheir office and getting in on their trade secrets. Not only dothey post tips and how to information, but often share their businesssuccesses and mistakes and that allows me to learn from them. It's so worth it!"

Don't be shy! Take a few minuteseach day to comments on what others are discussing or to throw out aquestion or idea. You never know when a topic is going to spark aresponse and help you build relationships with customers and yourfellow Twitter users.

6.Don't make it all business news - be YOU
It's great to share about thethings going on in your business and you certainly will want to sharespecials, discounts and other items of interest to your customers.However, as a small business owner you have the unique ability to put apersonal face on your business. Let your customers and readers get toknow a little about you as well as your business.

7. RunContests
Twitter is a great fast-paced wayto a run a contest. By having a great prize you can create a viralnetwork of "tweets" about your company and the giveaway you're holding.Sit down beforehand and plan out some great 140 character tweets thatyou can use throughout the giveaway time - whether that be minutes,hours or even days.

8. Share
Make your Twitter feed aworthwhile read for your customers. Share tips that apply to yourtarget market, links to articles and other informational tidbits.Create a #hashtag for your business or topic (see #3 above) so that youcan track re-tweets and mentions of your posts.

9. BeThankful
A great way to make friends andbuild contacts is to thank others who re-tweet (RT) your posts. Send ashout-out saying thanks or feature them at special times likeFriendFriday (#FF). They'll know that you're grateful and you'll builda community that supports you - and each other.

10.Promote Others
Contrary to popular belief it ISin your best interest to work together with other entrepreneurs and tohelp spread the word about great things that they may be doing. Notonly will people be drawn to your Twitter feed for great information,but they will see that you're willing to share about more than your owninterests. Another great benefit is that those you help promote willone day be there to help promote you as well.

Twitter is a great marketing tool for work-at-home moms. It can helpdrive traffic to your website as well as aid you in buildingrelationships with your target market. Use the tips above to help guideyou in how to best use social media to benefit your business and yourcustomers.

Jill Hart's entrepreneurialcareer began in her teens when she spent a summer working with herfather who ran his own business. When he put her in charge of a Cokemachine and allowed her to keep the profits, she saw the benefits ofbeing her own boss. She is the founder of the popular Christianwork-at-home website CWAHM.comand mentors business owners at Successful Christian Women.Jill is also the co-author of So You Want To Be a Work-at-Home Mom(Beacon Hill Press, 2009).
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Rainy Day Activities for Kids and Dogs
By Colleen Pelar, CPDT, CDBC

'It's raining, it's pouring, everything is boring!

Rainy days with stir-crazy kids and dogs can try your sanity. When your kids wail that there's nothing fun to do, have them try some of these simple games with the family dog.

Hansel Gretel Trails. This is a really basic activity, but kids love it! Give your children a small bowl of treats and tell them to create a trail for the dog to follow. Keep the dog near you while the kids put a treat every 2 to 4 feet. When they have laid out the entire path, have them come back and tell the dog to sit before releasing the dog to follow the trail. They'll follow along behind the dog cheering for each successful find.

Commando Crawl (for mid-sized dogs). Have the kids lay a trail of treats running under your coffee table from one end to the other. Teach the dog to belly-crawl across the floor to get the treats.

Dog Bowling. Arrange empty plastic 2-liter bottles in a bowling triangle in the hallway and have the kids take turns calling the dog for a treat. Whoever gets the dog to topple the most pins as he races down the hall wins.

Tiny Teeter-Totter. Lay a piece of plywood on the floor. Have the kids give the dog treats for stepping on the board. Once the dog is not at all concerned about walking on the board, lay the board across a broom to make a 2 high teeter-totter. Keep rewarding the dog for walking over the board. Remind the kids to keep their fingers away from the board while the dog is on it!

Rainy Day Come. Give each child a small cup of dog treats. Tell one child to go 'hide in the kitchen. At first the child won't really hide, she'll just stand in the center of the kitchen and call the dog. While dog is trotting toward the kitchen, send another child to the dining room.

After the first child has had the dog sit to get a treat, the child in the dining room can call the dog . . . and while the dog is coming to the second child, the first child will head to the living room. When it's her turn to call again, she'll call and the dog will head for the kitchen only to find that she's not there! While the dog looks for the first child, the second chooses a new spot.

As your dog gets better at this game, the kids can make it more challenging by standing behind doors or sitting in unusual places. The game is over when the kids are out of treats; then everyone can head to the kitchen for a cookie break.

Remember to use lots of treats to make these games as much fun for the dog as for the kids. The idea is to offer the children simple training opportunities in fun, easy-to-implement ways.

Don't allow anyone to push or pull the dog to get him to do something. If the dog seems confused or resistant, look for ways to make the challenges easier. Watch for any signs of frustration#151;on either the kids' or dog's part#151;and step in right away to help.

Soon your kids will be hoping it rains more often.

Colleen Pelar, CPDT, CDBC, ( is the author of Living with Kids and Dogs . . . Without Losing Your Mind and is America's Kids and Canines Coach. Colleen has more than 15 years' experience as the go-to person for parents trying to navigate kid-and-dog issues. Because every interaction between a child and a dog can be improved by a knowledgeable adult, Colleen is committed to educating parents, children, and dog owners on kid-and-dog relationships. Permission granted for use on

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Stop Stress byExpanding Your "Circle of Nice"
By Winn Claybaugh

Remember when you were a kid and you couldn't wait for summer vacationto start? Now that you're an adult, vacations often mean standing inline, sitting in traffic, and dealing with economic stress. Instead ofletting stress get you down, remember that it's not the situation thatcauses stress but how you interpretthe situation.

In The 7 Habits of Highly EffectivePeople, Stephen Covey told aboutbeing on a crowded subway with a man whose children were out ofcontrol. Covey was getting irritated, until he learned that they werereturning from the hospital where the man's wife had just died. Covey'sattitude instantly shifted from stress to sympathy.

Avoiding stress can be as simple as changing your beliefs. Supposesomeone steals your cell phone while you're on a trip. You could rantabout the inconvenience, or you could choose to believe that your phonewas taken by a struggling waiter with five starving kids. When youdon't know the real story, why not choose one that makes you feel good?Wouldn't you rather think your phone helped to feed five hungrychildren?

In Be Nice (Or Else!) I wroteabout circles of influence. You have aninfluence on everyone you come in contact with. You can be waiting inline with perfect strangers, and your attitude and behavior can make orruin their day. I also talked about your circle of nice, which is aslightly different concept. This circle includes everyone you'vedecided to treat nicely. In a"be nice" world, the ultimate ambitionfor each of us is to include in our circle of nice the same exactindividuals as those in our circle of influence--both people we knowandmany we don't know.

To expand your circle of nice, take out four pieces of paper and createthe following lists:

1.Your current circle of influence.This will be a lengthy list ofanyone and everyone you come in contact with on a daily basis, even ifyou don't know their names or actually speak to them.

2.Yourcurrent circle of nice. These are the individuals to whom you'vealready made a conscious decision to be nice. Next to each of thesenames, list the specific actionsyou take to care for that person. Howdo you let them know they're included in your circle of nice?

3.Yourimmediate goals. These are the people you want to add to yourcircle of nice right now and they would be easy to add. Make aconscious decision to take actions toward including them in your circleof nice.

4.Yourlong-range goals: These are the people who are not in yourcircle of nice and you aren't quite sure how or even if you want to addthem yet. Choose one person from this list to begin moving into yourcircle of nice.

Can you imagine how different our society would be if everyone made thecommitment to expand their circle of nice? Instead of televisedshouting matches, town hall meetings would become courteous exchangesof opinions and ideas. Road rage would be a thing of the past. Travelwould be pleasant and enjoyable again. There's just no telling whatmight happen in our homes, our relationships, our workplaces, and ourhealth if we all agreed to expand our circle of nice!

Winn Claybaugh is the author of BeNice (Or Else!) and "one of the best motivational speakers inthe country," according to CNN's Larry King. A business owner for over25 years with over 8,000 people in his organization, Winn is theco-owner of hair care giant Paul Mitchell's school division. Winn hashelped thousands of businesses build their brands and create successfulworking cultures. His clients include Southwest Airlines, the IrvineCompany, Vidal Sassoon, Entertainment Tonight, Mattel, For Rentmagazine, Structure/Limited/Express, and others. Winn is a frequentguest on national radio and a regular contributor to onlinepublications. Visit to sign up for his freemonthly Be Nice (Or Else!) newsletter. Permission granted foruse on

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Should You Give YourSpouse an Ultimatum?
By Mort Fertel

Have you thought about givingyour spouse an ultimatum? Something like, "If you don't stop XYZ, thismarriage is over."

Is your spouse having an affair, hooked on porn, an alcoholic, aworkaholic, or obsessive about a hobby?

How do you get your spouse to stop behavior that's destroying yourmarriage?

An ultimatum is an interesting idea. I bet a friend or family membereven suggested it. I'm sure it's crossed your mind. Maybe it was evenadvised by your counselor. But will it work?

If you want to restore your marriage, do not give your spouse anultimatum. It will not work. Let me explain why. And let me explain howyou can get your spouse to end their affair or stop their addictive orobsessive behavior.

In a sense, it's empowering to think, and even say to your spouse,"Your behavior is unacceptable. And if it doesn't stop, I'm leavingyou." An ultimatum offers the ultimate role reversal. It puts you, thevictim, in control.

Understandably, that's appealing. And there's no doubt that in theshort run, you'll feel better. But it also feels good to eat dessertafter every meal. Just because something feels good does not mean it isgood. The question you have to ask yourself is: Will an ultimatum giveme the result I want?

The answer is no.

Now I know what you're thinking, "Mort, what about tough love?Shouldn't I set borders and boundaries?"

If you give your spouse an ultimatum, you'll establish clear rules foryour marriage. You'll set borders and boundaries. But where will themotivation come from for your spouse to live by the rules? In otherwords, the rules will be clear, but why would your spouse want toadhere to them?

You see, if your spouse is a workaholic, an alcoholic, having anaffair, into porn, or involved in obsessive or destructive behavior,the problem is not a lack of rules; it's a lack of motivation to liveby the rules.

Your spouse knows their behavior is wrong. Even if they won't admit it,even if they justify it, deep down they know that their behavior isimmoral and that it's destroying your marriage and soiling their soul.The problem is that they don't care. The problem is that they lack aninternal motivation to do the right thing.

Your spouse has to want to stop. The key is their inner motivation,their will. An ultimatum imposes rules from the outside; it doesnothing to address the lack of motivation on the inside.

Bottom line: although giving an ultimatum feels good, it misses yourtarget.

Your target is your spouse's inner motivation. And how do you affectsomeone's inner motivation? The secret is to connect with them.

Life begins as a connected experience in the womb of our mother. Whenwe're born and that physical connection is severed, we yearn to connectagain. How we go about creating that connection and how well we succeedbecomes the story of our life.

People who make healthy and meaningful connections with other peoplefeel fulfilled. People who lack an emotional connection with othersgrasp at anything in an attempt to fill that void. That's what leadspeople to sex, alcohol, hours of mindless TV, or an obsessivecommitment to money, success, work, or a hobby. These trappings offer amomentary filling. But the cause of the emptiness your spouse seeks tofill is a lack of a meaningful connection in their life.

When you create that connection with your spouse, you accomplish twoprofound things. First, you eliminate your spouse's desire for theirdestructive behavior. You take the wind right out of its sail. You cutit off at its source. There's no more hole to fill. You filled it!

Second, you offer your spouse a permanent filling for a hole that'sbeen insatiable probably since their childhood. And their desire foryour connection will trump any momentary interest in seductivepleasures.

So how do you get your spouse to stop their destructive behavior? Youcreate a connection with them.

Now don't misunderstand, I'm not saying that your spouse'sinappropriate behavior is your fault. It's not your fault you need marriage helpeither. But it is your responsibility. Meaning, that you can choose todo something about it. You can impact your spouse's choices. But you'llneed to learn to forge a real connection with your spouse, and you'llneed to learn to do that without your spouse's cooperation.

Mort Fertel is a world authority on the psychology of relationships andhas an international reputation for saving marriages. He's been afeatured expert on NBC, the Fox News Network, and in Family Circle. Clickhere for Mort's FREE report "7 Secrets to Fixing Your Marriage."
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The "Golden Years" Needa Brass Ring:
Why a Sense of Purpose is Crucial for Retirement

By Mary Lloyd
Author of SuperchargedRetirement: Ditch the Rocking Chair, Trash the Remote,and Do What You Love

When you're working full-time,"retirement" is the brass ring you strive for. But whatkeeps you going once you retire?

Doing nothing. The popularfantasy is that you won't wantto keep going--that doing whatever you want all day every day will beperfect. But satisfaction with doing nothing typically lastsabout a year. And then?

For many retirees, it's the start of a long, frustrating time oflife. You've reached the Promised Land, and you don't like theprogram. Now what?

Doing anything. Manyresort to filling up their calendars--joining clubs and volunteeringfor everything that comes along. Maybe it beats meeting the guysat McDonald's for coffee every day, but you still feel empty. Pretty soon you quit because it's not working. Then you volunteersomewhere else, and the cycle repeats. And the emptinesscontinues.

Doing something authentic. Boththe "extended vacation" model of retirement and the "jam the calendar"model lack a sense of purpose. Knowing what's important and whatyou want to do about it is a huge piece of creating a satisfyingretired life.

Why PURPOSE? To reallythrive, you need to act on more than your own needs. You believe in what you need to dorather than just "having to get it done." Purpose keeps youexcited about life and that has a lot of pluses.
  • Purpose helps you physically. In one study, nuns who reached advanced age never exhibited symptoms ofAlzheimer's even though the physiological characteristics were evidentwhen their brains were studied after they died. The nuns were involvedin something more important than themselves even at age 100. Theyhad a reason to continue to function effectively. So they did.

  • Purpose helps you emotionally. Doing work you believe in confirms you're competent andrelevant--reinforcement that's hard to find in a leisure-centeredretirement.

  • Purpose helps you mentally. Doing purpose-defined work keeps your mind functioning moreeffectively. You learn new concepts and try new things to makethings happen. You seek and implement solutions. Acting onwhat's important to you keeps your world expanding and your learningcurve going up.

  • Purpose helps you socially. Being involved in something bigger than walking the dog connects you toa larger social sphere. You build relationships with people with thesame interest. You make contacts to learn more. That kindof involvement means you're less likely to be depressed. You'realso less likely to dwell on everyday aches and pains.
A sense of purpose if the very first thing anyone planningretirement needs to come up with--even before the money part. (Itmakes your financial planning easier because what you want to dodetermines how much money you'll need.) Purpose helps youthrive. It saves you money by helping your stay healthy. It's crucial.

Only you can find your purpose in retirement. Starting before you retire can make that alot easier.

Mary Lloyd is a consultant and speaker and author of SuperchargedRetirement: Ditch the Rocking Chair, Trash the Remote, and Do What YouLove. Her focus is on using on the potential of those over50. For more, please visit her website She can be reached at
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Tags: Adult Child-Parent, Family/Relationships - Adult Child/Parent, Relationships