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South Florida parents share their stories and advice

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January 31, 2008

Fighting in front of Ana

My wife, Carrie Ann, and I have disagreements like any married couple. But most often we're careful not to get into heated debates in front of our daughter, now two and half.
We've never had a yelling match in front of her. (Fortunately, those are rare.) Still, even when we are having a serious discussion; not a fight, with a lot of back and forth, Ana interrupts.

At times, it seems to me that it's more than her just wanting all the attention. She has even told us to stop. I've thought that maybe we should not have these talks in front of Ana. But sometimes they're hard to avoid.

It turns out, according to this piece on CNN and, that it's OK to fight in front of the kids. It's even healthy. So long as you're not nasty with each other. Interesting.

How do you handle fighting or having adult conversations in front of your children?

POSTED IN: Family Issues (231), Luis Perez (32), Toddler (127)

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January 30, 2008

How do you tell kids about a miscarriage?

My kids were thrilled to hear one of our relatives was pregnant and they would have a new baby cousin.

But a few days later, I had to tell them she had miscarried. My 9-year-old and 11-year-old had no idea there was a possibility a baby in the womb could die.

I said we don't know why these things happen. Maybe the baby wasn't going to be healthy and this was nature's way of ending it early. But they looked totally confused. And for some reason, I was tongue-tied, torn between going into the gory details and waiting to see what questions they would have.

I have since found this explanation at and I will use it if it ever comes up again. I like the kid-level analogy they use: When you plant tomatoes, they don't all sprout; same thing with human beings.

Have you had to talk to your kids about a miscarriage? What did you say?

POSTED IN: Lois Solomon (211), Pregnancy (31)

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January 29, 2008

Really, kids. Referendums usually aren't this long!

I love the Broward County program to get kids interested in voting. But something tells me that Tuesday's referendum on
property taxes just might have the opposite effect on our youth.

When a colleague came in with a copy of the ballot the schoolkids were given, we eagerly grabbed for the summary on the tax issue. We thought maybe the amendment had been boiled down in an interesting way for the students. And if so, maybe we could borrow from that creativity, as we try to dumb down the issue -- I mean, "explain it'' -- to our readers.

No such luck. Here is what our children had to weigh in on:

PROPERTY TAX AMENDMENT TO THE FLORIDA CONSTITUTION—SUMMARY Increases homestead exemption from current $25,000 by exempting assessed value between $50,000 and $75,000. Does not apply to school taxes. Allows homesteaded property owners to transfer up to $500,000 of their Save Our Homes benefits to next homestead purchased within 2 years. Limits assessment increases for all non-homesteaded property to 10 % per year, until 1/1/2019, unless renewed. Does not apply to school taxes. Exempts $25,000 of assessed value of tangible personal property from all taxes. If passed by 60% of those voting, takes effect 1/1/2008.
So, come on, kids, yes or no!? Come on, I know you all have strong opinions about tangible personal property because I've seen you text messaging about it! Go ahead and unload your emotions about exemptions of assessed value!

Seriously, the amendment was hard for most adults to figure out. I think Kids Voting Broward, Inc., was brave to put this one to the test in the schools. (Results still not in. Stay tuned.)

Maybe I'm underestimating the students.

Kids, if you figured out what this Amendment means, please, by all means, tell your parents!

POSTED IN: Brittany Wallman (160), Politics (18)

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Can’t get away from teen pregnancy talk

First, it was Jamie Lynn Spears. My kids, ages 13 and 16, were as appalled as I was. Their conversation centered around the dysfunction of the Spears family.

Then came Juno, a delightful movie about a pregnant 16-year-old whose personality is so cool, who wouldn’t want to be like her? Except that … she’s pregnant!

So the talk we had about this movie was a little different than the Zoey 101 talk. I could see that my daughters really liked Juno. And sure, it’s admirable that she had the baby and gave it to a rich woman who desperately wanted a child. But I felt compelled to explain that not getting pregnant in the first place would really be the admirable thing.

It must be on the brain these days. Last week, in a meeting with students who write for our teen newspaper, Teenlink, one of the students asserted, with not one bit of doubt, that one in three high school girls gets pregnant.

Uh, no. Our youth editor and I corrected her. That is not true. “Oh, yes, it is,” she said. “It’s just that most of them have abortions.”

Where do kids get this stuff?

In truth, the evidence regarding teen pregnancy and sexuality is mostly good news.

The rate of abortion is at its lowest level since 1974, according to the Guttmacher Institute, respected by advocates on both sides of the abortion debate for the accuracy of its research.

The teen pregnancy rate has been steadily declining, too. It is about 75 pregnancies per 1,000 girls ages 15-19, again according to Guttmacher statistics, as reported by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. That’s 7.5 per 100, less than one in 10 – still too many, but not even close to 1 in 3. Thank goodness.

The teen birth rate did increase last year for the first time in 15 years, from 40.5 births per 1,000 girls ages 15-19 to 41.9 births per 1,000.

But even with that increase, there’s evidence that teens are waiting until they’re older to have their first sexual encounter. The birth rate continues to decline for younger teens.

So, I guess messages like the one I continually send to my teenage daughters is getting through: Wait. Don’t have sex until you know that you are ready, preferably not soon.

POSTED IN: Teen (158), Vicki McCash Brennan (13)

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January 28, 2008

Pre-K pickle

There are still four months or so left in the school year, but already I'm thinking I'm in a bit of a pickle. This fall, Evan will be eligible for free pre-K.

Let me re-state that: FREE PRE-K!!! Woo-hoo!

Here's the wrinkle: The preschool that Evan currently attends and adores does not participate in Florida's Pre-K program. This was his first year that he was away from anyone other than his parents or grandmother, and he has flourished socially and intellectually. If he were to continue at the school, there's a good chance he'd be in the same class as many of his buddies (not to mention his girlfriend). But it would also be very pricey for us.


Given that Evan only goes half-days anyway, which is what the state offers (technically, three hours of instruction per day), then enrolling him in a school that does participate in the state program should be a no-brainer, right? Unless I want to continue handing over nearly $600 a month for 20 hours a week.

So ... how do I prepare Evan for transferring to a new school in the fall after he has grown accustomed to his current school?

And for those of you that want to find out which local schools are providers for free pre-K, check this link.

POSTED IN: Nancy Othon (21), Pre-K (25)

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January 25, 2008

Parents ready for the big time in potty training

My husband and I are finally ready. After two months of accidents, emergency wardrobe changes and extra loads of laundry, we are finally ready to send our 3-year-old son to school in “big boy” underwear, as we call it at home.

Yes, we’re finally ready.

We’ve held off because we have wanted to spare our son the possible embarrassment of wetting his pants in front of his friends. Thanksgiving weekend, he had an accident in front of his cousins and the memory stuck with him.

But since then, our son has progressively improved in the bladder-control department: He now goes to the bathroom on his own (though he still likes to announce it to everyone within an earshot, including our dog). He prefers to wear underwear than pull-ups at home and on the weekends. And the four-times-an-hour accidents have disappeared.

His teachers have been nudging my husband and I to just do it. So this weekend, I will stock up on extra Buzz Lightyear and Nemo underwear, shorts, socks and even buy an extra pair of shoes to send to school. And I’ll just pray for the best.

Am I nuts for taking this step too seriously and postponing it until I thought my son had a real chance at success?

POSTED IN: Anne Vasquez (67), Toddler (127)

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January 23, 2008

Take my Girl Scout cookies, please!

It happens every January: We commit to selling too many Girl Scout cookies, and the burden falls not on my girls, but on me and my husband.
In the first couple of days, the kids are thrilled to organize the cookies (nine varieties this year!) and go around the neighborhood selling ($3.50 a box). But then they tire of it. And we grown-ups do too.

We ask our co-workers and friends and relatives to buy cookies. And we still have cartons left.

We can return them to the troop leader, but then we would feel like we didn't do our duty, work hard enough, live up to Girl Scout ideals. So we will continue bugging everyone we know until they are gone.

Do you help your kids sell cookies? What's your strategy?

POSTED IN: Elementary School (54), Lois Solomon (211)

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January 22, 2008

Much 'Ado' for a not-yet-2

By Matthew Strozier

So get this: my 21-month-old son watched Shakespeare.

I was stunned. Success for me would have been 10 minutes of Much Ado About Nothing in Miami’s Peacock Park on Sunday.

We got three acts, even squeezed a few minutes of the crucial start of Act IV. We left as Claudio disgraced his beloved Hero at the altar. “Give not this rotten orange to your friend,” he says.

My surprise was twofold. The first was physical: Alexander had thrown up twice during lunch at a nearby Cuban restaurant (no fault of the restaurant’s), so it was nice that his stomach didn’t erupt once more.

Still, there was something else. He was captivated. His stroller seat was reclined and for long stretches (in toddler terms) he didn’t move. If only the same were true for me. I looked around, noted little flaws in the production, went to get a drink and thought of how much I enjoyed a movie version of Much Ado I’d seen years ago. He saw magic; I was distracted.

It probably sounds like boasting to tell you the story “about the time my son watched Shakespeare.” And maybe it is.

But there’s another part of this story: kids see beauty we overlook. Theater is magical. My mind wanders far too easily to truly experience that magic. At least Alexander can remind me.

When did your kid surprise you?

Matthew Strozier is an assistant city editor at the Sun-Sentinel and the father of 21-month-old Alexander and 2-month-old Rowan.

POSTED IN: Pre-K (25)

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January 21, 2008

How come he's not so delightful at home?

Just kidding. Of course Evan, my 4-year-old, is a delightful child. I'm just coming off the high of our first parent-teacher conference, where my husband and I were informed that Evan is a "delightful child" who loves to play with the computer and with blocks.

I had been looking forward to this conference, our first-ever sit-down meeting with Evan's teacher to discuss his progress. Of course, he's not even in Pre-K yet so I realize the ramifications of this conference are pretty much non-existent. Still, it would be a treat to get time with his teacher solely devoted to talking about Evan without any distractions.

We sat down and she said, "Well, what can I tell you about Evan?" She went on to explain that she usually writes a positive and a "needs improvement" type of comment on each child's report but that she could think of nothing negative to say about Evan. In fact, she marked every single category (jeez, there must've been a couple dozen at least) with a "goals met" checkmark, making me a proud mom. He shares, he does what he's told, and never has to be told twice what to do.

Can I take her home? Because although I'll be the first to say that my child is one of the sweetest boys ever, I'd like to see this sharing and obedience for myself. What is it about school that makes him behave like an angel? Not that he's a brat at home -- far from it. He's loving and helpful. He just could use some help in the listening department, and he has a long way to go when it comes to sharing with his little brother. Is it the structure, the fact that we're not there? Do I need to take some cues from Ms. Jody?

POSTED IN: Nancy Othon (21), School Issues (135)

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Dentist visit causes mixed feelings about fluoridated water

My three-year-old son had his first dental check-up today – and he was a champ. It didn’t hurt that the office was decked out in safari décor, with bamboo-framed flat-screen TVs blasting Disney favorites like Monsters Inc. and Ratatouille.

Oh, and did I mention the three videogame stations?

What I loved best of all was the way the hygienist and dentist talked to my son. They explained every tool, prefaced every action with a gentle warning, and let him participate by holding the suction device. He even agreed to wear sunglasses to keep the bright light from hurting his eyes. (If you knew my son, you’d know that he’d rather do just about anything than wear 1) a hat 2) sunglasses 3) stickers.)

Despite the smooth visit, I left the office with some homework: Regularly floss my son’s teeth and give him fluoridated water to drink. I’m on board with the flossing. But I have mixed feelings about the extra fluoride. I figured fluoride in toothpaste was enough.

How did you handle the fluoride issue with your kids?

POSTED IN: Anne Vasquez (67), Health (111)

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January 17, 2008

Middle school can make you crazy

I can't wait to hear about how Beth's day went today, after all the excitement of yesterday when the English teacher spent the entire day telling the students how angry she was with them.

For what? angryteach.jpg

Because they did not write their FCAT practice essay when they had a substitute teacher the day before. In the students' defense, the substitute, I'm told by my daughter, didn't find the correct "prompt" -- the question that they were supposed to write about -- until halfway through the class.

These eighth-graders, all honors students who have been subjected to non-stop FCAT writing prep since August, decided not to write the essay in the remaining 20 minutes of class.

The next day, which was yesterday, the teacher was "livid" with them. She accused one child of hiding the prompt from the substitute teacher. She grilled several students about the behavior of others.

When some of these kids felt enough remorse to write an apology card and enclose their finished essays with it, the teacher TORE UP the essays and the card in front of them. Or, that's what I'm told she did.

It sounds so awful. The poor woman is over the edge.

As far as I can tell -- and I'll admit I'm likely not getting the whole story -- the kids weren't all that bad for the substitute teacher. They were just acting like 13-year-olds do when they don't want to do something.

I guess that is enough to make a middle-school teacher livid. Think about how often she encounters 13-year-olds who don't want to do what she asks. That would be daily, I'm guessing.

It would be enough to drive anyone crazy.

Still, wouldn't it be better to give these students a break? Let them read and discuss some short stories or write some poetry or read a play out loud, or do something other than writing FCAT essays three times a week?

Maybe they wouldn't be such a challenge if their teacher let them enjoy English class for a change.

POSTED IN: School Issues (135), Vicki McCash Brennan (13)

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My daughter's first bad cold

Ana Isabel has been an incredibly healthy child. She's had one bout of the sniffles with a runny nose before last week.
We figure since Carrie Ann works from home and watches Ana, my daughter, now two and half, has had limited exposure to other children and germs. So she has been able to avoid a bad cold, up until now.

And now with all the news about cold and cough medicine not being good for you child, I'm not sure what we should do to try and relieve her symptoms. I suggested taking Ana to the doctor. But my wife says that while Ana has a cold she's mostly in good spirits. So a doctors visit may be premature at this point, since we'd rather not start dosing Ana with antibiotics just yet.

She had a slight fever the other day, nothing serious. We gave her Motrin for that and it seemed to work.

I just wonder what else we can do besides trying to find some contraband cough and cold medicine that was taken off the shelves for children. I figure if Ana's cold gets worse or is not getting better by next week, we're off to the pediatrician.

Meanwhile, what works for a stuffy head, cough and runny nose so that Ana can sleep through the night.

POSTED IN: Luis Perez (32), Toddler (127)

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Need a babysitter? Consider this....

The only babysitter my son has ever known is his grandmother.

Aside from pre-school, my husband and I have somehow managed to avoid hiring a sitter. (The lone exception was one day last year – an emergency – when we asked one of our son’s teachers to watch him for two hours in the evening until one of us got home.)

The pluses of having abuela babysit are endless: Familiarity, kid-friendly atmosphere, and my son just loves being at her house. But not everyone is as fortunate.

So if you’re in the market for a babysitter, there are several things you should keep in mind. Check out these tips from Sun-Sentinel columnist Daniel Vasquez.

POSTED IN: Anne Vasquez (67), Family Issues (231)

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January 15, 2008

From Elmo to Emo

Here I was, thinking that just because I can hear that high-pitched sound that supposedly only young people can hear, that I was pretty hip.

But I've just encountered a trend among schoolkids that I had never heard of in my life. This emo.gif
phenomenon where a parent incredulously quizzes his or her child about what "kids these days are doing" was a common occurrence in my home growing up.

And until now I thought I must really be keeping a finger on the pulse of the kids in the schoolyard. (Just writing that sentence probably gets me on that list of folks who are legally required to stay at least 6 miles away from all schoolyards. Please note it's only a figure of speech!)

But have you ever heard of "Emos'' and do you know what they're all about?

If not, read up on the trend here.

It's been described to me as a kind of modern-day "grunge'' or a takeoff on the "Goth'' trend or the "punk'' style.

The kids wear their hear long and hanging in their faces, are emotionally sensitive and depressed and listen to "Emo'' music, which is kind of high-pitched whiny stuff, and they like to do things like compare the scars where they tried to slit their wrists.

That's nteresting and all. But how did an entire way of being and type of music get so well established without my ever having heard about it? I feel like such an adult.

Am I not watching enough MTV?

POSTED IN: Brittany Wallman (160)

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Rabbi Shmuley rocks!

When Rabbi Shmuley Boteach befriended Michael Jackson a few years ago, I figured he was seeking publicity or was just too weird for my tastes.boteach.jpg

But he has since ended the friendship and published 18 books on how to maintain healthy families. He also hosts the TLC show, "Shalom in the Home," and is about to start a radio show on XM's Oprah and Friends network. I covered his talk in West Palm Beach for the Sun-Sentinel yesterday.

Although he has said some weird things over the years, I thought his comments on Tuesday were sound and logical. He said kids need "quantity time," not quality time. Here are some other thought-provoking things he said.

1. Do not ever yell at your kids.
2. Love your kids for who they are, not what they do or don't do.
3. Never talk to your kids about grades or make them feel they must perform to be loved.
4. If you've hurt your children, apologize.
5. Never fight with your spouse in front of your kids.

Some of these items are almost impossible (How can we not encourage our kids to get good grades? How can we not have disagreements in front of the kids?) but I did see the value in having it as a goal.

Are you a Shmuley groupie?

POSTED IN: Family Issues (231)

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January 14, 2008

Hold that baby!

Does how a presidential candidate holds a baby tell us anything about his or her leadership abilities?bushbaby.jpg

During the New Hampshire primaries, New Hampshire resident Darren Garnick asked the major presidential candidates to hold his five-month-old daughter and took their pictures as they smiled, squirmed, looked her in the eyes or freaked out.

He was on the CBS Morning News this morning and posted his photos and commentary at You gotta love Barack Obama's obvious connection with the baby; he looks her right in the eyes and seems to forget the cameras. John Edwards looks stilted; Rudy Giuliani looks totally uncomfortable. At least John McCain makes a joke when the baby cries: "There goes another vote!"

POSTED IN: Politics (18)

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More birthday party quandaries

In the next few weeks, we'll be going to our 4th and 5th birthday parties of the year for kids in Evan's class. Everyone's turning 4, and that's certainly a cause to celebrate.

When my younger son gets into school, the parties will only double, I know. Obviously,I like to bring a gift, and I'm wondering what the appropriate amount is to spend on a 4-year-old's birthday these days. I winged it for the first three birthdays, but because the birthday kids did not open their gifts at the party (thank God), I have no way of knowing whether our gift was in line with a typical present. Lest I be chastised once again as "cheap" by a poster to this blog calling himself "Teddy," I won't reveal what I spent.

Instead, I'm curious as to what you all think is the right amount to spend on a gift for your child's classmate. It's not something I lose sleep over, and I think I'm pretty comfortable with my selections, but it would be nice to know nonetheless.

Give me a hint, won't you please?

And by the way, apologies for not blogging in awhile. A road trip to North Carolina with a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old can take a lot out of an old gal ...

POSTED IN: Family Issues (231), Nancy Othon (21)

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January 11, 2008

The animal side of heaven

Unfortunately, last night my husband and I discovered that our son Ryan's 2006 Christmas hamster, A.J., had departed to the great wheel in the sky.

After gently telling Ryan of A.J.'s untimely demise, we explained that A.J. was in heaven and that he had a loving and happy life here with us. Many tears and fond recollections later, we had a burial on the side of the house with my older son Erik giving a moving eulogy.

Later, Ryan began to fret. When I asked him what was wrong, he said "I hope God puts A.J. in the animal side of heaven. If he's in the people side, he'll get stepped on. Then he'll have to die twice."

--Doreen Christensen

POSTED IN: Say what!?! (25)

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Good thing my mom never checked my trunk

So, mom finds booze in 19-year-old's car, so she takes out a classified ad.

POSTED IN: Family Issues (231)

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January 10, 2008

This pregnancy is so different from the first

My wife Carrie Ann is now six months along in her second pregnancy. We're all very excited about our pending new arrival, Lucas Emilio,

When his big sister, Ana Isabel, was in utero, her parents were nervous Nellies. I chalked it up to being first time parents. Now with the second child on the way, my wife seems to be enjoying the pregnancy much more; therefore I am much more relaxed about the birth of our second child. We're both almost giddy. With Ana that excitement was tempered by anxiety.

My wife also tells me Lucas seems to be more active than Ana was at this stage. I know Lucas is a different person than Ana. But his parents, I guess, are also more mature and confident in their child-rearing abilities.

While it's all familiar since we've been through it once, I wonder about the differences and what they portend for the future. What do you think?

POSTED IN: Pregnancy (31)

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January 9, 2008

The circus is not p.c.

I haven't taught my kinds that circuses are not universally embraced.

I've never hinted at the idea that the animals could be mistreated, or at the very least, might not be having fun entertaining crowds of thousands in a Miami arena by hopping around a circle on their hind legs rather than scouting something smaller than them to kill and eat in the jungle.


Say it ain't so!

At the end of our holiday vacation, we took both kids to the opening night of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus at American Airlines Arena in Miami, which is running through Jan. 13.

It was a great family night out. We were acting out an American cliche: the family eating cotton candy at the circus, inhaling the excitement of the flying trapeze and the stench of elephant dung.

But Creed, our 7th grader, is a born animal rights activist. He does not condone the killing of bugs even when they are caught inside the house and are so small they would not squirt any blood if squashed under a shoe. Nope, Creed has to usher the wayward bug outside to live out its rightful years in suburban Plantation.

So although I was mum on the issue of circus animal abuse, Creed burst our emotional circus bubble as soon as he saw the animal that most closely resembles a dog (the tigers, which were AWESOME!).

Our conversation went something like this:

"He's whipping them!'' Creed whispered.

"All trainers use whips. He's not whipping them, it's just a loud sound the tigers are trained to respond to,'' I said.

"No, they're scared, you can tell,'' he insisted. "He whips them.''

"Creed, this man is in a cage with half a dozen tigers. He's brave. They could eat him alive. If they hated him, they would devour him right now. No tiny whip would deter them.''

"They're flinching. You can tell they hate him,'' he went on.

"They're having fun, Creed, just like dogs enjoy learning obeying their masters and learning how to 'sit' and other things that don't come naturally. They love doing this.''

"No, they don't. They're not wagging their tails.''

"You're such an animal rights activist,'' I said.

"You're such a human,'' he responded.

I didn't see any protesters. But a group called Animal Rights Florida has some horrific allegations about the mistreatment of circus elephants by this outfit.

Meanwhile, Lily, who is only in kindergarten, was in awe, and loved her $12 cotton candy.

POSTED IN: Elementary School (54)

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How to be a little safer at the mall

As you know, I have been stressed about going back to Town Center Mall after the murders last month. I've been brainstorming ways to make me and my family safer. The e-mail below came at a timely moment and offers some useful safety tips. I especially liked the one about crashing your car! Let me know what you think.


Because of recent abductions

in daylight hours, refresh yourself

of these things to do

in an emergency situation...

This is for you,

and for you to share

with your wife,

your children,

everyone you know.

After reading these 9 crucial tips,

forward them to someone you care about.

It never hurts to be careful

in this crazy world we live in.

1. Tip from Tae Kwon Do :

The elbow is the strongest point

on your body.

If you are close enough to use it, do!

2. Learned this from a tourist guide

in New Orleans

If a robber asks for your wallet and/or purse,


Toss it away from you....

chances are that he is more interested

in your wallet and/or purse than you,

and he will go for the wallet/purse.


3. If you are ever thrown into the trunk of a car,

kick out the back tail lights and stick your arm out the hole

and start waving like crazy.

The driver won't see you, but everybody else will.

This has saved lives.

4. Women have a tendency to get into their cars

after shopping, eating, working, etc., and just sit

(doing their checkbook, or making a list, etc.


The predator will be watching you, and this

is the perfect opportunity for him to get in

on the passenger side, put a gun to your head,

and tell you where to go.



If someone

is in the car

with a gun

to your head




Instead gun the engine

and speed into anything, wrecking the car.

Your Air Bag will save you.

If the person is in the back seat

they will get the worst of it .

As soon as the car crashes

bail out and run.

It is better than having them find your body

in a remote location.

5. A few notes about getting

into your car in a parking lot,

or parking garage:

A.) Be aware:

look around you,

look into your car,

at the passenger side floor ,

and in the back seat

B.) If you are parked next to a big van,

enter your car from the passenger door.

Most serial killers attack their victims

by pulling them into their vans while the women

are attempting to get into their cars.

C.) Look at the car

parked on the driver's side of your vehicle,

and the passenger side.. If a male is sitting alone

in the seat nearest your car, you may want to walk back

into the mall, or work, and get a

guard/policeman to walk you back out.

IT IS ALWAYS BETTER TO BE SAFE THAN SORRY. (And better paranoid than dead.)

6. ALWAYS take the elevator

instead of the stairs.

(Stairwells are horrible places to be alone

and the perfect crime spot.

This is especially true at NIGHT!)

7. If the predator has a gun

and you are not under his control,


The predator will only hit you (a running target)

4 in 100 times; And even then,

it most likely WILL NOT be a vital organ.

RUN, Preferably in a zig -zag pattern!

8. As women, we are always trying

to be sympathetic:


It may get you raped, or killed.

Ted Bundy, the serial killer, was a good-looking,

well educated man, who ALWAYS played

on the sympathies of unsuspecting women.

He walked with a cane, or a limp, and often

asked "for help" into his vehicle or with his vehicle,

which is when he abducted
his next victim.

I was going to send this to the ladies only,

but guys, if you love your mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, etc.,

you may want to pass it onto them, as well.

Send this to any woman you know that may need

to be reminded that the world we live in has a lot of crazies in it

and it's better to be safe than sorry..

Everyone should take 5 minutes to read this. It may save your life or love one's life.

POSTED IN: Shopping (28)

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January 7, 2008

Playgrounds for children with disabilities

South Florida playgrounds are becoming more disabled friendly, with a Broward grant from the Children's Services Council supporting four "inclusive playgrounds" and money from an organization called Boundless Playgrounds helping build others.

The story in Broward community news sections addressed the trend, but Lake Worth and West Palm Beach also have Boundless Playgrounds. (Click on "Lake Worth" or "West Palm Beach" above to see their locations.)

POSTED IN: Activities (143)

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January 3, 2008

The big girl bed dilemma

Ana Isabel, now almost 2 and a half, has finally made the move to the "big girl" bed.


My wife and I worked on the transition for months. (I'll admit it was mostly my wife. But I did paint and move furniture.) We wanted to get it done before my wife's pregnant belly got too big to lift my little 32-pounder in and out of a crib.

One day just before Christmas, Ana blurted out she wanted to sleep in the "big girl" bed in her "big girl" room, once the guest bedroom. So that's how it happened. There were a few nights of Ana walking out of her room and into our room, waking everyone up. Even the cat didn't sleep through the commotion.

We had to revert to the old cry-it-out technique that got Ana to sleep through the night when she was six months old. We locked her in her room and let her cry. It took two nights of her crying for a few minutes before she fell back asleep. It worked, for the most part. Except once a night usually around 10:30 p.m. Ana wakes.

My wife is usually fast asleep and, depending on my schedule, I may be sleeping as well. We hesitate to lock her in her room again for the full night or to make that the permanent solution. But I'm afraid this may be the only way that we'll get uninterrupted sleep.

What do you suggest for getting a toddler to sleep in her "big girl" bed and to stay in her room when she does wake?

POSTED IN: Toddler (127)

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January 2, 2008

My new mall shopping habits

My friends say I'm unhealthily obsessed, but I keep thinking about last month's Town Center Mall murders and how I can stay safe.

At first I vowed to stay away from the mall, but with three daughters, that is just about impossible. Also, what would it accomplish? You can get killed just about anywhere, especially in a shopping center parking lot. I watched a documentary about Wal-Marts last week that said there were an extraordinary number of muggings in their parking lots. I can't become a hermit.

So I started thinking about how to get into and out of the mall safely. I could only think of two things: I hold my finger on the car alarm as I get into my car and lock the door immediately. And I make sure to walk in with or be seen by as many people as possible as I go in or out, even if they're construction workers who are making obscene comments.

Although it would be safer, I refuse to use the mall's $4 valet parking service on principle. The valet spaces are right next to the best entrances, so the valet only has to move your car about 20 feet from where you drop it off. This is so offensive I just can't do it.

I was talking to a mall employee from Rio de Janeiro who said murders like this happen all the time there and people just go on living. So that's what I will do, although I am definitely stressed.

How about you? Have your shopping habits changed since the murders?

POSTED IN: Family Issues (231)

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About the authors
Gretchen Day-Bryant has a son in high school and a daughter in middle school. She’s lived to tell about the struggles of juggling little kids and work.
Joy Oglesby has a preschooler...
Cindy Kent Fort Lauderdale mother of three. Her kids span in ages from teenager to 20s.
Rafael Olmeda and his wife welcomed their first son in Feb. 2009, and he's helping raise two teenage stepdaughters.
Lois Solomonlives with her husband and three daughters.
Georgia East is the parent of a five-year-old girl, who came into the world weighing 1 pound, 13 ounces.
Brittany Wallman is the mother of Creed, 15, and Lily, 7, and is married to a journalist, Bob Norman. She covers Broward County government, which is filled with almost as much drama as the Norman household. Almost.
Chris Tiedje is the Social Media Coordinator and the father of a 7-year-old girl, and two boys ages 4 and 3.
Kyara Lomer Camarena has a 2-year-old son, Copelan, and a brand new baby.

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