Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Is Your Teen Ready for a Job?

The teenage years entail many milestones — school graduations, driver’s licenses, first jobs.

A first job is an opportunity for a teen to learn responsibility, as well as understand the value of the dollar. Although it is important to emphasize these life-building skills, parents do not want teens to sacrifice learning for quick cash. Parents and young adults need to discuss the benefits and risks of a job before a decision is made.

The Pros
  • The United States Bureau of Labor and Statistics reported that in 2014 approximately 20.1 million youth between the ages of 16-24 worked a job. This number seems to indicate that many parents and teens see the value of employment while continuing to study through high school and college. Here are some of the pros:
  • A job fosters a sense of responsibility in a teen. There are requirements to arrive on time, fulfill work tasks and listen to authority figures.
  • Teens gain a sense of confidence and learn to interact with coworkers, customers and bosses.
  • They can understand the value of money. Parents should encourage teens to open a checking account to learn basic personal finance skills.
  • A job might also require a car to get to and from. If teens want to own their own car, with a job, they can help with the payments. Before they take to the road, make certain they practice good driving skills and maintenance.
  • Family Education studies show that teens who work 10-15 hours a week tend to pull higher grades than students who opt out of employment.
  • Sustaining a job will help teens better manage time, as they must budget time between school, work and play.

The Cons

There are identifiable disadvantages to your teen's pursuit of a job while in school. These cons can depend on your teen, but parents must assess whether their child is at an increased risk to fall into one of these behaviors.
  • Teens who work may sacrifice extracurricular or social activities because their jobs are after school.
  • Grades may suffer because some teens have trouble juggling school and work responsibilities.
  • There is a risk that teens may engage in high-risk behavior, like drugs and alcohol, because they are exposed to coworkers who are older.
  • Teens may feel stressed and rushed because they are not able to balance responsibilities.
  • General anxiety might increase if they are not able to manage the pressures of the real world.

The Right Decision

Parents and teens need to discuss whether it is the right decision to work. Determine if your teen will be up to the task to manage both school and work. Ask these questions:
  • Why does your teen want the job? Is it to make extra money? Is it a form of escape? Is it way to shirk other responsibilities in school?
  • Is your teen able to maintain grades prior to acquiring a job? Determine what is on your teen's academic schedule and whether he or she fulfills class requirements.
  • Devise a contract between you and your teen which states your expectations on school requirements. If grades start to drop, then agree with your teen that he or she may need to decrease hours or quit the job.
  • If you decide that your teen is prepared to take the job, continue to monitor how he or she manages school, home and work.

If your teen decides he or she wants a job, try to assess the risks and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of this increased responsibility. Have a frank conversation. It will give both teens and parents some guidelines on what to expect.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Teen Drivers: Technology to Keep Them Safe

From the moment you became a mom, you did everything you could to keep your baby safe. From getting regular prenatal care to buying the best car seat to giving lessons about stranger danger, you did your best to control the situation. But even though your baby is now a teenager and behind the wheel, it's not yet time to relax your safety precautions.

In fact, there are plenty of reasons why you should continue your quest to keep your teen driver safe. The CDC reports that even though young teens and adults ages 15 to 24 make up only 14 percent of the population, they are responsible for almost 29 percent of the total costs of motor vehicle injuries. So, in order for you and your teen to get through this new milestone, consider the following safety-related technology:

GTS TeenTrack

GTS TeenTrack helps you keep tabs on your teen when he or she is behind the wheel, allowing you to be a virtual passenger of sorts. You can see where your teen went, how many stops were made, how fast the car was going and the routes taken. TeenTrack can even send you a text or email once your teen arrives at his or her destination. For brand new drivers who tend to behave much differently when you are not around, TeenTrack provides invaluable peace of mind.

FamilyWhere App

Provided by T-Mobile, FamilyWhere is an innovative app that lets you monitor your teen’s whereabouts. The app works by locating any of the devices connected to your T-Mobile account. As the account holder, you can receive text notifications when your family members move to a new location or you can schedule automatic location checks. In addition, you can have your kid check in via text message and then see where they are on a map in real time. While you trust your teen to do the right thing, the app helps you keep tabs on where he or she is at any given time.

Smart Car Technology

Some new car technology that helps keep teen drivers safe while behind the wheel actually comes with the car. Lexus and BMW feature anticipatory braking technology, which involves on-board radar that can “see” a possible accident and then prepare the brakes to stop. In addition, companies like Audi, Infiniti and Mercedes-Benz have enhanced their cruise control options that let you set your speed as well as a following distance from the car in front of you. For teens who want to tailgate, this technology can prevent them from doing it. And, for an even bigger safety risk, Volvo and SAAB include alcohol detectors that don't allow the car to start if the device senses that the driver has been drinking.

Although letting your teenager behind the wheel may be a scary thought, you can help them stay safe and make good decisions. With all of the new technology available, you will have peace of mind knowing where your kid is at all times.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Honor the Martyrs

There are some crazy things happening in our world right now and let's face it, these things are scary. Christians are being beheaded.  Children are being murdered.  Men are getting burned alive.  It is horrible and I would be lying if I told you it didn't scare me a bit.  It does.  It scares me.  21 Christian men being beheaded in just seconds scares me.  It worries me.  It makes me feel unsafe for the simple fact that I believe.  I believe.  I am a Christian.  I keep thinking about what is coming next.

And I am determined to grow even more in God and in my faith and to live every day for Him because that is the best way I know to overcome this fear.

A friend of mine said something today in response to the horrible atrocities being committed and it struck me so much that I have posted it everywhere I can...

A faith that can't be shaken - that is the goal.  That is what we need.  That is how we live.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

How to Create a Safer and Healthier Home for a Child With Autism

Parents usually have to focus on making their homes as safe as possible for the first several years of their kiddo’s life. While most install common safety items like electrical outlet covers and remove breakable items from low places like coffee tables when their kids are babies and toddlers, as their children get older, they can be a bit less vigilant.

As parents of autistic children know quite well, this safety approach may not wear off as their child gets older. In addition, these parents may need to take special care in the way they decorate and organize their homes.

In order to create a safe and healthy home, consider the following suggestions:

Maintain a Clutter-Free Home

Some kids with autism get overwhelmed by rooms that have too much “stuff” in them, claims Everyday Health. While some kids can be in a space with lots of toys, books and art supplies and not be bothered by all of the things, notes that kids with autism often have sensory issues that make them feel upset and overly sensitive to too much visual stimulation.

In order to make the home seem as safe and comforting as possible, it’s important to remove as many things as you can from each room. Moms should tackle one room at a time, starting in the space their child likes to hang out the most. Toys that are rarely played with can be donated or thrown away, and the ones that are still used on a regular basis can be stored in large bins and brought out on a rotating basis. This way, there won't be too many items out at one time.

Rearrange Your Furniture

The way your couches, chairs, tables and other furniture are arranged in a room can have an impact on your child. To keep the room as safe as possible, avoid placing chairs near shelves to reduce the chances that your child will climb up on the furniture. Make sure outlets are covered and lamp and computer cords are not tripping hazards. Secure heavier items like dressers to the wall. And, if your child has a tendency to run out of rooms, consider placing the furniture in a way that will block his or her usual path; this will make it more difficult for your kiddo to escape.

Avoid Overstimulation

Some autistic kids display over-sensitivity to certain environmental factors like light, color and noise. As DNA India reports, a study found that kids with autism see simple movements twice as fast as other kids, which often results in an increased sensitivity to light. If the room gets a lot of bright sunlight and this bothers your child, install heavier window treatments like Roman shades or drapes. You also may need to rethink your artwork and mirrors if they overstimulate your child. Consider keeping the walls bare and painted in more neutral tones.

Add Visual Reminders

Another way to make your home as safe as possible is to use clear and bold signs to remind your child of house rules and limits. For example, you can make or buy your own STOP signs for doors of rooms that are off limits. These also will work for appliances that are not safe to use. Some kids with autism also respond well to colored tape, so you can place colorful duct tape on designated parts of rugs and floors to help remind your child where he or she should be.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Peep the Parakeet

Meet the newest member of our family.  His name is Peep.  He's a "Fancy Parakeet" but I don't think that makes him much different than any other parakeet.  I'm pretty sure that just means he's a little more colorful.  He's new to our house and we just love him!

Pets have long been a topic of conversation in our family mainly because Bug doesn't do dogs.  At all.  If you have read my blog for any length of time then you know just how terrified our Little Bug is when it comes to four legged creatures that bark.  They freak him out.

We've had fish before, but fish die too quickly and that tends to really upset Bean.  Our Bean Sprout is not like Bug at all.  She loves animals of all kinds and has longed for a pet for as long as I can remember.

I like birds.  I had a parakeet back in the day, but when he died I was so upset over it that I swore I would never get another bird.  But time has passed and my feelings have finally subsided.  When the kids asked about getting a bird I gave it serious thought.  My husband, knowing my feelings, basically left it up to me.  So I thought and thought and thought and I finally decided it would be ok.

And it is ok.  More than ok.  I love Peep!

The kids love Peep!

The husband loves Peep!

We finally have a pet that can be enjoyed by everyone.

Peep came from the pet store with a healthy guarantee from a vet.  He is banded (tagged) and we know that he is less than a year old right now.  We believe he is a he because his cere (nose above the beak) has a blue tint to it.  I know it looks white in the picture, but in person it is light blue.  That's supposed to indicate he's a male and it should get darker the older he gets... Unless we are wrong and the blue tint means nothing, then Peep is a girl.  But we have read up a lot on this and feel good about saying he's a boy.

In reality, it doesn't matter.  We aren't going to breed Peep.  We simply want to enjoy the years of friendship he will provide.

As I write, Peep is happily eating his food and chirping away.  It sounds wonderful!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

5 Fun Family Activities to do with Your Kids this Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day gets so much attention as a special romantic day for couples, it’s easy to forget that the holiday’s focus on love and affection can easily be applied to your kids and family. The following suggestions can help you celebrate February 14 right at home with the ones you adore:

Make Valentines for each other

Kids love to make and hand out Valentines, and it’s a relatively easy and fun project that you can do together at home. All you need is some red construction paper, scissors, stickers, pens and maybe a tube of glitter glue or two. You can help your kiddos cut out large hearts and then let them add a drawing or message that tells each recipient how much they love them.

Skype with Grandma and Grandpa

Grandparents will adore getting a homemade Valentine in the mail, but they will be over the moon if you set aside some time on the 14th to give them a computer jingle via Skype. You and your kids can take turns talking to Grandma and Grandpa and showing them the other Valentines that you created. For grandparents who have everything except enough time with their loved ones, a Skype session on Valentine’s Day will really help to show how much they mean to you.

Create heart-shaped pizzas

There’s just something inexplicably fun about making heart-shaped food on Valentine’s Day, especially if the food is pizza. You can buy pre-made pizza dough at a grocery store or, if you're feeling adventurous, you can make your own. You can either roll the dough into one giant heart shaped pizza or you can divide it up and make mini-hearts. Either way, it’s a fun and tasty activity that captures the theme of the day quite nicely.

Schedule a movie or game night, complete with goodies

One of the best ways to show love for each other is simply to spend time together doing activities that everyone enjoys. Plan on cuddling with your cuties on the couch while watching some favorite movies or playing games. Beforehand, stock up on a variety of Valentine's themed goodies. If your clan is the snacking type, get a huge tub of flavored popcorn for all of you to share. Hubby loves chocolate? Get everything chocolate covered. How? Instead of running around town looking for the perfect munchies, order festive Valentine's chocolate, candy and other snacks online to be delivered in time for movie night.

Host a Valentine’s Day scavenger hunt

What's not to love about following cleverly-written riddle clues and gathering items to find an ultimate prize? A Valentine’s Day scavenger hunt is a fun and creative way to spend time together on or around the 14th. You can create simple clues that will help your kids find the various items—for example, a note that says “I love it when you help your sister put away her books” will lead them to the bookcase where you’ve hidden some conversation hearts—or for younger kiddos you can give them a piece of paper with pictures of what you’ve hidden around the house.
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