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Tell a Gal Pal!!!

Every day, one in three women die as a result of domestic violence.

Scary number, isn’t it? Here’s another scary one: three out of four women know someone who is affected by domestic violence. That means that you probably know someone who is affected in some way.

The National Coalition of Domestic Violence defines domestic violence as “the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior perpetrated by an intimate partner against another. It is an epidemic affecting individuals in every community, regardless of age, economic status, race, religion, nationality or educational background. Violence against women is often accompanied by emotionally abusive and controlling behavior, and thus is part of a systematic pattern of dominance and control. Domestic violence results in physical injury, psychological trauma, and sometimes death. The consequences of domestic violence can cross generations and truly last a lifetime.”

Domestic violence (DV) is a scary reality for many men and women in the country. It is an important topic to discuss. Women especially, need to talk openly about domestic violence. Tell your Gal Pals – whether it’s your best friend, sister, mother, daughter, niece, cousin or neighbor – to face domestic violence, share their opinions and experiences and show support for survivors.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline has some tips for people who want to help a friend or family member:

Don’t be afraid to let him or her know that you are concerned for their safety. Help your friend or family member recognize the abuse. Tell him or her you see what is going on and that you want to help. Help them recognize that what is happening is not “normal” and that they deserve a healthy, non-violent relationship.

Be non-judgmental. Respect your friend or family member’s decisions. There are many reasons why victims stay in abusive relationships. He or she may leave and return to the relationship many times. Do not criticize his or her decisions or try to guilt them. He or she will need your support even more during those times.

Encourage him or her to talk to people who can provide help and guidance. Find a local domestic violence agency that provides counseling or support groups. Offer to go with him or her to talk to family and friends. If he or she has to go to the police, court or a lawyer, offer to go along for moral support.

If you need help getting a conversation started with a friend or loved one, visit ClickToEmpower.org for easy ways start the conversation, check out resources for survivors or read inspirational survivor stories. This website is a wonderful resource, and even has information on local DV coalitions in your area.

How can you help right now?

For each person who “likes” the Click To Empower! Facebook page, The Allstate Foundation will donate $1 to the National Network to End Domestic Violence (up to $20,000). Click here to go to the Facebook page.

The Allstate Foundation will donate another $1 if you take the pledge to Tell a Gal Pal about domestic violence. As part of the pledge, your photo will be added to the “Faces of Support” gallery to show survivors that they aren’t facing domestic violence alone.

If you or someone you know needs help, please call: THE NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE at 1-800-799-7233


I wrote this blog post while participating in The Allstate Foundation’s Tell a Gal Pal blogging program with TwitterMoms, making me eligible to get an interview with Cheryl Burke. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

Over the 9 months, my husband and I have been working to make our diets a little healtheir. Mostly this is because we have a young daughter and we want to be healthy for her, but also because we want to model a healthy lifestyle for her. So here are 10 ways we’ve come up with making our food healthier.

1. Use whole wheat or low carb pasta. I’m particularly a fan of Dreamfields brand pasta – it’s low carb, but you’d NEVER know it to taste it! It’s lower on the glycemic index, making it great for people on a low carb diet. You can barely taste the difference between it and “regular” pasta.

2. Try frozen yogurt instead of ice cream. Many kinds of frozen yogurt are creamy, and still come in fun flavors like cookies & cream or Moose Tracks (YUM!!!). It’s lower in sugar and fat, making it a great alternative.

3. Use corn flake crumbs instead of bread crumbs. You’ll barely taste the difference, but they’re lower in calories than most bread crumbs.

4. Use brown rice or long grain rice. Again, this is lower on the glycemic index, making it a better choice for people who enjoy a low carb lifestyle. Brown rice is flavorful, and makes a great add in for stuffed peppers, fajitas and so on.

5. Use ground turkey in place of ground meat. The two are interchangeable, so you can pretty much use them however you want. Turkey is lower in fat, but is still full of a meaty flavor. It’s a great alternative in meatloaf or soups and chilis.

6. Use applesauce in place of oil in cake mixes. The flavor is almost identical, but don’t use any sort of flavored applesauce, or you WILL skew the flavor of your cake!

7. Eat whole grain foods whenever possible. You’ll find them to be more filling, so you’ll eat less. Plus, whole grains are a better source of fiber and protein.

8. Eat Romaine lettuce instead of Iceberg lettuce. Romaine has a higher amount of fiber, B vitamins and folate. It also contains more calcium, potassium and trace minerals–and it has seven times the vitamin C and 18 times the vitamin A.

9. Add two cloves of garlic to soups, sauces, stir fries and stews. Garlic is great for heart health, and help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol.

10. Opt for organic whenever possible. This can definitely be a problem for those trying to live within a tight budget, but it’s definitely something worth exploring. A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that one in every two people tested positive for one or more of up to 116 chemicals that were coming from food. However, if that doesn’t fit in with your finances, be sure to wash all your fruits and veggies thoroughly.

I wanted to include a widget on the sidebar of this post, but unfortunately, it wasn’t working in my blog, so I couldn’t share it with you. I hope these tips help you get on your way to having a healthier diet. I know they’ve definitely helped me! Happy eating!

DISCLAIMER: I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and WeightWatchers SmartOnes blogging program, making me eligible to get a $50 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

Taking a cue from the Totsy Blog today, I thought I would write up 10 things I want my daughter to know. The difference, though, is that Audry geared hers to be about her son’s year in Kindergarten. Mine is more generalized, since my daughter is only 2 1/2 and isn’t in any sort of day care or school yet.

1. Your dad and I love you, no matter what.

2. You will screw up and make mistakes in life. It’s okay, because that’s how you learn.

3. You are an amazing girl, with a body that lets you move, bend, stretch, jump, run, see, hear and speak. Don’t take any of that for granted.

4. We will let you try just about anything (within reason) if you really want to. If you want to try taking dance class, gymnastics, horseback riding, music lessons, I’m all for it. Just try not to break the bank, please.

5. With #4 said, we will not force you into an activity we know you don’t want to do, but we would like you to give everything a chance. You’ll never know if you’ll find your new favorite hobby!

6. We have always done and will always do our best to provide for you and take care of you. We hope you know that.

7. Save money, give to charity, spend wisely. I may not be the best example of this, but I’m sure trying!

8. Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

9. As Fernanda Mirmontes-Lenderos said, “Give thanks for what you are now, and keep fighting for what you want to be tomorrow.”

10. I can’t say it enough – your dad and I love you, no matter what.

With back to school shopping getting under way around the country, parents are now looking for great ways to save money. Here are some ideas to help you save a bit of cash.

1. Shop in your house first. Look through your closets, cabinets, junk drawers and anywhere else you can think of to see what you already have. You may not need a new pack of pencils if you’ve got 10 that are still usable. You may find a calculator, making it so that you don’t have to buy one. While these items may not seem expensive, they can definitely add up quickly, especially when shopping for more than one child. Let kids decorate old binders with stickers or photos to jazz them up. Instead of buying book covers, use paper shopping bags that kids can write on and decorate themselves.

2. Coupons, coupons, coupons. Kind of self explanatory, you’re going to save extra when using coupons. You’ll save even more if you can pair them up with sale prices at stores.

3. Shop for clothes after school starts. You’ll get a good vibe at what’s going to be the fashion trend, and prices will be coming down as new things start coming out for the next season.

4. Stick to the class list. Many teachers say that they are amazed at the number of students that come in with things they probably won’t use. If your kid is going to need it, it will be on the class list.

5. Decide how much you can spend, and stick with it. Don’t be afraid to let your kids know that there is a limit on anything they might want for school, and anything above and beyond either needs to wait, isn’t needed, or will have to come out of their piggy bank.

6. Pounce on the “loss leader” items at stores. You know the ones, the 10 cent spiral notebooks or the 25 cent box of Crayola crayons? But don’t go overboard. If you find out that the pens are on sale this week, buy the pens. If filler paper is on sale next week, wait until then to get it!

7. Separate wants from needs. That pencil sharpener that lights up may look really cool, but it’s going to be a distraction in class. The $1 three pack of sharpeners will do the same job without getting the child in trouble.

8. Buy basics in bulk. If there is a great sale on notebooks at the store, stock up. Your kid will probably need a few over the course of the school year.

9. Buy quality when necessary. If you buy that cheap backpack, it may break during the school year. If you replace it with another cheap one, it may break again. If this keeps up, you’re going to wind up spending more money on cheap backpacks than you will on one quality one that will last for four, or even eight, years. Leaky pens may cost more than that if you have to replace your son or daughters school uniform or clothes because you can’t get it out.

10. Invest in fun, reusable lunch-ware. Reusable water bottles and lunch boxes are better for the environment, and will save you money in the long run. It’s cheaper to buy juice in a bottle than to buy single serve juice boxes or pouches. It’s easy to find BPA-free plastics now, so spend the money ahead of time, and you’ll get a return on your investment at the end.

I hope these help you save a little bit of money while planning your back to school shopping trips. Share your favorite tips in the comments section!

DISCLAIMER: I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Staples blogging program, making me eligible to get a $50 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

Snow cones are a great treat when the summer gets too hot. This recipe comes from 24/7 Moms. It’s easy to make, and kids love them! Plus, it’s something they can help with! Keep the syrups in squeeze bottles (think ketchup and mustard squirt bottles) in your fridge, and they’ll be ready for instant snacking.

Ingredients Needed:
1 package unsweetened Kool-Aid your choice of flavor
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup water water

Instructions:
Place sugar and water in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Remove pan from heat, pour in the Kool-Aid and stir until dissolved. Cool to room temperature and pour mixture into squirt bottle then place in the refrigerator until chilled.

Another option is to make your own fruit syrup – a more natural approach, and only a few more steps.  A popular flavor is raspberry, and the following recipe can be modified to create any other fruit or berry syrup. The general rule of thumb for making fruit syrup is equal measures of sugar and water, and roughly four cups of any puréed fruit of your choice.

1 pound (roughly 4 cups) raspberries (or another fruit of your choice)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Bring berries, water and sugar to a boil in large saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Boil uncovered 10 minutes, stirring occasionally and adjusting heat to prevent mixture from boiling over. Add lemon juice. (This prevents browning.) Strain through a fine-mesh sieve, discarding the solids. Let it cool: Once chilled, cover and store, refrigerated.

Lately, I’ve been working on putting together two things: A control journal for my family (Thank you very much, FLY Lady!), and an emergency binder. I thought I would share the emergency binder with you, because I think it’s great to have all the information you need stored in one, easy to access location. Once mine is complete, I plan on getting a safe deposit box at one of our local banks to store it in. I thought I’d walk you through what I’m putting in mine, in order to help you put together yours!

I picked out a three ring binder in a color that doesn’t look like any of the other ones sitting in my bookshelf in my kitchen. In my case, it happens to be purple. I put a label on the front that says Cardin Family Emergency Binder, as well as one on the side, so I can easily read it when scanning the shelf.’

Family Emergency BinderFamily Emergency Binder

I use tabbed dividers and put the pages in plastic sheet protectors, too.

Tabbed pages

The first section is for Emergency Contact Information. There is a great page all made up already that you can just print off and use. It’s also perfect for babysitters, nanny’s, and day cares.

Emergency Contact SheetI also have a copy of this in my control journal. I’ll talk about a control journal another time, but for now, let’s just focus on the emergency binder.

Section Two: Hannah. This is a section with all relevant information about my 2 year old daughter. I downloaded the forms from Emergency Binder, and keep them saved on my computer for easy updating. The information includes all medical insurance information, copies of her immunization records, a copy of her social security card (with the words COPY written on it, because it’s a color copy), and anything else the forms asked me for. She wears glasses, so I also keep her current eyeglass prescription there.

Sections Three and Four: Melissa and John. It’s pretty much all the same information as for Hannah, only it also includes information about the location of our spare car keys, access information for bank accounts, email addresses and other websites, as well as information about power of attorney and final arrangements.

Section Five: Home Owners Insurance. I actually keep an entire copy of our policy in there.

Section Six: Auto Insurance. Same thing – a whole copy of the policy.

Section Seven: Bank info – pretty self explainitory.

Section Eight: Photos. These are photos of all the big expensive things we own: Cars, piano, computers, TVs, and things like that. I just keep them on a CD, rather than keeping the hard copies of the photos themselves. I also keep copies uploaded somewhere online so I can access them from any computer.

Section Nine: Emergency Plans. Where should we meet if the house is on fire? What if we need to evacuate? What if we need to get away from the house, but not out of our neighborhood? That’s where all this information is. Everyone should know it BEFORE putting it in your binder. If only one of you knows it, and you take the binder, everyone else is out of luck. This also includes things to remember to pack if there is an emergency, such as a hurricane, a few days away and you’ll have time to grab a few things before leaving.

Section Ten: Vital Records – Birth Certificates, marriage certificates, adoption records, car titles, name changes, social security cards, all of that stuff. This is precisely why this information should all be kept in a safety deposit box, and NOT in your home. If your house catches on fire, you may not have time to grab it.

So that’s it, my basics on how to make an emergency binder. Please take the time to do it for you and your family. I pray you’ll never have to use it, but if you do, at least it will all be in one spot.

… from Safe Kids

1. Safe Kids can always talk to their parents or another trusted adult about anything.

2. Safe Kids always “Check First.”

3. Safe Kids know how to dial 9-1-1 in an emergency.

4. Safe Kids never talk to anyone they don’t know well.

5. Safe Kids always use the “Buddy System.”

6. Safe Kids say “No!” to anyone who tries to touch them in a way that makes them uncomfortable. Then they tell their parents or another trusted grown-up right away.

7. Safe Kids never open the door for anyone but a trusted friend or relative.

8. Safe Kids always tell their parents or another trusted adult if anyone asks them to keep a secret.

9. Safe Kids always follow their Family Safety Plan of Action.

10. Safe Kids know their parents would never send someone they don’t know well to pick them up.

Additional Safety TIPS –
– When out and about with Toddlers and pre-schoolers write your cell number in your child’s shoe or their hand and teach them that is where it is in case they get lost.

– Teach your children your cell number, knowing their home number does not help if you are NOT home.

– Kid ID tattoos- www.spotmeid.com and www.Mypreciouskid.com.

– Place ID Bracelets or dog tags on your children that you have engraved with their information on it. ( Walmart has make your own ID Tag machines)

– Give your children Cell phones that you can buy minutes for to use while you are out and about if lost.

– Have kids keep a Walkie Talkies on them while playing around the neighborhood.

– Update your car kit kit with eye drops (for swimming), tweezers, band aids, aloe vera, sun screen, benedryl and tylenol, etc.

– More Safe kid information at www.safetykidsclub.com

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