Dr. Laura
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Tip of the Week

Easter Egg-stravaganza!
By Tawra Kellam

OK, so the kids noticed on the calendar that Easter is approaching and they want to make a huge production of dying eggs. In the past, the little stickers you bought at the store sufficed, but now they want the real thing. Here are some old standards with a few new ideas for you.

Before you decorate Easter eggs, cover the entire table with newspaper. Keep a huge roll of paper towels or rags handy for messes. Have each kid wear one of dad's old (now disposable) tee shirts. To make egg stands, cut toilet paper roll cores into one inch cylinders and use for egg stands. Decorate with stickers or paint.

Decorating eggs the traditional method.

Hard boil eggs. Fill several mugs with boiling water and add 1-2 tsp. vinegar. Place a few drops of desired food coloring in each mug. Place eggs in mugs for several minutes until eggs reach desired shades. Remove with a spoon. Place on paper towel to dry. When dry, polish with a small amount of shortening on a paper towel. Buff until glossy.

You can draw or write on the eggs with a light colored or white crayon before dipping. The drawing will remain white after the egg is dipped. To clean out mugs, put a little bleach water in the cups and soak for a few minutes.

Glitter Eggs - Place 1 tablespoon each of glue and water in a cup. Stir the mixture and then paint the eggs with it. Sprinkle with glitter. This can also add sparkle to already dyed eggs!

Crepe Paper Eggs - Wet a white or dyed egg. Dab torn pieces of colored tissue paper or pieces of pretty colored napkins on the eggs. When the paper dries, the paper falls off and leaves the color behind on the egg.

vvvvDecoupaged eggs - Tear small pieces of wrapping paper, napkins, stickers, or clip art. Mix equal amounts of glue and water. Paint egg with glue mixture. Place paper on top and then cover with more glue mixture. Let dry.

Spotted Eggs - Place 1 tsp. of cooking oil in dye. Dip the egg. The oil will cause the dye to make an irregular pattern on the egg.

Waxed Eggs - Dip a portion of the eggs in melted paraffin or candle wax. Then dip them in the dye. Remove from dye. Dry and peel off the wax. The egg will be white on one half and colored on the other half. You can also dip in dye before waxing to get two colors.

Tawra Kellam is the publisher of http://www.LivingOnADime.com/and is an expert in frugal living. Tawra and her husband paid off $20,000 debt in 5 years on $22,000 a year income. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com

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Protect Your MedicalInformation
By John Sileo

Medical records are one-stop shopping for identity thieves. There is noneed to slowly gather bits and pieces of someone's personal information- it's all packaged together: Social Security number, name, address,phone number, even payment accounts.

Crooks have received everything from medication to a liver transplantusing a stolen identity. And that's only the tip of the iceberg! Morethan just medical treatment is at stake. Once a thief's medicalinformation is entered into your records, it's extremely difficult toget rid of that information. It's conceivable, for example, that at alater date, you'll need a Type A blood transfusion but be given thethief's Type B with dire consequences.

Identity theft of medical records has more than doubled since 2008, asstated in Javelin's 2010 Identity Fraud Survey Report. It's notdifficult to imagine the misery that a million Americans have sufferedduring the past two years when their identities were stolen. And the Poneman Institute, in their NationalStudy on Medical Identity Theft, states that another half millionpeople loaned their insurance cards to uninsured family members andfriends. The unsavvy lenders have incurred huge medical bills in this'friendly fraud.

Larry Ponemon says that, on average, it costs $20,000 to resolve amedical identity theft case. Unlike credit card companies, where thebanks incur the losses, the victims often have to pay for thefraudulent care and sometimes lose their health insurance or have topay higher premiums to restore their accounts. Even though there areHIPAA laws to protect your privacy, not all health care organizationshave strict safeguards in place.

The risk goes even further: if someone is treated using your identity,your medical records will more than likely be altered and couldcompromise your treatment and ability to get service. Accordingto Larry Ponemon, "stolen medical records offer a complete dossier toget a passport in a victim's name that could be used for terrorism."

Ways to Protect Yourself:
  • When you receive anExplanation of Benefits from insurers, read it carefully and save -don't throw it away even when it says "this is not a bill"! If atreatment date or doctor's name is not familiar to you, call theinsurer and the billing physician to resolve.
  • If your wallet is stolen,contact your insurance company just as you would your credit cardcompany. Don't carry your Medicare card in your wallet. Carry aphotocopy and black out the last four digits of the SS#.
  • Urge your health careproviders to ask patients for photo ID's.
  • Ask your doctors for copiesof everything in your medical files, even if you have to pay for them.
  • Monitor your credit report.If you see medical billing errors, contact your insurer and the threecredit bureaus, TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax.
  • Avoid Internet andstorefront offers of free treatment and supplies.
  • Ask for a list of benefitspaid in your name and an "accounting of disclosures" which shows whogot your records.
About the author: To furtherbulletproof yourself and your business, visit John's blog at www.Sileo.com. To book John at your next event,visit www.ThinkLikeaSpy.com.John 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 onDrLaura.com.

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Tags: Marriage

Blind Date 101:
Are You "Uncool" If You Don't Meet Over Booze?
By Connie Bennett, C.H.H.C.

There we were, my blind date and I, in a classy bar in one of Manhattan's chicest hotels. While the ambiance and locale were romantic, my feelings were far from that.

You see, as I sat innocently sipping my sparkling water and striving to maintain poise, grace and dignity, my date surprised me with a question that had a nasty, condescending implication.

"Don't you drink?" my companion quizzed me with a sneer.

Indeed, as my date was downing an alcoholic beverage-I think it was bourbon and water#151;his question and the tone in which he delivered it were most assuredly a "putdown."

Excuse me, I'm being condemned for opting for sparking H20?

"You've got to be kidding," I thought, as I was clearly taken aback.

The implication was by eschewing alcohol, I was being terribly "uncool."

My simple answer, "I better not, because I have a big day tomorrow," didn't seem to fly with him either.

As the evening progressed, the Drinker pressed further.

"Well, at least you have wine, right?"

Again, I replied by saying that it would be better for me to stay away from booze and keep coherent, because the next day I had a daylong life-coach training course beginning at 8:30 a.m.

On the way home, I searched through my memories. Darn, I realized, my initial instincts had been correct. Some seven years ago, when I first moved to New York, I'd met the same man! And guess what? Back then, the Drinker had the same you're-so-weird reaction when I chose sparkling water over alcohol. (How's that for embarrassing#151;but also amusing and entertaining?)

Look, I try to be open-minded when meeting new, potentially eligible men, but this booze incident really took the cake, if you'll pardon the oft-used, sugary expression.

My goal these days#151;10 years into living sugar-free (or close to it)#151;is to inspire others to vibrant health, good cheer and ultimately a juicy, sweeter life than they've had until now. (Thankfully, as attested by the thousands of e-mails I regularly receive, I am making a difference in people's lives.)

But then how do I reconcile my get-a-healthy-life mission with my need to go on blind dates#151;often for drinks or coffee#151;until Mr. Right comes along?

By being true to myself#151;no matter what the consequences or the reaction.

Yes, phooey on the booze-drinking, slightly pot-bellied, but super-successful blind date Drinker!

Frankly, I refuse to be intimidated, embarrassed or coerced into engaging in self-destructive behavior. I've spent enough years treating my body like a garbage can#151;no more! (Admittedly, though, I'm still working on my too-many late nights and my clutter woes. Hey, I'm not perfect.)

Now that my date with the Drinker is no more than a humorous memory (and fodder for a fun essay), let me share some tips to help you, too, in uncomfortable social situations.
  1. First off, be true to yourself, no matter what. In other words, wherever you are and whomever you meet, do only what feels right to you, even if it means that you'll occasionally encounter a put-down#151;either overtly stated or implied.

  2. Secondly, don't let anyone's condescending attitude corner you into behaving in a bad-for-you manner that you'll deeply regret the morning after. (I'm not making sexual innuendoes here#151;rather, I mean the next day when you step on the scale after blowing your diet or when you have a horrible headache after drinking or doing something else your body didn't like.)

  3. And finally, hang onto a vision of the types of people you'd like to meet and befriend. (Trust me#151;I will no longer meet a blind date who turns up his nose at me because I don't drink alcohol.)

For the record, here's the answer I never delivered to my condescending date: No, I do not drink alcohol anymore#151;I haven't for ten years, since kicking sugar.

Sure, I'd like to indulge in wine from time to time, but booze in my body derails me. The alcohol reacts like sugar and does me in with what can only be described as a horrific, three-day hangover. Not to mention the strange post-booze behavior (edginess, irritability, brain fog, etc.) it engenders. (Oh, and for the record, I'm not a recovering alcoholic.)

Actually, it's rather ironic that as I've become healthier, some men#151;certainly not ones I'd like to date#151;find me flat out undesirable simply because I no longer share their "babits" (bad habits)#151;drinking wine, eating sweets, smoking cigarettes or drinking coffee.

But let's face it: many women and men are just like me. They, too, have the same sort of adverse reaction to alcohol, caffeine, sugar or cigarettes. Their bodies demand that they be treated with care.

Anyhow, I don't care if my future boyfriend or friends drink in front of me#151;just as long as they don't hold it against me that I don't and can't.

Ultimately, what this "Connie-why-don't-you-drink?" attack made me realize is that I need to hang around health-minded, empowerment-oriented men and women, who respect my decision not to drink.

In other words, we healthy folks need to stick together. Or, perhaps#151;without saying anything at all#151;I can serve as a good role model to drinkers, smokers, sugar-eaters, etc.

Anyhow, I'm still not ruling out blind-date drinks in bars#151;I'll just stick to my sparking water and let the man judge me as he wishes.

But that's why I'll probably meet more compatible men when I'm out and about on the tennis courts, bike paths or jogging trails rather than in bars.

Connie Bennett, C.H.H.C. is author of the book SUGAR SHOCK! (Berkley Books). She is a certified holistic health counselor, productivity coach, journalist and former sugar addict, who quit her horrible habit 10 years ago (in 2008). These days, despite occasional pressure from a blind date or friends, Connie now shuns the sweets and "quickie carbs" she once over-consumed and therefore has more energy, greater enthusiasm and better concentration than ever before. Learn if sugar has control over you, too, by taking the quiz at www.SugarShock.com. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com

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Tags: Parenting

200+ Ideas For Summertime -- Or Anytime -- Fun!
Copyright Deborah Taylor-Hough
Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Since we don't use the phrase "I'm bored!" in our home,we never hear our kids complaining about being boredduring those long days at home during the summermonths. But ... I have to admit that we're still anincredibly normal family.

Even without the "b-word" in their vocabulary, there arestill those times when my three children (ages 16, 12and 8) just seem to be at a total loss for something constructive to do.

On one of those "I-can't-think-of-anything-to-do" days,I had my children sit down and make a list of everythingthey could do completely on their own without parentalhelp. After they brainstormed about it for over an hour(which was a good anti-boredom activity itself), thekids had a list of about fifty activities. Surprisingly,they even included a few household chores like dustingand weeding! I decided to ask for input from some othermoms, and now my children have a list of over twohundred ideas to beat summertime boredom, and thelist just seems to keep growing.

Thanks to the suggestion of one mom, we've put eachitem on this list onto individual pieces of paper, placedthe papers into a container, and when the children need inspiration for an activity, they draw two or three papers and then decide which idea they want to do, either as a group or individually. The mom who suggested pulling ideas out of a container told me she found this method more helpful than giving the kids a huge list of possibilities. By narrowing the choices down to just two or three, it was easier for the kids to pick out the one that sounded the best to them.

In no particular order, here's our current (but continuallygrowing!) list of activities:
  1. ride bikes
  2. roller blade
  3. basketball
  4. play board games
  5. make a tent out of blankets
  6. squirt with hoses
  7. run through the sprinkler
  8. jump rope
  9. read books
  10. blow bubbles
  11. make homemade play dough
  12. play with play dough
  13. press flowers
  14. do crafts with pressed flowers
  15. write a letter to a relative, friend or pen pal
  16. clean bedroom
  17. vacuum livingroom
  18. clean bathroom
  19. make a craft
  20. draw
  21. color
  22. paint
  23. pull weeds
  24. watch a movie
  25. write stories
  26. use binoculars
  27. use magnifying glass
  28. use microscope
  29. bird watching
  30. write a play
  31. act out a play
  32. invent circus acts
  33. perform a circus
  34. play card games
  35. make art on the front walkway with sidewalk chalk
  36. play catch
  37. play baseball
  38. collect rocks
  39. collect leaves
  40. collect feathers
  41. play Frisbee
  42. make Frisbee's out of old plastic lids, decorate with markers
  43. dust the house
  44. brush the pet
  45. write letters
  46. read a magazine
  47. play dress-up
  48. play Cowboys
  49. pick vegetables
  50. play outside with the pet
  51. build a fort in your rooms
  52. build a fort in the backyard
  53. do a jigsaw puzzle
  54. play on the Geosafari
  55. play on the computer
  56. listen to a story or book on tape
  57. do extra schoolwork to get ahead
  58. do brain teasers (ie: crosswords, word searches,hidden pictures, mazes, etc.)
  59. cook
  60. prepare lunch
  61. surprise a neighbor with a good deed
  62. play store
  63. prepare a "restaurant" lunch with menus
  64. hold a tea party
  65. have a Teddy bear picnic
  66. play with toy cars
  67. play dolls
  68. play house
  69. chase butterflies
  70. collect caterpillars and bugs
  71. plant a garden or a pot
  72. collect seeds
  73. hunt for four-leaf clovers
  74. learn magic tricks
  75. put on a magic show
  76. plant a container garden
  77. sprout seeds or beans
  78. make sock puppets
  79. put on a puppet show
  80. make Christmas presents
  81. make homemade wrapping paper
  82. make homemade gift cards
  83. make picture frames from twigs glued onto sturdycardboard
  84. crochet or knit
  85. make doll clothes
  86. sew buttons in designs on old shirts
  87. run relay races
  88. make bookmarks
  89. take a quiet rest time
  90. take a shower or bath
  91. bathe a pet
  92. feed the birds or squirrels
  93. watch the clouds
  94. organize a dresser drawer
  95. clean under the bed
  96. empty dishwasher
  97. vacuum under the couch cushions and keep anychange found
  98. write these ideas on pieces of paper and pick outone or two to do
  99. whittle
  100. whittle bars of soap
  101. practice musical instruments
  102. perform a family concert
  103. teach yourself to play musical instrument (recorder, harmonica, guitar)
  104. fold laundry
  105. sweep kitchen or bathroom floors
  106. sweep front walkway
  107. sweep or spray back patio
  108. sweep or spray driveway
  109. wash car
  110. vacuum car
  111. vacuum or dust window blinds
  112. clean bathroom mirrors
  113. clean sliding glass doors
  114. clean inside of car windows
  115. wash bicycles
  116. clean garage
  117. play in the sandbox
  118. build a sandcastle
  119. work with clay
  120. copy your favorite book illustration
  121. design your own game
  122. build with blocks or Legos
  123. create a design box (copper wire, string, odds-and-ends of things destined for the garbage, pom-poms, thread, yarn, etc.)
  124. plan a neighborhood or family Olympics
  125. have a marble tournament
  126. paint a picture with lemon juice on white paper andhang it in a sunny window and see what happens in afew days
  127. finger paint with pudding
  128. make dessert
  129. make dinner
  130. give your pet a party
  131. paint the sidewalk with water
  132. start a journal of summer fun
  133. start a nature diary
  134. have a read-a-thon with a friend or sibling
  135. have a neighborhood bike wash
  136. play flashlight tag
  137. play Kick the Can
  138. check out a science book and try some experiments
  139. make up a story
  140. arrange photo albums
  141. find bugs and start a collection
  142. do some stargazing
  143. decorate bikes or wagons and have a neighborhoodparade
  144. catch butterflies and then let them go
  145. play hide-and-seek
  146. create a symphony with bottles and pans and rubberbands
  147. listen to the birds sing
  148. try to imitate bird calls
  149. read a story to a younger child
  150. find shapes in the clouds
  151. string dry noodles or O-shaped cereals into a necklace
  152. glue noodles into a design on paper
  153. play hopscotch
  154. play jacks
  155. make up a song
  156. make a teepee out of blankets
  157. write in your journal
  158. find an ant colony and spill some food and watchwhat happens
  159. play charades
  160. make up a story by drawing pictures
  161. draw a cartoon strip
  162. make a map of your bedroom, house or neighborhood
  163. call a friend
  164. cut pictures from old magazines and write a story
  165. make a collage using pictures cut from old magazines
  166. do a secret service for a neighbor
  167. plan a treasure hunt
  168. make a treasure map
  169. make up a "Bored List" of things to do
  170. plan a special activity for your family
  171. search your house for items made in other countriesand then learn about those countries from the encyclopediaor online
  172. plan an imaginary trip to the moon
  173. plan an imaginary trip around the world, where wouldyou want to go
  174. write a science-fiction story
  175. find a new pen pal
  176. make up a play using old clothes as costumes
  177. make up a game for practicing math facts
  178. have a Spelling Bee
  179. make up a game for practicing spelling
  180. surprise an elderly neighbor or relative by weeding his/her garden
  181. fingerpaint with shaving cream
  182. collect sticks and mud and build a bird's nest
  183. write newspaper articles for a pretend newspaper
  184. put together a family newsletter
  185. write reviews of movies or plays or tv shows orconcerts you see during the summer
  186. bake a cake
  187. bake a batch of cookies
  188. decorate a shoe box to hold your summer treasures
  189. make a hideout or clubhouse
  190. make paper airplanes
  191. have paper airplane races
  192. learn origami
  193. make an obstacle course in your backyard
  194. make friendship bracelets for your friends
  195. make a wind chime out of things headed for thegarbage
  196. paint your face
  197. braid hair
  198. play tag
  199. make a sundial
  200. make food sculptures (from pretzels, gumdrops,string licorice, raisins, cream cheese, peanuts, peanutbutter, etc.) and then eat it
  201. make a terrarium
  202. start a club
  203. take a nap outside on your lawn
  204. produce a talent show
  205. memorize a poem
  206. recite a memorized poem for your family
Have a wonderful summer! (And for all you people inthe Southern Hemisphere, feel free to save this articlefor December reading!)

--Deborah Taylor-Hough (wife and mother of three) is a free-lance writer, editor of the Simple Times ezine, author of the bestselling book "Frozen Assets: How to Cook for a Day and Eat for a Month" and the newly released "Frugal Living For Dummies(r)" (Wiley, 2003). Visit Debi online and subscribe to her free e-newsletter at: hometown.aol.com/dsimple/. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com

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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 eDiets.com and is the Mom to Mom Expert for BabyCenter.com. 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 DrLaura.com

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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 www.Sileo.com. To book John at your next event,visit www.ThinkLikeaSpy.com.John 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 onDrLaura.com.

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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, Twitter.com, 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 asTwitBacks.com 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: http://help.twitter.com/portal

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).
Permissiongranted for use onDrLaura.com.

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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, (www.LivingwithKidsandDogs.com) 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 DrLaura.com.

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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 www.beniceorelse.com to sign up for his freemonthly Be Nice (Or Else!) newsletter. Permission granted foruse on DrLaura.com.

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