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Parenting
07/27/2010
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Teaching Tips on Reading Skills for Kids
By Jodie Lynn,
www.ParentToParent.com


Getting kids to learn how to enjoy reading can be quite stressful and frustrating for a parent. Here are some tips to utilize that seem to work well for those reluctant readers.
  1. Get your child a library card. As soon as he is old enough, let him get his own card. It is very exciting for kids to have their own card and make their own choices in reading material.

  2. Don't frown on his choice of books or reading material. Let your child make the choice on what to read. It might not be the book you would have picked out. In fact, it might even be a comic book, the back of a cereal box or a bubble gum wrapper. As long as your child picks up something and begins to read, it doesn't really matter.

  3. Let your kids see you reading. Laugh aloud and show them what it is that you are laughing about. Open the book to that specific page or picture and point to the words and read them to your child. Say, "Books can really be funny!"

  4. Set aside time for reading together. In the beginning, it might only be three times a week, then every other day and eventually move forward to each day. It almost always works best if you will take turns reading.

  5. Ask questions about what he just read. Don't do this with every page. Children know exactly what you are trying to do. Indeed, it works much better if you make a statement like, "Wait -- I don't understand why Jordan did not like the large red truck -- do you?"

  6. Encourage reading material on things he likes best. If your child loves Fairy Tales, shoot for that topic to begin. Alternatively, let them choose a wide variety of mixed topics, some of which you might was to roll your eyes -- but just stay calm and smile.

  7. Be Flexible: If you have a reading time scheduled and he just does not want to do it, go with the flow. It's important to show your child that reading is fun and is not a chore, test or quiz. You can always catch up later.

  8. Tape the session. Nothing is funnier as taping a reading session. Parents can get much farther with kids if they will let down their guard every once in a while and act silly. Play back the tape and your child will hear themselves reading and then hear your part where you acted silly. Maybe by changing your voice.

  9. Share personal stories. When reading with your child, point out a similar instance in real life. For example, if a character in the book falls down and drops a glass of milk, you could say, "That happened to me when I was seven." Or, "That's just like the time when you fell down after tripping over the dog...remember."

  10. Read everything aloud. If you will read signs, instructions, even the weather forecast off the TV and etc., aloud, your child will hear words and make a connection. He will see and hear how words are powerful, fun and descriptive while building his vocabulary and enjoyment for reading.
Remember, don't punish your child if they are not catching on to the joy of reading as quickly as you would like for them to -- it'll all work out as long as you stay calm.

copy; 2005 Jodie Lynn

Jodie Lynn is an award-winning internationally syndicated family/health columnist and radio personality. Parent to Parent (www.ParentToParent.com) is now going into its tenth year and appears in newspapers, magazines, newsletters and throughout the Internet. Lynn has a regular family segment on radio programs, one of which is syndicated to over 20 stations. 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. See www.ParentToParent.com for more details. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.

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07/27/2010
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Countdown to Fire Season:
Five Things to Do Now to Prepare

By Larry Koman
www.disasters911.com


The recent fires in Santa Barbara are a stark reminder that the California Fire season is here early. If you escaped damage from the fires, consider yourself lucky. Losing a home to a fire is a life-changing event that no one should experience. Even if you don't live in a rural area, you are not immune to damage from fire. Many people in San Diego would have never expected that they would be affected by brush fires, but many lost their homes anyway.

You should take this time to make sure you are prepared in the event of a fire. Here are five things you can do to be ready.

Have an Evacuation Plan Any plan is better than no plan. Think about what you would do if you were suddenly told to evacuate. Where would you go, what would you do? What about the kids, pets, and the elderly? Have a family meeting. Talk about what to do if you were forced to evacuate. Make sure everyone knows their role, where to go, where to meet, and where to call. Talk about what stays and what goes. Remember that you might not have much time. Write it down, make a checklist. This will take the stress out of the evacuation order and make things easier.

Review your Insurance Coverage This is a good thing to do from time to time. Call or visit your insurance agent and review all of your insurance, especially your fire insurance. If you don't know who your fire insurance company is, find out and write it down and keep it with your important papers. Most Insurance Companies will be happy to review your coverage with you, and many have tools especially designed for this purpose. Make sure you know what is covered. This will give you piece of mind in the event of a fire.

Inventory your belongings Take some time to make a list of what you own. This doesn't take long but will help you remember if it is all gone after a fire. Go from room to room and write down what you see. Make notes about the items like where you got it, how much it cost, etc. Don't forget the obvious, like the furniture, but don't overlook the little things either, like window coverings, pictures, paintings, and special finishes. When you're finished, put the list in an envelope and put it somewhere you can get to it after a fire. Keep it somewhere else; a safety deposit box, an office, or a relative's house. If possible take pictures of every room and keep the pictures or disk with your inventory.

Gather Important Things Together I look around my house and I notice I have important things in a lot of different places. I looked for a copy of a picture a while ago and found that I have a drawer in the kitchen, a drawer in my office, and a drawer in the den, all with pictures. If I had a fire today, I might lose all of them. I also have some important papers in my office and some in the den. You should gather important pictures and files together so they can be gathered up quickly. Placing them in a fire proof safe or cabinet away from the garage or kitchen will help insure that they survive. The hardest thing to replace after a fire is the pictures and important papers. Take this step now and have peace of mind in the event something tragic occurs.

Fireproof your Home Although there is really no such thing as fireproof, there are things you can do to reduce the risk of fire damage to your house. If you have an older home with a shake roof, think about replacing it now with a composition shingle or cement tile roof. Spending a little money now will give you added peace of mind later. Clear debris from around your house, even if you don't live in a rural area. Clearing combustibles from around your house will reduce the threat of fire damage and make it possible for Fire Fighters to maneuver around your house to help defend it.

Whether you live in an area exposed to brush fires or not, taking these steps now will help make your family safer and give you peace of mind. If your home is suddenly destroyed, you're prepared.

Larry Koman is a Certified Property and Casualty Underwriter and a Licensed California General Contractor with more than 20 years experience inspecting and rebuilding homes damaged by fire, earthquake, and other disasters. For more information visit www.disasters911.com. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.

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07/27/2010
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Fears Of A Clown
by Bob Schwartz


There are certain words spoken by a child that can send a shiver of panic through every parental nerve ending. I've discovered that the words causing the greatest consternation were not "Don't worry, the tattoos can always be removed with a laser" or "Can you believe putting in six eyebrow rings barely hurt?"

Rather, the words which sent me quickly into a panic attack were, "My Gymbo's gone!"

Most children, sometime in their early bedtime careers, take a liking to sleeping with a stuffed animal, cuddly clown, small blanket or even something out of the ordinary like one of my children's predilection for nightly embracing a deck of Rugrats Uno cards. Don't ask.

Our son fell into the clown category, and while putting him to bed one night during a family vacation in Canada, we discovered the terrifying experience of finding that his Gymbo the clown was gone. Vanished. Without even a trace of stuffing left behind or a crayon scribbled note.

After ransacking the room and coming up Gymboless, it was clear that he was most likely the victim of an involuntary dollnapping. We concluded he must have been inadvertently scooped up with the sheets that day by the hotel staff. Poor little Gymbo was lying innocently on the bed one minute and then, suddenly, his world was torn asunder with the disengagement of a fitted sheet.

Apparently, he was abruptly wrapped up in the bed linen and tossed down that dark and seemingly never-ending chute to the basement laundry facility. He went from his sheltered suburban upbringing, to being quickly exposed to the giant underbelly of a hotel building. He was naively left to wonder what he'd done to be cast aside and jettisoned into the dungeon of the sheet and pillow case world he was then forced to call home.

The immediate focus was damage control by one parent and Gymbo retrieval by the other. As our son broke out into hysterics, he made it painfully clear that no Gymbo for him meant no sleep. For everyone. And after a long day of nonstop vacationing movement, no sleep was simply an untenable concept for me.

My wife quickly got connected to the hotel laundry room and explained the dire circumstances. She was advised that they'd not seen him yet, but amazingly, they requested she provide them a description of the victim.

This caused us to immediately wonder just how many stuffed dolls they had lying in that basement. Was there some international black market for stuffed cuddly things going on down there? I grabbed the phone and interjected that we'd be able to pick him out of a lineup, so please just let us know how many cotton clowns they'd seen recently. Or perhaps they'd like us to come down and do a composite watercolor painting for them.

I handed the phone back to my wife who patiently provided the laundry staff the unmistakable physical characteristics of a stuffed blue and yellow clown #151; a missing button on his body-hugging suspenders, frizzy red hair, a frayed right leg, about twelve inches long, a bow tie, and with an unwavering cat that ate the canary smile on his face. I felt very confident they wouldn't confuse him with a mattress pad.

As we anxiously paced back and forth, the phone finally rang. In a thick French Canadian accent, the unemotional voice said, "Vee have located your clown."

The words, spoken so solemnly yet somewhat muffled, forced me to become fearful they would next demand a ransom? Or, worse yet, advise us that after a violent fifty-minute foray in the tumble dryer his arm was hanging by a thread?

My wife and I were so thankful that Gymbo was soon delivered to our door in one piece and wearing that same cockeyed grin, but to me, he had a little shell-shocked look. I could only think of the horrors he must have seen down below, tossed in amongst the giant spinning washer along with stained tablecloths and thrown about in the whirling dryers with a bath towel pressed against his face.

We could only hope that the familiar rhythmic breathing of his sleeping owner in the footed pajamas would soon erase the memories of his emotionally charged excursion into the outside world.

We did learn to avoid any unchaperoned Gymbo excursions in the future by tying one end of a shoelace around his waist and the other end around the bedpost each morning. I know that doesn't necessarily look all that loving, but hey, he never stops smiling. And it does eliminate one potential for bedtime parental panic.

Once was enough #151; for all of us.

Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com

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07/27/2010
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Tips for Staying Fit and Healthy at Home
by Lesley Spencer, MSc; Founder President HBWM.com Inc.
http://www.HomeBasedWorkingMoms.com


Many Americans these days are finding themselves out of shape and overweight. Why is that? The bottom line is we are taking in more calories than we are burning. It takes a conscious effort to reduce calories, eat healthier and get regular exercise.

Exercise does not have to be a dreaded word either. The good news is that exercise gives you more energy, stress relief, better health, clearer focus, sharper mind, better sleep, better bone health, better sex life, and it decreases the risk of cancers, heart attacks and heart problems. Forget the benefits of just looking good and realize exercise not only makes you feel good, it can help you live a longer, healthier life.

Here are some tips to get you on your way to a healthier lifestyle:
  • Put your workout clothes on first thing in the morning. You'll feel more "obligated" to exercise once you are dressed in your workout clothes.

  • Use music to energize and motivate you to exercise. Get a few great CDs that energize you. Turn it up and jam out! The music will motivate you and help the time pass by more quickly!

  • Always keep a water bottle and a healthy snack with you. When you get hungry, go for the healthy snack instead of heading to the pantry. Try to keep your water bottle full so that you can drink plenty of water throughout the day.
  • Follow the two-bite rule. If there's something you absolutely must have, take two bites and be done! You'll get your fix and be proud of your will power to put it down!

  • No time for exercise? Make a goal to walk for 30 minutes at least three times a week. You'll find if you make it a priority, you can fit it in. Try going right after breakfast or after taking your kids to school.

  • Need to be motivated to exercise? Find one or two workout partners to motivate one another. If you don't have anyone near by, find a virtual workout buddy on the http://www.HBWM.com Self-Care message boards. Share successes, motivate one another and just enjoy doing something for yourself!

  • Keep a diary of what you eat for a few days. Calculate your intake and decide where you should cut back. (You can find nutritional charts on the Mom's Assistant section of http://www.HBWM.com.)

  • If you have cravings for something sweet, try eating something tart to curb the craving such as a pickle. If you crave crunchy salty snacks, try having an apple instead.
Take the leap. Commit to exercising a few days a week and before you know it, the benefits will be their own motivator! You will feel better, look better and be better.

Lesley Spencer is founder and president of the HBWM.com, Inc. Network whichincludes: http://www.HomeBasedWorkingMoms.com, http://www.WorkAtHomeKit.com, http://www.edirectoryofhomebasedcareers.com,http://www.momsworkathomesite.com, http://www.HBWMconferences.com, http://www.HBWMcanada.com and http://www.HireMyMom.com (coming soon!). She has a Master's Degree in Public Relations and has been featured in numerous media outlets including CBS News, Forbes, Business Week, Parents, Wall Street Journal and USA Today. She has been working from home for over 10 years and has two children whom she absolutely adores! Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com

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07/27/2010
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Discipline, not Punishment
By Anne Leedom


It's kind of tragic that just as we master the baby and toddler years we are thrown a whole new set of curves. Our kids grow and develop new and not always desirable behaviors and we now have to learn how to cope once again.

So I set out to construct the perfect plan and I am proud to say it has stood the test, at least for now. Behavior battles seem to be at a minimum in our home. Based on information from a variety of experts, I have put into motion a strategy that should provide long term relief and a much happier and harmonious day.

The Set Up
Let's face it. We just push our kids too far. We stray from the routine to the point where even the most accommodating child will break. It could be preventing them from getting their rest, letting them get too hungry, asking them to be overly patient while we do our errands, chores or work, or providing so much fun and stimulation that they simply go on overload. This is a critical element to watch, or you will have the perfect situation for the ultimate tantrum.

Watch the Barometer
Without warning kids can suddenly hit their limits and patience begins to wane rapidly. Too often parents try to dictate in this moment how they want their child to behave. Unfortunately, the barometer is rising and our wishes will almost certainly fall on deaf and increasingly angry ears. As soon as you notice the struggle, begin to take the child aside to a quiet location and try to reason with them. For example, 'I don't want to take a bath can become a conversation about whether to take a bath or shower. In these crucial early moments, giving kids a small choice can go a long way toward preventing a potential meltdown.

Change the Course
Even the most prepared parent will encounter those horrid moments when kids are just going to wail. The key in this moment is to move past the moment as quickly and quietly as possible. Deciding to give them a bath in the morning instead of right at that moment or letting your child read in bed with the door closed for five more minutes will almost certainly restore harmony. Sure, you may not be able to expedite the plan you had in mind, but the goal is to work together. It's not about giving your child control; it's about giving your child some control. Disciplining your child is a team effort. You need to involve your child in the solution so they are more willing to cooperate. Parents who raise kids in this manner have kids who will cooperate more often than not. The battles are over before they begin and you will not be caught wondering what to do when those difficult moments arise.

Keep in Mind
No one reacts well to the word 'no . There are dozens of ways we can say no without over-using this word. Simply saying, 'Gee, that's a thought. I will think about that, has a completely different sound to a child. Kids know when we mean no. But once again, they like to feel they are being considered in the process. A little tact is another key ingredient to raising kids with at least a few less tantrums.

Ultimately, these strategies give parents something we all long for. We want to feel like we can actually overcome the battles and feel like we have won, but not at the expense of our kids' love and respect. Discipline that empowers the parent and the child is a winning formula for the long haul.

Anne Leedom is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of www.parentingbookmark.com. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.

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07/27/2010
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Trust Your Heart
By The Love Goddess
www.thelovegoddess.com


Dear Love Goddess: I keep going outwith men who look great, have good jobs, etc., but who are really,really strange once they're in a relationship. I KNOW this is nottrue of all men, but of the men I'm choosing#133;.but is there a way ofspotting these guys? -Miserable Earth Girl

A. Dear Miserable Earth Girl: Spotting men unfit for human consumptionfrom afar by just looking at them? No. They do not, unfortunately, wearsigns saying, "I'm a loser and a creep." They can look reallygood. They can sound really good. They often, in fact, look and soundbetter than the really terrific guys do, because they've madeincredible adjustments to the fact that they ARE losers and creeps (andthey do know it; they've been told by untold numbers of women) and knowthey have something to hide. So they make an extra effort to look good,sound good, come on to you politely#151;and often aggressively-- seemincredibly interested, promise a good time, and so forth...all thethings they hope will ensure that you'll go out with them. But despitetheir camouflage, there are two sure ways to tell which men are likelyto turn out, as you put it, "really, really strange."

First, you really must trust your instincts. How do you feel whenyou're with him? Do you feel good#133;.or anxious? Do you have the sensethat you're really connecting#133;.or that you really want to butaren't? Does he seem too aggressive, too sure that you're the oneand only, too pushy about making a date? Pay attention to yourgut....it is inevitably right. Then, if you make a date, does he alwaysshow up late, leaving you a little miffed? Does he always expect you tocook? Does he bring wine, or offer to cook or take you out? Do you feela little on edge, or like a drag? Do you find yourself constantlywishing you (or he) were in a better mood?

Next, how do you feel between dates with him? Does he check in to sayhe had a nice time; to see when you'll meet again, or does he kind ofdisappear for days or weeks? Does it feel as if the relationship isgetting traction#133;.or do you a have the sense, each time you see him,that you're starting from square one? Does he disappear? Is his life asecret? Does he seem to want what you want in this relationship or doyou have the sense that you're always trying either to make him comecloser or to get him to back off somewhat? Does he seem to behaving trouble being involved with you#133;.as if it's not something thathe truly enjoys; not something he can keep up without being giveninstructions? Do you have the sense that he's peddling something ("I really want marriage and a family with a woman like you") that hecan't deliver ("I think I'm going to spend next year in Alaska"). Hashe been in a long-term relationship?
I know you can't answer all these questions, and my aim is not to haveyou drill him. I just know that the hardest thing to learn is to trustyour gut about someone. So listen to your inner voice, and then to goby what a man DOES, not what he says. It's so hard to resist thecompelling urge to make him become someone you want him to be when thesigns point to the fact that he never was and never will be. Thesigns, I believe, are inevitably there. But they're not visible on hisperson; they're telegraphed subtly, and can only be felt by you by yourown senses, your own heart.

Dalma Heyn, M.S.W., Founder of The Love Goddess, is the author ofseveral bestselling books on marriage and relationships. Dalma is awidely read columnist and sought-after speaker. She hasappeare--without her wings--on national talk shows including Oprah, The View, Charlie Rose, GoodMorning America, and Larry King Live. For more information visitwww.thelovegoddess.com or www.dalmaheyn.net. Permission granted foruse onDrLaura.com

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07/27/2010
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Ditch the Negative Drama
By Winn Claybaugh
www.beniceorelse.com


Years ago, a lovely woman who works for me made it almost a dailyritual to tell me all the negative drama and complaints from people atmy business. She truly believed she was doing me a favor, and I thinkshe thought it was a compliment that people brought her their problemsand complaints.

One day I asked her, "Why are you so available for this information?Why do so many people want to dump their negative drama onto you?"After a long conversation and a reminder about our company's veryeffective and positive system for expressing grievances, she finallyrealized she was not helpingthe individuals work out their problems, she was not bringing me information I coulduse, and she was instead bringing stress and bitterness upon herselfand her coworkers. This lovely woman is now no longer available fornegative gossip and drama.

To eliminate stress from your workplace, try these four ideas forreplacing stress-producing drama with fun, positive activities.

1. Create a "Caught Ya" board.Whenever a staff member sees a coworker doing something wonderful,they're encouraged to "write them up." A "Caught Ya!" message couldread something like, "To Derrick: Thanks for surprising me by cleaningup the stockroom." Keep preprinted "Caught Ya" cards near your boardand display it in the lunch area or break room where the "spoons"usually hang out-people who are back there stirring things up.

2.What's on your bulletin board? Take down anything negative andpost stories of hope and inspiration for everyone to see.

3.Devote time to a favorite charity. Doing something good forsomeone else brings your company together as a team and helpsindividuals step outside their own drama.

4.Give people something to laugh about! It's a medical fact thatstress can lead to ulcers and other unfavorable physical calamities.When people laugh and have fun, their bodies release endorphins-the ultimate "naturalhigh." Give your team a daily dose of healthfulness by making yourworkplace fun.

As a leader, you have choices in life. You can spend your day lookingfor problems, and guess what you'll find? Or you can spend your daylooking for reasons to celebrate your fellow team members. At the endof the day, you can go home feeling drained, exhausted, and bitterbecause of all the problems you discovered, or you can go home feelingenergized and grateful because you spent your day focusing on thingsthat empower both yourself and your team. The second choice makes you avisionary leader. Which type would you rather be?

Winn Claybaugh is the author ofBe Nice (Or Else!) and "one ofthe best motivational speakers in the country," according to CNN'sLarry King. A business owner for over 25 years with over 8,000 peoplein his organization, Winn is the co-owner of hair care giant PaulMitchell's school division. Winn has helped thousands of businessesbuild their brands and create successful working cultures. His clientsinclude Southwest Airlines, the Irvine Company, Vidal Sassoon,Entertainment Tonight, Mattel, ForRent magazine, Structure/Limited/Express, and others. Winn is afrequent guest on national radio and a regular contributor to onlinepublications. Visit
www.BeNiceOrElse.com to sign up for his free monthly Be Nice (Or Else!) newsletter. Permission granted for use onDrLaura.com.

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07/27/2010
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Simple Avocado MangoSalad
By Cheryl Tallman
www.FreshBaby.com


Ingredients:

Salad:
1 avocado, cubed
1/2 mango, cubed
1 graham cracker, crushed

Honey-Lime Dressing:
2 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1Tbsp Honey
1/4 cup olive oil

Directions:
Prepare dressing: In small bowl, whisk all ingredients together.
Salad: Arrange avocado and mango cubes on a plate or bowl. Drizzle withdressing. Sprinkle with graham cracker crumbs. Serve.
Cheryl Tallman is the co-founder of Fresh Baby, creators of theaward-winning So Easy Baby Food Kit, and author of the So Easy Baby Food Basics: Homemade BabyFood in Less Than 30 Minutes Per Week and So Easy Toddler Food: Survival Tips andSimple Recipes for the Toddler Years. Visit Cheryl online at
www.FreshBaby.com for more delicious tips. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.





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07/27/2010
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Protect Your Medical Information
By John Sileo
www.Sileo.com


Medical records are one-stop shopping for identity thieves. There is no need 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 transplant using a stolen identity. And that's only the tip of the iceberg! More than just medical treatment is at stake. Once a thief's medical information is entered into your records, it's extremely difficult to get rid of that information. It's conceivable, for example, that at a later date, you'll need a Type A blood transfusion but be given the thief's Type B with dire consequences.

Identity theft of medical records has more than doubled since 2008, as stated in Javelin's 2010 Identity Fraud Survey Report. It's not difficult to imagine the misery that a million Americans have suffered during the past two years when their identities were stolen. And the Poneman Institute, in their National Study on Medical Identity Theft, states that another half million people loaned their insurance cards to uninsured family members and friends. The unsavvy lenders have incurred huge medical bills in this "friendly fraud."

Larry Ponemon says that, on average, it costs $20,000 to resolve a medical identity theft case. Unlike credit card companies,where the banks incur the losses, the victims often have to pay for the fraudulent care and sometimes lose their health insurance or have to pay higher premiums to restore their accounts. Even though there are HIPAA laws to protect your privacy, not all health care organizations have 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 could compromise your treatment and ability to get service. According to Larry Ponemon, "stolen medical records offer a complete dossier to get a passport in a victim's name that could be used for terrorism."

Ways to Protect Yourself:
  • When you receive an Explanation of Benefits from insurers, read it carefully and save - don't throw it away even when it says "this is not a bill"! If a treatment date or doctor's name is not familiar to you, call the insurer and the billing physician to resolve.
  • If your wallet is stolen, contact your insurance company just as you would your credit card company. Don't carry your Medicare card in your wallet. Carry a photocopy and black out the last four digits of the SS#.
  • Urge your health care providers to ask patients for photo ID's.
  • Ask your doctors for copies of 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 three credit bureaus, TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax.
  • Avoid Internet and storefront offers of free treatment and supplies.
  • Ask for a list of benefits paid in your name and an "accounting of disclosures" which shows who got your records.
About the author: To further bulletproof 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 Expert after he lost his business and more than $300,000 to identity theft and data breach. His clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer and the FDIC. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.





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07/27/2010
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Frugal Winter Fun with Kids
Sara Noel


Winter is upon us. The kids get cabin fever quickly when their outside free time is limited. You're looking for some fun things to do before you all start climbing the walls. You don't need a wallet full of cash to enjoy the cold, snowy days. There are all kinds of frugal ways to enjoy the winter season together both indoors and outdoors. Here are a few frugal boredom busters to have as your 911 "plan" for the winter blahs.

Outdoor Fun
  1. Homemade Snowman Kit
    It's just not winter fun without building a snowman. Assemble a snowman kit to have handy. Your kit can contain the following:A hat, scarf, mittens, plastic carrot nose, charcoal briquettes, (place in plastic baggie) buttons, and can add two dowels or branches for arms.

  2. Obstacle Courses or Winter Olympics
    Jump over the mounds of snow or have relay races.

  3. Snow Paint
    Mix food coloring and water and add to spray water bottles and spray the snow to make colorful works of art outside.

  4. Homemade Bird Feeder and Bird Identification
    Need large pine cones, peanut butter, and birdseed. Add peanut butter to pine cones and roll in birdseed. Keep a journal of birds in your yard. Can borrow a field guide from your local library.

  5. Snow Ice Cream
    Mixing together a quart of milk, an egg, 1 cup sugar, frac14; teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract in a pan. Cook on stove top until mixtures thicken and cool to room temperature. Pour this mixture over fresh snow.

    Or

    3 cups loose clean snow
    2 Tablespoons milk
    frac14; cup sugar
    1 tsp. vanilla extract
    Mix all the ingredients.

  6. Snow Golf
    Use a tin can buried in the snow for the holes or just carve out holes in the snow.

  7. Winter Photography
    Take pictures of nature. Icicles, birds, trees, etc.

  8. Identify Tracks in the Snow
    Check out a book from your local library on animal tracks.
Indoor Fun
  1. Paper Snowflakes
    http://www3.ns.sympatico.ca/dstredulinsky/links.html

  2. Paper Airplanes
    http://www.bestpaperairplanes.com/

  3. Make a Snow Gauge
    Mark inch lines on a coffee can or plastic liter bottle with the top cut off and setting it outside to catch snow in.

  4. Mister Grass Head
    Materials Needed:
    nylon knee stocking
    Grass Seeds
    Potting Soil
    Baby Food Jar
    Wiggle Eyes or glass paint/markers

    Using hosiery, place some grass seeds in the toe which is where you want the grass to grow. The hosiery is the head and the excess will be placed in the baby food jar to soak up water. The toe of the hose is the head and the grass will look like hair as it grows. The baby food jar is the body. Add some potting soil in the end of the hosiery on top of the seeds. Make sure the hosiery of seeds and soil is bigger than the opening of the baby food jar.

    Tie a knot in the hosiery to keep the seeds and soil in. Completely soak the soil/seed ball. Place the hosiery in a baby food jar filled with water making sure the head is above the mouth of the jar.Decorate the jar to look like Mister Grass Head's clothes and add a face onto the head.

  5. Smores
    Indoor Smores
    1/3 Cup light corn syrup
    1 Tablespoon. butter
    1 (12 oz.) package chocolate chips
    4 cups honey graham cereal
    1 frac12; cups miniature marshmallows
    Bring corn syrup and butter to boil. Lower heat and add chocolate.Stir until chocolate melts. Add cereal and marshmallows and stir. Put in square pan, covered with foil. Let set and cut into bars.

  6. Shadow Drawing
    Take brown grocery bags and tape together until you have enough paper to be the same size as your child. Have your child lie down on the paper bags and trace your child's outline. Your child can then color her "shadow" drawing to look anyway she wants.

  7. Homemade Toys
    Decorate a paper towel tube. Paper punch a hole about an inch from the end. Now tie a mason jar ring to a piece of string about one foot long. Attach and tie the loose end of the string through the hole in the cardboard tube. Hold the tube and flip the ring up and try to catch it onto the tube.

    Or

    Try taking a plastic, Styrofoam, or paper cup and poking a small hole in the bottom, running a piece of yarn through and tying it securely in place and adding a large button on the loose end. Catch the button in the cup.

  8. Bubbles in the Bathtub
    How fun to blow bubbles indoors. Here are some homemade recipes:http://www.bubbleblowers.com/homemade.html

  9. Homemade Bowling
    Use empty water bottles or coffee creamer containers as the pins and find a spare ball to roll.

  10. Indoor Snowball Fight
    Wad up newspaper balls and have a snowball war inside.

  11. Homemade Hot Cocoa
    Nothing beats the winter chills away after a day of snow fun outdoors than hot cocoa. Make your own with this recipe.
    2 Cups nonfat dry milk
    1 Cup white sugar
    frac12; Cup cocoa
    frac12; Cup non-dairy creamer
    1 pinch of salt
    Miniature marshmallows

    Combine ingredients and mix well. Store in an airtight container. Add4 tablespoons of mix to a mug and add boiling water. Stir.

  12. Window Fun
    Crayola Window Writers are a product that writes and easily washes off of windows. Can also purchase spray snow for windows.
Sara Noel is a freelance writer and the Editor/Publisher of http://www.FrugalVillage.com, http://www.HomesteadGarden.com and http://www.Homekeeping101.com Visit these sites for information on getting back to basics through frugality, gardening, organizing, home keeping, lost arts, simplicity, homesteading, and natural family living. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com

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Tags: Family/Relationships - ChildrenMilitaryParentingValues
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