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Archive for December, 2010

How to Mediate Sibling Rivalry

December 29, 2010 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: Children, Stress Management No Comments →

The nice thing about having more than one youngster is that two or more can entertain each other. The bad thing is they tend to fight amongst themselves.

The guidelines in this post will help you step back and remove yourself from some of their conflict. Taking a neutral role may force them to learn how manage differences and get along.

If you find yourself spending a lot of time interceding in your kid’s arguments, then the following tips might save you a few headaches:

1. Teach older kids to respect other views. Help them learn to be good listeners and be sure they understand what the other person wants to say before expressing their own opinions. Emphasize the value of compromise or a win-win approach so that everyone comes away from a dispute feeling respected if not gratified. Model a similar technique in your own conflicts at home or in public so that kids can learn from your example.

2. Mediate stalemates. When you discern that the children are having trouble resolving disagreements, you may want to become a moderator, which is somewhat different from refereeing. A moderator allows all parties to take turns voicing concerns, and then asks questions or makes statements to help the group accept and consider the others’ views. Occasionally the process is time-consuming, depending on the age of the children, but it is more likely to be over in a matter of minutes as the children grow tired of negotiations and look for something more fun to do. Even a little bit of round robin communication can introduce them to fair-minded conflict resolution, a skill of vital importance to adults.

3. Keep your ears open. Even when you decide not to get involved, listen from a distance to find out how they are dealing with tensions. If one threatens or bullies the other, you may need to step in after all. But if they decide to forget it or negotiate to find common ground, even when you don’t completely agree with the outcome, stay out of it. Children will learn from failed consequences as much as they do from effective ones.

4. Divert young kids. Preschoolers who frequently tussle may not be able to discuss much of anything with each other or you, especially when tired or ill. But they can be separated from each other. Sometimes redirecting them to another activity, like a video, can solve the problem instantly.

5. Distinguish between the merely annoying and the truly alarming conflicts. Most children bicker frequently, and moms/dads generally know when it’s serious or not. When you hear screeching voices and crashing items, you know it’s time to get involved. Otherwise, you may want to bite your tongue and let your kids begin to learn how to manage their own disputes. While you have to oversee most young kid’s fights, you gradually can maintain some distance and perspective as kids grow older.

Argument is an essential part of communication, for it allows us to explore other viewpoints and reconsider our own. As your kids mature, give them increasing responsibility for managing differences with others while you, as mother/father, continue to maintain a watchful eye on the proceedings.

For further information about how you can help your teen check out Out of Control  Teen: An online parent-program for those who are struggling with their out-of-control teenagers. Learn cut-to-the-chase parenting strategies that work immediately rather than months or years down the road.

Product Review: My Oh-So Organized Filing System

December 27, 2010 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: Uncategorized No Comments →

My Oh-So Organized Filing System
Where to buy: Get Organized Now

My Oh-So Organized Filing System is a filing system you wish you had known about before. In no time at all, your endless piles of paperwork will be organized in an appropriate paper filing system. This system comes with many categories and subcategories to get your family’s paperwork filed in easy to find places.

The different categories are color-coded for ease of use. The filing system comes with hundreds of preprinted and color-coded file category labels for all your family’s needs. Find a place to file restaurant menus, to do lists, important family papers (eg legal papers) bills to pay, coupons, home repair documents, car repair, membership information, photographs, recipes, taxes, appliance manuals, gift certificates – just to name a few.

Overall, if you are in the process of getting on top of your paperwork and don’t quite know how to do it, the My Oh-So Organized Filing System by professional organizer, Maria Gracia, is an essential and must-have product. It will certainly help you to organize and declutter your home.

Winter Blues Syndrome

December 24, 2010 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: Healthy Living No Comments →

Here are the top tips on how to avoid the Winter Blues Syndrome for Stay-at-Home Parents

How many new parents would love nothing more than to stay at home with their newborn? While many people may have the ability to do so for the first month or so, maternity leave soon runs out and it’s back to work they go. For the lucky ones who are able to remain at home, winter can often be a hard time. If this applies to you, following some of these tips may help you make it through to springtime and warmer weather without feeling low.

It’s not unusual for people to be affected by the changing seasons. During the spring and summer when the sun is shining and temperatures are warm, people are generally happier and more active. As the temperatures drop and the clock is turned back, many people – particularly stay-at-home parents – start experiencing the winter blues syndeome or something more serious called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

The winter blues syndrome is caused by fewer daylight hours and having to remain in the home for longer periods of time. SAD can be like winter blues on steroids. People with SAD are often depressed to the point where medication is necessary. If you suffer from either of these conditions, take heart. There is something you can do to avoid or at least lessen the effects.

One of the best things you can do if you experience the winter blues or SAD is to use light therapy. Open the shades and let as much natural sunlight into your home as you can. Sitting in the window with direct sunlight for as little as 10 minutes a day can do wonders for your mood. Of course, the more exposure you get to natural sunlight the better off you will be.

What do you do if there isn’t natural sunlight? Your doctor can prescribe a light therapy box which will mimic outdoor light. Your brain registers the difference in the amount of light it receives and this will greatly affect your mood.

You can take care of two problems at once if you exercise outdoors. Being outdoors will invigorate you. The sunshine as well as being active will lift the winter doldrums. Exercise causes endorphins to be released. Endorphins lighten your mood and help you feel good. If it is too cold to exercise outdoors, you can receive many of the endorphin benefits no matter where you choose to exercise.

Simply getting outdoors can break the winter blues syndrome. Go outdoors and have a snowball fight with your children. Take a brisk walk or find a hill to go sledding on. Not only will being outdoors help you, it is pretty much guaranteed to help your children as well.

Cabin fever, often associated with the winter blues, can also be avoided if you add some color to your surroundings. Even though it looks grey and gloomy outdoors, it doesn’t mean it has to do so indoors as well. Find some bright yellow pillows to toss on your couch. You can also buy a bouquet or two of flowers or exchange your wall art for something new and colorful. It is amazing how adding vibrant, vivid colors to the room can brighten your mood.

No one likes to experience winter blues syndrome or Seasonal Affective Disorder. However, they are commonplace to many people each year. You may not think making simple changes like the ones listed above will have an effect on you. However, these tips have been proven to be effective for millions; they can also work for you.

 

If you’re struggling with how to deal with the blues, stress, anxiety or  and would like someone to talk to who can really help, contact me for your 20 minute free consultation. I would love to talk with you about how I can help you overcome stress and anxiety in your life and in your business.

Create a Smooth Morning Routine

December 22, 2010 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: About the Family, Organization No Comments →

Moms all over the world often spend the morning frustrated because their children run behind. They know there has to be a better way. Using these sure-fire tips to make your morning routine run smoother, your day can start on a positive note rather than a sour one.

Your day will run much smoother if you do as much as you can the night before. It will reduce the amount of time everyone takes to get ready and there will be much less stress. Here are a few things you can do the night before to help you be better prepared to have a great morning:

* Shower or bathe – Schedule showers or baths for all of the children. If they can get clean the night before, that will be one less thing they’ll have to do in the morning. Having the children bathe the night before will also ensure you have plenty of hot water for your own bath or shower.

* Set out clothes – Teach your children to choose and set out their clothes the night before. You can approve each outfit and ensure there are no repairs to be made. Don’t forget to have your children find their shoes and socks to place with the outfit so all they have to do when they get up is get dressed.

* Pack their bag – Look through each child’s book bag when they bring it home each day. Ask them what homework assignments they have and ensure they work on them. You’ll also want to check to see if there are any important papers you need to see. Transfer any significant dates to your family calendar. Sign anything which requires your signature and then place everything that goes back to school back into your child’s book bag. Place their book bag by the door so it’s ready to pick up and go.

* Check the family calendar – It is very helpful to have a centralized family calendar that is easily accessible to everyone. Check the calendar the night before so you won’t have any surprises. There may be doctor’s appointments or your children may have after-school activities to attend. By checking the calendar before you go to bed you’ll be able to make any necessary car pooling arrangements if necessary.

* Make lunches – Prepare lunches the night before if possible. If you can’t pack the entire lunch, do what you can. Keep refrigerated items in the refrigerator until morning. Grab what you need to finish up what needs to be done and then pack each item in your child’s lunch container.

* Set the table – Before heading to bed, set out the dishes you’ll need for breakfast in the morning. Depending upon what you plan to prepare, you can also do some of that the night before. Pre-scramble the eggs or make the egg and milk mixture for French toast. Keep the milk or orange juice on a lower shelf so your younger children can help take things out of the refrigerator.

* Get kids to help with breakfast in the morning – Unless your children are very young they can, and probably should, help you with breakfast. Teach them to get the things necessary for the meal such as cereal, and bread for toast.

Finally, as you’re working toward a morning routine that runs smoother, keep some often-needed things in your car. Hair brush, pencils, juice box and extra socks can be kept in a box and easily accessible if your children aren’t being particularly helpful. Good luck at having a morning that runs smoothly.

Get Organized Now – An amazing collection of 2,175 ideas, tips and techniques for organizing your home, getting rid of clutter, organizing your time, your schedule, your money, your paper, your family and much more!

Healthy Winter Desserts

December 17, 2010 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: Healthy Living No Comments →

During the winter months many people tend to pack on the pounds so many people enjoy endulging in healthy winter desserts.  They may not be eating any more than normal, but they’re less active so they don’t expend the same amount of energy. Many people feel they have to give up anything sweet in an effort to keep them from gaining weight. These healthy winter desserts will allow you to have your cake and eat it, too.

For healthy winter desserts, choose desserts with fruit as a major ingredient. Pies, cobblers and crisps would be delicious as well as nutritious. Apples, peach, blackberry, strawberry-rhubarb and other fruits can be made into cobbler. Choose desserts which are served warm so you’ll have something terrific tasting which will warm the soul as well as the stomach.

Gingerbread and shortbread cookies are normally a healthier choice over some other kinds of cookies. You can also find recipes which are healthier than traditional gingerbread or shortbread. Oatmeal raisin cookies are full of fiber and can also be a healthy alternative.

Angel food cake is one of the best dessert choices for people watching their weight. Make simple syrup and poach your favorite fruit in it. This can be drizzled over a slice of angel food cake without adding too many calories.

Make an apple salad with fresh, raw apples, carrots, raisins and chopped nuts. This may not seem like a dessert but you’ll be surprised at how satisfying it can be. To make the fruit salad more special, add a warmed dressing which can be poured over it.

Some desserts are expected during the winter months but that doesn’t mean you have to throw health to the wind. Try to find ways to make your favorite cake healthier, for example by using applesauce in place of the fat. You can also try reducing the sugar in the dessert and see how it is affected. In many cases reducing the sugar doesn’t make that much of a difference in how the dessert turns out. Reduce sugar even further by substituting agave nectar or Stevia.

Focus on rich taste rather than high calorie. Desserts don’t have to be laden in calories. Here’s a simple recipe for an apple dessert that tastes great:

Slice four cooking apples into slices after removing the core. In a microwave-safe casserole, place 3 tablespoons of butter. Microwave until melted; then stir in 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 tablespoons honey and 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Place the apples into the mixture and turn so both sides are coated. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for an additional 4-6 minutes or until the apples are tender.

You may need to turn the dish in the microwave after a couple of minutes to ensure the apples cook evenly. Allow it to cool for a couple of minutes before serving.

You don’t have to give up dessert just because you’re trying to lose weight. You can eat these healthy winter desserts or change the recipe in your favorite dessert by removing some of the sugar or fat. By choosing carefully which desserts you eat, you can still have an enjoyable way to end your meals.

Create a Cozy Winter Home

December 15, 2010 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: About the Family, Healthy Living No Comments →

There’s something almost dreary about the winter months. The sun may not shine for weeks on end and then there are the snow clouds which make the days seem dark. You may not be able to do anything about the weather outdoors, but decorating your own cozy winter home  for the dark winter months can make all the difference in the world in your outlook.

Even though it’s dark and dismal outdoors, it doesn’t mean indoors has to be the same way. In fact, depending upon how much effort you want to expend you can create a different atmosphere for each season of the year. Use some of these decorating tips to create a cozy winter home for the darker months of the year.

Create more light sources to brighten your home. You can do this in a number of ways: place additional table lamps in corners that might be dark, set groups of candles on tables and light them as the day draws to an end, or hang fairy lights throughout the room. Using one or more of these lighting ideas can make a huge difference in how your room looks and how you feel.

You probably aren’t prepared to repaint your room when moving from one season to another. Even if you don’t want to paint, you can remove some items and add others into the room to give it a totally different appearance and atmosphere. How do you make your room look different during each season? You can change the floors, the walls, the ceiling or the fabric.

Fall colors are usually dark but they don’t have to be bold. To create your cozy winter home, you can find muted shades of grey, gold, rust, burgundy and orange which will work with most color schemes. Add rich, luxurious fabrics in fall colors. Snuggly blankets and pillows can be placed around the room where you spend the most time. Try to find bright colored fabrics which will help spread natural sunlight if you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

Find large rugs in fall colors to add warmth to the room. Not only does a rug anchor your room, it can be used as a focal point and an inspiration to find the right accessories for your room. Throw rugs also help keep your feet warm when you have cold floors. They add texture as well, which can be warm and inviting.

Bring the outdoors in. Even in the coldest part of the year you can find bouquets of flowers. Place them in the areas of your room where you spend the most time. Set out bowls of potpourri (fragrant herbs, flowers and citrus fruits) around the room to fill it with delicious aromas. Natural items are great to add to cozy up your home.

Decorating  your cozy winter home for the dark winter months will take a little bit of forethought. You can purchase decorating items at the end of each season while they’re deeply discounted. When the winter months get closer you can start changing out items in your home to make it cozy and warm.

Having a Stress Free Christmas

December 13, 2010 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: About the Family, Organization No Comments →

With the ever expanding commercialization of the Christmas holiday, the majority our organizing efforts during the month of December are focused on presents. How long is your list? The majority of us, each year, face the daunting task of not only shopping for a long list of family and friends, but also determining who should be on said list, how to wrap and store appropriately, how much to spend, potentially shipping gifts to different regions or countries and any number of tasks that threaten to overwhelm us.

Below are some tips and tricks intended to help you have a stress free Christmas by organizing your list and your spending.

1) Shopping list creation Create your gift list as soon as possible. Write down names of every person for whom you intend to purchase a gift in a spreadsheet. As you generate names you will probably discover that the list is much longer than you anticipated. Don’t forget to brainstorm for those unexpected small gifts: a box of candy for the mail carrier, a plate of cookies for the administrative assistant and a gift card for the paperboy or girl. Create additional columns labeled ‘gift ideas,’ ‘budgeted amount,’ ‘actual amount,’ ‘items purchased,’ ‘purchase deadline,’ and, if appropriate, ‘shipping deadline.’

Large amounts of holiday stress come from failure to budget for gifts ahead of time. By creating columns on your spreadsheet, you’ll start to realize where your holiday dollars are being spent and be able to stop inadvertently buying too many presents for your special niece, nephew or grandchild. Do you give a calendar or special framed photo to several individuals in the family? Don’t neglect to include it on your list. Little things like frames or printing costs can add up quickly and you’ll want to account for them as you create your budget.

2) Shopping list completion This is the fun part of having a stress free Christmas! Go shopping for all those great gift ideas that you generated on your spreadsheet. Take a look around the webpage of the stores you plan to visit before going into the store. This will give you a chance to see if free shipping is being offered or if there are special online sales that will give you a better deal than what you would find in the store. Most stores also publish their sale flyers in advance, so you can take note of any items you are planning to purchase that will be on sale in the next few days. By waiting to make your purchase, you may save one or two dollars and, as you probably already know, every dollar counts in December!

As you make purchases, keep a small wallet or pouch handy for the receipts. When you receive the receipt from the clerk take the extra few seconds to write the name of the person on the back of the receipt, so you’ll be able to insert gift receipts in the appropriate packages later.

Finally, after each shopping experience, whether online or in-store, log your purchases on your shopping list spreadsheet.

3) Shopping storage and wrapping organization Pick a space in your home that is off-limits to everyone else and make it your own ‘Wrapping Central;’ a home office or a corner in the basement are great options. Gather your essential supplies: tape, scissors, wrapping paper, gift bags, tissue paper, shirt boxes, bows, to/from tags, etc. As you wrap gifts, create labeled boxes or areas to ensure nothing is left behind. All presents for the in-laws’ party go in one stack, everything going to the office in another.

Check back with your spreadsheet to remember which presents are being shipped and which are being delivered in person. Wrapped gifts are much easier to package than bagged gifts, so plan accordingly. The US Postal Service also offers flat- rate boxes at all of their locations or delivered directly to you by your mail carrier. By having your shipping boxes on hand, you can pack as you wrap and then pay for postage online as soon as the package is ready to go–removing the extra trip to the post office or shipping store later in the month.

4) Distribution It may look great on a Hollywood screen, but a car trunk filled with loose presents is anything but picturesque as you try to get them all unloaded at Grandma’s house. Take stock of how many gifts will be going to any given location and then choose a storage tub or laundry basket of appropriate size to contain all the packages together.

Once the presents have been placed beneath the tree, take the container back to the trunk to avoid cluttering the hosts’ house, retrieve it again at the end of the celebration to contain all the received gifts that need to make their way back to your house.

If shipping presents, consider shipping them directly from an online retailer. Many retailers offer gift-wrapping for a small fee. Though it may seem like $6 is a lot to pay for wrapping paper, it may end up being cheaper than the cost of shipping it to your home, wrapping it yourself and then shipping it to the recipient.

5) Etcetera and Miscellany Undoubtedly there will be some new acquaintance that will purchase a gift for you unexpectedly. Be sure to account for these experiences by adding a couple extra ‘unnamed’ lines to your spreadsheet. They may not have names, but they should have a budget!

While you’re out shopping, don’t forget to pick up a couple of interchangeable gifts for those ‘unnamed’ lines on your spreadsheet. A set of coasters or a bottle of wine are usually great options when you don’t know for whom you are buying.

To keep having a stress free Christmas, you may want to consider including on your spreadsheet would be any cards or letter you plan to send for the holidays. If printing pictures or purchasing cards, your budget could dramatically shift after you account for the costs of those items and the postage necessary to mail them.

If you are looking foward to having a stress free Christmas, use one or ALL of the great suggestions in this article.

Get Organized Now — An amazing collection of 2,175 ideas, tips and techniques for organizing your home, your clutter, your time, your schedule, your money, your paper, your family and much more!

One pot wonders: Winter perfect for casserole cooking

December 11, 2010 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: About the Family, Healthy Living No Comments →

 
(ARA) – Some call it “casserole cooking,” others “one pot wonders.” Regardless of what you call it, one pot cooking is the quintessential fall and winter cuisine and it’s a favorite method of meal preparation for moms across America because of its ease of use and versatility.

According to a recent NPD Group study, Americans are dining out at restaurants less and finding themselves cooking more at home. With more meals to cook, home cooks are hungry for simple solutions to prepare meals for the family. Because of its ease of use, cooks have come to love the convenience of one pot wonders. It’s a great tool for putting a delicious dinner on the table with less to clean up.

Cast iron pots were the original tool used for preparing hearty stews and casseroles, but it was a challenge to precisely manage the temperature. Today, one pot wonders cooking has evolved into non-stick multi-cookers that can steam vegetables, sear and cook meat, prepare rice, make stews and warm sauces all in the same pot. Plus, with the introduction of advanced heating technology, the cookers can precisely control varying heat.

George Foreman, the maker of America’s beloved grills, has recently expanded to include healthy cooking appliances including a skillet, panini press and countertop oven as well as multi-cooker that has taken one-pot cooking to a whole new level.

“We found that our customers were looking for a product that could do it all – sear meat, saute vegetables, steam rice … all in one pot, and that’s how the George Foreman Healthy Cooking Smart Kitchen was born,” says Carmen E. Garcia, senior director of marketing for George Foreman – USA & Canada. “Moms like me love this appliance because of its versatility and ability to help us put a healthy meal on the table for our families, without the hassle.”

The Smart Kitchen comes with a tempered glass lid with an adjustable steam vent for monitoring cooking progress and controlling steam; and includes a “sear” button for meats, making it even easier to prepare a healthy meal in minutes. Its easy-to-use one-touch digital Intelli-Probe controls have settings to make an assortment of foods, as well as variable settings up to 500 F for stews, soups and sauces making one-pot cooking easier and more convenient than ever.

The holidays can be stressful, but healthy cooking doesn’t need to be. Try this recipe for Arroz con Pollo (Chicken with Rice) that features a blend of lean chicken for protein, vitamin C-packed tomatoes and fat-free steamed rice. It is a complete meal with only 380 calories per serving and is packed with vitamins and minerals.

For more delicious recipes, visit www.georgeforemancooking.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ GeorgeForemanHealthyCooking.

Arroz con Pollo  (Chicken with Rice)

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 1/2-inch flat pieces
1 cup long grain white rice
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped white onion
1 1/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup sliced pimento stuffed green olives
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon each: chili powder and ground cumin
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (4-ounce) can diced green chiles
1/2 cup salsa
Chopped fresh cilantro and sliced green onions (optional)

Directions:
Set multi-cooker to the browning setting and add butter and chicken; cook for 10 minutes or until chicken is browned, turning once or twice. Stir in rice and cook for five minutes more. Stir in onion, broth, wine, bell pepper, olives, seasonings, garlic and chiles; cover and cook on the simmer setting for 20 minutes. Turn off heat and let stand for five minutes. Stir in salsa and sprinkle with cilantro and green onions, if you like.

Corn tortillas may be warmed in the steamer basket. Place over the cooked chicken and rice and let warm during the five-minute stand time.  Makes four to six servings

Nutritional analysis per serving:  Calories: 380, Fat: 7 g, Saturated Fat: 2.5 g, Trans Fat: 0 g, Cholesterol: 80 mg, Sodium: 680 mg, Potassium: 507 mg, Carbohydrates: 40 g, Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 3 g, Protein: 32 g, Vitamin A: 20 percent, Vitamin C: 60 percent, Calcium: 6 percent, Iron: 20 percent.

Hopefully you can try some one pot wonders soon and have delicious hearty meals on the stove in minutes.

Holiday Safety Statistics

December 08, 2010 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: About the Family, Healthy Living No Comments →

Don’t let your holidays become an opportunity for criminals  Here is some helpful information and some holiday safety statistics that can be used to keep you and your family safe this holiday season.
 
(ARA) – For many of us, the holidays are a mixture of fun and frantic shopping, joyful times and a hectic pace. Criminals, however, see the holiday season as full of opportunities – the perfect time to take advantage of seasonal chaos.

“With everything going on, the holiday season is no time to let your guard down when it comes to home security,” says Jim Boots of Protection 1 (www.protection1.com), the largest privately owned security company in the U.S. “Criminals know that our holiday habits can leave our homes, belongings and personal information vulnerable. It’s important to be vigilant throughout the year, and especially during the holidays. According to the FBI, there’s a burglary every 14 seconds in the U.S. And, with homes and cars filled with new gifts and gadgets, the holidays are an especially lucrative time for thieves.”

Fortunately, by taking some simple precautions, you protect your home, purchases and identity from predators this holiday season.

Secure your home

“Burglars know many people travel during the holidays, and many more will leave brand-new, valuable merchandise in their homes when they’re out,” Boots says. “A criminal is more likely to target a home that looks vulnerable. The best thing homeowners can do to protect their homes is to make it clear to burglars that their house won’t be an easy mark.”

Reduce the risk of burglary by:

* Putting inside and outside lights on a timer to make your home look occupied while you’re away.

* Keeping bushes, trees and decorations from obscuring the view of your front door from the road.

* Suspending newspaper and mail delivery if you’ll be away for several days.

* Arranging for snow removal in case of a fresh snowfall while you’re away.

Consider installing a cost-effective home security system, provided by a trusted company such as Protection 1, that allows you to control everything remotely from a mobile or Web-based system such as a smart phone or laptop. A home without a security system is two to three times more likely to be burglarized, according to a study by Temple University. With Protection 1′s eSecure service you can check on, arm or disarm your home security system remotely, communicate with the system via text message, and even place sensors on specific areas inside your home that you want to protect such as jewelry boxes, TVs or even the gifts under the Christmas tree. The service also provides portable surveillance cameras that you can place in your home, or take with you to monitor the inside of your hotel room while you’re out.

While you’re keeping bad guys out, don’t overlook fire safety as well. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are the top days for home candle fires, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Christmas trees account for 200 fires annually, resulting in six deaths, 25 injuries and more than $6 million in property damage, the administration’s statistics show. Remember, never leave candles burning and don’t overload electrical sockets with decorative lights. However, should there be an accident a monitored system from Protection 1 automatically dispatches the fire department just in case you’re away from the house, asleep or unable to respond. 

Holiday safety when you’re out

Thieves know our holiday shopping habits and can make us vulnerable to theft while we’re out and about. From breaking into cars to “shoulder surfing” for credit card information and PIN numbers, criminals take every opportunity to brighten the holidays for themselves. When holiday shopping, keep these safety tips in mind:

* Never leave shopping bags, wrapped gifts or other valuables visible inside the car. Always place them in the trunk. Thieves are more likely to break into a vehicle if they can see the loot in it.

* Carry only the credit card you need and one piece of ID when shopping. Leave your Social Security card at home or in a secure place.

* Be aware of who might be looking over your shoulder as you type a PIN number.

* Never allow a store clerk to take your credit card out of your sight.

* Enroll in an identity theft protection service like LifeLock, which monitors your credit and can alert you if a piece of your personal information is used incorrectly in an application for credit or services.

“By paying attention to these holiday safety statistics and by taking some precautions, homeowners and shoppers can ensure the holidays stay bright for themselves and their families – and not for criminals,” Boots says.

Grab more free Holiday tips and planning ideas!

Fun Family Christmas Activities

December 06, 2010 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: About the Family, Children, Just for Fun No Comments →

Christmas is a wonderful time to bring your family together. Many families establish certain rituals that are attached to specific holidays. This year, spice up your holidays with some fun family Christmas activities.

Christmas Caroling – Christmas carolers are almost a thing of the past. This year, gather your family, bundle up to keep warm, and go Christmas caroling through your local community. Be sure to visit your local nursing home, as they love these types of holiday celebrations.

Make a Gingerbread House – A gingerbread house is a very fun way to involve your family in a long-loved Christmas tradition. Bake the pieces to your gingerbread house, then let the entire family construct and decorate the house.

Make Handmade Christmas Cards – Instead of buying your Christmas cards, make your own this year. You can purchase all the materials you’ll need at your local scrapbook shop or craft store. Buy blank note cards then decorate them. Insert your family’s Christmas photo inside each card before you mail them out to family and friends.

Lighting of the Tree – A fun family Christmas activity is to make it a special occasion to erect and light your family’s Christmas tree. Plan a special day of family fun. At the end of the day, gather your family to decorate and light the Christmas tree. Then, sit around your beautifully decorated tree and read the Christmas story while you sip on eggnog or hot cocoa.

Chose one or more of these fun family Christmas activities that are sure to create memories that will last for a lifetime.