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Friday, February 27, 2015

How to Tell the Difference Between a Loving Relationships and an Abusive Relationship

If you are looking at the title and wondering how anyone wouldn’t know the difference between love and abuse, congratulations! You have a healthy understanding about what it means to be loved.

A lot of us, however, are confused. Parents who beat their children, for instance, and tell their children they love them, could be raising children who equate love with violence. Would that not be a logical conclusion for those kids? 

And what if those kids are criticized every single day? Wouldn’t they grow up to believe that criticism and love go hand in hand? They might look for a spouse who criticizes them – not because they truly believe they are loved, but because critical observations fall within their comfort zones.

When I was a young girl I asked my mother why my father didn’t love me. Her response was always the same – “He loves you, but in his own way.” I understood that “his own way” was relentless criticism, mockery, and humiliation. He would come home from work at dinnertime, climb the three stairs into the kitchen, walk around the counter, slap my mother on the butt, give her a kiss on the cheek, look over at the table where my two sisters and I sat, and say something hurtful to me. For some reason, out of his three children, my father chose me as the object of his torment. 

I had to assume that my mother and sisters were oblivious to the perpetual torment. Over the years, my self-esteem shrunk to imperceptible. You wouldn’t have been able to measure it on any scale. At one point I asked my mother to pay attention to his daily rituals and I asked her not to say anything to him for a solid week, because I wanted her to understand how relentless he was. After two days, she mentioned to him his daily abuse of me. And he stopped. But only at dinnertime – he became adept at saving his abuse for when my mother wasn’t around.

What that upbringing did for me was to define a type of love for me that never made any sense, and yet I tried to duplicate it with the men I chose to date and marry. “Normal” never entered my vocabulary, so I looked for men who were sometimes so outside the boundaries of normal, they teetered on perversion. THAT was my comfort zone.

Not wanting to repeat that disturbing pattern, I somehow found myself in an unhealthy marriage anyway. While I raised my own children in an unstable home, I had come to a point where I had to look at my circumstances and ask myself, “Is this the type of environment I want my children to emulate?” Do I want my girls to seek out an emotionally abusive and alcoholic partner? Do I want my son to become one? If same-sex parents act as role models, what type of message am I giving to my girls? Do I want them to believe that an emotionally abusive relationship is what they should seek? Do I want my son to treat all the women in his life the way his father treated me?

The decision to divorce is never an easy one, but when children are involved, their best interests have to be of utmost importance. We have to be responsible for what we teach our children – not by what we say, but by how we act. You have to ask yourself if you want your children to understand what true love is or if you want their image of love to be intertwined with alcohol or drug abuse, physical or emotional violence, or abandonment? 

What are you teaching your children by your actions and circumstances? Do you really want others to treat them the way you allow yourself to be treated?

Children might hear, “We love you,” but if your actions contradict those words, you are setting up your kids for a life filled with chaos and confusion. The questions we ask ourselves and the answers we receive could mean the difference between a miserable child who finds herself twenty years down the road in drug rehab – or dead – and a child who grows up to be a successful contributing member of society – happy and joyful.

Take a good long look at yourself and then look at your partner. Now look at your children. What kind of life are you teaching them to live?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Winter Blues? Play Outdoor Games Indoors With the Hover Ball!

Have you ever wished your kids could be physically active indoors during rain, sleet, snow, or hail without knocking antique plates off the wall and without scuffing your furniture? 

The Hover Ball is your answer!

When one of my grandsons received this gift for his birthday this month, I watched with fascination as the Hover Ball glided across the carpet. Even a wild kick did nothing more than flip it over, so it would never find its way onto a wall. The Hover Ball is flat on one side and works best on carpets. The Hover Ball is not to be used outdoors. While it can be played on hard floors, it works its magic on carpets.

When I saw how much fun this ball could be, I decided to purchase one for one of my great-grandsons, whose birthday is also in February. But I couldn’t get together with him, so I brought it home, decided to keep it, and found another one online, which I sent to his house. 

The Hover Ball costs only around $10 and you can find it everywhere, maybe even somewhere on this page if one of the ads picks up on my keyword. So if you’re looking for a little indoor fun that provides your child with lots of physical activity, the Hover Ball might be just what you’re looking for! 

You might enjoy playing with it too! My 3-year-old granddaughter and I were playing with it yesterday and she decided she wanted me to kick it to her while she knelt on the floor and pushed it to me with her hands. I kept kicking it into her knees, though, and even though I apologized again and again, and even though she said she wasn’t hurt, she eventually grabbed a stuffed animal to put in front of her knees. At that point, I suggested she might play better if she stood up.

By the way, I don’t represent Wham-O nor do I get paid for writing this post. 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Helpful Tips when Planning a Trip: Vacation Tips for the Whole Family

Originally published on January 4, 2011 through the Yahoo Contributor Network (formerly Yahoo Voices and Associated Content). All links updated for 2015.

Planning a trip is exciting. Just the thought of getting away from routine is exhilarating. But planning a vacation can also be stressful. Will you forget to bring an extra pair of shoes? Will you remember to print out your boarding pass? Will you miss your flight?

Relax. The whole point of taking a trip, unless it's for business, is to relieve anxiety and tension, so when you decide to take a vacation, preparation will make the trip run smoothly and it will make your life much less stressful.

Some helpful tips for planning a trip include the following:

Setting a Destination (U.S.)
Unless you're one of those people who likes to get in the car and just go wherever life takes you, utilize any one of the maps available online. Yahoo Maps, Google Maps, and Mapquest tell you not only how to arrive at your destination, but also how long it will take you to get there.   
Along with Yahoo Maps, Google Maps, and Mapquest , GPS systems provide a great backup plan to help you arrive at your destination with less stress. However, if your GPS system is more than a couple years old, you will have to update it.
When my sister and I took a trip to Florida, we took along my GPS. Orlando's roads had changed since I got my GPS system, though, so we were routed to a road that no longer existed. Unbeknownst to me at the time, most GPS systems offer update software online. Garmin, for instance, offers updates at (click the link).
Setting a Destination (Abroad)
Utilize the help of the U.S. Department of State. They offer travel information and alerts, and if you sign up for their Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, they will assist you in case of an emergency. Their web site also provides links that will help you become better acquainted with the laws of the country you will be visiting. Visit the U.S. Department of State Tips for Traveling Abroad for more information on how to have a safe trip.
Also, when traveling abroad, check your insurance coverage to make sure you are covered for medical emergencies in other countries.

Military, AARP, and Other Discounts
If you belong to the military or AARP, ask about discounts. Most places won't offer that information up front - you have to ask. Not only will you get a great break on hotel prices (comparable to and, but you will also accumulate points you can use toward future stays. 
Pack Like a Pro
Before you go anywhere, you have to pack. Knowing what to pack for a trip requires some forethought. Questions you need to ask yourself are how many days you will be gone and what types of events you will be attending.
Start a list. You will refer to it both before you leave and again when you pack to return home. Once you know what types of clothing you will require, pack all necessary blouses, shirts, skirts, dresses, shoes, socks, jewelry (you might want to keep your expensive jewelry at home in a safe), hair ornaments, and other accessories. Don't forget sleepwear, swimwear, and underwear.
One item often forgotten is sunglasses. A second pair of glasses or additional contacts (along with contact solution) could help, too, in case something unforeseen lengthens your stay.
Pat attention to weather changes. Dress for the climate. But also dress for whatever the temperature will be when you return home. I once left a jacket in San Diego that I didn't remember until I arrived at Midway Airport in Chicago one cold winter day.
The best way to make sure you don't forget anything is to go through your day from beginning to end. From the time you awaken in the morning, write down everything you need. Items you use in the shower might be available in hotels, but if you have a preference for specific shower items, make sure you pack them.

From razors to makeup to personal sanitary products to hair supplies, continue writing your packing list. If you take medication, make sure you pack enough meds to take you a couple of days beyond the date of your return in case of inclement weather. I was once stuck in a Virginia snowstorm for two extra days. Most medications can be purchased in drug stores across the country, but if you are receiving aid from the state in which you reside, you will have to pay full price for your medication across state lines.
Pack laptops, cell phones, tablets, or any other electronic devices you might need for yourself or for other family members, and don't forget the chargers. If you will be driving a rental, don't forget to pack your GPS device.
And finally, don't forget your outerwear, boarding pass, passports, visas, photo IDs, day planners, tickets, itineraries, and your packing list.
Allow Yourself Plenty of Time
If you are someone who is notoriously late, the last thing you want to do is miss your flight. Pretend you are leaving an hour earlier. Rushing is counterproductive. The more relaxed you are when you leave your home, and the more time you give yourself, the more likely you will get to the airport on time.
Airport Security & Homeland Security
Before you leave home, check the Homeland Security Website. Why? As of the original date of this post, the threat level for all domestic and international flights in the U.S. was High, or Orange. The higher the threat level, the longer the time you will spend going through security. 
Homeland Security also asks travelers to establish an emergency preparedness kit and to prepare an emergency plan (links are provided for both by clicking on them). 
Depending on where you go, you might have to pay an airport security fee. Guatemala, for instance (January, 2011) requires a fee that equals approximately $2.50.
Check with the airline(s) to see how many suitcases you can bring on board and how many you are allowed to check in. Also weigh your suitcases. My daughter and her husband recently went to Mexico and brought along one of the larger suitcases. Their scale didn’t recognize the suitcase, so my daughter had to weigh herself first and then hold the suitcase to make sure it weighed less than 50 pounds. 
Also, check the contents of your carry-ons. Something as simple as hand lotion may be confiscated at the security check point. You must dispose of water bottles too.
How to Meet Your Friends Halfway
Sometimes travel includes meeting friends or relatives, but finding a midway point is difficult. Even grabbing a map and measuring the distance doesn't help, because you don't always know exactly where to meet. Midway points need not be a problem though, due to Geomidpoint's "Meet in the Middle" tool. Geomidpoint helps travelers find the midway point between two cities. It also offers choices for restaurant, hotels, movie theaters, golf, shopping, entertainment, and more. Just plug in both addresses, or both cities, and you will find your midway point, along with some places to meet.

Bring an Empty Suitcase
If you plan on shopping while you are gone, you may want to bring an extra empty suitcase. Souvenirs take up room and if your luggage is already packed to the gills you won't be able to accommodate any additional clothing or gifts. Remember the weight restriction! 
Customs Inspections
Make sure the items you purchase as souvenirs will pass inspection. If you are carrying items that you think other countries might find suspicious, contact the Customs Inspections departments for the country you will be visiting. For information on acceptable entry items into the United States from other countries, go to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection web site. 
In Closing
Tell at least one person where you are going. While getting away from everything and everybody seems like a great idea, leaving without telling somebody can be a deadly decision. Somebody should know how to reach you. People who love you, if they haven't heard from you shortly after you are supposed to return, will be grateful for having a way to contact you. Leave behind a copy of your itinerary, and alert at least one person if you expect a delay in your return.
Finally, be safe and enjoy!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Hilarious and Inexpensive Way to Spend Time With Kids

Last week – for 8 full days – I had the pleasure of spending time with three of my grandkids. The first weekend I had them, two of them had plans, so we couldn’t do anything outside the home because their times overlapped, but this last weekend, we actually got to spend some quality time together. Since everyone loves Barnes and Noble, we chose Saturday for them to “play” there after a stop at Taco Bell. My grandkids love the kid section at Barnes and Noble, because they can look through all the books as if they are in a library and they can play with all the stuffed animals.

Audrey, 10, collects Baby Boos. Every birthday I never have to guess what to get her. She forgot to bring her money, though, so she asked if she could buy it and pay me back later. Avery, 3, found a colorful stuffed dolphin and cradled it in her arms as she walked around with it, never letting it out of her sight.

Rather than have Audrey pay me back, though, I decided to get each of the kids something inexpensive. Nolan, 7, however, couldn’t find anything, so we looked until we came across a deck of Old Maid cards. Audrey and Nolan both resounded, YES! So Nolan’s gift was the Old Maid card game, nicely boxed.

As soon as we got home, the kids wanted to play Old Maid. And that’s when the hilarity began. Get a child the age of 10 or under to play Old Maid and you’ll never have to guess who holds the Old Maid card! The second he or she picks it up, the face reveals who has it. Even funnier is when you pick the Old Maid card from the kids’ hands. They can’t help but laugh, and anybody else playing the game knows you have the OLD MAID card.

Add to the fun the fact that for some reason, my grandkids kept calling the game, Old Navy, and you might imagine our little explosions of laughter throughout the game. What I found amazing – and hilariously unbelievable – was that every time I had to pick a card from Nolan, when he had the Old Maid card, I ALWAYS chose the Old Maid, no matter how few or how many cards he held in his hand and no matter where he placed the card in his hand.

The Old Maid card game costs less than $10 (see link above) and can cause so much fun, your belly might hurt from all the laughter. I might have to get myself a deck to keep at my house.

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