For the past year I’ve been infuriated by the marketing of e-cigarettes, especially Juuls to our kids.  For the life of me I can’t understand how, when this is a product containing nicotine, it can be advertised on the radio and blatantly promoted to kids.

The fact that the company states that is not their intention is completely bogus.  When you’re marketing flavors like mango and vanilla and is so inconspicuous that it can be done in the classroom don’t tell me you’re not promoting to kids.

Make no mistake, your ‘tween and teen might be telling you they don’t juul (yes it’s a verb) but the numbers don’t lie but your kids might certainly be.

E-cigarette use went up drastically in the last year. According to The 2018 Youth Tobacco Survey released by the CDC and the FDA reported that e-cigarette use among high schoolers by 78% and middle schoolers by 48%. Alex Azar, Secretary of Health and Human Services, said that “flavors are a major reason they use these products in the first place.”  Over 2 million middle school, high school and college students are Juuling or vaping.

In September the FDA gave Juul and four other companies 60 days to construct plans for curtailing the “epidemic” of youth use; failure to do so, the agency said, could result in some or all flavored products being pulled from store shelves. What’s more, in October, the FDA seized more than 1,000 documents from JUUL Labs’ headquarters pertaining, in part, to the company’s sales and marketing practices.

As a result Juul Labs will halt sales of its mango, fruit, creme and cucumber flavored pods at more than 90,000 retail stores, and require additional age verification measures for online sales of the flavors, the company said. The company said it will also delete its Facebook and Instagram accounts and halt promotional posts on Twitter.

Under Juul’s plan, the sale of tobacco, mint and menthol flavored products would continue in retail stores. Juul said those products “mirror what is currently available for combustible cigarettes,” and it plans to increase a “secret shopper program” to ensure compliance with those retailers.

This plan from Juul is all “smoke and mirrors” (pun intended) as the company has also said that they would bring back the other flavors if retailers increase age-verification practices and limit product sales to prevent bulk purchases.

Seriously?! What teen-aged gas station attendant is really going to carefully verify another teens ID and turn him away?!

Teens are not recognizing the serious health dangers with Juuling because it’s so new.  The same kids who wouldn’t consider smoking a cigarette are Juuling.  There are no horrifying pictures yet of people with throat, lung and other cancers caused by Juuling.  And because it’s fruit flavored it seems to be benign.

Parents, here’s what you need to know about JUULs as per the American Academy of Pediatrics:

JUUL is highly addictive. The concentration of nicotine in JUUL is more than twice the amount found in other e-cigarettes. Nicotine is the chemical that causes addiction. These high amounts are a serious concern for youth, who are already more likely than adults to become addicted to nicotine. The chance of addiction is so high that the U.S. Surgeon General has warned that the use of nicotine by youth in any form is unsafe.

JUULing raises the risk of becoming a regular cigarette smoker. Research shows that young people who use e-cigarettes are more likely to begin using traditional tobacco cigarettes.

JUUL use is common in schools and college campuses. Teachers report that students are using JUULs in classrooms, hallways, and school restrooms. They also share the devices with friends. This kind of social use encourages kids who don’t smoke to try JUULing. It also lets students who are too young to buy JUUL legally, or who could not otherwise afford them, use them through classmates.

 

Disclaimer  – I have a material and/or financial connection because I received a gift, sample of a product and/or compensation for consideration in preparing to write this content. All opinions stated within are my own.

When you’re thinking about baby proofing your home, the immediate rooms that come to mind are the kitchen and the bathroom. It can be overwhelming to think about all of the ways to babyproof a home and there’s one room that’s often overlooked – the laundry room.

I have to wonder why that is? We’ve all heard the stories of small children finding their way into the dryer or washing machine and the door locking behind them. So, it should stand to reason that the laundry room be at the top of our baby-proofing to-do list!

Always make sure that you use the automatic lock if your washer and dryer has one. If your model doesn’t have an automatic lock, you can easily install one on the outside of your machine.

In addition, proper storage and handling of liquid laundry packets is essential to prevent accidental exposure to young children. These packets contain premeasured doses of detergent to make it quick and easy to use the right amount of detergent, but they’re highly concentrated, so their proper storage is important. Fortunately, thanks to improved package design and labeling, while the use of liquid laundry packets has dramatically increased over the past three years, the rate of accidental exposure has declined.

But the numbers can be decreased even more. I’m excited to support the American Cleaning Institute’s (ACI) child-safety campaign, Packets UP! to help educate parents and caregivers. Check out the campaign website – it’s filled with videos, consumer information and activity sheets for kids that can be printed out. You can also order a cling to place on your cabinet to remind everyone in your home to store liquid laundry packets up and out of the way.

Here are some important safety tips you can implement in your home:

  • Always keep product containers securely closed before, during and after use

  • Laundry packets must be stored in their original container or pouch and kept out of sight and reach of children

  • Locking detergent packets up in a cabinet is an effective way to keep these products out of reach of young children, especially when little ones begin exploring closets and cabinets at an early age

  • Call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222 if there is an accident

For more information visit www.packetsup.com.

I wish I knew when I was young that adults aren’t perfect.  I wish I had known that they often muddle their way through as best they can and try to figure it out.  I wish I could better explain this to my kids right now.

If you know me personally or follow my blog, you know that I work – a lot.  And I travel for business – a lot.  You’d also know that I have a rather “complicated” family life.  I have a son with intellectual disabilities, a husband with Primary Progressive MS who is confined to a power chair, two teen-aged daughters not yet old enough to drive and my mother who lives with us.

Sometimes my head feels like it’s about to explode trying to schedule drop-offs and pick-ups, figuring out and preparing dinners, remembering to sign school forms and the times for their activities, leaf blowing, shoveling, shopping, starting to search for colleges and plan for my son’s transition out of school and, oh yeah, work.

For the most part I get it done.  Our family is quite a well-oiled machine.  But every now and then we come off the rails.  Fortunately, it’s usually not all of us at the same time.  We all have our breaking points and crisis.  I kick myself when I feel like I’m short changing someone.

And yes, I do try to take care of myself as well.  I do yoga, I meditate, I have girlfriend time and I have couch potato time.

But even then, there are times where I feel like I’m just not enough and am at the point of a serious meltdown.  Isn’t that true for almost every mom?  How often do we think that we’re screwing up our kids or that we haven’t been there enough, or we took our eye off the ball and that’s why they’re flunking a class or Juuling or drinking or the millions of other things tweens and teens will do?

Tonight, was one of those nights where I felt I wasn’t enough.  I was out of town on business and there were too many things to figure out and coordinate.  My husband was upset, my daughter was upset and it really didn’t have anything to do with me, but I believe it’s all my fault.  Because I’m not enough – I’m not supermom.

Don’t we all deep down inside feel like we need to do it all?  Sure, we delegate stuff to our husbands but when they don’t do it exactly as we would we take it back, assuming that our way is the only way.  So here you go mamas – a hall pass.  From one merely adequate mom to my sisters.  We are as much as we can be.  We need to let our kids know that we’re not super moms.  We’re human beings who are flawed and merely trying to figure it out as we go.  Let’s face it, if you’ve got teens they probably already think you’re crazy/annoying/lame/embarrassing….all of the above.

Letting our kids know that we’re not perfect, that we are trying to do our best but we will screw up might actually help them be easier on themselves when they become parents.  If you can relate to what I’m saying leave me a comment and also feel free to join my Facebook group My Fifty Some-Odd Year-Old Life.  It’s a community of women of any age who sometimes need a boost or a laugh and are willing to let their flaws show.  Jump in – the water’s warm and we’ll catch you before you drown!

 

Shop medical alert systems at MobileHelp.com

My family is rather complicated and unique.  My son has Intellectual Disabilities, my husband has Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis and is in a wheelchair full-time and my mom lives with us.  For all three of them there’s always the potential that an emergency will arise while they’re out in the community.  As their caregiver I always worry about the “what if’s” and if I’ll receive a call someday that something’s happened.  I use an app that allows me to track where they all are but it’s not going to tell me if my husband’s fallen transferring from the wheelchair or my mom has had a stroke or if my son has gotten into a dangerous situation.

I was so happy to just find a new product – MobileHelp Smart.  It’s a Smart Watch that’s a medical alert system, fitness tracker and health system all in one.  It looks like a regular watch which is great for my son since he’s only 20 and wouldn’t want something that doesn’t look cool, it’s “gadgety” enough for my hubby and it’s easy enough to use for my mom.

Powered by Samsung and available through AT & T, it has a built-in microphone and speaker to speak directly to Emergency Operators, activity tracking, vital sign sensors and health-focused applications that uses one of the nation’s largest 4G cellular networks and GPS location tracking to provide premier protection. If there’s an emergency, all the person needs to do is press the Help button and they’ll immediately be connected with an Operator that he or she can speak with to describe the emergency.  As soon as the alert is sent the watch will automatically answer the call from the Emergency Response Center in handsfree mode. If the person is unable to speak to the Operator, then emergency responders will immediately be contacted.  With military-grade durability, MobileHelp Smart resists water, dust and extreme temperatures. It features a Corning® Gorilla® Glass SR+ watch face to help protect against scratches and a battery that lasts up to 2 days on a single charge.

On top of this, it’s also a fitness tracker which I love. Samsung Health helps you manage your wellness and fitness activities, set fitness goals and check your progress. It monitors heart rate, steps taken, stairs climbed, and calories burned and stores records of recent activity, calorie, water and caffeine consumption.   It will even tell you the weather.

1 Month FREE Service On Annual Plans at MobileHelp.com, no code needed. My concern with products such as this is whether the company will be around in the next year or so to support the product.  Fortunately Mobile Health is a major player in the market and has been around for years. The MobileHealth Smart sells for $349.95 and the monthly monitoring costs $24.95.  If you sign up for an annual plan, you can get one free month of service.

 

 

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I never thought I’d see the day where I was asking my hubby for kitchen appliances rather than jewelry or shoes but……well, life changes doesn’t it?  I’m trying to get my family to eat healthy (especially my husband who has Primary Progressive MS) but I barely have time to grocery shop let alone the time needed to make healthy meals.

What I’ve learned is that I needed kitchen gadgets that make cooking easier and faster with less clean up.  Here are the products that I either have or are on my wish list.

Instant Pot

Click to purchase on Amazon

I’m a huge fan of one pot meals in my crock pot.  I almost always have something in my crock pot at least two or three times a week.  I started hearing about the Instant Pot last year and this is on the TOP of my list now!  An Instant Pot is a pressure cooker, crock pot, rice cooker, steamer, yogurt maker, sauté/searing pan, steamer and warming pot all rolled into one handy item.  I originally thought that it was merely a pressure cooker and was able to cook brisket and other tough meats in a fraction of the time but then I learned it is so much more. This isn’t your grandma’s pressure cooker!  You can make mashed potatoes in minutes, rice comes out fluffy, ribs are tasty like slow-cooked but half the time – you can even make cakes in it!  And, unlike a traditional slow cooker, you can put frozen meat directly into it.  This

 

Nutribullet

Click to purchase on Amazon

I’m a huge fan of smoothies.  It’s a quick breakfast or lunch when I’m running late but even more importantly I can get in at least 4 fruits and veggie servings for me and the fam at the start of the day.  I literally get spinach into every one of my smoothies and trust me – it might be green but you do not taste the spinach at all! At first I thought I could just get by with my blender but I learned there’s a big difference! First, the Nutribullet mixer is the cup so no need to mess up another glass and then have to clean the blender like I used to.  Plus, with the Nutribullet I can just throw things in – no prep except for washing the fruits and veggies.  Most importantly, unlike a blender, the Nutribullet literally pulverizes every you put into to it which helps unlock vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids (such as omega-3s) that have been trapped within the cell walls of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. It’s a smooth smoothie loaded with nutrients.

 

Whiskware Pancake Batter Mixer with BlenderBall Wire Whisk

Click to purchase on Amazon

 

My son loves pancakes.  My mom who lives with us is in charge of making pancakes on the weekends but it’s a ridiculous mess (she uses her old fashioned electric frying pan, no stove top for her!)  to clean up.  Plus I’d love my son to start doing this on his own.  Enter the Whiskware Pancake Batter Mixer.  The batter mixer cleans up in less than 30 seconds and parts are top-rack dishwasher safe. Plus, the base doubles as a stand to keep the mixer stable while cooking. Now if I could stop him from getting the syrup all over the place!

 

5-Blade Spiralizer Vegetable Spiral Slicer, Noodle Maker, Fruits & Veggies Slicer

Click to purchase on Amazon

I’m working really hard to get carbs out of our life but it’s hard when I have two kids who LOVE pasta!  I’ve been slowly introducing zoodles (zucchini noodles) with marinara sauce and they’re enjoying it.  But the price of one package of fresh zucchini noodles is ridiculous and if I buy them on the weekend if I don’t use them right away they get a little funky.  This Vegetable Noodle Maker makes perfect noodles quickly and a lot cheaper than buying them in the store.

 

 

GeniCan

Click to learn more at genican.com

Nothing makes me crazier than planning out my dinner menu only to find that I don’t have one ingredient because no one bothered to tell me that we ran out.  I’ll admit, sometimes that person is me!  I’ll finish up one of my spices and completely forget when I get to the grocery that I need to replenish.  The GeniCan puts an end to that.  This is a smart device that attaches to the inside of your garbage or recycling bin and scans the bar code on anything you’re throwing out.  So, when your kids finish the last piece of sandwich bread when they toss the wrapper into the garbage they can scan the bar code on the bag and it will automatically be saved to a shopping list on your smartphone or delivered directly through Amazon Dash.  If something doesn’t have a bar code, like a banana, just hold the peel over the sensor and you’ll be prompted to say what item you want added to your list.  I love the idea of having everything added to my grocery list as soon as it’s finished.  And, when I’m on the road for business I can have it all delivered!

 

 

How the hell did I get to be 50-some-odd years old?! I remember not too long ago where I thought 50 was OLD. And now here I am and….. I don’t feel like how I thought 50-some-odd was supposed to feel.

We’re so hard on ourselves when it comes to aging and, for that matter, a bunch of other stuff.  And it certainly doesn’t help when we have teen-agers pointing out even more deficiencies than we considered ourselves.

Today I’m having a great day – I had a date night with my husband last night, went to a yoga class this morning and had some afternoon delight with said husband (sorry kids but yes, we do indeed have sex!)  But there are other times when I feel exhausted, overwhelmed and emotionally drained from all of the stress and obligations in my life.

And so, while I’m in this good place, I’ve decided to write myself a birthday letter.  I intend to pull it out when I’m 70 and see the advice I gave myself and whether I took it.  I also intend to look at it when I need some reminders about how to be happy and healthy.

Dear Alison,

Another year – time flies.  Hey listen, I know there are times when you don’t think you’ve accomplished enough, don’t look good enough or feel guilty that you haven’t done enough for your kids.  Guess what?  You ARE fabulous not in spite of  being 50 some-odd years-old but because your 50 some-odd years-old.  In case you forget, here are some of the bits of advice you live (or try to live) by:

  • Be passionate about something (or maybe more than one thing.) Advocate for it, fight for it and put your heart and soul into it.
  • Keep dancing whenever you have the chance and hop up on the bar to do it at least once every year.
  • Laugh at people who try to criticize you or bring you down – honestly it will diffuse them immediately.
  • Don’t dwell on friendships that didn’t survive. Take ownership for your part of the demise but then let it go.
  • Exercise your body and mind – A LOT. Learn something new every day.  Don’t be embarrassed to try a new class at the gym (people aren’t really staring at you if you trip.)
  • Consider it a win if you can do something that embarrasses your kids at least once per week.
  • It’s OK to get Botox or Juvederm if you want. If that makes you feel good why not?
  • Make smart healthy food choices but also indulge every now and then. Life is too short not to have a chocolate lava cake.
  • Keep creating your vision boards. You know that you’ve actualized everything you’ve wanted, why stop now?
  • There will be people who don’t like you. It’s OK! Act honorably, respectfully and kind and you’re good.  As long as you can look yourself in the mirror and be proud of who you are there’s no one else that you need to impress.
  • Maintain a stable of good friendships – we always need our girlfriends to lift us up. ????
  • Try something new that’s out of your comfort zone as often as you can. Go to dinner by yourself.  Take a swing-dance class.  Make calls on behalf of a political candidate.
  • Don’t regret the past or fear the future. We can’t change the past and the future will never be as we imagine anyway.
  • Have faith that all your kids will find their way in life. Be OK with the evolving relationship you’ll have with them.
  • Be brave enough to be vulnerable to the people who love you.

Enjoy being 50 some-odd years-old – laugh, love and have wild adventures!

Love, Me

 

 

Disclaimer  – I have a material and/or financial connection because I received a gift, sample of a product and/or compensation for consideration in preparing to write this content. All opinions stated within are my own.

I’m often asked by people in my social media community what are the most overlooked baby safety issues in a home and hands down one of the top is accidental strangulation due to corded blinds.  Unfortunately, in many older homes every window has corded blinds, a strangulation hazard to young children that was not recognized as a danger years ago.  I moved into my home two years ago and even though my kids are older I’m replacing all of the window coverings with new cordless blinds so it’s safe when friends with little ones come over.

October is National Window Covering Safety Month and the Window Covering Safety Council (WCSC) is urging parents and caregivers to go “Cordless For Kids” and to check their window coverings for exposed or dangling cords which can pose a strangulation hazard to infants and young children.

To maximize window cord safety when young children are present, consumers are urged to follow these safety guidelines:

  • Install only cordless window coverings or those with inaccessible cords in homes with young children.  Replace window blinds and corded shades with products that are cordless or have inaccessible cords marked with the Best for Kids™ certification label.  The label enables you to easily identify products best suited for homes with young children.

  • Move all cribs, beds, furniture and toys away from windows and window cords, preferably to another wall.

  • When window cords are present, ensure that all window cords are out of sight and reach, by shortening or moving them up and away, so that they are inaccessible to young children. You can purchase cord blind cleats at your local hardware store and install them to wrap up the cords.

You also want to be sure that your windows are secure.  Most children five years old and younger can fit through a 6-inch window opening. Window screens will not prevent falls so there are a few things you can do:

  • Install a stop that prevents windows from opening any further than four inches.

  • Install window guards that cover the lower part of the window.

  • Install wedges to stop a window from opening too far

  • Installs child proof locks to the windows that will prevent them from opening at all.

  • Installs guards on casement windows which is a better idea than removing the crank.

Window safety is important throughout your home but especially in a nursery or toddler’s room.  To learn more about other baby proofing issues you can visit my blog at www.safetymom.com.

 

 

 

In a digital world of “swipe,” “like,” and “follow,” it is common for teens and tweens to experiment with multiple apps. Today, it is nearly impossible to find a teen without a smartphone. We see teens on their phones and hear the constant “ding” notification sound, but what exactly are our children doing inside of their virtual world? Here are the top 4 apps your kids may be using today and why you should be monitoring their activity.

Social Media Apps

Instagram- This photo and video sharing app is among the most popular apps for teens. They take a lot of pride in their Instagram activity, boasting of followers and likes on their profile. As a parent, you should be following your kid on Instagram and, if they don’t want you to do so, that may be a red flag. Following your child allows you to check what content they are posting, , who is commenting on their photos, who your child is following, with whom they are interacting, and much more. It is also imperative that your child makes their account private, as this enables approval or denial of follow requests. Only those who are approved can view your child’s photos and videos, which can help protect them from strangers or potential predators.

Snapchat- Snapchat is among one of the most controversial apps on the market for teens. This photo sharing app allows users to send videos or pictures with a time limit on them. Once the photo is opened and the time expires, it disappears, but not forever. This is the issue: teens have the misconception that their photos are gone forever after the timer is up.  This can lead teens to make bad judgement calls and possibly send inappropriate photos. With data recovery or screen shots, the photos your teens send can be recovered, and there is no true privacy guideline to protect your photos from getting in the wrong hands. Make sure your child knows that nothing posted in the digital world completely disappears.

Another controversial aspect of the app is the media outlet portion of the app, labeled “Discover” This section isn’t censored and can have suggestive content that isn’t appropriate for all ages.

This app doesn’t have a timeline or permanent posts for you to keep track of as a parent, but you should still be friends with your child on the platform. You can view your child’s “stories,” which are photos and videos posted for 24 hours before they expire.

Tumblr- Tumblr is another platform for which gives users the ability to express themselves instantaneously and in a creative fashion. Users can share audio, text, and photos to a public audience, they cannot privatize their content. The creativity and design feature makes it popular among teens, but the lack of filters can lead to the publishing of sensitive posts. Similar to the likes of Instagram, a parent should check in on their child’s account. What others post and what your child views is hard to regulate, however, you can check what your child posts on a regular basis to ensure it is appropriate. 

Online Gaming 

Fortnite– Fortnite came out with its Battle Royale game mode just over a year ago and has since taken the world by storm with 125 million players. The game has become so popular, parents are hiring tutors for their kids to help improve their gaming skill, in fact, colleges are offering scholarships to prospective students. The main goal of the game is to be the last man standing. You drop onto an island with 99 other players, scavenge for loot and weapons, and try your best to survive using the unique building feature.

Fortnite seems like an innocent game with cartoon like graphics, so why should parents be monitoring their kids while they play? The main concern for parents should be the lack of controls on voice chat. In the duo and squad modes within the game, your child can be paired up with random players. This can be dangerous, as your child may be talking to a complete stranger, not to mention the crude language your child may be exposed to. Some of these strangers could prod for your child’s personal information in hopes to steal their account and in-game rewards. Therefore, parents should make sure their children aren’t speaking to anyone they don’t know in real life.

The creator of Fortnite, Epic Games, recently encouraged players to activate two factor authentication to address the reports of account hacking. They strongly recommended your child has 2FA enabled and understand the risk associated with giving out personal information while playing. On top of in-game chat functions and sharing personal information, our children need to be careful of the “Free V-Bucks” scam. V-Bucks are in game currency, which can be bought for real money, used to buy in game items. Online scammers are posting links to get “free v-bucks”, however, these links are typically plagued with malware and that can be accidentally downloaded onto your computer or gaming device without notice. So, warn your child to never click untrusted links from an unknown or unverified source, YouTube video, or online influencer. Nothing is free, so if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Remember, you can only buy V-Bucks through Epic Games.

Why is it important to follow or monitor your child’s media use?

Our children are consumers of media each and every day; they are intaking countless images, texts, and videos from media platforms. In their young and malleable state, this media can have a large impact on how they develop as people. Monitoring their activity on social outlets will help you understand what influences they are being exposed to and how they are acting as digital citizens. It’s a great way to determine if your child is acting appropriately and safely online.

Social media outlets and the Internet can be healthy learning experiences to help children grow. However, if they aren’t properly educated or monitored, it can be a dangerous world for your kids. By tracking their content, you may be able to potentially save them from Internet threats such as cybercrime. The anonymity of the Internet offers scammers, stalkers, and criminals a false identity to hide behind. They prey on children who share personal information via social outlets. Too many people share their information online, knowingly or unknowingly. This data can be used to steal identities, hack into financial accounts, or to stalk children. Following your children is a great way of empowering yourself as a parent. Keeping yourself up-to-date on popular apps and how they work, as well as tracking your child’s activity, is a must.