Online Safety Tips for the Whole Family

Internet Family SafetyTechnology has a tight grip on today’s youth, and while there are undoubtedly some upsides to the digital world, there are also numerous dangers, especially for children. Internet security and privacy can impact what your child is exposed to via web searches, friends and bullies and advertisements, and can also help you protect personal information such as your home address, credit card numbers and even bank account information.

Here are a few tips to help you and your children enjoy the internet and its benefits with minimal risk:

  • Keep your home WiFi secure with a password to restrict bandwidth use as well as prevent intentional or accidental malware attacks.
  • Read online privacy policies, and encourage your teenagers to do the same. Many networks and websites require personal information in order to create an account or register, so make sure you know what the creators intend to do with the information before passing it along. Take the time to look into their security measures as well, to prevent phishing and identity theft.
  • Maintain open communication with your children, as well as with older members of the family. Make sure they are aware of the potential dangers, such as viruses, identity theft, credit card fraud, exposure to adult content and social issues such as stalking and bullying. Encourage them to keep personal plans private, including schedules, travel plans and pictures with identifiable details.
  • Keep live online gaming safe by switching on the safety measures in the game consoles and by educating your children about cyberbullying and predators. Games such as Xbox Live should be played under a fake name, and personal information should never be given freely.
  • Keeping your children in the loop and maintaining channels of communication is very important, but extra caution may be necessary. Parental Control tools such as BullGuard Internet Security or eSafely enable parents to monitor internet use and restrict certain activities, as well as block inappropriate websites.
  • Don’t underestimate hackers. Keep your online information and accounts safe with strong, unique passwords, and change them regularly.

Nature Exhibits Fascinate Children and Adults Alike in Dallas, TX

Children of all ages are fascinated by the natural world around them. Animals large and small, unique and fascinating plants, even the skeletons of creatures long gone captivate their imaginations and expose them to different forms and stages of life on Earth. The Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas, Texas, works to create interactive experiences to teach children about the many living things with whom we share our planet, while introducing them to new concepts, spectacular animals and new perceptions.

The museum currently has a traveling exhibit open to visitors called ‘Animal Inside Out‘, which explores the biology, zoology and physiology of creatures of all sizes. Created by Dr. Gunther von Hagens and Dr. Angelina Whalley, the exhibit teaches visitors about the skeletal structures,muscles, tendons, ligaments, and nervous systems of various animals, including cows, horses and ostriches, as well how animals breathe, eat and reproduce. Dr. von Hagens and Dr. Whalley hope that their eye-opening exhibition will inspire a new appreciation for living things and awareness for the importance of animal conservation.

The Perot Museum recently ended the ‘Recycle Reef’ summer exhibit, and has additional exhibitions on the way, including ‘The World’s Largest Dinosaurs’, presented by Highland Capital Management with Co-Founder and President James Dondero.

“Dinosaurs rock!” Jim Dondero explained. “The science and fantasy of dinosaurs inspire children of all ages. We are proud to help bring the World’s Largest Dinosaur exhibit to Dallas.”

The ‘World’s Largest Dinosaurs’ exhibit is scheduled for next April.


Mother Hears Son’s Voice For the First Time with Cochlear Implant

A recent video has captured the immediate effects of a revolutionary cochlear implant on 26-year-old mother Amy. Cochlear implants are electronic devices that are surgically placed in the ear to provide a sense of sound. Amy was born deaf, and heard her son’s voice for the first time thanks to the medical breakthrough.

The video, posted on YouTube by Amy’s aunt Catherine Arnold, shows Amy’s emotional response to the new sensations. “I feel weird,” she said, tearing up. “It feels so different.”

After the experience, Arnold wrote: “This is just a start to the road ahead to learn what sound is and where it comes from. It was the most amazing day ever to be a witness to this medical miracle and a true gift from God.”

Six months later, Arnold reveals that Amy to interpret sound and enjoy music thanks to hard work and sound therapy.

“Her pronunciation has improved vastly and she can hear words and especially music!” Arnold said. “Naturally, after a lifetime of lip reading and signing, it is still necessary for her to rely on that skill to have conversation in a group. Every day is new and sometimes an exhausting experience.

“She loves the challenge to improve yet more and she is a joy to be around. By the way, Amy has a high school diploma and college degree! This girl never let anything get in her way to be her best!”


Rain, Families, Pets- Oh My!

winterdogShort, dark, wintery days can be a problem in a family household. Both children and adults get restless from a lack of exercise, sunlight and outdoor activities. What many people forget is that the gloomy indoors can have a significant effect on more than just the humans of the household- they can depress pets as well. In fact, many dogs exhibit ‘uncharacteristic’ anxiety and agitation during winter months.

This is generally a result of boredom and pent-up energy. Dogs and cats need to be kept stimulated in order to remain happy indoors. Making sure to keep them busy will also protect your furniture and clothes from bite marks. So, what can you do?

First, invest in some brain-stimulating chew toys, like the KONG genius toy. These will keep your dog entertained with an ongoing challenge, and satisfy his primal instincts to work for his food.

Next, have your children play indoor fetch with your pooch. Toss a tennis ball up the stairs- your dog will really burn energy and bask in the extra attention.

Another fun family-related pet activity is setting up an obstacle course. Lure your dog under cushions, over broom handles and between pre-arranged furniture with a tasty treat.

Of course, preparing for nasty weather with waterproof gear is always a great option (as long as your pet doesn’t mind the rain). Plan a family walk through the neighborhood and offer a prize for those who splash in the most puddles!

Things to Consider Before Taking a Working Vacation

Today’s technology has opened many occupational doors, allowing many jobs to be done at home; at least on occasion. If the work can be done at home, though, it can be done most anywhere- including on vacation. A recent survey by the …… reveals that 52% of American employees plan to work during their vacations this summer.

Before making the decision to do so, experts recommend that you weigh the pros and cons carefully. Studies have shown that a working vacation does little for a person- in fact, it can even be more stressful than skipping a vacation altogether. suggests asking yourself the following questions before packing your laptop:

1.       Do you need to work on vacation? In other words, will the office or efforts fall apart without you during those few days? Is it possible to plan ahead or hire a replacement?

2.       How will your family be affected? Your work will not impact only your vacation time- keep in mind the expectations of your spouse and/or children, the extra work and responsibilities that will need to be filled while you are occupied, etc.

3.       How hard will it be? How much will you need to sacrifice? If everyone is at the beach, or camping out, and you’ve moved into the nearby internet café, the effort might not be worth it.

4.       How much can you really get done? Make sure to plan in advance, and not to get carried away, discouraged or lazy. If the time you are going to have is insufficient, better not to commit and just take the time off.

5.       How much do you gain versus how much you lose? “This is really where the soul searching comes in. Does the benefit that your company or business receives from your work vacation outweigh the benefit you and your family get from a vacation? And what is it costing you in terms of lost fun and family time?

If there is some special reason to work- a project is due or your department is short-handed- is this really a ‘special reason’ or do these types of things reoccur frequently? Could better scheduling of your vacation head off these problems in the future?” –

Summer Recipes: Lemonade with Berry Ice Cubes

The past few days have been unbearably hot, and for those without easy access to a pool or sprinkler, it can be difficult to pass the time. A great activity for a summer day, especially if there are kids around, is experimenting with icey drink recipes.

Disney’s FamilyFun suggests a foolproof, delicious recipe for lemonade with berry ice cubes- a colorful, sweet treat that gets better as the ice melts.

The ingredients needed are:

  • An 11.5-oz. can of frozen berry mix or strawberry concentrate
  • 24 raspberries or 8 strawberries, sliced
  • 2 quarts of water
  • 1 1/3 cups of sugar (or more)
  • 1 1/3 cups fresh lemon juice
  • 8 slices of lemon
  • 8 sprigs of mint

First, combine the juice concentrate and a can of water. Mix until smooth. Pour into ice trays, and add raspberries or strawberries to the molds. Freeze.

In the meantime, combine sugar and 2 quarts of water in a saucepan and boil. Stir and simmer until sugar is dissolved, then remove from heat. Add lemon juice to the mixture- stir well.

Add the berry cubes to 8 glasses of lemonade- don’t forget to place the lemon slices on the rims, and garnish with mint. Enjoy!