Tuesday, July 8, 2008


Teaching Social Responsibility
Every child's first community is home. And what children see and hear greatly influences how they interact with one another in the broader communities of neighborhood, school, country and ultimately the world. Parents should lead by example. If children observe a spirit of volunteerism in the home, they learn to think outside themselves. The old adage that charity begins at home applies in this situation.

Schools often play a role in teaching children social responsibility. They run fundraisers around the holidays as a measure of teaching children to donate food and clothing to those less fortunate. In many neighborhoods, local charities hang plastic bags on doors and ask for donations. There are small cups on the counters in grocery stores requesting spare change to aid the homeless, the infirm, and victims of natural disasters like the tsunami that occurred on December 26, 2004. These situations, while unfortunate, provide an opportunity to teach children how to volunteer their time, effort and creativity.

For example, in the aftermath of the tsunami, there have been countless ways that parents and their children could volunteer their time and resources. Whether through the Red Cross, UNICEF or the local church charity, there were and are many fundraisers that continue. Take the loose change from shopping and have a child drop it into one of the donor boxes. When donating the money, explain to your children how each penny and dime might contribute to water purification, purchasing of medicine and efforts to rebuild. One dime might buy only one nail, but combined with nine other dimes, it might buy enough nails to put up one wall and then another and another. Gather together discarded clothing and donate it to the Red Cross or Salvation Army drive centers. Donate and allow your children to witness and be a part of the process. Go on a recycling drive; sell the cans and bottles to a redemption center and allow your children to use the proceeds to make a donation. Teaching children that every act of compassion counts, no matter how slight it seems on the surface, can have far reaching consequences. We want our children to be successful, not only in a materialistic sense, but also in terms of becoming socially conscious and compassionate individuals.

A Gradual Approach

Between work, carpools, schooling, after school activities and housework, it might seem like too much to teach these broad based ideas to your children. The answer lies simply in starting small. True, the world outside the front door is a large one. But beginning with the porch or the front yard, you can gradually expand you children's awareness of how individual action, well coordinated can have a wider impact.

When natural disasters like a tsunami or an earth quake strikes, especially in a different part of the world, use the opportunity to educate and remind your children that ours is a global community, with people from all walks of life and cultures who are rich in their own flavor and history. Through focusing on the uniqueness of people unlike themselves, through appreciation of their history and culture, children can develop compassion for these strangers who are far away and need a helping hand.

The Basic Idea
Be prepared for your children to ask lots of questions, as they begin to learn that there is a world of need beyond their front door. Don't be afraid to discuss their questions with them. Volunteerism involves a process of growing, learning, questioning, and developing personal convictions. If it's correct that we get out of this world what we offer to it, then volunteerism is the self-fulfilling offering. Because in learning to value and give to others, our children learn to value and give to themselves.

Some additional suggestions to encourage volunteerism at home:
* Identify at least one cause or need in your community and volunteer to help. Be sure to let your child know why you think it is important and how you are trying to help with it.

* Find and share success stories with your child. It is easy to be overwhelmed by problems. But even kids can make a difference. Talk about the importance of joining forces. Encourage your child to involve other kids in tackling big projects such as creek or playground clean up.
* responsible behavior from being involved in the community to turning off the lights and appliances when not in use. Recycle.

* Reduce consumption of goods. Do not buy items in excess.

* Volunteer to help a group at your child's school to beautify the grounds.

* Be aware of government officials at the local, state and national levels. Encourage your children to write them of their concerns and at the same time, write your own notes to them.

* Most importantly, remember to choose activities not randomly but ones that you feel involved with; parental emotion is something children pick up on.

* Vote! Take your children with you so they can see you participating.

Getting Away at Home
Whether she's a working Mom or stay-at-home Mom, the average Mom is chief operating officer of household affairs. In practice, this means that a mother's workday may never end if she has not mastered the essential art of creating an in-home haven away from the rough and tumble of her family.

Creating the Spa Environment

Your bathroom should be heated so that it feels warm and comfortable to the naked body by the time you are ready to draw and prepare your bath with oils and/or salts. Now would be a good time to start the music you've picked out for listening pleasure and light the candles ringing the bathtub. If you have any houseplants you can bring in to keep you company, or fresh roses, gardenias, or flowers of any kind, they will do wonderfully for the serenity of the setting. Before climbing into your bathtub/spa, make sure your drink of choice is within reach. Shed your clothes and climb in, relaxing your head on the pillow with eyes closed, as the sensations from the scented candles, soothing music, and warm water envelope you.

Take slow, deep breaths and try to empty your mind of everything except your immediate sensations. After a few minutes of utter relaxation, you may want to try tensing and releasing the muscles in your legs, arms, and shoulders. Start from your feet and work your way up to your head, trying to isolate each muscle. You should feel more relaxed once you complete this process. Don't forget to add more hot water if your bath starts to cool.

Next, you may want to apply a scrub or cleanser to your face and cover with a warm, damp towel. The wet cloth becomes a hydrating steam facial. Enjoy the soothing warmth on your face and neck for a while before wiping off.

10 Essentials for the Home
We all have our favorites when it comes to items we consider must-haves for our home. However, those fundamentals vary from person to person, depending upon personal taste and lifestyle. While one person's top ten list may include accessories and items for a great kitchen, another person's essentials may include only outdoor types of home accessories.

Unlike renting, home ownership presents concerns for both indoors and outdoors. When you buy a house, you get all that goes with it ... from the yard to the heating/cooling system ... from the driveway to the attic. It is all yours to both enjoy and to maintain.

Since it is all yours, you want to be practical here. These ten essentials help you make the most of your home for you and your family. Not only will they make maintaining your home efficient and convenient, they will also ensure that you enjoy it for years to come.

Indoor Essentials

Indoor Essentials

Carbon Monoxide Detectors/Alarms

Smoke detectors have long been a requirement in homes, but carbon monoxide detectors are seldom required. Each year preventable s occur from carbon monoxide poisoning. Although we often associate carbon monoxide emissions with motor vehicles, this odorless gas can enter our homes through ill working oil furnaces, gas-burning stoves, clothes dryers and hot water heaters. Something as simple as a bird's nest in a chimney or snow covering a vent can expose your family to the threat of carbon monoxide poisoning. Children, pregnant women, elderly people and those with respiratory ailments are particularly susceptible when exposed to carbon monoxide.

A quality carbon monoxide detector is one of the least expensive investments you can make. It will provide you and your family the added sense of security that you deserve. Spend a few extra dollars here and invest in a that features a backup battery for extra safety.

Programmable Digital Thermostat

Traditional thermostats for controlling your heating/cooling system require manual adjustment and lose their accuracy over a period of time. However, digital thermostats operate on batteries and feature electronic sensors that measure temperature with incredible accuracy. You simply program your preferred settings and the digital thermostat adjusts the temperature of your home automatically around the clock.

Not only is a digital thermostat more convenient, it is much more cost effective too. You can actually save up to 1/3 of your annual energy cost simply by installing a digital thermostat. That puts money back into your budget that you can spend on your family.

Central Vacuum Cleaner

Do you vacuum your floors and carpets only to see dust floating everywhere? Regardless of the brand and you own, your traditional canister or upright vacuum cleaner is probably re-circulating the dust and allergens in your home instead of eliminating them.

A central vacuum cleaning system does not come with the expensive price tag you might imagine. In fact, quality brands are often less costly than traditional s. They operate more quietly than regular vacuum cleaners and normally last longer. There is no more back strain from lugging your vacuum cleaner from room to room. You simply attach the hose to the outlet in each room with your preferred attachment. It allows you to create a much healthier environment for your family.

Wireless Security System

Your home is your castle, but even a castle has a moat. You have worked hard to give your family the comforts of a nice home. Those comforts must also include a sense of security and well-being that will allow your family to know that they are safe and protected from harm.

Having a home security system no longer means having to hire a security expert to come in and perform extensive wiring throughout your house. For far less than the expert would charge, you can purchase a wireless security system and easily install it yourself. You simply plug in the main unit, place the sensors throughout your home and program the system. Backup batteries power the system in the case of lost power.

Most wireless security systems automatically call you with a prerecorded message alert if an alarm is activated. Other options include 24-hour monitoring to a dispatch system for a minimal monthly charge that can contact police, fire department and/or EMS in the event of an emergency.

Water/Flood Sensors

Every year the insurance industry sees countless claims for water damage filed by homeowners. Surprisingly, the majority of these claims are not associated with natural occurrences, but rather with leaks occurring inside the home itself. Common sources of such leaks include dishwashers, hot water heaters, icemakers, sinks, toilets and washing machines.

Quite often, the damage has already occurred before we even know we have a leak. Simply by placing water sensors in the areas where leaks are most likely to occur, you will know earlier rather than later. Check with your homeowner's insurance carrier, you may even qualify for a discount if you install water sensors in your home.

Outdoor Essentials

Programmable Sprinklers

You do not have to invest in an expensive in-ground irrigation system for watering your lawn. Now, you can have the convenience of an in-ground system by using multiple sprinklers that you can program yourself.

When you work with only one sprinkler moving it around to various parts of your lawn and/or garden, you lose valuable time that you could spend on other things. Quite often, you over water some areas while not providing enough irrigation to other areas. Simply place several programmable sprinkler heads that include sensors that will detect the amount of irrigation you need. Your lawn and/or garden will look fantastic and you will conserve water at the same time.

Riding Lawnmower

Unless you hire a lawn care service, which can be very expensive, you will save much on your time and labor with a riding lawnmower. Your lawn should be a source of pleasure and enjoyment for you and your family, not a dreaded chore.

Why spend your summers pushing a mower when you can maintain a well-manicured lawn much quicker with a riding lawn mower? The deck size is much wider on most riding mowers, which also reduces the amount of time it takes to maintain your lawn. Invest in a bagger as well that will collect the grass and leaves as you mow so that you do not have to spend even more time raking afterwards.

Weeding Tool/Edger

There will always be areas of your lawn where mowing is not possible ... unless you do not mind butchering your flowers and shrubs. It can also be very difficult to maintain areas around walkways and/or sidewalks.

For less than $50, you can maintain these areas, including the area around your patio or deck easily by purchasing a weeding tool or edger. You will save your back as well as give your lawn a highly manicured appearance.


Outdoor lighting is not just about decorative effects. It is not practical to leave the exterior of your home and/or your lawn literally in the dark all night. Unlighted walkways and entrances invite s and total darkness invites criminals.

Use solar lighting and/or outdoor lanterns to keep the exterior of your property well lit. Not only does it make your home safer for your family and guests, but it also deters crime. There are many affordable exterior lighting solutions available that will give you peace of mind.

Snow Blower

If you live in an area with a cold winter climate, then you have probably shoveled your share of snow. Statistics indicate that shoveling snow can be detrimental to your health, not to mention how much time it takes to clear your driveway.

Each year while shoveling snow, people suffer back injuries such as herniated discs and heart attacks from high pressure incurred due to over-exertion in extreme weather. The money you save by using a shovel will not be enough to cover the costs of your medical expenses.

Make the most of your home by making it a place of not only comfort and convenience, but also one of safety and security for you and your entire family. Each of these items not only improves the quality of your lifestyle, but also the quality of your life.

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