Monday, August 23, 2010

City Survivalist Mom. . . Obsessed with Keeping my Kids Safe

I have a secret confession. . . I've become obsessed over the past few years with stockpiling emergency supplies in case there is ever a catastrophe in my city. I don't live in the rural mid-west, so growing livestock and a self-sustaining garden are out of the question. Instead, I've accumulated so many canned goods that my pantry is overflowing and I've had to clear out space in my walk-in closet for storage bins.

Mr. Incredible smirks and shakes his head, and I am sure Dash and Jack-Jack think I'm nuts too!    However, I did feel validated when I read that September is National Preparedness Month. Besides, even though there are times I do want to wring their necks, I love my children with every fiber of my being and will do everything in my power to make sure they are safe.  So, this blog is for all the parents out there to get us all more focused on planning for emergencies!

Can Your Family Survive a Catastrophe?
FEMA has declared that September is National Preparedness Month, and encourages all citizens to plan now for emergencies. The time to start planning for an emergency is not in the middle of one. They have a website devoted to helping families, citizens, and businesses with emergency planning. Go to for more info.

Let me just say that I am NOT a fatalist or pessimist, but I do believe in preparing for emergencies and possible catastrophes. Admittedly, I don’t read the Bible often (shhh. . . don’t tell my mother), but I do agree with what is written in Proverbs 22:3, “A prudent person foresees the difficulties ahead and prepares for them; the simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.” Since I don’t consider myself a simpleton, I have been talking to the kids about devising a family emergency plan and a home emergency kit.

89 Cents Could Save Your Life    

FEMA guidelines suggest that everyone should prepare a 72-hour survival kit that includes one gallon of water per day per person. It is possible to survive for days, even weeks, without food, but a person can only survive for about 3 days without water. Water is the most important purchase you can make for your emergency kit.

So, last week Violet and I went to our local grocery store and stocked up on 89-cents gallons on water. Not a bad investment for an item that could be the difference between life and death!

My "Must-Have" Item: A Hand-Cranked Emergency Radio
No family should be without access to communications during an emergency or disaster, and sells a selection of hand-cranked and/or battery-operated radios. I ordered a CC Observer wind-up emergency radio by C.Crane from for my family. I chose it because the ratings were great, and the radio was affordable ($40)—and I am not disappointed!

The AM/FM radio includes Weather band, and there’s an LED flashlight on the side of the radio. It runs off of the built-in rechargeable batteries or 3 "AA" alkaline batteries (not included) if preferred. Of course, if you don't have alkaline batteries around, just wind-up the radio and keep it running as long as you need. It can even be used to charge a cell phone.

If and when your power goes out, having a way of receiving information is vitally important, so check out a selection of emergency radios on the right.  All radios are available at

A Freebie for All
A few years ago, after Hurricane Katrina, natural disaster planning was on the forefront of my mind, and I located a list of items to have on hand—items that would be the first to disappear, during a disaster. I believe that everyone should review this list as a starting point for their emergency kits,so check out this link.

Okay, that’s enough of my Public Service Announcement . . . but seriously, your life and the lives of your children are too precious to be left to chance (or to expecting the government to come to your rescue), so please, please, please begin preparing now. And, let’s hope we’ll never have to use our emergency kits.

***SPOILER ALERT***  September's giveaway will be related to this blog post, so start planning your emergency kits today to be able to get in on the giveaway!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

School Bullying . . . Are Schools Doing Enough?

With a new school season just around the corner, school issues have been on my mind lately. AS with all parents, I wish my children to have a successful school year. Perusing the website, I found an interesting article by the Supernanny team on school bullying which suggests that only a quarter of all parents in the United States feels that their child(ren)'s school do enough to prevent bullying. I've included excerpts from the article below:

Is your child safe from school bullies?

Key to a child’s successful education is an environment in which he or she can learn safely – but according to a report released today by the C S Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health, only 26% of parents would give their child’s high school an A for preventing bullying and school violence, and 38% of parents would give their child’s elementary or junior high an A.

“Children who are victims of bullying can have serious health effects, including physical injuries and emotional problems such as depression, low self-esteem, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts and actions,” says Matthew Davis, MD, director of the poll and associate professor of pediatrics and internal medicine at the U-M Medical School. “Unfortunately, in the United States, we’ve seen some tragedies in the past few years regarding episodes of school violence that have gotten a lot of media coverage and upset many parents.”

In the US, an estimated 160,000 children miss school every day out of fear of attack or intimidation by other students, according to the National Education Association. Since 1992, there have been 250 violent deaths in schools, and bullying has been a factor in many school shootings.

“What this poll shows is that parents are still very concerned about bullying in their schools,” says Davis. “About three-quarters of states nationwide have implemented bullying prevention laws that are designed to encourage, and in some cases force schools to present and deliver bullying prevention curriculum to students – but based on these findings, it doesn’t appear that those curricula or programs are working effectively.”

The poll asked 1,087 parents across the US in May 2009 to assign their child’s school an A through F grade in five categories: overall safety, building security, bullying and school violence prevention, keeping students safe during a school-wide emergency, and keeping parents informed in the event of a school-wide emergency.

What Parents Can Do
Parents who have concerns about bullying in their child’s school can get involved in a few ways. Davis suggests parents become active in local safe school and safe community programs where bullying and violence prevention programs already exist.

In the few states where bullying prevention programs do not exist, Davis suggests parents get involved in the legislative process by advocating for bullying programs to be put in place using other states as examples. “But right at home, there’s a way for parents to make a difference too,” he says. “Parents can listen to their kids who are their eyes and ears in the schools, especially about issues of bullying. It can be really hard for children to bring up the topic of bullying so parents may need to ask directly about it and make home a safe place to talk about this important problem.”
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Monday, August 16, 2010

Contest has ended...Are You The Winner?

The Back-to-School Giveaway has now ended, and Mami2JCN is this month's winner. Congratulations and Happy Shopping!

If you didn't win the Gap gift card, don't despair, you can still score discounted gift cards at Plastic Jungle.

Buy, Sell, & Trade Gift Cards -

Also, other exciting giveaways are being planned, so stay tuned! And thanks to all who entered this month's giveaway.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Back-To-School Gap Card Giveaway

Contest Has Ended- The Winner is: Mami2JCN- Congratulations!

This month, one lucky blog reader will receive a $25 GapKids gift card to help take a bite out of back-to-school shopping!

Gap is one of my family's favorite stores. The kids like it because clothes are stylish and Dash can always find yet another hoodie to add to his collection!. I like Gap because I can find  something for everyone in my family from Jack-Jack's size 7 slim jeans  to my not-so-slim (!) jeans, and the prices aren't outrageous. The gift card can be used at any Gap, GapKids, babyGap, GapBody, Gap Outlet location, or, and there is no expiration date.

With three kids to outfit, I'm always on the lookout for deals on Back-to-School clothes,  supplies, and accessories.  I found one of the best ways to maximize my spending dollars is by purchasing sale items using gift cards I've purchased at a discount through Plastic Jungle. 

Buy, Sell, & Trade Gift Cards -

Pay as low as $70 for a $100 gift card at your favorite retailer! - - Buy, sell and trade gift cards.

Not only can you buy gift cards at a discount, but if you've received gift cards that you will never use, or you'd rather have the cash, Plastic Jungle will purchase them from you!  

How to Enter: The contest is open to U.S. residents only and ends at midnight on August 15, 2010.

1.  Become a follower of this blog and leave a comment indicating that you are now a "follower." - 1 entry

2.  Go to Plastic Jungle at the link above, browse through the site, then return to this blog and comment on how much you can save on your favorite gift card.- 1 entry

Giveaway Rules:
  • Winners will be contacted by e-mail and will have 72 hours to respond to the prize notification.
  • All winners will be drawn using
  • Giveaway open to residents of the continental United States only


Cut Michelle Obama Some Slack!

There has recently been a lot of talk about the First Lady's trip to Spain, and how much she spent on the trip.

I know I'll get some flack for my viewpoint, but I commend Michelle Obama for taking a mother-daughter trip abroad with Sasha. Michelle Obama does not apologize for putting her family first, nor should she. Yes, the trip to Spain came with a hefty price tag, but unfortunately, the Obamas no longer have the luxury of traveling without an entourage, including a security detail, and if I were in Michelle Obama's shoes, protecting my children would be at the top of my list, no matter what the cost.

Could they have gone somewhere domestically? Sure. But that is not what they chose to do. As a mom, I'd love to expose my children to as much of the world as I can. Sure, they can learn about Spain or Greece or Korea by reading books, watching videos, and even taking a trip to a local Spanish, Greek, or Korean restaurant. But the journey, the experience of leaving what is familiar and immersing yourself in another culture is an education that no textbook can teach.

Let's be honest. If you had the opportunity to travel to Spain this summer with your children, stay in a five-star hotel, and have lunch with the king and queen, would you pass it up? I know I wouldn't!

Parenting is hard. There are many days when I, your average citizen, second-guess myself about decisions I've made or a comment I've made. I sometime worry needlessly about my children's safety when they leave the house to catch the bus for school, or carpool to a party. I cannot imagine parenting with the world looking on. All I say, "Keep up the good work, Michelle Obama!"

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

When Mom's Not Perfect . . .

Tonight, while watching Violet's gymnastics practice I made a mistake. I pulled out my camera and forgot to turn off the flash. Pop! The flash illuminated the gym, causing several gymnasts to turn around. I apologized as Violet glared at me and ran her pointer finger across her neck from left to right. Of course, this wasn't the last of it. Violet continued to frown and roll her eyes at me whenever she looked my way. I finally got up and left the gym.

However, at pick-up time, the first thing she mentioned was the mistake I made. OK, yes, I admitted my mistake and had already apologized. How much longer was I going to be chastised for my error?

So, I decided that if I have to be perfect, Violet should be held to the same level of accountability. There is a skill on bars called a squat-on that Violet mastered earlier this summer, but lost. She fell once on the skill during practice, and now does not attack the skill, but is holding back and falling out of it. I told Violet that since I have to be perfect, I expect nothing less on bars now. I am insisting that she re-gain this skill at Thursday's practice, or she can move back down a level.

Is this fair? I think so. If I have to be the perfect mom, she has to be the perfect gymnast. Of course, I know there is no such animal as a perfect person. . . hopefully, Violet will realize it soon, too.

UPDATE: At the next practice, Violet got her squat-on back! I knew she would. She has the skill, she was allowing fear to get in her way, which caused her to "bail out" instead of going for it. She is happily remaining a level 5!