Keep Your Home Safe While You’re Away

home security
With an estimated 136 million Americans going on at least one vacation this summer, safety and security precautions are a must. Proactive measures can help consumers keep their home safe from fire, carbon monoxide, and the threat of burglary while they are away.

Better Business Bureau and home security pioneer ADT are offering the following safety tips for homeowners during the summer season:

  • Be careful about the vacation details you share via social media. Burglars can use posts on Twitter or Facebook to determine when you’ll be away. More than one third (35%) of Americans polled in ADT’s Safety Data Index survey said they believed their home is too ordinary and would not interest a burglar. However, a vacant home could be enough to attract unwanted attention, so be careful about broadcasting your travel plans.
  • Lock your doors even when you’re gone for a brief amount of time. Two thirds (67%) of Americans surveyed for the Safety Data Index agree they do more to protect their homes when they are going away for a night than when they are just leaving for a few hours. But, according to the FBI, more than half (53%) of home burglaries happen during the day, so homeowners should secure doors and windows every time they leave their home.
  • Check your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors every month. Summer marks the beginning of hurricane season, and if a generator needs to be used in a power outage, a quick test of your monitored life safety devices can help keep your family safe from potentially dangerous fumes.
  • Keep hedges and bushes around your home trimmed, so burglars don’t have places to hide.

If you want to relax on vacation, make sure your vacation planning includes securing your home while you are gone. If you choose to contract with a security company, check out their BBB Business Review first at

Learn more about ADT’s Safety Data Index, a survey examining the safety and lifestyle habits of Americans. For more consumer information you can trust, visit, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

NOTE: ADT is a Better Business Bureau National Partner and all locations are BBB Accredited Businesses.

Twilight Theatre Hosts the Princess Tea Party

An annual favorite for little princesses and their favorite adult, Twilight Theatre is proud to present another Princess Tea Party  portraying favorite princesses of all time. This short show is packed with music and tips on how to be the best princess ever PLUS after the show, enjoy special desserts (made specially for the little princesses by the big princesses) while princesse of every age chat and take photos. So don your favorite princess attire (crowns are perfectly acceptable) and join your favorite princesses for stories, songs, and desserts.Performances are at 10 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m. on Friday, June 28 and Saturday, June 29 at the Historic Train Depot in Fayetteville. Tickets are $10 for students, princesses, military and seniors and $12 for adults. Reserve your tickets today by emailing

6 Things You Can Do for a Summer of Happiness

sunshine girl

Summer of Happiness: Six Simple Things You Can Do This Summer to Let the Sunshine In
If your life could use a little lift, Todd Patkin says there’s no better time than summer to make small changes that will have a big impact on your outlook.

Summer is a time of warm temperatures, sunny skies, green leaves, neighborhood cookouts, family vacations, ice cream cones, and more. In short, it’s a season that’s full of opportunities for enjoyment—so why do so many of us drift through these warm weeks in the same hum-drum fog we’re lost in during the other three seasons? The fact is, most of us have become numbed by life, feeling that we’re victims of circumstance and simply trying to survive each day. So while a refreshing dip in the swimming pool might put a smile on your face while you’re submerged, your good mood usually doesn’t last long.

Don’t despair, though—you can influence your level of happiness to a much greater extent than you think. And the best news of all is that there’s no better time to start than during the summer.

“Most people don’t realize that happiness is a choice,” says Todd Patkin, author of the new book Finding Happiness: One Man’s Quest to Beat Depression and Anxiety and—Finally—Let the Sunshine In (StepWise Press, 2011, “It’s true—happiness is learning how to live your best life by figuring out a better way to react to what happens to you. It’s the culmination of all of the little actions, choices, and habits that fill our days, as well as how we think about them.”

If that’s true—if your happiness really is determined not by what your life looks like but by how you look at your life—then why is summer an ideal time to start changing your focus?

“Life doesn’t completely stop in the summer, of course, but it does tend to slow down and give us more time to reflect on how happy we are with our lives, and to think about what changes we may want to make,” explains Patkin. “For many families, the daily pace is less hectic, and you’re more likely to spend time relaxing. Plus, since summer is a time of warmth, light, and growth, it’s naturally uplifting. Put together, that all means that over the next few months, you’ll have more time and (hopefully) energy to devote to making meaningful lifestyle changes.”

Patkin knows what he’s talking about. After realizing that financial success, recognition, accolades, and atta-boys didn’t bring the fulfillment he thought they would, Patkin set off to identify the ingredients of a happy and contented life. And he’s found that surprisingly simple lifestyle changes and habits can make a tremendous difference in your attitude, mood, and outlook.

“If you take the following suggestions to heart, I promise that you’ll be a much happier person by the time the leaves start to turn,” Patkin asserts. “And don’t worry—most of these habits will take only a few minutes out of your day, and some won’t take any extra time at all. Plus, they’re activities the whole family can get involved in and benefit greatly from.”

If you’re ready to put a genuine summer smile on your face, then read on for six simple ways to up your contentment quotient:

Enjoy the weather: Exercise. No one except the most avowed couch potato can resist venturing out into the great outdoors when the sun is shining and the grass is green. Take advantage of the wonderful weather and up your activity level! Exercise will begin to relax you, make you feel stronger, and improve your sleep. It’s also a natural anti-depressant that will boost your attitude and outlook. And as time passes, you’ll gain the added bonus of being happier with your physical appearance as well.

“I think exercise is the single most important thing you can do to improve your life right now,” Patkin asserts. “It’s a fantastic energizer, and it actually opens you up to future change by invigorating your mind and body. And don’t worry—I’m not saying you have to start training for a marathon. Commit to walking just twenty minutes every other day to start out. Or if circumstances allow, take a walk in the woods or swim a few laps in the pool instead. Lastly, take your kids along—you’ll be instilling exercise in them as a great habit that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.”

Get some new sunglasses: Be easier on yourself. Most people tend to go through life as though they’re wearing glasses with prescriptions that allow them to focus only on the negative things: their failures, mistakes, worries, etc. This summer, put on a new pair of shades with a more positive prescription that enables you to focus on all of the good things in your life, too! The fact is, we’re all human—and thus fallible—so it’s normal to make mistakes. However, it’s not healthy or beneficial to dwell on them.

“Most of us tend to be out and about more in the summer than in the colder months, so really take note of all the positive interactions you have and compliments you receive,” Patkin urges. “For instance, let yourself bask in your family’s compliments when you grill a great meal and savor your neighbor’s praise of your backyard garden. Basically, extend to yourself the same love and kindness that you would to others you care about! Until you give yourself permission to break free of the cycle of self-blame and negativity that causes you to be stuck demanding perfection from yourself in every situation, you’ll never have a chance to be a truly relaxed, content, and happy person.”

Plan some fun activities: Play to your strengths. The days are longer, schedules are more relaxed, there are several holidays to look forward to, and you’ll probably be taking some vacation days. Resolve to spend some of that time developing your special abilities and talents! If you want to be happy, you need to recognize, use, and share your gifts. Each of us has been given special, unique strengths, and when we are using them, we’re happier and feel much better about ourselves—and the world at large is better off, too!

“If you’ve never done so before, sit down and make two lists: Write down your strengths as well as what you really enjoy doing,” advises Patkin. “Usually, many of the things on these lists will overlap. Then, make it a goal to spend more time doing these things that you enjoy and are best at. Focusing more on a hobby or personal interest you like is a good start, even if, like exercise, you do it for only twenty minutes every other day. After all, your kids get to go to special-interest activities and camps during the summer…so why shouldn’t you get in on the action, too?”

Smell the roses: Live in the present. There are so many moments to treasure throughout our lives, and they’re often especially vivid in the summer: the sound of your kids playing outside, the scent of the herbs in your garden, the feeling of sand between your toes and sun on your skin. The question is, are you really experiencing and enjoying these moments…or is your mind obsessing over the past or worrying about the future while only your body is physically present? If it’s the latter, you’re only exacerbating your anxiety and unhappiness by choosing to dwell on things you can’t control.

“I can’t stress enough how important it is to truly appreciate the present moment,” Patkin shares. “And hopefully, this season will offer plenty of good opportunities to do that. Try to be aware of what your thoughts are ‘doing,’ and please don’t get discouraged when you find yourself going back to your old negative mental habits! In fact, pat yourself on the back because you’re noticing that you’re doing something you don’t want to do anymore. This is a fantastic start. By autumn, you’ll be closer to living the adventurous, wonderful life you were always meant to. Also, keep in mind that your children usually know when your mind is not 100 percent there with them. Don’t unintentionally make them feel less important in your life.”

Break out the barbeque: Strengthen close relationships. Summer is known for cookouts, pool parties, and front-porch sittin’. Don’t be “that family” who always keep to themselves—try to host at least one or two events between June and September and invite the people you love over for some fun. The truth is, it’s worth putting work into improving your relationships with your family and friends all year round, because the quality of your bonds with the people closest to you can make or break the quality of your life.

“Also, I’d like to specifically mention one relationship you need to focus on in particular: your relationship with your spouse or significant other,” Patkin says. “You must put as much time and effort into this relationship as you do your house, your car, or your job. Celebrate your spouse every day. Trust me: This can make such a great difference in your relationship, because when your partner feels as special as he or she did in the early days of your romance, he or she will feel just as loved…and the spark of your relationship will stay alight. Summer is a great time to pick a bouquet of wildflowers, plan a romantic getaway, or purchase tickets to an outdoor concert that you’ll both enjoy, for starters.”

Smile and say hello: Be friendlier. Yes, spend more quality time with the people who are most important to you this summer, but also continue to make new connections. You’re not the only one who ventures outside your front door more often in the summer—so make a conscious effort to be friendlier to others you encounter, too. Introduce yourself to the family next to you at the pool or beach, for example, and say hello to folks you pass while walking in the park. (You’ll also be setting a great example for your kids.)

“Extending simple human kindness to others can make a huge difference in their lives…and in yours,” Patkin promises. “You see, everyone on Earth is carrying some sort of burden. You can’t make their pain, stress, or grief just disappear…but you can be what I call a ‘lamp lighter’—someone who makes others feel just a little bit lighter and happier on their feet, if only for five seconds. When you make friendliness a habit, you’ll attract kindness and smiles in return…and you’ll feel great about yourself for making a positive difference in the world!”

“These suggestions are meant to be a starting point for you,” Patkin concludes. “My hope is that you’ll incorporate these habits into your life and experience a more sunshine-y summer…and that you’ll remember this season as the beginning of your journey toward happiness. It’s true—what may seem like small changes in your actions and attitudes really can make a huge difference in how you experience the rest of your life!”



# # #

About the Author: Todd Patkin, author of Finding Happiness: One Man’s Quest to Beat Depression and Anxiety and—Finally—Let the Sunshine In, grew up in Needham, Massachusetts. After graduating from Tufts University, he joined the family business and spent the next eighteen years helping to grow it to new heights. After it was purchased by Advance Auto Parts in 2005, he was free to focus on his main passions: philanthropy and giving back to the community, spending time with family and friends, and helping more people learn how to be happy. Todd lives with his wonderful wife, Yadira, their amazing son, Josh, and two great dogs, Tucker and Hunter.

About the Book: Finding Happiness: One Man’s Quest to Beat Depression and Anxiety and—Finally—Let the Sunshine In (StepWise Press, 2011, ISBN: 978-0-9658261-9-8, $19.95) is available at bookstores nationwide, from major online booksellers, and at




Fayette County Public Library Teen Summer Reading Program

teen reading

Area teens are encouraged to participate in “Beneath the Surface,” the Fayette County Public Library’s teen summer reading program, from June 1 to July 31. Teens are invited to come to the library and read for prizes as well as taking part in workshops that are offered throughout the summer.

Workshops this summer include: Teen social media etiquette, Zumba and Arts and Crafts as well as Monday at the Movies and a Gaming session every Wednesday.  Beginning June 1, teens age 11-17 can register to attend these free events at the main circulation desk at the Fayette County Public Library. Teens can also pick up a trivia sheet and book review form for June. Those who successfully complete both sheets will receive prizes and their name will be entered into the monthly drawing for a grand prize.

The “Beneath the Surface” teen summer reading program is sponsored by Fayette County Public Library and the Friends of the Fayette County Library.

For more Info contact:

Christy Dyson, Public Services Librarian


Travelers Make Great Targets for Identity Thieves


As summer nears, many people start dreaming about and planning vacation getaways. But while you’re enjoying the beach, identity thieves are devising new ways to steal your personal information. Consumers often let their guards down on vacation, putting them at greater risk of identity theft.

In an effort to curb the growing problem of identity theft, Equifax shares the top 10 ways consumers can help protect themselves while traveling:

1. Don’t announce your travel plans on social media. This invites identity thieves to target your house while you’re away.

2.  Place a hold on your mail. When criminals see an overflowing mailbox, they see an easy way to steal personal information.

3.  Go through your wallet and leave at home your library card and other cards with your name on them. Carry only necessities in your wallet when traveling.  Tourist areas are hotspots for pickpockets.

4.  Set up a travel alert on your credit card accounts, and freeze your credit with the three credit bureaus.

5.  Leave your laptop computer at home if you can. If you must travel with a laptop, update your anti-virus and anti-spyware programs. Do not access bank accounts from your laptop while in a hotel room or at a coffee shop or other public location.

6.  While staying at a hotel, lock important documents such as your passport in a safe.

7.  Use only ATMs located in banks.

8.  Protect your smartphone. Create a password for access, and use an application with a GPS locator to find your phone if it is lost or stolen.

9.  Don’t put your full name and address on luggage tags. Include just your last name and phone number.

10.  Tear up and discard used boarding passes. Many travelers leave boarding passes behind in airplanes or hotels. They often contain full names and other personal information.

“Everyone loves a relaxing vacation, but this is not the time to let your guard down about identity theft,” said Trey Loughran, president of the Personal Solutions unit at Equifax. “By developing good identity protection habits at home and on the road, you can reduce your risk of becoming a victim.”

Visit powered by Equifax for more information and resources on identity theft and how to help protect yourself and your family.

About Equifax:  Equifax Personal Solutions empowers consumers with the confidence and control to be their financial best. Find out more about Equifax’s innovative suite of credit monitoring and identity protection products at

Garden Profile: Bonnie Helander’s Garden

Dan and I added an arbor and planted vines of vinca and jasmine to frame the view to the upper garden.


Have a focal point - something of interest - outside your windows to enjoy throughout the seasons.

Spring is here and Fayette County gardens are bursting into bloom. Since we have so many talented gardeners and stunning gardens in our community, Fayette Woman is initiating a new segment, Garden Profiles. Periodically throughout the year, I am going to highlight a lovely garden in our area so you can enjoy the beauty and get tips from local gardeners on how to enhance your own outside space.

To kick off the series, I want to take you on a tour of my own Peachtree City garden. When my husband, Dan, and I purchased our home in 2004, the garden already had “good bones.” In fact, I fell in love with the home when I first opened the front door and could see through the patio doors to the beautiful backyard garden.

The focal point of the back garden is the lovely ornamental Koi pond and waterfall with an Asian flair. Two colorful 

The main feature in my garden is the Koi pond, filled with water lilies and iris and surrounded by Japanese maples, azaleas, juniper and variegated ivy.

Japanese maples and vivid pink azaleas frame the pond. Dan and I worked to enhance the space by replanting the shade beds with ferns, Japanese Aralia (Fatsia japonica) and Lenten rose (Helleborus). We added new pathways and a vine-covered arbor that beckon people to the upper garden, filled with azaleas and hydrangeas. Here you will find an eclectic collection of painted chairs and other pieces of “garden junk” from the family farm. An open lawn area invites a game of badminton or croquet. Dan loves to build things and constructed a handy two-bin compost structure and a potting bench for me to pot up all my containers.

In the front sunny area, you will find a mass planting of ‘Knock Out ®’ roses, dwarf crape myrtles (Lagerstroemia ‘GAMAD I’ Cherry Dazzle®) and butterfly bushes. I have a real challenge in the front yard because three large river birch trees (Betula nigra) have shaded out my grass area, leaving exposed tree roots on the surface and ugly bare ground. We are mulching this area and adding some dwarf loropetalum shrubs. Although I love the look of the river birch trees in the winter with their peeling cinnamon bark, I dislike these high-maintenance trees the rest of the year. They are messy – dropping small limbs in a slight breeze and shedding leaves all summer in the heat. I would recommend selecting another tree if you are thinking about the river birch or choosing the ‘Dura-Heat’ or ‘Heritage’ varieties that do better in our hot summers.

Dan and I added an arbor and planted vines of vinca and jasmine to frame the view to the upper garden.

When I look outside from each of my home’s windows, I want to have something of interest to view in the garden. Focal points are visual elements that allow the eye to rest and savor the scene. A focal point can be a specimen plant with interesting shape, color or texture; a garden bench, a birdhouse, an interesting sculpture or anything you like. Look outside your own windows and imagine what you can add to make your garden more enjoyable.

If you know of an amazing garden in our area or would like to feature your own garden, please email me with contact information:


Cookie Dough Ice Pops


(StatePoint) Nobody likes working in front of a hot oven during the summer. But if you and your family love desserts, you’ll still want to partake of sumptuous treats that will keep you all cool.

According to top dessert experts, there’s a whole world of alternatives to baking for those who suffer from a year-round sweet tooth.

“On hot days, my mind usually turns to frozen treats such as popsicles or sorbet; for something a bit more elegant I’ll whip up a chocolate ganache tart with cookie crust,” says Lindsay Landis, author of the new book, “The Cookie Dough Lover’s Cookbook.” Landis has created over fifty recipes using egg-free cookie dough that is safe to eat raw.

By repurposing your favorite desserts for the summer season, you can take the need for heat out of the equation. For example, if you love pie, consider a graham cracker, whipped cream and candied fruit based dessert that can be created in minutes and served cold.

And don’t forget that one of the best things about summer is the abundance of fresh fruit. No matter what you come up with, adding a garnish of exotic fresh fruits like kiwi, pineapple and mango will wow your guests with a boost of natural sweetness. Or create a parfait of frozen yogurt, fresh strawberries and a variety of nuts.

For a bit of inspiration, try out this perfect no-bake summer treat from Landis:

Invisible Cookie Dough Ice Pops

Makes: 4 pops

Active time: 5 minutes

Total time: 3 hours


1 1/4 cups milk (skim, 2 percent, or whole)

1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed

Pinch salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons mini semisweet chocolate chips


In a microwave-safe container or glass measuring cup, microwave milk 30 seconds or until warm to the touch. Add brown sugar and salt and stir until dissolved. Add vanilla.

Place 1/2 tablespoon chocolate chips in the bottom of each of four 1/3-cup ice-pop molds or small paper cups. Top each with milk mixture. Insert sticks and place molds in freezer. Freeze until solid, at least 3 hours.

To release pops, run molds under warm water 20 to 30 seconds; they should slide right out. If using paper cups, simply peel cups away and discard.

If your ice-pop mold does not include built-in sticks or a lid to hold them in place, you may find yourself with sticks pointing every which way but up. To prevent this, stretch a layer of plastic wrap over the top of the mold and secure it with a rubber band. Cut a small slit in the plastic, centered over each pop, and insert a stick through each opening. Alternatively, you can adjust sticks as necessary after about 45 minutes of freezing, when the pops aren’t yet frozen solid.

For more no-bake dessert ideas, visit

You don’t need an oven. You just need ingenuity to create crowd-pleasing summer treats.

Grilled Artichoke and Asparagus Mini Pizzas


Grilled Artichoke and Asparagus Mini Pizzas

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Makes 4 servings

  • 2          tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1          cup 2-inch pieces fresh asparagus, halved lengthwise
  • 1/2       cup pitted mixed olives, cut into wedges
  • 1/4       cup roasted red peppers, cut into thin strips
  • 2          tablespoons chopped roasted garlic
  • 1          6-ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1          14- to 16-ounce ball of pizza dough
  • 8          ounces fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4       cup grated dry jack cheese (plus additional for topping)
  • Toasted walnuts (optional topping)

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add asparagus and cook for 1 minute.

Stir in olives, peppers, garlic and artichoke hearts; cook for a few minutes more to heat through. Season with salt and pepper; set aside and keep warm.

Divide pizza dough into two equal pieces. Roll each out into an 8 x 10-inch oval on a lightly floured board, and brush both sides with remaining olive oil.

Grill over medium-high heat for about 1 minute on each side, or until puffed and lightly charred. Reduce heat to low and top with cheeses; cook for 5 minutes more or until cheese is melted, rotating pizzas once or twice to help cook evenly.

Top with vegetable mixture and additional dry jack and walnuts, if desired.


Courtesy of Family Features / Mirrasou

Mini Moscato Cheesecakes


Mini Moscato Cheesecakes

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 20 to 25 minutes

Makes 24 mini cheesecakes


  • 1          cup finely ground gingersnap cookies
  • 2          tablespoons butter, melted
  • 12        ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2       cup sugar
  • 2          tablespoons flour
  • 2          tablespoons Mirassou Moscato
  • 1          teaspoon each: vanilla and lemon extract
  • 1          egg, plus 1 egg yolk, beaten
  • Store bought lemon curd, lemon zest, mint and fresh raspberries (if desired)

Preheat oven to 350°F, and spray a 24 cup mini muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Stir together ground gingersnaps and butter in a small bowl. Press about 1 1/2 teaspoons into each cup then press firmly into the bottom of each. Brush any crumbs off the top of the muffin pan and set aside.

Beat cream cheese and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until smooth; beat in flour, Moscato and extracts on low speed. Add eggs and beat just until combined.

Spoon equal amounts into each cup (they will be very full).

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until filling feels set to the touch.

Let cool completely, and then run a small thin knife around the edge of each to remove from pan.

Place on a platter and top each with lemon curd, lemon zest, mint and fresh raspberries, as desired.


Boating Safety for Kids

boating kids

As anyone familiar with the pastime knows, boating offers one of the best ways for parents to escape the distractions of everyday life and bond with their kids in nature.

These days, you don’t even have to own a boat to start having fun on the water, thanks to the growing number of boat rental outlets and clubs. However, before heading out, it’s important for parents – especially those new to boating – to follow a few basic safety steps that will help make the experience more enjoyable for the whole family.

1. Life Jackets Save Lives…

Be sure all kids wear a life jacket when the boat is moving.  In most states, this is not just sound advice; it’s the law. The U.S. Coast Guard requires that all children under 13 years of age must wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket while the vessel is being operated unless the child is below deck or in an enclosed cabin onboard.

Children’s life jackets come in different sizes appropriate to the child’s body weight. Make sure you have one that fits each child onboard and let the children try out their life jackets in the water so that they know how they work to keep them afloat. Infant life jackets have a strap that runs between the legs and extra flotation behind the head to ensure the baby floats face up at all times. Keep an extra child’s life jacket or two on hand in case a friend comes along or a child has an unexpected growth spurt over the summer and needs a new size.

2. …But Only if You Wear Them! Kids often complain about having to wear their life jackets on a hot day. Here are some ways to encourage them to “wear it” without a fuss.

– Get the kids “invested” in their life jacket by taking them to a marine retail store and letting them pick one out for themselves. There are lots of designs and colors to choose from.

– Make sure the life jacket fits the child properly, both for comfort and safety’s sake.

– Be a good role model. If the kids see you wearing your life jacket, they’ll be more likely to want to wear theirs.

3. Safety Starts Ashore: Get the kids in the habit of putting on sunblock and a hat even before you get to the boat. If you have small children, put them in their life jackets in the parking lot. That way, they’re protected if they accidentally tumble off the dock into the water.

4.  Clear the Decks: When you climb aboard, have everyone stow their gear and any water toys away neatly, but keep the life jackets on. Be sure there are no loose lines, mops, buckets, etc. on deck that someone might trip over.

5. The Captain’s in Charge: The adult who is driving the boat should give the kids a safety lesson before leaving the dock. Make it a point to tell them that there can only be one captain, and it’s important to follow his or her orders quickly and quietly. Set a few basic rules, including:

– No running on deck.

– No sitting on the side rails, foredeck, dashboard, aft sunpad or swim platform when the boat is under way.

– Advise them to leave “one hand for themselves and one for the boat” by using grabrails to steady themselves if the boat rocks. Instruct children not to walk around while the boat is in motion.

6. Ahoy, Matey: Kids get a bigger kick out of a boat trip when you make them your First Mate. Before you leave, show them where you’re going on a chart. While under way, have them keep a lookout for marker buoys. Teach them how to work the chart plotter and find your GPS coordinates.

7. Radio Check: Be sure everyone knows how to operate the boat’s VHF radio in case of an emergency. A good way to practice is to call Sea Tow’s Automated Radio Check service. This will not only show the kids how to key the microphone and talk over the VHF, it also lets you know if the radio is in good working order. To find the Automated Radio Check VHF channel in your boating area, visit

8. Toys for Girls and Boys: When you tow kids behind the boat on inflatable water toys, water skis or a wakeboard, be sure to designate an adult or teen to be the official watcher, keeping his or her eyes on the towed rider at all times. Teach the kids hand signals they can use to tell you to speed up, go slower or stop. Be sure they wear their life jackets while skiing, boarding or riding.

9. Where the Fish Are Biting: Angling is another fun family pastime, and it’s even more fun on a boat. However, it’s important to establish a few safety procedures for this activity as well. Teach kids to be careful with fishhooks, as well as reels and line when a fish is “on”. Have them take turns so they don’t cross their lines. Remember, kids have a shorter attention span; on a slow day, take a snack break or knock off early and go swimming.

10. Places, Please! Give the kids assigned seats on the boat while docking, so that they don’t accidentally block the driver’s view. Make sure they know to keep their fingers and toes inside during this process!

These basic guidelines will help you ensure everyone stays safe on board. But the most important tip for your family boating adventure is this: Have fun!

These tips are courtesy of the Sea Tow Foundation, a 501[c][3] nonprofit organization dedicated to boating safety and education. For more information on the Sea Tow Foundation, please visit For more information about Sea Tow Services International, please visit:

9 Ways to Let Your Kid Be a Kid This Summer

kids shutterstock_59018779

No doubt about it: Time for unstructured play is dwindling. There are many reasons why this is so. We’re working more hours. We’re spending more time “plugged in” to TV, phones, video games, and the Internet. Kids have more homework than ever. And as a society we seem to have decided that structured activities—academic, athletic, and otherwise—are more beneficial than play.

If you read Madeline Levine’s Teach Your Children Well: Parenting for Authentic Success (HarperCollins), you’ll see that lack of play exacts a heavy price on kids. If you’re ready to change your high-pressure, overscheduling ways, summer is the perfect time to get started. Here’s how:

First, YOU have to buy in to the belief that play is important. Unfortunately, this is tough for many parents. We’re steeped in a culture that elevates work and downplays play. When we see our daughter dancing around the living room we think, She’s so talented! She needs dance lessons! But the minute you do this it stops being play.

“Read up on the evidence about play,” suggests Levine. “You’ll find it’s far more valuable than force-feeding children ‘education’ at a young age. Research shows that children who attend play-based preschools, as opposed to academic preschools, do significantly better in school down the line. Baby Einstein actually retards, rather than advances, language acquisition. Once you realize that your assumptions are wrong, you’ll be motivated to change your parenting practices.”

Think back to your own best memories from childhood. “They won’t be the classes or the lessons but the time you were allowed to just be,” says Levine. “It’s important to allow your kids this right as well. Children deserve a childhood.”

Get back in touch with your own playfulness. Maybe you haven’t really had fun in a long time. Decide this is the summer you’re going to change that. Get in the pool with your kid. Go camping. Dust off your bicycle and go for a spin. When your child sees you playing, she will be more willing to play, too.

“Kids really do model what they see,” notes Levine. “Plus, part of your job is to present a picture of adulthood that your children will want to emulate. If all they see you doing is working, or sitting around watching them play baseball, why would they ever want to grow up?”

Explain to your kids that you’re going to “back it off” a bit this summer. Tell them you’re worried that they’re too busy to really have any fun and that you want to help them change that. Then, ask them to help you create a summer “bucket list.” What would they really like to do this summer?

“Don’t be surprised if they don’t know how to answer that question,” notes Levine. “If they’ve been overbooked and overscheduled all their lives, they’re not used to thinking this way. Part of the joy of this summer will be in seeing their sense of play emerge.”

Ask them which activities they want to keep…and which they want to toss. Gently explain to them that swimming, Scouts, gymnastics, and twice-a-week piano lessons is too much “doing” for this laid back summer. Ask them to figure out their least favorite activity (or maybe two) and then cancel it.

“You may be shocked by what they tell you they want to quit doing,” says Levine. “If your son has been on the swim team for several years and seems to love it, you may be shocked when he asks to quit. Sometimes our kids do things because we want them to, and somehow we failed to notice their heart has never been in it.”

Pencil in some low-key friends and family time. This may mean saying no to some invitations. Or it may mean setting aside one evening as family night. Just make sure kids have substantial blocks of time to just hang out with you or with friends. (Surprise…even video games aren’t that bad in limited quantities, says Levine.)

“The point is to make sure there is plenty of free time available for the kids to just be kids,” says Levine. “If you don’t set aside the time, and guard it with your life, you’ll just end up keeping your usual chaotic schedule by default.”

Encourage free-range (not pre-packaged) play. The more natural and spontaneous the play is the better. A sandbox in the backyard is better than an amusement park. Blocks are better than a plastic bat cave. Impromptu games of neighborhood soccer are more valuable than soccer camp.

Be aware that loafing and hanging out are more valuable than you think. The next time you’re tempted to tell your kid, “Why don’t you go do something!” rethink your belief that busy is always better. Even if it doesn’t look like kids are doing much, a lot of learning may be going on. Never underestimate the value of lying in the grass looking at the sky, or sitting on the sidewalk sharing a stick of gum with a friend.

Finally, trust your kids enough to give them some freedom. “Choice is the hallmark of true play,” notes Levine. “Have confidence that when your child is off on his own and enjoying himself and directing himself in activities he chooses…well, that is his job. Chances are, whatever he’s doing of his own free will is better than any ‘enriching’ activity you might impose on him.”


About the Author: Madeline Levine, PhD, is a clinician, consultant, and educator; the author of New York Times bestseller The Price of Privilege and Teach Your Children Well; and a cofounder of Challenge Success, a program founded at the Stanford School of Education that addresses education reform and student well-being. She lives outside San Francisco with her husband and is the proud mother of three newly minted adult sons.

Safe Thrills at Amusement Parks this Summer

roller coaster

In 2009, approximately 280 million guests visited amusement facilities in the United States and safely enjoyed 1.7 billion rides according to the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions. A majority of health and safety mishaps at amusement parks can be prevented. Before you attend your next family day at an amusement park, take these tips into consideration so you have a safe and fun day.

Before you get to the park:

  • More amusement park visitors suffer from sunburn, heat rash, heat exhaustion and heatstroke than all other injuries. Wear sunscreen and apply it often. If you are arriving at the park early to beat the lines, apply sunscreen before you leave the house. Re-apply more sunscreen after water rides or perspiring heavily.
  • Pay close attention to what the weather is going to be like when you will be at the park. Wear a comfortable pair of shoes and socks and dress accordingly for the weather and rides. If you plan on going on water rides, wear clothes that dry fast or take clothes to change into.
  • Before you get into the park and in line for the rides, hydrate yourself and your family with plenty of water. This can help prevent heat-related illnesses. Your body can quickly dehydrate in the heat so be sure to stop at water fountains in the park frequently.

Safety while at the park:

  • When you arrive, make a plan with your group for where you will meet if you get separated. Also schedule meeting times to re-connect with your group.
  • Take a photo of any children in your group with your phone when you arrive at the park. If a child gets separated from the group, a photo will help police find them because they will be aware of exactly what the child is wearing, and how they look that day.
  • Don’t leave your children alone, especially while taking restroom breaks, eating and standing in line for a ride. Ensure that when your child gets on a ride, even if you are not riding, that they load safely and are secured in the seat. Wait at the ride’s exit for your child to unload from the completely stopped ride.
  • Be alert to exits and emergency stations. Give everyone a map so they will be able to locate important areas such as the First Aid Centers, restrooms and the main gates.
  • Follow all park rules. If you have small children with you, stay in age-appropriate areas. If you are pregnant or have certain medical conditions, some rides might not be safe for you.
  • Carry minimal cash and leave valuable personal items that could be easily lost or stolen at home.
  • Never enter a restricted area. If you lose an item when on a ride, ask for an employee to help you retrieve it.

Ride safety:

  • Communicate with your group about ride safety when entering the park. It is easy to become distracted by the excitement of the day.
  • Hold on tight. Handles and safety bars are there for a reason. Use them to keep your body positioned correctly in the ride and to stay in your seat.
  • Always fasten your seatbelt or harness tightly. If you do not feel comfortable in the ride, ask the ride attendant for assistance.
  • Sit up straight and face the proper direction on the ride.
  • Read warning signs and follow instructions given by the ride operators.

Test runs of rides happen throughout the day at theme parks to ensure safety and correct operation. If you have any safety questions or concerns about the theme park you are visiting, including what the weather will be like or information about a certain ride, be sure to visit the park’s website, call their customer service hotline, or ask the ride attendant for assistance.



About the author: DelMar Laury is a Vice President at AlliedBarton Security Services. AlliedBarton is the industry’s premier provider of highly trained security personnel to many industries including higher education, commercial real estate, healthcare, residential communities, chemical/petrochemical, government, manufacturing and distribution, financial institutions, and shopping centers.