April Giveaway Winners

The Winner of the Alvin & The Chipmunks The Road Chip Blu-ray is: owen.darlene@XXXXX.com

The Winner of the Hero Quest DVD is: 'julielundstrom@XXXXX.com'

The Winner of the Ice Age: The Great Egg-scapade is: 'laborders2000@XXXX.com'

The Winner of the Joy Blu-ray Giveaway is: bwallace1980@XXXXX.com

The Winner of Quiver is: versatileer@XXXX.com

The winners have both been notified. If you did not receive an email, please email directly within 48 hours or another winner will be selected.

Put a Smile on Your Face with Better Dental Care

What puts a smile on your face these days?
For millions of people, having healthy and attractive looking teeth does just that.
For millions of others, getting to the pointy of having healthy and attractive looking teeth can prove quite a challenge.

Whether it is lack of care, lack of money or health insurance, even a lack of good genetics passed along from one generation of a family to another, many individuals battle with dental care on a regular basis.

So, are you ready to better your smile with better dental care?

Checkups and Great Brushing Habits Truly Matter

If you’ve been struggling with getting and maintaining good teeth, there are ways for you to change all that.

Among the ways:

·         See your dentist regularly – No matter how much you try at home to care for your teeth, seeing your dentist regularly is an absolute if you want healthy teeth for the long run. Whether you see a family dentist in Flagstaff (Arizona) or somewhere closer to home, make it a priority to get with them once, preferably twice a year. He or she can diagnose issues you may be having with your teeth that you could easily miss. They also can take X-rays, a procedure that can assist them in finding cavities or other dental issues the naked eye may miss. Lastly, they can provide you with different brushing and flossing tips, making your fight against tooth decay, gingivitis and other dental problems easier.

·         Don’t skip regular brushing – It can be very easy to pass on brushing your teeth. You might be away from home and not be able to brush following a meal or two. There are also the times when you are hurrying around the house and don’t get time or forget to brush before heading out the door. Remember, the standard “brush three times a day” is always a good rule to follow.

·         Spend some money now rather than lots more down the road – While financial times are tough for many people these days, always note that spending a little money now on your teeth is better than getting hit with more problems and bigger expenses down the road. Yes, some people do not have dental insurance or limited coverage at best. That said it is better to catch and fix dental problems sooner rather than later. Taking care of a cavity now is much more preferable than waiting until it becomes a possible root canal in the future. Not only would you save money now handling the problem, but also pain and more dental visits later.

·         Take the show on the road – As mentioned earlier, you can’t always brush when you want to. Given that issue, your teeth still need to be cared for several times a day. Be sure to carry floss with you while out on the road, along with having water with you at all times. Along with the other positives that come with drinking water multiple times a day, it helps remove food particles, sugary acids etc. that accumulate on your teeth during and after eating. By swishing some water around in your mouth after eating or drinking a soda, you help to lessen the impact both have on your teeth.

·         Start the kids out early – For parents out there, getting your child or children to pick up good dental habits at an early age is crucial. Make sure you teach them the value of brushing regularly, flossing, eating healthy foods, avoiding an abundance of sugary drinks, and taking care of their teeth when out playing (use mouth guards for organized sports etc.). When kids learn at an early age the importance of good dental hygiene, they are more likely to carry such practices through into adulthood.

Taking care of your teeth doesn’t have to be a chore. 

Brushing regularly, avoiding foods and drinks that can damage your teeth, and of course making regular visits to the dentist’s office will all point you in the right direction of good dental health.

At the end of the day (and hopefully the end of your life), you will look back with a smile on your face.

Even Smart Kids Struggle with Reading #ilovebooks

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                   

Smart Kid, Can’t Read: Reading Expert Offers Sage Advice for Parents and Others Entrusted with Helping Children Who Struggle to Read

One third of U.S. school children have problems reading.  It’s easy to think of low literacy as someone else’s problem—until it’s your child about to be sentenced to a lifetime of difficulties.  Public school systems, unfortunately, are ill-equipped to help.  Getting your child reading assistance that results in meaningful improvement requires that you advocate for your child.  Fortunately, there’s help out there.
Dr. Lorna Kaufman’s important new book, Smart Kid, Can’t Read: Five Steps Any Parent Can Take to Get Help (Ash Point, paper, $14.95), offers step-by-step real-world advice for anyone trying to navigate the hurdles of getting a child the help he or she needs—a task that can be amazingly daunting.
“Most reading problems can be prevented,” explains Kaufman, a developmental psychologist, reading expert, and past president of the Massachusetts Branch of the International Dyslexia Association.  “We’re spending billions of dollars on a problem we know how to prevent.”  The problem is inertia on the part of the very people who are supposed to be solving this problem: school systems and the colleges of education training our teachers.  The good news: armed with the information Dr. Kaufman provides, children can get the help they need before it’s too late.

Smart Kid, Can’t Read offers parents—and grandparents—everything they could possibly need to help them become effective advocates for their children.

Kaufman, who has worked with parents and school systems for thirty years, draws upon a career’s worth of experience and smarts to create a guide full of step-by-step advice.   From red flags for reading problems to why schools don’t act soon enough—and how to get them to—is laid out cleanly and clearly in language accessible enough that anyone can follow.  “Over the years parents of children I’ve worked with have urged me to write this book,” says Kaufman, who speaks regularly on efforts for improving reading instruction in the nation’s schools. “I know the ins and outs of the reading remediation system very, very, well.   Let’s just say I’ve been in the trenches.”

Smart Kid, Can’t Read distills Dr. Kaufman’s considerable expertise into five critical steps for parents to take in order to get their kids the help they need:

Step 1: Trust your judgment and act as soon you suspect there’s a problem with your child’s reading.  Don’t wait. Catching and fixing reading problems early is the key.
Step 2: Find out precisely what your child needs. Make sure to get an independent expert diagnosis.
Step 3: Learn as much as you can about the reading the process. The more you know about The ABCs of reading, the more powerful an advocate you’ll be for your child.
Step 4: Know your legal rights. You’d be surprised how effective you can be when you know the special education laws that are on your side.
Step 5:  Advocate for your child. From networking with other parents to organizing a team, Smart Kid, Can’t Read shows you what you must do and when you must do it.
Dr. Kaufman’s book offers easy-to-administer tests that parents can give their children to help decide whether a reading evaluation is warranted.

“Most reading problems can be prevented with explicit, systematic, phonics-based instruction in the early grades, says Kaufman.  “The tragedy is what happens if the problems aren’t fixed in time.” 
Fixing them in time is what Smart Kid, Can’t Read is all about.  “Children whose parents advocate on their behalf receive more help and better quality help than children whose parents do not advocate on their behalf.” When you’re fighting for your child, it’s good to have a reading expert on your side.
About the author

Lorna Kaufman, PhD is a Boston-based developmental psychologist specializing in the psychological and educational evaluations of children, adolescents, and adults.   She has taught in the Graduate Language and Literacy Program at Simmons College and in the School of Education at Wheelock College.

Dr. Kaufman has worked in leading clinics including Boston Children’s Hospital, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center, and the Learning Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. In addition to her private practice, she writes and lectures regularly on reading and reading disorders.

Dr. Kaufman and her colleagues, Sandra Doran, EdD and Leigh Leveen, are cofounders of www.SmartKidCantRead.com, which provides training and resources leading to successful reading experiences for all children.

10 Important Tips When Talking To Your Teen About Dating Violence

How to Talk With Your Teen about Dating Violence
One in three 14-year-olds have been in an abusive relationship

International (April 18, 2016) – The numbers are staggering and widely unknown by most parents: one in three 14-year-olds has experienced physical, sexual or psychological abuse within a dating relationship, rising to 44 percent by the time American young people graduate from college. Teen dating violence (TDV) is a topic that parents must discuss with their children, yet many parents neglect to have this conversation because they do not believe that TDV is a widespread problem – or that it does not apply to their children.

“I knew to talk with Jen about alcohol, drugs, sex and all those other parenting talks, but I never knew I had to teach her about dating violence,” said Drew Crecente, whose 18-year-old daughter was murdered by her ex-boyfriend. “I did not realize that it was such a pervasive issue at such a young age.”

In fact, 81 percent of parents either do not believe that TDV is a problem – or do not know if it is a problem or not.
In an effort to combat this epidemic, Crecente founded Jennifer Ann’s Group to increase awareness about teen dating violence, as well as provide educational information to help teens, tweens, and young adults identify and avoid abusive relationships through free educational video games.

“Parents have a largely underrated influence in preventing TDV, and it begins with a sit-down conversation, but knowing what to say and how to say it is also important,” says Crecente.
  1. Encourage open, honest, and thoughtful reflection. Talk openly with your teen about healthy relationships. Allow them to articulate his or her values and expectations for healthy relationships. Rather than dismissing ideas as wrong, encourage debate, which helps young people come to his or her own understanding.
  1. Be sensitive and firm. Parenting a teen is not an easy task, especially when it comes to helping him or her navigate their way through relationships. To be effective, you will need to find the balance between being sensitive and firm. Try to adapt to the changes faced by your child. Be willing to talk openly and respect differences of opinion. Realize that the decisions you make will sometimes be unpopular with your teen – that’s okay.
  1. Understand teen development. Adolescence is all about experimentation. From mood swings to risk taking, “normal teenage behavior” can appear anything-but-normal. New research, however, reveals that brain development during these formative years play a significant role in young teen’s personality and actions. Knowing what’s “normal” is critical to helping you better understand and guide young people.
  1. Understand the pressure and the risk teen’s face. Preteens and young teens face new and increasing pressures about sex, substance abuse and dating. Time and time again, young teens express their desire to have parents/role models take the time to listen to them and help them think through the situations they face – be that person!
  1. Take a clear stand. Make sure young teen knows how you feel about disrespect, use of abusive or inappropriate language, controlling behavior or any forms of violence.
  1. Make the most of “teachable moments”. Use video games, TV episodes, movies, music lyrics, news, community events or the experiences of friends to discuss healthy and unhealthy relationships.
  1. Discuss how to be an ‘upstander’. Teach teens how to stand-up for friends when he or she observes unhealthy treatment of his or her peers.
  1. Accentuate the positive. Conversations about relationships do not need to focus solely on risky behavior or negative consequences. Conversations should also address factors that promote healthy adolescent development and relationships.
  1. Be an active participant in your young teen’s life. Explore ways to know more about your teen’s friends and interests. Find activities you can do together.
  1. Be prepared to make mistakes. You will make mistakes. Accept that you will make mistakes, but continue to help teens make responsible choices while trying to maintain that delicate balance of being sensitive, yet firm.
Recognizing the importance of having this discussion is an important first step, Jennifer Ann’s Group has been producing video games about teen dating violence for this purpose since 2008. All of their digital games are free, engaging and effective; the ideal solution for parents ready to tackle this important topic with their adolescents.
Currently, the organization is accepting international entries for the Life.Love. Game Design Challenge, providing developers and programmers the opportunity to garner attention and respect from the international gaming community to catapult their careers.

Registration for the contest is now open, and entries are due by June 1, 2016.  Winners will receive international recognition, and $11,000 in prizes will be distributed.

How to enter:
Rules, registration, FAQs and previous winners are available at: https://jagga.me/contest

About Jennifer Ann’s Group
Jennifer Ann’s Group is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization preventing teen dating violence through awareness, education, and advocacy. The organization has been instrumental in the passing of legislation mandating teen dating violence awareness in schools and has distributed over a half-million free educational materials to schools, churches, and other organizations throughout the U.S. and U.K. at no cost to the recipients. For more information, visit http://jenniferann.org.

On February 15, 2006, Jennifer Ann Crecente, a high school senior, was murdered by her ex-boyfriend. Jennifer was an honor roll student in high school, a camp counselor, a hospital volunteer, and participated in community theatre with her dad. Jennifer Ann’s Group is run by her father.

A Lesson in Parenting Through Adversity By Charles G. Hanna

My daughter is finishing grade 6 and everyone in her class had to apply to an intermediate school. The selection process is quite grueling but I was very confident that she would be accepted in one or both of the schools she applied to. As the announcement date approached, the stress experienced by these children became more and more evident.

That morning, I received an email from the first school indicating that she was not selected and placed on a Wait List due to space constraints. I was stunned. It was the easier of the two schools and she did not make it to that. Never did I consider such a possibility. I was with her throughout the process and thought she did exemplary. A million questions started to fill my mind, starting with Why? Why? Why? Five minutes later, she ran into my room and in a very excited voice asked me if I heard from the schools yet. I was not ready to deliver the bad news, so despite my somber state I put on a happy face and said not yet. Later that afternoon I got the bad news from the second school.

On my way to pick her up from school I was tormented the whole way asking myself, Is she not good enough? What did I miss? Was it my fault that I did not get her tutors or assist her more with the application process? When she saw me she came running with great excitement and her first words were "Daddy, did you hear from the schools?" I was still not at all ready and said no, and instead I asked her what her friends heard. She told me that all her best friends got into the schools of their choice. That night I could not sleep and kept thinking She will be left behind. How will she take the news? Is this going to destroy her self-esteem? How can I protect her from this cruel turn of events?

The next day I told her about the first school and she was shaken. Then she asked me suspiciously about the second school and I had to tell her that too. As soon as I did she started to cry. It felt like a knife was cutting through my heart. I composed myself as much as I could and told her that bad things sometimes happen but always for a good reason. She countered by saying "that is not true!" I said, "Yes even if we cannot see at the time."

The next day I started to reflect on my belief that things always work out for the best. I reminded myself that this was not about me – It’s about my young daughter who has to learn a hard lesson so early in life. How can I help her deal with this without emotional scarring? I am aware that my perception can cause me to view situations like this with fear and shame and I learned to correct that perception, but in this case it was my daughter's emotions that I was worried about.

That was the moment I got my clarity. I suddenly realized that it is I who needs to deal with this, not her. I asked myself if I truly and completely believed that this is for the best? My answer was a resounding yes! Well then, what was the problem? There was none! What became clear is that it is I who felt the anguish and fear and shame. It is I who needs to process these negative feelings not her. She does not even have these feelings and I was about to inadvertently instill my own prejudices and negative perception onto her and then try to fix her, like breaking a glass and then trying to put it back together. I realized that if I was at peace with the outcome she would be too, and I could then focus on guiding her positively through it. What an awakening!

The next few days we found another great school and even a shot at her favorite one in another month although she was already happy with one we selected. My daughter continued to be as happy and cheerful as usual. The point is that while this story has a happy ending, the real gift is that I did not pass my self-centered fears to her and instead helped her see the good within adversity that would guide her for better serenity in life.

Here are four ways to apply this lesson when your child or any loved one faces a difficult situation:

1.     Stay in the moment and be focused because they need you right now.
2.     Make sure that you are totally without any negative feelings with their situation. True positive serenity is the best support that you can give to them.
3.     Guide them to see the positive that could come out of it.
4.     Help them avoid making decisions based on negative emotions that they may still have.

Charles G. Hanna is the author of Higher: Awaken to a More Fulfilling Life and a devoted father of three children. For more information, please visit www.charleshannahigher.com.

SEGA Announces the Launch of @Sonicstyles

Everyone's favorite hedgehog is springing into action, and it looks like things are trending to blue.  
Starting Wednesday, a newly launched Instagram  kicks off -- @SonicStyles, and Sonic the Hedgehog will now bring all things stylish to the popular platform.

The new @SonicStyles Instagram is elevating Sonic into the world of fashion, lifestyle and art. It will provide trend-conscious fans the opportunity to keep up with the latest Sonic inspiration in the space. It will start by introducing the world to a handful of collaborations that showcase Sonic in a new light including:

Han Cholo Silver Sonic Sneaker Pendant

Signorelli Sonic Coffee Break fashion top (Get 10% at www.RecycledKarma.com with code SonicStyles)

Fashion’s Favorite Artist: Donald Robertson x Sonic Collaboration Piece  

Tomy Sonic Boom Action Figures: NYC Times Square Adventure

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Sonic, and this extension is just one example of how SEGA and Sonic have something for everyone planned to celebrate this year.  This initiative is focused on creating a dialogue with the “Blue Blur’s”  fans and many leading artists, designers, and influencers  who consider Sonic an iconic character that has impacted them over the years.    

The Instagram page is the perfect destination to share Sonic-inspired design, style and fashion tips, and more. 

@SonicStyles will give fans a chance to see Sonic’s cool attitude as reflected in lifestyle culture through a variety of fun collaborations and activations across fashion, art and much more.  The @SonicStyles initiative is meant to be additive to all of the other exciting efforts that will soon be announced for the more traditional gaming fan.
Be sure to follow along for the most up-to-date information on Sonic (as well as some sweet giveaways)!

Get widget
Dear Readers: At this time all giveaways on Maria's Space are for the United States unless otherwise noted.