Friday, November 16, 2012

Talking Turkey and Other Holiday Tips for Your Family

 Holiday and Thanksgiving Tips Raleigh Apex Cary Durham

As the holiday season draws near, there are more opportunities to have fun with family.  We put together the Family Fun Series to encourage spending time together this season with family and friends.  Grab a cup of hot cocoa and read about some great ways to make the season special that don’t take a lot of time or money…just family.


While you’re sitting around the table waiting for some turkey and mashed potatoes to come your way, start a conversation with these ideas.  You can do this during dinner, before dinner, when the pies are handed out or just when things get a little calm.  Print out this post, cut up the statements and let everybody have a turn!


Something I wish was still in stores is… 

The first movie I ever saw was…

My favorite toy was…

My first job was…

My best birthday party was…

If you could have any super hero power, what would it be?

If you could live out any TV show for a week, what show would it be?

What is the most memorable event of this year?

What is your favorite family recipe?

If you could be invisible for 3 hours, where would you go and what would you do?

What radio station or CD is in your car right now?

Best Halloween costume you saw this year…any year?

Where were you when…you finish the blank…the youngest child was born, the Red Sox won the World Series, you got your driver’s license, you met your spouse, etc.

What I want for Christmas is… 

Holiday Tips:  Do you have some younger ones and teens coming to the feast?  Here are some great tips to help people of ALL ages to enjoy the holiday get togethers! 

  • The dinner is often off schedule for many children.  Most kids eat earlier than the traditional 2 or 3 pm dinner schedule.  Prepare a light snack/lunch just for the kids that doesn’t take much time.  Veggies, crackers, cheese, and even juice boxes so that they can eat ahead of time and not be constantly asking for lunch

  • Have a “kids table.”  Cover the kids table with butcher paper and leave some crayons for them to enjoy coloring.

  • Have one TV just for the kids.  It can be a TV or a computer monitor with a laptop.  Once the kids are done, let them watch a special move such as Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving or Christmas or one of our favorites A Night at the Museum for older ones.  You can do this later in the day and give them some microwaved popcorn as a treat!

  • Download directions on how to make a pilgrim hat for children.  This way the older ones can make their own hats.  You can also download other creatures to make that may be fun!  Go to our Pinterest board here for the directions. 

  • If you have preschoolers, have them bring costumes or buy some after Halloween dress up and put it in a big bin.  They will have great fun playing princess and pirate, enchanting everyone with their presence!

  • Download some activities that are football or fall themed.  You can see great fall and football ideas on our Pinterest board here!

  • Have a place for the children to go when they are done.  A playroom, a TV room, outside.  Don’t assume they will make it.

  • Make S’mores at dusk around a campfire.  Something to look forward to and a little different!  Kids will talk about it for a long time to come.  Hint:  Get the large marshmallows!

  • Pick a place to go after the big meal and before the dessert…or after the dessert.  We like to go to Duke Gardens, but choose a spot to head to with the kids and anyone who wants to get off a little energy!  The ones who want to nap can then have a little quiet!

  • Designate a pie and dessert “order taker.”  This person goes around with a pencil and pad and takes the dessert order of each person.  Then they tally up the number and off they go to hand in the orders.  If they are old enough, they can serve it as well!

  • For those who may have lost a loved one, having something there to remind them or even making a trip to the cemetery may seem strange, but is good for many children.  Remembering their special person is important

  • Make your own name place tags and/or placemats for the kids to color.  See some great ideas on our Thanksgiving Pinterest Board (with free download!). Or, download some great ones from NickJr.

  • Go bowling!  Our family (minus anyone who wanted to stay home by the fire) went bowling every Christmas Day.  We were usually one of the only ones there.  One year, we even were interviewed by the local paper!

  • Put out a puzzle.  For elementary ages and teens right up to adult, puzzles seem to captivate some great attention!  We’ve had some great conversation as you search for pieces.  If you really want to have fun, take one piece (not an edge piece) and hide it away.  There’s nothing worse than having one piece missing from a puzzle you spent hours on….and there’s nothing better than being the one who “found” the piece (or if you’re really nice, give it to the youngest puzzle doer).  Such fun!


The best advice sometimes is to relax and know that something will go wrong and right.  Family getting together can be stressful, wonderful, busy, and unlike any normal day.  Kids will be annoyed, teased, laughing, crying, and sleeping at the oddest times.  Sometimes letting go of expectations can be the best thing to do on holidays.

Have a great holiday season…from our house to yours!

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Sunday, November 4, 2012

How to Retrieve What You’ve Read—Almost Instantly

“Readers are leaders and leaders are readers.” I can remember when and where I heard that phrase for the first time. It was at a Campus Crusade meeting on a Thursday night in Hardin Hall on the campus of Clemson University.
Word from a Book, Highlighted in Green - Photo courtesy of ©, Image #18259623
I’m not sure why those words are burned into my mind, but this quote took my leadership to the next level. Soon after, I started soaking up anything I could find on the topic of leadership.
As I began this component of my leadership development, I reasoned, “Why would anyone read this stuff without the means of sharing and revisiting it from time to time?” I could not understand why anyone would read through a book without a pen and/or highlighter.
To read a book just to say you read it simply baffled me. I understand we all have different learning styles, but unless you have a photographic memory, there is no way you can retrieve what you have read in less than sixty seconds. I knew I needed a way to keep the golden nuggets of leadership within reach.
The next defining moment in my “readership journey” came when I met Steve Wright. Steve is an author, speaker, Student Minister and all things leadership. He shared with me how most of his creativity and teaching material came from what he was reading.
He also divulged his system of reading and filing. This compelled me to create my own methodology for capturing what I was reading and then put it in a format that would allow me to retrieve it quickly. Here’s the method to my madness:
  1. Read good books. This may be a no-brainer, but I don’t read arbitrary books. If someone hasn’t recommended a title or author, I don’t touch it. This is where crowd-sourcing is a key component to my leadership development. Hence, I’m currently finishing up Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World.
  2. Never read without a pen and/or highlighter. If you are reading good books and your intent for reading is to learn, then you need to be ready to mark those nuggets when you find them. I understand this might push some of my OCD friends over the edge, but trust me, the librarian will not show up on your door step demanding a fee for damaged books. Not to mention that studies have revealed that you tend to read faster when you use a pen to help pace your eyes along the text.
  3. Finish the book and rewind. When I complete a book, I’m only halfway to the finish line. My next step is to go back to the beginning and revisit the principles, illustrations, and examples that caught my attention the first time through. As I re-read those sentences or paragraphs, I search for a key word that would identify the topic it addresses and circle it. If I am not able to find that word, I will write a word in the margin.
  4. Create your own index. This is the extra mile. Now that I have done the work to read, mark and identify, I need a tool to help me get to it as fast as you can. I will ask my assistant, Vickie, to flip through the pages of my work and begin composing a list of the key words I have attached to the information. She will also attach page numbers to the key word. If I have used that word in several areas, she just adds those page numbers in sequence. In the end, I will have a list of key words and all the pages attached to those words and will arrange them in alphabetical order. (Note: I use MS Excel. MS Word will work as well.)
  5. Cut and paste. Hold on, you are almost finished. My last step is to look at the book I have processed and determine how many blank pages are in the front and back, covers included. I also measure the dimensions of those pages. This is critical as I want the pages of my index to fit inside the book. I will modify the settings for my margins to match the dimensions for the book. Once this is done, I determine how many pages my index created and make sure I have enough blank pages in the book. If not, I will adjust font size and even font type to make sure all of my index pages will fit. Finally, I’ll grab some rubber cement and paste these pages on the blank pages of my book.
  6. But wait, there’s one more step. As I began this process, it occurred to me that I needed a Master Index of the books I complete. This allows me to see all of the books I have read that mention a particular topic. So if I need material on Social Media, I can see which books and authors reference Social Media.
The bottom line here is that you must have a means to retrieve what you read. It helps you stay sharp and it elevates your value to others who know you are a disciplined reader and can share what you learn.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

10 Things Winners Do Differently

Anyone can give up, and lots of people do, because it’s the easiest thing in the world to do.  But to keep going when everyone would understand if you stopped, that’s what winners do differently.  In fact, this is the most significant principle of winning.  Because without this kind of determination and persistence, the first nine points in this article wouldn’t matter.  But when you combine determination and persistence, as described in point #10 below, with each of the other nine points below, that’s when the real magic happens.
On their relentless road to victory, winners…
  1. Take 100% responsibility. – Your life is your statement to the world, representing your values, beliefs, and dreams.  It is yours to create, to enjoy or not enjoy, to fight or to be at peace.  In the end, the very best years of your life will be the ones in which you decide your problems are your own.  You do not blame them on your parents, society, or the economy.  You realize that you control your own destiny.  Read The Road Less Traveled.
  2. Focus on the controllable. – Life is a balance between what we can and cannot control.  You must learn to live comfortably between effort and surrender.  Life does not owe you anything; it has already given you everything you need.  Freedom is not overcoming what you think stands in your way;  it is understanding that what is in your way is part of the way.
  3. Eliminate the wrong things. – The true price of anything you do is the amount of time you exchange for it.  If something you’re doing or thinking isn’t fixing or improving the situation, then it’s wasting your time.  There comes a point when you have to choose between turning the page and closing the book.
  4. Maintain control. – Start shaping your own days.  Start walking your own walk.  This journey is yours.  You know you were born, and you know you will die.  The in between is all up to you.  Stop wishing, and start doing.  Either you run your days, or your days will run you.
  5. Keep good company. – It’s not always where you are in life, but who you have by your side that matters most.  Some people drain you and others provide soul food.  Be sure to get in the company of those who feed your spirit, and give the gift of your absence to those who do not appreciate your presence.
  6. Think constructively. – Change your thoughts and you change your reality.  Our thoughts are the makers of our moods, the inventors of our dreams, and the creators of our will.  That is why you must sort through them carefully, and choose to respond only to those that will help you build the life you want, and the outlook you want to hold as you’re living it.  Read Learned Optimism.
  7. Conquer oneself. – Being yourself is the foundation of happiness.  Knowing yourself is the foundation of wisdom.  Pushing yourself is the foundation of success.  It is better to conquer yourself is these ways, than to win a hundred battles elsewhere in life.
  8. Practice self-love. – We need to fix ourselves first before we fix others.  Caring for yourself is not an act of self-indulgence, it’s an act of self-respect.  The day will finally come when you have to accept that you need to be your own caretaker.  There will be times when you’ll have to work hard to mother yourself with the compassion and patience that any messed up kid would need.  Doing so will prove to be a great challenge, but a happier life is your reward.
  9. Work through the pain. – One day this pain will make sense to you.  Sometimes it takes the worst pain to bring about the best change.  The strongest people you know became strong because of the pain they once faced, and conquered.  So in spite of all the put-downs and negativity you’ve heard from others in your life, stay focused on your goals, and remember that how you rise up is no one else’s business but your own.  Read Man’s Search for Meaning.
  10. Keep going. – No matter what you do, no matter how many times you screw up and think to yourself that there’s no point to carry on, and no matter how many people tell you that you can’t do it – keep going.  Pick yourself back up.  Don’t quit.  Don’t quit, because a few months from now you will be so much closer to your goal than you are now.  Focus on the road ahead.  Do something today your future self will thank you for.
Source: post written by: Marc

They are Kids....

The 4 Survival Skills Every Kid Should Know

Survival KidSource
Lisa Bedford is the author of Survival Mom: How to Prepare Your Family for Everyday Disasters and Worst Case Scenarios and editor of blog.
Some of outdoor adventurer Bear Grylls’ biggest fans are kids. Their eyes widen at his derring-do, and boys and girls alike admire his survival skills and savvy. But the survival skills that are more likely to keep our kids safe and sound are actually far more mundane! Here are four survival skills that every kid should know, along with a few tips for parents.

What to do if lost

A lost child is a scared child, and usually their first instinct is to begin searching for their family. Train your children to stop and sit as soon as they realize they are lost. Assure them that, no matter how scared they might be, you are searching for them at that very moment; but also that, if they keep moving around, it will take longer to find them. Consider equipping your children with an inexpensive cell phone and when venturing outdoors, a few survival items tucked in a backpack or their pockets. Items such as a whistle, a bright bandana and a bottle of water are the makings of a kids’ survival kit that will go a long way to helping them be found more quickly.

How to answer the door when home alone

Usually the best strategy is to not answer the door! Yes, the person knocking could be a burglar scoping out the neighborhood. But once the door is opened, it’s that much easier for an intruder to enter. And children are easily overpowered. Train your child to enforce home security: Keep doors and windows locked and blinds and curtains closed. Noise from a TV or radio is fine. Someone with questionable motives will think twice about entering a home if they hear noises inside, even if the house is closed up and no one answers the door.

What to do in a medical emergency

From a young age, kids can learn how to dial 911 and report an emergency, but this takes practice. Spend some time rehearsing phone calls, teaching your children to relay detailed information to an operator, follow his or her instructions, and then stay on the line until help arrives. If possible, children should also get the home ready for the arrival of EMTs by putting pets in closed areas and, if it’s nighttime, turning on both indoor and outdoor lights. Summer is an ideal time for children to take first aid and CPR classes, that are typically suitable for kids age 9 and up.

 How to maintain situational awareness

When driving in the car, for instance, ask your kids to describe a building or vehicle you just passed. Teach them to pay attention to the route home by asking them to give you driving directions!
This one skill can help your child avoid many dangerous situations. The concept is simply for children to be aware of the people and events around them. Parents can help their children become more observant and aware—not by scaring them, but by playing games to teach and practice this skill.
When driving in the car, for instance, ask your kids to describe a building or vehicle you just passed. Teach them to pay attention to the route home by asking them to give you driving directions! Tell them to close their eyes and describe what someone in the room is wearing. Encourage them to check out the license plates of passing cars: Which states are they from? What is the sum of the numbers on the license plate?
Being aware of their surroundings will help them avoid predatory people and other dangerous scenarios. Simple to teach. Fun to practice. And, quite possibly, a life saver.