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Archive for 2012


Posted on: November 6th, 2012 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

Being a mom can sometimes feel like you’re a Bionic Woman.  And like her mom’s need some state-of-the-art tools to make the job easier. As smart phones become more and more common in all households, there are some great programs and apps you can use to make this 24/7 job that you love easier.
Whether it’s compiling your grocery list or figuring out what to do when someone bumps their head, these apps will help make your life more organized and prepared.


Health and Wellness

            First Aid (Free) – This app provides step-by-step instructions for dealing with life-threatening situations including head injuries, breathing problems and many other medical emergencies. Using illustration, it’s easy to read.

Baby Bump Pregnancy Pro – For the expectant moms, you can track all of your pregnancy to-dos as well as get updated every week on your baby’s development. You can also compare your notes with other moms in the pregnancy forums.

Pocket Dock (Free) – Brought to you by All Children’s Hospital, Pocket Doc makes parenting a little easier by giving you access to reliable information on children’s health. Symptom Guides help you make smart decisions about what (if any) level of care your child’s symptoms require and how to provide quick symptom relief at home for minor illnesses or injuries.


Staying Organized

            Baby ESP – The “ESP” stands for eat, sleep and poop and every time your little one does one, you can track it using this simple app. It’ll help you manage diaper cost as well as sinking it with your baby sitters phone so they know the kids routine.

Out of Milk (Free) –Out of Milk is on a mission to keep your fully updated list in hand. It lets you build multiple grocery lists for different stores and share them via e-mail or text. When you run out of an item, just scan the barcode to add it to your list. The app also has a voice function, a handy auto-complete feature, and the ability to add items from your own shopping list history.

Cozi Family Calendar and List (Free)- Cozi makes your phone the ultimate family organizer with a shared calendar, grocery shopping lists, to do lists and a journal the whole family can access on the go.



            Baby Monitor & Alarm – will automatically call you on any pre-selected number when there’s a noise in your baby’s room. The app can be set to first try soothing your baby with your pre-recorded voice or with baby’s favorite song from your music library – which you can also choose to play automatically when you first put your baby down.  It also turns your phone into a baby monitor.

Mama Bear – Helps you track where your kids are, what they’re saying, who they’re with and whether they are speeding or not.

Background Check – Literally billions of public records right at your fingertips. Use the Background Check App to search people and check their Criminal History, Property Records, Current Contact Info, Relatives, Neighbors, and more!





Posted on: September 26th, 2012 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

Every year almost 30 million U.S. kids participate in organized sports. Although many studies have shown the psychological and physical benefits of playing sports the number of preventable injuries is growing rapidly as well.

Taking a few steps can drastically reduce the chances of your child being injured on the field or at practice.

Check Ups    

For those kids that plan to participate in sports this year an annual physical is especially important. While the doctor will check your child’s weight and vaccinations make sure to address any current injuries, cardiac issues and history of concussions. Ideally, the sports physical should happen about six weeks before the start of the season, according to St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital Medical Director Daniel Plasencia, M.D.

If your child is injured during the season, you should immediately schedule an appointment with the pediatrician and make sure they are well before returning to play.


Of all the sports injuries that happen each year it is estimated by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that half are preventable. So keep in mind, that regardless of what sport your kids want to play there are ways they can stay safe. As well as checking online, contact your team coach, pediatrician and league to see what safety equipment is required and available.

Remember – Using safety equipment is not limited to actual game play. Some studies argue that more sports-related injuries happen during practice because one third of parents don’t enforce the same safety restrictions during practice as they do in games. Your child should be wearing all of the safety gear during both practice and games.

Leagues and Fields

Each league, whether it by through your local Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA or school district, has stringent rules in place to keep families safe during practice and games. Some things to look out for are safe playing conditions, accredited staff and coaches, positive environment and happy families!

Work with your kids and teach them why and how to play safe sports. Making them accountable for activities like following directions and stretching will teach them not only to stay safe but also be aware of unsafe conditions.

For more information and statistics about sports injuries, visit



Posted on: September 14th, 2012 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

September 16-22 is National Child Passenger Safety Week and with it brings a somber statistic that in the United States, the number one killer of children between 1 and 12 years of age is car accidents. So making sure that kids are using the right car restraint, at the right time and using it correctly is the best way to protect them. Now, with all the options available from car seats to car boosters understanding the options and what you need will allow you to implement a safe car environment for the kids.

Types of Seats

Your child’s age and size will dictate what type of safety restraint she uses in the car.Newborns up to one year should always ride in a rear-facing car seat. They use harnesses and move with your child, lowering the chance of head and spinal cord injuries. suggests moving onto forward-facing restraints only when your child exceeds the height or weight limit on the rear-facing seat, generally around age 3. Once they reach the limits of these seats it will be time to move them to a booster seat.

Although not required by the state of Florida, moving onto a belt-positioning booster seat, as opposed to seat belt alone, will lower injury risks for your child by 59 percent according to a national study conducted by Safe Kids USA published in 2010.

Choosing the Right Car Seat

Once you’ve figured out what type of seat your child requires, you’ll need to make sure that any seats you’re interested in will work in your car. One of the most common mistakes is buying a seat that is either too small or too big for your car.

You’ll also want to find ratings on safety and ease-of-use by organizations like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The administration is constantly ranking car seats to help parents find the best options. From evaluation of labels, installations and overall ease of use, the ratings can be found online at

Installation and Asking For Help

More than 60% of car and booster seats are installed incorrectly. So before installing its important to read the seat’s instruction manual completely. Also read any information that might be in your car’s manual on installing safety restraints.

If you’re still not sure about the installation there are local programs and classes in Tampa Bay like the one at All Children’s Hospital where you can meet with a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician and they can show you how to properly install and use your car seat. To register for a class, visit

The most important thing to remember is that parents are not the only one that Child Passenger Safety applies to. Anyone that will be transporting your kids from school or anywhere else should be trained to property install and restrain your child.

Whether it be a car seat, booster seat or seat belt everyone should always be restrained in the car.  Doing so is not only important for your child’s safety, it could also save their life.

Find good car and booster seats at

More Information visit:


Posted on: September 4th, 2012 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

We’ve all been in that awkward situation when someone takes a call or sends a text message at an inappropriate time. And it can even be embarrassing when that someone is your teen. As parents, we want to give our kids the world but are we the cause of bad cell phone etiquette when we cave to pressure put on us by kids?

Boundaries, Expectations and Limitations.

Regardless of what your teen says you’re the only person who can decide if they’re ready to have a cell phone. Having one may be commonplace among friends, but in your house having a cell phone is a large responsibility. Right off the bat, establish that cell phone use has boundaries, expectations and limitations as well as consequences for falling short and rewards for achieving goals.

Quiet Zones

Originally developed to talk with others while on the go, cell phones have progressed far from just making phone calls. Decide with your teen on quiet zones where cell phone use is not permitted (school, dinner, church, family time, movies, etc.). Emphasize that no matter how important a call or text message may be, it should not be answered in quiet zones, like school. If you need to get a hold of them during the school day, contact the school.

Try creating specific usage times during the day (after school, on weekends, etc.) for your teens to communicate with friends. If your teen takes to your guidelines easily, reward them with additional monthly text or talk minutes.


When your teen finally steps behind the wheel one of the most important things they’ll need to remember is that under no circumstances are they to talk, text or surf the web while driving. Regardless of who calls. No text message or call is worth the risk of injuring, or killing yourself or others. Wait until your parked to return a call or text.

Some parents may even take the precaution of not allowing calls or text when teens are in a car with another young driver. Teens are easily distracted and having other teens making noise, taking calls while driving can endanger everyone in the car.


Make sure your teen understands that some calls are not appropriate to have in the middle of the mall. Even though teens get easily wrapped up in conversation, remember that other people can hear and see you. Wait until they get home before engaging in a heated conversation.

Minding your manners in public is also important cell phone etiquette. Language or topics of discussion that may be normal to you and the person on the other line may not always be appropriate for the person sitting next to you on the bus. Follow the simple rule: If you wouldn’t walk around with certain words written on your t-shirt don’t say them when talking on the phone in a public place.

The best way to raise polite, smart cell phone users is by being good role models. Our teens will emulate what they see us do. So if we pick up our cell phones during movies or at restaurants, they will also. Once you decide to bestow the privilege of having a cell phone to your teen, talk them through what it means and what’s expected of them. If you’re clear about what you expect in return, there won’t be any discussion later on down the line.



Posted on: September 4th, 2012 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

Kids all over Tampa Bay are clinging to the last few days of summer but as the new school year approaches parents should be thinking about how to transition their kids back into the school schedule. Easing them back into a routine will help parents and kids avoid the anxiety that comes along with a new year.

The key to a stress free transition is starting early. Don’t wait until the first day of school to start a routine. If you start early, this will give your family time to get accustomed to the new schedule.

Night Before:

As school starts, establish everyone’s bedtime for the school year and implement them with a wind down period one-hour before their bedtime. The wind down time is a perfect time to pack book bags, make lunches, turn off electronics and settle in for the night. It will also ease the morning rush if everything is prepared. Keeping the house quiet and calm during wind down time will also ease the transition into bedtime.

Making sure your kids are getting enough sleep is very important. On average, school-aged children need at least 9-hours of rest. Any less, and they’ll be tired during the school day, making learning and retention almost impossible. Here’s a bedtime chart to use as guidance when establishing bedtimes in your home.

Bedtime Chart:

0 – 2 years of age: 7:00pm
3 – 5 years of age: 8:00pm
6 – 8 years of age: 8:30pm
9 – 12 years of age: 9:00 pm
12- 15 years of age: 9:30pm
15+ years of age: (Your child, by this age, should be able to decide when they need to go to sleep and prioritize their after school responsibilities accordingly.)


Morning time should only be for getting ready. Doing anything more like packing bags, making lunches, finishing homework, etc. will make the morning stressful for kids and parents. Once your kids are in grade school try giving them each there own alarm clock, making each one responsible for getting up and dressed for the day without mom or dad.

Eating a healthy breakfast will also energize the kids for the first half of the day. Families often resort to cereals or other quick fixes that are high in sugar and have little or no nutritional value. Here are some fun, simple breakfast ideas for school days that involve little or no prep.


Most of your kids will have homework on a daily basis and encouraging them to complete it right when they get home will leave the late afternoon and early evening for play time, bath time and family time. When the kids get home, snack time is the perfect opportunity for you to sit with them, talk about the day and what they learned as well as give them a short break before heading into homework. Giving too long of a break between snack and homework time might cause your kids to lose focus making it more difficult to complete homework later in the evening.

Their homework will hopefully be assigned to re-enforce what was learned earlier in the day. Find a quiet, well-lit area of the house where everyone can sit together to do homework. If you have older children, they can be the designated homework helper for your little ones. Of course, mom or dad is always around to answer questions but allowing your teens to take a leadership role will instill confidence in them.

After school activities are also a fun, great way for kids to learn new things outside of the classroom and make new friends during the week. Discuss with your kids what sort of activities they might be interested in doing after school like karate or performing arts and find one day a week where afternoon time includes these activities. If any of the activities involve and change of clothes or other prep work, make sure its done the night before and loaded into the car. You can find a full list of after school programs and classes online that might interest your kids.

The new school year is an exciting time to start fresh and learn new things. Creating a schedule that everyone can follow will help create a regimented and consistent school schedule.



Posted on: September 4th, 2012 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

In today’s academic environment, teachers are responsible for instructing their classroom on a wide range of topic and concepts. While most students in this setting will thrive and be stimulated by the subject matter others may find difficulty. In these cases, finding a tutor to help bridge the gap will help to make the best of your child’s academic situation.

Students who need tutors generally fall into one of three categories: lack academic foundation, gifted/talented or college bound high schooler. Once you and the teacher have assessed the classification that best applies to your child, finding a tutor will be much easier. Here are a few steps to take when searching for a tutor.

Identify Your Child’s Needs

Every child has different, specific needs when it comes to academics. Communicate with your child’s teacher to pinpoint trouble areas in a certain subject. Be as specific as possible and establish tangible, reachable goals. Once you’ve decided areas that need work, make sure to thoroughly discuss these with any potential tutor.


Assess The Tutor’s Communication and Technical Skills

Not all tutors are best when working with school-aged children or on a specific subject. Before having a “try-out” session with the tutor, review their academic accreditation, college course work, specialty areas and ask for referrals. Then, take the opportunity to watch the tutor interact with your child. Do they communicate concepts well with your child? Does your child feel relaxed and comfortable in the setting? Afterwards, talk with your child to see how they felt about the session. If your child doesn’t like the tutor (for whatever reason) don’t ignore those sentiments. You want make sure that any tutor your chooses will make learning fun for your child.


Monitor Results

Your child should start to see results are about 2-3 months of working with a tutor. And within 6 months your child should definitely see better grades in the subject areas being worked on. Communicate often with the tutor as well as your child’s teacher to see how they are progressing. Improving academic achievement is difficult and will take time. If you don’t see results, this is definitely as sign that your child’s current tutor either doesn’t work well with your child or can’t explain the subject matter in a way that best fits them.

Once you’ve found the perfect tutor for your learner, discuss payment, cancelation policies and of course, run a background search on them. Understanding everything about the tutor’s background and center policies will help make the experience great for your child and you.




Posted on: July 31st, 2012 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

As the back-to-school season approaches you should start thinking about arranging your child’s annual physical. Part of that decision will be where to take your child. Many health care outlets advertise cheap and quick physicals but you shouldn’t be lured by these claims. Their ability to complete a form and basic exam is not the same as taking them to their pediatrician.

Why should my kids visit their primary physician over a health care outlet?

Firstly, your child’s pediatrician will provide continuity in health care with records of growth, immunization, medical history and ongoing care. This kind of care cannot be duplicated by a walk-in clinic. A perfect example is your child’s standardized growth curve that their primary physician can immediately analyze based on prior measurements. If your doctor spots a new trend it will alert them to ask questions about nutrition, exercise and other symptoms that may point to a medical condition.

What should my child’s physical consist of?

A comprehensive physical will include a review of your child’s weight, height, body mass index (BMI) and vital signs, like blood pressure, heart rate and temperature. Their pediatrician will also check their heart, lungs abdomen, eyes, ears, nose and throat. If your child decides to play a sport this year the doctor should also address recent injuries, cardiac issues, concussion history and asthma. In a perfect world, have your child’s sports physical about 6-weeks before the start of the activity.

Are there questions I should ask at my child’s physical?

Being engaged and participating in the health care process will allow you to know what’s going on and give the doctor the opportunity to explain health care in depth. Before you visit the doctor compile any questions that you may have regarding your kids’ health. Here are a few questions to start:

–          Is my child’s weight within a normal, healthy range?

–          What is my child’s BMI?

–          What vaccinations (if any) does my child need? Why?

If your child plans to play a sport here a few additional questions:


–          Is there approved safety equipment I should purchase?

–          Should my child get a follow-up exam if they experience a sports injury?

The most important part of your child’s health is being involved and having them communicate with you when something doesn’t feel right. Remember that doctors are not mind readers so if you think something is wrong, say something.



Posted on: July 20th, 2012 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

Summertime is about making family memories and what better way to make lasting memories than by planning a road trip. Heading out on the open road this summer will help your family save money by avoiding the airport and give you a chance to discover little nooks not normally visited by the masses. You’ll also get to spend quality time together while on the road. Making sure that your kids stay engaged and excited will help make the trip much easier for mom and dad.

Traveling by car gives you and the kids a chance to see sights up close and stop when something seems to good to pass by. Here in Florida and in many other states, the turnpike systems have rest area and service plazas where you can find out local history and information about the surrounding area. Many of these stops also offer family friendly activities near by when the family needs a break from the road or just want to experience something off the beaten path.

Spending a long period of time in the car, you’ll need to plan about ways to keep your family entertained for the long car ride. Even if the drive is only an hour or two long, it can seem like an eternity for your kids if there’s nothing to do. Here are some fun activities and games your family will love.

Count Your Animals

Each person counts the animals they see one their side of the car. As they count, if they spot a graveyard they have to bury all the animals and start counting all over again. The person that’s spotted the most animals by arrival wins the game.


Put all those road signs and license plates to good use in this game. The first person to spot every letter of the alphabet (in order) wins this fun, action-packed game.


When there’s nothing ahead of you but open road, get a chance to learn some of everyone’s favorite music. Have everyone in your family create a playlist of their favorite songs and share it with everyone on the long drive ahead.

Watch for Plates

On your road trip, you’re bound to spot cars from other states. The person who spots the most state license plates is the winner. The passengers in the car can decide what the grand prize is (ie: the winner gets to choose where the family has dinner or gets to choose the movie you watch in the hotel).

There are an endless number of games that you and your kids can play on your upcoming road trip. The most important thing is that you’ll get to spend invaluable time together without the distractions of T.V. or computers.  Your kids may not thank you now but they’ll definitely appreciate the time spent together when they’re older.



Posted on: June 25th, 2012 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

If you lived in Florida during the 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons, you certainly remember the awesome force of tropical systems. After nine named storms having struck the state, the Division of Emergency Management reassessed the storm response and one thing they discovered was the Floridians needed to be better prepared for disasters.

Although it’s already July, it’s never too late to get your family prepared. When you’re preparing here are some things you and your kids can do together to prepare for hurricane.

–          Supplies – Remember that after a storm it may take up to 72 hours for responders to reach survivors. Your family should have an emergency supply kit with everything your family needs to survive at least three days. Enlist your kids to collect all the supplies and create a list of what your family has, needs to replace and needs to purchase.

–          Weather Watching – Create a family weather team that keeps an eye on the local weather. Once a week the kids can present the weather using your home video camera to record the “newscast”. That’s sure to make some great memories.

–          Write It Down – Encourage your kids to start a storm journal where they track dates and details about current storm conditions. The will help ease the anxiety that comes along with larger storms as well as provide an interesting record of events to look back on.

–          Evacuation – If you live in an evacuation zone, have your kids each prepare a shelter bag in case you must leave your home. It should include clothing, toiletries, medications and any other important items you may need.

Preparing for Hurricane Season can be a daunting task. Involving your kids in some of the prep work will not only ease your burden but will teach them about being prepared for emergencies.

For a full, list of everything your family should do to prepare for Hurricane Season visit, or


Posted on: June 19th, 2012 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

A home fire is something we hope never happens to us but most families don’t have a plan in place in case the worst does occur.  In 2009, fire departments treated more than 13,000 fire-related injuries that could have been prevented. With more than 350,000 residential fires in the United States annually, there are a number of small steps your family can take to prepare.


Fire in the home is a scary thought and can cause your kids to do impulsive things that may not be best. Here are a few ideas to plan and practice in case of a fire in your home.

–          Identify two escape routes in your home. Make sure that everyone (kids included) understand where both are in case one is blocked by flames.

–          Practice fire drills at least twice a year. It should be second nature for your family to know what to do in case of a fire.

–          In case of a fire, decide on a meeting place outside your home so everyone in the family can be accounted for quickly.


Make sure to establish rules about fire in the home. Don’t assume that your children know not to play with fire.

–          Every room in your home should be equipped with a working fire detector. Make sure to test it twice a year and that your children know what it sounds like so if it ever goes off.

–          As simple a it sounds, make sure everyone knows “Stop, Drop and Roll”. This could be a lifesaver.

–          Children are never to play with matches, lighters, candles or any other fire starting or fuel source.

–          Set the right example. If you don’t play with fire, your kids won’t either.


The most important part of fire safety is prevention. Take a few minutes to walk around the house and make sure that there are no concern areas that may lead to issues later on.

–          Make sure all flammable liquids (including cleaners) are stored outside of the home, out of reach of children.

–          Have one fire extinguisher for every 1,000 square feet of living space. Clarify that all family members know where they are located and how to operate them.

–          Never leave burning candles or the stove unattended while in use.

–          During the holidays, take special care with tree lights and have your chimney and shoot cleaned an inspected before and after the season.

–          If you use space heaters in your home, make sure they are plugged in directly to a wall (not an extension cord) and are at least three feet from anything else (walls, tables, furniture). Always unplug them before leaving the house or going to bed.

Preventing a fire depends on your proactive, not reactive, approach. When it comes to preventing fires, get the entire family involved. If everyone knows the plan and preventative measures, not only will you avoid a home fire, you’ll also instill a sense of responsibility in your kids.