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Archive for January, 2012

Smart Tips for Studying Abroad

Study abroad programs offer the opportunity to learn more about other cultures, the world, and ourselves. But there are so many programs available – how do you choose the right one for you?

Study Abroad Programs

First you need to decide what types of program you’re interested in. There are three basic kinds of study abroad programs: direct enroll, island, and field-based. Directly enrolling into a foreign university allows you to be considered a student just like anyone else there. You take integrated classes and live in dorms.

An island program can offer separate classes and spaces for foreign students. These classes are usually sponsored by a university here in the States, and they’re often highly structured.

Field-based programs can allow students to learn in the classroom with study-abroad and home campus students, and through hands-on learning outside of class.

Academic Goals

Think about what it is you want to get out of your studies. You can study something that you can’t study at your home institution, or try something  completely new to see if you like it. You can dive deeper into your specific area of interest, researching art or history up close, for example. Make sure the program you choose lets you accomplish those goals.


Next, you need to choose where you want to go. If you love all things French, Paris might seem like the perfect fit. But don’t forget there are many other French-speaking countries around the world that could really broaden your horizons. Do you want to live in a bustling city, or do you prefer quieter or more rural locales? Do you want to go where you can easily understand the language, or do you want to immerse yourself in something totally new? Do you want to live with a homestay family, or in a dorm or apartment?


You really can find a quality program that’s affordable. Do your homework, and know that there are study abroad scholarships* available. Keep in mind that basic fees don’t always include insurance, housing, meals, trips or medical needs, so be sure to factor those into your budget as well.

For more about study abroad programs, visit

*University grants or scholarships are based on established criteria as published in the University’s catalog and are awarded after verification that the conditions of eligibility have been met.

AIU cannot guarantee employment or salary.  Find disclosures on graduation rates, student financial obligations and more at

American Intercontinental University

How to Make the World’s Hardest Job a Little Easier

Parenthood is difficult enough as it is. But many parents find themselves with aches and pains because of their bundle of joy. All the lifting and twisting can really cause a lot of damage to new moms and dads. But there are ways to enjoy every minute with your child – without the pain.

One simple trick for parents is to clear the clutter from the diaper bag. All the toys and must-have gadgets can add an extra 10 pounds to your shoulders and back. The American Chiropractic Association recommends carrying just 10 percent of your body weight on your shoulders. Opting for only the basics: a few extra diapers, wipes and a change of clothes. If the bag is still a little heavy, place the strap across the body to even the weight distribution.

Lift with Care

Picking children up is another way parents put strain on muscles and joints. Never pick up a child by bending over at the waist. That position can put up to 10 times the amount of normal pressure on your spinal discs. A new mom or dad picking up a 10-pound infant, can really be putting 100 pounds of pressure on her back. To avoid this, bend at the knees with one foot in front of the other to help balance the weight.

Car Seat Safety

Parents should also be aware of the strain caused by putting a child in a car seat. It can be awkward and force your body to bend and twist in ways it shouldn’t. Parents should put at least one leg in the car and face the child when strapping them in. This placement puts less strain on the muscles and joints.

Holding Baby

There are also a few ways to avoid ligament strain when carrying a baby. Try to avoid putting the baby on your hip. It throws your back and hips out of alignment and forces your body to be out of balance. Using a sling that puts the baby in front of you can ease the pressure off your hips and lower back.

Use Both Hands

Carrying a car seat on your forearm can cause a painful inflammation of the cushion between the bone and tendon in the shoulders or elbows, called bursitis. Parents are urged to carry the car seat in front of your body with both hands to avoid this painful condition.

Following these tips will make being a parent just a little easier, at least on the back.

Terel S. Newton, M.D., Board-Certified anesthesiologist and pain management specialist at Pain Relief Centers. Pain Relief Centers are multi-specialty practices that use a combination of innovative and minimally invasive treatments that help relieve patients’ pain and improve their quality of life. Pain Relief Centers’ Board-Certified physicians utilize advanced technology and interventional therapies to diagnose and treat pain effectively. Pain Relief Centers’ comprehensive approach ranges from osteopathic manipulation and nerve ablation to minimally invasive spine procedures. Pain Relief Centers treat a variety of conditions such as neck and arm pain, back and leg pain, complex regional pain syndrome, degenerative disc disease, failed back syndrome, herniated discs, and spinal stenosis. Pain Relief Centers works with patients to improve their pain and return them back to their busy lives. Visit or call 727-518-8660 for more information.


Wardrobe Savings Tips for Working Moms with Style

If your primary occupation over the last few months (or years) required more bedtimes than deadlines, you’re not alone. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, an estimated 5 million women classified themselves as stay-at-home moms in 2010. Yet, that figure is down from just two years earlier as more mothers return to the workforce.

For any mom taking on new 9 to 5 with duties that go beyond diapers and dinner, your wardrobe will likely need a makeover. However, sprucing up your business style doesn’t have to drain your kids’ college funds nor limit your options.

Here are 8 tips to help you update your wardrobe with fashionable work-wear on a budget.

1. Scope Out Consignment Stores

Back when you were expecting, consignment shops were goldmines for inexpensive maternity wear. Lucky for you, they’re also a great resource for professional attire. Sell some of your gently-used maternity wear and stock up on business basics including blazers, slacks and pencil skirts. For tips on navigating consignment racks, check out this article from Woman’s Day.

2. Shop for Shoes Online

Ultimately, footwear is one of the most important parts of a professional wardrobe. Despite the sheer joy of finding that perfect pair of black-patent pumps, shopping with a toddler is often a trying experience. Avoid the department-store drama and shop online at e-retailers like Endless or Piperlime, who offer free shipping both ways. Alternatively, find free shipping codes for Macy’s and other popular retailers from sites like to avoid delivery charges.

3. Think Simplicity

You obviously can’t afford a series of tailor-made suits, but you can afford a few simple pieces you can dress up or down, as the situation requires. Button-up blouses are a must and can be found on the cheap at Target, Old Navy and other discount retailers. And don’t forget cardigans – find a few in your most flattering colors to wear all year long.

4. Avoid Trendy

Keeping up the trends is expensive and you’ll often end up with a closet full of unwearable items from last season. Go for the classics and use accessories to showcase your inner trendsetter — think freshwater pearls, stud earrings and a tangerine handbag. For more inspiration, consult the 12 Jewelry Trends for 2012 from JCK Magazine. Read More

Need a Mentor? Go to Camp!

January is National Mentor month, a time to celebrate and encourage the positive relationships that are critical to the development of children and youth – the positive relationships that are developed and encouraged each year at camp.

The idea of a mentor is an ancient one. In Greek mythology, when Odysseus, King of Ithaca, went to battle in the Trojan War, he placed his friend, Mentor, in charge of his son and his kingdom. Today, Mentor has become synonymous with someone who imparts wisdom to and shares knowledge with a less experienced person. Mentoring relationships are special and often life-changing.

The camp experience is uniquely designed to foster these relationships. When counselors and camp staff engage with campers, they are not just teaching – they are using the core elements of positive mentoring relationships.

• Camp counselors share and teach through stories and anecdotes. They impart wisdom from their own successes and failures, and offer the insight that comes from experience.

• Camp counselors model appropriate behaviors. They show campers how to play fairly, show empathy, and win and lose gracefully.

• Camp counselors guide campers through the learning landscape of life. They teach the things that cannot be taught in school – how to live with others, how to build friendships, how to lead, and how to work as a team.

• Camp counselors support campers emotionally. They offer reassurance when situations become difficult or overwhelming. Counselors are there to not only lend a hand but to help campers work through difficult moments and feel the sense of accomplishment that comes from conquering obstacles.

These relationships aren’t just a nice addition to childhood and young adult development – kids need them. They need nurturing mentors – people outside of their family that take an interest in who they are, root for their successes, and help them learn that failures are critical stepping stones on the path of success.

Each year for millions of children and youth, those relationships are developed at camp.

The American Camp Association® (ACA) works to preserve, promote, and enhance the camp experience for children and adults. ACA-Accredited® camp programs ensure that children are provided with a diversity of educational and developmentally challenging learning opportunities. There are over 2,400 ACA-accredited camps that meet up to 300 health and safety standards. For more information, visit


Indoor Kid-friendly Activities to Keep Your Little One Busy

Too much time indoors can often lead to cranky, stir-crazy kids. But you can keep your kiddo occupied with kid-friendly, educational activities that will appeal to their imagination. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Pitch a tent and build a campsite. If the weather has prevented you from a camping excursion, pitch a tent in your living room. Use a table, chairs and a sheet to create a tent or fort in your dining room or living room. Then, set out a blanket in front of the tent and make a circle using potatoes in place of rocks and a flashlight or lantern for a fire. Get the whole family involved and take turns telling one another funny stories. Remember to pack some good campsite treats, such as popped popcorn and dried fruits.

Embark on an adventure. From your campsite, go exploring through the jungle of the living room. Encourage your child to use their imagination. What animals do they see? Do they hear any foreign sounds? How tall are the trees? Will they have to cross a river? If so, will they need to build a bridge? If a bridge is needed, let them use some throw pillows to use as crossing stones. Remember, if you’re excited, they’ll be excited too. A great adventure story, like the serial story “Quetzalcoatyl,” can really get their imagination going. This tale about a magical sea creature and the boy he befriends can be found each month in the pages of the free children’s newspaper Kidsville News!

Create a journal. Ask your child to describe their adventure – or just their day – by writing, painting or drawing on a series of pages. Have them start from the beginning by describing what they had for breakfast, what they found in the jungle, etc. You can use a hole punch and yarn or string to put together a journal to help them recall their exciting day.

Head out on the town. What better excuse to head out – even in less than favorable weather – than to take a trip to the library? Keeping your child’s book collection well-stocked and diverse are great ways to encourage their hobby, and help them to continue to develop a larger vocabulary.

Find out if your local library has a reading program and get your child signed up, and don’t forget to check to see if they have story time as well. If you’re looking for children’s book suggestions for your child, ask your local librarian or check out the children’s newspaper Kidsville News! for book reviews and suggestions. Reviews from author James Patterson’s are featured in the publication every month, and online at

Set up a book nook. There are few things better on a dreary weather day than to curl up in a cozy corner in warm pajamas with a good book and a trusted teddy bear. And after a long day of pitching tent and trudging through the jungle and the library, both you and your kiddo are likely to need some quiet time. Designate one corner of your home as the book nook with lots of comfy blankets, pillows and a reading light. Then snuggle up and read some stories together.

If you’re looking for more educational activities, great reading material or tips for encouraging your child to read, look to “Kidsville News!” in your area or online at


Teens Offer Parenting Tips that Encourage Teen Driver Safety

All too often, news headlines tell of another teen killed in a car crash. It is estimated that 35 percent of teen casualties are due to vehicular driving accidents, making it the leading cause of death among teenagers in the U.S., according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Through their participation in a high school program called Project Ignition, thousands of young people have stood up to this statistic and worked tirelessly to change the driving behaviors of their peers and broader communities.

If you have a teen driver in your family who you want to help become safer on the road, here are some tips from students in Project Ignition:

Open the lines of communication

• Talk with your teen about distracted driving. Make sure you both understand what things are dangerous distractions.

• Listen to your teen. Ask about what it’s like being in the car with other teens, and what distractions there are to handle.

Offer support

• Encourage your teen to use his or her voice. Role-play with your teen so that he can become comfortable saying things like, “We both want to live, so let me answer your phone or text while you drive.”

• Help your teen get involved with programs at school like Project Ignition, so that she can be a positive example and make an impact.

Set rules

• Set family ground rules for texting and calling while driving. Your teen needs to know you have high expectations, and what the consequences will be if the rules aren’t followed. Read More

Story-Telling: The Perfect Cure for the Winter Blues

This winter try something different with your children to cure the winter blues. Instead of simply reading to them from the books on their shelf, why not come up with your own story? Storytelling is a time-honored tradition, handed down from generation to generation. In some cases, handed-down stories turn into beautifully written-down tales, decades later as in case of my Lima Bear Stories*.

You, too, can create stories either on your own or with the help of your family. The result will not only be entertaining but a source of family memories as palpable as any family vacation photo album.

To get started in creating your family story-telling memories keep these tips in mind:

1. Do not be intimidated. Anything you have to share is going to be interesting to your children.

2. Use what is important to you. If you are super clean, for example, create a character who learns the hard way why cleaning up is important.

3. Use humor. Goofy=happy children

4. Create catchy character names. Catchy names make the story come alive and are easily remembered.

Another way to create terrific tales is to let the story unravel by having your family add the content along with you. For example, why not turn the television off on a cold winter’s night and simply start a story much like the old children’s game “whisper down the lane?” Start with a funny scene using material that is obvious to you. Let each family member add to the story and take the story over for a while. Enjoy as you witness the creative juices flowing. Each family member gets a chance to add and embellish until finally a completed story is created. After you get to the end of the story see if family members can repeat the story back. Did the story change? Try the story again using the new embellishments to see if the changes may become permanent changes. Read More

Learning Math: Why Kids Get Frustrated and What Parents Can Do

When it comes to learning math, some students do just fine. Others, unfortunately, seem to hit all the snags and pitfalls while trying to learn.

Why is learning math frustrating for so many? Even those who are considered bright and hardworking have difficulty. Elementary school and high school require math and most college degrees require math too. College classes get bottlenecked with students who are taking the same math class for the second or third time. I’ve often heard, “I just have to pass this math class or I won’t graduate!”

While teaching math to students, I have hypothesized why this occurs and it doesn’t have anything to do with intelligence.

When learning math, a student must engage their full attention to the instruction. All it takes is for a student to daydream for a just few minutes and the whole week’s key points can be lost to the learner. Not so with other subjects like reading and writing. A student can get away with occasional daydreaming in those subjects and still grasp the week’s main point. Students can’t get away with that in math. Having an absent mind for just a few minutes in math can produce poor results on tests. Making a dumb mistake on a test in reading does not produce an “F” like it does in math.

Learning math is a sequential process. Learners need to be firm with all the steps that lead up to the final answer and they need to be provided adequate time to process and practice just-taught information before a new concept is introduced. For some students, information presented in math books needs to be broken down into sub-steps that are not found in the textbooks–information that would need to be fine-tuned by the instructor. Unfortunately, because of classroom limits, there just isn’t enough time to teach at every student’s skill level or to break down math information for those who need it most.

A typical classroom of math students rarely starts on an even academic playing field. The differences and needs can be vast. Because of the abstract nature of mathematics, some students require multi-sensory techniques and extra drill and practice in order to catch on. There simply is not enough time to do this in most classes and if parents are unavailable or don’t understand math themselves, the students suffer. It is hard for teachers to meet the needs of all math students, even with their earnest efforts and best intentions. Because of this, many math students never realize their full potential.

While working with students, I have found that the most glaring deficit in math understanding is a skill called “number sense” or the ability to have a feel for mathematical amounts. Students who have developed number sense do much better in math. Weak math students often produce answers that are not even close to being correct. They won’t think to challenge whether their answer is logical–an indication they lack number sense.

Good news–even though academic frustration seems rampant, math frustration can be minimized with the help of adults playing math games or activities at home. Math games are fun and are motivating. They develop number sense and actually get kids to want to be involved. There are no class grades tied to the outcome. These activities do not need to be purchased and here’s more good news–no tricky math understanding is needed for the adult. Any type of math game holds value and don’t let the word “game” make you think that a math game is not academically worthy.

Here are some ideas. Some can be played alone.

• Grab a handful of anything–jellybeans, marbles, paper clips, or pennies–anything that can produce “a bunch of.” Have the child guess and write down the estimate, then count to confirm. Hands-on counting is a wonderful activity for students that need tactile validation.

• Find another handful of anything, estimate the amount, and then grab another handful of the same amount. Do the different handfuls hold the same amount?

• How many cereal Os does the child eat each morning?

• What is the value of a handful of pennies, nickels, dimes, or mixed coins?

• Fill three different sized cups with the same item. Estimate and write down how many is in one of them, count, then estimate how many are in the others.

• Look quickly in a drawer, close the drawer and then estimate how many items are in it.

• Estimate amounts in a see-through container. Guess the amount, write it on paper, count to confirm.

• Estimate the weight of a backpack.

• How much time would it take to reach a certain destination?

• Place three pennies on the counter. How many more are needed to make ten pennies? Repeat using different amounts that will equal ten. Put twelve cents on a counter. How much more will make fifty cents?

• How long would it take to earn a certain amount of money?

• How long would it take to earn $1,000 if you earned $5 a day walking the dog?

• How long would it take to spend a million dollars, spending a specific amount each day?

• How many inches would a 100-foot building be?

• Estimate weights of objects, then step on a scale. Fill a bag with items, or a suitcase, estimate the weight.

• Arrange objects heaviest to lightest.

• For older students, determine how many miles they can travel by car for 6 or 8 hours by traveling 55, then 65 miles per hour.

• Finally, discuss the child’s strategies used for their estimating.

Increasing a students’ number sense and math confidence will not solve all the challenges felt by both math strugglers and teachers. But developing number sense outside of school will certainly help. Students will be able to transfer their learned information into the classroom. Instead of just guessing the answer and hoping to be lucky, students will better know when their answer seems logical or have enough mathematical sense and confidence to keep on working.

Maureen Stearns–an author, parent, and educator living in St. Petersburg, Florida–has been teaching struggling learners for over 20 years. She holds both Exceptional Student Education and Community Psychology Degrees. She recently wrote “Multiply and Divide with Sticks and Steps®: Teach this Easy Method in Just 5 Minutes,” to help students conquer this stumbling block. To learn more, visit or


Wheezing or Asthma?

Many children will have an occasional wheezing episode in their early childhood.  Rather than call it asthma — which is a chronic, recurrent illness — pediatricians initially call this wheezing ‘reactive airways’.  The typical child develops a runny and stuffy nose or viral cold symptoms, and within one to three days, a tight, dry cough develops.  Most parents do not hear wheezing until after the cough develops.  If the wheezing becomes chronic and matches certain criteria, your child may be given a diagnosis of asthma.

Medicines used to relieve wheezing depend on whether the child needs quick relief or needs a maintenance medication to prevent wheezing. If the child who is wheezing and needs quick relief of respiratory symptoms, bronchodilators and steroids are typically used.  Rapid acting bronchodilators are medicines that relax the muscles that surround the large breathing passages in the lungs, while oral steroids are used to quickly reduce inflammation in the breathing passages.

Long-term controller medications are used for children who have frequent wheezing. These medicines focus on preventing wheezing when the child is exposed to a trigger, such as a viral illness or allergen.  Long acting bronchodilators help keep the muscles around the breathing passages relaxed.  Inhaled (not oral) steroids assist in reducing inflammation over time.  At times, different types of these controlling medications are combined in a single medication.

It is very important that if the child is using long-term controller medications and starts to wheeze, the quick relief or ‘rescue’ medications must be used to relieve the wheezing.  Simply giving more of the controller medications will not work, and your child will not improve.

Learning to use the right medications at the right time for your child can sometimes be confusing.  Be sure to discuss the types of medications your child is using with your doctor and write down the proper way to use them.

Dr. Paula Rooney, board certified pediatrician, After Hours Pediatrics Urgent Care.


8 Shopping Tips for Dining At Home in a Dine-out World

Remember all those tips saying you should cook rather than eat out? Well the USDA says we might just be wrong about that in the near future. A recent study by the government agency estimated the price gap between eating at home and dining out will narrow even further in 2012. Grocery prices are expected to rise 3 percent to 4 percent, while menu prices will likely go up 2 percent to 3 percent.

That doesn’t mean you have to resort to the McDonald’s Dollar Menu, however. It’s still cheaper to eat at home, but amateur chefs will have to cut even more corners this year. Here are a few tips on dining at home frugally in a dine-out world.

1. Shop on Tuesdays

Wednesdays are the heaviest shopping day for supermarkets as that’s when they publish their weekly newspaper ads. (Manufacturer ads are usually distributed with the Sunday paper.) That means grocery stores are interested in ditching last week’s produce and meats on Tuesday night. Talk to the butcher and produce clerks about slapping a better price on those products they’re about to toss.

2. Use Mobile Coupons

Shopping on Tuesday means you can’t take advantage of Wednesday coupons. Happily, you can access mobile coupons right there in the store from the Coupon Sherpa app. This fab app allows you to search for your favorite local store, access desirable coupons, then download them to your store loyalty card.

3. Plan Your Meals Around Ads

If you plan on shopping after newspaper inserts are printed, plan your menu around featured items and build a list before you hit the store. You can use apps like Grocery Gadget (Apple) and Grocery IQ (Android) to create lists based on your supermarket’s layout.

4. Shop Stores That Double Coupons

Not all supermarkets are willing to double-up on coupons, and not all maintain such a policy continuously. The acceptance rate has gone down since the advent of “Extreme Couponers,” so check before you start clipping. This practice is usually limited to specific days and allows you to double the face value of a coupon, up to a certain amount.

5. Don’t Overbuy Bulk

It may be tempting to buy the super-sized box of Cheerios, but you have to consider whether you’ll actually eat all those little oat donuts before they turn into rocks. Buy just enough to last until the next sale.

6. Limit Produce Purchases

Americans throw away roughly one quarter of the food we buy. For a family of four, that figures out to $2,200 a year in food, according to “American Wasteland” author Jonathan Bloom. Rather than grab fruits and vegetables that look appealing, stick to your list and avoid spoilage. You’re also more likely to use produce if you don’t hide it away in your refrigerator’s bins. Keep it in plain site or make a list of contents that you stick on the fridge drawer as a reminder.

7. Avoid Temptation

King Soopers (owned by Krogers) has launched new “Marketplace” stores in the west, with layouts similar to Whole Foods. Walk in the door and you’re immediately assaulted by the smell of stunning flower arrangements, fresh deli items, and beautifully arranged produce. It’s tempting to fill your cart in this section, so be on your guard. Also beware of the non-food items for sale, including everything from furniture to high-end jewelry.

8. Don’t Use a Cart

Ditch the carry-all cart and carry a basket for quick trips. The less room you have to fill, the less likely you are to make impulse purchases.

Andrea Woroch is a consumer and money-saving expert for Kinoli Inc., and has been featured among top news outlets such as Good Morning America, NBC’s Today, MSNBC, New York Times, Kiplinger Personal Finance, CNNMoney and many more. She is available for in-studio, satellite or skype interviews and to write guest posts or articles.


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