National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week – January 25 – 31, 2016

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of National Institute on Drug Abuse for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.

Did you know that it’s National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week?. It’s an annual, week long (January 25 – 31, 2016) observance that unites teenagers and scientific experts to help SHATTER THE MYTHS about substance abuse and addiction. The event is sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), both part of the National Institutes of Health.

I was unaware that National Drug & Alcohol Facts WeekSM (NDAFW) has been going on annually since 2010.

Since National Drug and Alcohol Facts WeekSM (NDAFW) began in 2010, its community based programs and events have increased dramatically with more than 1,500+ events held last January (2015) across the country. The events help to bring together teenagers and scientists to discuss the myths about drug and alcohol that teenagers hear about from their friends, social media, movie, television and music. These events are a safe place for teens to ask questions about drug and alcohol use, without judgment or lectures.

As a parent to two teenagers, I know first hand what types of thing they are hearing about drugs and alcohol from their friends, classmates and the worse culprit – social media. My daughter and I have conversations all the time about marijuana (specifically) and alcohol. Sadly she has friends who use (and abuse) marijuana and alcohol on a regular basis. She seems to feel that marijuana is perfectly harmless, and that it only gives you a feeling of euphoria for a little while, then it goes away. While that may be true in some cases, there ARE negative side effects to using pot. She’s only going by what she’s heard and what her pot smoking friends tell her.

This is a perfect example of one of the myths that need to be shattered. Alcohol is another “issue” we discuss on a regular basis. Most of my daughter’s friends drink when they go to parties, which is why we DON’T let her go to them. I don’t want her put in that kind of a situation. She knows about peer pressure, and she’s not as “strong” as she thinks and we (my husband and I) worry that in the wrong situation she will cave in and drink, even though she knows she’s not allowed to.

It scares me when I think about all the myths about drug and alcohol use that teenagers are bombarded with on a daily basis. They THINK they know the truth – but they don’t.

Take the IQ Challenge!
NIDA created the “National Drug & Alcohol IQ Challenge” for both teens and adults to test their knowledge about drugs. It’s a quick quiz with only 12 questions. Parents can also use the IQ Challenge to segue into a conversation with their teen about drugs and alcohol.
I would like to think that I am knowledgeable about drugs and alcohol, so I was surprised by how many answers on the IQ Challenge that I got wrong. I had my teenage daughter take the quiz too and she got more wrong answers than I did. There are also a few that she felt were inaccurate but I told her these answers are based on facts, so that really surprised her. Hopefully it’s an “eye opener” for her.
From one parent to another, I urge you to take the quiz for yourself and have your ‘tween and teen take it as well, then discuss the answers. There is no wrong time to discuss drug and alcohol with your children – except AFTER they are caught doing something they shouldn’t be doing.
You can also use the “Family Checkup” resource to help you with the skills you need to keep your children drug-free.
If you know a teen who is abusing drugs and need help please visit this resource – What to do if your teen has a problem with drugs.
Are you the parent of a teen or soon to be teen? Have you had talks with your child about drug and alcohol?

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New Year, New Risky Apps Every Parent Should Know About


Teen Smartphone

The world has become a scary place. It’s changed so much since I was a child. Back in the day we didn’t have cellphones. We would leave our homes at sun-up and know that we had to be home when the sun went down (where I lived there were no street lights). Parents pretty much had no clue where you were all day long. They trusted that you were safe where ever you were.

We didn’t have child safe caps on medicine bottles, we didn’t wear helmets when we rode our bikes – even car seats were not really a thing. Some how we survived. But that was then. These days there are a lot more things to worry about, especially when it comes to children.

One of the biggest concerns with today’s youth is technology and social media. There was a time when you had to be 13 before you were allowed to have a Facebook account. Now a days I see elementary school children with Twitter and Instagram accounts.

I work with elementary school children and they tell me about apps that even my teenagers are not aware of. That just blows my mind! Just the other day the kids I work with were telling me about an app called Music.ly. I asked my high school and college aged children if they heard of the app and they both said “no.”

Today’s technology – most especially social media and apps – make the world a much more dangerous place for children and teens.

There are even some apps that hide things so that parents cannot find them. That is really scary.

My kids are 16 and almost 19 years old. We pay for their cellphones. As long as we pay for them they are not allowed to download any apps without our permission – even a teens. We want to know what are kids are doing at all times. It’s not that we don’t trust them (we do) – it’s other people we worry about.

TeenSafe, the world’s leading parental monitoring technology service, has released an infographic on this topic, including the “Top 5 Blacklist Apps” that parents should be on the lookout for. Here’s the breakdown:

Snapchat: One of the most popular apps for sexting among teens. Sexts can be saved even though they are supposed to disappear.

Kik Messenger: Tweens and teens also Kik to send sexts. Predators can contact your child via Kik and send unsolicited sexts.

Tinder: No age verification means your child could be “matched” with adults on this popular dating app. Tinder has had security breaches that exposed user data and location.

Blendr: There are no age requirements for this dating app, allowing adults to contact children. GPS features can reveal the location of your child to diligent predators.

Down: Lets a user sort Facebook friends they are “down” to hook up with. It perpetuates “hookup” culture among young teens.

Below is an infographic with more important information all parents should be aware of.


Are YOU aware of these apps and their harmful potential?

Even apps (sites) such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram can put your child at risk.

Did you know that if your child/teen has “location” set up on their smart phone and upload photos to Instagram, ANYONE who follows your child can see where the photos were uploaded via the app. If your child uploads a lot of photos while at home or school those locations will appear on Instagram making it easy to track down where your child lives and goes to school.

Scary stuff!

Are there any other applications you are aware of that could be harmful for children/teens? If so, please leave a comment and tell me and others about them.

Child Smartphone


*I was not compensated for this post. I posted this for the benefit of my site readers. Any opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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Give the gift of… Math?



I am NOT a fan of math. I never have been and I probably never will be. I even failed math in 9th grade and had to repeat 9th grade math in 10th grade. Oh the horror!

My non-love of math has trickled down to my kids. Neither one of them likes math and they are not very good at it.

I can add, subject, multiply, divide and do decimals and fractions. I’m not a complete math idiot. I can figure out 15% of a tip quickly and in my head. LOL!

I work with children in an after school care program. One of our duties is to help the kids with their homework. I would have to say that 90% of the time the kids need help with math homework. I COULD help – if it wasn’t for Common Core Math. I’m not sure if your school does Common Core Math, or if you are even familiar with it. Let’s just say that with Common Core Math you just can’t do a simple math problem like 2+2=4. You have to do graphs, charts, dots, arrows… it’s crazy! A simple math problem has a dozen steps to figure out the answer with Common Core Math where are traditional math could answer the question in one or two steps. Ugh!!!

Knowing how much I dislike math, and how I am CLUELESS when it comes to Common Core Math, why in the world would I recommend giving someone the GIFT of math?

Just because I don’t get math doesn’t mean that your child or grandchild cannot learn to love the subject. Believe it or not there are kids that LOVE math. So it is possible.

Let me introduce you to the Mathletics Gift Kit.

In partnership with UNICEF, Mathletics has created the perfect gift designed to excite your child about math and teach the importance of giving.

The newly released Mathletics Gift Kit includes a 12 month subscription to the award-winning online math resource Mathletics, a motivating Super Mathlete trophy and wristbands, and importantly a contribution towards UNICEF’s School-in-a-Box program.

Not only will you be giving your child the greatest gift of all, access to education, but by purchasing the Mathletics Gift Kit you will also be supporting the education of another child through the UNICEF School-in-a-Box program. Every kit purchased this Holiday season will provide a student in need with a full year of education.


I think education is extremely important. The only way most children who come from impoverished homes will succeed is with an education. For all we know a child in a 3rd world country struggling to get a proper education might be the one to find a cure for Cancer or solve Earth’s environmental issues.

I was sent the Mathletics Gift Kit to review. My son is currently failing math. He’s a high school junior this year and cannot afford to fail such an important subject. I got the kit to help him with his math, and maybe help teach me a thing or two. Mathletics works really well for high school students as well as grade school students.

They even have programs focusing on Common Core Math! I’m hoping to use the programs myself to learn more about the math my students are struggling with and maybe be able to help them instead of asking our best math student (a 4th grader) to help out all the time.


The kit comes with a one year (12 month) subscription to Mathletics as well as trophies and wrist bands to reward and encourage your child. My son feels like he’s a little to old for the boxed contents, but the online program does sound interesting to him.

Something that I didn’t expect with the program is that it emails you (the parent) to let you know how your child is doing with the program, how much time they spent on it and what they’ve accomplished. That is an excellent idea!

To be honest, my son hasn’t tried the program yet. We just received it a few days ago and he hasn’t had time due to finishing up some last minute projects and assignments before the holiday break. Trust me, he WILL be doing Mathletics on his break. He’s not going to sit around all day playing games.

We did log on to the program to check it out. WOW! Simply WOW! They have so much. Every type of math you can think of can be found there. There are lessons, interactives, videos, eBooks and more.

I took a few screen shots so you can see what Mathletics is about.




4 5

Please note that this program is set up for the higher grades (7th – 12th). Mathletics is available for younger students too.

I’m sure there is A LOT we can both learn from this program.

I’ll update my review after we’ve given the program a good “test drive.” In the mean time I wanted to share the gift idea with readers in case they are still in need of a gift with Christmas coming next week.

For more information please visit www.3PLearning.com/USA/MathleticsHome.

What do you think of the idea of gifting a math program? It’s certainly practical, epecially for a child struggling with math, or perhaps a homeschool family.



*We received the program to review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way.

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Dormco – for all your college dorm needs



Do you have a child in college or heading off to college for the first time?

My daughter is starting college this fall. I was hoping that back to school shopping would be easier and less expensive, but I was wrong. VERY WRONG! College is super expensive. Even the books are enough to make you take out a second mortgage. One book alone is $300! That is more money then I make in two weeks. Sigh…

I went to college but I didn’t live in a dorm or student housing. I was under the impression that a lot of what kids would need would be made available to them through the college like cooking appliances and seating. Little did I know that most college dorms are a clean slate and you need to bring every single item that you’ll need with you – from pots & pans to bedding and from seating to lighting.

I have heard from other parents I know with kids going off to college that they have to drive all over the county looking for everything their child would need for college. Who has time for that? Not only that, that is a lot of money for gas and time spent waiting online to make those purchases. It’s like going Christmas shopping. I avoid going to stores at all costs during the holidays to avoid the crowds and long lines. That is why I prefer to shop online.

Thankfully there is a “one stop shop” for all your dorm needs. It’s called DormCo. DormCo literally has everything you’r student will need when they are away from college – and even things you didn’t think they would need, but probably will.

Since I have a daughter in college, and one that will be starting in a few years, I wanted to see what things I could find at DormCo for them. As a parent I was very impressed with what I found on the site. For example, they have plenty of security and safety products for students. That is something I think A LOT about – my daughter’s safety and protecting her valuables from being stolen. DormCo has pepper spray, door stops, panic buttons, locks for your laptop and so much more.


I personally like the idea of a fridge lock. I think I need that in my house to keep my teenage son from eating us out of house and home. Ha Ha.

Seating is an issue in our home. Because our home is small we lack a lot of comfy seating where the kids can sit and relax, do homework, read or play on the tablet. Their only options really are their beds, the couch or the dining room table.

DormCo let me pick out something from their awesome site to review. I wanted to get something comfy for my kids to sit in (and for my daughter to take with her when she goes). There were so many options to choose from.

Originally I was going to go with the Papsan Dorm Sofa, but then I saw something else that caught my eye – The Coma Inducer!

What is the Coma Inducer? It’s a bean bag type chair that is filled with memory foam, not pellets like most bean bag chairs. That means it is not only incredibly comfortable, it also won’t lose it’s shape over time. The memory foam also gives you better support.

As a parent I like that the snugly fleece exterior can be removed and washed. I especially like that since it’s still in our home because our dog and cats see it as a giant pet bed. LOL!

I was surprised when it arrived. It was delivered in a compact box. Even when we opened the box (my son and I) the Coma Inducer looked like a giant brick – that is until my son started to mush it around and loosen things up.

Here is my son on the Coma Inducer in the living room shortly after we un-boxed it (when he was “fluffing” it up). Notice how our dog Espn seems to think it’s for him. LOL!

Coma Inducer from Dormco

Eventually we moved the Coma Inducer into his bedroom. Although both of my kids are welcome to use it, my son begged me to let him have it. And he hasn’t stopped using it since. He uses it all the time when he’s on his laptop.

Because it’s huge we are limited to where we can put it, but that hasn’t stopped my son from finding the perfect location.

Dormco Coma Inducer

That is our cat Padmé sitting next to him. I also see our dog next to him often too.

The dog and our cats are totally convinced it’s for them. I catch them snuggled up on the Coma Inducer often.

This is our cat Bella blissfully sleeping on the Coma Inducer.

Coma Inducer Memory Foam Chair

I should make note that this chair is HEAVY. Super heavy! It weighs around 50 pounds and it’s not easy to move it around. You either need help or you have to roll it around. I would suggest if you purchase this for your college bound student NOT to open the box it’s shipped in until you are at your child’s dorm room.

I have DormCo bookmarked on my computer and I have already been creating a “shopping list” of items I want to get for our daughter when she moves off to the dorm early next summer. She’s also been checking out the site and letting me know what she wants and thinks she’ll need.

Instead of driving all over town going from store to store looking for things your child would need for college, visit DormCo instead. Everything your child will need can be found there.

To check out DormCo for yourself visit DormCo.com. The brand can also be found on social media. All of the links are found at the bottom (right) of their website.

Do you have a child or grandchild heading off to college in the near future? What have been your experiences purchasing all of the supplies and items they will need?



*I received a free product sample in order to do this review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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It’s Prom & Graduation Season – How to talk to your teen about underage drinking

“I participated in an Ambassador Program on behalf of Influence Central for Anheuser-Busch’s Family Talk About Drinking Program. I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.”


In a little over two weeks two MAJOR events will take place – one right after the other. Our daughter will be attending her senior prom and the very next day she’ll be graduating from high school.

Where has the time gone? It seems like just yesterday we were putting her on the Kindergarten bus for the very first time, and in just two weeks we’ll be watching her walking across the stage to receive her high school graduation diploma. Sigh…

Heading off to school

Heading off to school


Getting her senior prom gown altered

I wish she was looking at me, smiling, without the darn cellphone in her hand in the above photo. Oh well. I’ll make up for it on the day of the prom and at graduation the next day.

I have to laugh about prom. She was going to go with one of her friends since they were both single. One thing lead to another and my daughter ended up asking a male friend of her’s to go to promo with her (he graduated last year). It’s strictly a friend going with a friend sort of deal.

As luck would have it our daughter has a boyfriend (or so it would appear that way) who is also going to prom this year with a female friend of his. This should be interesting.

With all this running around looking for prom shoes, making appointments to get her hair, makeup and nails done, as well as looking for jewelry and getting her dress altered it has given me plenty of times to talk to our daughter about what we expect at prom and graduation.

We know what happens after prom is over. Most kids go back to someone’s house to party (or another location) and most likely there will be alcohol involved. I WISH that wasn’t something we had to worry about. I wish teens would know better.

I think the school purposely scheduled graduation the following day to hopefully prevent students from drinking and getting drunk after prom. They also had to sign documentation that in the event a student is caught drinking after prom they will NOT be allowed to graduate with their classmates the following day. Hopefully that is enough to scare most kids.

Teen Driver

My daughter and I have used all the car trips getting her ready for prom as a platform to discuss drinking and how she can avoid getting caught up in peer pressure to drink. When we are driving there are few distractions (except the cellphone which I make put away). I also think it helps her not to have to look me in the eyes and tell me about certain things. I think that puts her more at ease.

When we are driving around in the car she will open up to me about just about anything.

My daughter also feels more comfortable opening up to me about things then my husband. My husband tends to react FIRST then get involved in a conversation. Another words, if he finds out she did something to break the rules he’ll automatically ground her BEFORE discussing it with her. I do things the other way around. I discuss things first and foremost to make sure she fully understands what she did was wrong and why we have these rules in place. Then I ground her accordingly.

Underage drinking is not only something we are totally against, it’s also against the law. If she is found at a party where drinking is taking place – even if she’s not drinking – she can be found guilty by association. I don’t want anything to jeopardize her college life or future career.

As a parent I know how challenging it is to raise teens. Trust me, it’s hard. It’s really hard. It’s a million times more difficult than raising a toddler or child.


If you need help talking to your teenager about underage drinking I have a great resource that could help. It’s called Family Talk About Drinking (FTAD). It’s a website created by Anheuser-Busch to help parents find ways to talk to their children (not just teens) about underage drinking.

The program has actually been around for 20+ years.

The program is broken up into the three main stages of parenting;

  • Being a Teacher (for children ages 1-7)
  • The Facilitator (for children ages 8-13)
  • The Coach (for children ages 14-21)

Yes! Believe it or not it’s never too early to talk to your child about drinking. Even young children can be taught that drinking alcohol is wrong until they are 21 years of age or older.

Growing up my dad used to let me take sips of his Screwdriver mixed drink, as well as Vodka Collins. My uncle used to let us take sips of beer. But times were different back then. Underage drinking wasn’t as prevalent as it is these days.

Family Talk About Drinking has tips and suggestions from a certified educator and parent coach named MJ Corcoran. Ms. Corcoran has some excellent tips that all families can put into place TODAY.

Find Windows of Opportunity to Talk – When you have a teenager, windows of opportunity to talk can open and close fast. Use prom and graduation to continue the conversation around underage drinking. Set clear boundaries and encourage good decision-making this prom and graduation season.

Connect with Your Teen – Two things you can do to connect with your teen: listen and respect their opinion. In turn, they’ll be much more likely to talk with you about the tough issues – like underage drinking.

Ask Open-Ended Questions – During prom and graduation season, be sure to ask open-ended questions to help your teen think through potential scenarios involving alcohol.

Encourage Accountability – In the busy time leading up to prom and graduation, a text is not enough. Encourage accountability and check in with a call.

I like the “Encourage Accountability” tip. I have already told our daughter that we would appreciate updates via text while AT prom, but once she leaves prom we expect phone calls to let us know where she is and who she is with. She’s supposed to go to her friend’s house to sleep over, but you never know. A last minute party invitation might come through. We NEED to know where she is at all times.

The next couple of weeks are going to be stressful and bittersweet at the same time with both prom and graduation happening one day after the other. At least once stress is alleviated and that is that our daughter knows how we feel about drinking before, during or after prom and graduation, and what the repercussions of breaking the rules will be.

If you would like to learn more about how to talk to your child or teen about underage drinking please visit FamilyTalkAboutDrinking.com. In addition you can also check out their Facebook page.

To see what others have to say about talking to children and teens about drinking, check out the hashtag #ABFamilyTalk.

Do you talk to your child or teen about drinking? How do you go about expressing your concerns? Did your parents talk to YOU about drinking? Feel free to share your thoughts.

Teens Drinking


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See what goes on when you are not home with an Oco Camera


Oco Camera

My husband and I always talk about what really goes on when we are not at home. With a “mini-zoo” we’re curious to see what our pets do all day.

I know our dog usually goes after one of our cats (he’s very jealous of her – she has health issues but he sees it as spending more time with her). I did an experiment where I pretended to leave for work and opened/closed the front door, just to see what our dog did when he THOUGHT I was gone. Sure enough I found him going after that one cat. He doesn’t attack her, per say, but rather he gets a little “frisky” with her, if you know what I mean. Being asthmatic she cannot handle his weight on her and the pressure on her lungs.

We also wonder what our kids do when we are not home. We have teenagers so they are OK to be home by themselves. We know that they spend a lot of time in the kitchen.

We have thought about getting a camera to video tape what goes on when we are not around, but the ones we looked into are too complicated to set up. Not only that, you have to adhere them to a wall, and we didn’t want to do that. We wanted something that offered a bit more flexibility.

A few weeks ago I was offered the opportunity to review an Oco Camera.

The Oco Camera is a small, unobtrusive camera that is so simple to set up that even a “technologically challenged” person like myself could set it up in as little as 1-2-3. Normally my husband has to help me set up “techie devices.” This was one of the rare times where I was able to set it up on my own.

This is how easy it was to set up.

  • Plug in the camera.
  • Download the FREE Oco Camera app
  • After you create an account on the app a QR code will appear. Place the code in front of the camera so it can “read” it and you are done. That’s it! There is nothing more to do. It literally took mere minutes to set it up.

Read QR Code

With other cameras you have to configure your router (or add it to it), charge the device, or mount it on the wall. They are typically more involved to set up. The Oco Camera was by far the easiest thing I have ever had to set up. It’s almost like a “plug and play” device.

What I really like, aside from the ease of set up, is that you can put the Oco Camera anywhere you want. You don’t have to mount it anywhere (unless you want to). You can move it from room to room and set it up at a different location depending what you want to see.

The Oco Camera sends you alerts too to let you know what the camera is “seeing” or what is going on wit the camera (if it’s turned on, or turned off, detects sound or motion…).

The alerts come to  you via the app which you can view on your phone or mobile device. I have the app on the phone and the app sends me messages when the Oco Camera detects something.

The video you see from your app is a live stream of what your camera sees. We did notice there is about a 1-2 second delay from what we see and what the Oco Camera sees, but that is not a problem at all.

Oco Camera Review

The camera also records at night via night vision.

A cool feature with the Oco Camera is that you can record and send a message via the app. Someone can respond back via the camera too (it’s a two-way talk feature). That is handy when you catch your kids don’t something wrong or if you want to let your dog know you’ll be home soon.

You can even record and save the recordings to the Cloud. The first year is free when you purchase the Oco Camera. After that, if you wish to continue saving the recordings to the Cloud there is a monthly fee. I don’t plan on saving any of our recordings, so I’m not worried about that.

FYI… If you purchase the Oco Camera and want to watch the live streaming (or even recordings) do so with your phone sideways for a larger view. I was watching them on my iPhone in the normal position until I realized turning it on it’s side (the same way you would record a video) gives you a much better view.

The quality of the video is really good too. I was impressed by that. It’s pretty clear. You get a good view of everything that the camera sees.

Check out a live stream demo from the Oco Camera site HERE.

Live Stream

Up to 16 people can also view the streamed content, so my husband and I can both check on things at home. If you use this for your place of business you can allow the store owner and managers to access the content (up to 16 people) so that everyone can check in to make sure everything is OK.

Why would you want an Oco Camera? In our case it’s to check in on our teens when we are not home (it also lets us know that they are home from school) and to see what our pets are up to. The Oco Camera can also be used as a baby monitor and as a security camera.

Oco is an indoor camera. I cannot be used outdoors.

I never thought I would use this camera as much as I do. I like being able to see things going on at home when I am at work. Nothing ever happens (occasionally I see one of my cats walk by), but that is OK with me.

If you would like to learn more about Oco Camera visit GetOco.com/US.

SAVE 20% with the discount code SHESCRIBES20 (Valid until June 21, 2015) on the Get Oco website.

Would you have a need for Oco Camera? If you owned one what would you use it for (security, check in on pets, baby monitor…)? Feel free to share your thoughts.

Oco Logo


*I received a free product sample in order to do this review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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