Find Friends – In An Emergency (or during the day)

Find FriendsHere’s why we like the Find Friends app – you can find your family members and friends in an emergency (or everyday use at the mall, on a trip, anywhere)

You can see my two family members on the map (the tiny circles).

If you’re interested, just download the app, then add people important to you. The app sends a request to that person who accepts the invite (or they should :).

It’s great for peace of mind – especially in an emergency.


Macklemore’s Expecting

new babyCongrats are in order for Macklemore and Tricia Davis – they’re expecting baby #1!

USA Today reports that M’s band partner, Ryan Lewis, posted a video of the first ultrasound appointment.

If your family, friends and fans are on the baby train with you, expect input on name(s). Here are some baby naming sites you may want to share:

The Baby Name Genie
This “genie” generates first and middle names to go with your last name and baby’s gender. (Note: whether or not you agree with the genie’s pronouncements is entirely up to you.)
Here you can  enter a name to find its meaning, or, conversely, enter a meaning to find a corresponding name.  This site also has a database of over 5,000 baby names searchable by origin, first or last letter, and number of syllables.
More than 20,000 searchable baby names and their meanings, with popularity charts based on US statistics, and a nifty little name “filter” that makes choosing a baby name a whole lot easier.
For more on names, visit Choosing a Baby Name.

Get Your Family Ready for Freezing Weather

Winter is reporting that it’s about to get Arctic cold for most of the US, particularly the East and Midwest.

Here are some of our tips on getting the family as ready as possible for the cold blast:

  1. Plan Ahead:
    Have extra blankets on hand and if possible, make sure everyone has:
    – warm coat
    – gloves or mittens
    – warm socks
    – hat
    – water-resistant boots
  2. Emergency response and school closings
    Know the emergency response plan for your workplace, each child’s school or daycare center, as well as other places where your family spends time.
  3. Basic house knowledge
    Make sure your older family members know basic first aid and house skills (how to turn off the house water, gas and electricity at the main valves or switches.)

And, listen to your local weather forecaster and read through the following tips to keep your family warm in winter weather.

More details at: Getting Your Family Ready for Winter.

Snow Plow Drivers Share Driving Tips

We talked with snow plow drivers and auto technicians across the country – they see it happen and fix your car after that snow-induced spin-out. Here’s their advice:

  1. To avoid getting your car towed or plowed in, review the parking restrictions and plowing routes for your city. You may need to move your car.
  2. If you must drive, clear the snow off of your windshield, windows, mirrors, headlights and brake lights (no one can see covered brake lights!).
  3. Make sure your wipers and headlights are turned on.
  4. Be patient – don’t rush! Remember, everyone else will be running late, too.
  5. Drive for the conditions. Go well below the speed limit – ice, heavy snow, traffic and poor visibility will require longer following and stopping distances (allow at least 8 to 10 seconds for stopping).
  6. If you do come across a snow plow or sand truck, drive slowly and give them the right of way.
    • Leave plenty of room for stopping (at least 150 ft.) and pay attention to the snow plow.
    • Snow plows and sand trucks may stop, back up or turn around suddenly.

Need more advice – visit our Blizzard section here.

Post Tornado – Things You’ll Need

Here are good tips from tornado survivors – most of these come from the ‘wish I’d thought of these items before the tornado’ list.

Be sure to put this stuff in your home emergency kit just case. Depending on the level of destruction (your home, neighborhood or the entire town?) some of these things may not be easily accessible unless you have it stored ahead of time.

  1. Cash for purchases (Why? If there’s no electricity,  ATMs won’t work.)
  2. Cell phone, phone card, or quarters for land line.
  3. Clothing and personal items – Pretend you’re camping in the woods for two weeks – everyone in your family will need socks, good shoes (cover the ankles!) underwear, deodorant, meds, toothbrush/paste, short and long sleeved shirts/tops, shorts, long slacks/jeans, pajamas, hat (sun protection), diapers, formula, etc.
  4. Pets – Pet food, meds, leash, collar, ID. Also, consider nearby friends/boarders/pet care providers if needed.
  5. Notebook/pen and envelope for your Disaster Diary – track and all cash and credit card expenses, receipts and cash flow, names of disaster agencies, account numbers, phone numbers, and more.
  6. If your home is destroyed, you’ll need to think about temporary housing.  This may be a hotel, maybe a friend’s house?
  7. Finally – you’ll need to ask for help and aid longer than you think.

– Susan

Cruising With Kids

By Steven W., our family blogger

43_2523216.JPGCruising can be an ideal way to travel with young children due to the many onship activities and programs for your children, and due to the convenience of your cabin and the dining room when returning from a day long excursion.

We enjoyed a 15 day Hawaiian cruise aboard the Diamond Princess last November with our 1 year old and 4 year old. Here are some unique travel tips we learned that other families may find useful:

1) Get online early

On the first day that online access is available for your cruise, sign up for the children’s program (“Princess Pelicans” for our cruiseline), Reserve shore excursions, and make spa appointments. If you wait just a day or two later, the prime times will be booked already.

2) Create a master calendar

Write down dinner reservations, shore arrival/departure times, spa appointments, excursion info, and any special event times you don’t want to miss. There is so much to see and do during the cruise, that a master calendar really helps you get the most out of your vacation.

3) Pack a wristwatch for each adult

You may think that you won’t need to know what time it is during your cruise, but you will. There are few if any clocks on board, not even in your cabin. We had to turn on the television to see the time. Cell phones could be useful, but they should be off. A waterproof watch is useful both for the spa and the beach.

4) Pose for pictures every night before or after dinner

Unlike most professional photographers, there is no sitting fee charged for the photographers aboard the ship (depends on the ship). So, gather up your family and pose for pictures every night before or after dinner. You won’t have to pay or buy anything, and who knows, one of the photos may turn out great!

Bring your own USB memory key to get digital copies of your photos. And wait until the end of the cruise then buy several photos in a package deal.


5) Eat dinner at the same table every night

This may sound boring, but if you want to enjoy your dinner, it is best to find a good waitstaff, and then stick with them for the duration of the cruise. Your child’s needs (highchair, milk before you order, extra alphabet soup) will be met quickly as the waitstaff gets to know your family, leaving you with more time to relax and enjoy your meal.

One more tip: pack a goodie bag of inexpensive little toys for each child for each night in the dining room. This will keep the kids entertained while waiting for the adults to order and the food to arrive.

6) Rent a mini-van (with a carseat) for excursions

On most, if not all, of the Hawaiian islands, I would recommend renting a minivan.
We did this at Hilo and Kauai, and it worked out great. You can go at your own pace, see the sights you want to, and stop whenever the kids need a meal break or potty stop.

Every island stop had rental car shuttles to take you to the airport to get your vehicle. Plan on spending an hour to get the car and an hour to return the car, reducing your time by two hours. But it is well worth it for the flexibility it gives your family, and much less expensive than the organized excursions.

7) Use the porter

When traveling with kids, a porter is a necessity, not a luxury. Don’t try to save $20 by unloading and loading your luggage yourself. They help with luggage during arrival and departure. Tip generously upon arrival and you may find your luggage gets to your room before you do.

Happy cruising, and let us know if any of these tips helped you! Email us your tips!!

Related Articles:

Home Inspections – Good Idea

Having a home inspection every few years is a great idea and can save a homeowner a lot of money and headaches, says Jason R. Hanson, president of Primo Coach, LLC, based in the metropolitan Washington, DC area.

Hanson adds that finding a “qualified” home inspector is tricky. “There are organizations out there such as The National Association of Certified Home Inspectors and The American Society of Home Inspectors that are reputable but others only require that you take a class and pay a fee to be a ‘home inspector’.”

In a nutshell, inspect your home and your home inspector.

Good tip!


Experts + Real People = Advice for You