Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Using Your Voice for Online Safety

As a parent, I have a watchful eye. Since my family is online for a variety of reasons, I worry about spyware, viruses, identity theft and most importantly, my son’s safety. And I’m not just being paranoid. I have a right to be worried and a lot of people agree with me. Here’s why – DigitalCitizens Alliance (DCA) recently conducted a survey as part of their DigitalFamilies Project. It showed that a lot of people are worrying about online safety.
Image: FreeRange
Take a look at the numbers:
-- 55% are worried about malware, spyware, and viruses
-- 20% are worried about illegal, illicit, or stolen content
-- 30% (of people with children) had concerns about their children’s safety online
-- 50% had similar concerns for seniors
-- And 75% felt that identity theft is “extremely important.”

Each of us can and should make a difference to keep our families safe online. But corporate accountability AND action are necessary as well. Internet companies like Google, Microsoft, and Apple also need to do what they can to stop the spread of online crime.

And most of us agree, according to the results of the Digital Citizens survey:
-- 19% said Internet companies should “ban bad actors from profiting off of illegal or stolen content”
-- 18% said Internet companies should “better police sites for stolen content”
-- 16% said companies should “ensure legitimate advertising doesn’t end up” on illegal content sites

Problems already exist online. But we can stop it from getting worse by being proactive. Internet companies can help transform the online experience from one where caution is required to one where safety is the norm.

Last month, I participated in a Twitter chat co-hosted by Digital Citizens and 5MinutesForMom.com where we discussed the survey results and people’s concerns with online safety. Consider

It’s worth taking a look to see the online safety concerns other parents have and the tips and tricks that everyone shared.  Look, the year is just beginning. Join me and share your concerns about online safety. Consider signing our petition asking big Internet companies to stand with us in doing their part to support content respect online.

Here’s the link to the petition to make the Internet safer:

Oh and be sure to check the Digital Citizen's website for information on online threats and tips on how to avoid them. Become a digital citizen. Get involved in making the Internet safer!

Here’s the link to their website with some resources:

Investigative Reports
Digital Families Project:

Lastly, consider following me and them on Twitter. I'm at @LisaLFlowers and Digital Citizens is at @4SaferInternet. Let me know you followed me because you read this article so I can be sure to follow you back. See you online!

Oh and here’s the legal stuff: This blog post was sponsored by Digital Citizens

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Adoption Carousel

Credit: @LisaLFlowers
We all have an idea in our heads of what a family should look like. What our family should look like. And if we're lucky, that idea becomes a reality. But for some, such as children in foster care, the only reality they know is an ever-changing view of family life. Shuffled from foster family to foster family, their view of family is short-lived. Often times siblings are separated, each off to a different family.

The children are separated for a variety of reasons, but the trauma of that separation is always the same. Another loss. Only this time, they are truly alone. Sibling relations are critical not only in childhood but for the rest of a child's life. Most sibling relationships form the longest relationships a person will have in their lifetime which is why it's important that siblings stay together.

Credit: @LisaLFlowers
ChildWelfare.gov shared a few entries from an essay contest done by the North Carolina Division of Social Services. Foster children were asked to answer this questions, “Why are your siblings important to you?” Here are some of the responses:
 "My sister is only three years old, but she has a big heart with me in it. Jayden is braver than me—she is not scared of the dark like me. When I was left alone in a big house all I had was my sister to keep me company till someone returned. I love her…" –Joseph, age 7
• "[When they] moved us and placed us all in different homes I felt as if God was punishing me for something. It broke my heart." –Arlene, age 16

According to AdoptUsKids.org, there are more than 400,000 children in foster care and more than 100,000 waiting for adoption. They wait for a forever family and hope they will be adopted with their siblings. As we hurry along into the holiday season, visiting families, siblings, and friends, can you take a moment to watch this short video and share with your family what it means to you? Or more importantly, share what a family might mean to these children? 

Credit: @LisaLFlowers
Yes, each of these children has a past. And they are always looking back to what might have been as they ride the foster care carousel to another new home. Watching and sharing this video as well as talking about how these children might feel, can make a difference. Not only in your life, but in their lives. Perhaps you'll go one step more and give some of these children a reason to look ahead. 

For more information about adoption, or about becoming an adoptive parent to a child from foster care, please visit www.AdoptUSKids.org or visit the campaign’s communities on Facebook and Twitter

Be sure to comment below and let me know what you think about the video and AdoptUsKids.org.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Eggs In A Basket

This is one of my son's favorite recipes to make and eat! It's easy, inexpensive and kid-friendly. And it can be made the night before.
Eggs In A Basket

Eggs In A Basket

6 eggs
6 pieces of bread, with crusts cut off if you prefer, buttered on one side
Grated sharp cheddar cheese, around a cup
Salt and pepper to taste
No stick cooking spray

Leftover, cooked potatoes cut into small cubes, maybe a cup or so
Bacon bits or crumbles to sprinkle on top

Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Very lightly spray a muffin tin, preferably a large muffin tin, with no stick cooking spray.

Place one piece of bread, buttered-side down, into each tin.
Break one egg into each tin. (It doesn’t matter if the yolk breaks.)
Sprinkle salt or pepper over egg.

Add optional potatoes, around a tablespoon, to each tin.
Add bacon bits or crumbles, around a teaspoon, to each tin.

Sprinkle cheese to your liking on top.

Bake until egg is done, approximately 10 -15 minutes, depending on size of muffin tin.

Remove from oven and let sit for a minute or two before serving.

Be sure to take some photos of your product and the smile on your kid's face!

Note: You can use a regular sized muffin tin but the food tends to overflow and harden or burn. If you use a regular-sized muffin tin, you will need equal pieces of bread and eggs for each “basket”.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Moving Forward

That's my boy.

And me. (I'm the one pulling him on the sled.)

Across the yard. Across the field. Of nearly two acres.

While it was exhausting for me, he had a blast. And I'm so glad we spent time in the snow together. I could have easily stayed inside, warm and cozy. But it was worth the effort as my son still talks about how "Mommy kept falling down in the snow when she was pulling me."

When you fall down in the snow, it's cold. So, you need to get back up. And quickly. And as with other things in life, sometimes you just have to keep moving forward. And those things behind you, well they're usually there for a purpose.

As I plan for my upcoming trip (aka Adventure!) I still get a little nervous about how it's all going to work out. Okay, honestly, what I really mean is IF it's all going to work out. But it's moving along. Just this week, I've finalized someone to watch Alejandro, someone to watch Della the Dog and someone to take care of the office. To rely on other people to do what they say they will do is a huge step for me. It's a huge leap of faith.

Now, I just need to buy the plane tickets and book the hotel. That's where things get a bit sticky. If clients pay their bills on time, if other monies come in like they should, then I'm all set. So, I'm continuing to plan the trip trusting that even if I don't look back, I'll still get up if I fall. Besides, the view isn't so bad.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

A Contained Life

My life contains a lot of projects right now. I'm working on projects for school, putting together proposals for possible consulting jobs, planning upcoming workshops and simply trying to figure out what I'm cooking for dinner tomorrow night. Often times this spills over into other areas such as whether or not I will have time to take my son to a movie or play with him before bedtime. And taking care of myself falls by the wayside amidst all of these projects.

Like a lot of you, I've often taken on more than I can manage, professionally and personally by offering to help this person with their job search or that person learn social media or that group promote their cause.

And the results of my efforts?

I'm tired. And cranky. And sleepy. And frustrated that not getting a damn thing done in the way or to the extent I want to get it done.

Lately, however, I've been making a conscious effort to assign a value to almost everything I do. For example, would taking on another volunteer project enhance my resume or skill set or would it simply be another added responsibility keeping me from doing what matters most right now? On a scale of one to five, with five being the highest and of most value, taking on another volunteer project would rank a one. 

So, I've decided to put all of these projects, these life projects I'll call them, in containers. A container for my son. A container for my personal life and self-care. A container for work (my day job). A container for school. A container for my business. A container for volunteer work. And a container for quite simply, fun.

Each of the items in these containers will be carefully reviewed and selected to ensure they are necessary and of high value. I will water and feed each container taking careful consideration of its potential and ability to give back to my common good. If a container starts becoming overgrown, I will weed out the unnecessary growth and trim back in other areas.

In some areas of my life, Spring is just around the corner. I can't wait to see new growth and opportunity as I rake winter's leaves out of the containers. Which areas of your life are you feeling overwhelmed or overgrown?

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Pride and Joy

This picture was taken in 1982.

I was 17. And fat.

Can you spot me?

That one. Right there. The fat one. With the big hips.

I probably had a big meal on the day this photo was taken. I probably ate two pieces of bread on that day, instead of my usual, one. And washed it down with water - no lemon.

And after school, I usually walked the two miles home to burn extra calories, rather than ride the school bus.

I eventually got used to eating a cup of rice or so for dinner after I got off the phone with my nightly phone call from my boyfriend.

He was 22. And thin.

I was big-boned he said. With birthing hips.

My best friend's mother would remind me to stand up straight so people wouldn't notice my hips as much. Her husband would say how beautiful I would be if I could just lose some of those hips.

Sometimes when my father would introduce me to people he would retrieve a photo of his pride and joy from his wallet. Beaming and proud, he would say how impressed he was with his pride and joy, how beautiful she was, etc., all the while keeping me close to him as if at any moment, I was going to shake their hands. They assumed, of course, that he was going to show pictures of me.

When he finally revealed the well-worn, black and white photo, it was of a very unattractive old woman named Pride. Her sister was named Joy he would say, laughing.

I usually slipped back into the background after those types of introductions.

Next month I meeting someone very special.

For the first time.


Over the last year and a half, we've swapped photos, Skyped, sent videos and stalked each others' Facebook pages, trying so diligently to show who we really are to one another. The distance between us (several oceans, continents and time zones) has allowed us, or rather demanded, that we get to know each other from the inside out. And we are smitten with one another, talking on the phone at least three or four times a day. Every. single. Day.

I'm 49. And probably fat by somebody's standards.

He's much younger. And thin. By my standards.

He says he LOVES my curves, especially those hips.

I'm in love with that fabulous mind of his.

But old memories die hard.

When we meet, I hope I have the courage to introduce myself, as MY pride and joy.


Have you spotted me yet?

I'm the one on the far right. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Free Rider

Years ago, I would roll down the windows of my car, turn up the music and sing like it was nobody's business. That freedom and sheer pleasure, admittedly, has been replaced with CDs of nursery rhymes and radio talk shows.

I am blessed to have had my son later in life when I could focus on and appreciate who and what he is. Most of the time.

The day this photo, he had just finished playing at the park while I worked on my laptop. The air was filled with "Mommy, watch me!", "Did you see that Mommy?", "Here I go, Mommy!", and "Mooommmmyy, are you watching me?!?!?"

I am shamed to say that I wasn't.

Well, I was. But I was watching him while working on my laptop so I didn't really get to see his joy, his laughter, his fun - him. I had missed the most important moments. The most fleeting moments. Of life.

Lesson learned.

So, I put my laptop in the car, sat down and watched his joy, his laughter, his fun - him.

"Mommy,watch me!"

And indeed I did.

Go Free Rider!