Can Social Media Rants Become a Workplace Issue?

We’ve all enjoyed ranting on occasion, but how is your career affected when that ranting is posted for all to see? Well, if you’ve “friended” your boss or failed to protect your online account, workplace rants can spell trouble – even unemployment.

One group is hoping that will change. Erik Hayden of the Atlantic Wire writes that “In the near future, whining about your boss on Facebook may be a protected activity. At least if the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) gets their way”. The NLRB filed a complaint against a company after that company suspended and later fired an employee for ranting about a workplace concern on a social networking site. Lafe Solomon, the Board’s acting general counsel, believes that the judge may side with the complainant. Stay tuned to see what the judge presiding over the case has to say when he hears arguments on January 25, 2010.

While we wait to see if your social media posts will become protected under the law, limiting access to your posts by choosing appropriate privacy options could save you a bit of embarassment. The following tips are Facebook-specific privacy settings:

  • Change your photo and video “tag” features, so that no one will be able to tag you in a photo. (You don’t want that embarassing weekend photo or video being viewed by everyone at work.)
  • Choose “Friends Only” for your posts, including pictures. In this voyeuristic society, we love to snoop on other people by browsing their social media posts and pictures and we often feel as if we owe them the same access to our personal information. Protect your privacy above all else, because at the end of the day, we don’t owe anyone access to our personal thoughts.
  • Don’t “friend” people from work. Instead, politely decline their invites and tell them that you wish to keep your work relationships professional.
  • Remove your name from Facebook’s public search option. Also, check Facebook’s privacy settings to ensure that your profile doesn’t show up during a Google search. (Note that the Google search will continue to show your name in search results until the search engine captures another snapshot, which could be weeks or months later.)

So before post about your latest workplace frustrations on Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social media sites, make sure you’ve taken appropriate action to protect your privacy. Better yet, write it in the old-fashioned way (paper and pen), read it, and toss it (but not in a trash bin at work).

Let’s chat! If you have advice or stories to share about embarassing social media faux pas, post them here.

Love to all!


6 Tips for Photo Shoot Success

Guest blogger Heather Steward of Heather Steward Photography captures memories and the essence of the subjects that she photographs by choosing perfect settings for each occasion.

You can help achieve the perfect look for your photo session by following these 6 tips that Heather recommends.

1.) If children will be in your photo shoot, make sure they are well-rested and fed before your photo session. It’s also a great idea to bring toys, food, drinks, etc. to keep the babies happy. (If your child gets sick before your session, it’s better to call the photographer to reschedule than to tote your sickly baby or child to this kind of activity.)

2.) Have clothes, hairstyles etc. planned before the day. If you plan to have more than one person in the photographs, coordinate color choices and styles. Also, select clothing that will complement the intended setting and mood.

3.) Be on time. Often photographers will book more than one photo shoot per day – only leaving a 15-30 min gap between. Arriving on time will help to ensure that you don’t lose your time slot.

4.) Wear solid colors, they are the easiest to capture. Black and white looks good with blue jeans. Also, children look best in vibrant multi-colors.

5.) If you have time, research and know what poses you want or like. Most photographers would be more than happy to accept print-offs so they can try to re-create the photo you bring.

6.) If bringing pets, have an extra person come along to help. Sometimes they can be a handful!

Visit the Heather Steward Photography website and Facebook page for more information.

5 Quick Tips to Increase the Value of Your Home!

Our homes are the most valuable assets that most of us have, so protecting the value of our abodes is of great importance.

Here are a 5 quick and inexpensive tips to increase the value of your home.

  • Go neutral in your decor – homes that are too owner-specific can turn off potential buyers, friends, and family alike. Not to mention, you may get bored with a less-than-classic look quicker than you’d like.
  • Landscape – you don’t have to hire an expensive landscaping company. Simply browse the internet for easy DIY ideas and head to your nearest nursery. Don’t forget the landscape lighting while you’re there. Oh, you may want to enlist the help of a friend or two for this job.
  • Paint – if bright or dark colors aren’t your thing, go with something subtle such as various shades of tan. It will add color as well as hide blemishes that are easier to spot on stark, white walls.
  • Refresh window treatments – get rid of the old, dark, dusty blinds and drapes and opt for a fresher look instead. Look for a contrast to your current color scheme. If you’re crafty, even better, so you can make your own window treatments and save some $$$.
  • Replace flooring of poor quality. DIY’ers can save a bundle by installing their own replacement flooring. Big box home improvement stores have great selections at great prices. They also offer DIY classes, so stop by to see what’s in store for you!

Whether you’re planning to sell or stay put, these quick tips will make buyers (and you) do a double-take at how new and refreshing your home is.

Have any home improvement plans in the near future?

Let’s chat here and share ideas about how you plan to improve your home’s value (other than picking it up and moving it to The Hamptons).

Love to all!


SMART Fitness Goals

I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions, at all! However, there’s something about this time of year that reminds us all to set fitness goals. It could be the ubiquitous advertisements for gym memberships; the tempting commercials for, low-priced at-home equipment; or the age-old tradition of declaring “out with the old, in with the new”. Whatever your motivation, setting SMART goals will get better results than the resigned declaration, “OK, I’ll do it this time”. What are SMART goals?

  • S = Specific – State your goal and use “action words”.
  • M = Measurable – Quantitatively define your goal.
  • A = Attainable – Choose something that is manageable and within reach.
  • R = Realistic – Don’t go sky high! Set reasonable expectations.
  • T = Timely – Pick an “end” date and hold yourself accountable to it.
  • So how does all of this translate into setting SMART fitness goals? Here’s an example:

    I will lose 10 pounds by the end of a 60-day period by doing the following:

    • Completing 30 minutes of cardio three times per week
    • Performing 30 minutes of strength training two times per week
    • Eliminating one unhealthy snack per day and replacing it with a piece of fruit
    • Drinking eight 12-ounce glasses of water per day

    A pound of fat equals 3,500 calories. One of the quickest ways to get rid of each pound is to use a combination of exercise and calorie-reduction. Note that I did not say “diet”.

    Once you get into the habit of following your fitness and nutrition plan, you’ll shed each pound with relative ease. You’ll also find it easier to increase the amount of time you spend exercising and decrease unhealthy snacking habits. Reach a goal, set a new one, if desired.

    Do’s and Don’ts: Do get moving! Do leave the infomercial products alone! You already have everything you need. Do keep a fitness journal – keep it simple! Don’t get caught up in achieving the figure of a model. And don’t put off tomorrow what you can do today!

    Let’s chat! Are you ready to set a SMART fitness goal this year? If so, post it here. Accountability partners are welcome!

    Love to all!


    How Do You Prepare for Snow Days?

    As the Midwest plans for another snowstorm, children and adults take the prediction of frozen precipitation differently. The younger crowd looks forward to a day off from school, while the older bunch tends to wonder about how or if they’ll commute to work in a treacherous, wintry mess.

    The night before a storm, children all over town use at least one of the following rituals to brew up a day off from readin’, writin’, and ‘rithmetic:

    • Sleeping at the foot of the bed, with pajamas inside out and backwards
    • Flushing ice cubes down a toilet
    • Sleeping with spoons under their pillows (see inside out PJ’s FB page if you want to “Like” this)
    • Freezing white crayons then placing it under tbeir pillow before going to bed for the night
    • Doing snow dances

    All of these traditions are supposed to lead to a day of sledding, building snowmen and forts, making snow angels, and lobbing snowballs at both willing and unwilling targets. For those who aren’t into winter sports, there is video-gaming, movie-watching, or sleeping on the agenda.

    Mom and dad’s snow day plans probably aren’t as carefree. While kids are thinking of fun, mom and dad may be stocking up on grocery items, rounding up shovels and salt, restocking firewood, and filling up their gas tanks before what is not-so-affectionately now known as “white death”. I admit that I did these things, but now that I’m done, bring onthe snow!

    Oh, I don’t have a sled yet! Gotta go!

    Let’s chat! How do you prepare for and spend snow days?

    Love to all!


    Favorite Television Shows

    Most of my favorite television programs are from decades ago. A time when programming was more original than our viewing options today.

    Take Three’s Company (1977-1984), for instance. One of the highest rated shows of its time, it was centered around three young roommates, (Jack Tripper, Janet Wood, and Chrissy Snow) and their landlords. The original landlord, Mr. Roper, refused to allow an unmarried male to occupy the same apartment as two unmarried women. Not to be swayed, because Jack needed a place to stay and the girls desperately needed a third roommate to replace the one who’d recently left, Janet convinced Mr. Roper to let Jack become Chrissy’s and her roommate by telling him that Jack was “gay”. Ultimately, Jack went along with the idea and the roomies lived mostly happily ever after. (Well, until a major cast change years later.) Think about how original and daring the premise of this show was?

    The Waltons, Little House on the Prairie, The Love Boat, Charlie’s Angels, and The Facts of Life are just a few of my other favorites from the 70’s and 80’s.

    Let’s not forget about the animated blasts from the past. The Smurfs, Scooby Doo, Deputy Dawg, Johnny Quest, The Flintstones, and The Jetsons (1962). I’ve never seen anything else that was as simplistic and still managed to be as entertaining as the Smurfs. The 101 three-apples tall, blue, not-quite people or animal beings who each had their own task that helped to keep their village running smoothly. Until Gargamel and his cat, Azrael, tried (at least once per episode) to capture as many smurfs as possible as the main ingredient for Smurf stew. By the way, did you hear about the Smurfs 3D movie that will be released in the summer of 2011? Why? Why? Why? Can’t they just leave good enough alone?

    OK, back to the topic. Shows from days gone past were classic, original, entertaining, and many were very family-friendly. Today’s programming is made up of scripted “reality” shows, significantly violent “entertainment”, and topics that are not suitable for a huge chunk of the population.

    Thank goodness for online episodes, TV Land, and the availability of some of my favorite shows on DVD. My childhood memories are preserved forever; unless I make the mistake of watching a modern remake of my favorite old school shows.

    Let’s chat! What are some of your favorite old school television programs?

    Love to all!


    Family Dinner

    How many times per week does your family have dinner together? With busy work and activity schedules, it can be difficult to sit face-to-face with everyone each night of the week. However, having dinner with your family creates memories that can last a lifetime.

    I’m the super silly one in my house, so antics like kicking my husband (gently) under the table, making funny faces, and saying long prayers while everyone eagerly waits to dive into dinner lightens the mood for an event that could sometimes seem too formal for children.

    I love having dinner with my family, because it allows us to spend undivided time together to discuss what’s on our minds, and pray together. Speaking of praying, one tradition that we established is for one person at the table to give thanks, offer praises, and pray for the needs of our family as well as those of others. We work our way around the table until we begin the rotation again six days later (we’re a family of six). Another tradition that we tried was to for each person present to compliment someone else at the table. Initially, we tried to do that for every person every night. Needless to say with six people having to compliment five other people each night, dinner was cold by the time we were done.

    How to Make Meals Enjoyable

    • Ask about each other’s day
    • Get input from each member of the family for meal plans
    • Ignore the telephone and turn off the television
    • Keep your meals simple and save the multi-course meals for the holidays
    • Save serious topics of discussion for family meetings
    • Set mood music; in our house, it’s Christian music

    Family meals are believed to positively impact your children’s grades, bring about lower levels of stress, instill better table manners, and encouraghealthy eating habits. So why not begin the tradition of family meals in your household today?

    Let’s chat!

    Love to all!


    Do Your Children Have Chores?

    I often hear parents grumble about the abundance of chores around the house, but am astounded at how many families don’t require children to do chores.

    Now, I didn’t have children, so that I could have little maids and chefs running around. I had them, because my maternal instinct told me that it was my primary purpose in life. Nothing else I accomplish will ever rate higher than being a mom. That said, children a part of a family unit and where I’m from, each family member chips in to keep the household running.

    The children’s television show Barney made cleaning up popular for the young crowd with the annoying, yet highly effective, Clean Up song. This song inspired the preschool and elementary crowd to “do your share” of cleaning up after themselves.

    Teaching children to clean up after themselves shouldn’t be considered punishment. It’s simply instilling responsibility and providing skills that will follow them for a lifetime.

    When I was in grade school, teachers rewarded students who had clean workspaces. The same held true for summer camp where we earned “golden nuggets” (spray painted rocks) for working with our fellow campers to ensure that our cabins were clean. In college, we had weekly room inspections. Failure to regularly pass room inspection was punishable by eviction from the dorms. Ouch! In places of employment, clean workspaces help keep us organized and productive.

    Helpful strategies for achieving chore success:

    • Post a chore chart in the heart of the house (family room, kitchen, etc.) and meet with your chidren often to discuss their roles in completing household chores. Put your chores on the schedule as well, so that they can see that you, too, play a vital role in keeping the house clean.
    • Do not complete your child’s chores if they decide to throw a tantrum. Doing so will send the wrong message. Instead, remind them that their help benefits the entire family; remember to praise them along the way and immediately after.
    • Give your children age-appropriate chores. Don’t expect a 5 year-old to make a perfect and neat bed. Instead, praise them for doing their best. In time, they will perfect the art of making a bed to your liking. Maybe.

    Need help determining age-appropriate chores? Annie Stewart of WebMD suggests the following:

    Chores for children ages 2 to 3

    • Put toys away.
    • Put clothes in hamper.

    Chores for children ages 4 to 5

    Any of the above chores, plus:

    • Make own bed.
    • Fix bowl of cereal.

    Chores for children ages 6 to 7

    Any of the above chores, plus:

    • Sort laundry.
    • Help make and pack lunch.
    • Keep bedroom tidy.
    • Pour own drinks.

    Chores for children ages 8 to 9

    Any of the above chores, plus:

    • Put away groceries.
    • Vacuum.
    • Make own snacks.
    • Wash table after meals.
    • Put away own laundry.
    • Make own breakfast.
    • Cook simple foods, such as toast.

    Chores for children ages 10 and older.

    Any of the above chores, plus:

    • Unload dishwasher.
    • Fold laundry.
    • Clean bathroom.
    • Wash windows.
    • Cook simple meal with supervision.
    • Iron clothes.
    • Do laundry.
    • Mow lawn.
    • Change bed.

    Remember to balance the amount and difficulty of chores with other obligations, such as homework, extracurricular activities, work (for teens), social needs, and family activities. Revisit the chore schedule periodically to determine whether or not it is effective. Talk to your children to get their input, tweak the schedule, when necessary, and be sure to announce any changes during your family meeting.

    Do your children have chores? If so, are tantrums, tears, and headaches part of the routine? How do you overcome those challenges?

    Let’s chat!

    Love to all!


    Proverbs 16:9

    In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps. – Proverbs 16:9

    What does this verse mean to you? Are you open to allowing the Lord to determine your path in life? Or, are you insistent upon giving your plan its all?

    I’ve lived life both ways, and let me tell you, walking with our Holy Father as the guide for my steps is the best way to live! In the past, my heart knew the Lord, but I didn’t follow Him. Does that make sense?

    I’m much more obedient these days, even when I don’t know what the outcome may be. He is faithful and that is more than enough for me.

    Let’s chat.

    Love to all!


    Positive News Reports

    “If it bleeds it leads.” I get it, some people thrive on death, drama, and crime, but not all of us. I’d love to be able to watch news reports without having to switch to another channel, because one of my children walks into the room. Besides, I want to hear good news…a lot of good news!

    So, I hunted for web sites that deliver just what I crave – good news. The people behind Happy News find good news stories, from their own sources as well as others, and put them into one convenient place. One of yesterday’s headlines was “School Finds 340-Year Old Bible“. Credit to CNN for this story; now if only they could seek more feel-good news and report it, report it, report it. Enough of the Nancy Grace doom and gloom!

    How about another great story where University of Pennsylvania students distributed coats to needy children? Operation Warm is an organization that reaches out to children in 26 states in conjunction with a wide range of organizations that have the ability to reach deep into some of the country’s neediest communities. Good news stories aren’t just for entertainment purposes, they serve to inform. Maybe this story will help if you have (or know of) a child in need of a warm coat. Or, maybe it will incite you to make good on your promise to do more for your neighbors.

    It’s true, good news happens around the globe every day. Unfortunately, most news outlets don’t report it often and at length. If I were to sponsor a news broadcast, I don’t think I’d want my product advertisement to follow a report of the lastest bloodbath. Imagine it: “This gory, bloody message was brought to you by Best Books Network!”. I don’t think so…

    Maybe the lack of good and wholesome programming is the reason why I watch a ton of home improvement shows. The content is great, the commercials are relevant, and the programming is kid-friendly without being Nick Jr News-ish.

    If Happy News begins televising their reports, I am SO there!

    Chime in with your thoughts.

    Love to all!