Tools to Help Stepchildren Transition Into Stepfamily Life

Hands down, bringing two households together to form a stepfamily can be hard work and the art of ‘blending’ is often more difficult than first anticipated. The impact children have on the survival of the stepfamily is great and this is only compounded when stepsiblings do not get along. This can place substantial strain on a couple’s relationship; thus, placing the stepfamily unit at risk. With stepfamilies facing the highest rate of break-up during the first 2 years it is essential for couples to approach merging their families from a systematic standpoint.

First and foremost, couples need to plan, plan, and then plan some more! Not enough can be said about the importance of planning and its function in preserving the stepfamily unit. From informing one’s own children of his/her intention to remarry to aspects of daily living in the new family unit, tensions between stepfamily members can be eased by a well-thought out plan as it provides much needed structure. It is also good for soon-to-be stepchildren to be afforded the opportunity to get to know each other before adults remarry and everyone finds himself or herself living under the same roof.

It is important to remember that for most children the forming of a stepfamily indicates the death of the first family. The remarrying of a parent to another adult also dashes children’s hopes that their biological parents will get back together. Leaving children with a sense of loss, many are confused about their new role in the blended family. For example, an older child may no longer be the eldest in the stepfamily and a single child may now be faced with sharing with stepsiblings.

Couples can help ease this transition by establishing and helping everyone understand the 3Rs: rules, roles and responsibilities. The 3Rs help create structure in the stepfamily unit. Roles and responsibilities in stepfamilies do not evolve along the natural trajectory as they do in the biological family. Given this it is important for each stepfamily member’s role and associated responsibilities to be understood. In addition, rules for the household are important. The children’s involvement in the creation and implementation of certain household rules is important as this empowers each person in the stepfamily. And while the adult couple makes final decisions, eliciting feedback and allowing influence from the stepchildren works to develop and eventually strengthen stepfamily bonds.

Another important step to helping stepchildren adjust to each other and the new family structure involves giving little tokens of appreciation. Stepfamilies are often experienced as an “instant family,” rather than a biological, or first family, which goes through the traditional motions to assemble and build the family unit. Given this, attention needs to be placed on developing these relationships and then maintaining them. Gestures that show gratitude such as saying hello and offering a smile go a long way in this endeavor. Such greetings can even be incorporated into the new family’s household rules. In addition to communicating a degree of respect, such tokens of appreciation lay the needed groundwork to slowly unite family members.

Combined, these strategies can go a long way in starting the stepfamily off on the right foot and in helping children adjust to their new step relationships. It is important to remember that relationships in a stepfamily take time and once established, need continued nurturing. Despite the effort, though, step relationships can be very rewarding.

In the beginning, one-on-one activities between stepfamily members can lesson the insider/outsider dichotomy that is heightened in ‘all together’ activities. Such gatherings should take place, but a mentality of ‘less is more’ will help ease the transition into stepfamily life. Gradually over time ‘all together’ activities will come more naturally and can be extended with greater acceptance from the stepchildren. Throughout this it will always be important for biological parent and child to spend one-on-one time together.

It is important that couples keep communication between them open, as this will help stepchildren through this transition. It will also further enable the adults to provide emotional support for their children and each other. While combining households can be a difficult process, it can be very rewarding. With more than half of American families being stepfamilies, the need for a focus on and understanding of stepfamily dynamics could not be greater. Here it is vital to remember that bumps in the road arise from the ‘step’ situation and not from anyone individual.

As Tampa Bay’s go-to stepfamily resource, Success for Steps ( ) may be a useful resource for helping stepchildren transition into stepfamily life.

Tampa Schools

Tampa Schools recently became the first to discuss the dangers of internet chatting and online predators with Attorney General McCollum. The Attorney General launched a youth internet awareness campaign that began in Tampa Schools and will continue to be broadcast to more teenagers in the months to come. The entire state of Florida will be presented with CyberSafety Programs in schools to educate students and help prevent them from becoming victims of internet abduction. Presentations will include sessions that instruct students on how to identify online predators, and ways they can protect themselves from attempted contact.

The Internet Student Advisory Council is also a benefactor of the initiative as Tampa Schools continue to employ technologically fluent teenagers with the CyberCrime Law Enforcement Team. The internet safety initiative requires the compliance and assistance of Florida school district superintendents. In order to widely organize intra school programs, the state has come together and will help eliminate the threat of internet predators to children. The initiative is not limited only to schools. There have been presentations in community settings so that information also reaches parents. One such outreach was held at a Boys and girls Club in Orlando.

Tampa Schools are also reconfiguring transportation. The Transportation Improvement Plan sprang into action earlier this year and plans to restructure the movements of many Tampa Schools’ students. Targeting families that rely on the bus systems of Tampa, the improvement plan states a clear goal of providing more efficient bus service. A more predictable schedule of arrivals and departures has been drawn up and competitive pay has been introduced as good worker incentive. The Tampa bus system transports nearly 93,000 students every day. A hectic drive can be dangerous and Tampa Schools’ officials are taking action to organize the chaos of a disheveled system.

The Student Progression Plan has been in effect throughout the Tampa Schools for some time and is beginning to show changes in the curriculum of Tampa Schools. Student performance has been under intense evaluation and scrutiny. In the trend of No Child Left Behind, Tampa Schools have attempted to bridge the gap between all learning patterns and methods. Students are brought up to speed with their peers and the pace is supposed to allow everyone equal success. The school boards which govern Tampa Schools are required to draw up individual maps of progress for teachers to track themselves throughout the year. The Student progression Plan is one of the leading strategies in the Tampa Schools. It focuses student and parent attention on continued achievement and lifelong learning habits.

Early Childhood School Readiness Programs are also prominent in the Tampa area. Tampa Schools attempt to transition students from pre-k to grade school smoothly and without interference. The effort to maintain an even footing among students is greatly aided in Tampa Schools by the early childhood programs, which allow students to begin with basic skills needed to succeed in a classroom environment.

Tampa Schools Prepare Students for the World of Tomorrow through Global Classrooms

The United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA-USA), along with New York-based Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc., has brought the Model United Nations to schools in Tampa. Originally, only four high schools were participating and only as an extra-curricular activity. Now, over 50 teachers teach the Global Classrooms curriculum to students in over 120 classrooms in 35 Tampa schools. The program has the supported of Tampa schools District Social Studies Supervisors Dennis Holt and Martha Ford, as well as Tampa schools administrators, University of South Florida, and University of Tampa.

The Model United Nations program of Global Classrooms was developed by the UNA to enhance student understanding of international issues. Their hope is to develop strong leadership and critical-thinking skills in our youth, needed to shape a globally informed workforce in the future. To that end, a special Model UN teachers training program was recently developed that includes global trade, finance and development.

Global Classrooms deal with such critical world issues as human rights for refugees, prevention of nuclear terrorism, global economics, post-conflict transition, and UN Security Council reform — the same issues world diplomats deal with daily in the United Nations. It is an excellent educational opportunity for students in the Tampa schools.

Tampa schools participation increased in the Model UN program after the April 2006 conference, held at the Tampa Convention Center. More than 500 high schools and 600 middle schools participated in the conference of Global Classrooms.

Ambassador William H. Luers, president of the UNA-USA, addressed the Tampa schools students and students from other areas within the Hillsborough and Pinellas County Public Schools. Luers noted that children today must learn about the world to be prepared for tomorrow. The younger the child, the more open minded he or she will be.

Another speaker was Shaun King, former quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, current player for the Detroit Lions, and a favorite with Tampa schools’ students. Like Luers, King wants to see young people use all that talent they have. He believes it truly makes a difference, especially for children of single-parent and/or disadvantaged families.

The UNA-USA is a not-for-profit organization that develops innovative programs to engage Americans, especially the children, in issues of global concern. It promotes educational and humanitarian campaigns, as well as policy and advocacy programs. The UNA’s mission is to allow people to make a global impact at a local level.

The Model UN program would not be possible without the support of business. Merrill Lynch has donated more than $37 million in 2005 to charities with educational organizations receiving more than half. They are responsible for bringing the April Model UN conference to Tampa and underwrote the cost of implementing the program in the Tampa schools.

Together, the UNA and Merrill Lynch hope to bring the Model UN experience to urban public schools across the nation, as well as a diverse array of schools around the world.

It is a fact that the U.S. is losing its world economic edge by falling far behind other countries in preparing its youth for the global world issues of tomorrow. With programs, such as the No Child Left Behind that concentrates only on reading and mathematics skills, the children of the U.S. are missing an opportunity to know about the world and its issues. Bringing the Model UN program to students in areas like the Tampa schools is an essential step. Hopefully, more Tampa schools will participate in the future.

NFL Predictions – Betting on the 2008-09 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Win-Loss Record

NFL predictions are part of the fun of the new season. Do you have your crystal ball ready to go? Most sportsbooks have the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 8.5 wins for the 2008-09 season. Can the Buccaneers repeat their 9-7 record last season or will betting the under be the play here?

In 2007-08 the Buccaneers had a 9-7 record and if you bet the over on their 2008 season win total wager, you’ll need a repeat performance-or better-to win. Unfortunately, there could be trouble on the horizon for the Bucs.

Before I forget, I’m writing myself a note to tell you about the potential “lock” of the 2008-09 season for win totals. The team I’m talking about is getting a favorable number at the sportsbooks and it’s my pick this season. Okay, back to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Let’s first look at games where the Bucs are likely to win:

1. Detroit (at home)
2. Atlanta
3. Atlanta (at home)
4. Oakland

Next, let’s look at the games where the Buccaneers are likely to lose:

1. New Orleans
2. at New Orleans
3. Denver
4. Seattle
5. Dallas
6. San Diego

As it sits, Tampa Bay is 4-6 with 6 games to play. Look at these games:

1. at Chicago
2. Green Bay
3. Carolina
4. at Kansas City
5. Minnesota
6. Carolina

If they go 4-2, they’ll finish 8-8 on the season and fall one game short of their 8.5 game mark.

Given that their QB is 38, their best WR is 36 and their RB is 33, it’s highly likely that this team in transition will run into injury issues.

My NFL prediction for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2008-09 season is under the 8.5 win total.

What Are the Differences Between VoIP and Digital Telephone Systems?

OK, so your company is moving, adding staff, or maybe had some sort of natural event such as a lightening strike, which has affected your telephone system. It’s old. It’s made by a company that is not even in business anymore like Nortel, Comdial, or you-can-insert-name-here xyz company. You’ve heard of VoIP and think it might be able to save you some money or add some functionality, but are not sure where to look to buy a system or what it can even really do for you. I think I can help. I’ve been in this business for more than ten years, but really I have been around telecom for my whole life. I would love you to buy something from me, but that’s not the point here. Hey, you’re reading this article and I don’t even know who you are! Or where you are! This is completely anonymous and you can benefit from a knowledgeable guy without giving me one red cent! Yeah for you!!

First, let me bring you in on one real big secret in the industry- VoIP is generally not cheaper than traditional telephone systems. There, I said it. It’s out there. I feel better, don’t you? So here is the deal with cost savings and VoIP. It can save come businesses money. But there are MANY variables involved in how it does and even more nuances in how it is implemented. If a business has multiple locations, all using stand alone traditional telephone systems, managed separately and utilizing either copper trunks or T-1/ PRI then there is a definite savings available by moving to a networked solution and centralizing the trunks either onto fewer T-1/ PRI or SIP trunks. This is the main savings in VoIP. On the other end of the spectrum, there are very small companies, maybe with 10 or fewer telephone handsets, that can realize a cost savings by moving to a hosted solution where there is no telephone system onsite and they pay what is essentially a rental per telephone. This can save money as well. So, why you ask, would any business not meeting the above criteria move to a VoIP system? The answers are twofold- first, because all reputable manufacturers are moving this direction and only making VoIP systems. Second, is because there are additional features available on VoIP that a traditional digital system can not offer.

So my second point is that most telecom manufacturers have jumped in full bore and are only making VoIP systems. Even companies such as AVAYA who still make digital telephones are actually making VoIP systems and then adding cards to enable digital. We should talk more about that- lets get together again at another time and I would love to discuss how to use digital sets on a VoIP system to save you money. But that’s another time another article. OK, so like I was saying, the top three manufacturers in the world are VoIP now- Cisco, AVAYA, and ShoreTel. Even the little guys all offer pure VoIP systems such as Mitel, NEC, and Samsung. So the truth is the makers of the equipment are driving the transition. Basically, they can make less product, instead concentrating on software, and still charge you the same money. Or maybe less for the hardware, but then they are selling software for more cash. Either way, they are doing better than before!

Third, with VoIP, there are additional features that digital could not offer, at not least not elegantly or simply. Connecting locations is a prime example. Previously, the main way of doing this was with point to point T-1, Tie lines, or other cumbersome avenues. Now, we can still use MPLS, SIP, public internet, or many other ways. So our choices are better and cheaper. Another feature is management. No more command lines or difficult interfaces, the modern VoIP system is a nice GUI that is easy to use, understand, and simply designed. One of my favorite VoIP features is the options for mobility. I have my cell phone tied to my desk telephone so if I am not in my office, I still take calls as if I were, even being able to transfer that call back to my assistant. There are many more features, but you get the point.

So basically, it comes down to you. If you have an application for VoIP, then it may not be cheaper per-se, but the added efficiency and productivity that it can offer will easily offset any additional “cost” that is associated at implementation. Or at least if you need a new telephone system, your options are severely limited if you do not consider VoIP, so you may as well look into it!

Now the sales pitch! If you are in the Tampa, Sarasota, Naples, St. Pete, Austin or San Antonio areas, give me a shout, let’s talk! Our website is where you can learn more about what we do and some of the products available in today’s marketplace.

Swimming Workout


A swimming workout can be a new and refreshing way to get or stay in shape. Swimming is a full body aerobic sport that tones muscles, improves strength and flexibility, increases circulation, controls weight and enhances body contours.

Swimming workouts give you a low impact activity that can easily be tailored to match your abilities. A good way to gain cardiovascular stamina is to exercise in a swimming pool.

The secret to a good swimming exercise program is to work with the water. To accomplish this, propel yourself through the water by using your abs, hips and shoulders.

To understand why water exercise works so well, you need to know about water’s   unique  properties. In water, your body has almost no gravity. You’re relieved of 90% of your body weight so you become very buoyant.

You can float, bob and relax without feeling like you’re putting out any effort. Yet water provides 12 to 14 percent more resistance than air, so as you move through it, it’s like having weights around you.

Swimming laps is great exercise in a swimming pool. Try different strokes to vary the muscles you work to keep your workout balanced.

Going vertical or upright is another very effective exercise in water. These types of water workouts include water walking, jogging, water aerobics, water toning, water therapy, water yoga and water flexibility training.

You can strengthen your muscles with these vertical water workouts because you experience 75% greater resistance than swimming horizontally. This vertical position maximizes the resistance of water against your movements.

Water based activities can provide significant benefits for older adults too. In addition to increasing metabolism, physical activity can improve cardiovascular health and increase strength, not to mention the psychological and social benefits as well.

Joining an aquatics class or just sharing a swimming workout with a friend can help you feel better about yourself. You can be more socially active, engage in community activities and tend to not lose your independence because you are more physically fit.

The bottom line is to choose activities that you enjoy and will stick with. It is never too late to introduce physical activity into your life. Swimming workouts can provide a healthy and enjoyable way to get back the fun you use to have as a child.

Copyright © 2005 Treadmill All Rights Reserved.


Top Five Cellular Phone Models in USA


With the advent of the mobile phone industry, mobile phone companies have long been contesting for the latest models that would captivate the market and make the buyers go “gaga” over it. So far, there are countless cellular phone models from BlackBerry, Apple, LG, and other companies.

The market differs in all parts of the world. A company may dominate in USA but not in Asia, same is true with the network service providers. Recently, there was a survey which showed a result of the Top five models in the US last year.

As you take a read, you will discover that according to and our reviews, sales show that the US mobile phone market is dominated by BlackBerry and no trace of Nokia could be felt.

First in the list is BlackBerry Bold 9000. What makes it a hit? It is a mobile professional and likely to be the best device on the market. This is a serious communication device catering to those who need the best of email and connectivity to their other office information in an instant. BlackBerry Bold is the best BlackBerry yet. It capitalizes on the industry-leading email and communication abilities and adds improved document handling features. While remaining enterprise centric it makes major multimedia and entertainment strides to broaden its market appeal.

Another great phone from Blackberry is their Blackberry Storm. What makes it the number 2 best seller for Americans? It is the first entry by smartphone leader BlackBerry into the world of touchscreens. BlackBerry’s claim to fame has always been its exceptional mobile email functionality and manufacturer Research In Motion (RIM) has steadfastly insisted that a physical keyboard is best suited for typing. That said, even stalwart RIM couldn’t ignore the market pressures, led by Apple’s phenomenally successful iPhone 3G, which have placed priority on a touchscreen.

The third spot is the throne of Apple iPhone 3G. This iPhone 3G isn’t necessarily blazing new territory, it is paving that territory, refining the available technologies, while placing at utmost importance the overall design of its body and interface. The reduced price tag, expanded memory and incorporated 3G technology are truly new, and are likely to represent a new direction for the industry. On another note, the iPhone 3G, like its iPhone predecessor, is taking a big chunk out of many different markets, offering a solid mix of business, entertainment and everyday use.

G1 Google Phones takes number four. The T-Mobile G1 is the first of many expected smartphones to reach the market that are based on the Google Android operating system. Before being introduced by T-Mobile, it was known as the HTC Dream. The Google Android OS is seen as having the potential to expand the capabilities of smartphones generally because of its open source orientation to third party applications. It is reasoned that because developers have free rein to show off their best and most creative work that the possibilities are limitless.

Doing well at number five is the LG Lotus. It has a unique and exceptional design that is both beautiful and functional. It is a great messaging phone that can send all types of text messages and can communicate by IM and email. It is also a great music phone that can play and store up to 12 GB of music.

Feel the American mobile phone culture, go buy one. Yes, one of the five top selling mobile phones in the United States.